Tag Archives: drugs

The Sleepwalker

This is a bit different from some of the stories I’ve written lately, darker for one thing, but it’s been rattling around inside my head for some time, so I finally let it out.

The Sleepwalker

The first thing Dillon saw when he came into consciousness was his hand, moving spasmodically in the muck by the lakeside, his fingers moving like five fat maggots. He took a shuddering breath, coughed out some water and stood up.

Sleepwalking. It must have been that again. The medicine seemed to have stopped working. He had the feeling he had done this before, walked outside in his sleep and right into the lake. It was lucky he hadn’t drowned.

Dillon staggered back up to the split-log cabin that sat on the bluff overlooking the teacup lake. Tiffany never liked going there, but he loved it, this tiny outpost beyond the grasp of civilization. No Internet, no TV, and just enough electricity to run the lights and his used Dell laptop where he forged his bizarre, surreal stories, one keystroke at a time.

So tired. His head ached and he walked with his head down and eyes half-closed until he reached the door. It was locked. That puzzled him. How had he locked the door when he was sleepwalking? Sure, it had a button lock on the inside that he could have pushed, but he had never known himself to do that before. He fished the keys out of his sodden pocket and stepped into the sparse kitchen. All the appliance were at least 30 years old, the old-fashioned, hard to use kind that drove Tiffany nuts. He liked them though. Or perhaps it was just that they guaranteed she would let him come here alone. Antique appliances were a fair trade for total solitude.

The coffee maker, the one modern concession besides the laptop, was set to turn on by itself in 10 minutes, as it always did. He pushed the button and as it gurgled and hissed, he pulled out his pill bottles from the drawer above it. Three blues, two whites: he popped them into his mouth and ducked to get a mouthful of tepid water from the faucet. He felt the meds kick in almost immediately and by the time the coffee was ready, he was a man reborn. They did not keep his mind from spinning; on the contrary, his mind was turning like a flywheel now, generating the necessary creative juices.

He looked out the window and a shock like electricity went through him. Next to his silver pickup truck sat a blue Jaguar, one that he knew very well. Tiffany was here? Since when? Dillon opened the bedroom door, expecting to see her, but it was empty. It was a tiny cabin, but he searched it again and again for ten minutes.

She must be swimming. Ha, not likely. His wife didn’t go near water without adequate chlorination and a handsome, college-aged lifeguard to watch over her. Hiking? Even less likely. If Tiffany couldn’t walk there in high heels, she did not walk there at all.

Finally, Dillon went outside to see if she was sitting behind the wheel. It was empty and locked. It didn’t make sense. He went inside, poured the coffee and took another white pill with it, just to calm his nerves, along with one of the tiny red ones, just because he felt he deserved it after all this confusion.

He turned on the laptop and it sprang to life with an electronic trill. There were no games on it or other distractions and he had set it up to open the file of his current work in progress automatically. Up came the title page, The Woods of Trillium. He scrolled to the bottom. When he had left off, the main character Turner Belasco had just left the witch’s house and was staggering through the forest, trying to get the cursed dagger out of his hand.

Dillon stared at the screen. There was text he didn’t remember writing. It didn’t fit with the story.

“Where is she, you dumb bastard?” the witch cried, tearing at Turner’s clothes with her claws. “You think I don’t know why you are wandering these woods all the time? You’re not looking for the Fountain of Light, you’re screwing some wench!”

          “You are surely mad, woman!” Turner shouted. He shook the cursed dagger to loose it from his hand, but it was stuck fast.

          “You must prove your loyalty to me,” the witch said. “Burn down this hovel you have constructed. Burn it to the ground and you will be free of the curse.”

          “But the house is the key to finding the Fountain of Light,” Turner said. “I carved the map on the floor myself, with hard labor. I will never give it up.”

          “You will or you will suffer!” The crone flew at him and Turner held up his hands to defend himself. But the cursed dagger, which was frozen to his hand, stabbed her in the throat and she dropped to the floor, dead.

