January 19 – February 1, 2017 Flash Fiction Contest “Dreamcatcher”

This post is for STORIES related to the Contest theme: “Dreamcatcher.”

The link to the LinkedIn Comment Thread can be found here.


This post is for STORIES related to the Contest theme: “Dreamcatcher”.

A dreamcatcher gets emptied of dreams it holds. Whether by accident or on purpose. Can be all, some or just one dream.

Required Elements:

  • Water
  • Darkness (any sort, absence of light, spiritual etc.)

Critiques, comments and feedback are encouraged on the LinkedIn Comment Thread; non story comments here will be deleted.

The point of these friendly contests is to hone our craft and create successful stories within a predefined set of limitations. There is no monetary compensation.

Please Note: comments may be considered “published” in regards to other contest requirements.

All stories are fall under general copyright laws. No part may be reproduced without the express consent of the respective author.

Story Submission Rules:
  1. One story per author. You may post more than one but only the first story will qualify for voting.
  2. Stories must be in English, unpublished and your own work.
  3. Stories must fit into a single comment box and must be less than 1500 words.

Voting starts Wednesday morning at 9:00am PDT / 12:00pm EST / 10:30pm IST / 5:00pm WET/GMT/ 4:00am AEDT (Thursday) and ends the same time on Thursday / 4:00am AEDT (Friday).

  • You may vote only once.
  • You cannot vote for yourself.

***the next writing prompt will be chosen by Ken Allen per the Writing Prompt Roster.

To be included in the “writing prompt roster”, you must have submitted two stories in the last sixty days. The roster is alphabetical and can be found here.

See How to Participate for complete rules and disclaimers.


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10 thoughts on “January 19 – February 1, 2017 Flash Fiction Contest “Dreamcatcher”

  • January 19, 2017 at 10:13 pm
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    It Was Only A Dream… Right?

    A shrill scream tears through the night. Not a cry of joy and merriment from the evening’s festivities, but one of horror that shatters all thought and detonates an urge to run.

    Jack and I scurry to our feet, from the blanket spread on the lush grass meadow where seconds before we enjoyed a local band. It’s hard to tell from which direction the scream came, but the culprit reveals itself. From the far side of the grove, a black mist rolls our way. From within it comes a sound too fresh in my mind to forget—the howl of Bog Dogs.

    But this can’t be. It was only a dream… right?

    A human stampede charges our way, and I cling to Jack’s hand. Then there’s only a wall of people. Heads twist in all directions with chaotic glares—all social conditioning gave over to fear. It’s every man for himself.

    The light from the full moon fades like the gods are playing a terrible joke and erasing it from existence. We charge forward with the crowd. Cell phones flash to life and provide the only light source. The crowd is suffocating, choked at the only opening across the river out of the grove.

    Jack hauls me from the crowd. We run upriver to a low spot along the riverbank, and he plunges into the dark water dragging me with him.

    “No, no, no.” I heave on his hand with both of mine. “We’ll never make it.” This is happening so fast I didn’t make the connection until now. I’ve seen the outcome of Jack and I crossing the river on our own… in a nightmare. I point to the opposite bank now shrouded in mist. The jaws of a smoke wolf breach the oozing black vapor that wafts down the riverside toward us. Staying with the crowd is our only option.

    We charge back the way we came and squeeze into the thinning horde. Those who saw us leave, take their chances and attempt to cross the river. Another scream slashes through the dark, then another, then more than I can count.

    I recall the details of the nightmare I dreamed five nights in a row. Each night it was different, but each path we took led to Jack’s and my death. First, the mist consumed the road once we crossed the river. Then it devoured us from behind when we stalled on the bridge. Even when we tried to run for home or inside any building void of light, it found us. We almost made it once, after floating down the river, but got caught in the rapids. That didn’t stop the dogs from finding us.

    But there was a light. I see it in my mind. Just before the rapids, at the top of the steep hill, there’s a light on in the travel agency. Light must hold them off. The river downstream is our only chance.

    “Come on,” I grab Jack’s hand, this time, dragging him down the riverbank which is much steeper on the left side of the bridge.

    “Gail. We just tried this,” he pleads in a loud whisper.

    “That was the wrong way. We have to get to the travel agency.”

    I slip into the water as quiet as possible, my shoes sinking into the syrupy muck. The water grows deeper, and the current pulls us along. Silently in the blackness, we drift hand-in-hand while screams from friends, neighbors and the innocent warn of a possible fate.

    I motion to Jack and point to the light coming from the travel agency at the top of the slope. Far from the rapids, we cross the river. Jack latches onto a sizable tree root, and we pull ourselves out of the water. Leaves and mud meet my face while I struggle to climb the steep dirt embankment. My fingers tangle in my necklace. I unwind them from the chain and stare at the mud covered dreamcatcher pendant. I tuck it in my blouse and continue climbing before the mist finds us.

    We lay at the top of the hill and scope out the area. No one is in sight, not even the disturbing fog … yet. We make our way along the side of the building and Jack peers around the corner.

    “The door’s open.” He looks left down the street, then right. “Let’s go.”

    We slither around the corner and stay low, then creep through the door. Jack finds a chair and jams it under the door handle. In a crouch, we head into the dark office into a cubicle in a corner opposite a wall of windows.

    “Someone’s gonna see that chair and know we’re in here,” I whisper.

    “There’s nothing we can do,” he says.

    We sit quietly for some time, listening to distant screams and cries for help. What can we do, but wait? Jack crawls into a cubicle along the window and peers over the four-foot wall. Fear knots in my stomach. What if someone sees him? We’re lucky the lights are off.

    My thoughts turn to the dreamcatcher necklace, and I slip it from the confines of my blouse. It was an interesting find at the flea market, different than any dreamcatcher I’ve ever seen. The merchant suggested it would make a lovely necklace, being it was so small, and I purchased a chain. I’ve worn it every day since.

    I stare at it, the black string covered in mud. What did I like about it? It appears almost creepy now, and I slip the chain over my head. The nightmares started the first night I bought it. Could there be a connection? I wrap my fingers tightly around it and scoff at the idea.

    Jack returns. “I don’t see anyone.”

    “What about the mist?”

    “Nothing. But we’re not gonna chance going out there.”

    We sit in the near darkness, and I open my hand and look at the dreamcatcher.

    “What’s that?” Jack plucks it from my palm. His eyes grow wide, and his lips press flat. “Where did you get this?”

    I don’t like his tone. “The flea market.”

    “Didn’t you say you’ve been having nightmares?”

    I swallow the lump forming in my throat. This suddenly sounds hauntingly wrong.

    “Gail? Did the nightmares start after you bought this thing?

