Chapter 3 of The Book of Seasons began last Saturday, and now a week later we continue that chapter with the third of the four dreams for our pompous little narrator. Enjoy…
The Book of Seasons
chapter three, continued
The dream became darkness, and I was confused, because I was now very cold. My limbs ached, and my back, as though I had lain uncomfortably for an excruciatingly long time. And it was damp; I could feel the cold wetness in my joints as the aches throbbed, and hollowly, distantly, echoingly, I could hear a steady, somewhat irregular dripping.
I lay in a dank, unlit place. A cave, I thought, as the constant whine of the wind soughing and howling through the earth became apparent. A rough, cold draft blew across me lengthwise. I was naked.
Suddenly light flickered and glowed beyond my head. I could not see the source, so I tried to twist around to see, and discovered that I was bound. I waited. In a moment a woman came to my right side. She was tall, with thick dark hair hanging onto her shoulders in heavy curls. She wore a simple white satin shift which fit her closely from neck to ankles; nothing beneath. Her arms were bare and pale, her eyes dark blue and deeply set. I did not recognize her, but she was very beautiful. Her lips, I noticed, were extremely red, and she had crimson polish on her nails, both in stark contrast with her pale skin.
She carried a stake of holly or some other small plant in her left hand and a small clay pot in her right. She stood silent, smiling mysteriously.
Suddenly another light at my feet. Craning my head upward with difficulty I looked painfully down my body. A young man dressed in brown was placing a torch in a niche beside a low manmade entry; the passage beyond was mere darkness. I could see, however, that the place was indeed a cavern. We three were within a small natural chamber, improved and evened by human chiseling.
The fellow finished placing his torch and came to my left side. He was very young-looking, smooth faced, with sleek light brown hair. He had brown, rather wide eyes. He looked at me, it seemed with a soft, pitying expression. Then he looked at the woman and spoke.
“The days are weakening.”
“I believe so,” she replied tonelessly.
“Today the sun has stood still.”
“It’s done so before.”
He reached into a pocket of his ochre garment; it was a simple kirtle. From the pocket he removed an apple. “I have the fruit. It fell from the tree into my left hand.”
“Your right hand is empty?”
He placed the apple on my chest, just left of the sternum. “I am prepared.”
The woman handed him the plant in her left hand. It was mistletoe, I realized. He took it in both hands; it was large and long, like a knife almost. I noticed it was cut to an extremely sharp point. She dipped the forefinger of her left hand into the clay pot, coaching the fingertip with a sticky thick red liquid. With that finger she made twelve small marks on my chest, in a circle around the apple. Then she reached over me and painted a single letter D on the young man’s for head, saying, “It is the dark of the moon, end of the oak.”
“Life is water,” the young man shrugged.
“Strike then the star,” she ordered unemphatically.
The young man raised the sprig high over me in both hands, holding it like a knife, his narrow face impassive, his clear eyes mild, and plunged the needle point through the heart of the apple over my heart, and downward.
I wanted to wake screaming.
Yes, I wanted to make a big, dramatic ending to this dream, the nightmare of the quartet (although those two from last weekend were not very comfortable dreams). Probably too corny, although real writers get away with that kind of crap all the time (and Dan Brown gets away with some of the worst writing I have ever read—but more on that subject later).
More dreams from the Hotel Allison (the final one) for tomorrow.