So like I disclose before every one of these chapters, this is the very first draft and has not even been revised yet. Therefore, in the final product, these chapters may be completely different or may not even be included at all.
But I still would love to hear any comments, criticisms, advice, opinions any of you may have so that I can make my book the best it can be. Afterall, this process and this journey is for myself and so far it has been as rewarding as it has been frustrating. But the final product will be for the readers and I want it to be something people genuinely enjoy reading.
So thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoy it!
Josh Greenburg laid in his bed listening to the chattering thoughts that consumed his mind. He was thinking about how the last one was the worst yet.
He wasn’t the type to admit he was afraid of death, but the moments that came which made him feel as if it was sneaking up right behind him scared him to his core.
Josh was an average twenty-year old in every way. And he felt the weight of his mediocrity crushing him every day.
He lay there, thinking about how happy he was when he was a little boy. Before they left and his life went to shit. He thought about the day trips to the beach and felt the sand between his toes and the cool breeze of the Summer.
But it was just a memory now. And what his life currently resembled was far from warm sand and cool breezes.
The only thing that gave Josh even the slightest bit of relief was music. He had learned to play the piano at the age of four, and people would always tell him and his parents that he was a prodigy. That he would grow up to be one of the best. And he probably would have if he hadn’t quit after only nine months.
He threw the keyboard his girlfriend had gotten him for Christmas in the trash after they broke up last July, and hasn’t touched a single key since.
But he still writes. In a small, black notebook with a red pen – always red, never blue or green or black – he fills the blank pages with poems and lyrics, chronicling his life and memories and hopes and dreams.
At this point, they’re all he has.
He let his mind return to the sounds of the beach and closed his eyes. It wasn’t long before he drifted into his own subconscious and began to dream.
He felt the blades of grass run through his fingertips as he sat, listening to the river. It was strange. He was looking at the boy, and knew without even seeing his face that it was himself as a child. He couldn’t have been more than seven years old. And he was looking down, scribbling something into a notepad. It felt like some sort of out-of-body experience.
Josh stood next to his younger self and tried to get his attention. But the boy didn’t budge from his spot on the grass. Josh’s hand swept right through him, like he was some kind of hologram.
The boy stood up, still completely unaware of his older self’s presence, and walked to the river, his journal laying on the ground.
Josh opened it to see what he had been writing, but the pages were just full of illegible gibberish. There were letters and numbers, but they were organized in a way that made no sense.
He flipped through the pages, stopping at the very last one. It had writing in very small letters at the top left corner of the page. It read:
Ignore it, Josh. Turn-
He only read the first three words when he heard an awful sound. He looked over to see the little boy, now consumed up to his jawline in the stream’s powerful current.
The water was rising, and it’s current grew stronger and stronger. But the boy wasn’t moving with the river. He was stuck.
Josh was horrified. He was watching himself drown. He dropped the journal and jumped into the rapid waters. It was freezing. Tiny waves enveloped his body, blinding him. He could hear the boy screaming, gurgling as the water started to overtake his mouth.
Josh tried to open his eyes, but every time the salt water assaulted him, sting his eyes until he couldn’t bare to keep them open.
He felt a rock under his left foot and stood on it, managing to just barely get his chest above the water. He didn’t hear the screaming anymore; only the thrashing of the water.
He jerked his head left and right frantically, until he saw the very top of the boy’s brown hair, the only part that was still over the water.
He dove in, bracing the pain as he kept his eyes opening, trying to find any sign of the boy. It was nearly impossible to see. As some of the bubbles cleared, and he could feel the current above him beginning to weaken, Josh saw him.
He must have been fifty feet below the surface now, still rapidly being dragged down through the water, until the darkness completely vanished him from Josh’s sight.
Josh dove down, swimming as fast as he could, but he was soon surrounded by blackness, with no sight of the boy. He could feel his lungs building up with water and his vision began to get blurry.
He gasped for air and felt it rush back into his body. He was breathing rapidly, and his entire body was covered in sweat.
He was sitting upright now, and as he opened his eyes he saw the familiar walls of his bedroom. He fell back into the pillow, finally getting his breath to slow down to a normal pace.
Usually, even directly after waking up, Josh never remembered his dreams. But he remembered this one. Every second. And he couldn’t stop thinking about that message in the journal. Bringing himself back to the memory he focused as hard as he could to visualize what the message had said.
Finally, he remembered. And at that point, he wished he hadn’t. The message read:
Ignore it, Josh. Turn the page. Don’t help the boy. Your very life depends on it.
On the back, in large, bold letters, there was another message.
THIS. IS. NOT. A. DREAM.