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When the Center Falls Away, Part 1 of 2

by Luc Reid

This is a two-part piece; the conclusion will be posted tomorrow. Please feel encouraged to comment if you have feelings about this kind of thing one way or another.

Chico didn't really understand how people were inserted into dreams; it was all a bunch of neurochemistry and electroneurology and interface science and software entity engineering, and those weren't where his skills lay. But he didn't have to understand it. All he had to understand was that a rich guy was having nightmares.

No nightmares so far, though. He just sat in the dim grayness of the subject's mind, watching images spring up from the blackness, flicker, flatten, and fade.

Then he felt the gravitational pull of the dreamer's mind as the dream began: a loose and imprecisely-defined ego coalesced out of a swamp of memories and habits among dark semi-human shapes. Dream interventionists were always pulled to the dreamer's ego, because everything existed in related to it. Chico felt himself dragged down the thought vortex toward the dreamer: a generic shape, flickering with shadows, mostly in the form of a boy. Across from the boy sat a hugely fat, glowering woman with bull's horns. The boy turned and ran, but his dream dragged the woman along after him effortlessly: she was too important to whatever he was worrying about to slip away. Chico could feel the fear in the air. The setting suddenly flickered into sharp relief, a school somewhere, all linoleum hallways and painted cinder block walls with grade school art projects taped up on them. The horned woman stepped out of a classroom door ahead. Then the hallway crackled and snapped and turned into a cafeteria crowded with shouting, oblivious students. The boy stopped running, knowing (Chico could share the thought) that he couldn't leave the cafeteria during lunch without a pass. This was the time for Chico to step in: he would help the dreamer face the horned woman …

The huge woman lurched forward suddenly, scattering children who folded back into her wake. Then she reached out and and grabbed the boy's head with one meaty hand. He screamed as she jerked on his head, snapping his neck. Chico cursed. Now the dreamer would wake up and he would have to start all over.

The dreamer collapsed to the floor and began to break apart into ash. Chico felt a sudden rush of panic as he realized the dream was not ending.

The horned woman looked up at Chico and shrieked wordlessly.


As an occasional thing this is a nice change. It allows for more depth. However, the one story-one day model is one of the things I like about the Cabal.

Posted by: David | September 9, 2008 11:40 PM

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