Through Heavy Veils of Dreaming

P.S. My dearest brother, I left this at the end, something I feel I should finally reveal to you, because I only had you that close to me so you wouldn’t find me insane – anyway, not before you would diligently pore over what I’m about to tell you.

I must confess that I felt reluctant at first whether to reveal to you my troubling experience I had, or to keep this silent forever. Because you see, for one thing, it seems that some of us need to see with their own eyes the deepest blackness to really understand life and mankind. Then I was thinking: are there people who through weakness and lack of experience stay captives of their first impressions such as they cannot pass beyond the dark specter of damnation once they see its hideous face in one form or another? I wish with all my heart something like that wouldn’t happen to anyone! Nevertheless, my inmost belief tells me that you, at least, don’t belong into that category; therefore, with your permission, I finally made up my mind to write down my short narrative…

I don’t know about your dreams, but I find comfort mostly in a rather gloomy world, where the evenfall and the night pass their time; and if you ask me about the colors that enliven it, as puzzled as I’d be, I’d be answering: Rather, what’s between color and non-color…

As I suppose it happens to most of us, I often find myself unaware of what I experience down there but when memories stand by you as some coffer under the armpit of a castaway after the storm sucked into the abyss all around him, through that coffer that not always carry treasures, I can relive lots of things: stripes of the real world, scenarios and frames entirely phantasized, streets, landscapes or people that seem to inhabit regularly my dreams; also completely new elements such as the majestic town-castle, the embodiment of an ageless mystery, whose buried-vault cellars and cobwebbed bridges I once frantically searched for God knows what relics and secrets. Some of my dreams are cut off (or this is all that could be saved during the journey between those two realms that deny one another) then resume with me running through senseless labyrinths or as a passenger on vehicles that howl into the night to some vague destination. Other times I dream of conspiracies, empires and wars, and I live every event through some wistful understanding, without the drama from the real world that can be yielded even by trivial conditions.


Copyright © 2013, Cristofor Arts

Copyright © 2013, Cristofor Arts


But once started as a bad joke, it went to poison the world I thought was only mine.

I had then right away the feeling that I met somebody I shouldn’t have, some strange manikin – featureless face, awkward movements and, above all, a sinister mood – who as I warily tried to disappear spoke to me without even looking in my direction, in a slow hollow voice: “Mihai… Mihai…”.

Darting away, I cast one look over my shoulder and saw its figure reshaping ever so clearer, while its movements became ever so firm, although still slow.

The smoldering echo, an omen of an estranged fright, urged me to run faster and farther away from that hellish sight, to do all I could to never see it again and cast it into oblivion forever. So, twisted buildings I put between me and her, streets turning into tunnels and precipices with derelict steps, whereabouts whose faded features surrounded only what interested me at the time: a great emptiness in the middle through which I was to find my rescue; but the singsong chattering kept following me:

“You can never get rid of me!” and a funereal hunch confirmed my deepest fears…I was aware that the unclean presence grew stronger, mastering ever so slightly the environment it manifested itself in, while I – a simple man – knew myself incapable of hiding forever.

I tried to find solace telling myself it couldn’t be so bad, that it wasn’t looking for me (after all, my name is not Mihai!), but all of a sudden a memory put a lump in my throat: I’d indeed found out that my father decided, before I was to come into the world, to name me Mihaela if I was to be born a girl, an ideea I later forgot all about it…

You know me, I do not fear easily, but I convinced myself then that nothing is more heart-rending and depressing than the idea that somewhere there is an animated creature with higher power, sent or escaped from who knows what hell, with the purpose of your hunting and annihilation.

“Wherever you go, I’ll catch up with you…” the repulsive singsong voice said and, from afar, the music of death stunned even my thoughts. All I could do was wait for that arrow already flying through the dark to reach with hellish accuracy the target it was meant for.

Oh, had I been able to brutally tear myself off from the arms of the nightmare, as those that try themselves out often do, I for sure wouldn’t have let myself fall asleep for a long time afterwards! Only I wasn’t to be given that chance…as the night of that dream wouldn’t want to meet the day! Indeed, as I was running (or rather trying to run – you know that desperate run when the feet feel like lead and you advance in slow motion no matter how hard you try), as I was trying to sneak through every nook and cranny to evade somehow my terrible fate, the gigantic cobweb of the nightmare (I understood it later) weaved differently around me, poisoning slowly even the reality, so after that night I woke up, but not in truth! Since then, I was to live my everyday life more or less like I used to…without really being myself. More to the point, I was still me, but deprived of that spark that defines us and whose absence turns us into automatons. Lost amongst these three planes, I became my own prisoner, ignoring entirely the drama of the dream where I was still a tireless fugitive waiting for his inexorable ending.

Are you aware that, without the bandage of the night, the trumpets of the real world would deafen us? Or the other way around: How long do you think a man could hold out into a dream without replenishing his strength into reality?

