I am running. I look behind me, and I can’t see him, but I know He’s there. He’s always there. Around a corner, behind a door. He’s always there, relentless as the sands of time.
I am running up the stairs of the tower. Around and around they spiral, up to the clouds. I keep looking behind me, to see how close the pursuer is. As I crest the top of the stair and run onto the platform at the top, I see Him out of the corner of my eye, several flights of steps below me.
I watched you run up the stairs, around and around the tower. Below you, He continued His deliberate chase. He never seemed to rush, insofar as anyone would be able to know anything about him.
I saw you turn, just as you reached the platform. I saw the recognition of the inevitable in your eyes. I saw the fear. I wanted to help you but there is no Helping you.
I see the girls. They are always there somehow, pretty, lovely Tweedle-Dees, identical but different. I can never remember if it’s the blonde one with the blue eyes or the dark-haired one with the green eyes that serves him in this world? Or which world this is, for that matter.
There are doors, they hang on nothingness, as if the firmament they are bolted too has been nullified, leaving the hinges solid and strong and attached to nothing. I know if I were to run behind them, the doors would vanish.
The blonde one points to the door on the left, the green-eyed one to the door on the right. I have to think. I turn, I see him, pushing through the crowd. They seem oblivious to him, almost like they don’t want to see him, and so filter him out.
Too many questions. Left or right? Which world am I in? Light or shadow? How close is He?
You have always stumbled when the girls present you with this choice. You always get caught up, somehow, fail to be able to tell which is which. It’s almost like you can’t remember where you are, sometimes. Or who they are. Like you weren’t really in your own body.
He continued to close on you as you stood frozen by indecision, distracted or overwhelmed by choice. He floated through the crowd, a spectre they couldn’t see but only feel. They melted away from His touch, avoided being caught in His shadow. He frightened me badly, this antlered, cloaked ghost, this Grey Death.
Which door, left or right? Light or shadow? Stand or flee? Your plight broke my heart, broke my mind. How could I help you when I didn’t even understand what I was seeing?
Suddenly I remember. Light. This is Light. The blonde one had whispered it to me last time as she left me. I turn to see where He is. Closer still, His antlers marking him in a crowd that is parting like Moses’ red sea to make way for him. There is nothing between him and I now except emptiness.
He is going to catch me.
Light. I look back at the girls, identical and different, and grab the green eyed one by the wrist. I beg her to open the door, to let me pass. She pushes it back on its hinges, the Heavy wooden surface melting into the darkness behind.
I feel His breath on my neck as I pull Her through the door, I feel the icy cold of His shadow on my back. If I turned, I’d see the empty hood that hides his face, the antlers that sprout from his head.
I hear the scream that freezes my blood and seals His victory. Then we are through, and I hear the heavy, world-shaking thud of the door as it closes.
It was as if suddenly you were real again, like you had come back. The blank look on your face gave way to understanding. You turned, I could see the fear on your face as you marked His position. The crowd parted in front of him, clearing the path for His victory.
You grabbed the brown-haired one’s wrist, said something to her. She nodded, and moved toward the door she had been pointing at. A strange door, hinged on nothingness. She pushed at it and it swung backward. I couldn’t see what was beyond it.
He had closed on you. I could hear his victory call, a screeching, piercing scream that resonated through my whole body. He had you.
And then suddenly you and the girl were through the door, and it slammed shut with an earth-shattering bang.
And then I wake up.
And then I woke up.