What the Heck?!
1
Having a kitchen was all that made the old trailer house livable. He threw down the bag of groceries on the counter of the small kitchen but didn’t bother putting them in the cupboard. Heck, there wasn’t much that needed to be put away. It was mostly all dry microwave meals anyway.
There was forty-seven dollars and fifty cents left in his wallet to hold him over until he got his first paycheck from Kevin. It was only two days until payday though, he could probably hit a movie or two if he was careful and still get by.
Three work days a week was great. He didn’t feel like working anymore than he needed to. It gave him a chance to find what really got him going too. Working for a construction crew definitely was not his long term goal.
The dirty grey couch in the corner next to the front door provided a bed for him. It wasn’t a lot, but it was a roof over his head. Plus his mom had given it to him free of rent for as long as he wanted to use it.
This particular evening was the last work day of the first week for him at his new job and his body ached all over. Working hard in the winter somehow forced the cold into your bones in a way that nothing else could.
He lit a cigarette and sucked in deeply, the warm smoke filled his lungs and temporarily completed an inner void that needed filling.
After a few more drags on it, he tossed away the butt of the cigarette outside his door into the gravel of the driveway where no vehicle sat.
Sometimes he wondered...

He started a pot of coffee and found a change of clothes for a shower. The bathroom was small but he lived alone and it suited him.
A long steaming hot shower turned his skin red and partially restored his lost body heat.
He gulped down two cups of the scalding black coffee and poured the rest down the drain even though he hated to do so. As he stretched out on the couch he covered himself with both of his blankets and closed his eyes.
It was too much work to fix himself food this evening. The coffee would have to do. He just wanted to sleep, much needed sleep.
His eyes ached, but it was a good pain. The kind when you are so tired that your eyes burn until you can no longer hold them open.

One second he was still awake, then his eyelids dropped into place and he slept.

***

The next thing he knew he was awake again. But awake in a completely different way.
Velva was a small town. Sol Dalen opened his eyes to see the big sign standing in front of him. Take a Peek at Velva—it read in big black letters. He turned and looked behind him. The highway he stood on stretched out into the distance bordered by green fields on both sides and every once in a while a row of old trees.
A car sped by and Sol moved over onto the shoulder to avoid becoming a permanent road decoration. What was he even doing there? Where was Velva even at?
There was nothing else to do so he started into the town looking around him as he went. He walked towards the old gas station a couple blocks farther in and entered the door. The ding of a bell rang on his ear and he approached the counter to ask a question. “Hello, where am I?”
The lady at the register looked anything but genial as she stared back at him matter-of-factly. “This is Velva, like it’s always been. If you’re not buying then don’t loiter.”
“Wow, ok!” he said and exited the shop.
A blue Volkswagen Bug pulled into the gas station parking lot and stopped in front of the gas pump. The door swung open and a girl emerged and stood up. He watched her from his place in front of the gas station door as she started the gas filling her car and waited for it to finish.
She stopped the gas and clicked a few more ounces in before stopping and replacing the nozzle where it belonged. She tightened her gas tank lid and closed the hatch then walked into the gas station to pay. As she passed him she glanced his way but Sol didn’t look back a second time. He hated people thinking he was a creep. Especially when he still didn’t know why he was in this town in the middle of nowhere.
She came back out and reentered her Bug. The engine cranked once and began to whir smoothly as the car shifted into gear and began to pull out of the parking lot. He saw the girl glance his way once more before turning onto the road but he didn’t return the look. She drove away and he felt suddenly tired. Stumbling over to a nearby picnic table beside the gas station Sol fell into the seat and immediately blanked out.
***
A fly landed on his face and he swiped at it with his hand trying to get it to move. He had killed all of the flies inside the trailer he thought. Oh well, you never really get them all. There’s always one more.
The fly buzzed away to another area and Sol relaxed again. He felt his muscles relax into the soft cushions of the dirty couch and completely let himself go. The alarm clock said 4:13am.
***
A face looked out from the dumpster he stood in front of. It was the face of the girl he had seen at the gas station in Velva. She was dead.
The marks of much pain and abuse showed on her face.[a][b][c][d][e][f] What had happened? Someone had killed her—murdered her. She was dead. He had passed her on the street and ignored her, now she was no longer living.
***
He woke up to the alarm ringing his 6:30 bell.

