This chapter is kinda long, don't blame me! There's a lot of emotionally heavy stuff in KH, and I'm trying to match the tone.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
I've been having these really messed up dreams lately. They've been bothering me...I get so bent out of shape even trying to form the words to describe them. But, I just can't tell if these are just dreams or really vivid nightmares that cause me to black out at the oddest moments. I don't know if what I'm seeing is real or not.
The dream is the same, every night for the past month and a half. Glimpses and flashes, sparks of color that rush before my eyes like lightning, then dull down to a darkness emphasized by the most bizarre ques of light. Darkness and light. Light and darkness. I can't separate the two entities from each other, but I move through them both with some strange motive...like I'm bound towards something that's just calling out to me.
It starts with me falling, I'm suffocating with my eyes clamped shut waiting for the inevitable impact of the ground to slam my chest open and instantly kill me. Yet, even as I fall with the swift wind combing through my long tangled hair, I feel like I'm diving into a vast ocean. The ocean is engulfing me, breathing me down to the very bottom. Then, a brilliant flash of pure light strikes my brown eyes open.
I search around me, noticing the deathly silent streets of Manhattan vacant of all life. Loneliness grips my bones, and a cold chill tickles my spine. NYC is never quiet enough to hear my own breath stagger from my lips, and Manhattan never has no one walking her streets. Frazzled I look everywhere, but then...I see her.
Michaela is off in the distance, body facing towards the setting sun that appears too close to be considered natural. My friend's shadow startles me; it festers, crawls, and scratches behind her. Yet, my loneliness and sudden fear dissipates as I see her finally turn to me. That same childish smile that greeted me since we were wild kids that ruled the playground back in the day shines at me, and her delicate tattoo fingers reach out to me, waiting for me to grasp them.
I look so frantic all of a sudden, like a drastic choice was going to be made based if I grabbed her hand or not. I stumble at first, but then I run towards Michaela trying to grasp those tatted fingers. The setting sun becomes blocked, a shadow casts it's way over Michaela and I as a monsoon gathers at my friend's turned back. Raging water cascades and swallows buildings, but Michaela never moves or turns, just staring blank at me waiting for me to grab her hand. Before I can even close a yard between us, the water slams into us both, whisking me away.
I swim for my life, flailing my arms to-and-fro like a fish in the water for the first time. In the dark depths on the monsoon's harsh rain and tidal wave, a serene light shimmers above the water's surface, and I swim towards the warm light. I feel the sting of air flooding my lungs as I break to through the surface of the water, but I hear someone call out to me, excitement filled in their tone.
"Ariel! What are you doing so far out? Come back!"
MJ, Mary Jane, is standing at the edge of the sand of some bizarre looking island, waving her hands at me as her lush Havana Twists twirl around her as she jumps up and down.
I smile wide at her, feeling comforted by her familiar face as I swim towards her...but Michaela rests at the back of my mind. Is she okay? Will Harriet greet her at the bank of some tropical paradise?
"You were out so far, I thought you were drowning." MJ said, but I shrug my shoulders as I notice the weight of my soaked clothes and hair.
"It's never too far out. Never too far." I answer, but I catch my words as I notice MJ look to the sky.
Shooting stars rocket through the sky, blazing a trail of glorious shapes. We both now watch them, but I feel my legs give out from under me all of a sudden. I hear MJ scream, but I only close my eyes and let the soggy sand coat my long hair and face. I feel my heart beat, I hear my heart beat, I smell the seaweed dance in my nostrils, and I feel my eyes lose their twinkle.
Now, this is where my reality meshes with the dream and I become so fucking disoriented that I cannot tell what is my reality and my subconscious' reality. At this point in my dream I'll either wake up briefly in my dorm room or wake up in my room back home, but the end result is constantly the same. My alarm clock starts to tick and tock, and by the fifth tick, I am tocked back into this hellish blend of dream and brutal nightmare.
This time, however for some unknown reason, I wake up and I'm falling through the clouds and my hair is whipping before my eyes in flashes as my brown eyes are enchanted by a shooting star right above my head. The star becomes smaller, decreasing in size as it comes closer to my face. Before I could shut my eyes again, the star brushes against my lips, then slips into my mouth. I feel a fire light inside me, and I can feel my intestines combusted in a stream of electricity that force me to throw my head back in ecstasy as I fall faster to the ground that isn't visible to me.
