by John Andreula
Edited by Kodid Laraque-Two Elk
Dreams come and go.
Yet sometimes, dreams linger long after the dreamer awakens.
Some people think dreams send messages the conscious mind will not otherwise see.
Others believe the dream itself is the message, in its entirety.
The message communicated through these types of dreams is considered prophetic.
It’s vision most people cannot see.
A subtle breeze swept across the makeshift campsite. The embers of the dying fire flickered and popped.
Ty peered through his drowsy eyelids. The light from the modest campfire had begun to fizzle and fade. Night was about to give way to the oncoming day.
A few times throughout the night Ty considered letting the fire die and giving in to his ever-escalating exhaustion. But he didn’t want to sleep.
Each time, the drifter instead threw another log or two onto the fire.
Ty was many things, but he was not unrealistic. He would succumb and fall asleep for a couple hours tomorrow night or the next, but not tonight. He would sleep eventually, but sleep meant dreams.
Ty’s dreams weren’t pleasant. A brother shot in the face, silently judging him, a murder committed a lifetime ago, and many other miscellaneous losses of innocence from throughout his life all turned up eventually; whenever the young traveler decided to let the impulsive need to recharge through unconscious rest win over.
The young vagrant stirred while he lay on his side. As always, this night had been a long one. Yet, this past evening was incredibly peaceful. It seemed different from many of the others on the road. It was near time to get up and move on.
The moment Ty arrived at his decision to break camp an ethereal wind passed through the meadow, hiding deep within this rural forest. A charred log crackled, reinvigorating the moribund fire. The gust was just strong enough to stoke the flames back to life. The blaze rose far too high, considering just the one blackened log was all that fueled it.
Ty’s consciousness snapped back into his body. He rose lazily into a sitting position.
The orange-red flame coiled and twisted in the air. Ty wondered whether he was actually awake, or if he was just having a rare dream that didn’t involve the details from the worst memories of his life.
The fire seemed to stretch and fold over upon itself. Lengths of it fell and settled on the ground below. Each section layered on top of the one before, forming a stack. The longest strands of flame lay on the bottom, each above shorter than the last, until a pyramid formed inside the ashen fire-pit.
The tip of the newly constructed pyramid of blaze rose from its coiled base below. It rounded into an oblong shape and stretched upward. The lengthy inferno began to sway somewhat. Then it folded over into a point and unmistakably faced Ty, who sat cross-legged in the dirt and weeds.
The swaying tip of the flame formed into a serpent’s head. The snake had midnight black eyes. Only the reflection of the flame body below showed.
The flame-beast pivoted its ophidian head slightly as if it were stretching its neck. The snake yawned, revealing four fangs the same black as its eyes. A yellow-orange bifurcated tongue rose from the gaping depth that was the back of its throat.
It closed its mouth as if the fire animal had been corporeal the entire time. The tongue exited and reentered the mouth as if in some unheard rhythm. The tip of the flame-snake’s tail rose from behind itself. A moment later it appeared to Ty to be a rattle, the next second the form blurred in the inferno.
The snake stared into Ty’s cold brown eyes, and Ty stared back, unflinching and unafraid.
The young man shifted in his seat. He was uneasy around snakes. It was obvious to him that this snake was either a figment of his imagination, or an odd dream.
The flame-snake emitted a low, but deep, echoing hiss. As if it were momentarily a normal fire, the flames of its body shook as the next breeze rolled through it.
Then, as if inhaling while forming its words, the snake spoke to Ty. “You…” It struggled, as though it were learning to use its serpent mouth to make human sounds.
“Sssshe will need you…” the snake hissed on. “You mussst go to her…Find her…You will need her asssss well…”
The snake’s voice echoed off into the distant edge of the woods. Ty processed what he was seeing, and what he had just heard. He continued to stare unblinking, and non-emotive. The flames flickered. For a moment it was more fire than snake.
After a few seconds passed Ty finally replied to the fire snake, “Is this real?..Are you…real?”
“I am,” the echo-hiss acknowledged.
“Am I dreaming?”
“You are…” it went on, “Thisss isss a true dream, and at once-ssss, no dream.”
The snake hesitated. It’s head glanced some point in the distance. Ty continued listening, and watching.
“Heed thessse words, traveler…The girl needsss you…You mussst ssssave her…Sssshe issss in danger…Only sssshe can ssssave you…Only sssshe can ssssave ussss.”
The flame snake looked off in the distance again, and then, instantaneously, the charred log burst apart. The blaze petered off into sparks and smoke.
The flame snake was no more. The remains of the fire spread into a final choking gasp of oxygen. Only dim orange embers remained in the pale of the breaking daylight.
“I don’t understand.” Ty spoke impatiently into the gray-white smoke that remained. The snake had been there just a moment before.
Ty stood up and peered off through the trees. The sun’s fingernail edge was rising in the east. “Leave me be, dreams.” Ty spoke into the sunrise. “Go bother someone else.”
Vision is part of an ongoing fiction epic called The Dreamer.
If you haven’t read it from the whole story from the beginning, check it out here.
Look out for more of The Dreamer coming very soon!
John Andreula is a writer and dreamer residing in the foothills of Colorado.
More of his works of can be found at:
Reach him for commission work or media requests at: