Elaine Carreiro
[ a work in progress ]

It was a dream. It had to be a dream. I stood in a room decorated with trinkets that shined, seemed to twist and dance on surfaces, and were only visible out of the corner of my eye. No detail could be directly seen. Everything melded into the faded maroon that covered everything as if the atmosphere itself was smothered with it. The wood of the floors was stained a dark soothing color. There were webs that sparkled like diamonds but not a spider to be seen. There was no sound. I was deaf, even to my own breathing. I was in a world of stars. There was the comfort of familiarity and the warmth of reassurance. This room was a place I knew, a place I had come to for information.

But you don’t know this place.

That thought was like a drop of ink in a pool of water, it permeated and tainted everything. A dark haze leaked into the air like my drop of ink and all that warmth and comfort was stripped from me. This place became sinister, a world of stars dulled with permeated ink. An anxiety prickled in my chest and I wondered why I knew I didn’t know this place. That had to be my waking mind. The part of me that knew it was a dream.

But that part of me was trapped. Trapped in an entity that was born of this dream. We were two separate people yet at this moment we were the same. All that affected me affected it and all that affected it affected me. My host was my prison and there was no escaping, I couldn’t wake up. My anxiety prickled again as a realization trickled into my mind.

She’s coming.

How did I know that? I didn’t have long to contemplate because there was a figure in front of me. I didn’t see her walking but she was there and at that moment I knew who she was. She was Madam. I was coming to her for information. It was important and... I didn’t know. I wanted to scream at her for something, ask her for something, beg her for something but I didn’t know what it was. But my body moved on its own. My lungs, my vocal cords, my mouth, all working against me to communicate. I couldn’t feel my body move. But this wasn’t my body was it? No. And these feelings weren’t mine either? No. They were my host’s feelings.

My host’s feelings rising into me. That’s what it had to be. All of these feelings, perceptions, all of these knowings could not be from me. But if I could feel my host could it feel me? Did it know I was here taking witness to these events? I didn’t know. I didn’t have access to my host’s conscious thought.

There was a moment of pause and I realized my host was done with Madam and I took this moment to observe her. Madam stood before me with ghost white hair and the grayed out eyes of a blind woman. Abnormally long arms and long legs, combined with her tall frame made her look like a stick bug. She was dressed in purple-red velvet robes with mismatched gold embroidery. Her eyes darted around the room glancing at everything and nothing all at once. But even with all that she looked at she wouldn’t look at me. Blind eyes danced around my form.

If there was any hope of getting information out of Madam before my arrival it was gone now. She stood at her place in the doorway, twitching like a marionette. My host shifted away from her in defeat. There was still something I was missing. A danger that I couldn’t grasp. I felt a tingle in the back of my neck. It was the first time I could feel any part of my host’s body. The tingling feeling was the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end.

I saw it, the shift of a shadow out the window and fear gripped my throat like an icy hand, cutting off the air to my newly felt lungs. My host made a rapid stumble toward the window and gripped the window sill. The overwhelming sensation of falling tore through me like a cold wind and I wondered which of us gripped the sill. Madam didn’t even say anything, she simply watched our spectacle from her position in the door frame. She stood in a silent stupor that blared her guilt like a siren. Something shivered next to us. A Great Dane, twisted and thin by my side, quivered with fear and concern.

Always by my side.

I tried to push my host’s thoughts of the creature aside. Focusing on this new-found ability to feel my host’s body was too disorienting. I felt every part of its body but I could not physically react to anything. It was hard to process something without a physical reaction and it was far too hard to distinguish between it and me. We mixed together so that what was its and mine was now ours. I couldn’t hold onto a sense of me.

There was a deep inhale, drawing as much breath as possible, deep into our stomach. Once every inch of us was filled, the icy hand released our throat giving way to an unleashing of white hot fire. My host released its breath, forcing it out of the lungs in hot rampant fear. But the sound did not carry. There was no scream. The air rushed past our vocal cords like shards of steel. The rasping of the air rushing across a ravaged throat blared, but barely extended three feet past our lips. They slowly turned into panicked sobs.

My host crawled out the window pushing every muscle to the point of destruction but our movements weren’t quick enough. Knees hit the cold earth. The wet grass dampened shins, the cold air chilled the sweat on skin but our body was solid fire. Running across the yard into the black-tarred street, the Great Dane urged my host to stop. I could feel him. His fear and panic added to my hysteria or was it my host’s? I couldn’t be sure. There was the urge to dry heave. Derek ran ahead with superior speed. He dashed into the opened garage past a wall of darkness that the orange-yellow glow from the street lamps couldn’t touch. Stumbling to a stop on the driveway, we couldn’t enter. Fatigue kept my host frozen but tension kept our body from collapsing from exhaustion. It wouldn’t last though. My host didn’t last.

Vision went before I felt the fall. I panicked as we lay on the ground together. Was my host dead? Was I stuck here even in its death never moving, never seeing, feeling, being? I’d go insane all alone in this place contemplating on its final events and why I was witness to them. But this wasn’t dead. Just sleeping while I wasn’t. Eyes opened and I could see again. It took me a while, waiting for her to move, before I realized that she wasn’t awake, but that I was awake. Taking every bit of feeling in, I rose up from the wet grass.

I welcomed the aching muscles, the chilled sweat on my back, the nausea in my stomach. To be in control again, total control, was a grand gift. I looked to the stars enjoying being able to look where I pleased. I was alone with my own thoughts. No host to distinguish from, no movements not my own. But this wouldn’t last. Somewhere deep inside me I could feel something slumber. My host. So this wasn’t a one-time thing? This wasn’t over.