I stop outside the cabin. Where are the Rocklands? How will I get there? I reach for my angel wing necklace but grab the black winged husky instead. The husky’s warm voice floats through my head.
Follow your instinct. You know where it is.
I close my eyes. I get an image of sandstone rocks, both dark and light, in all colors. I open my eyes and drop the necklace. West. That's where I need to go. I start walking. The farther I get from Charcoal Black's home, the taller the grasses get. Soon I'm wading through a sea of waist high silver-green grasses. The blanket floats just above the grasses. My bag is starting to get heavy. I turn and shade my eyes in the bright light. All I see are the strange colored grasses, waving in every direction.
I look back at the blanket. "You could at least be more helpful."
The blanket bumps my bag. It takes me a second, then I get it. I take the bag off my shoulders and set it on the blanket. My shoulders feeling lighter, I smile. My smile quickly fades as I hear another sound. It sounds like wood creaking, rope and canvas snapping…like a ship. I look towards the sound and see a giant boat heading towards me. I duck as the wooden hull passes above my head. A flying ship? I look up at the ship's flag to see a Jolly Roger flag. Pirates? I smile and shake my head. How crazy is that?
The boat turns, baring its name, theStarchaser. Another large ship with a Jolly Roger flag flies into view. This one's called theDreamcatcher. I smile at the irony of the name. A dreamcatcher stuck in dreamland. TheDreamcatcherslows down as it gets closer to me and a rope is thrown over the side.
"Climb aboard!" A mystery voice follows the rope. With a shrug, I grab the rope and pull myself up. A jolly looking man, short and stout with shaggy white hair is on the other end.
"So what's a young Dream like you doing in the Grass Ocean?"
I smile. "I'm not a Dream. I'm a Dreamkeeper. And I'm on my way to the Rocklands."
The short pirate nods. "Patch! Set course for the coast of the Snow Forest!" A call of aye, captain rings down from the wheel.
The pirate eyes me again. "So then what's a Keeper doing here?"
"I'm on a rescue mission to find and save one of my friends. He was taken by Nightmares yesterday and I'm here to save him."
The pirate laughs. "Now that's a dream if I ever heard one! No one’s ever escapes from the Nightmares alive, be you Keeper or not."
"Well I at least need to try."
The pirate eyes me. "Lass, you won't make it back alive. But I'll take you to the Snow Forest. Maybe the Winter Queen will talk you out of this nonsense."
I shrug. "Not likely. I can be very stubborn."
"Then you'll fit right in here, lass! We're all ready for a fight. Just make sure you know what you're getting into before you dive in head first." He starts to walk away. "Oh, and while you're here, the whole ship is open to you. And lass, welcome to theDreamcatcher."
I thank the captain and look around. I wonder whose dream this was. I look around, but none of the pirates look even remotely familiar. Oh well. Maybe this is a regular dream, not one that became something famous.
"’Scuse me, lass. This yours?"
I turn around and see a pirate standing next to my blanket and the pack Charcoal Grey gave me.
"Oh, yes. That's mine."
The pirate nods. "Ye'll be wantin' ta keep that close ta ye, lass. Not all dreams are friendly."
"Thanks. I'll keep them close."
The pirate nods and runs down the deck. I walk over to them and lean over the railing. Instead of being washed over with the smell of salt water, I’m hit with the scent of freshly cut and pressed sweet grass. I close my eyes and inhale deeply and smile. The smell reminds me of when my mom and my dad were still together and we were all a happy family, and we lived in a small house with a lot of property, and in the summer, this was what our home smelled like.
But sadly, those times are years gone, and now they’re nothing more than pretty memories, just like most of my life. But oh well, nothing I can do about that, just another joy of being unwanted by the world and treated like a borrowed book.
No family will ever want a girl like me. It’s gotten to the point where I wonder if I’ll ever feel like a human being around other people ever again.