          Turner cleaned up the witch’s blood and then carried her and her garments out to the Pool of Trillium, that sparkled with diamonds in the moonlight. He saw her body sink into the inky depths and with that, the cursed dagger fell from his hand and disappeared with her from sight. Then Turner went back to his hut, arranged his traveling garments and potions, set the coffee aright and set out to search for the Fountain of Light.

Dillon staggered up so fast, the table almost overturned. He made his way to the medicine drawer and shook out some pills, not bothering to check the colors or even how many he was taking. All he could think of, the thought that pounded in his head like a gong was: They don’t have coffee in The Woods of Trillium. It doesn’t exist there.

It was just a story. It was not real. Turner Belasco wasn’t a real person. He tried to tell himself this, but his mind was spinning out of control. He got down on the kitchen floor to look for blood. The lines on the flooring ran together and seemed to drip away into nothingness, but when he ran his hand over them, it came away dry.

What seemed like hours later, he found himself in the forest, yelling Tiffany’s name.

Dillon went back to the cabin and tried to think. It took two more cups of coffee. It might be only a story, but the Jaguar was real and he could not have driven them both there. If he had really killed her, it was all over for him. He had to at least look for her body, to make sure for himself. He had to find her or die trying.

It was early afternoon by now. He shut down the computer, put coffee in the filter and set the timer, out of habit more than anything. Then he went out and locked the door and walked to the lake. The water sucked greedily at the hems of his pants, pulling him in further. Finally, he ducked his head under and dived, down into that green-black world of weeds and shifting light, where everything looked like something that it was not. He continued to go down, looking here and there until the blackness seeped into his mind and his last thought was extinguished.

*        *        *

The first thing Dillon felt was a burning in his lungs. He hacked and coughed, spitting weeds, and when he finally opened his eyes, he was lying on the edge of the lake, his clothes and hair muddy and sopping wet. How had he gotten there? He must have been sleepwalking again.

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The Amber Man – Friday Fictioneers

Isn’t it interesting how a story can change when seen through the window of a hundred words? Last week’s story, Holding the Bridge generated a lot of interesting ideas about what had happened to the guard on the bridge, which fit with the hundred-word version. Click here to read the longer story about what really happened on the bridge.

copyright Douglas M. MacIlroy

copyright Douglas M. MacIlroy

The Amber Man

The lights came on, treacling back to my retinas.

“Here’s where we keep him, gentlemen.”

Humans. Real people, at last.

                                                                Squeeze their throats. Burst their brains.

“How is he not dead?

“Someone this powerful? If he could die from starvation, this setup wouldn’t have been necessary.”

Help me! For God’s sake, don’t leave me again!

                                                                Kill them. Kill them all!

“It’s a shame. His advances saved billions of lives.”

“He also slaughtered fifty million with his bare hands.”

“He looks so peaceful.”

“Thanks to the drugs. Inside though it’s a war: like an angel and demon caught together in amber.”


In Your Dreams, Inc.

People are weird. Their thoughts are weird and their dreams are even weirder. I should know—it’s my job.

Have you ever had one of those dreams that made perfect sense, even after you woke up? It was like someone was writing a movie and playing it out in your brain while you slept. It had production value. Of course, the next night, it’s usually back to some jumble of nonsense about teddy bears, an ominous-looking toaster, and your Grade 4 teacher driving a taxi.

Imagine you could dream those cool, complicated dream every night—chasing bad guys, flying around like Superman, and still waking up fresh as spring breeze? You can now, thanks to In Your Dreams, Inc. It’s popular, let me tell you. The guy who founded it is a multi-billionaire now. Not that I see much of that though—I’m just an extra.

*         *         *

“Brad, here’s the script for the Harper drug-bust scenario.” Heather hands me a single sheet of paper.

“What is he this time, the drug lord or the cop?” I ask.

“Actually, he’s the briefcase. They carry him in, open him up, then test the drugs. When the cops show up, he’s thrown into the evidence locker for a while, then ends up as Exhibit B in the trial. That’s when he wakes up. Hey, I got you a speaking part this time.”

I look at the script and find my name. “‘I gotta go pee”? What kind of a line is that?”