“I need to get out more.” He mumbled to himself as he wiped a hand across his face and felt the stubble on his jaw line drag over his hand.
Why did he need to get out more? The dream was already gone. He couldn’t even remember why it had disturbed him now. But he felt unsettled, and could not figure out the reason. By the time he had dressed and eaten breakfast he felt at ease again. The day was bright and promised to be fair. There were some overdue things he needed to take care of anyway. It was a good day for it.
He wandered down through the old part of his neighborhood to the gym much frequented by himself. He kept to his own business when he was there and tried not to get caught up in any conversation unless it was unavoidable.
There was no one to spar with in the ring this morning so he practiced on a bag. Over the two years that he had been boxing,
Sol[g][h][i][j][k][l][m][n][o] had seen huge changes in his speed, strength and skill. Four hours of practice a day did that to you when you kept it up.
After leaving the building Sol lit a cigarette to kill time and stood leaning against one corner of the gym.
Sometimes his life seemed quite droll and endless, not that it was completely terrible.[p][q][r][s] Yet in all the reading he had accomplished throughout his short life there seemed to be many references to the perfect life. Life with a purpose.
His mom was not even part of his life. Something about him reminded her of his father and she refused to see him. Letting him live in the old trailer was the extent of their relations.
A father was something that Sol had never had the privilege of. The one that had been his biological parent had left before he was old enough to remember him. The few things that he had heard of the man from his mom were not to his credit. By her word there were few devils in the world to compare to him. Sol still hadn’t decided whether to believe her story of not.
Once in a great stretch of time Sol would join the fights that happened at the gym to help let off some pressure. He had fought eight fights so far. Out of the eight he had lost the first three and won the last five. He didn’t enjoy hitting someone specifically, but the rush of fighting for his own defense and winning was an exhilarating feeling as anyone else that has fought can tell you.
[t][u][v]
He slung his small bag across his strong shoulders and flicked away the remainder of his cigarette. There was nothing interesting going on to hold his attention that day.
He made an early evening and retired after an early dinner. His supply of books had been long exhausted and the library had closed months ago. The last parcel of books he had borrowed he hadn’t even bothered returning.
There were two holes eaten in the ceiling by
mice that he stared at[w][x] when he couldn’t sleep. They were only a few inches apart and seemed like the rodent had reconsidered the first hole in place of a smaller second one.
Sol folded both arms behind his head and lay in a relaxed position. It seemed like hours before sleep came.
***
When he opened his eyes Sol found himself sitting under a tree on the edge of Schmaltz Street in the middle of town. Directly across from him sat a public swimming pool. He stood, annoyed that he kept forgetting why he was in this place. Not knowing where to go
 he turned and began to walk south-east down the sidewalk. Quite suddenly he began to feel the intense sunlight hitting his face and almost burning in its extreme heat[y]. He hadn’t noticed the heat before, it was an unusually warm day.
He put a hand up to shield his face as he turned from the direct light and switched his direction the opposite way. Before he had taken a handful of steps a large dog on a chain bounded out of a yard and snapped at him just barely out of reach.
That did it for Sol. He turned and started across the street towards the public pool. Maybe he would cool off while trying to figure out what he was doing in this place. There was a guy at the counter in front. Sol looked him over.
“Do you guys have swim suits available here?”
The macho dude paused his process of rubbing sun screen on his arms long enough to momentarily look at Sol. “This is a pool, not a clothing outlet.
 Sorry.
The people here definitely could use some lessons in their people skills.
That pretty much decided it for him.[z] He walked around the outside fence and stared in at the cool blue water. There were only a handful of people in the pool other than the lifeguard perched on her high seat.
She sat there with a bored look on her face and watched the people with one eye
in between[aa] laying back in the sun trying to get an even tan.
A girl with three young children in tow mounted the stairs to the top of the water slide and stopped while they decided which slide to go down.
After a short conferring between them, the oldest two children took one slide while the girl placed the smallest child in her lap and climbed into the gentle slide. Sol watched as they disappeared then reappeared at the bottom of the tube.
As he saw the face of the girl, he felt a sensation go through his mind. Deja vu. He had seen her before. The girl at the gas station in that little town. What was it called? Velva? That must be where he was
 still.
How had he come there again?[ab]
The table at the gas station. He had fallen asleep and somehow must’ve moved to the tree across from the pool where he had woke up.
The girl gathered up the three kids apparently finished with their time in the pool. They disappeared into the dressing room.
She was a familiar face and Sol instinctively went to the corner of the pool building to await her when she left.
Several minutes later she exited the building with the three children. They turned onto the sidewalk and started away from the direction where Sol stood. The smile with which the girl looked at the children when she would bend to tie the shoe of one or accept a dandelion one had picked was so free of any selfish expression that Sol almost thought she was beautiful. If it hadn’t been for discolored spots on her face she might have been pretty. They looked like sun spots but more bluish, almost like she had been punched in the face.
He followed her at a distance without doing anything to attract attention to himself. She walked three blocks down the sidewalk then turned right at an intersection to walk down under a train overpass and came up at another intersection across from the gas station he had visited sometime before when he first came to this town.
He stopped beneath the overpass beside a large and elegant graffiti drawing of the word Meth and watched as she led her little companions across the street and up the road beside the gas station to the residential area on the hill above them.
Sol waited as long as he could until he worried that he would lose track of her now. The thunder of a train approached and as he took a step out of the shadow of the overpass the ground began to vibrate as it passed above him. He reeled, suddenly dizzy. His vision went black and Sol felt himself hit the ground as he collapsed.

