Episode 1

Telum sketch by Katjadzia

Episode 1

I rolled over again, restlessly lying in bed trying to close my eyes and sleep, but it seemed as if it would never come. Every time my eyelids became heavy and fell shut, I would see horrific images. Monsters, beasts, and what I thought was myself wrapped in combat against them. I wasn’t sure where the images were coming from, and I tried shaking my head to clear the dream. I should probably have not eaten that Indian food.

Tossing and turning, I tried to forget the horrible things I saw. Somehow, I wasn’t sure why, but I had a nagging feeling that I was in danger. Adrenaline coursed through my body and I sat up sweating and breathing hard. I decided it might just be best to get up and get some studying done before school tomorrow. Suddenly, my alarm clock rang. “It’s time to get up anyway.” I groaned

I walked across my dark and cluttered room. I hadn’t cleaned it in a while, and it was probably time. I grabbed a shirt and some pants out of my closet. I didn’t care if they matched today, I was too exhausted. I grabbed some fresh undergarments, and socks before making my way into the bathroom. The room was cold and being completely naked made it feel like the arctic tundra. I jumped into the shower quickly and let the water run until it became hot. I pulled up the tiny lever to project the water through the shower head, and jumped back as quickly as I could, to get away from the initial burst of icy liquid that I knew was coming.

The shower felt nice, and the hot water soothed my tired body. I quickly washed and jumped out. I knew I had plenty of time to get ready, I just really needed coffee. So I quickly finished drying and getting dressed. Wrapping a towel around my long black hair I made my way into the kitchen. Coffee was already brewed, thank god for automatic coffee pots. I poured myself a cup and added a spoon of sugar and dash of milk.

My mom was already gone for the day. She left early in the morning and worked far too hard. Normally she’d be gone before I woke up and was asleep before I got home. I tried not to bother her, and normally kept to myself. Occasionally on the weekend we would cross each other’s path, and talk a little, though the conversations were always the same, and never really had much meaning behind them. I knew she loved me though, it was the only reason she worked so hard.

I sat on a stool at the counter and slowly sipped my coffee. It was warm and helped me wake up from the restless sleep I had. I wasn’t hungry, and never really was in the morning, so I skipped breakfast. I knew it wasn’t healthy but I couldn’t force myself to eat. I tried to think about the gruesome nightmares I had, but like most dreams the details seemed fuzzy and distant now that I was awake.

Finishing my creamy coffee I went back upstairs to do my makeup. I was hoping the bathroom would be defogged by now. Luckily it was, I applied some black eye shadow, and what most people would consider way too much eyeliner, topping it off with mascara and adding the tiniest amount of blush. I finished the look with some black lip gloss and figured that would be fine for the day. I couldn’t do too much with my hair, it was that awkward kind of wavy. The type that if I brushed would end up as a frizzy blob, and straightening it, would take hours to complete. So, I left it down and wavy, to make my life much easier, I was too tired to put much effort into my appearance today.

I took a few moments to pack my books and binders into my backpack. I grabbed my sketchbook and a small black zipper pouch full of art pencils. They were my lifeline and I couldn’t make it through a day without them. There weren’t many art programs at the school due to lack of funding, so I made sure to keep up on my practice. I decided long ago that there was no way in hell I’d be stuck in Ely for the rest of my life. I had bigger plans and art was my ticket to rising to the top.

It was almost time for school, and I was ready to go. I grabbed my bag, and keys and left the house. I had studied the night before for a test I had, and was ready to get to school and sketch. I jumped in my car, which was a purple Saturn; the front right fender had broken off years ago and was replaced with a blue one that wasn’t even close to matching the color. It drove well but was old and I was pretty sure it was one step up from a plastic toy. Driving to school wasn’t very scenic in the tiny town of Ely. The area we lived in on the eastern border of Nevada was surrounded by mountains, though the town itself seemed dry and barren. I made my way to school, White Pine High, home of the bobcats. It was a small school in a one story building shaped like a figure eight. There were a few warehouses along one side of the school meant for a few extra classes.

The main building was small, and there weren’t many students in the town. A graduating class wouldn’t be more than about 70 people. I didn’t talk to many of them, and most saw me as a freak. I liked it that way. I kept to myself and sketched in the corner of the cafeteria until class was ready. The bell rang and I made my way in that direction. Oh yeah, no lockers. My first class today would be geometry. The teacher was old and had the attitude of being better than everyone. He would brag frequently about his expensive car and the house he bought in France. Most of us hoped on the daily that eventually he would leave and live in this so-called house. Unfortunately, he never seemed to do so.

