Mist. She can’t see through the mist. She clucked her tongue to call her dog to her side. A lifetime of practice has given her the ability to separate the dreams from reality; the moment she took her first step along the trail she knew she was dreaming.
But this is different.
Her dog was here, for one. While her faithful wolfhound has always been at her side in the physical world, he was never in her dreams and visions. The other thing is that this place felt familiar. She knew that she had never been there before but in her dream she felt something for it that she has trained herself not to feel for anything else: attachment.
She carefully took a step through the mist, waiting for something to happen. There is something in these woods, she thought. She was certain that it was evil. Before she can take another step, her dog suddenly growled and bounded forward to disappear in the mist.
“Dammit, Van Helsing, come back here!” She rushed forward, willing her eyes to quickly adjust to the darkness. She stopped, disoriented, then ran toward the sound of snarling. Dog, where are you? she thought desperately as she heard snarls that sounded differently from her dog’s.
As she burst out of the mist into a clearing, she saw Van Helsing and a large black wolf circling each other. The wolf looked up at her and she saw red eyes and a silver marking on it’s head.
Before she can call to her dog, the wolf bunched back and leaped at her.
She threw up her hand to shield herself but there was no need. Van Helsing had slammed his body against the wolf. She stood, dazed for a moment, as her dog and the wolf rolled around, their jaws snapping.
Get your shit together, Adrianna, she thought. Her heart rose to her throat as the wolf pinned Van Helsing and prepared to sink its teeth on his throat. Before she can throw up out a hand, a bolt of fire came down from the sky and struck the wolf.
Its scream before it burst into mist was almost human.
As she gathered her whimpering dog in her arms, she whispered over and over again that it’s just a dream.
A week passed before Addy deemed Van Helsing fully recovered from his injuries. During that week, she put her house on the market and has started packing her things. The sleepy town of Crisfield has been their home for three years – the longest she could remember in her thirty years – but it was time to leave. Again.
She felt no regret in leaving the town behind. She felt no sadness in clearing out her pantry in a kitchen that overlooks a backyard lawn leading to a small dock. She had no qualms packing her clothes in a bedroom with windows offering her a view of the pristine waters of the Chesapeake. It was not her way. Her way was to keep moving. Because while her lips called the beautiful bungalow with the wrap-around porch her home, in her heart she knew that it wasn’t.
Home has always been where her parents where. When they died in a car crash that she survived ten years ago, her home has been wherever she makes it.
She finished packing the brushes – the tools of her trade – and moved on to the tools her mother passed down to her. She always packed them last.
Van Helsing sat in the corner, thumping his tail, watching her carefully wrap her scythe.
“The realtor called this morning,” she told the dog. “He might have someone over next week to look at the house.” She placed the wrapped scythe inside a large black trunk and reached for her athame.
“We won’t be here anyway. We’ll be leaving in two days, dog.” Van Helsing yawned, used to his human talking to him. “I feel the need to go west, this time. Still close to water, but far from here.”
She picked up a piece of paper from the table and waved it at the dog. “It’s fate, Van Helsing. Finding a house for sale in Lanai island is nothing short of fate.”
Turning around, she picked up an oval scrying mirror and proceeded to wrap it, too. “Sure, it’s in Hawaii, which is way across the country. But a house on the beach on an island whose town doesn’t even have a traffic light? Perfect.”
And she felt it, in her gut. The moment she saw the ad the morning after her dream of the wolf, she felt the pull of the island. She never ignored her gut.
“You’ll have a lot of places to run around in. And maybe, no more wolf dreams.”
Van Helsing thumped his tail and huffed, as if telling her that he doubted that as much as she did.
She was tired. But she was exhilarated. She took her time driving from Crisfield to Los Angeles. By the time I get to Lanai, she thought, the house in Crisfield would probably have already been sold.
Looking at her rearview mirror, she carefully backed up her truck into the loading platform of the ferry. It took her the entire time from Ohio to Oklahoma to get used to driving with the large U-Haul.
It took only three days in Indiana before the dream came back. Tamer, yes, but somehow much worse. Addy felt that it was still gathering strength and she braced herself for the attack that may or may not come. What it was escaped her. None of her mother’s books and journals mentioned anything about a wolf with a triquetra on its head.
The libraries along the way were of no help, either. Not that most libraries carried the books that may contain what she’s looking for. She toyed with the thought of reaching out to the others, a thought rejected almost as soon as it formed. She was not a joiner; having no coven or apprentice.
