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Dreamscape – by Autumn
The sky hung high over her head, stretching wide across her line of sight. Building tops edged the view, nearly black against the fading orange expanse above. The ground she reclined against was flat and hard in some places and uneven in others. It grew more uncomfortable each moment, practically nagging her to sit up — yet, that wasn’t enough reason to move. Everything lacked context, having filled her vision only moments ago, so there was no reason to think there was anything worth moving for.
Gentle noise rose and fell like the quiet babbling of a brook — whatever a brook was. A hollow ache started in her gut, insisting on attention. Things like that were confusing, yet other things she simply knew — just like she knew words like ‘brook’ and ‘building’, or how she knew to wonder what things were in the first place.
The ache grew more incessant, so with a sigh she rolled to the side and stood, but the world immediately swayed before her. She took an unsteady step backward, slumping against the building behind her and touching her forehead until the dizziness faded. The annoying ache remained.
Movement flickered leftward, drawing her gaze. Someone strode past the buildings, gone in only a moment. She stared briefly before darting after the other, away from the buildings’ shade. Pinkish orange light tinted the area several shades brighter than her previous location, and she blinked until the onslaught of light became bearable.
There were more buildings across from her, lining the wide, hard surface beneath her feet. It was just a bit louder out here, too. And there were beings everywhere, walking, gesturing with their hands or talking enough to add to the gentle murmur that plagued the air.
She slowed to a stop, studying the noisy creatures as they moved. Which one passed the buildings earlier? Could it offer help?
A sickly faint feeling swept through her, and the ache bit vengefully. The ground pitched and rolled before her, and she shook her head, heart pounding as she fought to stay standing. She ripped her gaze away from the unsteady terrain and inspected the others around her once more. Who cared which one she saw earlier?
She stumbled as she lunged forward. The feeling gnawed resentfully on her insides, threatening to make her feel weak enough to faint and never get up again.
What was this? How could she get rid of it?
There were a lot of beings loitering outside one of the buildings across the way. She bolted for the nearest two, drawing in a breath. “Please, please help me, I’m so hungry!” her voice tore hoarsely from her unused throat
But the two just blinked and looked at each other with confusion. “Help? Hungry?” they echoed uncertainly as she halted before them, panting.
Other beings close enough to hear glanced her way, but only for a moment before going about their business.
She gritted her teeth and whirled away from them, turning to the next person, then the next, begging again and again. At first, she waited for their response, but after a while she fled from each one the moment they donned that infuriatingly perplexed look.
Her feet pounded the earth. They felt like they’d give out at any moment, but she had to find someone, someone that actually knew what was going on.
So she asked another, and another as she ran down the path everyone else walked. Her lungs burned with every breath they pulled through her parched throat. She stopped, swaying until she leaned forward with her hands on her knees. Why was she the only one like this? She glared at the ground as she swallowed, then panted.
A light brushing sound stirred to her right, and her gaze pounced on it. There was someone there, pushing tiny bits of debris away from the entrance of the building behind him with a long stick tipped with furry stuff.
‘A broom’, her mind supplied idly. The broom wielder’s hair was thin and gray, and his face was etched with odd creases. More importantly, he was staring, his brows furrowed as if he was trying to figure her out.
She scowled a bit. “Do you have any food?” Not that she expected him to. Why would he be different than the others? Even she didn’t understand what that was, regardless of how her mind practically screamed for it earlier.
Her limbs trembled, as if punishing her for exerting them without eating first.
The other blinked, pausing his task. “Ah…” he trailed off hesitantly. “Who are you?”
She stared. He didn’t answer her question, but at least he didn’t repeat it and look confused. She nearly shrugged, not even sure what a ‘name’ was, but opened her mouth instead.
“Aspen.” Somehow, she knew that the moment she spoke.
Now if only the question of ‘food’ could be answered so easily, because ‘hunger’ still attacked her with sickly flashes of weakness. Then again, it wasn’t as bad as before. At least her misery wasn’t so strong that she felt like falling over.
The gray one leaned on his broom as the edges of his mouth pulled downward, deepening the cracks around them. “Well…I don’t know what ‘food’ is, but most newly manifested beings go to school to hang out with the others, or entertain themselves in the Library’s archives, which is that way.”
He pointed down the path, and her sight followed the gesture to what she was probably supposed to see: a large building in the distance, towering above the others. The explanation was so slow, hesitant and irrelevant that the broom wielder probably only used it to make up for his cluelessness. He knew about the ‘Library’ and ‘school’, but not about ‘food’, which meant those places wouldn’t rid her of hunger. So this person was just as useless as everyone else.
But…at least he tried.
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