“There is no greater horror than the Dream. He creeps into our mind and
exposes parts of ourselves nobody else is aware of—parts we long buried into
the pit of denial and cowardice. Sometimes he plays the angel that calls us
into paradise and sometimes he’s the demon that drags us into hell—ignoring our
screams of terror . . .”
I could see the speck of light gently
flickering in the distance. But the night continued to loom over me. And, boy,
could I feel it—it was like a ghost dragging me through the woods. An estranged
moon hung above a blanket of shrouding clouds, mystifying the orb of
night—allowing it only to reveal itself occasionally. The cold wind was just as
erratic; rattling through the skeletal trees; tormenting the little life that
prevailed in the dying leaves. I could almost hear it carry along a few fading
whispers. I could not articulate them, but my senses told me they were
warnings—warnings that made my walk a heavy one.
I knew I was
dreaming. I had dreamed this dream many times before, but had always forced
myself awake. I was always too terrified to endure it. It was like a ghost
that writhed within my darkness and wouldn’t stop haunting me until I found
whatever light thrived within. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to reach. Stumbling
through my darkness would reveal the most horrific of all things a man could
live with (and trust me, I had been contemplating suicide for the longest
time). But why not try? Why not discern whether or not even I, the devil among
demons, could have my soul saved? It was only ironic that I was to act as my
The pressure became overwhelming, so I
leaned against a tree to rest awhile. I would have sat down if not for the
countless insects scratching around the hard soil. I bade my heart to still,
and my breath to shorten, but a sudden roar in the near-distance disrupted my
There toiled behind me the shadow of a
wolfish beast. Its bristly black fur was swayed stunningly with a harsh gust.
Its eyes burned red: it wanted to kill me and anything else that would bleed… I
It was only a few leaps away from me
when I was fortunate enough to find a climbable tree. I scaled it just in time,
but it didn’t make me feel any safer. The beast roared at me, revealing
slime-covered fangs. It wanted to devour me as much as I wanted to escape.
But that was impossible. I was clung to
a branch for about an hour before I succumbed to my senses (and lost my mind).
If I was dreaming, then surely I could conquer whatever beast challenged me.
I betrayed my fear and leapt towards it
to create some space between us, it having recoiled. It turned around in
response to another roar—one more bellowing than its own. Upon finding the
source of the thunderous outcry, there toiled a surprisingly smaller beast. Its
fur was much smoother than its nemesis; glowing with a radiant whiteness in
I decided to take a gamble and kick the
black beast's tail, which thankfully made it scurry towards its competitor. I
didn’t see the white beast as a competitor though, for it surely protracted my
ruin. The echoes of their bickering snarls died away as they vanished into the
What kinds of demons were they? Perhaps
they belonged to me? I suppose I was like each beast: The black one, who
mercilessly hounds and devours; and the white one, who tirelessly attempts to
fight off the other. Did that epitomise my constant struggle within—a
never-ending battle between good and evil? If they were my demons though, which
others remained lurking in this forest? Fear urged me to escape; to awaken; but
the desire to find redemption drove me on.
An hour passed, then another. My eyes
didn’t go unchallenged. The forest was smothered in thick, black haze of the
darkest night. The light flickering in the distance was my only compass.
Upon stumbling further through the
woods, I happened to find an oblong-shaped sign, which read, in a bold tone: Here
lays the soul of the wolf who roars. Here lays the son of the morning. Here
The harshness of the winds rose as they soared my
way. They carried a grainy substance that seeped into my nostrils—sand or
something of the sort.
I carried on to see the light grow nearer and the
forest gain shape, becoming less a formless array of utter darkness. Strangely,
the nearer the light became, so too did the warmth of it. My lips began to chap
and my throat parched.
Before my feet came a pair of gleaming eyes. They
glared up to me, glistening like a pair of sweltering coals. I could barely
distinguish its slender figure upon the brittle dead leaves.
“Who stretches before me?” it asked, its voice
tinged with the hiss of its reptilian tongue.
“A talking snake?” I replied.
“Indeed, what of it?”
“What exactly do you epitomise?”
“Listen and the winds will tell you.”
I obliged to do so, only to hear the empty rush of
gusts swaying through the forestry plains. The snake hissed on.
“Yes, they speak no order to you. It’s because you
have little soul left. But if you agree to wake now, I promise you will live a
life free of the haunting of your sins.”
“I can’t. I must reach the light.”
“And then what? Do you even know what you will see
“No, but I sense it will purge me clean of my
“It will, I dare not deceive you. But you will pay
the price of your body in order to regain your soul. You will not make it out
“What does that mean?”
“It’s no matter. I am tired of crawling through
this darkness. If you are willing to wake, then all here will die, including
me. So I beg the bargain of you waking to a life free of sin in order to rid me
of my misery. I ask this, one last time.”
“I am sorry, but I must be punished by my demons as
I’ve punished others with them. I will reach the light and redeem myself justly,
even if it breaks my body as you warn.”
“Fine! Have it your way!” With a rattling hiss, the
snake pounced towards my leg and bit it, infecting my body with poison. It then
slithered into the darker shadows of the forest.
I fell to my knees, clenching my wound tightly.
This may have been a dream, but this pain was very real. So too was the
sensation of dehydration. It was a familiar feeling—having once suffered
sunstroke in Afghanistan. I knew I had little time left now, so I struggled to
my feet and stumbled on.
Upon closing in on the light, it grew much brighter
than the flicker it once seemed. It even glowed bright enough for its
surroundings to be fully exposed. Although it began to scorch my skin, I was
certain I’d make it now.
halted. The wind roared much more eerily along my arm hairs than it had before.
