Monday, 28 April 2014

DreamTime

My first attempt at a prompt from Light and Shade Challenge.  I took the prompt from the quote, 'A dream can poison sleep,' from Mutability by Percy Blyshe Shelly.  It was harder than I thought it would be.  

Cassie tried to get back to sleep.  The dream was haunting her again.  She focused on her breathing.  She mustn't wake Jim next to her.  She mentally snuggled back in to the dream.
"Cassie, are you awake?"
Cassie rolled over to see her husband.  "Go back to sleep, Jim." She said softly.
"It's that dream again, isn't it?  I can always tell."
Cassie stretched to see the bedside clock.  It said 2.17am.  "It's late Jim, go back to sleep.  You have a heavy day in front of you."
"So do you." Jim sat up and rubbed a hand over his weary face.  "Listen, I know you have trouble getting back to sleep after that dream.  Why don't we go down into the kitchen for some hot milk."
Cassie trailed after him.  The kitchen was cold and hard after the soft bed.  "You don't need to do this, Jim.  Honestly, I'll be fine."
Jim put two mugs of milk in the microwave.  "Should I add a little nutmeg?"
Cassie shook her head.  "I still don't like nutmeg." She smiled.  "But thank you anyway."
"This dream, it's almost every night." Jim was watching the microwave but suddenly turned around to look hard at Cassie, standing dreamy eyed.  "We should go to the doctor.  I could come in with you and help you explain.  I know you have trouble talking to doctors."
Cassie shook her head firmly.  If she took sleeping pills she could lose her dream.  "Why don't I stay down here?  I can read for a bit and get ready for sleep.  You can rest in bed."
"You know I can't sleep if you aren't next to me." The microwave pinged and Jim pulled out the hot milk, giving it a quick stir.  "Are you sure that you won't have some nutmeg?  I'll add some anyway."
"If you add it I won't drink it."  Cassie wondered why it was so hard to have milk without nutmeg.
"It would just be better for you." Jim grumbled.  The nutmeg hovered over the milk for a moment, then he took it away.  "I could go with you to a dream analyst.  Some of them are really good.  I know a few people who have used them."
"I don't think so." Cassie said, sipping her milk. 
"We can drink the milk together in bed." Jim suggested.  He led the way back to the bedroom.  As they slid into the cooling sheets he frowned. "We have to get this dream sorted out.  I can't keep waking like this."

Cassie lay still beside him, listening to his breathing almost instantly slip into the slow, regular sighs of sleep.  Jim could never stay awake for more than a minute.  Then she stared into the dark and slid back to her dream.  She was walking again in the golden sunlight with blossom in the trees and the birds singing.  She lay down on the soft, warm river bank and listened to the river chuckling.  And she was all alone.   

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The Wrong Portal


Steve froze.  The door closely heavily behind him.  Armani the Imp crouched low on his shoulder.
"This is bad boss." The imp had faint wisps of steam oozing from his wing tips.  Very bad.
Steve nodded.  Ahead of him stretched an avenue of green and mist caressed trees leading to an idealised farmhouse.  If he had come into the correct faerie domain he should be looking at a stern stone corridor with an iron bound door leading to the court of Lord Ragnar.  "I think we've been diverted.  This feels like a magical domain, just the wrong one."
"We went through the right portal." Armani shifted nervously from foot to foot.  "It stinks of leech here.  I'll have a look."
As Armani silently flapped ahead, Steve started cautiously moving forward.  All the vampires he knew were more than capable of creating a magical domain for a few hours, just long enough to trap an unwary traveller through a portal.  Steve swallowed as he felt fear crawling down his back.  Vampires were fast, strong and very, very ruthless.   He pulled his stake out from his pocket and held it for an overhand thrust.  Nothing behind the first two trees facing each other across the deceptively rustic pathway.  Steve breathed deeply.  He glanced quickly behind him.  There was no way out there, the door had vanished and gentle fields of corn rolled into the distance.
Armani was using the trees' canopy for cover as he hopped from tree to tree.  Apart from the soft cooing of woodpigeons, the faint rustle of his progress was the only sound. 
Steve took another few steps, stake ready.  Why did it have to be a vampire?  If it had been a boggart or a werewolf they would have just tried to rip his head off in a straightforward way.  Vampires played games.  The next two trees were clear as well.  Steve checked his pocket with his free hand.  He still had the package for Lord Ragnar.  That was probably what this was all about.  He wished he knew what was inside but he wasn't risking looking.  The ground felt soft and springing under his feet.  The next two trees were clear.
"Over here, boss."
Steve strode over to where the imp was pointing.  At the far side of a tree was a vampire bound with wire.  He was cut almost to ribbons trying to get out and his eyes were wild.  His lips dripped with froth.  "He's on dragon's blood.  It looks like it has rotted most of his brain.  There's no point in asking questions."

As Armani finished the vampire off with the stake tucked thoughtfully in the wire at the side, Steve looked around for any further clues.  There was nothing.  The trees wavered and dissolved and then Steve and Armani were standing in the reassuringly spartan stone corridor looking at the iron bound door of Lord Ragnar.  "I owe someone a favour." Steve said thoughtfully, before knocking with the great iron knocker. 

Written during v chaotic time here, sorry for any typos.