Heather shrugs. “He wanted to throw a subliminal hint into the dream somewhere. He says he always wakes up with his bladder almost exploding and he wants to start waking up before that point. Don’t worry; everybody starts at the bottom. You do a couple ‘I gotta go pee’ gigs, then move on to ‘you got the drugs?’ or ‘the giant lemon bounced that way.’ Before you know it, you’re the guy explaining to the dreamer how he’s the only one who can save the planet. Baby steps, Brad.”

An hour later, I’ve gotten through makeup and am on the sound stage with the rest of the actors. Abraham Lincoln is the drug lord this time. I’ve worked on a few Sammy Harper dreams before and for some reason Abraham Lincoln always shows up somewhere. I was a giant Raggedy Andy in a tea party dream of his and sure enough, Lincoln was the one serving the tea.

“Places, everyone!” the director Kyle Dresden shouts. “Sammy Harper just fell asleep. We’re live in twenty minutes.”

We always do dreams live, while beaming them remotely into the dreamer’s brain. There is a huge screen set up at one end of the stage that shows us exactly what the dreamer is experiencing. That’s essential since dreamers rarely stick to the script, even ones they’ve helped write themselves. We always have to keep an eye on it while we’re acting.

In this scenario, I’m one of the drug dealers. I’ve got a bazooka—which is insane—but that’s Sammy Harper for you. Other drug dealers have AK-47s, elephant guns, and one has a tiger on a leash.

The blue “Dream On” light goes on and we advance towards the middle of the room. Abraham Lincoln is in front, holding the briefcase. The director signals the giant marshmallow Peeps to start jumping around in the background. The theme song to “Cheers” starts playing.

The actor playing Lincoln-as-a-drug-lord puts the briefcase on the table and opens it. The other gang leader samples the drugs inside. I look up at the dream screen and see that in the dream, the briefcase has grown wings and is flying around the room. I knew Sammy Harper couldn’t be content to just lie there as a briefcase and let everyone else have the action. The briefcase in the dream has now sprouted arms and is firing a Tommy gun at us.

This is where improv takes over. We all keep an eye on the screen to see where the briefcase is firing and when it gets near us, we fall back as if we’re shot. The customer is always right, after all.

The dream briefcase fires in my direction and I drop to the ground, writhing as if shot. I’m about to full-on die when I realize that I haven’t said my line yet. The first line of my career and the dreamer goes off script and kills me. Not this time. I let out a dying scream. “I gotta go pee!”

*         *         *

It’s 6am and I stumble through the door of my apartment and fall onto the bed without even undressing. I just want some nice black-screen sleep. I used to like my dreams, but now, I don’t want to remember a thing. It’s too much like work.


Like Rats in the Air Vents – Fantastic Travelogue #12

Sometimes you have some amazing adventures you just have to tell everyone about. Read the rest of this account here.

Synopsis: I was hiking in the mountains of Korea when I got lost at night and came out in a strange valley. I couldn’t understand anyone, but I found out they knew Chinese characters. I met a young woman name Ain-Mai, and later, her brother Sing-ga. While I was there, a creepy woman appeared. Ain-Mai and her brother told me that the creepy woman was named Hengfel and came from another world. Hengfel eventually captured all three of us and brought us back to her world. They took Ain-Mai away and put Sing-ga and I in a room with a bunch of other men who all looked drugged. It looked a bit like a harem. They gave us something to drink, which made Sing-ga very sleepy but had the opposite effect on me. We got out and found Ain-Mai in a cage, hundreds of feet above the floor, in a room with thousands of cages. I rescued her, fighting off dragons as I did. We got away, but they tore my right foot up a bit.

Rats in Air Vent

I have never been on drugs, so I don’t know what it’s like to come down from a high, but after my experience in that cavernous, dragon-infested fortress, I think I have some idea.

Ain-Mai, Sing-ga and I were moving as fast as we could down the corridor we had come from, away from the room with the cages. I was in the lead and was at first thinking of going straight back to the round transporter room—just powering through everything and risking everything to get back right away. Then the pain started. This was troubling, since I hadn’t felt any pain since they had forced that potion down my throat, even when I was punching dragons in the face.

