Begin at ******* in previous "chapter."
Suddenly the window slammed. The locked door swung gently jar and the light overhead flickered back into its familiar warm glow. His frightened sobs gave way to tears of joy, and the warmth of the room at last surrounded him. Gone was the cold air, gone was the fear, and gone was the woman who ripped that blackness from his chest. Moved now to such great emotion, the boy laughed uncontrollably, racked now with a joy that tickled at his fingers and toes.
“The Nightmare made you see me that way,” spoke a soft voice. It echoed gently, mimicking the ambient warmth of the light.
But he did not fear this voice, for it was familiar -- but not, almost maternal. A string of memories played cinematically upon the back of his eyelids, but they were not his own. They were a strange and fascinating stream, in a sequence not unlike dancing, for they drew nearer, then faded away. The waltzing images continued through the red glow.
“The Nightmare can make you see terrible things – and distort your reality, the true reality. I drew the beast from within you, so that you might see…”
He opened his eyes, searching the warm glow for the origin of the voice. She stood before him, bedecked in red and gold, attended then by a court of wanton spirits. She was all the more beautiful, even the Nightmare could not destroy that – but no longer was she clad in inky blackness or gossamers, but ornate golden bands and rings and jewels, enrobed in a garment of scarlet silk. The Spirits around her spoke amongst themselves, joking, laughing. Two children played in the hall, laughing gaily as three matronly women – governesses, no doubt – called after them. A young woman gazed carelessly from the window, as her watchmaker husband tinkered across the hall. Time is unchanging, time is fluid, the past leaves an impression.
“You have nothing to fear now, little one,” she smiled, as a new darkness came. From her chest, she drew the blackness, cast out in emetic fervor. The writhing thing slithered down her decorated arm and coiled thusly into the small bottled clasped between her fingers. She corked the narrow bottle and tucked it away in the folds of her skirt, drawing out, instead, a new bottle.
“Have you any more dreams you’d like to sell?”