Dreams from the Darkness
Gnarled fingers scratch at my face so that I see the sunrise through blood filled eyes. The light of a new day smothers and chokes my senses of old but my new-found senses remain unhindered and I rely on them more as each day passes. They do not lie to me. They do not hide the truths or cover reality with layer upon layer of sweetness and light. They are open and raw and show to me the darkness that hides within all things, the darkness that is waiting for a time that is fast approaching.
Lori got up and looked around the room. It looked so much better in the daylight and without the hindrance of fatigue to dull its splendour. It was even bigger and more luxurious than the one she had in Rome. Everything was so clean and new. It was very modern, very European, but still had the hints of Turkish culture as a charming reminder of where they were.
She turned to Kay. "Remember you said you'd show me how to do some of those moves sometime. You said it would help me protect myself. Can you show me now?"
"Yes. Why not?" Kay said after a moments thought and led Lori to the centre of the floor. "It's going to take a long time to learn enough for it to be of any real use to you but there's no harm in making a start. Just don't expect anything to happen too quickly."
"I...won't," Lori said, her mind starting to drift somewhere else.
"You're going to have to explore a lot of different mediation techniques before you'll gain sufficient control of your mind. We can start off with some Qui Gong and then move on to...."
"Tai Chi," Lori interrupted.
"Yes, a Tai Chi form," Kay continued. "Are you alright?" she said, responding to the look on Lori's face.
"I don't know. I think I remember us doing this before."
"You mean déjà vu?"
"It's not just déjà vu. I remember the move you are going to show me first." She extended both hands in front of her and raised and lowered them slowly, bending her knees to follow the motion of her arms. "This is it, right?"
"Yes, it is. But it's a basic move so you've probably seen me doing it. Look, let me take you through a few movements."
Lori nodded, confused but willing to try it in the hope that it would help ease her clouded mind. There were other memories there but they were evading her and she didn't have the will power to expose them.
Kay stood beside her. "Follow what I do." She repeated the movement that Lori had performed previously. "Breath in as you lift up and out as you drop down. Imagine you are lifting your arms through water. Let it flow around them, delaying their ascent and softening their descent. Your whole body is relaxed, no more tension than that which you need to move."
Lori followed the movements, not quite as gracefully as Kay but as close as any beginner could. "How am I doing?" Lori asked after a few repetitions, almost as if she felt obliged to.
"It's a start," Kay said, stopping. "You're still too stiff though. Your arms are too rigid. Everything is tense."
"Relax more," Lori said to herself and repeated the movement a few more times. "Any better?"
Kay moved around her, placing her hands on her shoulders and feeling along her neck and back muscles. "See how tense you are. It's like your muscles are made of wire. You have to relax..."
An image flashed through Lori's mind and she pulled away from Kay, quickly turning to face her. "The Hamam. The Turkish baths. Kay, you brought us there. We..." Lori trailed off, not really knowing what she was talking about and realising that she wasn't making any sense to Kay either. It was a strange sort of memory, more vivid than a dream but too vague to be real.
Kay was looking concerned. "Why don't I go and get dressed. Then we can get some breakfast and take a walk. That should help you feel better."
"Ok," Lori nodded, only half-aware of what Kay had said.
Everything fell silent when the door closed. The room was still and Lori was left with the eerie feeling that she was the only person alive. She had to go to the window and look outside to reassure herself that she wasn't. City life passed by beneath her, unaware of the eyes watching it from above and unaware of the confusion that lay behind them.
She washed and dressed quickly, awaiting Kay's return. A large mirror, beautifully framed in carved wood, hung at the far side of the room and she stood in front of it looking at herself for a few silent moments. She looked at the innocent face that stared back. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
In a mental flash of light, another image ripped through her thoughts and she opened her eyes and gasped in shock. It just lasted an instant and she couldn't remember what it was but it frightened her. It was something about the mirror. She found herself breathing heavily and her shoulders were so tense that her neck was beginning to hurt. Relax, she though to herself, remembering Kay telling her that all this tension was unhealthy. Suddenly she remembered that Kay didn't tell her. It was one of those memories.
She slowly backed away from the mirror. She turned to look at the bed behind her and then back at the mirror. There was nothing wrong with the reflection but she somehow had the feeling that there should be. It's just a mirror, she thought to herself. Calm down. She closed her eyes again and took a deep breath, relaxing her shoulders and slowing her heart rate.
Another flash of light brought more images and this time they stayed. The mirror was in them. It hurt her somehow. She struggled to remember but she couldn't. It haunted her mind and it frightened her to be in its presence but the rational part of her mind kept telling her that it was just a mirror. She felt a cold sweat form on her forehead and she just stared at the mirror, daring it to do something to confirm her fears.
