In the corner of a house there’s a room full of books. Big books, small books, books full of color and books full of black. No one could possibly read every book in this room full of books, surely; there are books about cooking, books about history, books about dinosaurs and books about what Sally did on holiday when she met Harry. No one could be interested in all of these books enough to read them all, cover to cover. But no one minded if no one did, because someone read some of these books and read them cover to cover. A kid.
A kid? Of course a kid, what else but a kid. Scrawny and white, all pale and shy, with dark brown hair and bespectacled eye. A kid in form, in mind and in wit, a kid whose heart and mind was lit by literature and writings, all ordered and free. For no one would push back the pages they read, and no one would pinch or say what they said, for in this room in the corner of a house this kid read alone as hushed as a mouse.
As they read alone in this room so quiet, in their mind the world was a colorful riot- what wonder, what power! What passion, what sorrow! How they smiled at the thought of what words had to follow. This is faith, this is light, this is everything right! So the kid read through each day and waited each night.
Time, though, wraps its chain onto every living soul, and as time carried on so the kid became old. Soon gone were the days that they could fill with written page- the rat race soon came forward for those of their age.
The day that it came the kid ran, feeling dread, for the world was not the way that literature had said. Right had no sway on the evil that walked, and the kid needed teaching in rules that weren’t taught. The way of kindness was hollowed with every mistrust; for every step that the kid took, their faith began to rust. Every lesson took heart until the heart gave no more. The kid wandered and stumbled and never found whatever for.
You should be more like him, but less like them, they said, in a loud and righteous cry. You should worship her and him and be grateful for their time, they said with suspicion and fire in their eye. You should be strong, they said, you should be funny. You should know all this.
Why can’t you be more like them? The kid asked themselves, unable to answer. Why couldn’t you learn? The kid asked again, still unable to answer. Why did you turn out this way? The kid cried, over and over, still unable to answer. What good has come of all the time that you spent? They all asked, again and again, and each time the kid was unable to answer.
Until the heart had enough and took everything it had. It screamed to the kid and drove the kid mad. It chased the kid back to the room full of books. It hid from the sky, and the world, and the looks.
In this room full of books, full of memory and peace, the kid found their smile, and the heart its release. Alone in this room of accordance and dreams, together they could hope, reflect and believe. The kid’s story was written and the kid had grown old, but its words can be read again, and the story re-told. Believe in this heart, wherever it may lead, the kid told themselves. Believe in all the good from the things that you read. Believe and be kind, whether you see or remain blind, for this world will forever remain empty and hollow without a song to be sung and dreams it can follow.
And with that, the kid walked into the world once, knowing nothing of strength or of love, or what for. But the words in the room that raised them remain, and what good is a hero without troubles to be slain?
The Time Lord and the Dream Lord.
It is quiet in the Dreaming, tonight.
That in itself doesn’t come as much of a surprise. It’s been many a century since I’ve slept and even longer than that since I’ve dreamed. Sleep is simply one of those things I don’t do. I don’t draw, I don’t pray and I don’t watch snooker either. Sleep isn’t much more than a hobby adopted by humans because they haven’t got enough to do to fill in the time. That, and their requirement of recharging their energy, I suppose, but I don’t give this much thought. Timelord biology negates the need of sleep. If we ever need to cool down, we just stop running…if at all possible. By extended logic, my shackled and incarcerated Seventh Self is the most energetic of all of me.
I can only assume it’s whatever Womble and I were drinking that put me in this stupor and slumber. I don’t know what it was, exactly, but at one point a fly landed in my drink and remerged as a butterfly. It was also enough to convince Womble he’d met one of the four Horsemen. I’m still a bit sceptical, to be honest. I just don’t see why “The Four” would need a drink. Eventually all of Oblivion will be theirs. Then they’ll have literally the rest of time itself to party. Maybe they’re just drawn to Womble and his general other-worldly/other-reality manner. He leads them like following a raven……
Apologies. The Dreaming is after all a place for reflection and endless creation and all which that implies. If you can think it, it’ll happen – I’m currently standing next to a ethereal representation of Womble raising a toasting Death.
My sister always showed fondness towards that form.
I flinch away from the porcelain man. I know exactly who he is, of course, but have had time to forget his unique style of arrivals. As fast and intrusive as a knife through the ribs.
“Good evening, Morpheus.”
And in return to you, Homeless Helper. It has been many of your universe’s years since your last visit to my realm. I had initially suspected intruders.
“That happen often?”
Morpheus tips his head to one side, the chaotic tangle of black hair atop his head rustles aside with him. More often than I would prefer.
In the moment’s hesitation, my head turned in attentiveness, I inspect his clothing. He and I share a liking for attire which billows; tonight, the Dream Lord is dressed in a simple, long black cloak. It isn’t quite long enough to cover his bare, ivory-white feet. All things considered, the entire experience isn’t unlike talking to Death, myself.
“Who would want to visit a Timelord’s dreams?”
