We downgraded from our pleasant life in London to a tiny cottage in Nowhere, Germany. They couldn’t get us there. Germany got Dad going with the theys and the thems. It didn’t help that Mr. Darius told him it was okay to form a small group for his supporters. The group loved to entertain his paranoia.
Mom referred to the group as Reese Quinn’s Band of Loony Toons. Dad preferred the shorter title “Dream Chasers.” I only saw his supporters in passing. I made a point to avoid them. It was easy since Dad spent more time with them than he did with us.
He formed the group to make contact with the dream world he referred to as Draio (pronounced like mayo, which made it difficult to take seriously). The group was also going by names starting with the letter “D” to honor their mentor: Darius. There was Davis, Damon, Dane, and Dax.
Dad went by Darius to signify he was the leader. When Dad explained this to Mom, he said he had cleared the use of the name with the real Darius. Mom didn’t dignify that with a response.
I was feeling exhausted. It had been a long time since I interacted with anyone but my parents. I love them both, but they hardly got along anymore. I was moving into my pre-teens and starting to feel the brunt of a missing childhood.
Eventually, Dad moved his meetings to our basement against my mother’s wishes. Listening to them have their meetings was like overhearing a bad spy movie. I heard Davis whisper to Dad that “things had been taken care of” and they “had made contact with home base.” It didn’t help alleviate my theory that my dad was a spy for the government. The spy theory made moving all of the time a little easier to swallow. It was better than thinking he was insane.
Mom didn’t allow me to listen to their meetings after a while. She made a point to make fun of Dad and his friends every time I asked her about them. She really blew her gasket when the group made a decision as a group that we were all going to move to the U.S. together.
Dad said it was the best place to avoid the enemy. He said, “We will be safe and protected. Hell, we will move somewhere where the enemy will never expect.”
Mom, poised to take the place of the enemy, said, “Where will that be exactly?”
Dad turned back to his team for confirmation. They all nodded in unison. “Kansas,” he said.
Mom almost fell over, “Jesus Christ, what are we going to do in Kansas?”
Dad walked up to hold her hand. She yanked it away. Dad said, “It’s the safest option. We can finally have stability, Alan can go back to public school, and we never have to move again.” He started to say something else, but Davis stepped up and shook his head, advising against it.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t flinch at the idea of taking the group with us. But, then, I thought about a chance to go back to school. It was a chance to make friends and get a break from the crazy life Dad had provided for us.
Mom said, “If you are lying to me, Reese. Alan and I are leaving and you will never see us again.” Before Dad could respond, she said, “I never told you to take this job. I believed in you and, I’ll admit, the money was a little blinding, but I can’t do this anymore. It isn’t fair to Alan. It isn’t fair to me.”
Dad said, “I promise all of your dreams will come true in Kansas.”
The Dream Chasers had a meeting the night before we would make the flight to Alabama. Dad, particularly loud that evening, spoke with enough volume to carry the sound through the vent in my bedroom. He was talking about Draio like he was preaching at a church service.
He said, “Brothers, the scourge reached for me last night. They ripped and pulled me from my bed right into their world. Naturally, I fought back against their prying fingers, but I grew tired quickly. What did I find when I gave in to their demon grasps? Horror? Death? No. I found poetry. A castle, colored like a child practicing with pastels, stands as a backdrop for meadows lush with blue grasses. Children who could shift into any animal they choose rolled around with creatures I can’t even pretend to describe, but that isn’t even the best part. You want to hear the best part?”
This was met with a resounding “Tell Us” from the other dream chasers.
Dad continued, “The world had a bit of a construction crew. I could feel the heat beat against my face as not men, but dragons used their flames for creation. Their fire built everything.”
The silence from the group told me Dad had them all in the palm of his hand. I was captivated.
“But, then they reappeared. I’m telling you, brothers, the Silhouettes destroyed everything with a flick of the wrist. They came into the valley, bringing the night with them like a sliding glass door. The castle fell into ruin. The children, who were so happy moments before, fled in terror. Draio fell right before my eyes and there was nothing I could do. The Silhouettes had me stuck to the ground. They made me watch as the world of dreams turned to ash.”
Damon, normally quiet, spoke up, “Brother Darius, what can we do?”
Dad’s voice was choked with tears, “Brother Damon, we need to expand. The war with the Silhouettes begins now.”
A war? My dad had lost his mind completely. I was beginning to think Mom had made a mistake not having him committed. I wanted to wake her up to let her know what the Dream Chasers were planning, but I feared it would make it worse.
Dad shouted, “The Silhouettes will woe the day they attempted to recruit Alan to their ranks. They will try to warp him to their cause, but loyalty never lies. No, no. I saw them again last night—the cages are ready. The world, once so magical, is a distant blur, but we will have our revenge. “
The dream chasers spoke in unison, “CAGE THE SILHOUETTES.”
I wished everything had been a big joke or that I was dreaming. It all sounded too real, but maybe that was the point. I just don’t want him dragging my name into this. Freaked out, I went to bed.
What would the Silhouettes want with me?
Thomas William Shaw is an author and stage actor from Birmingham, AL. He lives with his wife, Lauren, their children, and their cats in a quiet place. Occasionally he will post about it.