I have to say…if this is all coming from my mind, I have some great imagination – or just a really good memory of Ridgevalley. Or, my brain may just be making this up as it goes and making me think this is the Ridgevalley I know. Perception in dreams can get weird.
In which case, nothing I’ve heard or seen so far can be taken seriously. For all I know, my discussion right now with my grandpa was actually with my own brain – trying to tell me this is all a dream. Actually this would mean every conversation I’ve had so far, were with my subconscious?
Somehow the conversation with James felt different though. More…tangible. But so did the one with my cellmate – that girl. I grimaced. Either way, I know for a fact that I’m lucid dreaming.
As I flew over the river, my eyes caught onto something green on the sand.
It was watching me, probably smirking internally like this cat seems to do every time I see it, with green smoke emanating from its body. As if it was threatening me, or laughing at me, with the memory of that monster it transforms into when I go in astral mode in its presence.
I’d actually managed to forget about this cat. Aunt Erin had taken it away to some weird cat specialist and we hadn’t heard back since. So yeah, thank you brain, for dredging this back up.
Or maybe it’s the spell dad cast on me in a way…conjuring up nightmares and obstacles to keep me down. I snorted in disdain – I wonder if dad knew this would happen, that this spell would practically have a life of its own just to keep me down and in control.
Though, the spell he cast is meant to act as he wants it too. Which means dad himself wants me to stay asleep, doesn’t it?
Something shifted in the river, catching my eye. It moved swiftly, moving the water enough to make the cat back up from the beach.
For some reason, I thought about the game experiment – wasn’t there something about a monster in the lake? My lucid dream is definitely better than what they managed to conjure up for that game: at least here I have katanas.
I gripped my swords a little tighter, eyeing the large form warily.
That did little to prepare me.
A monster came bursting out of the river – one I swear was larger than the river itself. It brought the entire stream up with it, flying into the air.
For a brief moment, time stopped for me. I took in the gigantic shrimp creature – congratulated my brain for its creation – and considered whether fighting this was what I was meant to do.
But if the spell generated this to stop me, that means I have to be doing something right. Avoiding it has to be the best option – and the quickest one to get to the source. Which I’m starting to see a link between certain thoughts I get and random obstacles. In general when I think about how dad’s really taken this a step too far, about how, no matter how troublesome I may be, he still had no right –
Time resumed, cutting my thoughts off as the shrimp creature continued its lunge towards me. The water that had been strung in mid-air began its descent back down to the river bend. Everything seemed immensely bigger and more terrifying. If the huge form of the creature didn’t crush me, the water would knock me out and drown me.
Avoiding suddenly became a daunting task.
Dream, this is a dream, this isn’t real – I can do anything I want to. I have control of my dream.
With those thoughts I used my valuable experience with video games to fuel my imagination.
I swung my katanas as hard as I could in a flawless manner. The strikes were powerful and grew exponentially in size, effectively cutting the creature into four pieces.
I watched with an incredible sense of power as the water carried the creature down with it – a creature easily the size of a skyscraper.
Now that’s what I’m talking about!
I smirked as the pieces left of the monster splashed and disappeared into the depths of the river.
I twirled my swords like I’d been born with them.
“You can’t beat this!” I laughed.
One obstacle down, next up finding the big bad boss. Which in this case had to be near my dad – whom I’d last seen at the police station. My next destination seemed clear.
I flew towards the more condensed part of town, starting to lower myself down as I did so.
If every obstacle this spell threw at me was like that shrimp creature – I can bet you I’ll wake up soon enough. And if that really was my grandfather…I can just imagine what it must be like at home right now.
Grandpa had taken my side at breakfast, when dad had first spoken of the spell – and now dad had cast it. I can admit that the thought of confronting him scares me and that a large part of me is saying I just shouldn’t do it – that it wouldn’t do anything anyway. But knowing there’s people on my side out there who agree that this is crazy takes that fear away.
I noticed the cat at the last second. It hopped in the air, landing on a magical platform that gave it a push to jump even higher, until it reached my level.