    I don’t want to say it out loud. This can’t be happening because of me. It just can’t be my fault. I nod, and Jack tosses it on the dirty, worn path in the cheap gray office carpet in front of us.

    Tears run down my cheeks. “I didn’t know… I thought it was nice. It’s a dreamcatcher. Aren’t they a good thing?” I blubber and weep onto arms folded around my knees. “It’s just a dream,” I mumble into my sleeve. “How can it be real?”

    “Shh,” he whispers and tucks his legs close to his body, away from the stream of light from the front of the agency.

    Someone runs screaming by the front of the building.

    Jack peeks around the corner, then stretches his neck to see over the cubical walls along the window. He ducks down and pushes against me in the corner, his face close to mine. “It’s coming,” he whispers.
    An urgency to run sweeps over me, and my legs and arms twitch. I want to charge out of here and find someplace safe, but where?

    “Shh,” Jack says again.

    “It was… just a dream,” I stammer, and Jack covers my mouth with his hand.

    “You bought someone’s nightmare.” He hugs me. “And now it’s yours.”

  • January 23, 2017 at 9:27 am
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    Dreamwalker

    by Dean Hardage

    The Dreamwalker sat within the protective circle of brightly colored sand he had painted and blessed with words of Power looking at the still smoldering remains of the village. The summer lightning had set the dry woods afire and the angry West wind had driven the flames down upon the People with terrifying speed. Some had died, old, infirm, or just unlucky, while the majority of the People had fled to their canoes and rowed to the middle of the lake to wait for it to pass. He had raced to his lodge just as the flames reached the buffalo hide walls, trying desperately to save his intricate dream catchers. He held the only one he’d recovered. Its frame was made of carefully woven willow withes wrapped with the softest of doe skin. The intricate netting was woven from the collected silk of the colorful spiders that lived in the nearby caves and was wondrously soft. It was adorned with a wing feather of the sacred Red Hawk, totem of the tribe, the claw of the great Bear, and an image of a family carved from the turquoise plentiful in the mountains. He had been fortunate to snatch it from the flames before they could damage it.

    He had not been so fortunate saving the other dream catcher. He’d been horrified to see it engulfed in flames before He could as much as reach for it. His face bore a look of determination overlaid by fear as he thought of it. The lost one’s frame was of thornwood, hard and dark, netting threaded from the finest silver wire their craftsmen could make. It had carried a rattle from a snake of fifteen summers, the preserved body of the scorpion, and a carving of a vicious seeming warrior of black onyx stone. Many asked why he had both and why so different but he never told them. He could not tell them that the dark dream catcher as a prison for the terrible dreams that often stalked the dreamscape where he traveled to protect the tribe. Nor could he explain that the light dream catcher was a home for the good dreams that had chosen to return with him. That was the burden of the Dreamwalker.

    Now something he never imagined would happen was imminent. With the destruction of the dark dream catcher all of the evil dreams imprisoned had been released. They would come when Sister Moon rose in the sky, her cold light giving them substance. With so many in one place they would seek out any living person to try to fulfill their purpose, destroying their victims. He only knew of such a thing from the tales of his forbears, all Dreamwalkers, who carried the memories of the People with them from birth to death. He’d learned what to do but had never believed he’d have to put that knowledge to use. Now he could only trust in his memories and in the dream beings that resided in the dream catcher in His hand. Father Sun was setting for his rest and he had little time before Sister woke and summoned them so he began.

    His voice rose clearly in the night air, ancient words that held power he could almost see as he sang them. His words called the good dreams, seeking their aid. As he sang images sprang from the willow hoop, some wondrous to behold, some playful and childlike, all made of air and light. At that moment Sister found an opening in the clouds and her cold gaze found the lake, the small waves glinting like chips of ice. Images began to arise from the surface of the water, these made of pure darkness. Many of the forms were unrecognizable, mutated and twisted by the fear and hate of the dreamer into monsters. They rose into the air and as one turned to where he sat by the ruined village.

    This was the moment. The final words, the evocation of his power and all of the Dreamwalkers that came before, and the light images changed. No longer airy and playful, they suddenly became warriors, armed and armored with spear, tomahawk, bow, and hardened skin breastplates and leggings. The dark creatures screamed and attacked.

    He barely remembered most of the battle. Each blow struck, each bite, each claw tore at his spirit. All of these dreams, dark and light, had become his and his alone and he suffered when they were destroyed. He dared not give in to the pain, to surrender consciousness for that would free the dark ones. Flashes of memory, a serpent-like shadow constricting around a bright warrior only to be cloven in two by a single tomahawk blow. A dark scorpion sting, piercing the breastplate of another, two man-like figures locked in a terrible tableau of death.

    At last, just before Sister would sink below the horizon, only two figures remained. A huge, dark eagle hovered just above the ground, ready to swoop down on the last warrior. Bright eyes turned to the Dreamwalker. He croaked one word, releasing the warrior from human form and a great Red Hawk sprang into existence. With a terrible cry the dark eagle swooped in but Hawk sprang into the air and evaded the attack. The battle was joined, talon and beak, ripping and tearing at one another with bit of light and shadow ripped from their bodies. It seemed as if the eagle was about to destroy his enemy, Hawk on the ground and apparently unaware of the danger from above. Just as the eagle was about to pounce, Hawk rolled and the eagle struck the earth. Before it could recover, Hawk’s talons sunk deep and one snap of his beak severed the head from the dark creature.

    Bright eyes once more turned to the Dreamwalker, shadowed by pain and loss. His vocal cords raw and bleeding from his screams, the Dreamwalker nevertheless managed to say the words releasing the dream. He was filled with gratitude when Hawk flew back into the willow hoop, choosing to remain with him instead of returning to the dreamscape. With great reverence he picked up the dream catcher, stepped out of the circle and went to find the materials to remake its dark brother.

    End

  • January 24, 2017 at 5:58 am
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    Spider web

    Olivia stared at the small cardboard box on the coffee table in front of her. She pushed strands of dark hair behind her ear as she took in the worn edges, the flaps carefully folded against each other to seal in the contents. Her name was stencilled on the top.

    A cup was thrust in front of her face, awakening her from the trance.

    “Tea?”

    She looked up into Greg’s eyes and smiled as if to thank him.

    “It’s peppermint,” he said, still feeling his way in their relationship. He tried to be there for her and give her space at the same time. It was a balance he felt he was achieving. “I thought it might help with, you know, all of this.”

    She took it and thanked him as he took a seat next to her on the couch.

    “Are you sure you’re ready to open that?” he asked.

    She nodded. “When Brett left me and Natalie all alone, I didn’t think I was going to be able to go on. And then when Dad passed, I felt my life was over.” She touched his hand. “You’ve helped me through it and I don’t know if I can ever thank you enough.”

