Dreams from the Darkness

Part 5d

Love? What meaning has the word for me now? All souls know love unless they are trapped in a world where pain drives the will. Mine is in such a place and now I only desire. I desire release. I desire freedom. I desire peace from those who command me but I do as they bid for it brings more pain to disobey. I continue south to where my desires will be fulfilled. That is their promise to me.

Lori slowly drew her eyes open. They were heavy and slow to focus but they eventually brought into view the soft skin of a neck and the dark hair that fell over it. A pulse danced slowly beneath the surface and the sweet smell of perfume still lingered. She was nestled within Kay's arms and an almost paralysing sense of affection rushed through her. It felt so warm and safe that she didn't want to move. She just wanted the moment to last and the feeling to stay with her forever.

Kay stirred and gradually came awake with a slow stretch. Lori moved away. "Good morning," she said, looking up into the sleepy blue eyes.

"Good morning," Kay replied, and ran her hand gently down the side of Lori's face and onto her shoulder. Her gentle touch brought a smile to Lori's face and she reached up for a reassuring kiss. "I love you, Lori."

The words almost caught her by surprise but Lori was close enough to feel their warmth on her lips and she returned them with genuine emotion. "I love you too, Kay."

They lay in each other's arms for a long while, not speaking, just cherishing the moment. Fingers played with long hair and made small, tingling circles on sensitive skin. Lori thought that she had never before felt like she did now. Safe. Protected. Loved. There were countless ways to describe it but none had the ability to convey how she really felt inside. Nobody had ever come close to granting her such happiness. She hoped that she was doing enough to return the same.

Lori was first to break the peaceful silence. "As much as I'd love to stay here forever, shouldn't we be making our way to the library now?" The words sounded strange coming from her mouth but she knew in her heart that they were right.

Kay stirred in her arms and slowly drew herself back from the embrace. "No. I think we should take the day off and enjoy ourselves."

There was a serious tone to her words but Lori knew she was playing. She got out of bed and took Kay with her by the hand. She reached up and hung her arms over Kay's shoulders and brought her close.

Between soft kisses, Kay managed to get a sentence out. "What I wouldn't give for us to be in this city under different circumstances."

"It's alright," Lori replied. "There are things we have to do."

Kay kissed Lori on the lips one last time. "I'll be back as soon as I get freshened up." She slowly backed away and then turned towards the door and left Lori with her racing thoughts.

A large mirror, beautifully framed in carved wood, hung at the far side of the room and Lori stood in front of it looking at herself for a few silent moments. She looked at the innocent face that stared back. Just when she thought that she was beginning to cope with all that had happened since she left London, this happens. She wanted it more than anything but she couldn't keep down the fear that tagged along with the happiness. She couldn't begin to sort though the complications that it brought but she smiled in spite of herself. She wondered if Kay was in her own room thinking the same thoughts.

As she turned to choose a set of clothes to wear, something caught here eye. There was something strange about the bed that she was seeing in the reflection. She turned to look at the unmade bed behind her and then again at the reflection in the mirror. It was different. She turned a second time to study the lay of the tossed sheets and returned to the reflection where they were virtually untouched. She moved a step closer and looked from side to side in the reflection to ensure that she was seeing things from the correct angle. The room was as she expected, all but the bed.

Then she noticed the thin line of smoke rising from the bedside table. It was coming from incense sticks that formed a shape on the table and the glowing tips sent the stream of smoke into the air. She took a sharp breath as the next discrepancy hit her senses. The bed was not empty. A slender form lay beneath the sheets and it briefly stirred to reveal a young face and a head of blonde hair. It was her own.

She began to back away from the mirror. Frantically, she looked to the bed and back to the reflection several times. There was nothing in the bed behind her. She was sure of it. The reflection moved again and an arm reached out from beneath the sheets to pull them up around the shoulder of the body in the bed, her body in the bed. What was she seeing? It could not be real.

The door opened and Kay entered. Lori was wide-eyed and pale. "Kay, there's something wrong," she managed to say in a faint voice.

"What is it?" Kay asked coming up to Lori and taking hold of her by the shoulders to get a good look at here distant eyes.

"The mirror." She turned and pointed to the framed mirror on the wall, keeping her eyes averted from it as if it hurt to look into it. "It's showing me something..."

Kay looked up at the mirror and then back to Lori who was beginning to weaken. "What is it showing you, Lori?"

"In the bed." She struggled with the words and her breathing was becoming short and sharp. "Look at the bed."

Kay walked to the mirror and looked. "I only see a reflection, Lori."

"But..." Lori turned towards the mirror but came to a stop as her blood ran cold with the sight of Kay's reflection. Something that appeared to be Kay stood in the room but the mirror revealed otherwise. A burned human shape stood in its place with a face and mouth that imitated the movements of Kay's. It was a sight that Lori had seen before. As Kay looked at her, the reflection was looking away and the angle allowed her to see the side of its other hidden face.

"Just like a dream is a reflection of reality, Lori, so too is reality a reflection of a dream." Its voice slowly broke down to the dual tone male and female rasp that haunted the silence of Lori's thoughts. "This is what We have created for you, Lori. Do you like it?"

She did not respond. As it stepped closer, pieces of Kay started to fall away like the hard shell of an egg to reveal the image that was present in the reflection. Finally her face broke apart like the porcelain head of a French doll. "Is this not your dream, Lori?" the voices said as it stepped closer, wet eyes mocking her. "Have We not given you what you desire?"