The Meeting
2


Lady Galadriel: Stare into the pool.
Frodo: What will I see?
Lady Galadriel: Things that were. Things that are. And some things that have not yet come to pass.
-The Fellowship of the Ring

The roar of the garbage truck woke him to the cool morning air inside the trailer. Sol sprang off the couch halfway startled. He immediately recognized the sound and shook his head to focus. Why had he thought that it was a train?
He folded his blankets and slipped on a red and black checkered jacket before leaving the trailer with a cup of coffee in his hand. He breathed in the frosty air and wished he had brought a cigarette to warm his lungs.

The circle of chairs in the musty basement room of the old store was already mostly filled when he arrived. He smiled a dry half smile as he sat down. “Hey guys.”
They greeted him in unison and began the session.
“I’d just like to say that recently I’ve been doing really good all the time as long as I have something to keep me busy.” A mid-forties man with sparse hair and a red face began. “If I don’t have something to do then my
 mind will play tricks with me until it makes me go find liquor. There’s nothing I can do to stop it. So I need some advice.”
“Are you still working?” An old lady asked him.
“Yes, but that still gives me all evening with nothing to do. And my throat burns until I feel that I’m going insane.”
Another middle aged man spoke up.“How about a social activity in the evening?”
The first speaker shook his head. It’s not like that. I need someone to see when I am going into one my moods that I can’t beat to pull me out of it and stop me from going back.”
“You can come over to my place.” Everyone turned to look at Sol. He shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t do much, but I’ll help out if I can. I hear that coffee helps when you feel the urge to drink and I keep plenty around.”
It was pathetic to see such an obviously giant man at one time be brought so low by drink.
There was a momentary silence in the room. The leader spoke first. “Well, that’s an idea Dalen. Supporting each other can help. Whatever works for each person is what each person needs. Everyone has a different struggle and fights alcoholism in a different way. What you have to remember is why you’re fighting to overcome it. That’s what makes it worth the fight.”
Sol left the meeting and headed towards the
area[ac] of the movie theatre. He didn’t know why he watched movies. Logic demanded a reason but he ignored it and killed the dead hours in front of the big screen.
Herley Harris from the Alcoholics Anonymous group was supposed to show up at around six that evening.
Sol had a pot of fresh coffee brewing when Herley knocked on his door.[ad]
They talked until late and
Herley[ae][af] went home much encouraged. He wanted to be himself again so badly but beating the craving of an addiction was like swimming up a waterfall.
Why Sol attended the group he did not even know. He did not drink. He had never wanted to. The woman he had always known as Mom had given him a repulsion for drink that had prevented him from ever indulging even at the most trying of times. His memories of childhood were frequented by a drunken woman that beat him often and left him hungry even more often.
[ag]His moral condition though set through harsh experience, had been tuned to a fine point and Sol knew no point at which he would quit a task when his mind was made up.
[ah]The pot still held a cup of coffee and Sol filled his cup hesitant to dump any of it down the drain. It was a sin to waste a cup of coffee when you still wanted more in his opinion.
***
The face of the dead girl stared at him with its unblinking eyes from her last resting place. But she was alive! He had seen her just a little while ago.
The blue marks of someone’s fingers showed on the fair skin of her neck. It was true then. She had been murdered.
The eyes seemed to bore holes right through him as he stared at the lifeless form tossed so uncaringly in the dumpster. He felt something inside him start to bubble and grow. A fury at the whole idiot world that would allow a crime like this. Then, as he stood there surrounded by darkness,
the mouth of the girl opened and began to speak.[ai] “YOU! You did this.”
A shudder that completely unnerved Sol passed over him. He felt his stomach heave in an effort to hurl its contents. There was something surreal and uncanny about the whole event. He blinked and the entire picture disappeared in place of grey nothingness.
He blinked again and was back in his own place. The morning was bleak and foggy outside. When he walked to the kitchen a dank metallic odor reached his nose. The smell led Sol to the bathroom where he saw a sight that made him lose his balance so he had to lean against the doorway to steady himself.
Inside the bathroom he saw another body. The man lay draped over the edge of the small bathtub facedown in the reddish tinged water. The back of his shirt had
two bloody holes[aj] in it and from both holes snaked small streams of blood that ran down onto his shoulders in the water.
He surprised himself in that he didn’t puke his guts out right there. It was the most disturbing thing that he had ever seen. Sol stepped carefully over the bloody marks on the bathroom floor and grabbed the man’s shoulder to turn him over. What he saw stopped his blood cold. The man was him, Sol Dalen.
Only it was not the Sol he was used to seeing when he looked in the mirror.
***
He heard the squeak of one of the windows in the trailer sliding up and threw back the blankets in a quiet heap.