And tell me, brother, have you ever thought of the meaning of crucifixion? (well, I did, and while I was trapped as a mouse playing at by a cat before the final blow, death gnawed at my heart ever so little): all four limbs perfectly trapped, hanging over the abyss so that you can’t make a move, all four stone-still directions of the compass, of life on earth in fact, four torn-off seasons, as they stole from me the time itself measured by them…

I’d better stop here talking about my hopeless terror; no matter your faith or unfaith, if you didn’t experience such an encounter, into a dream or reality, rejoice! I’m not the one wanting you to live it, even through the eyes of the mind.

Sometime later, since I was feeling so pinned up, I made a gesture of stretching my arms even more, with hands unfisted, like in a hug of acceptance, a humble confrontation. It was relinquishing, not abandon, the will to throw myself entirely into… whatever awaited me. Strange, but it made me feel somehow stronger.

Then, at one time, I don’t know how or why, I caught my mind searching feverishly the theme of a song: “Your cross…gave it onto us.” How was it, how was it? Rather archaic upbeat verses, heard who knows when…

If I can’t remember something, I’m not at ease until I solve the problem, and even if I’m doing something else at the time, I let my mind work tirelessly until, sooner or later, it can decipher the hostile ‘code’.

So I was searching for the missing words like an archeologist who tries to remake an ancient ewer from two or three shards. I was going over what I cleared up already, but I kept stumbling on the gaps that kept staying blank. The cross – my childhood, a gesture over the pillow in the evening before bedtime, so I wouldn’t have bad dreams, the voice of my grandmother…

If I’d had a cross then, to protect me! But I gave up a long time ago wearing a cross, or any other pendant, watch or bracelet…But wait! I told myself. In one corner of the room, under the floor, where the plinth was missing, a rosary fell and I didn’t bother to search for it at the time. So here I was, scratching feverishly with my nails under the floor until I reached with my fingertips the rusty little cross.

Having the rosary around my wrist, I felt as a convict sentenced to the hole who took in wonder a gulp of air. I perfunctorily took every bead in turn, like some small heavy bullets – as I saw by chance those monks dressed all in black who, like in my dream, were fighting for their souls as I did – and I was thinking at their secret humming when, submerged in prayer, wheeled the rosary on their hands, but it wasn’t for me to know what they were saying…

“…weapon against devil, You gave us Your cross…” Any dessert flinches with all its being at the touch of a single drop of water.

“…weapon against devil, You gave us Your cross…” An unseen painter started to paint his finished picture while it flowed backwards.

We whispered over and over, as for the first time, the newly discovered verse and I realized since that the same word, same stroke of the brush, even repeatedly made by the thousands, never meant the same thing…

Like some big wheel of a clock that, stretching its limbs, trained the whole mechanism so that it could take again the measure of time, I was beginning to rediscover my own time, while the menace of the end vanquished forever like smoke, and the nightmare melted like wax by the fire…

And then, my dearest brother, I woke up in truth. Amongst wonderful people, dressed in white, whom I understood now better as I was like them entirely, and surely I was now able to love them more.

After many tests and examinations, the doctors found with stupor that I had no symptoms of sickness so, after a while, they couldn’t but let me go home. So… here I am, back to life.

*

In conclusion, I hope with all my heart, my dearest brother, that my little story hadn’t troubled you. I thought it would be good to explain to you why you haven’t heard of me at all for so long, but also that maybe my incident would be of some use to you, in a way or the other.

I always thought that, regardless of the risks, somewhere beyond us there are some realities that should never be concealed in graves where surely they could never be of help to anyone…

Translated from the Romanian by Dan BUTUZA

Despre Alexandru DAN

Alexandru DAN a scris 4 articole în Revista de suspans.

A publicat: - o povestire în genul gothic, în revista Gazeta SF nr. 11/2011, intitulată “Umbrele Transilvaniei”: http://fanzin.clubsf.ro/2011/10/umbrele-transilvaniei/ , - o povestire heroic fantasy (basm modern), în Revista Suspans, intitulată “Ochii himerei”: http://suspans.ro/literatura/proza/ochii-himerei, - o povestire gothic-fantasy-poliţistă (noir), în Revista Suspans, intitulată “Şantaj în negru”: http://suspans.ro/literatura/proza/santaj-in-negru, - o povestire S.F.-cyberpunk, intitulată „In martyria”, în revista Gazeta SF nr. 20/2012: http://fanzin.clubsf.ro/2012/09/in-martyria/ , - o povestire în genul SF postapocaliptic, în revista Nautilus din noiembrie 2012: http://revistanautilus.ro/povestiri/jurnalul-sfarsitului/ - un eseu despre Graal şi cavalerii mesei rotunde în Revista Suspans, “Cavalerul mesei rotunde, supraomul fără de timp”: http://suspans.ro/literatura/eseu/cavalerul-mesei-rotunde-supraomul-fara-de-timp .

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