September 24, 2012 by Lyn
Friday, September 19, 2003, night-time
Ceinwen wasn’t sure if she was having a recurring dream, or if her power was manifesting in some really strange manner. Every night, she’d close her eyes and sleep, and every night, she’d see the school around her, shadowed and dark. Every night, she’d end up back at the figure in the corner of the bedroom, tied up in chains and locks.
The locks seemed to grow back, night after night. And there were so many of them, so thickly wrapped around his body, that no matter how long she picked open locks and untwisted chains, she was still at it when she woke. It was exhausting; she’d taken to napping whenever he left her alone during the day.
She was making progress, at least in her dream. Although the chains grew back, they didn’t all come back; there were fewer every day. And the ones she’d undone were easier to do again the next time. She was getting somewhere… in her dreams.
In her waking time, she was beginning to doubt that the dreams meant anything. Thorburn was still… Thorburn. He had his rules for her, inflexible rules that appeared to come up at random. He was, she realized, locking chains around her, too. And those, she couldn’t seem to do anything about in her dreams.
Friday night found her falling into an exhausted sleep before she even heard his snores. The dreamscape was as it always was – shadowed, twisted. She escaped into the hall. Just outside Thorburn’s room, it was getting brighter, bright enough that, for a few feet, at least, there were no shadows. She sat there for a few minutes, soaking up her light and sending it back out.
In the edge of her flow, she could see someone basking, just an outline curled up on the floor. She didn’t probe closer. Those other figures never seemed to stay, and they never let her get close enough to do anything else.
She stayed out there in the quiet, untroubled, until guilt began to chew at her, and a sense of a project left uncompleted. She’d had the feeling, last night, that she’d been really getting somewhere. Maybe if she went back in, when she went back in, she could unlock something that would stay, find out why, or how, or something other than endless locks and chains. Maybe…
She left her little pocket of light and headed back into the prison of chains and shadows. The figure was still in its corner, the chains so black they seemed to suck the light in. Less chains than the night before, at least. She really was getting somewhere.
She sat down next to him, it, the figure, whatever it really was, and began working at the locks. This one holding the chain around its shoulders, she’d done that one for three nights. It came loose easily to her hands and her light now. And this one, around the wrists, that one always came back. My hands are tied. She swallowed a bitter giggle and went to work on the bad one, the one twisting around its throat and face.
She got one click on the lock, and then another, and a chain came loose. The creature stirred under her, pulling against the remaining chains. That was new. She patted its back carefully, and moved to the next one.
They were going faster now, she thought. Hard to tell, in dream-space, but she got two more unlocked in what seemed like no time at all. The next one took longer, and a bit of fumbling, but she finally pried it open.
The chains fell away from the creature’s face, and he turned to look at her. She pushed the mat of hair away from his face, wondering what she would see.
Thorburn’s eyes stared back at her, wide and animal. The creature opened its mouth. “Ceinwen…”
She woke with a tiny scream. He was shaking her. saying, over and over again, “wake up, wake up. Ceinwen. Wake up.”
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