 He stood on the balls of his feet and tiptoed to the corner of the hallway. [ak]Cocking his head Sol listened for another noise. Hearing nothing, he stepped around the corner and cautiously advanced down the hall. He passed the first doorway glancing into it quickly without taking his attention from the bedroom door at the end of the hall where the sound had come from. There was not a sound in the place other than the distant sounds of the night. As he came close to the bedroom door Sol heard the sound of steps behind him from the other room. I’m dead. He thought. They’re behind me. This is how I will end up on the floor in the bathroom.
***
His heart was beating at an accelerated rate when he sat up on his couch. His dreams were getting really messed up these days. He felt cold from the result of the last dream and wiped a hand across his sweaty forehead.
His ear clearly heard the window in the back bedroom slide open suddenly. His dream was coming true. Instantly his pulse redoubled it’s frenzied drumming. Sol slid out of the blankets like a ghost and was standing beside the corner of the hallway in another second. He closed his eyes for a second[al] and breathed a slow full breath to slow down his heartbeat at the same time softly grabbing his broom from where it rested against the wall.
His ear caught the slightest creak of a step in the hallway and he waited silently without moving. It seemed like ten minutes passed as he waited for another sound.
A footfall barely discernible came to him. The intruder was directly around the corner and creeping out into the living room. Sol stayed flat against the wall as a dark shadowy figure stepped out into the living room in front of him. Raising the broom, Sol swung it as hard as he could at the back of the hood covered head that stood in front of him. The broom made a sharp crack as it connected and snapped in his hands. The figure fell to the ground from the momentum and Sol raised the broom-now broken and jagged from the impact for another blow.
“Stop!”
Sol froze. The voice was distinctly feminine and youthful. He held the broom head in a position to cover the hooded intruder with his r
ight hand and reached out to fumble for the light switch. Light flooded the room and Sol blinked once, temporarily blinded, but the figure did not move.
“I know you.” He said as the figure rose to face him and he saw the visage beneath the hood. “Who are you?”
The girl drew back her hood and raised her head to meet his gaze. “You do know me.” It was in obvious relief. “That broom hurt just so you know.”
Sol felt his temper flare at her light attitude in the current situation. “If I were you I would start talking really fast or I’ll just skip being diplomatic and call the police.”
“Whoa slow down. I’ll tell you who I am, but I think you’ll probably know it before I tell you everything.” She paused. “I’m just glad you can actually remember me. I wasn’t sure that you would be able to.”
Sol nodded towards the couch with his head. “Sit down, and don’t do anything fast.”
She sat down and he swept the blankets up and tossed them beside the couch to make a place for them to sit. “Why do I know your face?”
“You don’t know?” The girl gave him a questioning look. “Not that you should I guess. It would be almost impossible for you to right away. I saw you at the gas station in Velva,
ND[am] two days ago. Then you followed me and my little siblings almost home from the pool.”
Sol felt like he had an automatic memory download when she said that. His dreams came back to him in a rush and he remembered, vividly.
“I saw you—dead.”
She winced. “I was a little afraid you probably did...since I saw you dead too. And it seems like we are having very similar experiences. That’s why I came. I thought you might be able to help me make sense of it—and I had to come. Something made me come, I couldn’t not come.”
Sol rose from his seat. “Ok, you got me listening. Keep talking. You want some coffee? I’m gonna make some coffee. And stay where you are, I still don’t trust you.”
She shrugged. “I guess. I don’t know if I can drink coffee when I’m like this but yeah I’d love some.”
Sol started making it and kept an eye on the girl as she told her story.
“You’ve seen me twice before, but I have seen you three times. I assume both of the times you saw me previously were while you were asleep, in a dream.” She didn’t wait for Sol to reply but just kept going. “I saw you right after you saw me at the gas station the first time. The circumstances were similar to what you must have experienced. I had a bad day and stayed up late trying to make my step dad happy so he wouldn’t beat me or my little step siblings. He was drunk and by the time I got him quieted down I was so exhausted that I fell asleep without even undressing. It seemed like as soon as I fell asleep I woke up again in this place, wherever this place is, but it was at an old gym of some kind where you were weight lifting or something. I didn’t go in, but I recognized you and when you came out I followed you back here. Something made me follow you too, it wasn’t myself. Every time I tried to go somewhere else, a danger or brick wall of some kind would make me keep on after you. After I fell asleep the first time and came back, I saw you dead. You were in a bathroom laying in the bathtu—“
“I know.” Sol broke in. “I saw it too.” He stopped and took a breath. “It scares me. I mean I should be freaked out that a girl I saw repeatedly in a dream is here in her own dream, but that seems like nothing out of the ordinary. The fact that we have both also seen each other’s dead selves which I might add were both quite gruesome is a whole other level. But I also saw my own self dead back there in the bathroom.” He pointed. “And my mind is having brain freeze trying to process it.” He sat down heavily and sighed. “—Sorry....Go on. What do you think it all means?”

