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“Then it I worse than I expected. Mr. Marix, you must bring yourself out of this addiction to your dreams. You must come back to the world of men.”

“Nonsense! I am happier than ever before! You would seek to deprive me of my joy?”

“You are happier, but your health is fading! Look at the portrait above the fireplace if you don’t believe me! The man in that painting is strong and muscular, with short dark hair that is well kept. He is dressed well, and the room behind him is in perfect condition. Before me sits a man whose body is thin and emaciated, whose hair sits in unkempt tangles across his face, and lives in a house that looks condemned!”

Salem does not need to look at his portrait to know it is true. He is weaker than ever, and his home has never looked worse. But he can’t imagine not going back to the ecstasy of his dreams. Salem is angry now, for who would dare ask him to give up his bliss?

“No, no, you are just jealous to hear that I have found a love truer than any you could hope to find! You seek to end the dreams, to make me lose her. No, no I won’t do it!”

“But you must! Not just for your health, but for your safety! I believe you will meet some misfortune if you continue.”

“What are you talking about? I may not be in the best of health, but dreams are no more dangerous to me than air.”

“You are wrong my friend, for there is no safe way to escape life. The opiate eater smiles in his haze, but he will suffer for it when the time comes, as will you. The world will not let your self-induced exile into your mind go unnoticed. If you continue, nature will fight to set you back on the path, to right your wrongs. Men are meant to live out their dreams, not in them.” 

“I have wronged no one in my innocent indulgence!” yells Salem as he rises to his feet. “Yet you compare me to the filth that is an addict! I will hear no more of this! I must ask you to leave.”

“Please, Mr. Marix….”

“OUT! NOW!” Alfred rises to his feet and makes his way for the door, with Salem following behind him, almost pushing him out the door. Once he is out the door, Salem tries to slam it, but just as before a hand stops him.

“Please Mr. Marix, heed my warning. The world of dreams is no place for the living. That I am certain of. Reality can be ignored, but know she will not forget and certainly not forgive. You will be taught that lesson whether you like it or not, and it will not be an easy one.” With that, he removes his hand and the door closes with a thud, followed by silence. Salem puts out the fire and makes his way back to his room. 

The End

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