    A tear slowly trickled down her cheek and Greg dabbed at it with his thumb. She exhaled and looked away, not yet ready to commit to their relationship, still holding her barriers firm, not willing to let herself go with another person. Natalie was her priority and always will be. All this flirting flooded her with guilt.

    “Let’s see what mum sent me,” she whispered.

    She pulled the box closer and eased the flaps open. After inspecting the items she lifted out a small hoop with a string netting over it.

    “What on earth is that?” Greg questioned, careful of his tone that he didn’t offend Olivia with his ignorance.

    “Dad’s dreamcatcher,” she said. “I remember mum saying dad was having all sorts of terrible nightmares.” She stared off into the distance as she caressed the object. “Found it next to his body,” she said absentmindedly.

    “What do you want to do with it?”

    She placed it back in the box and stood, taking her tea cup with her to the window.

    Later that night, Greg leant against the door frame watching Olivia pull back the bed sheets. The light from the bedside lamp, the only light on in the house, illuminated her soft features.

    “You want me to go?”

    She shook her head as she climbed into the bed. “Stay. I feel safer with you here.”

    Greg approached the opposite side of the bed and took off his shirt. He pointed to the object sitting next to the lamp. “Is that what I think it is?”

    She turned and picked up the dreamcatcher. “Yeah, can’t hurt, right?”

    “I guess not,” he said. He climbed into the bed and gently kissed her on the cheek as she turned out the light.

    Olivia woke with a start and stared at the ceiling. Unfamiliar shadows on the ceiling swirled together to form new images. A coldness crept up her spine and she shivered. She could feel a presence, a force close to her being.

    Her gaze was pulled to the foot of the bed where a dark figure was standing. It rose and fell like it was breathing heavy, yet no sound came forth. Olivia froze, her breath catching in her throat. Her chest was tight with fear. There was a ringing in her ears.

    She reached down for Greg, for safety, and felt nothing but bedsheets. She looked down at the imprint of where his body had been, of where she last saw it when sleep gripped her and pulled her under. A sense of relief washed over her, realising the shape at the end of the bed was just Greg.

    Olivia closed her eyes and fell back to her pillow. An unnerving energy forced her to snap her eyes open. She gasped when she saw the dark shape pressed to the ceiling like a spider. It felt like the air had been sucked out of the room.

    She screamed as the shape fell down on her, pinning her to the bed. Invisible hands wrapped around her neck and slowly squeezed, emitting more and more pressure. It felt like she was slowly being pushed underwater, the waves lapping at her face, stealing her precious oxygen.

    Olivia choked and thrashed wildly on the bed. She prayed for Greg to save her. She begged God to protect her little girl.

    “In your dreams is where I find you,” the beast snarled. “It is where you are most vulnerable, and where I will steal your soul.”

    Natalie stood by the door, the five-year-old trembling, a stream of urine running down her leg. She was frozen in terror as she watched her mother crash against the bed, next to the lifeless body of Greg.

    She screamed.

    #

    Twenty years later, Natalie sat on her couch and stared at the cardboard box. Jason placed the peppermint tea down on the coffee table next to the box.

    “You sure this is the time?” Jason said as he gently lowered himself. “It’s been a little while.”

    “Yeah,” she said softly, her gaze drifting down as she recalled the events of the night. “I know it was just an asthma attack, but I still feel guilty sometimes, you know?”

    “You were five,” Jason reassured her, and he placed a hand around her shoulder.

    She gently rubbed her hand over her pregnant belly. “Yeah, I know.”

    She unfolded the box flaps and moved herself to the edge of her seat. On top of a number of items was an object made of wood and yarn. She lifted it out and stared at it.

    “Is that a dreamcatcher?” Jason asked, lifting an eyebrow.

    Natalie smiled. “I guess mum had nightmares?” she said with a shrug, not remembering ever seeing it.

    The unborn baby kicked wildly.

    “It’s okay little one,” she said as she rubbed her swollen belly again. She looked at Jason. “I know just where it will go.”

    As Natalie rubbed her stomach, a dark figure moved down the hallway and into the baby’s room, clean and pure and innocent … for now.

  • January 25, 2017 at 7:49 pm
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    Hole In The Sky. (No Unicorns, No Puppies.)
    © 2017 By Kenneth Cartisano

    The room was ablaze. Charred beams of wood hissed and popped in the conflagration. The searing heat blistered my skin, burned my lungs and turned my sweat into steam. But worse than the pain was my frustration as I realized I couldn’t reach her. My despair burst forth in a soul-wrenching howl as I twisted and turned—only to realize I was in bed, lying on drenched and knotted sheets. The lamp on the nightstand silhouetted my wife’s anxious form.

    “Christ.” I rested a sweaty forearm across my eyes as my labored breathing returned to normal.

    “Are you—all right?”

    “No I’m not all right. What the fuck kind of question is that?”

    She got up and rushed to the bathroom, slamming the door. The sound of her sobbing was almost as bad as the dream.

    I got up and went to the bathroom door. It wasn’t locked, but I didn’t try to open it. I just rested my head against the cool wood panel and gently placed my hand against the grainy surface. “Jenny,” I whispered. “I’m sorry.”

    No response.

    “I’m sorry honey. I—I’m stressed. You know that. I don’t mean to yell at you.”

    “Did you dream about her again?”

    “No.” I lied.

    “Are you sure?”

    Am I sure? “Yeah,” I said, with more conviction. Yes, Nicki was in the dream. Our daughter, but Jenny didn’t need to hear the details yet again.

    She opened the door gently. “What was it then? What did you dream about? Was I in it?”

    “No.” I shook my head. “No.” I turned away. “It was fire. I was burning.”

    “Just you?” The anxiety in her voice was palpable.

    “Yeah. It was just…”

    “You were twitching and groaning. When I tried to wake you—you, you were just…”

    I looked at the alarm clock. It was 3:00 a.m.

    __________

    The chair was soft, and her voice was soothing. I recalled her credentials. Staff psychiatrist at Chicago Medical, board certified, Director of a clinic for meth and heroin addiction. Bla, bla, bla. I had a headache.

    “So, you’re still experiencing these dreams.”

    Was that a question or a statement?

    “Was your daughter part of the dream?”

    I nodded, and ran my fingers through my hair with a touch of irritability.

    “How long has it been since she…?”

    “Died? I don’t know. Four or five years? Maybe six.”

    “I’m sorry. That must have been painful.”

    I shrugged. Of course it was.

    “Did you—have any kind of nightmares involving her when she died?”

    “No.” I met the doctors eyes. “No I didn’t.” This is something new. Something I’ve never experienced before. She’ll probably suggest that I repressed my pain and now it’s finding its way to the surface. She surprised me though.

