Ignite drabble (2015-07-23)

“Hey,” she says, warm and soft like the loaves of bread slowly rising in the oven. You press your face into her side, breathing deeply, the scent of dough and cinnamon and lemon lingering on every inhale. She smooths a hand over your head, fingertips brushing against the tips of your ears. You know you have flour in your hair now, but you don’t care.

“Hey,” she repeats, other hand rubbing between your shoulder blades soothingly, “What’s wrong, darling?” She asks.

You want to tell her. You want to. You’re seven and scared and the sun’s not out yet and you had a bad dream except you think it’s more than that something worse, something real. But you can’t. You can’t. So you just breathe and hold on to her.

Except now she’s slipping away. Or maybe it’s you that’s slipping away. It feels like you’re falling but she’s not and now as you’re ripped away from her you open your eyes but you can’t see anything. The warmth of her fades from you and your are ten now.

Ten and cold and trying not to shiver. Standing as straight and still as you can while bright lights are shining directly into your eyes. The floor is icy and hard beneath your bare feet, and you blink and squint and still see nothing.

But you can hear beeping in time with your heart which you are trying to slow down because fast means scared and you’re not scared you’re–

You’re fourteen now and you’re in a car going very very fast. The windows are closed but you think you can feel the speed ripping across your face, scenery a blur outside, as the engine roars and growls like a beast trying to claw its way into your chest.

You’re no longer scared, you’re angry. You know what happened to your mother, you know what they did to her. You know what they’ve been trying to do to you, too. It’s why you stole his car. It’s why you’re trying to run away. Except you’re only fourteen and you know how to drive but you don’t know in which direction because it’s been years since you’ve been outside, much less outside the facility.

Now there are sirens behind you, baying like hounds on the hunt. And it could be because you’re in a stolen vehicle, but it could also be because he wants his prized specimen back and the local police follow anyone’s orders. So you turn and punch it, the engine’s roar louder and louder in your ears until it cuts because you’ve stopped because you…

You are young and small and hiding in between a copse of trees. It’s no effort to be silent because you do not make any noise.

There’s a dragon.

You move closer, but not too close, less of a slither and more of a glide along the green green grass. You are curious, because you have been here for a long time, an eternity even, and you’ve seen others around–briefly, hardly for long–but none so often as this dragon.

You don’t make a sound but still it turns toward you, head narrow and pointed like an arrow, sensing you somehow.

“Hello, dear,” the dragon says, and it sounds familiar but not, and you are not scared or angry. Just curious.

“You are very young indeed, how did you get here?”

You say nothing back because you can’t say anything back, you are silent and soundless.

“Well, I’m only scheduled for an hour today, but if you like, you can hang about me for the time. No one wants to take on a dragon,” it says proudly, but does not brag, and you slither-glide closer until you are beneath one massive leathery wing.

You become known as The Dragon’s Shadow, and later, simply, Shadow.

~

A/N: Whoa… that went… somewhere. I had a completely different idea for where the first bit was going to go but then strange time-skippy dream sequence snuck up on me and then weird fantasy world? And then I realized… oh. I recognize this.

So this is the other half of an original fic trilogy I had planned but never pursued. As in, the trilogy I planned out was from the POV of one character, and this seems to be the POV (or at the very least, featuring) the other character.

I’ll be honest, it was sort of inspired by Inception (hence the title), only in that it largely features people dreaming together. This one instead is based on the premise that when everyone sleeps there’s a shared consciousness but for the most part people are small and insignificant (like butterflies, and there was a little not so subtle bit about Zhuang Zhou’s parable of “am I a man dreaming about being a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming about being a man”) except, obviously, for some exceptions.

Including The Dragon, and later, Shadow, and eventually the Main Character who… I dunno, we’ll see if I come back to this world.

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