The Man who Followed HER
3


The girl scrunched her eyes until they became slits. “I don’t know. I guess I thought you could maybe enlighten me a little bit. I’m not even sure if I will remember this when I wake up.”
“Well, there’s obviously something to it all since we know that a part of it’s real. For some reason we apparently needed to meet so much that what I might call supernatural forces—” He raised his fingers to form quotation marks. “—
conspired to bring us together it would seem. And for what purpose I have no idea. To me, it would seem from what has transpired, that we were brought into a connection to prevent something that would result in the ends we both saw.”
The girl listened as if she had come to the same conclusion herself.
 When he had stopped she said. “Do you really think that is what it means? That we can stop the both of us dying?”
Sol raised his hands in question. “It’s just a guess. That’s the only way I can think of that ends well. And I want to live. I want you to live too.”
He poured two cups of coffee and walked back over to the couch. “There you go.” Sol held out one of the cups to the girl and she extended a hand to receive it.
As she lifted her arm towards him, Sol saw her eyes droop and her head fall forward on her chest. The uplifted hand fell and her body dissolved in a swirl of grey mist that was gone almost immediately.
He stood with the cup held out towards where the girl had sat, bewildered by what had just happened. Seeing something that was not so strange to talk about was a completely different thing. It validated the other things in Sol’s mind and scared him too. Was he going to die?
At the same time, who was
that girl[an]? And why were they somehow connected?
There was nothing pressing though and Sol was a firm believer in resting when he needed to so he laid back down and slept until mid morning without disturbance. No dreams came back to him and he woke strangely disappointed. He stepped out of his door for a breath of fresh air and lit a smoke.
Sol watched a slow driving car pass by the front of his trailer and was glad that he did not have to work six days a week. Yes, it was sometimes difficult without the extra money he could make working five or six days a week but it was worth it.
His train of thought shifted to the incidents of the early morning. Everything now stood out in perfect detail to him. The events though strange and disturbingly unreal fascinated Sol. There was a distinct sci-fi feel to it all.
The girl, ah the girl. She was definitely real. There was no arguing with the broken broom handle. She must
of had a headache this morning from it too. That made him wonder if a dream though real could give you a headache. That prompted the thought of if a dream was still a dream if it was actually real. And if it was real, and when you left it you dissolve like she had then did your body enter the dream with you and exit with you?
The car drove by slowly again and Sol noticed the man driving hold a camera of some kind up through the open window pointed in his direction as he passed. The driver was a dark man with a close trimmed beard and a lone black bead string earring that hung down like a bad luck charm beside his face.
He locked eyes with Sol and held his gaze as if daring him to look away. Sol stared unblinking and did not move a muscle as he focused intently on the man. The cigarette smoldered unheeded in his fingers. He did not want to be the first to look away. Mentally he was memorizing every detail of the man he could. Somewhere inside him a voice said he would meet the man again.

