Dreamcatcher

There are many heroes in our world. Firemen, policemen, even busdrivers. But the most important are those who remain hidden and protect us from the things we can't run from...our nightmares. But what would happen if one heroic dreamcatcher could not defeat the nightmare that faces her, could not escape the tormenting terror and could not place the evil that surrounds them? Will she manage to keep her soul or will her life be taken?

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2. Chapter 1

It was not a dark and stormy night. There were clearly no vampires, or creepy witches around. No knights coming back from the dead to haunt me. Yet, as I turned out the lights, I felt my legs sub-consciously sprint for the bed in a frantic manner, my whole body fizzling with adrenaline until I was covered in my blanket from head to toe. I lied there, in my large and soft bed, listening to my quick heart beat. I made it.  Another night of sleepless nightmares could begin. I shut my eyes tightly in anticipation and let my mind drift away...

 

I was in a wrecked wasteland, greying rubble and ashes covering the landscape. Though the fire was dying out, choking smoke still rose from the piles of bodies and buildings. If you breathed heavily enough you could detect a particular stench of corpse underneath the chocking smoke. The whole sky was a dirty red, and as I looked down at myself I realised- so was I. My favourite pjs were on fire. Great.  A chunky metal weapon was at my side. I deliberated on what happened before I entered this world. Then the eerie silence of the situation dawned on me.  I could actually hear the flesh and bone turn into heat and ash. I could hear myself burn. As you can imagine- I legged it. The fire was everywhere around me, but I couldn’t feel anything, other than the heat. My body wasn’t really there. The burns weren’t really burning me. I was in a dream. All the same, the heat was bothering me, and I wasn’t planning on carrying on the rest of this dream as a burned out corpse.  I finally stumbled out of the pile, tripping on something that resembled an arm, and sure as hell sounded like it by the crunch it made when I stepped on it by accident.

Suddenly, I heard fierce, mechanical footsteps that shook the ground as they neared. I turned around quickly, not afraid to point my gun at the object.  And there, out of ashes, came...a robot.  I sighed, in disappointment.  I’ve seen far too many of those recently. Oh well, I might as well get on with it. I considered running off and hiding, seeing as I was vertically challenged when it came to dealing with this guy. But I stood my ground. It already saw me. Besides, you never know, I might have some psychedelic power in this dream. The machine huffed and puffed as it came to a halt. Could I out run it? It didn’t seem at all graceful with a human form that had very large feet and legs, and big belly full of ticking machinery. It was old.

“Say your last prayer robot!” I shouted, pointing my gun at him.  I hoped he didn’t know how useless the weapon actually was.  The robot’s machinery stopped ticking, and then a sudden high pitched sound of an engine started ticking away. I realised it was the monster’s laughter.

“Bless your little heart. You aren’t gonna get anywhere pointing that thing at me.”  The robot continued laughing. I frowned. Could that be a hint of a Scottish accent in his talk? I shook my head, dismissing the thought entirely.

“How do you know?  What if it’s a miniature nuclear bomb?  What if it’s... It’s...”  I stuttered. However many nights I’ve spent fighting monsters, witches, and all things cruel I could never name the weapon handed to me.  You could say that’s my Achilles’ heel.

“I know because I created it” The robot wheezed. That knocked me a little bit, but instead I threw the weapon on the ground and built up energy inside me. I prayed this would work. My face lit up with a scheming smile as two spheres of yellowish light illuminated from my hands.  The machine huffed and puffed, steam came out of every joint.  The robot’s face opened up, and a wrinkled old man climbed out of the contraption.

“All right, all right. I’m sorry to give ya such a fright” he smiled.  I was not expecting this. I felt my powers extinguish immediately. This wasn’t the kind of dream I normally had. I waited for him to turn into something nasty.

“What’s going on?”I asked.

“ Zombie apocalypse” The man said in a matter-of-fact tone. “I’m sure you’ve heard of those. I know all about your kind. Dreamcatchers, they call you- right?” he asked. I nodded in reply. The man continued talking.

“ It’s a brave thing you’re doing; claiming these nightmares as your own to save others from having to endure them. But there’s nothing you can do to help here.”

“What do you mean? What are all those dead bodies doing burning?” I asked, nervously. I also wanted to know how on earth he knew who I was, but if I could just get out of this dream, it wouldn’t matter either way.

“Better burnt than undead, I always say.” He smiled cheerfully.

“What do you mean? I asked in disgust.

“ I burnt them. “ He said and shrugged.

“You monster” I gasped, feeling energy build up in me. Apparently it was fuelled by emotion, not only by my whim.

