“Dream with me…” he whispers.
Yes. I will, Sun Yu thinks. He opens the door and steps across the threshold.
It’s cold inside, so cold Sun Yu can feel it even in his sleep. The stove isn’t lit. That’s the trouble. Sun Yu moves forward and notices that the stove isn’t really a stove at all. It wobbles, and underneath that image, he can make out old bricks gone to rot and ruin. Out of the corner of his eye, he spies a rat. It stops to sniff a pile of bones.
Alarmed, Sun Yu turns to his family. The children are no longer smiling. They’re lined up, staring at him.
“Dreamwithusdreamweneedyoutodream…” the children chorus, his wife looking on, her teeth sharp and her eyes like coals.
Sun Yu’s heartbeat begins to double, an autonomic response. Fight or flight. Even in sleep, it works. Sun Yu wants to wake up, but the dream won’t let him. It’s angry that he’s trying to escape. When he runs for the door, it slams shut.
“You promised,” the dream growls in a voice as thick as a choir of demons.
The music-box song plays. The last of the pretty facade peels away. The dark moves in.
It’s already starting out so good
Lee Fan pretended to be interested in Ling’s stack of library books. “What are you reading now?”
“Ways to poison without detection,” Ling muttered.
Lee Fan waved away Ling’s admonitions. “Yes, fine, fine.”
“That will be five dollars.”
Lee Fan’s mouth rounded in shock. “That’s outrageous!”
It was, of course. But Ling always started the bargaining high—and even higher if the request was downright stupid, which Lee Fan’s was. Ling shrugged once more.