It was a dull day. Nothing going on. Nothing to do.[ao][ap] 
He took a round about walk to his boss’s house and picked up His paycheck on the way to the gym. Sol kicked and punched a bag for hours on end. He wanted to sleep soundly so he could have an uninterrupted dream to learn more about what was going on.
***
As soon as he opened up his eyes, Sol began to search for the girl knowing she would be very close.
This time he was sitting on a porch swing in front of a small storefront.[aq] He stood and shook his head. Across the street kitty corner to where he stood was the gas station. A sign on the storefront said The Flower Box. Sol scanned the area but there was no one around. The shop had a big OPEN sign lit up in the window so he pulled open the door handle[ar] and stepped inside.
The store was was
very neatly[as] arranged. The display bouquets showed good taste and large price tags. Sol walked around and looked at the flowers as he kept a ready lookout for the girl. He circled through the store but did not see her. That couldn’t be right, he always came to where she was currently at. He saw the employee door to the back of the store and ducked through it when no one was looking[at]. It was a large room full of lines of tables that were stacked with every kind of flower imaginable. In the middle of the maze of tables Sol spied the girl. She held a pair of scissors that she was apparently using to trim flowers. So she was the tasteful bouquet arranger. Thought Sol.
“You never told me your name.” He remarked in a conversational tone. “And your coffee got cold.”
The girl let out a slight squeal and jumped, then breathed out as she noticed Sol. “You came back.”
“Uh yeah.” He gave her a look that said: Duh, what else was I gonna do.
The girl looked like she was more at ease now that he was in the room. “I was afraid I might have scared you off. That was quite a lot of information that you took in all at one time.” She hurriedly kept talking. “I’m glad it didn’t though. I don’t know if it’s my mind playing tricks on me since I saw that terrible thing in my dream, but I keep thinking I am seeing people watching me. It’s not just random people though, I see the same ones, like they are following me.” She shivered as if she was chilled then shook her head and held out a hand to Sol. “I’m Luna by the way, but everyone calls me Lu.”
“I’m Sol Dalen.”
The door to the store opened softly and both of them turned immediately to face it. A face peaked in and took a quick look around the room. Definitely a street thug. Sol decided.
He was clad in a light jacket and had the build of a small tank. He turned his head slowly until he saw Sol standing near Lu. “Uh I’m sorry.” He looked embarrassed at being seen. “I got mixed up in the shop here. Sorry.” The head withdrew and disappeared.
“There. He’s one of the ones who I’ve been seeing around. He is always following me.” She shuddered again.
Sol started towards the door. “I’ll be right back.”
“Where are you going?”
He nodded towards the door. “I’m gonna figure out why he is following you.”
“Please don’t.” She pleaded. “What if he has a gun or something and he is one of the ones who is going to kill us.”
“Luna.” Sol spoke authoritatively. “I can defend myself. And I’m gonna protect you also.” He smiled. “Besides, I am gonna die in my house. Not here.”
He searched for the intruder as he walked out into the store part of the shop. The older woman tending the checkout counter gave him a sour look as he appeared from the back and ran towards the door. “Like I told your friend. If I catch you trying to sneak into the back of my store again, I’ll call the police.” She called as he passed out the front door.
Sol stopped out in the parking lot and looked for the man again. He was nowhere to be seen. Sol went in a circle around the shop to see if he was hiding out anywhere. The man was gone. Gone or hiding from him. That idea worried Sol.
There were any number places he could easily hide and watch the shop from while remaining unseen.
Being unnoticed was something that Sol had learned from his life. Remaining invisible to people in plain sight was how he had always been. So rather than letting it limit him, he had used it to his advantage. As a young and dumb teenager, he had found a way into many houses and buildings simply for the thrill of it. To Sol it was a game, he had been caught a number of times at first and had learned his mistakes and corrected them.
He always took mental note of his surroundings from habit and for the sake of keeping it fresh in his mind.
 With rapidity Sol made his way through and around every place that could hide a man near The Flower Shop. Finding nothing, Sol finally made his way back to the store entrance only to find it closed and locked.
“We just closed for the day.”
The girl [au]said behind him. “Did you figure out what he wants?”
“No, he was already gone when I got out here.” Sol
felt like a disappointment[av] and frowned.
“Well he did leave a few minutes before you so he had plenty of time to get away. Forget about it. He will be back eventually. You can walk with me home if you want to. I still haven’t figured out if you can eat in a dream but I’ll make some food up.”
Sol walked beside her as she crossed the highway and went up the street across from The Flower Shop that curled up the hill behind the Gas Station. He wanted to ask as many questions as possible but she did not seem to be in a talkative mood. He glanced at her every little while trying to read her thoughts. She appeared to be stressed over something. Her lips compressed and loosened. “I don’t care about myself but I don’t want anything to happen to my little siblings. If they get hurt... I don’t know what I’d do but it wouldn’t be very ladylike.”
Luna opened the front door and as if by magic three little children appeared out of nowhere.
“Luna, you’re home.”
“Are you going to make us supper now?”
They noticed Sol and immediately all clammed up tight. The girl smiled at them and then pointed to Sol. “This is a friend of mine, his name is Sol.”
All three of the kids stared at him like they were inspecting to see if he was safe. Luna smiled at them and walked into the house followed by Sol.
“Is dad home?” Luna asked the three as they came in after Sol.
“No, he’th th’till at work.” The middle one lisped.
The girl smiled at them again. “Ok, go get ready for supper. It’ll be ready in ten minutes.”
They all disappeared to get ready for supper and Sol followed
the girl[aw] to the kitchen.
“Can I help?” He asked as
the girl[ax] pulled food out of the refrigerator.
“I think I’ve got everything.” She told him. “It’ll be ready really soon. The bathroom is down the hall there if you want to wash up though.”
“Thanks.” Sol answered. “I actually think I’ll go outside for a minute to get some air. Is there a back door here?”
The girl pointed him in the direction and he found the door. Stepping outside Sol closed the door behind him softly. He patted his pockets from the force of habit, but of course had no cigarettes. Refocusing, he closed his eyes to let them adjust to the dark faster. As soon as he could see he began to search the dark. He inspected every shadow and blur, anything that could hold a man.
As he stood veiled by a large shadow, Sol saw a form come around the side of the house very cautiously. When it came close he made him out enough to recognize the man that had been at the shop that day. The man walked softly and peered into a window when he passed one.
As he came near Sol spoke. “I was hoping I would see you again.”
The man started and his hand swung towards Sol in a wild attempt to hit him.
Sol blocked the swing and kicked the man in the gut hard enough to land him on his back.
He rose slowly and warily, like a cat. “Who are you supposed to be? You know you can’t stop what’s coming.”
“I’m just an interested bystander wondering why a grown boy like you is stalking a girl like her.”[ay] The man’s hands twitched and Sol watched them carefully. “I figured I’d just tell you so she didn’t have to. Don’t let me or her catch you here again.”
The man lunged at Sol and whipped something from underneath his jacket. He thrust it at Sol as he came close. Sol felt a sharp bite in his chest as he met the charge. He punched his attacker in the face as hard as he could and the man backed off again with a crushed nose. Sol looked down and saw a bloody spot on his shirt front. Then he saw the knife in the mans hand and realized he had been stabbed. From the placement of the puncture, it could have hit any of a number of vital organs. He knew that in a few seconds he would collapse so he looked around for something to use as a weapon in a last effort. A small fairy statue stood beside him in the dead flower garden. Taking a quick step forward, Sol reached down and grabbed the figure. Swinging it like a club in a wide arc with his right arm, he aimed it at the man
s head but his strength failed and he tripped as he ran. It smashed against the man’s arm and Sol fell to the ground.
As he felt himself begin to wake from the dream, Sol heard the man apparently in communication with someone. “I’m keeping an eye on the bird, some nut was with her and just tried to take me out. I had to kill him...Wait, sir, there’s something else, he just disappeared after he died, I think he was the one.”
***
He sat up and looked around to be sure he was really back in his own home. Everything seemed to be in place and he breathed a sigh of relief. Suddenly he remembered the knife and put his hands to his chest, there was no wound, it was just in the dream.
What was it he had heard in the process of waking up? He was the one? What did that mean? What was the bird?
Sol went to the bathroom and splashed water on his face. His head was spinning, this stuff was so far out that he felt like he had been thrown into a movie.

