This fills my “trapped in a dream” square.
This is in my Vas’ World setting.
Um. This might need a warning?
There had been any number of things they could have done in the situation.
The official handbook listed five. The unofficial handbook listed another four methods of handling cases like this.
In none of those nine methods (or the three the team had penciled in themselves, House Rules), was “eat the berries and agree to be sent on a vision quest” anything but the stupidest of last resorts.
Which in no way explained why Malia was laying calmly on a camp bed, her hands folded on her chest, letting the soporific in the berries put her into a deep sleep.
What did explain it was: 1) the natives read as sufficiently human, if blue (purple, Paz insisted, purple), 2) the natives had managed to take them more-or-less hostage, and 3) the natives claimed to know where the missing member of their team was.
So they penciled a new House Rule into the unofficial handbook:
If the indigenous population of the world turns out to be biologically human, throw the rulebook out the window and use Anthropology 101 instead.
Thus there they were, Malia eating the berries. She closed her eyes, her breathing leveled, and Paz settled himself into a waiting posture, monitoring her pulse.
Malia had volunteered-or-been-chosen for the Berry Mission because… well, lots of spurious reasons that came down to Low Woman on the Totem Pole. She didn’t mind, which probably had something to do with how she’d ended up here, too. She also had more experience with hallucinogens then any other three members of the team, but that wasn’t on her official dossier.
She let the berry juice flow through her. It was already knocking her out, but the fun part would come…
…there. She was running. Something had frightened her, although she wasn’t certain what, something big, something that seemed, still, a little ridiculous to be afraid of.
Ridiculous or not, she was still running, her feet pounding on the stone.
Wait, stone? She glanced down at the ground, noted pavers, ran into something – she could feel the punch in her gut, the air whooshing out, and then she was falling.
She could see the hole above her getting smaller and smaller. Her gut still hurt, worse than she thought possible. But she wasn’t landing. don’t land in a dream…
She was dreaming? She pinched herself, and felt a distant memory of pain. Dreaming. She had… above her, a large monster jumped into the hole. He was purple-blue, and fuzzy, like some sort of children’s-show monster, and her heart was pounding in terror.
Pounding. Pounding. The drums were loud in her ears. Her feet were loud on the stone. She was running, running, but she’d forgotten something. She turned around, only to find herself face to face with the monster.
The monster was sitting in a rocking chair, big, furry blue arms wrapped around something precious. She reached for it, only to find herself grasping fur and teeth.
Something was biting her, clawing on her, eating off her fingers – she was holding the large blue monster, only he was smaller, small enough to be held, and she kept cradling him, even though he was eating off her fingers, one by one, showing them to her as he devoured them. Finger, Finger; she started running again.
Her feet were pounding on stone and she was running, cradling the monster and running. Stone? She looked down, seeing pavers, and tripped, falling into a hole. She fell, the hole above her getting smaller and smaller but the ground getting no closer. Don’t land in a dream…
Dream? She was dreaming?
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