Fleeing the Dream

I couldn't answer her, my throat seemed to have constricted to such an extent that even breathing was uncomfortable. I lowered my gaze from hers, unable to meet the fear and alarm I saw there. I knew exactly how she must be feeling, after all, my own reaction had been much the same in the cell.

The thing in the mirror was a monstrosity. It bore no resemblance to anything human, and had it not been so clear I would never have believed such an abomination could exist. My skin was dark and mottled, blending in with the damp stone walls around it. Instead of fingers, I now had four long, curved claws, almost bent over backwards as my palms pressed into the floor. Two enormous, bat-like ears ran along the length of my skull, twitching slightly as different sounds echoed around the room.

I raised a hand and looked down at the fingers - my fingers! - as I flexed them. The joints were loose, and I soon found myself bending them into all sorts of unnatural positions. Numb with shock, I looked down at my legs. In this crouched position, I could see that my knees now bent backwards like those of a deer, a sharp bone-like blade protruding from each of my shins like a short scimitar. Instead of feet, I now had a set of raptor-like claws, three short talons and one long, curved claw in the centre. I lifted my foot off the floor and set it down again, claws clicking ominously against the stone. I stood up shakily, balancing on the balls of my reptilian feet. My heels were gone, replaced instead with another short spike, this scarcely half the length of the blades on my calves, but just as sharp. I tried to swallow, for my throat had gone suddenly dry. I looked back in the mirror, my eyes meeting that of my reflection. Gone were the dark grey eyes I had once known as my own, replaced with a pair of cat-like slits set in a colour like dried blood. My hair was still black, but, like a beacon in the dark, a broad white stripe ran down the left side of my fringe. The Van Helsing streak, the mark that I really was one of the family.

I whimpered and took a step back, shaking my head in disbelief. Unused to this new, monstrous body, I nearly lost my footing on the stone floor. I flailed, struggling back to my feet, strange new muscles flailing behind my shoulder blades. I looked back into the mirrored wall, and stopped dead. A pair of mal-formed leathery wings rose behind my shoulders. They were twisted and stick-like, only scraps of leather hanging between the skeletal branch-like bones. Evidently I had ruined some of my family's intentions by waking up so soon.

But it was too late. The damage had already been done.

I looked back at Morgan. She was still standing there, clutching her pendant and shaking her head in disbelief. The wall of air between us dissipated, and she raised her hand towards me.

"Ash," she said, as if trying to fit my name to the monstrosity I had become. "Ash..."

That was when I saw them. Morgan's wings hung behind her in the air, shimmering with gold and fuscia. They glowed slightly in the light of the fire, the light dancing across the gossamer surface and making the gold blaze against he misty darkness. I twitched my own twisted stumps, aware of the stark contrast between the two of us. No wonder my parents wanted her for breeding, her power and beauty was beyond all compare. However, before either of us could say another word, someone let out a great, resounding shout behind me. I whipped around to see Gloria charging out of the fog, eyes wild with alarm.

"Hey!" she shouted. "Get out of here! Go on, get out!"

I didn't stay to contest her. With a howl of misery I turned and raced off into the fog, claws clinging to the wet earth and sending clods flying up behind me as I fled. Within seconds I was well away, moving at an incredible speed over the wet, boggy ground. Dimly, I felt my physical body begin to stir as I fled back into the realms of wakefulness. Finally, the dreamscape faded and I was back in my prison atop the tower, lying flat on my back, broken wings splayed out behind me.

"What have I done?" I said, staring up at the ceiling as the impact of what I had done sunk in. "What on earth have I done?"

The End

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