“Is this the next obstacle? You’re just a cat. I can take you on if I’m not in astral mode.” I huffed as I watched it jump onto a blue platform just a few steps beside me.
It crouched longer this time, eyeing me up like a piece of meat; it’s behind swaying a little.
“Are you going to jump? You think you can take me on?” I snorted. Its eyes glinted and it pushed itself off, straight towards me.
I didn’t expect it to literally transform into the monster I still clearly remember in mid-air. My heart started to hammer against my rib cage and I brought my katanas up to try and block it.
The smokey green creature hit my swords and its tentacles began to seep around my blockade to touch me. I closed my eyes under the overwhelming presence of it – just like I remembered.
I felt my katanas begin to heat up and when I opened my eyes a flash of white blinded me and my heart lurched into a freefall.
Two seconds later my feet hit the ground – the jail cell ground.
It was exactly the cell I’d been in not too long ago, with the hole in the wall I’d created. Casting a quick glance inside I couldn’t see the girl who’d been on the other side earlier.
I couldn’t get out last time, but I hadn’t realized this was just a dream. Considering what I’d done so far, a jail cell would do little to keep me.
“It’s DOOM. Spelled d o o m e d.” I spun around, only now noticing the two people sitting at a table just in front of my cell.
Well one was sitting, the other was that girl and she was tied up on the chair.
“YOU HAVE TO LOOK CLOSELY.” The old man shouted. I recognized him from Dealer’s Avenue, the crazy old guy who’d practically assaulted me in the street.
“I’m not really looking to have my fortune, I’m here to-”
“It’s all DOOM anyway! And it’s all him! Loud bells ring around him. YOU CAN HEAR IT TOO RIGHT?” The crazy old man asked.
“I’m sure if you untied me I’d hear a lot better.” She replied sarcastically, a smile noticeable under her hair.
I grabbed the jail door to open it, but it resisted me. I tried to will it away, but it still didn’t work, so I brought my katanas up and tried to jam them in the door to force it open.
I felt a warm breath go down my back.
I flinched just in time to see the all too familiar monster dive right for me. Somehow it had joined me in my cell in the split second I had my back turned.
I bent down instinctively and watched in slow motion as the large toothed mouth missed my hoodie by inches, snapping at thin air.
I brought my katana forwards and then swung it back as I took a step away from the cowplant.
My sword pierced the base of its head like a hot knife through butter.
I unsheathed it from its skull, and the monster collapsed on the ground of the cell, lifeless.
You’re going to have to do better than that spell.
I heard a whoo! from outside of my cell. The girl had pushed her chair away from the table, and I think had cheered me on?
Her chair wobbled on its hind legs from the push before falling down, and bringing the girl along with it.
She fell with a painful thud and an oof.
“HORRIBLE rain fire everywhere LOOK! It’s all so doomed! We’re all so…doomed…” The old man continued to mutter into his crystal ball.
I jumped as something gooey touched my legs. The monster’s body was melting into the floor like black goop seeping between the cracks. I shook my foot even though the slime had slid off it already.
I headed for the bars. “You okay?”
“A little winded! But I’m fine, still ready to help you out!” She said, struggling against her ropes.
“Looks like you need more help than I do. Wait, maybe I can cut the rope through the bars…” I said already reaching with my katanas.
Another player came to join us.
“Oh heeeeyyyy! Are you helpful?” She asked the newcomer. “Or-”
“DOOMED. DID YOU HEAR ME. LET ME SAY IT AGAIN.” The old man screeched.
“Or like him?” She finished.
I glued my face to the bars to catch a glimpse of the new person as he bent down to take the key around her neck.
“Silently helpful then!” She said with a grin in her voice.
“Detective Sebastien!” I exclaimed. Hadn’t expected to see HIM here! In the…police station he works at…in my own dream. I shouldn’t be more surprised to see him here than the crazy old man.
Half his mouth titled up as he held up the key to my jail door lock. “You don’t need to add Detective to my name you know.”
“Think you can help me a little more?” I asked as the door unlocked.
“Have you seen my dad around here? He’s kind of the key to me waking up.” I said.
Sebastien frowned at me. “What do you mean? I’m arresting him right now.”
