Aurora practically drags herself up the stairs after pulling two all-nighters at the lab, her only escape to get food and a quick shower. Her bag thuds on the ground behind her, the only things inside being her phone and a half-eaten sandwich. Having had no luck finding Bryce to talk with about Jennifer and Chris, she settles for her only option. Stepping out of the stairwell, she can already hear her brother and Thomas talking from their room. The door is wide open, but slams shut to muffle their voices. Aurora considers going back to her room even though it has felt like a meat locker during her last few stops. She is about to return to the stairwell when a door below her is kicked open and a couple begins arguing at the top of their lungs. Not wanting to push through the spat, she resigns herself to dealing with whatever crazy scheme Apollo and Thomas are working on.
Taking off her lab coat, Aurora walks down the hallway, but stops at the sensation of someone watching her. Gradually turning around, she catches a flicker of movement in a cobweb-covered window. Inching closer, she finds a moth trapped in the sticky strands that get tighter around it. With no spider to eat it, the insect continues to thrash until it falls to the floor and flaps its useless wings. Aurora bends down to pick up the tiny creature, but leaps back when a lizard darts between her legs to snatch up the meal. Hearing footsteps behind her, the tense woman gets out of the way of a gasping student, who is desperately trying to recapture his runaway pet.
Muttering about needing to drink less coffee, Aurora heads for the room and prepares to knock on the door. Hearing the argument inside, she sighs and settles for slowly entering instead of announcing herself. Her presence is ignored by the two scowling roommates, who have moved to their beds. Old newspapers are spread on the floor and there are printouts pinned to the walls, which once held amusing and raunchy posters. Aurora notices lengths of yarn running from one clipping to another, but there is no pattern to the connections. Scanning the room, she is disappointed in finding no sign of alcohol, which would help explain the tempers and mess that is before her.
“I take I you didn’t hear that Chris disappeared,” Aurora says as she lets the door close behind her. She freezes when two pairs of bloodshot eyes meet her arrival, neither one blinking for a few seconds. “Then again, I guess you have. Bryce wasn’t around, so I figured I would come here to talk about it. Kind of surprised that Harvey isn’t with you too. Unless you drove him away with whatever this is.”
“Let me explain it before you sabotage my argument,” Thomas snaps, throwing his pillow at Apollo. Hopping to his feet, he wavers until the sudden lightheadedness passes and he is no longer afraid of falling. “To be fair, we agree that there is something here. Not so much on what to do. Oh, this has nothing to do with Jennifer or Chris. Really confused on how the rink could have melted so quickly. Anyway, this is about your shared dream. Apollo finally told me a detail that got me thinking. Specifically, about who this mysterious Mrs. Addison is. To keep things to the point, it was a year after we were born, but there was a Dawn Addison who lived in New York City and had a golden eye. I showed your brother a picture and he says that this woman is exactly who is showing up in his dreams. Only she ran a hotel and had nothing to do with a school.”
Apollo holds up a picture and hands it to his sister before grabbing another article. “I’m arguing that we might have heard the name or seen something about her. The woman became an urban legend after her hotel called Heaven’s Nest collapsed. She was inside and wasn’t one of the few survivors. The place wasn’t very far from where we grew up, Aura, so it isn’t a stretch to think we’ve had more exposure to her than others. I know, it sounds ridiculous, but I can’t deny that this woman is in our dream. The resemblance is perfect and even the behavior matches the stories that tell of her being eccentric. After the accident, an office who was trying to arrest her for murder said Dawn Addison was like a living dream that had a flimsy relationship with reality.”
“That has to mean that she jumps into people’s heads!” Thomas blurts out as he picks up a pile of papers. He thumbs through them until he reaches an article that has a picture of Gemma Cooke in her uniform. “There’s too much weirdness here for it to normal. Dawn’s body was supposedly cremated, but nobody knows for sure. This woman vanished a few months after the accident if you can even call it that. Every explanation for the hotel collapsing has holes in it like no damage to the underground gas pipes and proof that the building was constructed to code. The materials were fine until the moment they abruptly broke with no warning whatsoever. Survivors even said that nothing was out of the ordinary until the floor went out from underneath them. It has to mean something.”
“Maybe that you’re either drinking too much or should consider writing a book,” Aurora replies while she takes a seat. Looking at the picture, she cannot avoid the fact that the woman is the same one from her dreams. “Say you’re right about Dawn Addison being in our heads. Why stay there for eighteen years? She hasn’t driven us to do anything other than jolt out of bed sweating. More than likely, our parents talked a lot about her and read about her, which we overheard. They were into spooky stories before we were old enough to speak, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they talked us about Heaven’s Nest around us.”
Refusing to admit defeat, Thomas goes to his wall and tries to find the article that he is sure will convince Aurora that he might be right. Unable to locate the page, he moves to the floor and checks to see if Apollo has moved his research around. Pausing to take a sip from his flask, the determined young man moves on to his computer and goes about printing out what he needs. His tongue sticks out as he searches for more information, each page falling to the floor until he remembers the tray. Grabbing the small pile, Thomas hands half of it to Aurora and the other to Apollo, both of them dropping the pages into a trashcan.
“Now, you two are just being mean,” he replies while reclaiming the printouts. Wiping some pencil shavings off the top page, he holds it out without getting too close. “There have been Dawn Addison sightings all over the place for the last eighteen years. Most of them take place in New York City, but there are others scattered about the state. Not to mention a few in Oregon, one in Alaska, and a handful on cruise ships around the world. They all talk about a woman with a golden eye that is there one second and gone the next. Even though it is so quick, people swear they’ve seen her. How are we to know that Dawn isn’t a ghost?”
“Because we’re sane and at least two of us believe in science,” Apollo calmly replies, his patience for the haunting story running out. Picking up his own research, he hands the thin stack of papers to his sister. “I’m thinking what you are. We might have heard about this woman when younger and she became our boogeyman. There’s nothing more to it than that because the supernatural doesn’t exist. Doesn’t matter if there’s a local place with the same name as the hotel.”
“Oh yeah, there’s that hotel and restaurant called Heaven’s Nest just off campus,” Aurora mentions with a chuckle. Her empty stomach rumbles at the thought of food, which causes her to blush. “Let me guess. Thomas wants to check it out to see if there’s a connection. Sounds pretty ridiculous, but I’ll agree to go along.”
“Great-” Thomas begins to say before he is silenced by a finger to his lips.
“Only because I’m hungry and you’ll be paying for the food.”
“Well, it’s kind of pricey.”
“Then, I’m not going.”
“Wait! What about a compromise?”
Ignoring Apollo waving his hands, Aurora grins and replies, “Very well. I’m willing to negotiate. Let’s hear your offer.”