The Dead Dream Places

I am the teller of tales and the searer of souls
The knower of names in the dead dream places.




This story is really a sort of experiment with writing style- it doesn't easily fit under any category completely and it definitely isn't very straightforward- but, hey, I sure would love some feedback on what you guys think!

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1. Waking

   The trees are harsh black strokes in the stark white snow, skeleton fingers clawing at my face and hands and clothes. The sky is a mottled slab of marble, bruised purples, sulphur yellow, smudged charcoal, plunging and pouring above and below me, tearing my hair and stinging my eyes, a wild, surging, roaring force. My heart is a fierce creature trapped in my rib cage. My skin and tongue and stomach burn with thirsty fire. My lips are painted with a snarl. I am a raw wild thing. 

   My legs pound through the forest, numb, ceaseless movement, the wind gusting and snapping in my eyes, my hair lashing at my face. Run run run run run screams my brain. And I do, a small pale figure searing through the dying forest, I run till my legs are bruised and bloody, I run till my fingertips stream red and yellow and green and blue, I run till my legs give way and fiery wings burst and buckle and rip out of my shoulders and bear me ever onwards, up into the storming black night...

   Wake up, Alice.

   Wake

   Up

   The words snag at my mind, snatching me down. The dying forest forest floods past my head, up into the spiralling chasm above me, peeling away from me, sucking the fire and fever and ice from my bones. The colours are ripped from my mind and lips, scents of charcoal and smoke and the promise of snow are tugged from my breath, the sweeping snapping wings are snatched away like smoke, and I plummet through the smudged grey clouds...

   Wake. Up.

   Grey and white and black and grey and black and white and black and grey. Flash flash flash.

   Wake

   No no no. I struggle to slow my fall but I'm only going faster, my limbs snapping and buckling, flailing desperately-

   Up.

   I don't want to, don't want to. I'm not. I'm going back back to my forest and wings and, and...


   I'm awake.

I lie in a tangled heap on the carpet, legs and arms mashed up together in my duvet and my right elbow trapped painfully beneath me, digging into my ribs. My hands claw into the fabric, caught in a frenzy of wild scrabbling. It's actually quite pitiful. Sighing, my chest tight and aching, I flop onto my back. My right hand is still floppy and numb, so I use my left to swipe damp strands of hair from my sweaty forehead. I'm burning up, feverish. And exhausted. 

Damn.

I'm acutely aware of how close I was to losing myself in the dream, and because I don't like being scared, I'm angry instead. Damn damn damn. To be certain I've fully quashed the fear I use a few more choice words that really don't look good written down; that's better. I can feel my thoughts clearing, softening, moving into safer territory. Anger is such a very human emotion, and it's one I'm particularly good at.

It's getting harder to return. I've known for quite a while now; tonight was just a confirmation. I've tried to ignore it, but I know it, in a way that I can't quite explain. I know it in the ache of my bones and the fizzing in my blood and the slippery, charged coating to my thoughts. 

One day, any day, I'm not going to come back. It's only a matter of time. And not a lot of time.

The knowledge is sick and heavy and nauseous. Simply through the need to be doing something, anything, I kick away my duvet and stand up abruptly. Too abruptly- my stomach drops away in a dizzy rush and my vision splinters in a cloud of tiny, bursting sparks, red and yellow and unnatural purple. I blink and rub my eyes, wait a few seconds for them to clear. They don't.

Refusing to panic I feel my way out of the room, stubbing my toes on the threshold, my fingers rasping over the wallpaper, heading unsteadily to the bathroom. All I can see is sparkly mess, and even worse than the prospect of blindness, I can feel another dream coming on. 

Damn damn damn.

Black water bathroom door, light switch a sky the colour of melted butter cold tap, hot tap, stark white light and hard white tiles a sunset like pouring blood bordered pink towels and a shiny silver mirror I've been here before there's a girl in the mirror there's a dark green barge floating on the river she has black hair and pale skin no no not there! Not the barge! Anywhere else, please, I know how this one ends, I don't want to don't make me...

...her eyes are full of another world and her lips are full of silent screams...

...I am at the beach, the grey one with a white sky and sullen surf. The in-between place. I see him straight away. He is fire and smoke and smouldering ashes, and he is tanned skin and tawny hair and black eyes with rings of gold around the pupils. His colours swirl in the air between us, smudged with caution and flickering with awareness. No wonder; I am a raw wild thing with the roaring, blazing colours of storms and chaos and the best kinds of music. My flesh and eyes and heart crackle with power and passion. Come closer if you dare. I am the burning flame, the silent scream, the dream spinner, 

I am the laughing spirit, the whisper in the woods, I am the 

I am the

The

The the the
Teller of tales

Searer of souls and 

Burner of worlds, come closer, 

Come closer, closer closer closer
 
Closer

If you dare.

I am the speaker of words and the knowing of names in the dead dream places.

"Alice, listen to me. Listen to me, Alice. Alice, you have to listen to me." Rough hands, alien hands clamp over my own, and the voice scrapes and lilts in my ear, but it's all so far away, and I'm losing my thoughts like the memory of the smell of snow

...breath on my face...

muted colours whispering at the edges of my consciousness...

let me dream...

I twist away, but I can't, he has me...

that voice...

stop, just let me dream and sing a little longer...

thinking is so...

tiring...

that voice...

what Alice?...what is an...what was it...

Alice...

what is an Alice?...

"Listen! They've got you Alice, the words and the magic and the dreams, they've got you and they're bloody hungry. You've got to fight. Hear me? Don't you dare forget this, Alice, don't you dare give up. I don't care what world you're in now, what memory or thought or dream, I've got you here, see? But you're burning, Alice, you're burning my hands and you're going to die. You hear? You're going to burn like your mother, Alice. And you will die, unless you remember..."

His voice cracked and broke with his words, and I thought idly that whoever this Alice was, she was pretty lucky to have such a nice guy looking out for her. Though he did seem a little melodramatic.
"Alice, remember...remember..." His words and thoughts stumble and overlap, desperation etched into every syllable and tantalising thread of thought. "Remember the apple heart witch! Remember the dragons in the forest...remember the barge on the Night River..."

My mind shudders to a halt.

Lose myself in the colours and words, lose myself in the dead dream places and fire and soul...

A dark green barge 

...no, no, let me dream...

Floating on still black waters

...let me slip back to my forest where the sky is a broiling storm of magic...

A sky the colour of butter

...where my mind can fly away...

...please let me fly away...

...a sunset like pouring blood...

  

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