Morpheus shrugs. The noise his cloak makes is no louder than dead leaves falling. Anyone who cannot make dreams of their own. Greed forever inspires theft of that which anyone cannot hope to own.
“You’re the Dream lord, can’t you just give them the gift?”
Would you give the ability of time travel to all who want it?
In the thin mists roiling in front of us, composed of every colour imaginable, two new forms begin to grow and take shape. Morpheus and I stand eye-to-eye with two dream copies of ourselves. Both of them are strong in likeness but, especially in terms of Morpheus, nowhere near the real thing. Like looking at two afterimages. The previous scene of Womble and Death starts to fade back in nothingness, but not completely.
“You said your sister likes that form?”
The image became sharper again.
Yes, the hooded corpse. She has visited several world’s, including the human ones, armed with her scythe and scroll.
“But she…..isn’t that a different Death?”
My sister is a constant but her appearance is not. All my siblings are as malleable as clay. The form seen is the one you wish to see the most.
It’s not often I feel this way round, acting as Ignorant rather than Knowledgeable. The Dream Lord out shines me in every possible respect. I myself can live millennia and Morpheus will have only just blinked. The same can be said for his sister, and then some.
A thought occurs…
“You know, there is a man in my universe. You may know him, he even looks a little like you. He enjoys telling your stories.”
I am aware of his existence, as I am of every living being who dreams.
“Well, he seems to think that even you can die, too. And that there are in actuality millions of variations of you, Dream Lord.”
He is right. There are more versions of Morpheus than there are stars in the multiverse. All of them are me.
“They all carry your name…?”
No. There are more than a billion different Dream Lords and they are all one Dream Lord.
I’m clutching at science-fiction straws here. “A hive-mind?”
Morpheus sighs, softly, like his own constructions flitting past a dream catcher. I understand now why you do not dream, for such wonders could not come from a mind as small as yours.
The whole “never meet your heroes” just reached an all-new, unknown level; being accosted by my favourite character of all time. Should I have seen it coming?
“Thanks for that.”
I must speak the truth, Timelord, because my realm does the opposite.
Hmm. It’s a good thing I enjoy the sound of his voice, it lessens the insult’s blow. Morpheus sounds exactly how a dream should; deep and echoing, melodious, intoxicating and instantly forgettable once awoken.
If I truly am to endure these typical soul-searching and life-lessons epiphanies that can only come from vivid dreams, I may as well make the most of this first chance in centuries.
“And what is the truth about me?”
You confuse me for my brother, Destiny. I refrain from dwelling on what may happen, for even knowing the path ahead does not change its course.
“I’m not after fortune telling. I just want you to tell me right here, right now, what truth is there about me?”
Morpheus turns, then, fixing his two eyes like deep pools of midnight upon me. In their innermost depths, an ancient star shines into my soul, as the Dream Lord thinks and ponders.
There are too many people inside one head.
Amazing how accurate the interpretation of one’s dream can be….straight from the Endless’ mouth, as it were.
“So…what can I do?”
What any lost man does, Timelord; take note of what is around you.
In descending size order: the inspiration-location for Inception, and several personas inside one mind, times two……oh. A dawn of realisation has broken.
“You are billions of Dream Lords. There are thirteen of me…and I am all of them?”
Correct. There can be multiple personalities but only ever one body.
One body, huh? I imagine that can be resolved………I’ll need some horrendously powerful tech…and most likely a trip to the universal black market.
“Thank you, Morpheus,” I say, sweeping off my top hat, arcing myself into a slight bow. “I think that’s just the inspiration I needed.”
He waves a large, bone-white white and bone thin hand.
Think nothing of it, Timelord, I am obligated to assist all who visit my realm; a task of daunting impossibility. You are fortunate that your visits are exceedingly infrequent, for me to notice your arrival.
“I’ll certainly bear that in mind. Guess we’ll meet again in another millennium.”
Until then, Timelord, may your years be prosperous and everlasting.
All around me dissolves into a much-more-real version of things. Morpheus’ face distorts and realigns into a new one, with less rigor but a lot more colour. Womble stands over me, shaking my shoulder.
“Ah, so you’re not dead,” says he. “Y’know whenever you pass out, you truly commit.”
I blink some clarity back in my world. It feels like each of my eyelashes is a sharpened icicle. My head and stomach moan in unison and everything is much too bright. In the Hungover Handbook, I’m past the middle of the scale.*
“Womble. What time is it?” Odd question to ask, I know. It just feels appropriate. Also my voice sounds like I’ve been gargling tin-foil.
“Time we were leaving. Remind me for future consideration that you, alcohol and a juke box is a dangerous combination.”
I offer out a hand and he hauls me to my feet, a motion which does not do well for my inner cramps and aches.
Time we were leaving, indeed.
*As anyone knows, the Hungover Handbook scale goes from 0 (Designated Driver) all the way up to 20 (Almost But Not Quite Dead.) I’d rank this one a 12 (That Was One Shot Too Many)