    “I’m sorry to have to admit it, but I’m baffled.” She reached into her desk and pulled out a pad. “The only thing I can offer you at this point is different drugs.”

    She wrote me a prescription for tranquilizers, and more sleeping pills.

    Jenny and I drove home, mute, like two lonely islands of despondency.

    __________

    The lack of sleep was affecting my job performance and the boss sent me home for the day. Not as a form of discipline, but out of sympathy. When I got home, Jenny was out, but there was a strange man standing on my porch. He waited as I got out of the car and approached him. “Can I help you?” I said.

    “Mr. Bane?”

    “Yeah.”

    “I’m distributing flyers for the native American craft fair this weekend.”

    I accepted one of the flyers, skimmed the information and glanced up. I wasn’t interested but wanted to be polite. “What kind of crafts?”

    “Beadwork, leather items, pottery, dreamcatchers…”

    “Dreamcatchers?”

    “They’re an ancient native American custom. Many tribes make them. They catch good dreams and let the other dreams go.”

    “No they don’t,” I said.

    “Have you tried one?”

    “Yeah I have. And they don’t work.”

    “You have bad dreams?”

    “Yeah you could say that.”

    “And you have a dreamcatcher?”

    “Yeah.” For some reason this conversation was making me nervous. “For all the good it does.”

    “Is it in your room?”

    “Yes.”

    “Hanging from something?”

    This is when I started to lose my patience. “Yes, it’s hanging on the wall.”

    In a quiet voice he said, “Could I see it?”

    “See it? You can have it. I think it’s haunted.”

    I fetched the little novelty item and handed it to him. I noticed he was dressed in a well-worn western outfit. As he examined the dreamcatcher I asked him his name.

    “Roger Whiteclaw,” he said.

    American Indian? Should I ask him what tribe? Would that be rude?

    “Chippewa,” he said, unprompted, then took a seat on the porch. He examined my dreamcatcher with such intensity that it seemed mildly amusing. It’s just a piece of wood, bent in a circle with some strings running across the middle.

    He put his fingers through the dreamcatcher’s strings, delicately adjusting them. “See these strings?”

    I nodded.

    “You know what they represent?”

    “A net?” Seemed like a logical assumption to me.

    “They represent a web, Mr. Bane. A spider web.”

    “Is that important?” It was a weak attempt at sarcasm.

    He adjusted the strings of ‘the web.’ “Nets are artificial, webs are natural.”

    I was not inclined to argue or agree. He held the dreamcatcher up to the sunlight and blew on it vigorously. After another brief inspection he handed it back to me. “That should do the trick.”

    I forced a smile, humoring him. “You fixed it?”

    “I think so.” He said.

    I slept like a baby that night.

    I went to the craft fair that weekend, asking every vendor at every booth if they knew a Roger Whiteclaw. Blank looks were all I got. I wanted to thank him.

    __________

    I take good care of my dreamcatcher. I dust it, adjust the strings, blow on it occasionally, and just this morning, Jenny told me she was pregnant.

  • January 27, 2017 at 2:47 pm
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    998 without title and translations.
    toyu-n = grandfather ,pe-daze= grandma, pan gwroh=rain water, pah= water, korn ah pah =whiskey, man -ap = prickly pear, quan-ah = stink, arr-ro = quit it

    Nikita’s dreamcatcher

    Nikita could fill it in her bones; her mother was home.

    Marcella stumbled into the couch, tripped over a presence on the floor and crashed into the wall, saying a few choice words. Nikita listened to something slide to the floor. She heard a crunch as the fumbling continued. It was going to be a long night.

    Nikita didn’t have to get up; she knew her mother was drunk. There was only one thing hanging on that wall. The dreamcatcher Pe-daze said her Toyu-n made when her mother was born.

    The legend goes; The father makes a dreamcatcher to hang by the crib. The little crystals woven into the spiderweb pattern will catch the bad dreams and hold them until the first rays of sunshine evaporate them. Only good dreams know how to navigate through the hole in the center, slide down the feathers into the heart and soul of the person it hangs beside. A smaller one is made each year and hung on the bottom of the first until the child turns five, to give the child a bright future and pleasant memories.

    Pe-daze gave the dreamcatcher to Nikita, when she was four, to stop the flurry of nightmares.

    *****

    Marcella felt the crunch beneath her feet and knew it was the dreamcatcher. “That’ll show her.”

    The dreamcatcher hadn’t done her any good. Her uncle had thrown it across the room one night. Two of the smaller ones had fallen off. Before Marcella could find them, the puppies had chewed them to pieces. Her father left, when she was six and her life had been a nightmare.

    At 16, Marcella won the dancing competition for her tribe. Running Deer, won his division. He and his buddies approached her asking her to have drinks with them. When she refused they taunted saying; she thought she was too good. Two of them held her arms while the other one poured alcohol down her mouth. It burned, making her eyes sting, as they kept pouring and laughing, beating on her. She passed out from the pain. They all took advantage of her. She still doesn’t know which one of them is Nikita’s father.

    Twelve years later, Marcella works as a dancer at the new Bottle Hollow Resort. All squaws who’d ever won a competition were asked to perform for the nightly entertainment, including Nikita. Dancers twelve and under were sent home after the last performance. Marcella made her way backstage; she still had work to do. That’s when she overheard a conversation she shouldn’t have.The chief and a couple of tribal council members were talking about padding their pockets by charging extra for supplies.

    She tiptoed down the hall, running smack dab into the back of the brave from her past. He had Nikita trapped. Marcella’s inner mama bear came out as she stepped between them, sending Nikita on her way. Running Deer called after her,”think you’re too good for us too, like your mama? Man-ap Quan-ah!”

    “Arr-ro!” Marcella turned to him pummeling her fist on his chest. He lifted her with ease carrying her to the office.

    “Chief, I found a little snoop.” Running Deer laughed.

    ” Tell him to keep his grubby paws off Nikita! “Let me go, you big lummox,” Marcella said, kicking and screaming.

    “What have you been up to Marcella? Everyone knows you lied years ago about my son. Now you’re accusing him of touching your daughter? I think you’re loco. Like you’ve always been. You need to be taught a lesson..” The chief said, nodding to the Braves.

    “The beating should teacher her, put her in the trash.” Running Deer ordered.

    “Shall we throw her in the lake?” they asked.

    “No, the pan qwroh will do our work for us.” he smirked.

    Marcella awoke in a barrel half full of pah. She managed to climb out, her eyes nearly swollen shut. Marcella scrounged up a few bottles with a little Korn ah pah left in them and downed it. She stumbled home.

