(Don’t know whether to call this fiction or nonfiction. It really happened. In my dream. Could be the pills.)
* * *
A ruined structure sat above ground, nestled in a green gully with gray clouds overhead. Somehow, though, I knew the sun would break through when the moment came. I bashed away some crust and debris till it became clear the ruin was the shape of a broken cylinder, tilted so you could see up and out to the sky, like some creature raising a hand to encircle the sun. The crowds that stood on the cobbled walkways gasped, panicking as they recognized the structure. My camera clicked, aimed at the scurrying mob and the crescent stones.
The sun was almost aligned, casting one golden ray through charcoal clouds down through the circlet. I rushed between people and below ground to take more pictures before it was too late—I guessed we had less than ten minutes.
The prophet was down there, wearing khakis and a knitted purple top. The brown skin of his elderly face was scarred with pockmarks. The stomping and screams from above dropped tiny floating specks from the ceiling, but he stood calm as ever. He embodied The Warrior’s Way—a mind that overturned all other methods of war. His hands leaned against the wall as he studied.
The room was vast, wider than it was tall, lit by a few torches and a small fire. I crouched to take a picture, then moved in front of the partially excavated temple buried beneath so many feet of ground. It had a high, two-story front with large pillars hoisting gnarled gargoyles above the facade. But I couldn’t get the entire structure in the viewfinder.
The wall shook behind me, and not because of the panick above. It came from behind the walls.
The prophet’s voice, still, cut through the dank air: “The time is come.”
The walls shook. We had to escape somehow, but he just stood—still. I looked toward the entrance where I had come in. Dust wafted down—the creatures would soon flood the entry—the ones we had feared. The ones I had feared.
Boom: the smashing of stone, and on the wall behind me appeared a pattern of cracks in a circle. They were coming through. And they had war hammers.
A second circular fracture appeared. Then many more.
Boom! Boom! Boom!
The wall to my right began splitting as well. Then the wall across the room by the temple structure caved in, and in they flooded—scaled gray warriors with lizard eyes, white bones cutting out through their skin, and hammers in their giant fists. They were the smaller breed, but their curved spines still reached nearly twice my height. I looked at the dark doorway that led further underground—deeper into their realm, but it was our last choice.
The prophet looked at me: Remember what I taught you.
I took a long, deep breath. He looked at the creatures, not defying, not cowering. Simply at peace.
I was not.
As the beasts rushed forward, I held my hands in front of me in an instinctive defense, but quickly dropped them again, ashamed of what it had shown.
They slowed for just a moment in the presence of that one man. Then a hammer sliced through the air, and the prophet ducked, just quickly enough for the weapon to smash into the gray behind him. I saw a silver glint in the air in front of me, and I dropped to the dust too. When the weapon hit the wall behind me, debris showered down on my neck. My hands were caked in the powder of the floor.
I looked at him again—we had to move, we had to run. But he stood passively, boldly. And still. Embracing his ideals as tight as ever. They would soon flood in through the entrance too. I glanced at the dark door leading downward. We had to run.
Another silver weapon spiked cross the room in front of me, this one quicker, straighter. It smashed into him, and his tranquility buckled, cracking, and sliding backward through dirt till he thudded into the wall. The dust wafted down onto his streaming blood, which glinted in the light of the flames, turning almost as purple as the knit he wore. For the first time since I had met him, the first time I had known, his ideals had failed him.
I looked up at the monsters in front of me and lifted my chin.
Want more? Here’s another dream.