So it’s really rough but whaddaya think so far??[az][ba]

[a]So, like, bruises? This seems a little vague to me.

[b]It is designed to be a bit vague, giving the feeling that he knows she is dead but remaining a little foggy as to how. The accepted idea is that it is more from a time of extended abuse than just getting knocked over the head. I hope that makes it a little more clear...

[c]_Marked as resolved_

[d]_Re-opened_

[e]One tool you might could use here is prose. This is one I've recently explored a little bit. Instead of just telling us that she has marks of pain and abuse on her face, you might say something like: "Her face was a patchwork of scars and bruises. Years of abuse showed through".

Use your words as van Gogh used his brushstrokes in Starry Night. Not to show us how it looks, but to show us how the visual feels.

If you're trying to just capture how it looks, you have to be vague here. But if you capture how it feels, then you can be specific.

[f]You hit it right on the head. I’ve been thinking of changing it after what you said before.

[g]Name lapse?

[h]What's his name? I just realized you don't tell us his name until after the first scene break. I had thought he was in some sort of fantasy place and had a different name. XD

[i]So that is a writing habit I commandeered from another writer whose name escapes me. (I need to work on it.) But the idea(Which also needs a bit+1 of improvement)here is that the MC is supposed to be relatable so he registers with the reader. Then a couple paragraphs later in the next scene the name drops and he becomes fixed in the readers mind.

I haven’t accomplished it successfully yet but given time I will.

[j]_Marked as resolved_

[k]_Re-opened_

And on a side note, what do you mean by “name lapse”?

[l]_Marked as resolved_

[m]_Re-opened_

[n]I thought you had told us his name in the real life opening scene, so I thought he had a different name in the dream bit. So when you used his name again in real life I was confused.

Yeah, you're going to want to put his name in there pretty early. Especially because this is in third person. The fancy technique you were trying /might/ work better if you only use his first name? As it is, it feels like you're introducing him as someone else.

That's just my opinion. Try and get a second and third opinion on this if you really want to pursue it.

[o]I understand what you’re saying. It is a little confusing. I’ll mess around with it some more.

[p]This paragraph seems droll and endless. XD

Seriously, though. I'm getting bored.