    Her family would think she was drunk again anyway. She had had a few drinks, but she needed them tonight for other reasons. How could she be careless enough to let this happen again? Why did they want to harm her? What were they hiding? Marcella threw herself across what she hoped was her bed, remembering the last beating. It resulted in Nikita. Marcella hoped something similar hadn’t happened again.

    *****

    Sure they fought, but Marcella was still her mom. She hadn’t been seen or heard from in seven moons. Nikita’s dreams grew worse with each one. She would go to Mr. Yaskit, an advisor at Bottle Hollow who had befriended her, see what he could find out about her mother.

    Mr. Yaskit promised to look into the matter,” Nikita, may I give you something? I think it may help with the nightmares.”

    “Yes, thank you, Mr. Yaskit,” answered Nikita.

    Mr. Yaskit pulled out a wooden hoop and began tying knots as he told her this story;

    “A Lakota chief sat on the mountaintop. The trickster came to visit, telling him about the circle of life. We begin as a baby then learn to walk, grow to adults, and return in our old age to be cared for once again. The winds blow with good and bad from the four corners of the earth. When we concentrate entangling good thoughts, our life will sparkle much like the dew hanging on a spider web. The bad will pass by us. The Great Spirit keeps his eye on the sparrows. Those who believe in Him, He bestows with many magnificent eagle feathers.

    Mr.Yaskit handed an intricate dreamcatcher to Nikita. Though it was smaller than the one, her toyu-n made, it was the prettiest she’d ever seen. Nikita liked this legend better too. Mr.Yaskit fashioned a leather strap so Nikita could hang it around her neck.

    Mr.Yaskit suspected something amiss these last two years.
    The Ute’s demise was being thwarted by their own kind.

  • January 28, 2017 at 10:03 pm
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    WHAT’S LACROSSE GOT TO DO WITH IT?

    Denise had been in William’s mind throughout his adolescence. She was, if he’d been more honest with himself, an obsession, and not a healthy one; his every waking thought was taken up with her. She’d spoken to him kindly – just once – at a moment when his libido was taking its first tentative steps, and no one else had. Denise it was, then.

    At their school the most important sport was lacrosse, not because it was particularly popular with the kids – they mostly preferred football, baseball and basketball – but the school had a rich history in State lacrosse championships and national tournaments, and everyone was therefore required to play, at least during physical education lessons. William hated it; it was bloody dangerous for one thing, and he was far from being a jock. But Denise was a skillful player, so he forced himself to get involved in it, cheering on from the touchline in all the games Denise played in.

    Watching lacrosse matches allowed him to focus on Denise without fear of being branded a voyeur; if everyone was watching, then he was just joining in. She was a graceful mover, and all her young-womanly bits were in exactly the right proportion. He spent entire games with his eyes fixed on her, even if the ball was up the other end of the pitch. He missed seeing a lot of goals that way, but goals were really the last thing on his mind.

    Sophie was his science partner and as is often the case, she had an unrequited crush on a person who had an unrequited crush on someone else. If William had realized, he might have done something about it; she was very attractive, smart, funny and kind. And ready to throw herself at him, if she’d had the nerve. But obsessions do that to a person: they obscure all other possibilities, so that the close-up opportunity William had to find early true love simply failed to register in his one-tracked mind.

    Sophie would try subtle ways to force herself into William’s attention: she’d bring him a cupcake for morning recess; she’d offer to help him with his science homework (she was a natural scientist and several rungs above him in scientific savvy); she’d make a point of leaning over the desk to take a pen, with the top buttons of her blouse strategically undone. All to no avail; surrounding him was a wall built by master masons, and it wasn’t going to crumble.

    At a lacrosse games one day, William was paying his usual attention to a particular pair of thighs when Sophie came up behind him and stuck a lacrosse stick in front of his face. He whipped around, annoyed that his viewing had been so brusquely interrupted, but calmed instantaneously when he saw that it was Sophie; he did like her … as a person.

    “What’s up?”

    Sophie lowered the stick and began to fiddle with the netting.

    “Not a lot. So … watching the game, then? What’s the score?”

    “Erm … not sure. 2-1 I think.”

    “Has she scored any?”

    “No, she’s playing def– … um … who do you mean?”

    Sophie’s fears were confirmed. She continued to fiddle with the stick.

    “Know what this reminds me of?”

    William looked at the stick and shook his head.

    “A dreamcatcher.”

    She lifted it above William and lowered it onto his head.

    “Suppose so.”

    Sophie smiled sadly and was about to move away when an enormous flash of sheet-lightning lit up the early-evening sky, followed immediately by a huge thunderclap, and then rain. But it wasn’t a shower – it was rain of almost biblical proportions, sending spectators and lacrosse players alike sprinting for the school buildings.

    “Come on!” shouted Sophie above the din of water thudding into the ground. She grabbed William by the hand and led as they ran, slipping and sliding on the already muddy ground, towards the sports pavilion. It wasn’t the nearest building, but Sophie’s sub-conscious had chosen it for a reason.

    Once inside the entrance, they were alone – all the others had taken route one to shelter. They were both drenched through to the skin. They removed their sweaters and shook the water off, but they were still wet and getting cold now.

    “I’ll see if I can find us a couple of towels,” volunteered William. He set off down the corridor while Sophie stayed at the main door, gazing out with fascination at the large puddles forming around the building. Then she heard it – an enormous crash from along the corridor where William had ventured.

    Sophie ran as though her life depended on it. She tried all the doors along the corridor but they were locked. The seventh door along was slightly ajar, though, and she could hear moaning. She poked her head through the door but it was pitch black inside. Feeling along the wall, she found the light switch.

    William was sitting on the floor in the middle of what was obviously the sports-equipment room, covered in a pile of lacrosse sticks that appeared to have fallen from a shelf.

    “William!”

    Sophie rushed over to him and began lifting the sticks clear. William, half in shock, didn’t move.

    When the last stick had been removed, Sophie offered William her hand while he got shakily to his feet. As he was getting up, one of his legs gave way slightly and he lost his balance, grabbing Sophie so as not to fall.

    And that was when their eyes met.

    .

  • January 29, 2017 at 11:33 pm
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    Sins of the Mother
    By Alice Nelson ©2017

    May 5th

    Ally Winstead here, and this is day one of my video diary. Tomorrow I’ll be seeing my mother again for the first time in ten years, and I’m going to document the entire experience for a future project.

    Mom was an alcoholic all of my childhood, and it only got worse after daddy took off. Why my father left me with a woman he knew drank until she blacked out, is beyond me. But I’ll work out my shit with him at a later date.

    Mom called me out of the blue a few days ago, and wanted to talk. I was shocked, to say the least, but I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that I’d been hoping for this my entire life.

    We meet for lunch tomorrow, wish me luck!

