Chapter Nine

I staggered backwards, away from the tree.  Trees can't talk, it's not possible, even in dreams I've never had a tree talk to me and this had to be a dream.  My gut instinct was to run as fast and as far as I could but there was something else, a force stronger than my natural instincts, pulling me towards the tree.

I tried my hardest to fight it, straining away from the tree and trying to walk away, but I kept being pulled back towards the tree.  Eventually I lost the energy to fight and let the power pull me in, my hands pressing against the bark of the tree, my ears ringing with the sound of my name.

The rain was getting heavier now, forcing its way through the branches of the tree and onto me.  My hair was dripping and I was beginning to shiver from the cold.

Suddenly, when I was beginning to lose all hope and had resigned myself to death by drowning, an opening appeared in the trunk of the tree.  An opening just big enough for me to climb into.

The voice calling my name grew stronger, urging me to do what I was scared to do; step into the tree.

"It's just a dream," I told myself.  "You can't die in a dream."  I closed my eyes and put one foot into the gap in the tree.  There was nothing for my foot to stand on, it was just an empty shaft falling down into the ground.

"Jump."  The order came from inside the tree, making my eyes open wide and another shiver run down my spine.  "Trust me."

I couldn't see how I could trust a disembodied voice but the rain was growing increasingly heavier and the wind was now whipping at my clothes and tearing at my sodden hair.

"Just close your eyes and jump," I whispered reassuringly to myself.  Feeling increasingly like Alice in Wonderland, I did as I was instructed and threw my whole body down the hole.

I was stunned when my feet hit something solid after only a few seconds of free-falling.  I looked up and could still see the gap in the tree where I had entered.  I stretched as far as I could on my tiptoes, straining to touch the lip of the gap so I could pull myself back out.  It was just out of reach.

The hole I found myself in was dark.  Only the half-light from above allowed me to see anything.  A blacker patch of darkness indicated that there was a passage way to my right and as there was nowhere else for me to go I went down it.

I staggered along in the darkness, my hands out in front of me so I didn't walk into anything when my hands hit the end of the corridor I felt along the wall to either side of me and found that the passage turned left so I followed it.

The fear in the pit of my stomach was beginning to fade, especially when I thought I saw light up ahead.  My pace quickened when I realised I wasn't seeing things and there was something ahead of me that was glowing.

I ran the last stretch of corridor and into a round, brightly lit chamber.  The floor was covered in bark chipping and large flaming torches hung in brackets all around the room.  In the centre of the room was a large oval wooden table with one sturdy chair facing me.

There was nowhere else to go from this room; no doors or empty archways leading off into other passageways.

"Hello?"  I said feeling stupid.  There was clearly no-one here.

"You answered my call."

I jumped as the voice I had heard earlier boomed around the circular room.  It sounded like it was coming from everywhere; through the ceiling, the floor and the walls all at once.

"Why am I still dreaming?"  I asked, more to myself than to anyone else.  "Why haven't I woken up yet?"

"Sit down Alexis," the voice boomed.

"Why am I here?"  I asked the empty room.

"Sit down and I will tell you."

The End

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