A strange world awakens, what secrets lie behind that calm face?
|A strange world awakens
I must’ve had a life before, a purpose to fulfill in this world. None of it mattered now. Whatever I’d done was for nothing, all the relationships, all the memories, put out like a spark in the rain.
When I walked through the door, I had expected another room of white, yet the sun’s heavy rays splashing against my tired eyelids and the subtle tickling of fresh morning grass said otherwise. A sharp burst of air flooded my lungs and I jolted awake as if I had been revived back to life. As I opened my eyes, that emerald shine came into view.
The benevolent being reached out his hand to me, nothing but compassion in his blue eyes and a smile on his face. My drowsy body couldn’t have risen by itself anyway, so a helping hand was much appreciated. As I stumbled onto my own two feet, trying to steady myself, I glanced towards the young man.
I mustered all my strength to ask of him – “Where are we?”
“Oh, so you can speak.” – he said as his face came into view – “I will tell you soon enough. For now, though, let’s get you standing on your own again, shall we?”
Dream reached into his pocket, producing a flask filled with a vibrant red fluid.
“Drink.” – he said calmly – “It will help you.”
As the glass touched the skin of my palm, the burning pain radiated through my hand. “Arrgh! It’s hot!” – I shouted, the flask slipping from my hand, turning the grass beneath into a fractal of shattered glass and blood.
“Oh. Sorry about that, I should’ve warned you.” – he paused - “After all, freshly brewed potions are always hot.” – he continued, letting out a soft chuckle.
“They sure are.” – I added, still feeling tired as hell.
The god handed me another flask, which sat at a more appropriate temperature, at least. I gently twisted my fingers around the cap, unleashing a repulsive vapor.
“Is this safe . . . for humans?” – I asked with a hint of worry in my voice.
“Of course it is, for goodness’ sake. I wouldn’t give kill you, now would I? What would I do then?” – he tried to assure me.
Ignoring the smell was hard, but the oddly sweet liquid soon flowed freely into my stomach. Its honey-like taste melted any doubts I’d had, and all I could think about was how well my body started to feel. As a teenager at their peak fitness, I thought then no mountaintop unreachable, and no challenge insurmountable.
“Well?” – Dream said, focusing on my reaction. As I let the air escape my lungs, I nodded in approval.
“Thank you. Now, where exactly are we?” – I asked, hoping for a concrete answer.
“You’ll find out soon enough, as I said. Now then, let’s get going.” – he said as he set off towards a lush oak forest in front of us.
“Where are we going?” – I asked again.
He sighed loud and clear.
“Honestly, I preferred when you weren’t constantly asking questions earlier. You’ll see.” – he said half-jokingly, gesturing me to follow him.
The synchronized tapping of our footsteps echoed across the plain as we strolled towards the lush green forest in front of us. With a simple snap of his fingers, Dream opened a path through the dense woods, allowing us to pass without much difficulty. I’d come to accept that logic was a thing long forgotten in this world, and followed his steps into the unknown.
We walked solemnly on the path as I listened to the birds singing on the branches of the old oak trees. Now and then, I would take a look at Dream’s face, finding it strained and focused, yet soft at the same time. The calmness of the forest had put me at ease, and I embraced the moment, with a god walking beside me.
No words needed to be said, because I felt it deep in my bones then ... It would be a moment of precious calm before the oncoming storm would sweep us away.
In a moment of silence, Dream asked curiously “Does the name Tommy mean anything to you?”
I scratched my head, trying desperately to fire what few neural connections remained from before I’d come here, yet none could find where this oddly familiar name came from.
“No, sorry, I can’t remember.” - I said.
“Oh.” - he replied, almost sounding disappointed - “No matter.”
We continued walking for some time until at last, the Sun rained down on the path before us, and we bathed in its light again. The castle that stood before us reminded me of medieval castles brimming with life, with servants and maids scurrying about, delivering food on silver platters to old nobility who were discussing affairs of state and war.
“Is this where you live?” - I asked.
“Yes, this is my home, my realm.” - Dream said.
The luxurious hallways we weaved through for half an hour confirmed my expectations. Well, except the people. Had it not been for the thumping of our footsteps on the marbled flood, I could’ve heard my breaths loud and clear.
“What do you think?” - Dream asked, turning towards me.
“It’s pretty.” - I paused for a moment, collecting my thoughts - “Aren’t you lonely?”
I turned to face his surprised gaze. “I didn’t expect you to be so direct all of a sudden.” - he said.
“Neither did I.” - I chuckled, not knowing where that spark of courage came from.
“I have friends. Other gods. They come over once in a while, but I am indeed mostly alone.” - Dream sniffled - “You get used to it, eventually.”
As I was wondering about what to ask him next, he continued.
“Well, time flows differently for gods. When you’ve lived for thousands of millennia, days become a blur, one indiscernible from another. After a while, the concept of time itself breaks down. Did that happen yesterday, or five hundred years ago? It is honestly impossible to tell sometimes. Truly, the only way for us to keep our perception of time somewhat intact is through worthy memories, but those are few and far between.”
“Why did you bring me here then? Do you believe I am worthy?” - I said.
“We’ll see. I’ve been eyeing you for a while.” - Dream responded. I shot him a glance, trying to judge what might be going through the god’s mind. Unreadable - like always.
As we were about to round another corner, he came to an abrupt stop before an expansive glass mural encased in a gold rind. He gazed upon the scene from the famous ancient myth, of Orpheus ascending a stair of charred stone, escaping from the abyss below. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, albeit probably just a couple of seconds for an ancient god, he turned to face me.
“I want to help you, Wilbur.” - Dream’s eyes locked with mine, and a tear streamed down his cheek.
I'm trying to slowly up the word count for each chapter, although it's still relatively hard for me to find the right methods just yet. :D