     

    May 6th

    So, lunch was very awkward. But what was I expecting after so many years apart? Mom barely looked at me, and she asked me like a dozen times how work was going. Did I say it was awkward —it was really awkward, but it’s a start, right?

     

    May 11th

    Mom invited me to dinner for my birthday. I didn’t even think she’d remember; but not only did she remember, she got me a gift. See!

    Ally holds up a beautiful red and blue dreamcatcher, with a leather string, threaded with three white beads, and one jet black feather tied onto the end.

    It’s gorgeous isn’t it? The feather though, it kind of freaks me out. I mean it’s so dark —like the deepest black imaginable. It feels…well it feels endless. I know that sounds crazy, but something about that feather makes me uneasy. Anyway, I still love it because mom gave it to me.

    My assessment up to this point? So far so good.

     

    May 19th

    Had lunch with James. He and I have been best friends since high school. Today he introduced me to his new girlfriend. Her name is Shelly, she’s sweet and beautiful, and I’m happy for him —I think. No, I am. It’s just…well, I like James —a lot. But he’s only ever seen me as a friend. I’ve accepted it. I mean, I’d rather have James as a friend, than not in my life at all. Still, I hold out hope that we might be together someday.

    Ally stares into the camera, lost in thought, and doesn’t notice the shadow moving in the background.

     

    May 22nd

    Tried calling mom again today, been trying for a week. She isn’t answering her phone. I thought we were getting along so well. Maybe she’s drinking again, if that’s the case, good riddance.

     

    May 22nd, 3am

    I’ve been having the same exact dream for at least a week now. In it, I’m ten or eleven, coming home from school to the big blue house we lived in before my parent’s divorce. Dad is sitting at his work bench preparing for a fishing trip —he went on lots of those to escape mom’s drinking. Standing in front of the work bench is this tall strange man dressed in a brown fedora, with matching brown slacks, a sweater, and brown suede shoes. I can’t see his face, but something about him terrifies me. I turn to walk into the house, but sneak one more look at the stranger. I still can’t see his face, but I sense that he’s looking at me —and smiling. Then the dream ends. But I tell ya, it scared me so much, that I’m having trouble going back to sleep.

    Again Ally doesn’t notice the shadow lingering in the background.

     

    May 27th, 3am

    The dreamcatcher fell off the wall, and landed on my head, waking me up. Look at the feather. I know it sounds crazy, but it isn’t as dark as it was when mom gave it to me.

    That’s so weird.

     

    May 29th

    I called mom again, still no answer. I needed to talk to someone, so I phoned James, he’s my best friend after all. I didn’t even get a chance to tell him about the dream, or my AWOL mother, because he cut me off mid-sentence.

    “Shelly’s uncomfortable with our friendship,” His voice was cold “So we have to cool it for a while.”

    But James, we’ve been friends for years. I said.

    That didn’t seem to matter. He promised to call me when things mellowed —yeah, right.

    I can’t believe he blew me off like— what was that!? I felt something touched my shoulder.

     

    A few minutes later

    I looked at the recording, and…and this shadow appeared behind me just as something touched my shoulder. I wish I could talk to James.

     

    May 30th

    I decided to look at some of the past recordings —what a mistake that was. Last night wasn’t the first time the shadow was in my room. What the hell is going on? And look at this freaky dreamcatcher.

    Ally put it in front of the camera, the feather was now a charcoal grey.

     

    June 4th

    It’s been nearly a month, and mom still hasn’t called back —typical. She was a constant source of disappointment since forever, why would it be any different now.

     

    June 5th

    I think I saw The Brown Man in real life. I was having lunch on the wharf, watching the boats come and go, like I used to do with my dad. And there he was, walking toward the pier. As if sensing me looking at him, he stopped and turned. The hat was blocking his face, but I knew he was smiling, just like in my dream.

    Am I going crazy?

     

    June 5th, 3am

    I had the dream again, and now the feather on the dreamcatcher is a light grey.
    It seems to change every time I dream about The Man in Brown, but I don’t know what that signifies.

    I tried calling James, it went straight to voice mail.

     

    June 7th, 3am

    I think someone was in my apartment. I heard footsteps in my room. And there was a smell like…like men’s cologne or something. I am scared shitless. I wish James were here.

     

    June 7th, 9am

    I tried to tell myself that last night was just a very realistic feeling dream. After all I haven’t been sleeping very well. But I found this on the coffee table in the living room when I got up.

    It’s a fishing lure —like the one dad was holding in the dream.

    I’m scared, I am really scared.

     

    June 9th

    Got a weird call from mom —finally. She sounded like she was drinking again, blabbing on about something she didn’t want to do, but had to. Then she gave me a slurry apology for not getting back to me sooner. She wants to meet tomorrow. I don’t know if I want to.

     

    June 10th

    I decided to have lunch with mom today. I wish I hadn’t.

    Ally looked as if she’d been crying.

    I don’t know what to think anymore. I mean, she did this to me. Why did I let her back into my life?

    Ally began slapping her forehead with the palm of her hand. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

    A shadow, the shape of a man was hovering behind her.

     

    June 15th

    Mom called to say sorry, she wanted to ease her guilt I suppose. “I didn’t know what else to do Ally…I just didn’t know.” Her voice trailed off. She sounded so pitiful.

    “The Man in brown is coming for you Ally,” she sounded like a maniac. “But you can pass him off to someone else, and save yourself.”

    “Mom—“

    “It’s the dreamcatcher Ally, give it to someone else as a gift, and the curse or whatever it is passes on to them.”

    I hung up. I won’t do it, I’m not like her!

     

    June 25th

    James agreed to meet with me today. We had lunch at Yin and Yangs downtown.
    “It’s good to see you Ally,” he said, and that glimmer of hope reared its ugly head again.
    We had a nice lunch, and it felt like old times until he said, “Shelly and I are having a house warming party tonight, you should come.”

    Well that stung. Guess all hope of he and I getting together is nothing more than a fantasy.

     

    June 25th, 8pm

    I went to his party. I even brought a gift.

    You should’ve seen their faces light up when they opened the box and saw the beautiful red and blue dreamcatcher, with the jet black feather.

    I thought it would be perfect for you two, I said.

     

    July 16th, 3am

    That glimmer of hope is back—James called. He’s been having bizarre dreams about a man dressed all in brown. He wants to get together and talk.

    I realize I made an incredibly selfish decision in order to save myself —just like she did. Guess I am like my mother after all.