It started as a dull ache in my foot and hands and just kept growing. I looked back and realized I was leaving bloody footprints from my right foot where the dragon had ripped off my boot. After that, it only took a few minutes for the pain to grow to the point where I could barely walk. Sing-ga was still lethargic from the potion they had given him, and Ain-Mai was shaken up from being in the cage and being attacked by dragons, so none of us were in great shape.

The pain was starting to overwhelm my senses. I felt Ain-Mai take me by the arm and lead me to the side, into darkness. We were walking through a small, fetid passage, barely big enough to stand up in. The floor was rough and bolts of pain shot up through my injured foot with every step. After a while, we were in total darkness and felt our way forward with our hands outstretched. The air was moist and warm and smelled like mold.

I don’t how long we went like that, but it was probably about an hour. Before long, I was crawling on hands and knees. We passed shafts cut in the walls with water pouring down through them and even drank a little. The water was hot and tasted metallic, but it quenched our thirst. Ain-Mai was leading us now. I don’t know where she thought she was going, but we followed her instinctively, going further and further into the dark labyrinth.

We seemed to be in a system of air vents. They criss-crossed at intervals and strong, warm wind blew in from some. We heard snatches of sound from cross-tunnels: rumbles and roars as of huge machinery, and screams and yells of monstrous beasts, or something worse. The sounds rose and then faded and died away, like the turning of a radio dial.

At last, when I thought I could go no further, we saw light ahead: warm, tan daylight. It was coming from a cross-tunnel and a strong, dry wind blew out of it. We pushed against the wind until we came to the end of the tunnel and looked outside.

Rats in Air Vent

The opening was barred with a cross of metal, but we still could have squeezed outside if we had wanted to. We were very high up—at least 5000 feet, I would guess, and I looked out over a wide, desolate landscape. Far below were the remains of towns and cities, dry riverbeds still crossed by bridges, and roads bordering dead fields. Everything I saw was brown and withered.

As I watched, a dragon floated into view far beneath me. I craned my neck to see where it was going and saw that we were in some sort of monstrous tower, with walls that fell away almost straight down. The outside surface was covered with plates that stuck up, just like the cage room. Here I could see dragons hanging off them and I realized that was what they were for. The dragons used them to hang on and rest, like birds perching on a branch.

Sing-ga was already lying down on the passage floor. I mimed sleep to Ain-Mai and she nodded. She lay down in front of Sing-ga and motioned for me to lie down in front of her. I lay down on the hard floor and felt her warmth behind me. Just before I drifted off to sleep, I felt her hand on my shoulder. With that simple act of human contact, I realized how much I had missed it. Ain-Mai’s hand on my shoulder filled my mind with peace and helped to soothe some of the throbbing pain that wracked my body. Still, when I finally fell asleep, I dreamed of my wife standing far away, across an abyss that I could not hope to cross.

(to be continued…)


Cage Jumping and Dragon Punching – Fantastic Travelogue #11

Sometimes you have some amazing adventures you just have to tell everyone about. Read the rest of this account here.

Synopsis: I was hiking in the mountains of Korea when I got lost at night and came out in a strange valley. I couldn’t understand anyone, but I found out they knew Chinese characters. I met a young woman name Ain-Mai, and later, her brother Sing-ga. While I was there, a creepy woman appeared. Ain-Mai and her brother told me that the creepy woman was named Hengfel and came from another world. Hengfel eventually captured all three of us and brought us back to her world. They took Ain-Mai away and put Sing-ga and I in a room with a bunch of other men who all looked drugged. It looked a bit like a harem. They gave us something to drink, which made Sing-ga very sleepy but had the opposite effect on me. We got out and found Ain-Mai in a cage, hundreds of feet above the floor, in a room with thousands of cages.

Cage Jumping Dragon Punching

I leaped, straight out over two hundred feet of empty space and landed on the top of the nearest cage. It was a crazy thing to do, but luckily my confidence in that accelerated state was equally matched by my ability. The cage started to swing as it reached its apex, I leapt again, bounding from cage to cage, towards the cage where Ain-Mai was trapped.

