Follow that will and that way which experience confirms to be your own.

–Carl Jung

Waking Nightmares

In a shrinking space, going inward, in reverse.
Give me those bright lights.
Take away the wealth of joy.
Grind into the ground until the dirt is under my nails and in my teeth.
Put the leather whip around my neck and pull me into the stratosphere and lights lit by citrus.
Take the pulse away.
Grasp tightly the vines, as brittle as bone, as supple as neon under black light, green and gregarious. Making mirror patterns against a cave night sky.
Deeper there is a fire unseen. Smoke chokes the skin. Rock hiss at cold shadows.
Somewhere deep, magma sloshes and churns with the tides. But that’s not where they came from, it’s just where they live.
Behind all the granite and bone and neurons, right behind the eyes in that place you can never see.
Some whisper louder than others. Some dance while you sleep. Some rage in shackles, boasting of the night when they will finally run free. Some mock, accuse, or shout.
But they always whisper.
Stay put. Fear. Fear. Fear another day that isn’t like this one.
That tomorrow just might be the day that the sun doesn’t rise. Today just might be the day it doesn’t set.
They’ll be the things left behind, once everything else has been carried away.
Seeping through the cracks, climbing down synaptic ladders, until they are as deep as they can go.
Something is here. Breathing. Watching me.

It’s only now I struggle to wake up. Only after it’s too late.

A shadow leaps on me, and digs into my shoulders to leap up, up, and…

It wakes up before I do.

It’s freezing in my bedroom when I wake up, but I’m still sweating, still kicking off sheets.

Shivering and nauseous, I throw my feet onto the floor and my head collapses into my hands and murmurs “what have I done?” over and over, but the only thing that escapes my lips is a groan.

4:14 and still deep night outside. The pieces of the dream are slipping away. The only things left are emotions. Hate. Despair. Frustration. Autumn. Anger. Blood. And the heat of some new life in the world.

I throw on layers of clothing, my thickest jacket swoops over my shoulders as I slam my arms through and into the morning-night. Not many animals of the city are awake. Grumbling garbage and shipping trucks beginning their migrations. A few humans, too drunk to go home, or too desperate to stay there, waver over asphalt and concrete.

The city shudders and whimpers, fearful of death, but hoping it will be quick when it comes. The same thing we all hope for. No, Oakland, it’s not your time. Not yet. Not if I can help it.

I brush a tear off my cheek, only adding to the chill. A leather tail of shadow lashes and flicks, riding a wind into the hills. Much too fast. Better get the car. I’m not going to catch it before it crowns a demon king.

Aemilia is going to kill me.

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