A short story written for the Fantasy Unraveled contest, January 2021.
Just before the poison took effect, Aurora knew everything. In a flash she saw the wicked scheme that would put her to sleep until an undesired prince came along and woke her up with a kiss. As the blood seeped from the pin-prick in her finger, and her eyes grew heavy, the face of that... WITCH flashed before her.
In her final moment of conscious thought, Aurora promised herself that she would get her revenge. The only problem was how she could go about doing that.
Sleep took her over, but it was not a dreamless sleep. It was one full of action, of fleeting images. There was no order to them, no sense, and Aurora was powerless to control them in any way. The images and events washed over her and dragged her along with them.
Flashes leaped and flared. She saw the royal wedding that her mother longed for, the joining of kingdoms that was her father’s desire. Aurora got glimpses of her friends as they continued to have some fun with their lives while she was married to a prince. There was no more freedom, very little fun, just duty after duty as she began to lose all of her former companions.
No! That simply would not do. There HAD to be another way to break the curse that had been put upon her.
After she had been asleep for several days, Aurora began to experiment. At first she took only baby steps, perhaps by saying something unexpected, or when she grew braver, showing up to dinner a few minutes late. The important thing was that she was beginning to be able to exert some control over her dream state.
Getting braver and bolder, Aurora imagined her betrothal dance as being not hers but of Griselda, her cousin. It was she, after all, that had fallen for the prince’s charms. While Griselda beamed with happiness, Aurora herself was free to dance, or not, with whoever she chose. That image was much more to her liking, and her feeling of contentment only served to make her stronger.
Aurora began to travel through the small kingdom. At first her journeys were short, for they seemed to be so exhausting even though she was asleep while traveling. She gradually let her body fly further and further away, until she found the hiding place of the old crone who had put her under the curse.
The problem was that seeing was simply not good enough. Aurora needed to find a way into people’s dreams, for there was no use of a vision without being able to communicate and make some alterations. It was not something that she relished, for Aurora realized that by entering someone’s dream state she would become witness to their most secret wants and their silenced thoughts. If only there was some other way...
Reluctantly, Aurora stepped into her mother’s dream. She wanted to scream out when the vision of a charming prince riding a white horse appeared. There was a moment when she saw herself, asleep, before the prince leaned forwards to brush her lips with his own.
No! No! No! Aurora simply could not just lie down and let that happen.
Aurora began to hop from one person’s dream to another. It was tricky and disorientating, for it was rare that the dreams would be complementary to each other. When her father appeared inside her mother’s dream, Aurora made herself pour into her father’s head. Instantly she became transported to his dream instead and the difference... well, it made her mentally stagger.
There was another problem. No matter how many times she let herself float into a different reality, no one dreamed of the witch. Had no one realized who was behind the curse that held her prisoner? Obviously not, or at least some of the dreams should have been filled with plots of revenge. If she was going to get inside the old hag’s sleeping head Aurora was going to have to do it all by herself.
First she made the journey. It was a long way, and the traveling was hard, but at least this time she knew exactly where to go. Resting up for a while, Aurora took in the smug expression, the feeling of imminent success. Well, she’d soon change that, if she found a way inside that head.
The witch took a long time to retire for the night, or rather for the day. It was only once the old woman began to snore that Aurora let herself waft her way into that mind. Not used to thinking horrible thoughts, once inside the dream she tried to conjure up some terrifying images. Instead of scaring the woman, the witch seemed to relish them, until Aurora withdrew in defeat.
When her sleeping self tried to return her to her own body, Aurora clung on. She might be down, but she was not out, not yet.
The failure to return to her physical form left her drained. This was a complication that she had not anticipated and Aurora felt that she had doomed herself to certain failure. Entering the hag’s dream once more she could not conjure up anything scary at all. Instead, Aurora found herself bringing flowers to life, with butterflies flitting and birds singing. The witch began to toss and turn as though trapped in some nightmarish scenario.
Could it really be that her natural positive nature would weaken the witch? And if so, could she keep up the bombardment until the curse was revoked? Aurora did not know, but she was determined to give it her all.
A demon that the witch had summoned transformed into the sweetest kitten, while another became a playful puppy.
“Withdraw the curse. Withdraw the curse.” Aurora intoned, over and over again, until finally the witch could take no more and sat up with a scream. Without a moment to savour her victory, a whirlwind seemed to engulf Aurora, pulling her swiftly back to her body.
Her eyelids flickered. Her mouth opened in a yawn and her body stretched. Aurora woke up, free from the curse. She would explain eventually, or would she, for there were doubts that her mother and father would be pleased to hear that their daughter had been inside their own sleeping minds.
Aurora decided she’d think on that a bit more before coming to a decision. In the meantime, she needed to find Griselda and make sure that she was ready to greet the prince. He would, Aurora sensed, be arriving at any moment.