As I was jumping from cage to cage, I began to notice details about the room and cages. The ones I had landed on were empty and the bottoms were open on all of them, as if the bottom had split into four parts and fallen open. There was a wide lever on top of the cage that I could see was connected to the cage floor. The floor of the room far below was stained and splashed with red and tiny white bones were scattered wantonly around. It didn’t take long to put all these implications together.

This was the dragons’ feeding ground. People were kept in the cages until a dragon pushed the cage’s lever and the prey fell and died on the hard floor, far below. Then the dragon went down and ate them.

They’re like vending machines, I thought with horrified fascination. I am still glad that I never saw one in operation.

empty cage

I was getting closer to Ain-Mai’s cage. It had stopped descending about ten feet above my current level, just five cages away from her. I couldn’t tell if I had been spotted or not, but I couldn’t turn back now.

Ain-Mai saw me just before I leapt onto her cage. The look of hope and amazement on her face was clear. I jumped and landed on the side of the cage, my fingers clinging to the bars. I tugged at them, but even as strong as I felt, I couldn’t tear steel bars away.

“Hold on!” I said, miming for her to hold onto the bars with her hands and feet. When I saw that she had, I climbed up to the top and stomped on the iron lever. The floor of the cage collapsed and Ain-Mai gave a little scream.

I was still just working off adrenaline and drug-induced bravado, which was probably good, since otherwise I would never have had the nerve to do what I did next. I climbed down the side of the cage until I was hanging from the very bottom. Then I reached inside, through the pieces of the collapsed floor, and grabbed onto the bars on the inside. I swung down and started climbing up the inside of the cage, next to where Ain-Mai was clinging on for her life. She was crying and holding onto the bars with a death-grip. It took me a lot of coaxing to get her to take her hands off the bars and scramble onto my back. Then she was on and death-gripping me around the neck instead.

She was pretty light, thankfully, but going back was much slower. There was a very tricky moment at the bottom of the cage. I was hanging on by one hand on the inside and reached out to grab the outside of the cage. However, with Ain-Mai on my back, we couldn’t fit through the triangular pieces of the floor that were now hanging straight down. I yanked and jerked us back and forth, scraping her back and my front pretty badly against the metal floor plates. Finally, what I had to do was relax and let myself hang down as far as I could go, all our weight on four of my fingers. Then, finally, we slipped through and I could start to climb up the outside again.

I had been too busy to notice before, but we had definitely been spotted now. People were shouting above us and I could feel the cage start to rise. I leapt off, just making it to the side of the next cage. My hands didn’t hurt, but I could see that they were pretty badly scraped and both were bleeding.

Then as if that wasn’t enough, here came the dragons. I guess they didn’t like me running off with their food. The first few just flew nearby, but then one came straight it us and I kicked it in the snout. I couldn’t jump as far now with Ain-Mai on my back so I had to get the cages swinging and wait until they were close to each other to jump across. It was slow going.

They were a bit like this, except with no ridge on the back and their legs were shorter. Source.

They were a bit like this, except with no ridge on the back and their legs were shorter. Source.

On the fifth cage, two came at me at once. I punched the one under its jaw and tried to kick the other one, but it bit into my hiking boot and ripped most of it off, tearing into the sides of my foot with its teeth. This was how things went for another five minutes or so. I fought them off as best I could and slowly, cage by cage, moved back towards the wall. I was mostly worried about Ain-Mai, that one of the monsters would come up from behind and snatch her off my back. I kept whirling from side to side, keeping them all in sight.

I looked ahead to the wall and saw that Sing-ga was climbing up the plates on the wall. Idiot, I thought. There was no way he could do anything except get himself killed. He was moving painfully slowly. The dragons were still intent on me, but if they saw him, it would be like a drunk geriatric fighting a tiger.

I made a leap to the last cage, only to see a dragon rushing at me from below with jaws open wide. I manage to twist in the air to avoid getting my legs bitten off, but then I was falling. I reached out blindly and grabbed the dragon’s body as it went by.

