Dreams can be real too, can't they? Real enough to at least scare our main character here, anyway. Very interesting read, and I'm left wondering what happens next; did he really fall or was it just a dream? Maybe the fear induced by such a vivid dream/hallucination of falling is one of the things that attracts people to the Dream Palace? In any case, great read! I only wish it was longer!
It was a long time since he had visited the Dream Palace but it looked just the same as it always had. Neera was still sitting in the little ticket booth, her third eye tightly closed. He had heard terrible things about what happened when a Parech's third eye opened. When she saw him, she smiled, showing all of her teeth, white and sharp like a fish.
“Poopy! It's been too long! I guess you heard about the new stuff we got, huh?”
“Oh, you must have heard of it! Angel Wing, they call it, 'cos it carries you all the way to Heaven. Oh, the entrance fee's gone up,” she commented, waving up at a sign above her head. “We had a bit of trouble; had to raise prices to keep the riff raff out.”
“OK,” he said handing over his card. When he had paid, Neera waved him inside. “Have fun, Poopy!”
He passed through a curtain and found himself at the foot of a wide flight of stairs; the Dream Bar was right at the top and he was, apparently, the only customer. The girl behind the bar was new. “Yes, Sir, what can I get you?” she asked.
“Angel Wing, please,” he replied.
She took a packet from the rack behind her and quoted the price. He paid and received his little escape package. “Room 57 is currently free,” she told him. Nodding, he walked around the bar to the corridor where the rooms – or rather, cubicles – were located.
Inside Number 57, he stripped and lay down on the bed. He took out the tab of Angel Wing, placed it on his tongue and relaxed.
“Open your eyes,” breathed a voice, unless it was the breeze that he suddenly felt ruffling his hair.
He did as the voice suggested and found himself lying on a grassy bank under a blue sky. The sun was warm but not hot. It reminded him sharply of the tales of Earth his mother had told him when he was a child.
“Are you going to lie there all day?” asked the voice, sounding amused.
He raised himself on his elbows and then he saw her. She shone with an inner light that kept changing colour, making it hard to focus on her.
“Come,” she said, holding out her hand. He took it and then realised that she was floating above the ground, not standing on it. As long as he held her hand, he floated, too.
She led him away towards a nearby forest of trees. At least, they were tall and straight and were crowned with fluttering somethings that looked like leaves. But when he looked more closely at one he found that it was looking back at him. It made a snatch for his leg but his guide had already carried him past.
The greens and browns melted away into silver and grey, and then they were floating along a wide city street. Below them, people scurried along the pavements like ants and the roads were clogged with smoke-belching vehicles. His companion pointed at a lamppost up the street that had a bright green vine wrapped around it. As they watched, it burst into flower. And then there were vines and grass and exotic blooms all around them.
Wherever she took him, there were wonders but their variety made his head spin. He clung to his companion, his angel, the only real thing in the midst of fantasy.
Suddenly, they were standing on a small island in the middle of a wide ocean. Strange shapes came speeding towards them through the waves, creatures with human bodies and tails like fish. When they came to the island, they heaved themselves out of the water, using their arms to stay upright and undulating their bodies to move across the sand with surprising speed. They opened their mouths to reveal rows and rows of teeth.
Before they could reach him, however, he found that he was being raised up into the air by his companion. Higher and higher she went but he felt no fear; until she suddenly let go and laughed as he screamed and fell.