Monday, January 26, 2015

Prologue - Disbelief, book 2

The Beginning of the End
“Where am I?” I call out to the smog filled lair, surfacing from this dream the way a drowning man breaks from water into air.
Whenever I open my eyes to the waking world, I no longer recognize it, or myself.  My blank eyes dart about for points of reference.  Then it comes to me, my ego, my super id.  Yes, I am the Night Mare, the great and powerful.  
 I raise my hand mirror, the hand of the former Commissioner of Public Works, lumpy Ralph, mummified and sentenced to hold my reflecting glass till the end of time for his treachery.  The mirror reveals that my eyes are all white now.  My white eyes confirm it for all to see.  I am nothing more than a common dream junkie.  
I try to anchor my psyche to this present time, but I experience dream vertigo instead.  The waking world swirls, together with the dreams, into one confusing picture - cobwebs on a beach, the dark of my lair, mixed with sand, and sunlight.  I raise my arm to block out the bright beams, and when the whirl of time stops moving, the images drift apart, as if the dreams were distinguishing themselves from the ghosts.   
“Where am I?”  I wonder this as I note that my memories have taken on the aura of déjà vu, and the familiar disorientation makes me cranky.   
“I want to know where I am right now!”  I shout into the grey fog that surrounds me.  “I demand an explanation!”  I insist.  “Hello?”  I ask the air.  “You there, come and help me down from this cliff.”  I say to the shadows moving in the distance.  Light and shadow, creeping in on all sides.
“You there!  Come and help me off this chariot immediately!  Who was the fool to leave a chariot on a ledge?  Hello?  Hello?”
Then my white eyes fix upon the web, woven throughout the whole of my lair.  I chuckle, remembering that I am the giant yellow spider waiting at the center of this web.  But for whom do I wait?  I cannot recall.  The memory lurks just at the edges of this waking dream, tempting me further into it than I dare go.  
“Yes,!  I wait for the next one, the Gold Stone girl, the Dream Weaver.  Then everything will begin anew.”  
I feel the memory crowning, as if there’s a steam engine barreling toward me, and I’m tied to the tracks.  
“There is no longer a Gold Stone Girl in this dimension!”  I recall it anew, with fresh triumph, and renewed horror.  
“There will be no more beginnings now, only the end.”  
My opposite has been banished into the mists. 
I win!  Was my first response.  I could not exile her myself.  She had to go willingly, and now, game over.  Now I wait for all that I have created to be sucked into the oblivion of a black hole.  The planet is shrinking, there is no polarity to hold it in its place.  
Today I have reached an important milestone.  Ten thousand vials of synthetic neon bright fantasies are entering my body at once.  Ten thousand dreams, all of them created by me.  I walk in the dreams now.  At last, I am the Dream Weaver!    
I close my eyes again, returning to the safety of my predetermined dream, and with predictable comfort, my version of the past rushes to meet us.  This dream is of my greatest triumph, which is also my greatest regret.  It’s about to happen, as if for the first time, all over, as it does now all the time, in this genetically modified time travel.  Now I am never alone, my sister Alma is ever with me.  This dream is the beginning, of this present end.
“There we are!”  I say of the two of us, standing on a beach in the smog all around me.  Alma and me.  Both of us, young, supple, and untried.  
I reach out from my chaise, with both arms, to clasp Alma in my embrace.  But even my arms are not long enough to reach that far back in time.  I chuckle again, remembering that this Alma is but a dream.   
“Shut up!” The youthful me in the dream shrieks at my sister, just as I did that fateful day.  The young me punches Alma’s arm, almost affectionately.  
“Size zero was the it thing ages ago.  I’m a negative thirteen now!” The young me confesses.
“Look at me, I’m wraith thin, Alma!”  I shout at the dream from my chaise, a spectator at my favorite sporting event.  I know every word of this dream by heart.   
I blame Alma for everything, of course.  It was all her fault.  If only she had not trusted me so completely, none of this would ever have had to happen. 
When we met, on her last day, we had not seen one another since we came of age.  Not since the forces of the planet called us to our training, she to rule the day, and I the night.  
“See how she jerks away from the sound of my voice?”  I shout to the dream, pointing out a foul to a referee.  
“What size are you?”  The young me asks Alma in my new irritating voice, as I assess the Dream Weaver’s athletic figure, with a hypercritical sidelong glance.  
I know her size, and it pisses me off that she doesn’t care what the number is.  That I have to starve and purge to live in the spotlight, and she looks glowing and attractive, no matter how big the measurement of her thigh!  It makes me want to stick a finger down my throat, just to prove that I am totally in control. Alma’s confidence is momentarily blinding.
“Are you a twelve?  Not a fourteen!  You’ll never catch me alive in a fourteen.  Not when there are so many ways to avoid it -- bypass, staples, suction, I’ve had them all!  Nothing tastes as good as thin feels!  I’ve had that phrase coming out of the mouths of supermodels for eons now.  Of course you have to shove in the drugs first, pop the pills, prick the skin.  It’s so much easier to be objectified when you’re high, did you know?”  I confess this to Alma, while admiring the slim fit of my one-of-a-kind gown, in stark contrast to her taste for looking human and off the rack.