There wasn’t anything else I could do, but this was danger of an insane level. The dragon responded by snapping its body violently like a whip, trying to shake us off. Ain-Mai was gripping my neck so hard it was cutting off my air. I reached around the dragon as far as I could reach and started squeezing it with all my strength. I heard a few bones crack and the dragon gave a roar. It slammed us against the nearest cage and then headed to the wall to scrape us off there.

It turned towards the wall, and there was Sing-ga, clinging to the wall and swaying like a drunk. The dragon seemed to forget about us for a second and went straight for Sing-ga, jaws open. Just as he got there, Sing-ga stuck out his hand and I saw for the first time that he had a piece of broken spear in his hand.

When had he picked that up? I marveled at the presence of mind he had to pick a weapon on our way out of the room. His hand was shaking as he held it but the dragon did not have time to turn away. The spear went straight into the dragon’s mouth and out through the back of its skull. I managed to leap from its back and grab the wall plates as it crashed down.

I learned something about dragons that day: they are cannibals. As soon as the dragon we had been clinging to plummeted to the floor below, the rest of the dragons sped straight down, fighting each other to get at the body first. Apparently dragon meat tastes delicious.

Ain-Mai slid off my back and onto the plates on the wall, but she was shaking so hard I had to keep an eye on her, as well as Sing-ga. Somehow we all got back down to the corridor. I was bleeding from my foot, my hands and several other places and the other two were exhausted and Sing-ga was still not doing well. My dizzying self-confidence was starting to dim a little, but there was nothing to do but go back down the corridor. So that’s what we did.

(to be continued…)

 


I am . . . a Superhero – Fantastic Travelogue #10

Sometimes you have some amazing adventures you just have to tell everyone about. Read the rest of this account here.

Synopsis: I was hiking in the mountains of Korea when I got lost at night and came out in a strange valley. I couldn’t understand anyone, but I found out they knew Chinese characters. I met a young woman name Ain-Mai, and later, her brother Sing-ga. While I was there, a creepy woman appeared. Ain-Mai and her brother told me that the creepy woman was named Hengfel and came from another world. Hengfel eventually captured all three of us and brought us back to her world. They took Ain-Mai away and put Sing-ga and I in a room with a bunch of other men who all looked drugged. It looked a bit like a harem. They gave us something to drink, which made Sing-ga very sleepy but had the opposite effect on me.

I am a Superhero

Sing-ga was acting like he was drugged. He was moving slowly and unsteadily and seemed to be having trouble staying awake. I was having the opposite sort of experience. Whatever they had forced us to drink had made me faster, stronger, and smarter than I had ever been before. It was the same liquid, so obviously, the stuff had a very different effect on my physiology than on the others. I honestly think that while I was in that state, I could have learned a language in a day. At least that’s how I felt.

I tried to explain to Sing-ga how I wanted to escape, but he was not in any state to communicate. Not that my plan was all that complicated: punch the guards and run out, try to find Ain-Mai, then get back to the circular room and . . . I honestly don’t remember now if I had an ending to that plan. I had a lot of confidence though.

The guards came back ten minutes later and I could tell immediately they were furious that we hadn’t changed. The lead one started yelling at us and lowered her spear at me. I grabbed it by the shaft and pulled it out of her hand. Then I cracked it in half. I can tell you, there is no greater feeling of satisfaction than snapping a two-inch-thick spear in half like it’s a candy cane.

It was on then. Forget getting me to change clothes—they were trying to kill me now. I ducked under a spear, punched the lead guard in the chest, probably breaking a few ribs. The other guards backed off a bit and then I was suddenly surrounded by guards, maybe fifteen of them. However, I could tell that some of them were illusions. They all moved the same way, like puppets on the same string. That must have been what had happened in the forest when I tried to escape.

Honestly, I don’t exactly remember much about what happened next, except that it felt really good. It was a confusion of ducking spears, punching, and kicking whenever I saw an opening. The next thing I remember clearly was the guards lying around, unconscious, injured and bloody. There was also a man on the ground whom I had apparently punched in my excitement. Oops.

