Taking a deep breath of the cool forest air I felt the stresses of the day begin to seep out of my body, my soul feeling lighter and lighter with each step I took deeper into the trees. Even if I couldn’t be surrounded by them in the waking world all I had to do was think about them as I fell asleep and I could spend hours among them in my dreams. My brain remembered the sounds and smells so vividly that I sometimes forgot that I was asleep. Tonight was one of those times until I realized that the forest around me no longer looked familiar and I that I was lost in my own dream. Suddenly a small house came in to view and I stopped, wondering how it had gotten into my head in the first place. As I stared at the two storey building the more sure I was that I had never seen it before and the more confused I became. How did it get here?
Slowly I approached the house with all of my senses heightened, gaze flicking to all of the windows for signs of life, but nothing moved inside. The house was a pretty standard cottage with a red door which was the only thing that really caught my attention; red was the color of king Ekram’s reign and had been banned since the uprising.
I had almost reached it when suddenly the door opened and a woman with long black hair and gold eyes smiled at me. A feeling of such warmth and happiness came over me from her smile that for another few moments I forgot that I was dreaming again.
“You’ve finally found me,” she said as she held out a hand. “Welcome home Mikhail.”
I jerked awake tangled in my sweaty sheets, my heart racing just like her words across my mind; welcome home, welcome home. Who was she? Was she a real person somewhere or had my brain fabricated her? I had never met anyone with eyes as gold as her had been but they had been as familiar to me as my own and I didn’t know why.
Quickly I unwrapped myself from the sheets and got up to get a piece of paper and pen to try and write down as many directions to the house that I could remember, I had to find out for myself if it was real or not, if she was real or not. I only managed a shallow fitful sleep for the rest of the night.
When the first rays of sunlight began to creep into my room I was already waking from another round of light sleep, the warmth helping me rouse gently. My body felt heavy from fatigue but I knew that I had to get up or else it would result in an angry visit from one of the higher ranking soldiers and a possible whipping for being lazy. I was still going to get the whipping later but not because of oversleeping; I was going to find that house.
I knew it sounded crazy to follow something that I saw in a dream but the warmth of the house and her voice felt and sounded so real that I had to find out if any of it was or not. After pulling on the under layers of my uniform I opened my closet and pushed aside the array of official Kariai jackets in favor of the one civilian one that I had managed to keep. I could slip through the crowds in town easier without the Kariai whispers and I wouldn’t alarm the woman if I did find her. I slung the jacket over my arm, checked that I had each of my hidden knives and the directions that I had written down last night, and grabbed my key from the desk. Slowly I opened my door and peered out into the empty hallway. I listened for a few moments and slipped out after I decided that no one else was awake yet.