The story so far:
That day I worked like a robot, simply performing all necessary tasks automatically, without thought. I could not get my mind off of Nona Flores. I had never before come so close to meeting someone who I also saw die. Frankly, it scared the hell out of me. But after nearly thirty years of repetitive visions I could hardly contain some degree of excitement that something changed. I nearly met a victim before they died! If the killer had only waited one more day, I wonder if I would have had a vision around her, or at least felt strange. I could have warned her. How would that have gone? “Hi, I’m your new psychologist Dr. Davis; wait a minute I’m getting something….ah don’t leave the house tonight because a man is going to accuse you of lying and then crucify you, just f.y.i.”
As soon as my last client left I let Methra go home, and cleared out soon myself. On the way home I felt like I had entered one of those music videos where everything races by so fast that it just turns into a blur, while the singer’s head stays in regular time as everything shoots past. I just could not relax my mind. It had fixed itself on my dream and the freaky coincidence of Nona Flores’ untimely death. I hoped that it all did not just add up to a bubble that felt so significant, until it burst, and amounted to a lousy memory.
When I got home I edited my journal entry about the dream to include that I almost met the victim I had dreamed about only hours before. That night when I wanted to sleep my mind would not stop racing. I could tell that no matter how many hours I slept for I would still feel tired the next day, because my brain would not rest. Over the years I would often go into the bathroom and open up my medicine cabinet to look at the bottle of sleeping pills I kept there. I always read the label carefully, along with the directions; and imagined what it would be like if I took those every night, and my dreams could not poke through the drowsy veil they would lay over me, a blissful night of perfect sleep. But then I always said to myself: “who are you kiddin’?” And I put them back until next time. The fact was, I needed my dreams. Sometimes they ruined most of a night’s sleep, and bled into my day; but I could never repress my cognition that my visions made me destined for something. I did not know what; but I could not push them aside with sleeping pills and refuse my gift, just self torture really.
When I climbed into bed I lay motionless for a long while, staring at the ceiling, mind engaged, wondering when I would finally tire out, and sleep. As with every incursion into the land of nod, I could not remember closing my eyes and losing consciousness. As I sank deeper and deeper into slumber, I felt as though an unseen hand slowly closed a giant book gliding away on an invisible conveyor belt into the unknown; and someone slowly turned off all the lights. For a while I really slept, as if in an unlit, padded vacuum tube, a nothingness, where I hibernated for a while and regained my vigor. Then as if some unknown force beamed me out of my cozy little hollow, I looked down and saw my bare feet in fine sand that coursed through my toes, and slowly sucked me in. I looked around and saw only more sand, as far as the eye could see, a vast desert, unforgiving, and cold as the high mountains. Then straight ahead I noticed a circular object way off in the distance that looked like a solid piece of stone. My feet sinking ever deeper I started to walk. I noticed that with every step I still sank, but just stayed on top if I kept my legs moving fast enough. The rock offered my only chance of survival. Everything else would surely end in calamity, as I could not walk over the shifting sands forever. Racing for the rock, I lifted my legs as high and fast as I could, every time gaining on it, but losing ground to the sand, sinking ever deeper. Finally, I got close enough and noticed the rock was not a rock at all, but had an opening on top, like a well. Just as the sand’s grip on my body nearly rendered me immobile, I took one last lunge and caught the lip of the well with one hand. The sand pulled me tight, but I dug down deep and found more strength. Struggling I grabbed the well with my other hand, and kicked my legs relentlessly, pulled myself up, and escaped a dry suffocating death.
