|Written||22-31 May 2020|
|Location||Daora Meredok story arc|
It’s out there, somewhere. My great enemy. Stealer of souls and taker of friends. And it’s chasing me. Down, down, down. Through everything that I remember and some things I don’t.
An unknown, perhaps, unknowable, woman interrupts my dream. My ticket to inner space.
Where have you looked?
That woman again. The one with hair of an indeterminate shade. The one who invades my dreams. No...it feels like she was already here, somehow, and that she never leaves between appearances.
This time, I’m prepared. We’re not going to meet in an embarrassing memory or an abyssal dark room. Things are more professional now; as in, I’ve got a proper place for meeting. We come to a garden where the sun always shines, but never burns. A giant, octagonal roof covers us as we look over the perfectly trimmed bushes lining mathematical paths. This place is my inheritance. I still haven’t got on top of the piles of old relics inside the Cathedral.
‘So many places. I’ve been all over the Primanna.’ I say. ‘And so many times. I’ve got a list. Eighty-nine names going back five centuries. Eighty people almost completely erased from existence. Who knows how many more have no one who ever remembered them?’’
Impressive. Any candidates?
‘What? No. I’ve got nothing,’ I answer. ‘Incredibly powerful dark spirit with a thirst for human souls? WOW, did I not find any. Especially not in this war.’
She sighs lightly.
We’re not as far along as I’d hoped.
‘What do you MEAN?’
Instead of answering me, she changes the subject
Are you prepared for the War?
‘What do you mean “prepared”?’ I say. ‘There’s already a War. People are getting attacked by giant spirit slugs every day. Missing persons reports are up by five times over last year and we’re barely halfway through this year! It’s only press censorship that keeps people in the dark about this unless someone they know goes missing.’
‘And it’s happening all over the world,’ I add.
This is just the beginning.
‘It’ll get worse, then?’
‘Do you know what it’s going to be like?’
I can’t tell you.
‘Why are you always like this?’ I ask. ‘You never laugh. You barely ever show any emotion. You always give these stupid “cryptic” answers to my questions. And you-’
Look at my face.
‘What?’ I protest. But, before she says anything, I force myself to stare at the fleshy mass that is her head. There’s almost nothing to see. There’s a face, there, somewhere, but it’s like I don’t want to see it. Everything else here is in HD, but her face isn’t. It’s like I’m watching a video of something on bad internet and there’s just confetti spraying into the air and turning everything into a blocky mess.
I’m being careful. If I do one thing wrong, everything breaks. I’m not supposed to be here. I shouldn’t-
She stops herself.
One day, everything will break. The truth will come out and you will have the answers you need. The answers we need. But you’ve got to be ready. If you’re ready, you might just survive.
‘What will break?’ I try to prod more out of her.
The world will break. It’s not ready. You’ve seen a bit of what lies out there in the Gyrus and among the distant dreamworlds.
‘I met someone from outside the Primanna last year. No way CSMT don’t know about it. He talked about a place called Earth. That’s Ardan, right? From those old stories?’ The bridges between worlds are opening up again.
‘Contact is coming. Well, it’s already come, but soon everybody’s going to know. Culture shock alone’s going to be big.’
‘Not just that, though, right?’ I press on, sensing that she’s hiding something. ‘Too many people wouldn’t know how to dreamwalk or fight an id to save their lives. Something bad’s going to happen. People are going to die.’
She stiffens, as if I’ve thought of a solution for a maths problem and doesn’t want to give away whether it’s right before I’ve done the working myself.
I’m right. I don’t have specifics, but I’ve got to be right. A disaster is coming, something that will affect all of Coracan.
I remember something, the ace up my sleeve, ‘Wouldn’t have anything to do with a particular date, would it?’
‘The forty-third of Arum, this year. 43/7/4320.’
I can’t see the expression on her face, but I know what it would be. She knows it.
So you’ve seen it.
‘Yes,’ I say. ‘I’ve tracked down dozens of new dreambleeds, all warning about this date. They’re pretty random. I’ve seen them in computers, in alleyways, in parks. Even a graffiti tag saying “43/7”. It’s everywhere now.’
One Sunday in Arum
She says, wistfully.
‘What do you know?’ I demand.
Not enough. But I do know there’s nothing you can do to stop it and I trust you to do the right thing when it happens.
I’ve got too many questions. If I answer one, I discover five more. After two years, I still haven’t found out what or where the Soul-Stealer is. And now, an apocalypse approaches, in the ancient sense of the word. In the sense of revelation. There’s going to be a bit more going on than a few extra id roaming the streets of Darana.
She’s right. I don’t know what War is yet. Not like the Wars before I was born, nor the ones that get beamed onto TVs, nor the skirmishes I fight against dark spirits in shadowy corners. There’s still a peace for me to escape to. Still a ‘normal’. I go to school and most people think dreamwalking’s impossible and that spirits belong in the superstitious past. But we’re the ones who have grown distant from reality. My peace is an illusion, living on borrowed time. It will break. Maybe, I will too.