A Science Fiction and Fantasy tale:
The Dreamer, A synopsis and an excerpt
by Dan Brady
The Dreamer, A synopsis
This is a story about a young person whose unusual dreams and powers go unnoticed by those closest to them. It is a short tale that sketches a whole society using brief descriptions of a scant few of its members.
The dreamer senses in ways that are not fully understood and therefore can be only described obliquely. In this story the dreamer senses the approach of something as it nears their home world. This thing is strange and hard to describe, but its attitude and purpose becomes clear.
It is inimical to the dreamer's world, and we, the readers, see how it operates to feed its unusual hunger.
by Dan Brady
The mystery, of course, lay in what the thing was. The dreamer would never be sure, never have the right terms, and would wind up leaving this essential question forever unanswered.
The dreamer, a youth of about 11 cycles, appeared concerned mainly with play, school, and chores. He did not consider telling someone of his dreams, because no one talked of theirs. He assumed that dreaming was normal, and the silence surrounding it was suspicious enough for him. It was, he felt, not unlike the silences enshrouding the "family" activity of adults for example. So he'd concluded there had to be a taboo about it. Taboos dictated many things in life and some were held with such extreme zealousness that even asking about them brought shame or things much worse. Elusive and vague "social silences" if breached could bring a visit from the counselors. Or, in really serious matters, require a Righteousness Forum with unsavory consequences for one's entire family. Early on he saw that the silence concerning dreaming was more complete than any of the others that he knew of, and so this had him wisely keep his own counsel ever since the dreams began.
His only clues about this thing remained essentially those from his first sighting, and contact had been just a half a cycle ago. This was soon after he'd found his dreaming mind could travel far away from his world into the vast dark regions of night. It was during the night he'd predetermined to scry out as far as he possibly could. He went farther and farther until, in the expanse of his perspective, the ether was sweet scented and musical intuitions ran along the warp and woof of the very fabric of the universe. He found he could swoop and slide along, riding the contours of the vast invisible surface of reality. It was glorious fun until he detected a localized point of disharmony and sharp cold static that he saw either surrounded or composed it. He could also "smell" that the ether seemed fouled, wrinkled or contorted in its wake. Had he known of the term "nebula", he might have had some idea of its physical appearance or dimensions. This thing was so strange that he was both curious and cautious. On subsequent excursions he would always seek it out simply because it was a puzzle. But sagely he observed it from a distance.
As it was, the dreamer was quite young and unknowing. His desire to understand the thing led his dreaming mind to scry its way into the souls of creatures big and small, and once or twice into the minds of reknowned teachers; though once intimate with the famed scholars he found their facilities both rank and repugnant, roiling with vague nightmares and so a fear of them and their kind was his harvest. He learned a lot from the animals but none of it seemed applicable to the mystery. However he was encouraged enough to try and make contact.
When he found and approached it soon after, he felt a burning pain so great that he screamed as he awoke which roused the whole family. It was luck and good presence of mind that had them believe it was a simple illwisher and so with a simple prayer and a stick of incense he was left to return to sleep. He could not understand the pain being so unbearably real and yet leave not a mar upon him.
The next morning although he knew it was far away, he also knew that after he'd made contact it had quickly taken up a course for his world and was coming on at a rapid pace. He could not tell that it was aware of him, but there was something new now. From it came an indefinable chill, almost calculator like. The dreamer was uneasy, fearful, but continued to observe it albeit at what he thought was a safe distance.
Of its malevolence there was no doubt. Previously he had only felt such emotional torment in the minds of creatures on the hunt or adults in battle. But soon he saw that its disharmony with the very essence of the celestial realm must somehow be its essence. Later, he sensed something of hunger and a chaotic growling or garbling that could have been its mentations or speech, which seemed like the deluded ramblings of some one demented and venting a disjointed venomous rage.
As days went on its imminent arrival made him tend to a quiet, which he knew his parents talked about despite their attempts to avoid his keen ears and peerless eyes. Throwing caution aside he came to know what was in their minds and feared being exposed. Still, he could not stop scrying out to look at it, despite their worries.
He began to scry out during the day at home, but was not careful enough. One time, on a holiday, he had spent hours out. When he came to, it was to find that they had been sitting by his bedside watching him while he'd spent hours seemingly staring up to the ceiling as he lay in bed, insensible to their presence and, of course, he hadn't been using any of the silent meditational postures.
He was certainly startled by their presence but more by their worried eyes, drawn faces and pale complexions. They talked with him and he told them he was praying natural style not only because he knew they would want to believe this, but because then they wouldn't mention it to others for their own reasons. It was pretentious, certainly precocious, and they would rather wait and see than invite an investigation.
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