Drift Man

She opened her eyes slowly, the way a heavy door heaves open on a winter night. After blinking for a few moments, she gasped. She was floating, as if she were suspended in water, and her hair swirled around like loose kelp. She felt no pressure or substance on her skin. Everything was empty.

Wondering if this was a dream, the girl scanned her surroundings. She found nothing but darkness, and for a second she thought that she was in space, but there were no stars, planets, or moons as far as she could perceive. It was as if she were trapped nowhere, in a blank space of time, no way in or out.

Just as she was starting to panic, she spotted a faint flicker of light in her peripheral vision. She squinted. Something was heading toward her, or rather, someone. Steadily, the outline of a tall, cloaked man came into focus.

At first, the girl thought that the man had been walking towards her, but she realized that he was on some sort of hover board, and that he was actually gliding through the void. The man was outfitted in an odd assortment of gear and clothing. He wore a garish, oversized coat with buttoned and unbuttoned of pockets all over. In his hands, he held a copper lamp and a small, oblong disk that resembled a compass. A length of tundra white rope slung across his left shoulder, and on his waist, he carried a belt that hosted an array of unidentifiable objects. The girl glanced at his face. His expression was tired but kind. What struck her most were his eyes—they were glowing, it seemed, a blazing shade of magenta.

She attempted to say something, but when she spoke, no sound came out. The man smiled through his spotty beard and the corners of his eyes crinkled. He then took the length of rope from his shoulder, tied one end around his waist, and flung out the other end, motioning for her to grasp on. She caught the rope, nodding, head reeling with questions.

The man took another object from a pocket on his sleeve and clenched it in his fist. After five seconds, he opened his palm, and the object grew and grew. Once it stopped, the girl saw that it had become another hover board, similar to the man’s but slightly smaller. He gently nudged it toward her and it floated right into her arms. He beckoned her to step on, and she gingerly placed her feet on top. A curious sensation followed, as if her feet had been suctioned onto the board.

The man made several more hand motions, which she could not understand, though he seemed to be looking at something behind her rather than at her. Turning around, the girl barely caught sight of a pallid, masked individual when, abruptly, she was jerked forward.

The man had reversed the orientation of his hover board so that he was heading the way he came. The girl trailed behind, gripping onto the thick rope. Her hair streamed backwards and her clothes rustled, but she felt no air rushing past. She wondered who the man was and where he was taking her.

She glanced back. The masked individual had vanished.

Then a peculiar thing happened. The void around her began to part on both sides, like waves edging from the shore, until a thin, purple path was formed in between, and the black walls towered infinitely above. Like God parting the Red Sea for Moses, she thought. As they rushed through the void, which was beginning to look more like a trench, the girl noticed the man stowing away the compass-like disk and removing another small object from the rear of his tool belt. He brought the item in front of his face, but the girl could only see the tousled grey hair at the back of his head.

All at once, a myriad of images filled the black walls. She saw strange creatures, fantastic cities, abandoned homes, and startling, nightmarish sights. Each scene, image, and apparition had a distinct quality of nostalgia, though the girl could not recall where she had seen them.

They continued to pass through, the tall man guiding the way, the girl clinging on. The light in the distance was growing and swallowing the edges of the darkness. Out of nowhere, a splatter of purple dropped in front, like a splash of watercolor on paper.

The next thing she knew, the hover board had somehow vanished. She was falling. She shut her eyes and braced for impact, but something tugged at the end of her rope and her hands tensed, her feet inches dangled above a non-existent ground. Ahead, the man floated down effortlessly and took the rope from her hands. All around was a mass of purple, swirling mist.

He faced her with a gentle expression and spoke with a voice like cedar wood and distant thunder. The words were deafening in the enveloped silence.

“Welcome to your dream, dear.”


[fiddling with ideas. revisions later.]

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