While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
Ana startled awake, her eyes flying open, heart thudding in her chest. She stretched her arms and cringed a little as her back cracked. She’d actually done it this time, fallen asleep in the chair at her desk; of all of the nights she’d sat in that same place for weeks on end unable to sleep, she’d still managed to get up out of the seat and at least make it to her bed, where she would lie and stare at the ceiling in the dark, maybe drifting off for short periods at a time. But not this night.
She look toward the door and saw it creak open just wide enough to allow somebody entrance to the room, but as she watched, nobody came and she rubbed at her eyes, blinking after as if to clear her vision. Finally she stood and moved across the room to take a closer look. It had to be far too late for her sister to be awake, or Maiija, and either way, neither of them would have bothered her in her bed chambers until morning unless there had been some kind of emergency. And then she heard it, or at least she thought she did. The voice, calling her name.
She froze where she stood, her fingers curling into her palms, balling her fists, and shook her head. No, she was just hearing things. But she heard it again, and this time her eyes widened not in fear, but in disbelief and her shock was so much that her fingernails actually cut into her own palms then.
“Veya? Where are you?”
And then she had noticed something. From behind and coming through underneath the door, she saw something that made little sense. Was there light coming from under it? There couldn’t be, for it there was it would only be dull, as dead in the middle of the night as it was, but nevertheless her feet moved in that direction anyway, closer. Yes, there was light coming from underneath the door, was it .. no it couldn’t be sunlight…
“What in the world?” She whispered to herself, as her hand curled around the door knob, not turning to look back at her bedroom as the door swung open, and her eyes widened, the question forgotten as quickly as it had formed because what was in front of her was so shocking that the only rational explanation for any of this was that she was still asleep. She was still asleep in that uncomfortable chair at her desk, and she would wake soon, and vow to at least try and regulate her sleep patterns or rather lack of them, because this, what she was seeing was so far from right or normal that she was a little afraid, afraid of her own mind and what it was capable of conjuring.
I’m just dreaming. It’s just a dream…
She took a step forward onto the grass at her feet, looking around in awe almost. It wasn’t that behind the door she’d discovered the meadow from her childhood,
“Come on Ana, we’re going to go for a little run!”
But it was the sun in the sky beaming down on her face, making the grass and the spring flowers in the meadow just ahead of her sway that held her attention. She could even smell the flowers. She took another step forwards and the door whipped backwards slamming shut and she spun to open it again, but it just simply wasn’t there, and then it occurred to her that maybe she was going insane. Is this what madness felt like? The door was gone and all that was in it’s place was more grass, more flowers, and suddenly the smell of even those sweet blooms was gone, and in it’s place was that long forgotten stench of sweat, of smoke and of blood. And she was barely aware of the grass tickling her legs and the sun seemed to all but disappear, being replaced by the overwhelming darkness, and the smell and she began to run, she didn’t know where she was running, and she couldn’t see, but maybe if she ran far enough or fast enough that she would collapse, exhausted and finally wake up.
“Veya! Where ARE you?”
And she turned towards where the voice was coming from, his voice and ran faster, all but blind, running on instinct and desperation alone.
“TINDOMIEL!” She screamed out his name with whatever breath she had left in her lungs and then she heard him again, back from where she’d come from and she turned and started running back that way, towards her bedroom, or were her bedroom had been. She started to laugh then as she ran, an out of control hysterical laugh and at the same time tears ran down her face. I’m fucking crazy, I’ve lost my mind. Lost the plot. Nuts. The words ran over in her mind and she didn’t doubt them, but only started laughing harder, tears flowing more freely, because this was insanity. This meadow didn’t exist, not in this place or at this time, just like Tindómiel didn’t exist here. He wasn’t here calling her, it was just her mind playing tricks on her, and cruel, vicious tricks they were, but still, she kept running.
“Anaveeeeeya, where ARE you?!”
And finally she collided with something, and it knocked the breath almost completely from her lungs. She slid to the ground and found herself on the stone tiles in front of her bedroom door once more, and she began to sob then, tears that came from a place where she’d kept them tightly locked up all of this time, for weeks, months even, fearing that if she let them come forth that it would hurt, it would hurt more than anything that had ever come before it, and that is what happened then. She slumped to the floor, and wailed, at one point her face pressed into the stone tiles, her arms wrapped around her middle in an attempt to stop the pain, but all she could do was just feel the agonizing hole that had been left by his absence.
“Veya.” And his voice was soft this time, and right beside her, and she squeezed her eyes closed, willing it to all go away. The voices, the hallucinations, all of it. And then a hand touched her shoulder and she looked up at him. He was there. He was right there, in front of her, his head tilted to the side, looking at her with such a sadness that she almost believed for the most fleeting moment that he was real. He reached a hand out for her to hold and she shakily reached up to place her hand in his, and it was cold. The veins in the top of his hand prominent as they had been when they’d first met all of those months ago, when he was sick, corrupted. Was he sick again? Was that why he had left her?
This isn’t real, Ana. You’re crazy, delusional.
“I don’t care.” She whispered, at the voice in her head, and he smiled at her curiously, and she simply shook her head, smiled back, blinking up at him, taking in every inch of his perfect face, just as it had looked that first day, pushed her hair back from her face and stood to face him. His hand tightened around hers firmly but gently and he pulled her towards the winding staircase that would lead them to the highest part of the estate.
“Come with me, Veya. Everything is going to be okay.”