The frigid kiss of water splashes on my shoulders, and I now know I am back in the monsoon's grasp and dancing in the eye of the tidal wave again.
Without warning, I feel myself land on a sturdy surface, but I look around in the darkness. Around me are nothing but swirls of shadows and deep blue flows of water, but despite this, I move forward. Light erupts my senses again, as the feathers of birds flap and surround my sight. Doves are taking flight, and I feel warmth surround me and chase out the frigid atmosphere of the darkness. I now stand on this stained glass platform with some enchanted princess on it. The woman doesn't look familiar, but that golden tiara on her head tells me she's a princess.
"W-Where am I?" I whisper.
This dream...for some reason this dream was different than the other million times I relived it. I feel this time around, I have some form of consciousness and I know what I'm doing. The other times I lived this dream, I was going through this mindless motion, but now, I feel like I'm actually awake. But, this is not NYC, and this sure as hell isn't my mom's house.
"So much to do, so little time...but you must take your time. Don't be afraid. You have nothing to fear in your own heart or elsewhere."
I jump instantly hearing this voice flood my ears, and I look around me trying to find it's owner. No one is here with me, nothing but this lit platform and my head spinning.
"Who are you? Show yourself." I demand, feeling myself revert back to my normal character.
I didn't like the idea of being spoken to like this. I could be talking to Barack Obama right now, but couldn't tell since the voice appeared to be floating off in some unreachable distance.
"The door is still shut. Now, step forward. Can you do it?" The voice asks, ignoring my question entirely.
I feel my eyebrows knit together in unchained frustration. I've been having this damn dream for months and this fucking voice doesn't have the decency to tell me who they are or what the fuck I'm doing here in my mind totally awake yet not awake. My full lips part in a heavy sigh, and I surrender to this unknown voice that echoes out to me.
I walk forward with caution, only hearing the tip tap of my shoes. My body stops instantly at this...shoes? My brown eyes look down at myself noticing only now what I'm wearing, which is a light weight lace fabric dress that cut off to my knees, and white wedges. As I reach my hand up to scratch my head, I only then noticed that the front strands of my hair are in light twists on each side of my head held back by bobby pins.
If there's anything I can say about this dream, is that I'm dressed well, and that's one thing that I'm happy about. As long as I get fashion, I'm down for any type of situation, and crazy reality-dreams are on the list too.
"Great power sleeps within you. If you give it form...it will give you strength to surpass all in your path." The voice whispers in my ears.
The platform shakes and rattles as blocks erect from the ground, light shimmering around objects that materialize on each pillar.
Looking at each block, I notice that weapons are what reside on the surface. One block caters to a sword with a sharpened gleam to it's deadly edges, the other hosts a sapphire orbited staff glistening with an eerie essence, and the last holds a heavy appearing shield with a wide frame.
"Choose? Choose a weapon for what? Geezus, I really have to stop asking you questions. Not like you've answered any I had so far...right?" I ask the mysterious voice, but no answer just as the other times.
Without embarrassing myself any further, I look to the sword instantly and walk over to the timeless weapon. I lace my fingers over the hilt, and gaze down on the brilliant shine of the sharp blade. If I had to choose a weapon to defend myself with, a sword would more than suffice.
"The power of the warrior. Invincible courage. A sword of terrible destruction. Is this the power you seek?"
"Yes, I desire the sword." I whisper, but as I spoke the sword vanished in a spark of light.
"Your path is set. Now, what will you give up in exchange?"
"I see your game. Can't gain anything without losing, that's pretty fair."
I look back at the two remaining weapons, but I find myself being pulled toward the shield. Sashaying over to the shield, I grasp it, and feel my brown gaze analyzing it.
"The power of the guardian. Kindness to aid friends. A shield to repel all. You give up this power?" The voice asks. But, I nod.
"You've chosen the power of the warrior. You've given up the power of the guardian. Is this the form you choose?" I nod again, but the only answer I receive is the platform I stand on shaking.
