It started in shadows and echoes. Then, the darkness gave way to light. Bright and white, it surrounded her, encased her. She is a bird in a glass cage, stumbling forward on unsteady legs.
“Hello?” she called, capturing the light with her fingertips. Trying to keep it far from her eyes, “Hello?” she said again. Her own voice replied. A cavernous echo.
And this is how it began when one Dreamed. The eyes close and sleep does not come. Instead, a world opens.
She stopped in what she believed was the center of the room. Instead of staring into what she saw as a skylight, she looked around. Looked around for Him.
She could hear his voice.
The eyes close. A world opens. Created by the One Who Dreams, it starts out a blank canvas and ends up a—
“Seriously,” she said, cocking her head. Her lavender horns glinted in the white light, “are we really going to do this? I’ve been here three times—at least! So, stop with all the dramatics!” she said, waving her hand, “Just come out already!”
The narrating voice chuckled, the laugh melodious. Low and dark and deep.
He materialized. Deep blue skin didn’t reflect well with white walls, so he made the blank canvas fall away and showed the realms true face. Black sky overhead, white stars sprinkled throughout with throwaway spheres. Planets, though she wouldn’t have known that.
He took her shoulders in his hands, “Is it time?”
She swallowed. She had only Dreamed like this three times and the first two times were terrible. The first the worst of all. There were two worlds she had to uphold. One she called, Day, where her family and friends lived, the other called Night; where she could create a world that met her standards. One where her true dreams could exist.
She shrugged his hands off of her shoulders. Divine or not, she hated it when men exerted themselves on her.
“Mom wants to send me away,” she said and he clicked his tongue, “she says it’s too dangerous for me to Dream without a teacher.”
“Well,” he said, moving like a shadow until he was in front of her. Baring down on her. She was taller than most men as long as they were human. But this man wasn’t a man, was he?
His horns were a lot like hers—meaning that, well, they were horns. But the similarities ended there. His horns were a lot longer than hers, a lot like an elderbeasts’. He stood a head taller than her and he wore the feathered corpses of crows and ravens and vultures. His eyes were a single color. Black.
“Well,” he said again, his voice a constant low whisper, “I warned you. Mortals do not understand the Dreaming Talent. They fear it,” he opened his arms. His fingers were like long, black, talons that elongated the farther he reached out, “but I do not. We do not.”
She still didn’t want to do it. But now that her mother threatened to send her away, she felt like she might have to. That is—unless she couldn’t broker some kind of deal. Would a divine make a deal with her? A caprician mortal?
She stuffed her hands into the pockets of her tattered nightgown. She had never thought to buy another. It seemed like a waste of fabric to begin with.
“I thought…maybe you could give her a dream where I’m okay,” she said, “maybe something…prophetic?”
His face remained blank, though the air around him thickened. In the sky, she watched an asteroid burn across the black.
“You have thought about my offer.”
She nodded. She had.
She had seen the Dreamers Houses. Seen what happened to Dreamers when they stepped into their Night worlds and never returned. She couldn’t do that to her family. But they sought to send her away from everything she had ever known. They…
He had come even closer. The Divine stared her down and tipped her chin up. Forced her to meet those glaring devils eyes.
“And?” he said more forcefully.
“I—I don’t want to leave my family.”
His smile did not reach his eyes, “You will not be,” he began, “imagine: a perfect family. One that will never send you away because you are able to do this,” he said and flung his arm toward the landscape.
It changed. Faded from black sky with white stars to a happy green field with a cottage far in the distance.
Home. It made her heart beat faster. Right beyond his shoulder was the place she had spent most of her life—the place that she hoped to spend the rest of it too.
He hardened his grip on her chin.
“You want this, do you not?”
She couldn’t nod, “Yes.”
“Then, go.” He said, letting go of her. Giving her a little shove, “Run to it.”
She stumbled forward, then looked back. He was no longer there.
Go! Said a voice hissing overhead. Be with your family!
And she knew what this meant. Going—running. But she sprinted anyway. And, for a long while, the distance between herself and the house didn’t change. She was running through a field of grass without a smell. Through a world where the wind made no noise. Then, something within her chest snapped, and the wind came whistling over the green stalks and the grass smelled sharply of life. As if a barrier had been breached, she pushed through and the house was within her reach.
What happens when a Dreamer Dreams and does not wake?