It doesn’t mean she avoided company, though. For the weeks they stayed in Arizona, Addy took up hiking where she met many different people. It was there that she met three women who regularly cast their circle at the Catalinas. She stayed long enough to cast it with them and ask about the wolf. Receiving no useful response, she bid them farewell and went on her way. Addy didn’t join them again. She is content on her own, with only Van Helsing keeping her company.
The Saturday of their seventh week in Arizona, she dreamed of the forest again. There was no wolf this time, no mist. She was surrounded by a bright light coming from the sky and voices whispering in her ear.
The next morning, she packed, drove straight to LAX, and caught the noontime flight to Kahului. She arrived in Kahului Sunday afternoon and, having left her rental car in Los Angeles with instructions for it’s return, went straight to a dealership to purchase a secondhand pick-up truck.
The drive from Kahului to Lahaina Harbor had been uneventful and now, she was seated on the upper deck with Van Helsing. She wanted the salty air. She wanted to see the approach to her island.
She thought of it as her island without even setting sight on it.
“We’re almost there, dog,” she murmured to the wolfhound lying by her feet.
Van Helsing tilted his head. Then stood up and let out one short bark. The answering bark behind her had Addy turning her head. On the other end of the deck, a woman stood beside a large wolfhound that looks exactly like Van Helsing. The wolfhound barked again and started straining against the leash held by the woman. Addy saw the woman shrug, roll her eyes, then started walking toward them.
“Looks like they both found a friend,” she said. She had a smooth voice that held a hint of Western American accent.
“Looks like,” she replied. “I’m Addy.”
“Alyssa.” She reached out to shake Addy’s hand. “Visiting the island?”
“Actually, no. I’m moving there.” Addy said. “You?”
“Kinda visiting or kinda moving?”
“Visiting.” For a moment, Alyssa looked unsure. “I may have to spend quite a bit of time there.”
“It’s a bit difficult to explain.”
Addy shrugged. She had her fair share of unexplainable decisions so she rarely asked other people about theirs. She looked over the dogs, now rolling on and around each other. “They look so much alike.”
Alyssa laughed, “yeah, it’s a good thing they have differently-colored collars or we might end up bringing home the wrong dog.”
“It’s a good thing the island is small. It’ll be easy to return the dogs if that happens.” Addy said, chuckling.
The dogs rolled dangerously close to the deck railing but before Addy could call out a warning, Alyssa sharply called her dog’s name. Both wolfhounds looked sheepishly up at them before rolling away from the edge.
“Wait, what’s the name of your dog?” Addy asked.
“My dog’s name is Van Helsing. I was reading Bram Stoker when I got him five years ago from a woman who owned a shop that sold the most amazing skin creams.”
Suprised, Addy nodded. “yes, I lived in Montana for a time.”
Alyssa was quiet for a moment. “I was reading Bram Stoker when my mother’s wolfhound gave birth to two puppies. I kept one and gave one away” Another pause. “I live in Montana. My mother was a registered herbalist who owned a shop that sold medicinal potions and skin care products.”
This was important, Addy thought. I feel that there’s something important happening here.
“Defining moments,” Alyssa said. ” In her letter to me, my mother talked about how the little moments would define our lives. Me keeping one puppy. You adopting the other. Both of us reading the same novel at the same time and naming our dogs after the characters of the book. Us being on the same boat.”
It made sense. Addy’s brain can’t wrap itself around it yet but in her heart she knew that it made complete sense.
“How did you end up on this boat, Addy?” Alyssa asked.
“I saw an online ad about a house and felt the need to go there.” Addy answered. “So I loaded myself, Van Helsing, and our things on a car and a U-Haul, and drove from the Chesapeake to Los Angeles. I almost didn’t push through with it because I enjoyed staying in Tucson so much.”
“But you kept going.”
“Because of a dream.”
Addy watched the color drain from Alyssa’s face. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m on my way to the island because of a dream, too. And a letter.”
They were both silent for a bit.
“Wolf?” Addy asked.
“From someone named Anna, yes.”
“What did it say?”
Alyssa looked at her. “I think you know.”
“I never received a letter from anyone.”
“I think you know.” Alyssa repeated.
Addy remembered the last dream that she had of the woods. The one she had the previous Saturday with just the bright light and the whispers. The voices said the same thing over and over again.
Come home. Your sisters need you.