  • January 30, 2017 at 10:33 pm
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    A Broken Web
    “So how long you’ve been having these dreams?” The doctor leaned back in her chair and tapped her pad with her pen. I wanted to tell her but thought no, she’ll laugh at me. She’ll think I am another nut job needing strong prescription drugs to cope with the world and reality. I did not try to understand totally, so I omitted certain aspects of the story.
    “Since just before I found out I had an older brother. Half-brother.” I didn’t tell her that he was dead by the time I found out he had even existed.
    “Oh. And when was that, Hillary?”
    “About four years ago.” I paused as she studied my face. I wanted to ask her if she needed a magnifying glass.
    “Was there anything else of significance that happened about that time? Tap, tap, tap went the pencil on the pad. I lay back and reflected.
    “I was pregnant with my twins Charlie and Belinda.”

    “Oh, ok. Normal pregnancy?”

    “Yeah, pretty much.” I did so want to tell her about the dream catcher I had been given at my baby shower. A gift from a kooky ex-hippy friend Phoebe. Phoebe was a bit unusual, more than. She believes we are all beings consisting of nano-particles of energy; She has sleeve tatts to her neck and goodness knows how much of her body including legs, was inked with Celtic and Druid symbols.
    Phoebe meditated twice daily and gave herself freely body and soul, but more frequently than not – the body to both men and women who she felt she could influence and heal. A hang-over from the days when I ran with the sixties crowd and did the talk and the walk for a lost eighteen months of my late teens, she turned up in my life at the oddest times. She believed we had a past life connection. I was kind of attached to her; but at the same time annoyed by her clichés and her new age approach. Plus she still smoked the odd joint and occasionally took E. YAWN. She was probably annoyed by me and what she termed “your superior up yourself attitude” and my “prudishness”. I would catch up with her over coffee twice a year and she would come occasionally to baby showers and other family rites of passage despite not being invited.

    Phoebe would strike a yoga pose as she spoke to me and tell me all about her latest exploits and encounters of the intimate kind. It was better than reading Take 5 at the doctor’s surgery and all the more fascinating, because you actually knew at least one of the people in the story well.
    I used to always clean the toilet seat and bowl well after she left and washed down the sinks and basins. I was afraid of STD’s. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, if you did not know. I was ever more careful after the children were born and we put in a guest toilet that we bleached; after guests left.

    “So what happens in these dreams? Is it always the same?”

    “Some elements are always there.” Here I decided to be brave. “My brother, for instance. The one I did not know I had. I saw him in the dreams before I knew he was my brother…”

    “Ahuhhh. And what would happen…”

    “He appeared to be warning me about something. Then right before he’d get to the important part…he’d be pulled away. He’d disappear.” I paused, holding back the tears that threatened to pour from my eyes. She did not say anything so I continued.

    “I told an old friend Phoebe one day. She’d come around. I invited her to my baby shower for the twins. She gave me a dream catcher. Said it would block the nightmares. Then later that week, Mum told me she had had a son eight years before she married Dad and had me. She was only eighteen at the time. She gave him up for adoption.”

    “Soo, how did you feel about finding out you had an older brother?”

    “Well shocked. Really shocked. See, when I finally met his adoptive parents and saw pictures of him; he was the man haunting my dreams.”

    “Did you understand more when you met him?”

    “No. You see he had drowned two months before I knew he existed. He was a fisherman.”

    “Oh. Dear, oh.” The pen stopped tapping.

    “Yes. And then, the dreams stopped for a couple of years after the twins were born. I thought the dream catcher was working. Then just before, just before it happened I began to dream again of Wolfgang. He was drowning. I could not save him. The last dream was horrific. It was just before they…” I could not go on. Tears spilled down my cheeks. “I could not do anything. He tried to warm me. Of that I was certain”

    She leaned forward in the chair. “Would you like a glass of water?” I shook my head.

    “After they drowned, we filled in the swimming pool. I threw the dream catcher into the hole as they were filling it in.”

    “Some sort of closure?”

    “No. Not at all. Now all three are in my dreams, They don’t leave me in peace.”

    “All three?”

    “My twins, the girls Charlie and Belinda with their Uncle Wolfgang.” This time she leaned forward and proffered a bunched white rose of tissues she’d plucked from its box. I took them and dabbed my streaming eyes.

    “They seem as if they want to tell me something. Something blocks them. Wolfgang holds the two girls to his chest. He is crying. The babies try to comfort him. I cannot hear his words. There is this bleak landscape – it is like a Mars scene and there is bright light, then a high wind and darkness descends that seems to blot them out. Then the dream ends. I never get to hear what he wants to say.”

    The doctor looks at her watch. She scribbles something and snaps her notebook shut.
    “Time is up I am afraid. Hillary, let’s explore the dreams further next session. We may have to take a Freudian approach.

    Once I am home, I make a coffee. Strong and black. The percolator pings. There is a knock on the door.

    “Phoebe! What brings you here?” I hadn’t seen her in more than a year. She’d come to the twins’ funeral. She gives me a guilty look, so I think, as she waltzes past me into the living room.

    “Hillary, how have you been? UMMM! Is that coffee I smell? I’ve time for a cup.”

    She plonks herself on the chocolate leather couch, kicks off her sandals and stretches out her legs on the coffee table. I make my large black, a short black and a coffee with milk and tea. Finding some seaweed rice cookies and fresh hummus in the fridge, I place them carefully on a plate with some fresh goat cheese and olives, then take it all on a tray into the living room.

    “Like my new tatt?” She lifts her white cheesecloth top to reveal an angry red area over her left breast. On closer inspection it is a dog’s head with horns and a forked tongue.

    “Not really to my taste, Phoebe. Here have a biscuit.”

    She takes two biscuits and piles the hummus and cheese on them and balances olives on it, pushes them into her red, red mouth and munches.

    “I’ve got something for you.” This is said once she has nearly finished eating. A thin parcel wrapped in pink and gold tissue paper is pulled out of her shoulder bag. She puts it on my lap.

    Tentatively I pick at the paper. I know what it is before I reach through the layers of tissue. The dream catcher is made of willow stick painted black. The webs are white string. It is shaped like a ball with a hollow centre and the feathers are black. Raven feathers. The hairs on the back of my neck rise in disbelief. The stones that bind the feathers to the catcher are onyx. I turn to her.

    “Why?”

    “Because this should catch them.” She looks at me straight. I want to throw the catcher at her and tell her. “Out of my house now.”
    I don’t though.

    “Catch what?”

    “Your nightmares. You are having them, aren’t you?” I look at this person who I’d though once was a friend. Then I know. I look at my watch.

    “Oh crap. Look at the time. Phoebe, you should’ve told me you’re coming. I’ve a doctor’s appointment. Sorry. I’ve got to go now.”

    “No, you don’t.” There is something quite threatening about her tone. “We need to talk now.”

    I place my hands protectively over my stomach. Was it imagination or did my unborn child kick in protest?

    ‘You will have another baby.” She moves closer to me. I want to scream.

