Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.
- Jules Renard

01 September, 2009

Alice In Dreamland: Part 2 of 3

The second part of the 'Alice In Dreamland' 3-parter. If you missed the first, first read it here.

The revelation shocked Alice. She had just been informed that she was in a dream with a friendly vampire and that she had only five hours to survive (whatever that meant). The explanation was forthcoming.

"This dream of yours is unlike any other — your mind, this time, is totally immersed in it." Aldrin, the old man, started to explain. "As a result, it will have to physically travel from a portal to emerge at the other side — the 'real world'."

"But why five hours?" Alice asked.

"This is because the dreamworld goes through a recycling sequence each time the real you wakes up. Let's say... the entire dreamworld is destroyed... and when you sleep, a new one is recreated. I may or may not exist in the new world. Now comes the important part. Usually, your mind only oversees this process and regulates it. However, this time, your mind is totally inside the dream, and so, it may be recycled itself, along with the rest of the dream world. Resulting... in death."

The idea of death shot fear like physical pain in Alice's young mind. She also seemed to remember a sound, but she wasn't able to place it.

"The portal, Aldrin," the vampire, Batoid, said. "Tell her where it is!"

"Yes, the portal. It's at the other side of the plains here. If you set out immediately, you should be able to reach it comfortably." Aldrin paused. "Just remember one thing. This is not — I repeat — not mine, or Batoid's, or anybody else's dream. This is your own dream. Remember. And take this."

Aldrin handed over a piece of parchment upon which the written numbers were magically changing each second to reflect, presumably, the amount of time remaining for Alice. A great help when your sense of time is dimmed. They then read:

04: 49: 42

"It's the Dynamic Protean Charm." Aldrin winked.
"Thanks, Grandpa!" Alice called out.

As she stood outside the shack along with Batoid, she wondered, 'Why did I call him 'Grandpa'? Is it because he is —'
However, a screech cut through her train of thought. Both Alice and Batoid ran back to the shack as if their lives depended on it.

Aldrin was on the floor, in a pool of blood. Over half of the shack was liberally sprinkled with droplets of blood. Upon closer investigation by Batoid (Alice had nearly fainted all over again seeing the gory scene), the cause of the incident became clear — a glass held by Aldrin that contained a red liquid that wasn't blood.

"Poison... worst of all, it wasn't for him at all. He'd be recycled anyway..."
"Then for whom?" Alice asked. She was terrified, as if she knew the answer already.
"For you. Come, let's be quick."

04: 16: 33

An hour later, Batoid and a stricken Alice were well on their way to the portal.

"Why would anybody want to kill me? Everybody here lives in MY world!" Alice asked indignantly.
"I think that's the very reason... It's YOUR world. It'll be the world of the one who kills you... He'll get to oversee the recycling... it'll make him GOD!" Batoid exclaimed. "Who wouldn't want that?"
"Save me, please..." Alice didn't know Batoid would have to do it almost immediately.

The two heard a galloping sound, and within a moment, the source presented itself — a majestic white unicorn.

Initially, Alice was excited on seeing a unicorn, but it quickly changed to dread when the unicorn's horn glowed white-hot and shot a beam of pure energy towards Alice. Batoid could only watch in despair as the beam shot towards Alice, all ready to consume her within itself. However, the despair soon turned to amazement as Batoid watched, as if in slow-motion, Alice executing a perfect cartwheel to get out of the beam's way — leaving it to flatten a patch of grass a couple of meters wide.

Then Batoid took over. A fierce battle ensued. All Alice could see was a couple of blurs representing the unicorn and Batoid, a lot of fire and some strange darkish matter. This continued for a fair while, after which both battlers took a very short pause, wishing to finish this once and for all.

The Unicorn's horn glowed. Batoid knew what this meant — another one of those beams was forthcoming. He wouldn't have time to get out of the way... But then a blade of grass flew in from nowhere and cut the horn cleanly into two. Batoid turned and saw that Alice was the one who had thrown the blade. Then, he executed his finishing move.

02: 50: 54

"Remember Aldrin? Telling me this is 'my dream'?" Alice asked Batoid. "He meant that I can do pretty much anything I want here... I even distinctly remember not being able to do the cartwheel I did to avoid that nasty beam..." She paused.
"Tell me one thing, though," she said. "A good vampire, an evil unicorn... this is surely not what anybody would expect..."

"Well," Batoid replied, "What, according to you is good, is actually only the way you perceive it. Somebody who you feel is good may not be good at all, while somebody, who, according to you, is evil, may actually be quite good. Give everybody a chance."

Presently, they arrived at a road which they had to cross. All of a sudden, Alice was stricken by a phobia. "I don't want to go there," she sputtered. In spite of many persuasions by Batoid, she flatly refused to even set foot on the road. Eventually, Batoid had to lift her in his arms and cross the road himself.

"It wasn't bad now, was it?" Batoid asked, trying to soothe Alice, who had just burst into tears. "Okay, I have good news for you. See that tunnel over there?" Batoid pointed.
"That is where you'll find the portal. It's called the 'Tunnel of Darkness'."
"Erm... sounds very scary..."
"Well... you'll have to go now, won't you?"

A few minutes later, Alice set foot into the Tunnel of Darkness.

01: 50: 36