The breaking of glass floods my ears, as I turn around to notice the platform is shattering. Stained glass shards erupt around me, and I feel my weight shake and topple. Before I can run, I begin falling once again.
My long auburn hair dances around me, as my delicate white dress flows around me, but I land once again on a different stained glass platform. I feel my weight is off again and stumble a bit, but due to my awesome degree of "smooth recovery," I regain my composure.
Light engulfs my right hand, and it become weighed down by the very sword I chose a moment ago.
"You've gained the power to fight." The mysterious voice echoes.
I look at my sword odd...I never flung around a weapon before. Sure, I've watched anime characters do it, but I've never attempted it before. Where was a spiky orange haired Shinigami when you needed one to teach you to work a sword?
I spread my legs a bit, gripped both of my hands around the handle of the sword, and flourished the weapon a bit. I felt uneasy with my use of weight, so I decided to act as though the sword was just an extension of my arm and slash forward. I hear the air cut in two at my motion, as I successfully used the sword.
"All right! You've got it. Use this power to protect yourself and others." The voice explained, but a motion on the platform catches my eye.
At first, it looks to be another part of the stained glass, yet as I walk forward and lean in, I notice a small shadow...without an owner. The shadow squirms and slithers, but muck and black gas pushes upward.
"There will be times you have to fight. Keep your light burning strong."
I flinch noticing the shadow cringe and claw itself from the platform as if it is breaking free from constraints. Eerie yellow beady eyes stare back at me, as a hunched form rips upward as a deviously unknown creature slumps after my shaken form.
"What the fuck is that!?" I yell, but no answer is given.
I step back, sword shaking in my hand. Yet, as I move back, more shadows gather and a small legion of decrepit creatures slump toward me. What was that voice talking about?
I find saliva gathering in my throat as I find it hard to look anywhere except in those impish yellow glass eyes that lock on me. I raise my sword in one hand in warning, hoping for my own sanity that these little hellish nightmare fiends keep their distance. The tiny leader of the shadow legion slithers toward me, but then leaps above me claws stretching for me. I instantly shield myself with the now heavy sword in my hand. I feel myself getting thrust back as the claws clash against the steel of my sword, and my gravity falls into my ass as I fall to the ground. As if multiplying the shadows gang on one another, and topple over each other as their claws stretch and pull for me.
I don't want to die...I don't want to fucking die here in a dream. A dream? The idea is so shitty to me now, I felt the weight of the sword getting pushed back on me and this cold platform feels real on my butt. So as far as I can be concerned, there was no way this is a dream, not this time.
Flinging the sword frantically, the shadows back off fearing a slice of the blade, and I crawl to my feet. I don't have long to recover as another creature leaps at me, claw stationed toward my head. Without thinking, I grip both my hands tight around the hilt of the sword, clenching tight to the point my knuckles buckle, and I swing my sword briskly without stopping in the motion. I hear the jagged noise of flesh tearing, and muck being cut through. I killed the creature.
The rest of the impish beings move back, then mesh their bodies back into the platform they came from and vanish.
I stumble back a bit, eyes frantically screening the entire platform, and pray for my safety. I never was the type to pray before, but with the imminent idea that I could be killed by fiendish shadows crossing my mind, it seems like a good idea.
"I can't believe I did it, I fucking killed it." I breath.
I instantly turned and slashed my sword forward, as if some code inside my body was activated that allows me to move like a semi-skilled swords woman. I watch now with wide brown eyes as my gleaming sword rips through a shadow trying to attack me, as black goop spurts from it's slashed carcase. The other shadows now rush me, but I stand my ground and exhale deeply.
"I can do this." I mutter, pushing my body forward.
I thrust the tip of my sword through the yellow orb of one of the shadows, then slash the sword to the side to chop off the torso of another. Catching the final creature in my eyes from above, I leap upwards and shove my sword through it's tiny chest.
"I-I did it." I smile surprised, flicking the black muck from my sword.
I walk forward, but my leg is caught. I look down to notice the platform I stand on turn into a slick dark quick sand, but as I struggle I get pulled down further. I slash the gunk with my sword, but nothing aids in freeing me. I let the darkness take me.
