I've come to the conclusion that sometimes I shouldn't be allowed to close my eyes. All manner of weird things happen behind them. My apologies to the Dream King for involving him in all of this...one would think my brain would know better. I do not own the Dream King, or the Sandman. He is the amazing creation of the most awesome Neil Gaiman.
“A fiver for a show, my lady.”
Moira had been intently sifting through the influx of emails on her Blackberry, placing each one into categories and subcategories according to importance, when this odd request came. Her eyebrows knitted together, she set her teacup down hard, almost breaking the handle with the frustrated motion. Damn it to hell, I don’t have time for this. Do I have a sign that says ‘If you’re a tosser, come bother me.’?
“Look, mate, bugger off, will yo—“ The annoyed retort died on her lips as she looked up and met the dead grey-eyed gaze of a rather dodgy looking giant of a man, who held his long spider-like hand out to her…waiting. Icy tendrils of fear started to close around her chest; she would’ve thought that she was staring into the very face of Death if she hadn’t known that Death, in fact, was quite female and proud of it. Angry at herself for getting all widgy, she stiffened and gave the stranger her best “Don’t fuck with me” glare.
“What d’you want?” she asked coldly.
“A fiver for a show, kind lady,” he reiterated, this time with a thinning of his lips that could have been misconstrue d as a smile.
“What if I don’t want to be shown anything?” Moira asked in a testy voice as she rummaged through her hand-wallet for the requested currency. “What if I just want to sit here and get this bloody report done?” Her eyes gave him the once over while she spoke. He could have been a looker if he’d cleaned up a bit, she thought. Long dark hair, tall, mysterious. That’s what the girls want these days, isn’t it? She wouldn’t know. Life had closed itself off to her a long time ago. Now her days were spent sitting at the same table, in the same café, on the same corner. Her nights were even less enthralling: pasta, wine and MI-5 on the television. Bland and getting worse by the moment.
“I have a feeling that you’ll want to see this,” the stranger assured her, tucking the five pound note into a fraying pocket of his long, black overcoat. Moira was about to object when she found herself out of her chair and walking impossibly fast down the street beside the man, her slim-boned hand in his overly longish one. It was if they were gliding down an endless tunnel; crowds of people whizzed by them as they turned down alley ways, catercorners, walked through walls of buildings at dead end streets. In the back of her mind, there is only the tiniest worry that she’d left her laptop, her Blackberry and all of her business life behind, shed like fragile, membranous snakeskin.
Images and fragments of memory flew by them like injured ghosts, ragged and helpless. Moira felt a morbid sort of fascination at the lack of life in these places, the death of happiness and joy…as if these places keened over the loss of a collective soul. After several long minutes, they reached a dilapidated old Soho cinema tucked away in the darkest recesses of a down-at-the-heels neighbourhood and the flashing world suddenly slowed to a crawl.
“Where are we?” Moira queried, turning round and round in an effort to take in the gloomy structures that surrounded them.
The dark stranger took the five note out of his pocket, went to one of many non-descript bricks that held the cinema together and slid it through the well-hidden slot carved within. Loud clicks echoed down the alleyway as many unseen locks release the fractured, heavy oaken doors of the front entrance. Light and happy burblings filtered through the cracks, pushing back the darkness with its overwhelming joy. Moira felt something running down her face and raised a trembling hand to her cheek. Silent tears swam a lazy path down her jawline, leaving large, round drops on her new silk blouse. Her chest nearly burst with feelings she hadn’t felt in ages and to make matters worse, she couldn’t understand why in hell she was crying.
“Your tears are not meant for sorrow this day, Moira McLaren,” the stranger intoned in answer to her unspoken question. In her confusion, she had completely forgotten that he was beside her. She turned quickly towards his voice and gasped in shock for the light was not only transforming the old building but her guide as well.
“What the--? What happened to you? Who are you?” She watched in amazement as his eyes turned from ice grey to deepest black and his hair stuck up on all ends like the sharp points of a crown. He now wore heavy black boots instead of the filthy ragged trainers he had on when they first met and his overcoat became a cloak as dark as the night sky with points of light that she swore were stars. He shook himself once the transformation was complete, like a wolf giving his fur the once over.
“Some call me trickster or that wily bastard,” he answered as a wry smile touched his lips. “Others call me The Dream King. You, however, may call me whatever you wish.”
“Why have you brought me here?” Moira asked incredulously. “What does all of this mean?”
The Dream King pondered her questions for a moment before answering. One his hands gripped the wrought iron handle of the door closest to them. “Your dreams spoke to me, Moira. Your heart’s pain could be felt even in my realm.” He shrugged slightly underneath the undulating cloak. “I’m merely doing what I was meant to. Come,” his other hand reached to take hers. At his touch, she could feel her limbs pulling inward, her head filled with sound like rushing water.
“Mind your footing, dear. It’s a little steep for ones such as yourself.” Moira turned to give a caustic reply only to see that she was now looking up at him instead of being at eye-level. This is all too weird…too odd by half.
“Oh but it’s quite normal, you’ll see,” the Dream King replied as if she had spoken aloud. He led her through the door and as her foot crosses the threshold, everything gets louder, bigger, grander than she ever knew was possible. She suddenly realizes now that she’s gone through the doors she’ll not be coming back. Warmth and laughter bubble up from within her; she begins to laugh and laugh and laugh…the man let’s her hand go and she runs further inside, never once stopping to look behind.
“Sweet dreams, my dear Moira. I’ll be seeing you again…all in good time.”