Dreamscape: Saving Alex by Kirstin Pulioff
Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy
Published April 15th, 2015
Sixteen-year-old Alexis Stone is used to getting away from life’s frustration with Dreamscape, a video game she’s loved since childhood. As her family prepares to move, a sleepy night of gaming pulls her into the world like never before. Trapped in Dreamscape’s realm, Alex is about to learn that being a hero has consequences… and this time, the stakes are deadly. Will helping the rebellion cost her everything she knows and loves? Or will she betray them to save her own life?
I stared at him, the confusion in his dark eyes partially hidden by the hair sliding down his forehead. “What did you expect me to do? You practically told them I would defeat the king by myself!” I yelled.
“With our help.”
I shot him that look again. “Do you think that makes it better? I don’t know how to fight. I know how to win a game, not kill an evil king. Those are two very different things, and you know it. You can’t just sign me up for your rebellion without asking. All I care about right now is getting home and getting out of this game.”
“Isn’t that all life is, though, a game? Aren’t we all just trying to find a way through?”
“Yes, this is just a game. One that I desperately need to get out of.”
“This may just be a game to you, but it’s our lives. Don’t let the fear of being the hero keep you from doing what’s right.”
“But this isn’t real. None of this is real.”
“What’s more real than the things you can touch and feel?” He reached out and pressed his lips to my hand. “The things that touch you.”
“Stop fighting and listen. Not to me, but to yourself. You know you want to do what’s right.”
“Arrow, there’s more to it than that. You can’t put your hope in me.” I turned around so he wouldn’t see the tears streaking my cheeks.
“We already do. I don’t understand why you can’t.” He grabbed my wrists and turned me back around. “Look at what you’ve already done. You’re more than just a hero.”
“Let me go. It was one thing going along to get your papers, but this—” I said, pointing to the tavern. “This is too much. Did you see that little boy? I can’t be responsible for his life. What if I get him killed? I didn’t ask for any of this. I’m tired of people expecting me to do things without asking.”
“Then what do you want?”
“I want to go home. I’m sorry for ever giving you the idea that I could do more. But them?” I pointed back to the tavern. “They need a real hero. That’s you, or your men. At some point, I have to stop pretending before someone gets hurt. I’m not a hero. This is nothing more than a costume. I won’t let that boy, or any of them, put their faith in an imitation, not when they need something more.”
“You’re more than you realize.”
“I’m nothing here. This isn’t real. You’re not real,” I screamed, pushing him away. “I can’t pretend anymore.”
His eyes hardened. “I had hoped I’d mean more to you by now. I can understand you’re afraid, but I don’t understand how you can be so self-absorbed. You can’t just push us away, telling me that we’re a game. What do you think happens when you’re not here? Do you think we disappear?”
“I-I don’t know!”
“Let me tell you—we don’t. This isn’t a game. This is a fight to reclaim our kingdom. I can’t tell you why you were sent as our hero. And honestly, if you can’t find a way to put someone ahead of yourself, I don’t know what good you’d be. I’m done wasting my time. If you want to go home, then go.”
“Now you’re not being fair. You’re twisting my words to make me look bad.”
“Goldy, I don’t need to twist anything to do that.”
I slapped him, then balled my fist to my mouth, cringing as I waited for his reaction.
He rubbed his cheek and turned back to me with a spiteful grin. I held my breath as he came closer. “Did that feel real enough for you? What about this?” He reached behind me and pulled me near.
My protests stopped as his lips covered mine. Everything gave way to his demanding kiss. My knees weakened, and I fell further into his arms. I grabbed his sleeves, pulling him closer, feeling my greed resurface. And then he pulled back and unhooked my hands from his sleeves.
“Was that real enough for you?” He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and retreated into the dusty town.
I watched him leave, feeling a pang of longing with every step he took. My chest heaved, refusing to hold anything but my shattered heart.
“Yes,” I whispered, feeling the lingering of his lips and the burn of regret.