“This is the year I stick around,” Jane mused to herself.
It was a promise she made herself every year around Christmas, though never the same date around Christmas and almost never on the day itself. Despite feeling the need of routine to prove her point, the rest of her existence had become utterly detached of regularity. Calendars were a joke to Jane now, and the only reason she had a watch on her lapel was to monitor the heart rate and record the time of death.
It was with quiet but steadfast enthusiasm that she reflected on her plan to remain in this Time Zone the coming year, now she had settled on rounding off her last patient before some reflection time. They had incurred a far few more burns than she had from being catapulted across some parallel dimensions, and she had clung onto this one without the warping effect getting to her as it had him. He had scratched himself so hard losing his mind that he still smouldered. She had done her best to heal him, but the best she could do for him in the end was to soften his screaming.
Her plan this year was to stay completely away from the dimensional borders. They were less threatening spaces because not many Nightmares wanted to suffer annihilation from a slip into reality-hopping, so Jane often stayed by them for peace and quiet, as well as her passion for sorting out whoever came flying through them with their scrambled heads. However, every year without fail had jumped her into a different part of time altogether, which was a lot more difficult to navigate back through than space. She found her way back to the present from which she originated, the 21st Century, under the course of a year every year, using portals she has mastered crafting herself to make loopholes that did not obliterate the structures of anything else in the dimensions she passed through. But it was like chicken in the waves: there were only so close you could keep jumping back before the tide got you.
Ah, Minehead. A missed reality.
This had been happening since she lost the boy, actual years ago. Though they shared the present she returned to and so they aged roughly the same, she refused to depend on his appearance now, and became much wiser than him for it. His imagined abilities were powerful but unstable and frequently erratic between elements; hers with consistent and calculated, if troublesome.
She decided it was time to leave the body and try to clear her chosen shelter of the night from the Nightmares guaranteed to scrapping her spot with her if she did not act first. Walking across the invisible space, she prepared a warp hole in her hands and turned her mind from healing to shunning. Then, in a beige wall fabricating, she turned to see the mirror, and there he was: the boy, staring into something.