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The Nightmare of it All

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It always starts with her running for her life.

She runs and she runs, faster and harder than she ever thought she could. She runs through the trees, she stumbles over branches, trips, falls hard, the ground cutting sharply into the palms of her hands. In front of her, the lifeless eyes of her best friend look up at the sky.

'Nikki...' She sobs. She wants to help her, but there's nothing she can do. Nikki is gone, and if she stays here, he'll find her, and he'll kill her too.

So she pulls herself up, and carries on running. She doesn't stop-she can't-because he's behind her, chasing her, getting closer with each step. She wants to call for help, she wants to scream, but there is no one left to help her. Everyone is gone. He's killed them all.

She can hear her heart pounding in her head, the sound of her ragged breathing fills her ears, but she can still hear him. His footsteps, his laugh. She can feel his touch on her skin.

She knows she needs to keep running, but what she spots up the path freezes her to the spot, and she can't move, she can't breathe. All she can do is stare, as Kelly, poor, lonely Kelly, hangs from a tree. Her eyes blur and she manages to close them against the dreadful view.

When she opens them up again, Kelly is gone, replaced by something far worse. And then she's running again, running towards the lifeless body of her father, and she doesn't care if he finds her anymore. Let him kill her. She just wants this to be over.

She grabs at her father's cold hands. She wants to cut him down, unwrap the rope around his neck but she can't reach. She's sobbing so loudly, she almost doen't hear the rapsy, laboured breathing behind her. He's here, he found her. She can feel his presence, and she knows it's over, but when she turns around, she sees it's not him. It's J.D., bloody, wet, and very much dead, standing right in front of her. He raises a pale finger at her as he whispers, it's all about you.

She steps away from him. She can't stay here, she can't let him get her, she can't let him kill her. Her father died to save her, and God dammit, she was going to get out of here alive.

So she runs, and she doesn't look back. She runs past exhaustion, urging her burning legs to go faster, because there's nothing else she can do. She only stops again when she reaches the pebbled beach.

Because he's lying there. Jimmy, her Jimmy. The man she loves, the man she never should have left, is just lying there. But he can't be gone, he can't, because she loves him, and he's all she has left.

'No, please, no...' She pleads, as she kneels next to him. But it doesn't matter, because she can see that he's not breathing, and his skin is cold, and his eyes are empty and-

Abby sat up in bed, suddenly wide awake. This time it had been much worse, and far too real. She needed to know that he was safe, that she was safe, but Jimmy's side of the bed was empty, and when she reached to touch his pillow, it was cold.

Maybe it hadn't been just a dream. Maybe it had been real, and the life she thought she had with him, that had been a dream, a dream she just had woken up from. Maybe he was really gone.

The bed sheets had become tangled in her legs as she slept, and she kicked them away furiously as she got out of bed. She padded barefoot through the empty corridor, painting the silence with that empty look in his eyes. Just a dream, she repeats in her head. Just a dream...

'Jimmy...?' She called, but her voice sounded too small, too frightened, to reach anyone. She pushed the living room door open, but it was empty too. 'Jimmy...?' She could barely hear her own voice now, as the panic took over.

Was he gone? Did he take Jimmy too?

Throat burning and eyes stinging, she stepped into the kitchen, where she found him busy over a bowl of batter. He turned as he heard her gasp in surprise, smiling that charming Jimmy smile she'd daydreamed about countless times when she was younger.

'Good morning...' He started to say cheerfully, but stopped when he saw the look on her face. He dropped his wooden spoon and closed the distance between them in three steps, taking her pale face in his hands. 'Hey, what happened, what's wrong?'

The concern in his voice, in his touch, was more than enough to convince her that he was here, he was real, and it really had been just a dream. She sighed with relief as she leaned against his chest, warm, alive, and let him wrap his arms around her.

'I thought I'd lost you too...' She whispered.

'It's okay...' He whispered back, kissing the top of her head. 'It was just a dream,' he assured her. 'I'm here. I'll always be here, I promise.'