She drapes a muscular arm around my emaciated yellow shoulders.  I can feel my bones poking into her, hip and rib.  I look very grown up compared to her.  I look like a boy with boobs, this is what I’m thinking with some smug surprise.  For it is Alma in whom everyone invests their trust.  
Alma comments on how jaundiced my skin has become, and how dark the purple circles are under my eyes.  She wants to know what’s wrong with my teeth. 
“I’ve discovered a new diet aid.” I tell her, proud of the blood brown that stains my several rows of needle-sharp implants.  
“It’s killer, I call it purging.  You wanna try it?” I ask her and she frowns.
“No thanks.”  She says in her charming voice, along with that beatific smile, the one that pisses me off, seeming sanctimonious, and because I can’t help it, I smile back.  
“It’s incredibly difficult to maintain the look of a cadaver, did you know?”  The young me says through my horrible smile.
Then Alma offers me her snack pouch!  I grimace and physically move away from the bag of nuts, grains, and dried fruit. The number of calories in the pouch before me is stupefying. I look at it, then at her, as if she were a coiled and rattling snake. 
My sister crams a handful of the mix thoughtlessly into her mouth, as if she feared starvation. I shriek, along with my younger self,  
“Aren’t you going to count the calories first?!”  We cry.
“Are they feeding you? Are you unwell?”  She asks me, still chewing. 
“You may be allergic to those nuts, and not even know it, or you could have celiacs disease, you know?”  I mouth along with the younger me.  “See?”  
The young me scrapes almost an eighth-inch of my concave stomach skin together, in a pinch between clawed fingers. 
“Bloat. I had an oyster cracker last night. Gluten is not my friend, lactose either.”  
I confess my weight loss secrets to her, just as we had shared our secrets in our youth.  
“Get rid of the foods that hold onto fluids, Alma.  I can help you lose that layer of subcutaneous fat, those last ninety pounds, forever!” 
I marvel at me, the fabulous young demon I am in the dream, made of yellow skin and brittle bones.  Then I look to the golden brown Alma standing nonchalantly next to me.  She’s grown muscular and strong in our time apart.  I may ridicule my enemy, but make no mistake, Alma is my match in everything but cunning.  
She wears a mane of black curls, cropped to warrior length, with a leather thong casually wrapped around.  She’s draped in the gender neutral uniform of the humans, tunic and trousers, dyed the color of last season’s berries.  Lug soled work boots protect her perfectly arched feet.  Alma’s eyes sparkle, just the color of amber dipped in stardust, and when she smiles, everyone, yes, even me, everyone, smiles back.  It makes me nauseous.
Alma, my sister, is my greatest love, and my greatest hate.  She attracts me and repels me all at once, we are the polarity of the planet, after all.  I killed her that day, the day of this dream.  So I have no idea how she feels abut me.  
In my manufactured recurring dream of the day she died, we two have met to walk in the left lands.  
After the Great Collapse, when god and his devil vanished in the rage of the mighty seas, the revolted earth resettled, and then she began the game of life anew.  The polar tension that  came forward, the one that currently holds the world in its place, is what Alma and I represent.  When our girlhood ended, I was called into the shadows to study the dark, and the night, while Alma moved even further into the light of day. 
In my synthetic recurring dream, made up of my memories of the event, Alma’s arm is draped around my shoulders.  I so love this moment.  I watch myself bristle, loving to hate her touch.  I want her to remove her arm, and I will miss it when it’s gone.  I hold my breath, waiting for what happens next.  Even now the red-gold sparks of our polar barrier are forming.  
Only when the sparks begin to fly off our union, does Alma remove her arm from around me, and she takes a few cautious sidesteps away. The last time she defied this warning, a roiling combustible mass developed.  It grew geometrically and it exploded, blowing each of us out into space. 
“It’s just physics!” The young me cackles in the dream.   
I see my sulphur eyes slide sideways to gauge sweet Alma’s reaction.  I chuckle from my chaise, admiring my youthful stealth.    
I planned her death so carefully, you see.   I suggested this meeting, and the meeting’s place.  I alone know the intimate workings of my equal’s mind.  I understand her weakness for traditions and symbolic gestures.  
It was here that old Babba, the dark of the moon before me, and Lena, the weaver of light, walked into the West, into Disbelief forever, ceding the way for the two of us to rise.
Until that very moment, I had not considered that there might ever be an end to me.  It was not an idea I savored.  It was then that I began looking for a way to prevent my end from coming.  This is the day, the one in my dream, the day I set this wheel to spinning.    
“Let’s pledge our alliance at the Willow tree.” I suggest to the dream, “Just the two of us, like when we were girls.”  Born as we’d been from the two eggs nourished in the willow’s roots.  
