Fantasy Fiction Holiday

  I was falling. The drop seemed to go on for ever. There was an old belief that, if you remembered hitting the ground, you would be dead. How would you know if you were dreaming? A paradox indeed. I was yet to experience even a bumpy landing but there was always an element of uncertainty. 

  I was still falling, and the ground beneath me had a solidarity that I did not want to encounter. Gravity was suddenly the most important force in my existence. It began to appear that a grave was the most likely outcome of this equation .

  I continued to fall but now directionality combined with gravity. I was indeed heading towards a grave . A specific grave. Whose grave would it be this time?

  Strangely there was no sense of impact as I passed through the portal. A momentary sense of cold sent a shiver through my being, then I was projected into an unfamiliar world.

   I fought to remember my name. Alice. So, this time , I was female. The second name eluded me for the moment. I looked around and let Alice's memories guide me in this unfamiliar territory. Ah yes, Alice Derbyshire. Gradually her essence merged with mine and for a while she and I became one.

   Melding like this was rarely pleasant and Alice's end had not been an easy one. I recalled the agony of her fiery end. Burnt at the stake. Witch! she was called. Her friends and neighbours had turned on her to save themselves. They invented accusations that led to her torture and ultimately to her death.

  Poor Alice. Guilty of nothing more than offering herbal potions. Maybe I had been sent back to save her, but at what cost? My dreams often led me into places I would never have chosen to go.

 No longer falling, I continued to move back in time. Now the sensation was more akin to leafing back through the pages of a book. Episodes from Aice's life flashed before me then were gone. She lived alone in a cottage on the outskirts of the village. People came to her for help. An infected wound, an unwanted pregnancy and, on occasions, a release from unbearable pain.

  She was younger now and the pages stopped turning. This was the point where my actions could change the course of history. An ancient body lay on the straw mattress. A being too wrinkled to even be certain of it was male or female.

  "Alice, " the voice croaked feebly. " Now is the time. You have the knowledge but only you can decide your future."

  I/Alice understood what she was asking. Would I take on the responsibilities? Dare I risk my life to become the caregiver of a village who would ultimately turn against me and denounce me to save themselves? Could I do enough good in the few years left to me to make the horror of my passing worthwhile? 

   I knew I had been sent here to give Alice a second chance. A small push inside her mind was all it took. A whispered thought." Say no".

    If I gave that nudge she would live a normal life. She would become a bride, a mother, a grandmother. Respected in her community. The tears at her parting would be shed by loved ones, touching her gently and easing her into the hereafter. 

   The old soul who had dedicated her life to the welfare of the villagers sighed deeply. She had tried her best but she knew that her time had come. Alice was her final choice but she could not influence her. I left without knowing her decision.

  Had I chosen correctly? Was my purpose to save Alice from a horrible ending or should I have nudged her into acceptance of her destiny? My dreams sent me to strange and varied destinations but I never knew whether my influence was for the best outcome or whether I did more harm than good. If I had changed Alice's life, was it a change she would come to regret? 

  I fell back into the arms of Morpheus and passed immediately into the dream state that indicated a journey into a different reality

 Again the sensation of falling but this time it did not culminate in a grave.

  I transitioned almost instantly into a small child. There was something strange about his mind. He was fearful and unable to deal with anything in his world thsy he perceived to be wrong or different. He/ I was assailed on all sides by sounds, smells, sights, a massive sensory overload. The furniture felt painful to my touch, the fabric burning against my skin. 

  Someone spoke and the words felt like sharp stones battering my skin. My nose was filled with the stink of burning flesh . The light from the television screen seared into my eye sockets.My whole being was filled with pain and fear.

   The rational part of me recognised the symptoms of severe autism and was at a loss as to how or where I could intervene. I tried to find a name although even that was confused. Thomas. His surname was obscured by a cloud of pain and rejection. His one clear memory, his grandmother, Alice Derbyshire .

The only one who he had ever felt safe with but she had left him a legacy. His life was her death. His fear, her final emotion. His pain was hers.

    I finally understood my mission. Falling back into sleep I shifted back in time. Back to the young Alice as she stood by the bed of her mentor. " Yes" I whispered . " I am ready". The old witch took her hands and, as life passed from her so her powers passed into Alice. She was condemning her to a short life with a terrible ending but saving a child from generations to come from a life of fear and suffering.

  Alice felt it was a bargain well worth the sacrifice. She had several years to contribute to her community before she would meet her end. Her suffering would be great but it would be brief.

   I left her body and rose through layers of sleep. Tonight's work was done . Who knew what the future would hold?

September 28, 2021 20:38

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