For five nights in a row, it was the same dream. I am walking through a waist high field of green grass heading toward a small hill with a stand of trees on top. Every night I would get just a little closer to the hill until a dry whispering voice would wake me by calling out, “Stay away from Dunmere Field.” In the dreams, I never made it close enough to get into the trees, but I had a feeling that something was not quite right about that place.
I sat up covered in a sheen of sweat, not quite sure why this lingering sense of dread held me in its clutches even after I had woken up. I pattered down the stairs to where the delicious aroma of mom’s Saturday morning breakfast was drifting up from. A table full of food greeted me as I sat down to dig in. I arrived ahead of my father at the table. Normally, he would already be sitting reading through the newspaper.
“Great morning, Ryne.” Mom greeted me in her usual chipper nature.
“Morning, Mom,” I replied, using my it’s-way-too-early-to-be-that-upbeat tone. “Where’s Dad?”
Just as I finished asking, Dad walked into the room, newspaper in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. He gave me a slight nod and sat down at the table, not saying anything, already caught up in the news.
I began smothering my biscuits in heaps of sausage gravy. I decided to tell Mom some of the details about my recurring dream. “Mom, have you ever heard of Dunmere Field?”
“I think that’s the name of a place out at the Kokytos Farms,” she replied. “Ask your dad—he grew up near there.”
Dad, hearing his name, looked up. Mom forwarded the Dunmere Field question in his direction. His face twitched, and he turned full to me.
“Stay away from Dunmere Field,” Dad said, his face tinted white.
“Sure, sure I was just…”
He cut me off with a gaze. Mom shrugged her shoulders at me as she sat down at the table. It was weird; my dad may not be an overly personable guy, but he has never been short with me like that before.
Mom started in on me about how I was wasting my weekend and not enjoying the crisp fall that we found ourselves wrapped up in. She said most kids my age spend Halloween getting into mischief and I would ‘regret not having a little adventure in life’, as she’d say with a wink and a nod. “When you are older, and the most fun you will have is drinking coffee and reading the morning paper.”
She was talking, but her voice was just looping through the back of my mind. My foremost thoughts were of the idea that the Dunmere Field of my dreams was a real place—a real place that was a thirty-minute bike ride from home.
I jumped into Mom’s conversation flow. “You’re right. I think I will go on a little bike ride. Maybe I will do some Halloween mischief and egg some houses along the way.”
Mom gave a little laugh that was somewhere between she thought I was being funny, but unsure if I was being serious.
“You never know what trouble a loner like me can get into.” I delivered it with enough of a sarcastic tone that mom’s worry could be put at ease. It is true: I am, by all definitions, a loner, but getting into any kind of trouble was something that never happened.
Dad once again stopped reading and looked at me. He didn’t say anything, but it seemed he was sizing up my thoughts. He abruptly pushed back from the table and, without pause, relayed to us that he needed to head to his office to meet with a client. A hug and kiss to Mom and he was gone.
I went upstairs to get dressed for the day so I could head out. Mom asked if I wanted her to put together a lunch to take out on my adventure. I flashed a smile at her and said that I wanted a dozen eggs, uncooked, still in the shell. She laughed at the attempt to rile her up. Mom was happy to see that I was not going to plop down in front of my computer for the day. She never even asked where I was going.
I looked around the room, trying to decide if I needed to take anything with me. Not being the adventurous type with a survival kit that included a machete, a blowgun, flares, and climbing rope already packed and ready to go, I decided I probably wouldn’t really need anything. This was just going to be a bike ride to give Mom the adventure she thought I needed and for me to see this location that shared a name with a place in my dreams.
With a goodbye from Mom, I was out the door. With no eggs, and twenty minutes into pedaling away, my brain made the connection. At the table, Dad had said the exact same thing that was said in my dreams: “Stay away from Dunmere Field.”
Maybe today being Halloween wasn’t the best choice of days to take a trip to the ominous dream location. I was still wondering about that coincidence when I arrived at the faded wooden sign next to a small dirt road that read Kokytos Farms. I decided my best option was to ride up to the house and ask about Dunmere Field.
I was half a mile up the road, large fields splayed out on either side of me, when I noticed a trail that led off into the field to my left. More than the trail got my attention. There was a brown weather-beaten rock that rose up two feet to the side of where the trail started. Carved into the rock were the words Dunmere Field. A cold tingle skittered up my back.
With more than a little trepidation, I leaned my bike up next to the rock and said to myself, “Ok. Go on. This is what you are here to see.”
As much as my interest was piqued, I couldn’t get my feet to move. That cold tingle that had risen up my back seemed to have slithered and wrapped itself around the bottom half of my body. With a little mental encouragement, I pushed down the weird dread I was getting and began walking down the path through the field.
The waist-high green grass brushed against my body more and more as the grass reclaimed the path. What was once a wide, distinct footpath was now nothing more than a sporadic wearing.
I was so caught up in the trail that I had paid little attention to where it was leading. That cold feeling seemed to be piercing my heart, slithering its way back up my body toward my head. I glanced up and stopped dead in my tracks. Before me lay a small hill with a group of trees on top. This was the place in my dream. I made a feeble back step and collided with something solid. A hand grabbed my shoulder and spun me around. Dad.
“I told you to stay away from Dunmere Field!”
What in the world was going on? I tried to pull myself from his grip, but it tightened.
Dad’s steely gaze was directed past me to the trees at the top of the hill, but he was speaking to me. “Run. Get away from here as fast as you can.”
“Dad, I don’t understand.” But that was all that came out as an unseen force smashed into the two of us, knocking me out.
My eyes blinked open. I looked around groggily and realized I was no longer in the field but in a small opening in a group of tightly woven trees. There was no sign of Dad.
A dry whispering voice edged its way into my mind. “Welcome to Dunmere Field. I have been expecting you.”
My mind raced.
Almost as if my thoughts were being read, the voice responded, “What better way to get a boy to come, than to tell him to stay away—natural curiosity and all. It worked the same for your father when he was your age.”
Dad, I said in my mind.
“I took a little piece of him long ago, just as I will you.”
Blackness enveloped me. A cold sliver pierced my heart and then a snap, and I feel part of me is gone.
I rolled out of bed and head downstairs for Sunday breakfast; the smell wafting up the stairs. Mom turned around from the stove and gave me a little smile.
“You know, you get more and more like your dad every day.”