I Share A Room With My Autistic Brother. He’s Been Talking A Lot In His Sleep.

I can’t wake up from this nightmare.

I realized that rocky relationship aside, I needed to get my parents. I bolted out of my bedroom, then stopped in my tracks about halfway down the hall. He was saying something new. I heard it more and more clearly as I retreated back into the room, overwhelmed by curiosity.

“Hello? Hello?! Oh, thank God.” He sounded frightened for his life, and he was gasping, as though he were running from something. “I’m in trouble. My name is Anna Madsen, Annabeth Madsen, I need help. I need help.”

My stomach dropped, because Annabeth Madsen is my girlfriend.

A brief pause, then: “There’s a man, he’s after me, someone, someone stopped him but I think he’s following me, I hear him, I’m just running—“ another pause, and a hysterical sob.

“I’m, um, wait,” Lucas continued, my girlfriend’s words coming from his mouth. “The parking lot, the church, Baptist church, south of State Street, but wait, wait—”

I looked on at Lucas in disbelief, too stunned to even worry about Anna. “I’m running, I’m already past the parking lot, oh, God, I don’t know where he is, help, help!”

At this, I snapped back to reality. “Mom! Dad!” I roared. Louder. “MOM! DAD! HELP!”

“I think I can hear him still, it’s too dark, I can’t see him, I don’t even know how I got here,” Lucas sobbed, still lying flat and facing the bunk board, not moving a muscle. My parents burst into the room, terrified looks on their faces. They looked at Lucas. “What in God’s name—“ my dad began, but was interrupted by more from Lucas.

“No, no, I am, I’m turning left! I’m—I can see Starbucks, and the gas station, and—no, no, I see him! I see his lights! Hey! HEYYYYY! HELP! HEYYYYY!” Lucas was now screaming at the top of his lungs. My mother was screaming too, trying to shake him awake. But then his face started to relax, and his voice at once became more relieved. “Oh, thank God, thank you, thank you,” he sobbed. Then he was quiet.

That was everything he said, word for word. I’m able to remember it so exactly because the next morning, I listened to Anna’s 911 call at the police station. The voice in the call was Anna’s, but apart from that, I was listening to an echo.

When Lucas stopped talking that night, I dialed Anna with shaking hands. No answer. I sent her a text at 2:44—“hey this is gonna sound weird but are you alright? Call me. Sorry I’ll explain”—and got this reply at 2:47: “Not really, I’ll call give me a few minutes.” 26 agonizing minutes later, my phone rang.

I listened to her story. A little after 2:00 in the morning she found herself in a hoodie and her pajama bottoms, barefoot, on an old dirt road near the industrial district (it’s a small town, we still have a few unpaved streets). She didn’t remember how she got there, but her feet were dirty, and she realized she must have walked. She knew where she was from the street signs, and found that she had her phone in the pocket of her hoodie. Panicking, she pulled it out to call someone—me, in fact—and she was struck, hard, in the back. She fell to the ground, scrambled to a sitting position, and turned her phone toward her attacker. He wore gym shorts and a hooded sweatshirt, and his face was too shadowed to see clearly. She tried to get up, and he grabbed her by the shoulders and threw her to the ground. They struggled for a few minutes, and she was badly beaten—the only shot she was able to get in was to viciously claw his leg with her long fingernails. Some of his skin and blood remained on her fingers when the police brought her in, the only evidence she was able to provide of her attacker.

Just as she was nearing collapse from exhaustion, another man emerged from the shadows. At first, she thought he was with her attacker, but her attacker recoiled when he saw the stranger. She said he looked scared. The mystery man ran full speed at her assailant, who promptly released her and took off. The man caught up to her attacker about fifty feet away and tackled him to the ground. That’s when she ran. She called the police, sprinting barefoot through the town until she saw the police officer pulling out of the gas station parking lot. She entered his custody bruised, bleeding, the soles of her feet practically torn to shreds.

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