Take heart, sad sun-child. You are believed by one, at least. Your mind may be haunted, but it is not lost. Nor are you alone in having such dreams.
I’ve been having the dreams since I was a child, longer than you, I believe. For years all I saw was what you have seen in your dreams. The pain, death and ruin of society were alien to my developing mind. It did not leave me a well adjusted child, and I spent years trying to find an end to the nightmares.
They all stopped for me after one night. It changed my life in more ways than just ending the nightmares, but I think that’s the least important for you tonight. I hope it will help to ease your troubles to know that your nightmares can be stopped.
I was on a Glooscap beach the first night I had without one of the nightmares. The light was fading when I walked down the tall, rickety wooden stairs from my campsite to the open beach. I didn’t know what compelled me to descend to the beach, but after walking a few hundred feet down the shore I found a pile of dry driftwood and decided to start a fire half way between the high sandstone cliffs and the ocean. It didn’t take long to have a strong blaze in front of me, so I settled down to watch the flames and the waves.
The sky was clouding over by this time, so I wasn’t able to see the stars take their places in the air. I kept my gaze instead on the fire. My ears were filled with the mingling of the waves’ chorus and the erratic popping-roar of the fire. Filled with salt air and smoke, I felt so at ease that I curled up on my side and enjoyed the peace the beach offered.
The waves rolled slowly in towards the rocks and the sky seemed to be drawing ever nearer. The grey dome was shrinking over the expanding waters. For a moment I imagined the smoke rising before me was feeding the sky. If only I could put it out and brave the dark then the clouds would starve, wither and leave me a sky of stars.
The leaping of the flames brought me deep into their dance, though, distracting me from any thought of moving. Everything felt perfectly comfortable. Heat, hypnosis, soft sand and the exhaustion of a day of driving combined and pulled me into sleep.
I opened my eyes in shock. A crisp, fluid cold moved over where my fire had been and made my left side wet. My vision was still cloudy but I could tell right away that the darkness was even greater now than it had been when I had drifted off. There was no time for thoughts of that that. I was completely shocked that I had slept until the tide had reached me, and quite scared of being swept into the sea. I could see nearly nothing in any direction. My only sense of direction was away from the ocean, away from the cold that had awakened me and extinguished my fire. I followed what little sense I could muster with the fog of sleep still over my mind and quickly got to my feet.
I started walking quickly and recklessly away from the waves and into the dark. Rock soon replaced the sand beneath my feet. The unexpected change in terrain caused me to lose my balance and fall forward. My knees struck hard upon a rough rock. Pain shot through me and I screamed. My hands became moistened with blood when I gingerly touched my left knee. I took a few tender, careful steps only to realize that I had lost my sandal as well as skin from my knee.
The fear of being trapped on the beach was building in me with the pain and displacement. I couldn’t help but cry. I broke down and just sobbed. I don’t know how long it lasted, but I was paralyzed as I heard the waves creep steadily closer to me.
Gradually, I gathered what courage I could muster to start thinking again. I was too scared to stay where I was, but I also knew that to rush would only cause my to lose my footing again, or to end up walking farther away from the stairs.
I was breathing far too quickly, and becoming light headed, so I tried to slow my breathing down. It worked for a few minutes as I thought of what to do. Rain began to fall lightly then, and I realized thing would only get worse if I stayed still.
I felt along the rocks around me and crept forward. I half-hopped forward while trying to keep my left foot from the rocks as much as I could. I made steady progress, but the rain was becoming heavier and coated the larger and larger rocks before me. I fell a second time. Losing my footing on a slick, rounded boulder, I bashed my elbow and barely missed a large rock with my head.
The rain became a downpour as I regained my feet and moved on into the darkness. My mind spun and I could barely breathe. I could barely think. I could hear the waves crashing, making me deaf to any other sound. They seemed too close, rushing nearer to break me on the cliffs.
I sunk down to support myself with my arms. Fear was flowing all around me, keeping me without the ability to move. I held my eyes closed and buried my chin into my chest. All I could think to do was run, to do something to stop what was happening. All I did was shake and let my tears mingle with the waves of rain.
Something warm and dry touched my shoulder then. It startled me, but less so than the voice that came next. Over the rain, in a calm shout, it said, “Come this way! The tide is already blocking the way back. There’s a safe cave up ahead.”
I opened her eyes slowly, letting them adjust to a blue-white light that now illuminated the rocks before me. I was surprised to see that I was nearly at the cliffs, which I noticed had morphed to a harder, darker stone this far down the beach. I turned around hesitantly, still shocked by this person who had found me, and starting to feel safer with someone to help me.
I looked up at a woman who was lit by the blue-flamed antique lantern she carried. She was appeared lithe and towered over me in a way that was more than just magnified by the fact I was kneeling. She wore a pain grey dress that reflected her flickering light from its dampness. Straight, silver hair fell to her waist and lead my eyes up to her face. Looking up into her face, I was astonished to see that she appeared very young, younger than myself. Her grey hair contradicted this, and so did her eyes. When I met her slate eyes with my own, I felt wisdom, wisdom that I knew, somehow, to be ancient.
I was silenced by her beauty. Even when she offered her hand to help me up, I did so with my mouth half open, transfixed on her sharp eyes. I stood slowly, not acknowledging the pain that pulsed in my knee, and was guided through our joined hands along the slick rocks by this woman who seemed to effortlessly step across them.
Her lantern’s light fell across the black opening of a cave that lead into the cliff’s face. I should have been afraid to enter the cave, but I wasn’t. This silver woman calmed me inexplicably, and the fear I had felt before was banished by my rescuer.
In her blue-silver light we both sat on the rough cave floor. I continued to look into her eyes, enchanted. They drew me into their knowledge, but I didn’t feel I was learning anything yet. I was wrapped in wonder of the wisdom, and that was enough for me then.
She spoke then, in a voice that rang clearly, yet was soft. “Your dreams are real, child. The end you see is coming. The deaths you see in nightmare are on the wheel,” she said. Some of my fear crept back into my head as she paused, but she soon began again, saying, “Some of those may be spared. You will dream of hope after tonight. That will be my gift to you.”
I wanted to ask her countless questions once she had finished, but I remained an awestruck mute for long minutes as we sat in the silence of the cave. Before I could react, she swept over to me and kneeled before me. She placed her lips on my forehead and I fell into a sleep of infinite depth.
I awoke to dawn. My head seemed clearer than it had in a long time, as though it had been cleaned of cobwebs. I walked down the empty beach, limping slightly on my one bare foot. I made it back up the stairs and into my tent. I spent the day there at my camp site, puzzled by the previous night. When I went to sleep that evening I didn’t dream of the fallen city. I haven’t dreamed of it since.
Berit, I don’t know if knowing someone else had the dreams you did and is free of them will comfort you. I don’t know if you’ll even return to read your book. I hope both will happen. I hope I’ve helped.
I’ll look under this bench again. If you want to share more I’ll read and reply. You aren’t alone. There is hope in all of this.
Your stranger-friend and sister of the dreams,