  • February 1, 2017 at 8:33 am
    Permalink

    Carrie Zylka – The Darkness in the Dreamcatcher
    1357 words

    The Dreamcatcher hung suspended over the creek. The cold water rushed beneath it, kicking up froth and spraying the icy wetness into the air. The trees and rocks, covered in snow and ice took on a blue hue, making everything seem otherworldly.

    This Dreamcatcher was ancient and vibrated with unbridled power. One of the first ones to have been created by the Titan Elders to catch the wayward magic dumped into the world by young witches and warlocks unable to control their dreams.

    Young magic was chaotic and willful and caused nothing but headaches for everyone. An Elder in a faraway land designed the first Dreamcatcher. A monstrous thing crafted of old bones, thick webbing spun from the giant Mortga Spider and strands of hair from a red headed witch.

    The skeins of dreams wandering aimlessly in the night sky were drawn to the magical portal, dancing among the silk strands and getting stuck in it the magical sticky web.

    But just as a spider web can only hold so many flies, after some time the Dreamcatcher became full and the magic spilled over. The Elder worked tirelessly for many, many years, crafting more Dreamcatchers, each one unique, in various sizes and sent them all over the world. The multiples helped ease the burden and provided a much-needed vessel to hold all the accumulated magic.

    ~

    The Darkness stood facing the glowing door. She ignored the chaos buzzing around her. Flashes of scenery, people, animals, lightening and fire, scents and sounds, they came and went, all bumping into each other.

    But never bumping into her.

    She’d been standing in front of the door for many, many years. Watching as it opened and new magic swept into this chamber of nothing and everything.

    She was a complex being, the nightmare of a young woman long dead. She’d tried several times to escape this prison through the door, but she’d never been quite strong enough. Recently she’d discovered she could absorb some of the lesser dreams that entered the chamber. Dreams built upon spite, envy and jealousy; the very things she herself had been fashioned out of.

    The Darkness closed her eyes; the Dreamcatcher was nearly full, the magical strands holding it together strained with tension. She could feel the subtle tremors every time a new dream was caught.

    She reached out and trailed her fingers along the walls, her fingernail snagging on a loose strand. She opened her eyes and smiled triumphantly. This was what she had been waiting for.

    One tiny imperfection she could exploit and escape this awful prison.

    ~

    The Elder moved slowly, he had traveled far across lands and water. He knew he would only have enough years to make one final circuit. To check all the Dreamcatchers, he’d created and drain the captured magic. His Apprentice accompanied him, a young woman with a talent for controlling chaos like a baker controls frosting. Turning and folding it until nothing but a tight ball of energy remained.

    He was pleased with her progress and was eager to show her this last step.

    The rounded the bend and the Dreamcatcher came into view.

    The Apprentice gasped in wonder at the beauty of the creation.

    The Elder paused, leaning heavily on his staff. “It’s a beauty all right. My very first, I spent so many hours crafting it with loving hands.” He glanced at his gnarled fingers. “But it will be your fingers to drain it as mine can no longer move so well.”

    The Apprentice nodded and the moved closer. Setting down the pack, without hesitation she stepped into the creek. She’d crafted a barrier spell around her body to prevent the icy water from meeting her body.

    She moved to stand in front of the device. Gazing upon it her eye twitched as she noticed an imperfection.

    “Elder….?” She began to speak and was interrupted as one of the web strands tore.

    “Stop!” He cried but it was too late. A beautiful woman stepped careful out of the fissure.

    ~

    The Darkness strained with all her might, both hands buried deep in the web matter, fingernails digging deep. Determination set on her face she pulled and strained until the matter gave way with a tearing sound. Wasting no time, she ducked through the opening before it could close and stepped out into the world.

    She stood for a moment, the cold water swirling around her legs, saturating her gown and making it heavy, she blinked, waiting for her eyes to adjust.

    ~

    “No child!” The Elder cried. “Do not let it escape!”

    The Apprentice snapped into action, she rapidly spoke the words to a spell, drawing the runes in the air.

    The woman stood, confidently. She smiled wickedly, red lips forming the perfect bloody half-moon. “I don’t think so.” Her voice like smoke.

    But the Apprentice had studied for many, many years and she had secretly been collecting wayward dreams that somehow eluded the Dreamcatcher. She’d molded these tiny careless magics into small talisman. Reaching up she drew one out and drew on the extra power.

    The woman made a small surprised noise as the magic hit her. She stumbled and fell backwards into the water. Springing to her feet she snarled out a spell of her own and her soaking wet body vibrated with the power she’d stolen.

    The Apprentice gritted her teeth and braced herself. She managed to hold fast as a wave of despair rolled over her. Pricking her skin and making it crawl. Her heart plummeted and she nearly wept at the sadness she felt.

    But she was an Elder Apprentice, and they were chosen for their strength above all else.

    She shoved down the sorrow and narrowed her concentration. Reaching up, she grasped two more talismans, one in each clenched fist.

    Needing no words, and no hand gestures she concentrated on a wall of power. She magic cleaved from her breast and blasted into the woman, knocking her backwards .

    ~

    The Darkness cried out as the wall of power slammed into her, like a cocoon, it wrapped itself around her, prisoning her in a wall of painful magic, bright and full of hope and wisdom and determination, it was everything she was not.

    Tears streamed down her eyes as she felt the power pushing her backwards toward the Dreamcatcher.

    Blind panic struck her at the thought of being stuck in the chamber forever.

    ~

    Sweat beaded on The Apprentice’s brow. She concentrated, holding the power steady as she inched it backwards towards the magical container. She could feel the nightmare pushing back against her and threw more light magic into the spell.

    Finally, after agonizing minutes she was able to push the woman back into the Dreamcatcher. And the contraption performed as it was intended. It captured the wayward magic and absorbed it.

    The Elder stood close and watched as The Apprentice swayed slightly at the sudden lack of effort.

    “Now the hard work begins as we will need to drain the Dreamcatcher. We must harness all the magic and convert it into elemental magic. And then direct it back into the earth where the Mother will create new dreams for our people.”

    ~

    The Darkness screamed in fury as the tear in the wall closed.

    The dreams and magics swirled around her, affected by her anxiety.

    But her screams turned to panic as she felt as if she were being torn apart. She looked down at her clenched fists and the outline of her pretty hands became fuzzy, liquid almost.

    “No……” She whispered as she realized her form was changed, and the downward pull became more urgent.

    Tears streamed down her cheeks as she realized how close she’d come to being free.

    She was jealous of the people that walked the earth ,she envied their existence and wanted it for herself.

    Now, she would be torn apart and reformed.

    But she vowed she would return, and she would walk the earth free of this prison. She would track down the one who created the Dreamcatcher and out of sheer spite, she would destroy his lineage.

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