None of the other men had really reacted, although they were all watching by now. I felt like uttering a William Wallace yell and leading this rag tag army to freedom, but I knew it wasn’t going to happen. So I grabbed Sing-ga and pulled him out the door, taking one last look at the defeated guards lying on the ground as I left. Man, I wish I had my camera!

I didn’t know where Ain-Mai was, but I went in the direction I had seen them take her. Sing-ga seemed to have recovered a little and was trying to keep up with me, although it was hard. I was probably sprinting. The corridor we were in was mostly deserted. I say mostly because every now and then, we would come across one of those funny little four-legged creatures about a foot tall that moved really slowly. We flew by them and they didn’t seem to pay us any attention.

The corridor ended before too long, opening into a monstrously big room and even as hyped up as I was, I stopped short in amazement. I couldn’t tell how big the room was—perhaps half a mile square and a few hundred feet high. It was filled with thousands of cages suspended by chains from the ceiling. A lot of the cages were empty, but I saw figures in some of them. At the same time, there were cages being raised and lowered from holes in the ceiling.

I didn’t know what to do. The corridor ended here and I couldn’t see Ain-Mai anywhere. Sing-ga was gasping and reeling behind me as if he had just run a marathon.

empty cage

A cage began to descend from the ceiling, about two hundred feet away from us, and inside I saw Ain-Mai. She was crouched in the corner of the cage and a few strands of her long, black hair came out through the bars and floated in the open air.

I didn’t think hard on the situation; I just acted. The closest cage to me was about fifteen feet away horizontally, but also about twenty feet up. The walls were covered with overlapping plates that stuck out and gave a lot of good hand and footholds. I bounded up this, and then, when I was a little bit above the closest cage, I leaped.


The World of Darkness and Dragons – Fantastic Travelogue #9

Sometimes you have some amazing adventures you just have to tell everyone about. Read the rest of this account here.

Synopsis: I was hiking in the mountains of Korea when I got lost at night and came out in a strange valley. I couldn’t understand anyone, but I found out they knew Chinese characters. I met a young woman name Ain-Mai, and later, her brother Sing-ga. While I was there, a creepy woman appeared. Ain-Mai and her brother told me that the creepy woman was named Hengfel and came from another world. She came there to eat a certain fruit called gaan-shi and also kidnapped all the men she found, which was why the men hid when she came. The brother and sister tried to help me escape but Hengfel’s guards overtook us in the woods and captured us. I tried to escape, but the guards seemed to be insanely fast, and recaptured me. At night, Hengfel stood on the stone circle and when she held up a medallion, light gathered around her. Then she was gone. The guards pushed us onto the stone circle too, and the light surrounded us.

World of Darkness and Dragons

I think I’m dead, I thought.

The brilliant light coming from the stone circle had enveloped me and for a timeless moment, I felt suspended in a world of empty light that seemed to burn out the inside of my head. Then I found that there was something solid under my feet and the utter brilliance faded to a blackness filled with the kind of flashing colors you get if you look at the sun for too long.

I don’t know how long it took me to recover, but slowly I began to hear voices around me. They had an echoing quality, as if we were in a cathedral. I realized that I had fallen to my knees when someone grabbed my arm and pulled me to my feet. I opened my eyes and looked around.

Even under the circumstances, I was blown away by what I saw. We were standing in a huge round room a few hundred feet in diameter and at least that tall. The floor was carved like the stone circle in the forest clearing, only much, much bigger. Around the outside was a trench or chasm, so that the only way to get to the outer wall was by three bridges that spanned. Strips of light around the walls and on the floor lit up the fantastic scene.

The strangest thing were the creatures that were moving around in the open air above us. They were about fifteen feet long and looked like thick, hairy snakes with clawed legs and horses’ heads. In fact, they looked a lot like the Chinese version of a dragon.

Ain-Mai and Sing-ga were both standing next to me, staring around them with a disbelieving expression that was probably very similar to what was on my face. Now that we were here, amazement temporarily drowned out our fear.

The world of darkness and dragons

Then I saw Hengfel, the old witch herself, and all my fear and apprehension came flooding back. She was on the back of a large red dragon and flew straight out one of the three large doors. That made me feel better, for the moment. The further away she was, the happier I was.