I got myself up on the well so fast that I lost my balance and fell down inside. I seemed to fall forever; all light from the surface faded away, and enveloped me in everlasting darkness. Deeper and deeper I fell, heavier and heavier my slumber, until I crashed with a horrible smack into a pool of water. So far had I fallen, so fast had I come down, I plunged deep below the surface. The water felt warmer as I descended farther down, warmer and warmer, until it felt hot. I sank so far I reached the bottom of the well, and touching the granite there it felt hot to the touch, like a fire roared underneath. Suddenly a golden light broke the abyss’ darkened perdition. I realized that it came from me, and around my neck I found one of my golden keys from my dream all those years before. On it I noticed a dark shadowy circle that I could not recall seeing before. I lowered my hand and it shone brighter until it reached the floor and revealed a lock that I knew it would fit, as if the whole struggle occurred just to draw me there. My chest began to collapse as my lungs burned up the last of the oxygen. With violent convulsions it screamed for air. I summoned all my will power not to open my mouth, just to let something in. Feverishly I inserted the key and turned the lock. The bottom opened and I fell through, water and all. As I plummeted farther down and the water separated into tiny drops I gratefully took deep breaths. Below lay only black, except for a bright circle, like a spotlight beating back a ring of darkness on a moonless night. I crash landed in the ring, and tiny droplets of water caught up with me like a passing rain cloud.
I could barely make out a shape shifting around in the darkness. Paralyzed, except for the movement of my eyes, I could only look on as an elderly man with a craggy face, gnarled like an old rope, stepped out of the darkness. He had sunken eyes besieged by gloomy circles. He pulled his crimson lips back into a twisted smile, revealing yellow teeth with fine points. He wore a grey robe with long sleeves that concealed his hands, which he held locked in front of his midsection. He spoke with a voice so low it rumbled like an avalanche speeding down a mountain. As he talked his yellow eyes curled tighter and tighter into tiny orifices, as if the power of his voice had stolen his sight. He said: “Long you have traveled to get here. You have had many visions, and helplessly stood by and watched them come to pass. No more! Now you will see more, and your curse; deciding what to do.”
When he finished his decree he pulled his arms apart and revealed his appendages. Instead of human hands he had grown hybrids. His weathered arms looked like human skin at the top and then gradually changed. His left arm morphed into an octopus’ tentacle, which sank to the floor, its suckers searching for something to latch on. He pulled his right hand out and it unfurled into the head of a viper. It opened its mouth and bared two long fangs, and seemed to penetrate everything it looked at with burning eyes. The old man dragged me up by my arm with his tentacle. Holding it close to his body he presented it to the snake. With anger and hatred coursing through its veins it struck, biting down into my flesh with all of hell’s fury. The venom flowed through my veins, melting everything it touched like the hottest acid, and liquefying my insides. A horrible scream welled up inside me, but static muscles could not let it out. Building into a tidal wave my pain felt like an explosion deep inside, until the crescendo, and I awoke with a scream. Soaked with sweat I had saturated my bed, an eerie reminder of the well water.
I pulled myself together and stopped hyperventilating. Languidly I walked to the bathroom and turned on the light. In the mirror I saw my reflection, but could hardly believe it was really me. I looked like I had just been put through a washing machine and left too long in the spin cycle. I could not get back to sleep that night, and felt a growing anxiety forge a home in my gut all night. I felt different. That strange experience changed me somehow. I could not describe it yet, but I felt altered.
The next morning I dragged myself around the house, going through my routines and getting ready for work. I could not recall that I ever had a greater desire to stay home sick in my life, but if I had my workload would have doubled, difficult to recover from. I stepped outside and almost fell over. It felt like an invisible fist swiftly punched me in the gut and knocked the wind out of me. I looked around and saw people walking around, but I could feel their auras. Some of them looked destined for greatness, while others for tragedy. I forced myself out on to the sidewalk and leveled myself on a tree. As soon as I touched it visions flashed into my head of other people’s lives, dozens who had also touched the tree. It fed me their lives like machine gun fire, with information for ammunition, right into my brain; and it felt like power, raw power. At that moment I recalled the old man in my dreams saying: “now you will see more, and your curse; deciding what to do.”
I pulled myself up and took what felt like my first tentative steps out into the world, alone, but empowered.