I glanced around. “You are?”
A repetitive clicking sound suddenly filled the room, completely overwhelming my ears while at the same time being a quiet sound in the background.
I was wincing when a fist and a head burst out of Sebastien’s chest. He proceeded to dissolve into black smoke – the crazy old man taking his place.
“You don’t help the DOOMED.” The old man hissed over the clicking sound, a snake tongue actually darting out of his mouth. I reflexively took a step back as his hand gripped the bar.
The clicking sound intensified till it reached a rapid tempo. I finally identified the source.
A flurry of lines was circling around the girl, who’d managed to weasel out of the fallen chair. She was giving me a wave and an expression I couldn’t identify through the blur of lines.
“Sorry, I have to skedaddle. My time’s up!” She said, showing me her disappearing wrist. “Good luck!”
I returned her wave, a bit hypnotized by her sudden leave, and watched as she completely vanished.
I jumped back as the old man in front of me began to transform. He grew a tail with scales appearing on various parts of his body.
“Doohooohooohooommm,” He laughed and hissed at the same time. I grimaced.
Was this the spell trying to discourage me from leaving the cell? I brought my katanas up, pointed them at his neck, and took a step forwards. He took a step back.
I repeated the process enough times to step right out of my jail, without having to open the door.
It hissed and I brought my katanas up.
“I’m kind of hesitant to strike you down…” I admitted. “You look more human than the others, but…”
Its lips crinkled up and its lizard tongue slithered out as it bent its fingers into claws.
“This is just a dream after all!” I managed to say as the old man lunged at me, newly formed fangs bared. I swung my katanas – and they hit something hard with a loud metal clang.
“Dad!?” I reflexively pulled back as dad suddenly appeared in the old man’s place. This dream is all over the place.
“Really Niko? Why do you fight me? Why can’t you just stay still!?” He instantly boomed and I flinched.
“You really want me to stay asleep?” I asked baffled. “Is that what I’m supposed to do, so you can be happy?”
This is a dream. This isn’t really my dad, I know.
But it doesn’t feel like an exaggeration. It really does seem like what my father wants.
And that hurts – a lot.
“I’m done.” I finally stated taking in a slow breath.
“I’m in this situation right now because of you. I’m stuck in my own mind again. I hated having to watch Oscar lead my body around, but this? It’s worse. Because I’m stuck stumbling around something that’s not reality. Nothing’s real here, and sure I can do whatever I want and be whatever superhero I feel like being, but it doesn’t change that it’s not real. You’ve managed to lock me up inside my own mind – alone, facing a bunch of my nightmares all lined up perfectly one after the other to try and keep me locked down. And you probably think I deserve this, you’ll probably justify this as being a worthy punishment. A punishment for what exactly? I just don’t fit in with your vision of your world do I dad? I clash with your ideal little doll house because I go out and help people. You call it getting in trouble and putting myself in danger, but I do it to help others because I can. Which is more than I can say about you. I hear rumors at school you know…I’ve gotten into fights over this trying to defend you. The moment people hear that you’re the most powerful witch there exists, it’s all anyone asks – why isn’t he doing anything? We’re just meant to butt heads I guess. I’m not selfish like you are. I can’t be satisfied in my own little ignorant comfort bubble.” I added with a shrug. “I’m done dad. I’m done trying to please you and fit your expectations, because you know what? I don’t like the idea you have for me. I despise the person you want me to become. I wouldn’t be able to live like that – like you do. When I wake up-”
“You won’t.” He bellowed the walls shaking in response, but I stood my ground unfazed. My weapons had disappeared from my hands, but I didn’t need them anymore. “You’re done when I say you are.” I clenched my jaw and narrowed my eyes. “This is where you’ll stay. It’s better for all of us – you included. You’re troublesome Niko. Nobody wants to deal with you.” My hands formed into fists.
“I said,” I began my voice getting deeper. I took a smooth solid step forwards a waft of energy following my movement.
The air trembled under my statement, static coursing through it. The walls began to fold on themselves, waves of color crashing around us.
Everything stilled for a second, before coming to crash towards us, drenching my world in black.