She jumped as 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 Kay where she stood by the mirror, looking back at her with confusion and concern in her eyes. She was right. There was only a reflection. Lori couldn't remember what she thought she saw? I didn't see anything, did I? What's happening to me?
"Come on, Lori. Let's go and get some breakfast," Kay said walking towards the door and reaching for Lori's arm as she passed her. Lori pulled away.
"No, Kay. Something is happening here. I don't know what it is but you have to believe me."
Kay stopped and looked at her as if trying to decide how best to react to the situation. "Nothing is happening Lori", she said softly. "You had a bad dream. That's all. You need to get something to eat and some fresh air. You'll be fine."
Lori shook her head. "It wasn't just a dream. I know that now. Whatever it was has left me with memories that are more real than any dream I've ever had before. They're more like..." and the realisation hit her, "...the dream on the train. They're like the memories I have of the dream on the train, just more broken and disjointed."
"Lori, I can assure you that Du'drosmos did not enter your dreams last night."
"What if I'm still dreaming?" Lori wasn't sure where the question came from but there it was, out in the open, and she had no answer for it.
"Do you want me to pinch you?" Kay asked with a smile.
"Kay, I'm not...joking..." She trailed off, suddenly aware of what it might mean if she was correct. She took a step away from Kay.
"Do you feel like you're dreaming?"
"It..." She took a cautious breath. "It didn't feel like I was dreaming when it happened on the train from Rome. That's the whole point, isn't it?"
Kay didn't appear to have picked up on what Lori was thinking, or she kept it well hidden if she did. Lori was looking around the room as if she was in a dizzy state, turning on the spot, looking at the ceiling, the floor, searching for anything that would give up the room's secret. Her frustration was building and it was beginning to show.
"Lori, you're overreacting. Let me help you." Kay cautiously started to approach Lori again.
Lori turned to Kay, her face a warning for her to stay back. "I am not overreacting. I am trapped in a dream. You promised me this wouldn't happen again."
"You're right. I promised to protect you and I have. Lori, you're not dreaming and I don't know what I can do or say to prove that to you. You just have to trust me."
Lori looked at Kay for a long time, wishing with all her heart that she could believe her and wanting, more than anything, for this to be the biggest mistake she had ever made in her life. But she couldn't. She slowly shook her head as real tears wetted her cheeks. She saw Kay in front of her, someone she had come to trust with her life, but something inside her wouldn't let her do it this time. "I can't." She closed her eyes for a moment, praying that whatever was stopping her from trusting Kay was working for her, not against her.
Kay spoke. "If you believe so much that you are dreaming then you'll have to find a way to wake yourself."
"I'll find a way," she said, but she was finding it more difficult to think as suspicion and confusion took a tighter hold. Her eyes fell on the bed, the window, the dressing table, the mirror... An unconventional solution came, not through reasoning but of its own will and the conviction to carry it out came with it. It was one of the memories that had found its way out of the cogitative fog in which they had been lost. She didn't know what it meant or what the result would be but she believed it and hesitated only for a moment. "Stand back," she said.
She walked to the dresser and picked up the chair. "Lori, what are you doing?" Kay asked hurriedly but it was too late. With all of Lori's effort, the chair tumbled through the air and crashed into the mirror. It shattered into a thousand pieces but the didn't float. They fell. They fell to the floor and then everything went silent. The frame hung on the wall for a moment longer, swinging precariously, and then it fell to the shimmering floor also.
Lori stared at the remains of the mirror. That wasn't supposed to happen. "That wasn't supposed to happen," she whispered.
Kay was looking at her. "Lori, I..."
"That wasn't supposed to happen."
"Lori, it's alright. It's my fault. I should have known how hard all this has been on you." She walked towards Lori and opened her arms to hug her but Lori stepped away. "Lori, it's alright."
Kay took another step closer and Lori took another away. "It's not alright." She was beginning to sob now and she held her head in her hands as if she was trying to relieve some intense headache. She looked to the ceiling and with a sudden outburst she shouted. "KAY! What's happening?"
"I wasn't talking to you," she snapped. For an instant her eyes were fierce but she suddenly realised who she was looking at and they filled with tears as she broke down again. "If you are Kay then I'm sorry but I have to go. I need time to think about this." She walked to the door. "Don't try to follow me."
Kay just looked at her.
"Tell me you won't try to follow me."
She didn't answer immediately but she eventually gave in. "I won't follow you."
Lori turned and left without looking back. When the door closed, Kay slumped onto the edge of the bed and let her head fall into her hands. After a moment her body began to shake. She could have been crying...or laughing.