A procession of little creatures was moving slowly towards us from the opposite direction. They were dark gray and very short and broad—about a foot tall and about as wide—with flattened heads, four legs and two long arms. They each took one of the baskets of fruit and moved slowly back. It was a weird sight.

The guards herded me, Ain-Mai and Sing-ga towards the third door. As we went over the bridge, I looked down into utter blackness. The bridge was about twenty feet wide, but had no railing. Beyond the bridge were two doors that opened to each side as we approached.

Everything in that place seemed to be huge. As we walked through the towering gate, I saw we were on a stone path fifty feet wide and hundreds of feet high. Everything was lit by strips of pale-yellow light along the walls. Next to the path was another trench that went down out of sight. It was lit up and I tried to go to the edge to see how far down it went, but I was pushed back into place.

We probably walked half a mile along that path and then through smaller corridors until we came to a large door with windows on either side. Inside, I could see a well-lit room filled with men sitting around or standing. The guards opened the door and pushed me and Sing-ga inside. I heard Ain-Mai’s anguished cry just before the doors shut. We ran to the windows and watched as they led her away.

Even today the thought of that room makes me shudder a little. It was well lit and nicely decorated in green and gold. There were probably forty males in it, just sitting listlessly or wandering around slowly. I say they were all male, although they weren’t all human. You know how you can tell if someone is male or female in a glance, but you might not be able to articulate why you know that? It was like that. I could tell they were male, even though I wasn’t sure why I knew.

They were all dressed very nice, but the way they were moving reminded me of a movie scene of a mental institution, where everyone is drugged up or catatonic. Still, the overall effect of the room brought a very uncomfortable word to mind: harem. If the guys were all replaced with nubile women, I wouldn’t have doubted it at all.

Sing-ga started running through the room, looking at all the men and calling something out over and over again. None of the men said anything to him and very few even looked at him. They were almost like zombies, although less interested in the world around them.

He finally stopped and sat down on a bench by the wall. I went and sat by him.

“You are looking for someone?” I wrote—or tried to—with my finger on the cushion of the bench. Still, he understood.

“Father,” he wrote. “He was taken when I was small. I thought he was here.”

I wanted to say I was sorry, but I didn’t know how to write it, so I just nodded.

Then he pointed to himself, and then drew out the Chinese character for woman.

He’s a woman? I thought. However, he kept going, drawing earnestly with his finger again and again until I understood. He had a wife, back in Dwengshink. And two children. My heart sank more and more as he kept going. He had risked himself—both he and Ain-Mai—just to help me. Now we were all paying for it.

I told him I had a wife too and we silently commiserated with each other, drawing out characters with our fingers on the cushioned bench where we sat.

The guards interrupted us a few minutes later to hand us new clothes to wear: green satin overalls that belted around the chest, waist and legs. I was wearing jeans, an increasingly dirty T-shirt, and a hoodie, and I had no intention of changing into anything else. So I spit on the guard: a big loogie right in the chest. She didn’t do anything, except pull out two small metal vials and hand them to us, making motions to drink. I poured mine on the ground.

Yeah . . . that apparently wasn’t a good idea. A minute later, I had bruises forming all over me, a slight concussion, and I had two guards holding me down while another poured another vial of liquid down my throat. I tried to struggle but they held me like a vise. I saw two more doing something similar to Sing-ga.

The liquid they poured down my throat tasted slightly sweet, with a bitter aftertaste. As soon as I had drunk it, they let me up, pointed to the clothes, and then left.

Sing-ga started to get drowsy right away. I could see it in his face and the sudden unsteadiness of his movements. He looked at the clothes, gave a little shrug and started to put them on, until I stopped him. I didn’t feel any difference at first, but then I started to feel really good, as if I had all the energy in the world. I almost felt like I could fly. The ceiling of the room was about fifteen feet up and when I jumped, I almost touched it. I punched the bench where we were sitting and my fist smashed right through it. It didn’t hurt at all. Whatever they had given me, I loved it.

And now I couldn’t wait for the guards to come back.


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