Saturday, November 12, 2005

Chapter 15

Jaden got a ride home from the dance with Doug, who also lived in Mountain View. He was quiet for most of the ride, aside from asking Doug if he had met Zoe. Doug thought for a minute.

"Yeah, I think I did meet her," he said. "Small girl, right? Long hair, sort of elfin features?"

"That's the one."

"Great dancer. I think we did a cross step."

"Yeah, she's really good. I'd never seen her around before, though, have you?"

"Nope. I think she said she's a psych student or something. Maybe she only just got into the dance scene. Got good really fast if she did, though."

"Yes, indeed." Jaden wanted to ask if Doug had noticed anything odd about her eyes when he had danced with her, or if he had perhaps seen visions of blazing skies and cloaked horsemen. But he thought that might be going a bit too far.

The dance replayed in his dreams that night, and he woke up with the melody of "Iris" going through his head. After breakfast, he walked over to Prof. Oddbury's to talk to him about it.

"Ah, yes, I was wondering about that," was the professor's reply, to which Jaden responded with a quizzical look. "You dreamed about this Zoe girl last night, did you not?"

"Uh, yeah. How did you know?"

"I'm monitoring you, of course! I've told you that. Now, now, don't be embarrassed. It's for your own good, you know. Come, let's take a look."

They went to the computer and Oddbury pulled up the list of Jaden's dreams in iTunes, then clicked on the previous night's date. A movie began to play, and Jaden had the very surreal sensation of watching his own dream play back at him on a computer screen. He knew it could happen, since he had watched all those other dreams, but it was still bizarre. The professor fast-forwarded most of the way through, then started it playing again.

"That's her, isn't it?"

It was. There was the waltz music, and Zoe's eyes looking up at him. There was the meter change, and the pivots, and…

Jaden reached out and hit the space bar to pause the movie.

"There," he said. "Who or what is that? That's what I want to know. It was like that at the actual dance last night, not just in my dream."

"I believe you," Prof. Oddbury said seriously, and he began slowly scrolling through the following scenes. "And I believe that what we may have here," he looked sideways at Jaden, "may be your trophy hunter."

"That's him? That's the guy who took my hand? Damn it!" He shook his good fist at the screen. "That jerk!"

"Yes, well, I would say that is a fairly safe bet. You see these flames in the sky? Only once in my life have I been dreamside on a boundary rift, but that is precisely what it looked like. Now, we see him leap through it – try getting a horse of this world to do that, eh? He's only got a few seconds, and yes, there he is again, carrying his trophy, whatever it was that he managed to get this time. And there, we see the rift sealing itself again already. Classic case, I'd say."

"But how did I see all this? And why?"

"Yes, that question had crossed my mind as well. My theory is that this young lady of yours possesses some degree of psychic power."

"She's a psychic? As in, she can read my mind?"

"Not necessarily. There are many forms of psychic power aside from the stereotypical view of it, and it is possible that she may not be aware that she has it. But someone with any form of extra psychic ability will naturally be closer to the dreamlands, and other alternate realities, than the rest of us. They make excellent oneironauts. Now take a look at this."

He brought up the dream analysis program Jaden had seen running before, and queued it up to the beginning of the dance with Zoe.

"We'll just run through a short clip with her in it, so we don’t have to process the whole file. Here."

He paused the dream and clicked a button. The mouse pointer became a colorful, spinning beach ball for several seconds, and then a page of charts and data appeared.

"There. You see?"

Jaden saw nothing but incomprehensible graphs of lines and squiggles, and said so. The professor gave a tiny snort of frustration.

"This shows," he said, "that she has an unusual amount of actual presence, reality you might say, even in the context of your dream. She is partially crossed over, even though she herself might just be thinking it is an ordinary dream."

"Alright, I'll take your word for it. So what does this all mean? Why is any of it happening?"

"It may mean nothing. This girl could just have become a temporary and accidental channel, allowing you a glimpse into the dreamlands. It can happen."


"Or, I suppose, your trophy hunter could be doing this deliberately. He could be using her as a way of warning you that he's watching you, and knows what you're up to."

The last line of the waltz rang through Jaden's head. I just want you to know who I am.

"Which means…" he began.

"…that your task may be more difficult than we thought."


Post a Comment

<< Home