"Shut it down." Salminiw said, releasing my arm. He remained so close that I could feel his breath on my cheek. "You walk both sides of the shroud and you'll go mad. Dreams belong in the dreaming."
"I can't." I said weakly, letting Salminiw bring me back to a sitting position. "Shut it down, I mean. I don't know how. If I'm... seeing things. doesn't that means I'm going..." I swallowed rather than saying the words.
"Mad?" Salminiw asked. he sighed heavily and sat down again beside me. He folded his hands--large calloused hands that looked like they should belong to a farmer, one who worked the land, forced it to bear fruit...
"Every culture has stories about those who walk the dream realms. It's one of the last frontiers of exploration. So many great men were considered madmen in their time. Of course, that doesn't mean they weren't mad."
"This isn't helping." I muttered.
"Then tell me. Really tell me. You've met my daughter?"
"Last night." I said slowly. I wasn't sure how he was going to react to this. So, I spoke softly, quietly, cautiously. "I had a recurring dream. She was in my hotel room. She woke me, warned me of danger, and we ran. She fought a darkness, a furious darkness, and shouted things in Italian. " I left out the part about Tsillah's sword.
"Describe her." His voice was colder. No, simply more clinical. Emotional withdrawal.
Of course, if I described her wrong, it would be just a name, and not the tie he thought--wanted--it to be. I recalled her taut figure, the shoulder length dark hair that gave highlights of blood red when backlit. Her high cheekbones and eyes with the slight angle that made her look angry or doubtful, that made a little divot in the center of her forehead. Her black sleeveless shirt, and the silver pendant she'd worn.
When I looked over at Salminiw, I expected him to chastise me. But his eyes were brimming. He fought to withold tears.
"She said something to me." I ventured. "The things from my nightmares. If I can see them... they can see me."
Salminiw sighed heavily, and looked away. "There is no scientific basis to support the idea that there is a reality wholely separate from our own."
I knew this. I lifted my hand, made a gesture of hopelessness, open hands, empty hands. Mine mirrored his. Perhaps neither of us had answers.
"And yet, thousands of people have claimed to have accessed the dream realms, to have done battle with the nmalandanti or the nýchta dromeís." Salminiw said. He didn't look at me, kept his gaze fixed on his calloused hands, curled in his lap.
"You will have to choose." he said after a long pause. "Which one will be your reality?"
"Do I have a choice?"
"We all have a choice. I made mine years ago. My daughter made hers. You..." Salminiw looked up at me, and there was a ferocity in his eyes. "Your choice is coming."