I feel the sun warm my bronze skin, and I hear birds singing off in the distance. Wait...birds? I instantly snap my brown eyes open, and I see nothing but a vast ocean. A familiar vast ocean at that.
"It's that Island I've been dreaming about. I'm here again." I figure, watching the clouds gently roll overhead.
"Hold on. The door won't open just yet. First tell me more about yourself." the voice spoke again, but I growl in response.
"I've had enough of this! You've flung me around for the past month and a half, sicked your weird shadow demons on me, almost killed me, and now you want to know how my day is?! I'm just freaking fantastic, now send me back home and let me get a normal night's sleep for once without you coming in and screwing everything up. Seriously, what are you getting out of this? I've done nothing wrong for you to make me go through these messed up dreams every night. I want to go home already!" I spit, anger seizing my mind.
"What's most important to you?"
I stiffen, as the tender voice I've become custom to reaches me ears.
"What's most important to you?"
Turning around, MJ is sitting happily on the warm beach sand kicking her bare feet in the water. I feel relief flush over me, as I run over to her dropping the sword in the sand of this horrid lonely beach island.
"MJ! What happened? How did you get here? Is this for real or no? Huh?" I ask quick, but MJ stares back at me with blank chocolate eyes.
"What's most important to you?"
I grip MJ's shoulders, shaking her as my nails dig into her russet skin. "Snap the fuck out of it, don't you understand what I'm saying? We need to go home...I want to go home already."
"What's most important to you?" MJ repeats, but I bite back my gathering tears.
Haven't I been tortured enough?
"Friendship is most important." I answer.
Similar to a robot getting turned on for the first time, this "dream form MJ robot," nods with a jolt then dismisses me with a glass look.
"What are you afraid of?"
I turn again, but in my presence is Harriet. I never thought I would be so miserable to see the tumbled curls of Harriet before, especially since I didn't have much of a liking for the girl. Yet, Michaela liked Harriet and as far as I knew from the meek nature of MJ, she liked the curly haired Latina as well. Unfortunately for me, since the majority of my friends enjoyed Harriet's haughty and insulting atmosphere I had to tolerate her. Yet, even now, even though dream sequence Harriet is obviously more tolerable than "real life non-stop always talking shit," Harriet, I feel a small pang for my reality Harriet.
"Getting old is a rational fear I suppose. I mean, it just looks sad and painful to watch all the old people barely able to function or enjoy life." I said.
Robo Harriet replies with the same mobile action as MJ; a glass stare and jolted nod.
"What do you want out of life?"
Michaela stands now in front of me, and I walk over to her. Even though I know this isn't the real girl I grew up with and shared every happy moment of my life with...I still worried for her. That monsoon I have replayed so many times before in this dream pulls us apart, and I never get to see her again until I wake up in the real world sweating like crazy as she sleeps sound in her double bed in our dorm room. I force a tired smile at my best friend, and lightly grasp her hand.
That very hand that seemed so out of reach every time I dream, that I beat myself over because I can never reach out and properly grab a hold of, I grab now. I love Michaela, she is my sister. Even though we didn't come from the same womb, I feel as though we have always been connected on the same path as each other, and I know- even though I have lived very little on this earth in 19 years- that I could never form another bond with another human on this planet like I have with Michaela.
"What do you want out of life?" Michaela asks again.
"The same as you, to broaden my horizons. To see the world together, remember?"
I feel so weak all of a sudden, and jumbled. Before I lose strength in my legs, I wrap my arms around my sister and hug her tight. I feel the weld tears finally cascade down my face. I want to go home, and not home. I want to wake up, but I don't mind hugging Dream Michaela longer. I'm so fucking tired...I haven't slept right in months.
"You want friendship. You're afraid of getting old. You want to broaden your horizons. Your adventure begins in the night. Keep a steady pace, remain confident in yourself, and you'll come through fine. You'll open the door soon. Remember who you are and the great strength the flows through your veins. You have the power to reign above all." the voice whispers in my ear. "I send you off."
I wrap my arms tighter around Michaela's neck, hugging her close. Tears staining her white tank top.
I snap my head back at Dream Michaela, did she just talk?
I look up to the tropical clear sky, it seems like my friend's voice is calling out to me.
A strike of light erases my vision, and I fall again.
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