Dreams that do come true can be as unsettling as those that don't.

Brett Butler

I really can't see why this building should be condemned.

I know the economy is in a rut, but buildings can be reused. Admittedly, it is a bit lavish, but I much prefer that over a building that looks like a cinderblock.

"It's no wonder the business failed," Johnny observes, looking to the ceiling, which in that part of the building is more than twenty stories above us. The wall that houses the door that is the main entrance is entirely composed of glass, large portions being stained in magnificent colors vividly depicting Biblical tales. "The cost of air conditioning alone would be enough to do 'em in."

"I should like to see this place during the day," Catherine sighs, looking up at the glass wall.

I hear several sirens in the distance, but it isn't uncommon for this hour. Anyone driving at one in the morning is probably up to no good anyway. We should know.

I shine my flashlight in the corners of the room, but the only security cameras I can detect do not appear to be on. Looking into the black lens with the small red bulb no longer illuminated makes me think of looking into the eyes of something dead, and I shudder. I look away and point the light at the staircase I remember from my childhood.

My father is both a people person and a genius at mathematics, and found his calling when he was given a job at this place—the headquarters of charity mastermind FI (Food International—he always liked the simplicity) as head of the financial department. Much to my childhood delight, he worked on the top floor.

I have always been partial to adventures.

"You didn't tell me we were gonna have to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to see what you wanted to show us, Ellie," Johnny complains as the three of us start our trek to the top roof. I can only hope I'll be able to figure out how to get there.

"Would you like some cheese with your whine?" I tease, glancing over my shoulder to revel in his disapproving expression. He enjoys telling me how much trouble I'm going to get us all into, and how I'm going to be the death of him with my "outings" (as Catherine likes to call them), but he always seems to want to come anyway.

"You could have always stayed at home and listened to our fathers discuss their clients, Jonathan," Catherine reminds him, pointedly looking disgusted at the thought. She and Johnny are cousins, but Catherine had always lived in London until their fathers decided to merge practices to become better known—Cardew & Hartman, shrinks for the stars. It's actually Catherine's mother who is related to Johnny's father, but the two men get along as brothers. I have never seen such childish arguments from adults.

Johnny grumbles at her as we pass by a sign that says Level 3.

When we finally get to the top, it takes some searching to find the door that leads to the roof. The streetlights don't do much for us up there and we have to rely only on our flashlights and the bluish glow from the moon. Johnny finds the door is locked and suggests we leave, but I only smile at him as I pull a pin from my hair and shove it in the keyhole, moving it until I hear the click of the small pins inside the lock being even, and twist carefully.

The staircase is dark and smells like moisture and I am afraid to feel for the railing for fear of touching black mold, but I do anyway. It is cold and rough and I decide against taking a better look with my flashlight. Since Johnny doesn't step up and go first, I lead the way.

We are on the staircase a surprisingly short period of time before my head clunks painfully against something above me. I find that the doorway opens upward and is thankfully unlocked; I push it open with all the strength I can muster, accidentally dropping my flashlight (and hearing a loud "Ow!" from Johnny). Moonlight pours down on us and I am suddenly aware of just how bright it is. The air smells particularly good compared to the miniscule cave of a staircase, and I pull myself onto the roof without looking back.

I walk to the edge, followed closely by Johnny and Catherine, and look down. Crescent City is beautiful; it looks as if it's the Pacific itself that is reflecting the twinkling lights of the night sky, but that isn't why we've come here.

"We have a message to deliver," I inform them.

Catherine is a good sport and looks excited, but Johnny raises an eyebrow. "A message?"

"Yes," I nod, pulling a crumpled piece of paper out of my pocket. I probably shouldn't have shoved it in there so carelessly, but it doesn't matter now. All it needs to do to serve its purpose is to fold into a paper airplane. "A message."

Johnny steps closer and looks over my shoulder to read it aloud, even though he and Catherine always tell me my writing looks like chicken scratch.

Dear recepeent,

It's come to my attention that the world lacks people with aspirations. If you will, write your greatest dream on the back of this page and place it discreetly in that little runty palm tree by the main post office. You know which one I'm talking about. I would like to know if humanity still has hope.



"You spelled 'recipient' wrong," is all Johnny says.

Catherine, however, is much more reasonable. "Oh how exciting!" she exclaims. "A bit overdramatic, but I should love to see the expression on the person's face who gets this. But how are you going to deliver it?"

"I'm not going to," I say, my smile being much more of a smirk than I intend. "The wind will."

I finish folding it, sharpening the tip by rubbing it between my fingers, and we count to three. I release it as my grandfather taught me, so that it glides gracefully until we cannot see it anymore. For all I know, it will get caught in a gust of wind and be carried to the bottom of the ocean. But at least now I have something to look forward to.

We sit on the ground, leaning against the wall that lines the perimeter of the building, and breathe in the night air. Catherine looks as glamorous as ever with her luminescent skin and flowing auburn hair, and momentarily I am jealous when I am aware of my own tirelessly curly, plain old brown poof. I push the thought away, however, because even at my age I knew nothing good ever comes of jealousy.

"Tell us about your dream last night," Catherine begs. I haven't told her that I had a dream, but she doesn't need me to. I dream nightly. I am a restless, terribly light sleeper, but at least it makes for good stories.

"Oh, this wasn't a very good one…" I say, my lips curling up slightly. It really isn't, but it makes her want to know even more.

"Oh come on, we want to hear it, don't we Jonathan?" she says, pinching him.

He grunts.

"Alright then," I shrug. "Well, I was on live television, on the newscast with Darrell Davis. And I was completely naked."

"No!" Catherine gasps, giggling.

"Spare us," Johnny says dryly, rolling his eyes but smiling.

As I recount my frightfully embarrassing dream, I swear I see a shadow moving from the other end of the rooftop. I cast it aside as a cloud moving across the moon, but later that evening when I'm back in my house I realize that the sky is clear that night. That is the last night my adventures seem so peaceful.

That is the night Mark moves in, and the first night in quite some time that my dreams change to nightmares.

A/N: My first time to write a story in present tense, but I must say I like it better than past so far.

I believe the summary tells you basically what the story will be about, but does this prologue give enough information to keep you interested? Commentary is much appreciated. :D I should like to know if it would be better to rewrite this prologue.