Rough Trade

Melody sat at the mouth of the cave, it was pretty chilly but the warmth coming from behind balanced out the cool wind outside. The sky was darkening as the sun slowly descended behind the horizon. She let out a sigh, what she saw in her dream was approaching fast. She couldn’t help but to hope he wouldn’t go through with this. The wind suddenly picked up and blew hard into the cave’s opening, it picked up her long dreadlocks and whipped them about her face. It wasn’t this windy in North Carolina but if she was honest with herself, what she was experiencing was not real at all. Soon, she’ll be able to wake up and this ridiculous and dramatic dream will end.
“You still think this is a dream?” The soft tenor echoed down the rocky halls. Melody didn’t even bother responding aloud, he could hear her thoughts. It was kind of annoying. She heard him chuckle. “Brutally honest.”
“As always.”
She felt him plop down next to her, releasing a sigh. Her brown eyes flickered over to the young man at her side. He always seemed so calm, so collected. His hazel eyes seemed more green than normal tonight, she wondered if it was a side effect of being experimented on.
“No, it’s just my eye color.” She shook her head trying not to laugh. “You’re worried.”
“Can you blame me? I saw everything in my dream and you’re acting like nothing is about to happen.”
He didn’t say anything for a while. He just sat next to her, his eyes on the sun as well. It was irritating to know that he could know what she was thinking, probably before she could even think it. She thought of that story he told her around her first days here. He was only a child when they took him from his family, well more like given up for money. He says it wasn’t how it sounds but to Melody, it’s exactly how it sounds. They wanted him back after a decade and a half of experiments, he escaped and now they were razing every town trying to find him. They found him in Fortine and they weren’t leaving till they found him.
“It’s better this way.”
She sighed and tucked a dark brown dreadlock behind her ear. She didn’t believe that. There had to be another way.
“Chad.. you can’t do this. You have to change your mind, if you do, then maybe I’ll get another vision. It’s because you’re so hellbent on turning yourself over that I haven’t seen any other avenues. You don’t have to do this.” She turned towards him, taking in his light brown skin, the slight curl to his dark hair, the calm expression on his face… but she didn’t miss the slight pinch around his eyes. He was scared but he wasn’t going to admit it. At least not out loud.
“Stop looking at me like that.”
“How can anyone try to help you when no one can get a read on you? How is it fair that you can know about all of us but no one can know you?”
Chad sighed, turned to face her, crossing his legs in front of her. Was he finally going to share something else? He took her hands in his, they felt warm against hers, immediately chasing away the chill she was feeling. “You are a musician.” He muttered gently, turning her hands over, palm up. He kept his light eyes on her hands, his fingers barely tracing the lines of her palm. Melody bit her bottom lip to keep from making a noise.
“The music is different from your world-” Probably. “-I had you brought here because you were the one I saw in a dream. You touched the book-“
“It was a manuscript. Not a very good one I might add.”
He grinned but kept his focus on her hands. “-you still touched it. It allowed us to bring you here, to help us. To change the ending of our story, so no one else dies, so you can have an outsider’s view. I knew you were the one when you came through the pages, it was confirmed when you managed to get foresight.”
“This is the only way for the ending to change. What the author has in store for us, at least in his draft, isn’t a good one.”
“How do you even know? You do realize you’re a fictional character? That the other drafts are different versions of you.”
“Perhaps,” he finally looked back up at her, his eyes intense, “but we’re all the same.” He released her hands and they felt cold again. “You have the main manuscript and while it’s unfinished, we know where it’s going.”
She shook her head. In her mind, this dream gets weirder and weirder, especially as she found herself grow more and more attached to Chad everyday. Falling in love with a fictional character is nothing new. As a child, she had crushes on Virgil Hawkins, Prince Eric and Theodore Lawrence among others. Nothing new. But to actually see someone, sitting in front of her, her heart always beats faster when he was around, her stomach always twisted into knots and it confused her.
Chad stood to his feet, pulling her up with him. He was only a bit taller but he always looked right into her brown eyes. This is probably why they all were so loyal to him. Brooklyn, Adam, Shane and Scooter all trusted him with their lives… maybe she should too?
That night, Melody tossed and turned. The cave floor was so uncomfortable, even with the flat mattress she slept on.
“Would you stop moving!” It wasn’t a question and Melody froze. Brooklyn still didn’t like her, she was still snippy and brash but Melody ignored the curly haired young woman. However, she couldn’t be still, there was flashes in her mind, all painful. This wasn’t the first time this happened, it was less painful when it happened in a dream. She rubbed her temples as the flashes continued. Chad was walking towards the cave’s mouth. He carefully descended the side of the mountain and as soon as he stepped into the moonlight, cars and men in dark suits descended on him. This is just like what I saw before. They surrounded him, tied up his arms and he allowed them to force them into the back of their large jeeps.
“Chad.” She muttered sitting up quickly. Brooklyn snapped once more but Melody ignored her. She sat up quickly, the flashes repeating themselves, her eyes squinting as she watched. “Chad!”
“What?!” Brooklyn demanded sitting up as well. Melody climbed to her feet and ran out of their shared room. She followed the lanterns along the rocky halls until she found at the mouth of the cave. He was standing, his hand resting on the side.
“Don’t do this.”
“We’ve already been through this.”
“I know but I saw it again and I can’t let you go.” He didn’t turn to face her and she knew he wasn’t going to reconsider. Stubborn bastard. “Chad.”
“Have you seen the ending?”
“No, of course not. There’s too many pieces.” He chuckled, then slowly turned to face her. He looked different in the moonlight. He was going to do it tonight, just like she saw. “If you go down there, the others will freak out. They’re going to be lost.”
“They have you.”
She scoffed. Like hell the others would follow her. She didn’t belong in this world. Brooklyn didn’t like her, Shane and Scooter may enjoy her company but that didn’t mean they were ready for her to take over Chad’s position as “leader”.
“You’re going to be able to fix this. They’ll help you when the time is right. They all will.”  Even Brooklyn. She heard in her mind. Melody moved forward towards him, she reached out to take his hand. Fine. He obviously was going to do this anyway. He lifted her hand to his lips. “I waited for you.”
It was so quiet she almost missed it. Once again, he was avoiding her eyes. He did that a lot with her, but then he’d turn around and make sure he was looking into her eyes. His lips were on hers, so soft, Melody’s breath caught in her throat. Her eyes fluttered closed feeling such gentle touches. Then just as quick as he decided to do it, he was gone. She moved as if she was going to follow but she stopped at the entrance and she watched as he continued to descend. As soon as he stepped into the moonlight they descended.

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