“Mr. Marix!?! I need to speak with you!”
Salem explodes out of the dream in a scream of anger and frustration. He fumbles around in the dark and grabs the first thing he can find from next to his nightstand and pitches it across the room. It shatters into thousands of pieces, just another addition to the wreckage that fills his home. The sheets become tangled in his feet as though they are sympathetic to his desire to stay and seek to appease him, but he throws them aside as he storms out of the room. Frailty and weakness have taken hold of his once strong legs in the past few months and make his movements slow and jerky rather than quick and smooth. He hobbles his way through the dark, guided only by memory, and reaches the door. He throws it open to reveal a man shivering in the cold, his hand reaching to knock on the door once again.
“GO AWAY!” An attempt is made to slam the door shut, but the stranger pushes his hand against it and manages to hold it open.
“Wait! Are you Salem Marix? I need to speak with you!”
“No!” He tries to close the door but is again defeated by his own diminished strength.
“Please! I must speak with you! I believe your…condition…is putting you in some sort of danger, or will lead to some sorrow in your life if you do not speak with me.” Salem takes a moment to weigh his options. The man seems determined to speak with him, and he undoubtedly could force his way in if he wished. Consenting appears to be the path of least resistance, and in truth, fighting is not really a viable option. Salem opens the door and ushers the stranger into his home, then leads him through a foyer and into a study. A brief gesture directs the stranger to take a seat in one of two armchairs that face the fireplace as Salem goes in search of a means to light it.
The man sits down and looks around the room. The study's once polished wooden floors have rotted with age. Curtains that were once bright and winsome sit in torn shambles over the window, which itself is dirty and cracked in numerous places. Bookshelves on either side of the fireplace are covered in dust and overrun with spiders and a host of other unsightly creatures. The books themselves are unused and falling apart on their shelves, some of which have collapsed, leaving dirty piles of long wasted knowledge on the floor. The chairs they sit in are stained and uncomfortably hard. Above the fireplace hangs a self-portrait of Salem Marix, which is torn in some places with color that has faded with age.
“Do you dislike my home stranger? Not too polite for a guest to judge his hosts home after forcing his way in,” says Salem as he sits. He looks the man over and is disappointed when he realizes he failed to shut the door on an old man. In his late fifties, with long grey hair and a well kept grey beard, the man is not large in stature, but he does appear more muscular and fit than most men his age, and some younger than he. Salem tries to take some comfort in this observation.
“What? Oh, why of course not! You have a beautiful home!” The deep voice echoes the lie through the room with more force than was intended.
“Now you would lie to me? This place is by no means beautiful. Don’t try to flatter me. You lost my favor the moment you woke me with your incessant pounding on my door.”
“My apologies, I meant no offense, though you appear to be irritated with anything and everything I do at this point.”
“You come to my door in the middle of the night and force yourself upon me. What did you hope to happen? That I would answer smiling with open arms? Who are you and what do you want?”
“My name is Alfred Streyer. I have spent my years studying and teaching many subjects, but a favorite field of mine has always been dreams. I learned all I could about them. Why we have them, what they mean, why some people experience dreams that break the laws of nature and others don‘t. Do you know why we have dreams Mr. Marix? What purpose they serve? Many disagree on the answer, but I am interested in what you have to say on the subject.” Salem is annoyed. This is a waste of time. This man serves only to keep him from spending time with his love. Bitterness and anger fuel Salem's answer, which is cold and harsh.
“They mean nothing and serve no purpose. Just the musings of a sleeping mind.”
“Do you truly believe that? If the rumors are true, you are one of a select few who understand the importance of dreams. However, if you truly do believe they are meaningless ramblings, I disagree. I believe that dreams are small predictions of what is to come in life, a way of warning of us of the bad, and assuring us of the good to come.”
“As fascinating as this is, I still have yet to hear a reason why you needed to speak with me.”
“I hear you dream…” Salem cuts him off before he can continue.
“Everyone dreams old man. You should know that if you are so well versed in them.” The man frowns a bit, but keeps his composure.
“Yes, but not everyone dreams as you do.”