“I did what I had to. It got bad. Very bad. There aren’t many survivors. I, as the eldest- in this gathering at least- decided to give myself the risky job of maintaining these grounds. Now everything’s dead. It sure wasn’t like that a few weeks ago.  You couldn’t tell a zombie from a human, the bitten from the unbitten.  I knew this old brute would come in handy one day” he added, patting the robot sympathetically.

“But... if there’s nothing I can do... why am I here?”  

The old man shrugged.  “Beats me”

“Well... how did you even know who I am?”

“ In your own dimension you are undercover, unknown. No one knows about your kind, about your job. It’s true, no?”

I nodded, once again dumb ofunded by the man’s knowledge.

“In other dimensions you’re not unknown.  Why do you think it is that every monster, vampire and psychopath goes for you? We know who you are.”

“uh huh...” I said, unsure how to reply and furthermore what my next step would be. It was not uncommon knowledge for dreamcatcher to be aware of the fact that as soon as the dream begins it is like a battle between the predator and the dreamcatcer- both fighting relentlessly once they found each other. So far I have never known a dreamcatcher to lose. Then again with our bodies still perfectly intact in another dimension and out pain receptors switched off it wasn’t  much of a surprise.  I felt uncomfortable.   I wished to be back in my bed, the fresh sheets ruffling under my weight, feeling the warmth of my pillow. If not this then at least I wished to be fighting or on the trial of a predator. Making progress. Instead I stood there, unconsciously fiddling with my gun. The man eventually looked me up and down and said “You better come with me.” He got inside his robot with a struggled then started off in an unknown direction.

“Where are we going?” I asked, eagerly following him, glad to have some course of action to follow.

“Meet the others.” He said, once again in his robotic, tough voice. “Seems like you’ve got nowhere to go. Much like half the population nowadays. I’m Cable.”

“Cable?”

“Yeah. Like in a TV, or something’.”

I nodded, once again unsure what to say, and cursing myself for letting such everyday feelings of awkwardness appear in this dream.  We made our way through the piles of bodies. I made sure not to look at them too closely by looking at the ground or Cable. Without him I would be quite lost and would probably end up circling the same reeking piles over and over again. I shuddered. That wasn’t going to happen. I would send a message to the Tribe Captain and be out of here in no time, just as soon as I was in a safe place. My Tribe Captain was a real nice fellow. Although I had no need to cnontact him since i qualified as a dreamcatcher 5 years ago, i still rembered him well from my triangin days as kind, and never favouring me because i was younger.  Tribe Captians were supposed to look out for you forever. They were your helpline if you eve got in a pcikel. And a pickle is what i appeared to be in. Cable lead me through a maze of unorganised burning piles, and I gradually started to notice the piles getting smaller, and to my disgust, more human-like.  Eventually there was nothing but the dark sky and the ground. We were walking on burnt grass at the moment, but along the horizon I could make out at pot- holed road. We eventually stepped onto this road and followed it. 

We must have been walking for at least an hour. I was getting cold, and the sun was nowhere to be seen.

“What time is it?” I asked.

" Don’t know. Night time I guess” came the robotic reply.

“Well.. .can your robot run or something? I’m getting real cold.” I was getting mouthy, and impatient, but I needed to find whatever it was that was lurking in this nightmare. It didn’t matter if I hurt someone’s feelings. They weren’t real. They were only part of someone’s mind. Someone’s dream.

“No can do.” Cable answered. “ But the bunk house isn’t far away now. You run ahead. Just follow this road, and you’ll get there. It unmistakable, the bunk house is the only building within miles.”

“Thanks” I said as I dashed off.  I jogged away and soon I came to a burnt forest. I carried on running, feeling more alive with every step. It was times like these when I loved being a dreamcatcher. There were no physical bonds to stop you from living, and pushing the limits. I sprinted forwards, watching the burnt trees rush past me. I spread my arms and feel t the wind between my fingers, wrapping them in the breeze. I imagined the shadows of the trees dancing along my face, in the light of the bone white moon. I felt my body warm up as I ran, energy springing up inside me.  Then another energy of an electric kind filled me up and I could see that same faint glow of yellow illuminate from me. Perhaps my power could do something cool, and make me go even faster, but i was fine just running without any fancy tricks. So I carried on jogging like a human torch.

 Soon, I spotted a light in between the trees. The bunk house.  It was a hut made entirely out of metal sheets, surrounded by a burnt pile of another shack and other faint outlines of some other buildings shadowed in the night. I could hear voices talking and occasional laughs. I gradually slowed down. There were a few people sitting on a porch. Others were sitting on plastic chairs wrapped in blankets, huddling around a fire and passing around a steaming thermos. I was taken aback by how vivid, clear and precise the whole set up was.  It all looked so real. I pinched myself, but only felt the soft touch of skin between my fingertips. No pain. I exhaled slowly. Still a dream. Without another thought I made my entrance.

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