But this meeting was not to be like the old times, for either of us.  We both could see how it was between us, we the great tension that keeps the planet in its place.  Old Babba and Lena had been open enemies, wooing supporters, and annihilating the opposition at every turn.  Behaving much as their predecessors had, the God and his Devil, in grades of good and evil. 
Alma, had already promised the planet a more amenable detente, more agreement, more reaching across the aisle, a shared vision, all in the name of our CO-rule.  I smiled at her proclamations.  I cannot help but smile whenever she does. I find it annoying.  I smiled, yes, and secretly I plotted just how to rule the world alone, and forever.    
The highlight of this particular recurring dream is when my coup succeeds, the moment when our shared rule ends.  

In this dream it’s a brilliant spring morning. The sunlight hurts my eyes. I make a note, right then, 
“See it?” I say, pointing a claw at my younger self, “the thought is rippling across my face, to study just how the planet’s species might thrive without all that awful light.”  
We two, such weird sisters, saunter to the pond.  Not like when we were girls, racing up from the cove on the beach.  Flying up the sea wall, to zigzag through the meadow of grass and wildflowers, both of us so determined to win.  We were so similar then, Alma and me, before the select tutors of the dark and the light came into play, before our choices shaped us.  
Beneath the drooping arbor we would lie, then slip into the cool water of the glassy pond, to splash and laugh.  I marvel at this bucolic past, wondering what I could have been thinking?  Now that I’ve learned to cackle, my interests no longer runs to cool breezes.  My realm is one of tornadoes and hurricanes, of torture and shrieking.  I have tasted the abuse of power, and I like it.  
We odd sisters sit upon the grassy knoll, leaned against the trunk of the Willow tree, just as we had in days of old.  Alma’s eyes are closed.  The half smile of a dream plays at her mouth.  I begin to mumble words of deep dark magic, said to bind my sister there, soothing at first, and then commanding.  I wave my claw-hands in practiced gestures, first this way, and then that.  My knuckles rattle in a grotesque finger dance.  In response, the thunder booms, and the lightening cracks.
“It has to be this way, Alma,” I whisper, in an explanation unexpectedly pulled from me, in deference to the ancient oaths that I’m about to break, those bonds of sisterhood.  
“This is the greatest nightmare I can concoct.  You, of all, know how ravenous for power I truly am.  Just one bite, one wriggling mouthful of your flesh, and your magic fuses with mine.  Then I will seal you up into the trunk of our tree, and burn it all the way down to the ground.  A merciful end to our joint rule.”  The young me consoles.
I learned the spell some time ago, the one to imprison my sister inside the tree’s trunk, magic’s only impenetrable coffin.  The spell, an amalgam of grunts and sighs, is heaved to the right, and hoed to the left, until a noxious blue steam blows from out my pointy yellow ears.  A sure sign that I got the spell right.
“I have had to eat all the Dream Weavers who come after you.  All of them!” I call out from my chaise.  
“It seemed such a small price to pay, to rule the world.” I muse.
The Willow’s trunk begins to grow.  It grows and grows its bark around the enchanted dreamer.  When Alma wakes, she finds naught but a chink from which to reach out her arm.  
She punches a muscular brown limb out through the gap, straining now, as if her shoulder were pressing from within.  She claws and grasps at naught but air, searching for some way to break her prison’s wall.  
“Anka? Anka!”  Alma calls out to me.  
The sound of my name out of her mouth lands on me like a hammer on anvil.  Yet and still, I open wide my machine hinged jaws, laying bare the many rows of browning needle-tined teeth.  I bite down upon the rounded mound of the Dreamer’s bicep.  I feel my teeth sink in, and the bubbling blood begin to rise. I hear her scream. It fills my body with its noise.  There’s wet upon my cheek -- a messy mix of Alma’s blood, my snot, and my tears.  I tear away a hunk of pulsing flesh, and I chew it with disgust, and swallow it with no relish.  
My sister howls!  The sound quakes the planet.  Her shrieks shatter ice in the deepest caves.  The cries force geysers of magma up out of the half world ocean.  My sweet sister, for even her taste is sweet, snatches in her ravaged arm, and the tree trunk seals itself closed around her, completely silencing her whimpers and her screams.  Though I will hear that sound forever.  
The me of the dream raises my claws to the growing dark and cloudy sky.  I reach out to the world I now solely command, and I demand its loyalty.  The planet supplicates her will to mine.  She sends me lightening bolts to ignite the willow tree.  
I watch the old tree flare and crackle, like a soggy Lucifer stick.  Then it spits fire, and the sap combusts.  I watch the tree burn all the way to the ground.  I do not move until the tree is nothing more than a small round of cooling ash, and Alma’s screams are but a brutal memory that haunts the night.   
“The beginning of the end.” I chuckle to the dream from my chaise.  
I sink deeper into the Crocodile’s dried up yellow scales. Small vials clink and sway.  I don’t even bother to open my eyes. Instead, I settle in, to have the beginning dream again.

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