It was standing before her now and its hand took a tight hold on the back of her neck and directed her to the mirror where the body in the bed stirred as if from a bad dream. Its head twisted so that the female voice spoke in her ear. "Look at your reality, Lori. You lay alone in a lonely world. You wish for love in a place where wishes are as insignificant as the thoughts that carry them. But when you dream... Oh, Lori, when you dream your wishes are only the beginning."

It reached down and picked up a piece of the shell that had covered it in Kay's appearance. It was a part of her face containing some of her forehead, an eye, a cheek, and half of her mouth. It turned it towards Lori. "Look at what you can dream."

The eye opened and the remains of the mouth began to move mechanically as if it didn't matter that it wasn't whole. The blue eye looked directly at her and it spoke with Kay's voice. "I love you, Lori."

It held the broken shell in its twisted fingers for a moment longer. "Your dream." It opened its fingers and let it fall to the floor where it smashed into small pieces.

"NO!" Lori screamed as she felt her heart torn from her chest and shatter also. When did it start? She fought with the overwhelming emotions of fear and loss to try to think rationally. When did the dream begin? She looked at the mirror to where she stirred awkwardly in the bed. The mirror was the link back to reality but was the door open or closed?

"What do you do, Lori? Live your dream or live your reality?"

She looked at it defiantly, knowing where she wanted to be, and it somehow didn't seem as frightening anymore. "I want to live where the Kay I love lives."

"Even if that means denying yourself the love you could have known here?"

"That wasn't love." She said the words, holding back tears and fighting down the wish that she had never looked into the mirror. It saved her and destroyed her at once. She wanted to believe that she wanted to be saved but a thought flashed through her mind. What's wrong with living your dream?

She missed the remnants of a grin cross the creatures face.

It only lasted an instant but it left a frightening trail through her mind. She had to leave before it was too late and what she did next was down to simple instinct. She picked up the chair that stood at the dresser and with all her strength she threw it at the mirror on the wall. It spun through the air and crashed into the glass but she couldn't have foreseen what effect that would have. Not only did the mirror shatter but the entire wall of the room shattered into a thousand pieces as if made of glass. It floated away to reveal a backdrop of black empty space. Darkness lay without, devoid of any physical objects save the dresser chair that continued spinning into the distance.

"Dreams are such fragile things." As its voices spoke, the ceiling of the room shattered in a similar fashion and drifted away above her in countless pieces. "But what lays beyond a dream, Lori? Where do dreams exist?" Another wall of the room exploded with the sound of crashing glass and drifted away from Lori. The darkness was all around her but light still existed in what was left of the room.

"The mind does not contain dreams, Lori. It simply brings those who seek them to where they exist." The third wall of the room shattered and the sharp pointed shards tumbled away into the distance.

"This is Our domain and all those who dream are welcome here. We call those who hear Our whispers and those who take heed of Our words. We nurture those who bring pieces of Our teachings to their reality." The last wall of the room burst apart and again the pieces floated away until they dissolved into the blackness. They were left standing on a platform somewhere in infinity. There was nothing above or below. No stars, no ground, no lights, nothing. Darkness everywhere.

"Know, Lori, that reality is as fragile as a dream. It too will shatter before your eyes and you will know what lies beyond it. You will see where reality exists. You will understand the confines that have held you and realise the expanse of the universe to which you belong. On that day you will pray to dream. You will wish like never before and seek out this place where your wishes took shape. On that day you will call Our name."

With those words, the floor beneath her feet shattered and the pieces drifted around her as she floated within the nothingness. Du'drosmos was gone. She quickly lost any sense of orientation as the pieces disappeared from view and she was left completely alone. Emptiness. Silence. Nothing.

After a time, she thought she was experiencing the sensation of falling but realised that she could not rely on her senses in this sensory deprived existence. She could move freely but no movement appeared to reveal anything about the physics of this void. She could make sound but there was no echo and no response. She could see herself but there was no light source. There were no shadows on her body so the light had no direction either. There was air for her to breathe but there was no movement to create wind. Nothing existed, except Lori.

Then the mirror existed. It stood before her, out of reach and teasing her with the picture of the room. She saw herself in bed, sleeping beneath the covers to the gentle aroma of the Jasmine incense. Kay was there also. She was standing in the room performing a Tai Chi pattern with slow movements. Everything looked calm and peaceful. Everything was as it should be. Lori wanted to be there again.

A crack suddenly split the picture in the mirror. Then another. The sound of scraping glass gave way to more cracks until the picture was completely distorted. Then the entire mirror shattered and it fell into itself leaving a gaping hole within the frame. It began to draw Lori towards it. She tried to resist at first but it was no use. She fell head first through the frame and tumbled head over heals through the darkness until...

Lori took a sharp breath and awoke with a start. Her eyes shot open and for an instant she thought she was paralysed, but her motor skills returned and she frantically threw off the bed covers, unaware of where she was. Then she spotted Kay. She was standing in the middle of the room in a strange position, one arm extended in front, palm facing out, the other arm extended behind with her fingers held together to make a downward facing point.

"It was in my dreams again," Lori said in a panicked voice. "I thought you said..."

"No, it wasn't in your dreams," Kay said, returning slowly to a finishing position. "Not like before. You were just dreaming about it. I can stop its invasion of your dreams but it would be dangerous for me to stop you creating your own dreams."

"No, Kay. It was in my dreams. I know it." Lori was getting more on edge with each word.

Kay sat beside her on the bed and put an arm around her shoulders drawing her close. "Ssshhh... Lori, you're safe now. It was just a dream like any other. There's nothing to worry about."

"I don't know, Kay. It seemed real." Lori looked up at her with pleading eyes. "Are you sure."

"I'm positive," Kay reassured her with a smile.

Part 5e