A boy is running. A man and a woman are chasing him. He climbs a hill strewn with loose rocks and stones. His size three feet slip as he climbs. His breathing is rapid; his lungs ache with every step.
His two pursuers are gaining; a man and woman wearing long coats that flap in the wind like capes. They want something from him.
Wait… that’s not right. They want something from inside him; an unknown power.
He reaches the top of the hill. It falls away in a grassy descent to meet twisted branches and dark leaves. There is darkness in the woods but he has no choice. They are coming.
He moves forward, part running, part tumbling down the slope. As he reaches the tree line he hears a sound: a howling wail. He turns around and sees two figures cresting the hill. They are joined by something else. Something large and menacing, three times the size of his pursuers. The low sun turns the creature’s dark fur a burnt orange as though its coat were alight with flame. It howls at the sky and turns its head toward the boy. They boy runs into the forest knowing that the wolf needs only a few galloping paces to catch him.
There is an indistinct path through the woods. The boy can see it despite the warped trees that reach out to him and pull at his hair and catch on his clothes. He pushes through the branches and undergrowth hearing the grunts of his pursuers behind him.
He has to keep going. His grandfather told him to always run. If he runs he will be safe but his grandfather is not here anymore. He doesn’t know where his grandfather is. He has to find him. He has to keep running.
There is a web of light just under the surface of the earth beneath his feet. An intricate pattern of glowing threads that pulse red and amber. There is some kind of magic in these woods. He scrambles over twisted roots and sees a wooden board nailed to a tree trunk. The words “fear here and leave here” are scrawled in blood.
The boy can’t stop.
Those people are behind him. He can hear their breathing and the crack of undergrowth under their feet. They don’t call for him or tell him to stop and somehow this is worse. They just pursue him relentlessly knowing that they will inevitably catch the boy.
A sharp bark snaps at his ears. The dog is close now, stopped momentarily by the trees but it has forced its way through the treeline pushing down everything in its path to get at the boy.
The fear is overwhelming and though the boy’s lungs ache and his legs tire he runs on ignoring another sign which tell him to ‘turn back, monsters are here.’
The web of threads beneath the earth pulses blue now. It is brighter than before, the pulse beating faster, matching the boy’s heartbeat. He leaps over some roots which grab at his feet, tripping him over. He falls toward a shallow stream his hands outstretched to cushion his fall. They land in the silt beneath the water and it sucks them down. The mud is up to his wrists at once and he is unable to pull free.
They’re going to catch him.
They’re going to catch him!
The silt sucks his arms further down till his face is under water. He has no strength to pull them out and his head is soon engulfed.
Someone grabs at his ankles. His two pursuers! The have a leg each and are pulling him back but the silt is too strong and he continues down pulled in two directions, each as terrifying as the other.
His entire body rapidly sinks but his pursuers are relentless and cling on until they too are swallowed by the river bed.
They sink slowly through the earth falling in an endless slow motion tumble through the ground until unexpectedly the drop through the ceiling of a room and fall to a heap onto wooden floorboards.
He stands up.
He is in the storeroom of a shop. There is a counter along two sides of the room. Behind the counter are floor to ceiling shelves stacked with boxes and jars. The jars are filled with light. Colours sparkle and shimmer as if clusters of stars are held inside. The boy knows that the jars contain spells; magic spells. He doesn’t know how he has this knowledge but he is sure it has something to do with his grandfather and the power that is inside him.
There is a tall ladder on wheels on each wall. At the top of one ladder is a small boy removing jars from one box and placing them carefully onto the shelf.
Behind the counter a young girl in a pinafore spots them. She looks both surprised and angry.
‘Get out!’ she cries. ‘You don’t belong here!’
The boy tells her he needs help. He needs to find his grandfather.
She eyes him warily then his two pursuers stand up and those same eyes widen in fear.
‘You brought monsters here!’ she hisses.
The two pursuers open their coat, draw their guns and start shooting.
I wake up just as the monsters drop through the ceiling.