7 – Electric
She called herself “Electric” and suffered from debilitating migraines every four days. Electric, or El for short, came to me broken and seeking a cure for an abstract pain in her dreams, to which I could only reply, “I’m not a medical doctor, but I will try to help.”
“A doctor of dreams then,” she said. When she laughed little dimples would form on both of her pale, crescent moon cheeks. I couldn’t explain why, or perhaps I masked the truth from myself, but I felt an awkward guest in El’s dreams; as if I should have asked permission and yet there I was, fumbling and prodding away at another human’s psyche, with little evidence of qualification.
El, unlike Bertrand, wasn’t an inmate and hence had never been inside a game. Her ‘scape was untrained, wispy and ethereal. Naive, one might say. Innocent, say I. The first time I entered her mind I knew something was off – she had no defences, there was no struggle, no questioning. Everything was laid bare to me, a stranger in her brain, unwittingly. I initially pitied her, for here lay a person of whom taking advantage would only require a step to the left, a little jaunt, to which an invader, a legitimate threat, unlike myself, would surely have exploited, but I quickly shunted this emotion away. It was fear I felt, fear of spoiling this sincere mind.
I was not here to teach basic dream fighting 101, I reminded myself. Nor was I here to pry, quickly averting my primal eyes from El’s primal memories. I at once felt a terrible power and for perhaps a minute I philosophised on the war between correct conduct and the situation that had presented itself; power corrupts, reality or no.
I shook myself vigorously, wiped my face hard and started subliming the ‘scape, projecting out a level of control El’s mind had never felt. The whispers of unconsciousness suddenly latched onto my outstretched structure and began to order themselves into a regiment. Here, an army lay dormant, only now hearing its call to arms; the mindless mind-wind began to swirl and coalesce into something tangible, something that only had meaning to the dreamer, that is, a bed-bound red-haired woman, one hand clutching her forehead, her syncope absolute.
A house emerged from the clouds, Victorian, semi-detached. A fair rain finger-tapped the old, murky windows, failing to penetrate the soft, orange glow of the front room. I stood silently across the road, already damp. I reached out and-
Umbrella in hand, my gaze flicked to the right; a woman splashed loudly towards the house, her head covered desperately with a sodden newspaper, her shoes drenched – I could almost feel her exasperation. She did not notice my dark figure, or chose not to acknowledge, and hurried into the refuge of the front door’s alcove. The newspaper, flung to the lawn, was a lost cause, but it did the job; El’s long, red hair, tied up high into a ponytail, was only slightly wet about her fringe.
I watched on as she struggled to find the portal key, searching inside a leather-like messenger bag. Evidently the search proved fruitless as El began hammering on the door, calling out something that was drowned out in the rain. After a minute or so when it became clear that no-one was coming to the door, she halted this spiel and dashed around the side of the house, disappearing from my sight.
Naturally, I began to follow her in. I took one step, and the house bulged nauseatingly. The static construction at once seemed sentient, and threatened to belch or perhaps eject something that did not sit well inside its stomach of rooms and wood and dust. I hesitated for a moment, noting that something darker was evidently afoot, and crossed the road to the deviant house in the downpour.