The unswerving gusts formed into a chaotic squall as thick drops of blood
rained heavily upon the woods. The Forest became angry. I didn't know what was
about to happen, but whatever it was, wasn’t going to be good.
I saw the dark
ominous figure of a man emerge from a shadow of clustered trees. He stepped
into the radiant light that shined before me. His face was covered by the
shadow of a hood that crept over his head. He wore a black cloak and wielded a
large, silvery scythe. When he stepped closer, a gunshot wound on his chest was
revealed. It was then when I recognised who he was.
“Kurt . . .” I gasped. My words fell
thin amidst the heavy winds, but I knew he heard me. He halted to drop his robe
and reveal himself. Blood stopped pouring from the skies and the winds soared
with a swift rush, halted at their highest point, then danced for a few
moments, until they finally became drowned by a gentle ocean of silence.
“A ghost of your past, eh brother?” he
joked. His hoarse voice was surreal. How ironic that it made everything no
longer feel so dreamlike, just as had the pain of the snakebite.
He stared at me awhile, dead in the
eye, as if to raise the significance of his own presence. Then finally, he once
more let his voice pierce the deafening silence, “What was the last thing I
said to you before you pulled the trigger?”
Was I supposed to answer that?
“And, yes, you are supposed to answer
He knew me too well. “I said I was
As if seeing through flames, his eyes
scorched with sudden, burning rage. “Sorry don’t cut it, Luce!”
“I know, Kurt.”
“I tried to haul your ass in, that’s
“But I didn’t mean to kill her.”
“You still killed her.”
A gentle wind loomed behind me, while
my eyes drifted drearily to the empty shadows beyond the disarrayed rows of
trees. I let my eyes drift back again until they met his. “Look,” I said. “Did
you ever marry—even once?”
“Let me guess: She left you? After you
got pissed at the smallest of things? After you woke up screaming your ass off
from the nightmares? After you smashed your fist through doors?” His eyes
gained a glimmer of compassion. I went on, “And she tells you, ‘You need help!’
and sends you to see a shrink. But you never go, because you know what we saw
out there. You know the crazy shit we went through. You know there ain’t no
help for that kind of fucked up shit, Kurt.”
“I get what you’re saying, man. But
you’re wrong—she didn’t leave me. I left her.”
“And why is that?”
“Because if I didn’t, I would’ve killed
her. Just like you.”
The force of gravity became heavier
upon my shoulders. I knew I couldn’t reach the light that was only a few
marches on. The weight was unbearable, but perhaps if he forgave me, I’d be
able to continue walking. “Kurt… I’m s—”
“I know what you’re gonna say,” he
interrupted. “But I already forgive you, man. I get it, you know that. But only
she can save your soul.”
He put his cloak back on and traced
back into the shadows, from where came a feminine figure.
“Hey, you,” said Eva. Her voice…her
voice! Once again it swarmed my ears with its soothing tone. It climbed into
what was left of my soul and filled it with bliss. But a bliss tinged with the
bittersweetness of remorse. I didn’t respond. I didn’t know how to. “You were
never much of a talker,” she joked.
“Are you real?” I asked.
“Don’t be stupid, Lucifer. You know
this is just a dream.”
“But the snakebite...the pain feels so
“That’s because you’ve been bitten by a
snake in the waken world.”
I squinted. That’s all
she needed to read my mind.
remember, do you? You’re in the desert. You tried to cross the border to Mexico
and you passed out under the heat. You’ve been bitten by a snake.”
My mind rattled with muddles of elapsed
memories. I couldn’t understand them as a whole, but they told me enough to
know I was trying to get away with what I did, before Kurt got to me. He was a detective
and fellow ex-ranger. He was as excellent a detective as he was a soldier. He
was also an excellent friend and shared with me the strongest of bonds. It
didn’t take long before Kurt discovered I murdered my wife.
“You remember now?” asked Eva.
“He found me at the wrong time. I had
my mind set on Mexico and he reached me when I got to the southern edge of
“He tried to give you the freedom to go
in without cuffs and your chin up high. Typical Kurt, he was always too naïve.”
I stared blankly at her feet. “But a
great man nonetheless.”
“And I, a great woman?”
The sarcasm was obvious. It struck me
like a bullwhip. “Eva…”
“Save it, Lucifer. You don’t have much
time left.” A tear of blood wriggled down her cheek.
“May I…?” I wiped it away. Empathy
rushed into her face as she feebly gazed into my eyes.
That was the most beautiful thing about
her. That look. The expression of it.
She was no stranger to hurt. And love was always her gateway to pain. But I had
the ability to draw her into a place where she would be comfortably helpless. A
place where she’d completely risk surrendering herself to my love and her love
for me—an ultimate expression of confidence and affection. “You do know that
look is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen?” I whispered.
She grinned. Then a pain struck my
heart and had me fall to my knees. Eva followed and held me against her breast.
“I’m not gonna make it, am I?” I asked,
cowering against her tightly.
“Your body might not, but your soul
The light beyond me began radiating
much brighter than it did before. With the lifting of the darkness went the
howling of my demons. Their cries rose painfully for an instant, until they
forever died away. The winds did too. The forest finally went calm.
“What happened?” I whimpered.
“Redemption, Lucifer,” she replied. “It
has found you at last.”
“Does that mean I can wake up now?”
“Lucifer, do you know what snakebite
represents in a dream?”
“You and your dream meanings,” I
mocked, until an overwhelming pain had me submit to her will to speak. “Go on.”
“It represents a wake-up call. A sign
that you’re on a profound journey of personal transformation.”
I looked up at her with as much a smile
as I could give. She went to kiss me…
I woke and saw the sun. Then black.