This seems like necessary foreshadowing, though, so maybe just combine this sentence with the next one. Shorten the whole thing.

This detailing what his whole day is like is not really a good way to start a story. It seems like it should be, because you're showing what his normal day is like, but it's not. Instead, show us what his normal day is like by showing us how today is different. Check out this article on the subject:

Okay, sorry, I'm having computer troubles. I'll be back to post the link.

[q]Ok I look forward to seeing it.

[r]Here's the article as promised:

https://goteenwriters.com/2013/02/04/7-things-you-need-in-the-beginning-of-your-story/

This isn't exactly the thing I was looking for, but it's close enough.

Note: "A glimpse of what their normal world looks like." And: "A disturbance in their normal world." You're showing normal life pretty well. And for the disturbance you do have the dream, but quite honestly, it's not disturbing him enough to make this story interesting yet. That's what I'm trying to say.

[s]Yep, yep. I catch your drift. It makes much better sense now.

[t]Info dump. i.e. more boring.

I hope I'm not being too blunt or offensive. I can try to break things to you a little easier if you want.

[u]No, no. I really like the critiquing. I just haven’t touched this for a week so I haven’t touched up anything yet. Been working on a different project. Yeah don’t tone it down, I want to be higher quality rather than lower quality.

[v]Yeah, don't worry about fixing any of this right away. I find it's easier for me to edit if I've given myself a little distance from the project first. Then I can come to it with somewhat fresh eyes.

[w]He stares at mice when he can't sleep? XD

[x]Haha no. He stares at “two holes eaten in the ceiling by mice.” It helps him concentrate, like counting sheep.

[y]It sounds like the sunlight is almost burning in the extreme heat of his face. XD

[z]This is too similar to the line:

"That did it for Sol."

[aa]In between what?

[ab]Is he trying to remember how he got here? Or is he wondering how he ended up there again?

[ac]A small area of a larger space dedicated to a movie theater? What's the larger space? I'm confused.

[ad]Okay, I'm confused. Where is he?

First he was home, then he was at the AA meeting, then he left to go to the theater? Now he's home again?

[ae]And who is this guy? Is this a different guy than this "Dalen"?

[af]Okay, I get who Dalen is now. XD

So, do they know his name, but he doesn't know theirs?

[ag]Another info dump.

You know what that is, right?

[ah]More dumping. Why not just show us what he's like?

[ai]So, is she alive or dead? Or is it just a dream, and she's talking even though she's dead?

[aj]This reminded me of the holes in his ceiling. Is it supposed to?

[ak]He's wide awake fast. I would expect him to hear more before he springs into action.

[al]This is the second time you used the word "second" in as many sentences.

[am]Unless she's saying the letters, this should be spelled out.

[an]It'd probably be a good idea to give us her name when they meet.

[ao]He just saw a creepy guy drive slowly by, watching him. Nothing may have happened, but I wouldn't call it dull.

[ap]Perhaps if you put a scene break just before this, it would break it up enough.

[aq]You might want to put a description of where he is before you tell us that he starts looking for her.

[ar]I thought he was across the street.

[as]Mark Twain once said "Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very'. Your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be."

"Very" usually modifies a boring adverb/adjective. Substitute both boring, unspecific words with one exciting, specific adverb/adjective. Like so:

very bad = horrible, or evil

very good = heavenly, or amazing

very neatly = perfectly, or immaculately

Also, a lot of people say not to use adverbs for this same reason.

[at]You might want to tell us he's not alone anymore when he enters the store.

[au]This is Luna, then?

[av]You might want to tell us his thought, or his/her physical reaction to show this instead of just telling us how he felt.

[aw]Why aren't you using her name?

[ax]He knows her name. Why is he still thinking of her as "the girl"?

[ay]You might want to tag this line. I got a little confused on who was speaking.

[az]I like it. The beginning is a little slow, like I pointed out, but other than that it's pretty good.

I shared a lot of what I've learned from my experience. I hope I wasn't too simplistic about it. I wasn't trying to talk down to you.

Anyway. Don't take any of the critiques too seriously. You'll get better the more you do. :-)

I look forward to reading more of your writing. That is, if you'll let me. XD

Would you be interested in giving me some feedback on the Good or Evil rewrite?

[ba]One thing I noticed after looking through it again, is that you often don't show him moving from one place to the next. He's just there. If you don't tell us he's moved, we'll assume he hasn't. Which gives the whole thing a feeling of the world moving around him.

Just watch out for that.

Another thing I noticed was your use of names. Something that I learned from my own work, is that I'll be writing and it'll feel like I'm using the names too much. But then I'll go back later and read it again, and I don't even notice how often I'm using the names. Obviously, that can be taken too far, but in general, don't be afraid to use the names. When in doubt, opt for clarity.