Originally posted May 4, 2006
The landscape was grey, dusty, blasted, and uneven, juts of broken concrete block impeding her
passage, but still Lydia ran, her feet barely touching the ground. Someone ran with her, someone
else just behind her, and something full of malice was chasing them, never getting any further
away, gaining a little bit of ground every time the landscape jumped up to meet them.
The dream came often, and she knew how it went. There would come a point where she – they –
could escape through a door, around a corner, something, and rest, but until that brief interlude,
she would have to run. The consequences of not running were… unthinkable.
They came abruptly to that corner, turned it, as she knew they would, and found themselves
suddenly falling, falling through a forest that ran up both sides of the hole – canyon, it was a canyon,
lined trees, and they were falling that abyss, the sides rushing past them with a terrifying
Suddenly, a voice in her head, a patient voice with no apparent gender (or maybe it was simply
letters written on the air) told her “It is time to Change, child.”
“Just like that?” she wanted to demand, but she found that she was already changing, and the
canyon floor slowed its rapid rise toward her.
The trees below were no longer threatening, but simply a comfortable place to land from her little
She twisted, catlike, in the air, to be sure of her companions, and found that they were already
Changed, already waiting for her.
A noise awoke her, or the sensation of a noise, pulling her out of the dream. She opened her
eyes, despite every desire to roll over and go back to sleep, blinking in the pre-dawn darkness of
Someone was sitting on her bed, crouching, their back against the wooden footboard, looming over
her. One of Nora’s friends? She glanced over at her roommate’s bed, to find it not only empty,
but missing, as if it had never been there. “What…?” A wave of terror pushed at her, screaming
to be let out – to flee! – but something kept it down, locked inside her, and the breaths she drew
were even and slow.
The man – it was a man, it had to be a man – at the foot of her bed tilted his head, looking for a
moment like nothing but a giant crow sizing up something bright. His voice, though, banished
that image. It was low and rumbly, gravel and ancient places. “Time to wake up,” he told her.
“This place isn’t ready for you yet.” He made a sweeping gesture with his right hand, and she felt a
sudden shift in air pressure.
She awoke with her ears popping, swallowing hard even before she remembered why she was doing so,
and found her self suddenly, entirely, awake. She was normally a slow waker, preferring to take
an hour or more to luxuriate in the warm softness of bed before letting her eyes open. Today,
she blinked herself into consciousness in a matter of seconds, staring in slight disbelief at the
foot of her bed.
Nothing. No possibly-human man crouched there, no suggestion that he’d ever been there, not even
a slightly indented place in her blankets. So it had been a dream after all. She sighed –
– and quickly glanced to see if Nora’s bed was where it belonged. It was, with all its mess, one
long arm of Nora’s hanging outside the sheets. What’s more, Nora was alone in bed this morning.