AN: Read at your own risk! Might include bad language or disturbing images. The 6th story of the 10 small stories. You can find the rest at my blog. Enjoy and comment!
He woke up with sweat all over his face. His breath came out rigid and shallow. He tried to get up, but a gentle and yet firm hand pushed him back to sleep.
“Do not be afraid. It was a dream, you have to always remember that. It is always a dream” said Mellaria’s voice.
Yes a dream, only a dream. I was not her, I was dreaming being her.
“Now drink that” she placed a large cup in his hand. It contained the smelly liquid he used to drink before dreaming in the dessert. The liquid was green, sticky and smelly and he hated it with all his heart. But it made it possible for him to dream. And dreams made him special, useful. Made him complete.
Before he could even complete his thought he fell asleep again.
Darkness lay ahead. He could see nothing. He begun moving forward, as forward was the only way he could go. He walked for some time, for two minutes, two hours, two days; he could not tell. At last he saw a small white light in front of him. He picked up his pace. Soon he broke into a jog, and as the light became bigger and bigger, he run faster and faster, until he could not breath, until his ribs ached him so much he thought he would vomit.
Finally the light became large enough for him to fit and squeeze himself through it. Half blind, he pushed his way forward. More time passed. How long it was? He could not tell, he could not know. Not so soon afterwards, he reached a huge chamber where he could stand and see.
The chamber was huge and airy. No fool smells existed here, as far as he could tell. When his eyesight became adjusted to his new environment, he saw huge pillars with no end and a great hoard of gold, gems and stones. But all was on fire, everything was burning together. The fire was glistening white and was the only source of light. It was so beautiful, mesmerizing. Enchanted, he approached the huge fire. However he stopped abruptly when he saw a huge dragon sleeping in the midst of it.
Leo opened his eyes again. This time he had no difficulty breathing even though he was covered in sweat.
“What are you doing in your dreams?” Mellaria asked in her low, soft voice. She refilled his cup with the same hideous stuff.
He eyed it with caution. “Mellaria, my sweet Mellaria, do I have to consume more of it?”
“Yes, you have to dream thrice, or the magic won’t hold. How many times have you dreamed tonight?”
“Two” he admitted reluctantly. It was no good use to lie; without doubt she was counting his dreams. He reached for the cup. “The old witch cannot put something in it to make it taste better?”
“Ask her when you go downtown again. Now have you come all your way in the desert to talk or to dream?”
He flinched at her reproach. He emptied the cup for the third and last time that night and went back to dream. “Remember, it is only a dream” she heard her whisper just before he was lost into the vague world of dreams.
He was not alone. He could smell the other man’s sweat. He could feel his warmth radiating from his body. He tried to move his body to his right and see him, look who his companion was, but he found out that he was in bonds. He could hardly move his neck. He focused on his hands. They were cold and heavy. They bit his skin without mercy as cold as ice and as unforgiving as death. They were iron chains, the worst kind of chains he could be into.
Suddenly someone arrived. He was a tall and cruel man, with a nasty face full of pox marks. He protested as much as he could when the man grabbed him from his long hair. Another equally hideous guy grabbed his companion. They moved outside from a building, his best guess was a barn. With violent movements, the man positioned him on top of a barrel. He had a bad feeling about that. The man made his decent from the platform, not before he gave a good squeeze to his huge breasts. On a similarly arranged platform they positioned his companion as well. He could smell his soil.
Suddenly the platform opened and he fell onto the barrel. The barrel was full of a toxic fluid that ate his flesh. Pain struck his head through his nerves. He opened his mouth to scream but the toxic liquid filled his lungs and now it was eating him from inside too.
For the second time tonight he woke up screaming and sweating. He felt feverish. He tried to focus around him and made abrupt moves as though he was trying to swim.
“Hush, now. Remember, it is only a dream” Mellaria said to him while moving the hair out of his face. “here, eat this… don’t be afraid. It was only a dream”.
“I was a woman…” he said weakly.
“Yes, when you are dreaming of others deaths you could be anyone; a man, a woman, a child, an elder. It doesn’t matter what or who you are. It doesn’t matter if it is today, yesterday in a thousand years from now”.
“She… was thrown into some kind of toxic waste…”
“Toxic waste?” she asked curiously. She shook her head as he took a bite from the sweet pie she had given him. “No, no, it doesn’t matter. For now you only have to remember that it is only a dream”.
“Yes it is only a dream”. He finished his pie in silence. Mellaria said nothing else and demanded no explanations from him. He would report his result to the head of the order of the mages, the old man that collected the details of his dreams. The young boy was not sure what he did with all those details, even after he explained to him that is for the greater good. He envied him, he sat all day on the sands listening, just listening, while he had to dream and live the deaths of all these people. It was so painful.
But he could not help it. He was a mage, unlike the old crone downtown who prepared his poison. She was an alchemist, and poor Leo was a dreamer of deaths. If he had to be a dreamer, couldn’t he be dreaming of something else?
Exhausted he lay back down. However this time he consumed no magic poisons. He looked up to Mellaria’s huge golden eyes as she tucked him into bed. She kissed him goodnight. That was the only part of those nights that he truly cherished. He had to dream, once you develop an ability, you have to exercise it or it eats you away like the worms eat the corpses. It was inevitable.
Mellaria moved towards the exit. There she stood fast. She turned around and looked at him for a while. “What else did you dream of?” she asked in a whisper.
“My second dream was of a man devoured of a dragon”
She nodded. “And the first one?”
“I dreamed of her again. Of her and her death” he answered with a voice filled with emotion.
A tear tricked down from the corner of her eye. “Remember, it is only a dream. Always dreams.” Without another world she switched off the lights and moved out.