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Author's Chapter Notes:

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Jem jerked suddenly awake at four in the morning. Diving out of bed, he ran into Jo’s room. The screams which had woken him were coming from Jo. He found her thrashing around in the throes of a violent nightmare. Jem knew he needed help to calm her. Running back to the guest room, he woke his wife. Robin and Daisy appeared at their bedroom doors, disturbed by the noise.

“Girls, go and make some tea. I think we’re all going to need it.” They set off downstairs to fill the kettle and set it going, whilst Jem and Madge went into Jo’s room. “We need to wake her and calm her down. This thrashing about isn’t helping her to rest.” Together they sat either side of Jo but, as they grabbed her arms, she just began to thrash harder. Jem heard snatches of words and immediately realised she was having the same nightmare she had described to him before.

“Let go, Madge. She thinks we’re trying to torture her. We need to try a different way.” Madge obeyed and sat hastily back as Jo’s arm flailed rather too close to her face. Jem spoke loudly. “Jo! Wake up! You’re at home in your own bed!” He watched carefully, as her eyelids fluttered slightly. “Jo! There’s no one trying to hurt you! Wake up!” This time her eyes opened and she looked frantically around the room. As she saw Jem and Madge and the familiar surroundings, she began to sob. Madge moved up to sit beside her and held her as she cried. Jem was anxious, as the nightmare had obviously been violent and she had had little strength beforehand. Now, she had to deal with that as well as her grief.

Jo clung to her sister. As her breathing became more laboured, Jem motioned to his wife to move, but she was unable to extricate herself.

“Jo, you have to let go of your sister. I need to move you so you can breathe a little easier.”

“I won’t go anywhere, Jo,” Madge murmured. Reluctantly, Jo released her grip on her sister and allowed Jem to move her to a better position. The tears continued to fall, but she found it easier to breathe. Jem watched her, a worried expression on his face.

“Tell me about the dream, Jo.” He spoke conversationally.

“I can’t. I don’t have the words to describe it.”

“Yes, you do. Telling us will help to banish it from your mind.”

“It… it was the same as last time. Only worse.” Jo shuddered violently. She attempted to draw a deep breath, but found it impossible.

“Try to breathe normally, Jo. You can’t do deep breaths for a good while, yet.” Jo closed her eyes and concentrated on her breathing for a few minutes. A knock came at the bedroom door and Jo started violently, grabbing her sister hard.

“Shhh, Jo. It’s only Daisy with some tea for us,” Madge said. Jem rose and took the tray from his niece.

“Thank you, Daisy. You and Robin ought to go back to bed, now. It’s far too early to stay up. Don’t worry about the tray, one of us will take it back down.” He kissed her and watched her go back to her own room to make the best of what remained of the night. Robin followed suit when she came upstairs a few minutes later. Jem placed the tray on the chest of drawers and poured them each a cupful. Jo’s hands were trembling too much to take the cup from him, so he held it to her lips for her. When the cup was empty he put it down and turned back to the question of her nightmare.

“What happened in your dream, Jo?” Jem repeated his question.

“They caught us. They caught all of us. They separated us all so we didn’t know what happened to anyone else. I could hear the screams, but I couldn’t help them. I was locked in. Then I heard nothing. Just silence. Whatever they were doing had stopped. I didn’t know whether anyone was still alive.” Jo paused. “Then they came for me. They dragged me through the corridors. Endless corridors. I kept asking what they’d done to my friends, but they just laughed. They laughed so hard and told me to wait and see.” Jo shuddered again and closed her eyes once more to concentrate on breathing. The silence lingered, neither Jem nor Madge willing to break it. When it threatened to continue, Jem spoke.

“Jo? What did they show you?”

“I saw them. All of them in a heap. Just piled anyhow, with no dignity or respect. I could see their faces. They were staring at me through lifeless eyes. I recognised them all, except Jack. He… he wasn’t in that pile of dead people who were my friends. He was at the other side of them. He wasn’t dead, yet. He was bleeding everywhere. So many holes. I tried to go to him, but they held me so I couldn’t move. One of them grabbed me by the hair and forced me to watch as another went up to him and shot him in the head.” Jo stopped, unable to continue as the scene replayed itself in front of her eyes. Tears fell unheeded down her cheeks. “He was my rock. He was always there when I needed a friend, right from the outset. He listened to me and tried to cheer me up every time he came in the room. And now he’s gone! I have no rock to hold onto anymore.” The sobs grew more violent and Jem decided enough was enough.

“Jo, you have to calm down, otherwise you’ll be seriously ill. I don’t want to give you another sedative, either. They won’t help you in the long term.” He saw her attempting to control herself and was satisfied. Madge held her close, knowing she needed someone to cling to. Her eyes closed and she went into a fitful sleep, which they both knew wouldn’t refresh her and help her to deal with her grief when she woke again.

“Stay with her, Madge. I’ll go and wash these up and get dressed. We can’t leave her alone while she’s sleeping so restlessly. I won’t be long.” Madge nodded and he departed to return the tray to the kitchen and wash the cups out. After a good wash, he dressed and returned to Jo’s room. He found his wife slumbering alongside her sister on the bed. Throwing a blanket over her, he left her to sleep on. This was stressful for her, too. She needed her strength to be able to help Jo in the coming weeks and months.



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