I was still tired, and his monotone voice would droll on for hours. I started to get drowsy laying my head on the desk. The images of the monsters showed up again. Large three headed dogs, and feral men with sharp teeth. They carried long sharp blades and were faster than my eyes could track. All of a sudden I was locked in combat, and trying to fend them off, but there seemed to be too many and I couldn’t keep up. I turned to block a blow but not quite in time. One of the rabid men stabbed me through the chest. The pain spread fast and I tried to scream but blood poured from my mouth instead. I felt my life slip away from me. Not really sure what was happening, tears streamed down my face. I knew I should have woken up by now, but I seemed to be trapped in this moment.

After what seemed like ages, I shot up, my eyes opened and I gasped, feeling all over my torso, looking for the blade that was buried in my chest! Afraid of being embarrassed I stared around the room but no one was there. The teacher and all the students seemed to have disappeared, could I still be dreaming? I tried to slap myself, Damn that hurt! I winced and I couldn’t understand why I was still here. Why didn’t anyone wake me? Leaving the classroom, I noticed my bag was gone as well. Damn my sketch book was in that bag!

The school was empty. I found myself looking at a clock on the nearby wall, watching the hands on it tick in place, as if time stopped moving. I just knew I had to be dreaming. Anxiously I wandered the empty halls searching for any signs of life. The pictures down the hall that held the faces of the graduating classes were empty. There were white squares where the photos should have been and the names were jumbled as if written in another language. I needed to get out! Whatever this was, it wasn’t my school, not anymore. As I was leaving the school, I stepped out of the door, and felt a rush of energy. It smacked into me like I had just hit a brick wall. It quickly reversed and pulled on me viciously, and I felt as if I was being sucked through a vacuum. I couldn’t breathe! My vision turned black and my body felt limp and numb.

Suddenly everything rushed back. Where the hell am I? I stared at the sky, the world spinning around me as I tried to get my bearings. Slowly, I pulled myself to my feet. Everything looked like I had just stepped into some sort of elvish settlement. It was like I had been dragged into some alternate reality. Large white spires jutted from the ground surrounded by mountains and waterfalls. I could see people wandering through paved paths in the distance. Most wearing long, white robes. I must have been exhausted to dream up something as insane as this place.

Everything around me felt so real. I could smell the air and feel it brush across my skin. It even picked up my hair as it rushed past me. Hearing the falls pound against the river bottoms in the deep of the canyons, made me feel as if I was lost in a mystical world.

This was probably the most confusing as well as most graphic dream I had ever experienced. I decided to head toward the city, figuring I might as well make the best of this dream while I can. As I approached the enormous and beautiful city gates I was stopped. Ten men in full leather armor appeared around me. They held spears and had long hair that flowed around their pointed ears. “Whoa, are you guys elves?” I asked. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

“License please.” One of the elvish men shouted at me. I frantically searched my pockets for my wallet. The man stared at me with a serious and vicious look in his eyes. I got the feeling this city had been in danger and this was the only way to enter safely.

“Sorry I must have left my wallet in my other dream.” I responded sarcastically. I didn’t understand why I needed my license in a world of my own subconscious creation. The men took an aggressive stance and pointed their spears at my tiny body. Suddenly the dream became more of a nightmare.

“Alyza? Oh, great earth mother, Alyza is that you?” I was saved by a female Elf. She stepped through the men wearing a long white robe. “You’ve been gone for weeks.” She looked astonished. As if she knew me closely and never expected my return. “Please come with me, we need to get you some food.” She waved for me to follow and looked at my clothes. “What are you wearing?” she looked confused by my attire.

Before I could respond she dragged me into the city and pulled me into a large building. It was empty besides her and I. “I’m really sorry.” I pulled my arm out of her grasp. “Do I know you?” I asked, trying to be polite, but clearly confused.

“How do you not recognize me Alyza, we’ve been friends for years.” She gasped.

“I’m sorry, I don’t even know where I am. This dream is insane, and I never thought my mind could come up with something like this.”

“Is this a trick? Are you playing me again? You know I’m not so great with these practical jokes that you attempt.” She looked very serious.

“Assuming this isn’t a joke, and that this place is real. Where am I? I honestly have no idea what is happening.”

“You can’t tell me it happened again. I can’t do this again.” The woman sighed and shook her head. Her eyes began to well with tears.

“What happened again? You’re not making any sense.”

“Alyza must have perished. Every time it happens, a new and different Alyza appears, I just didn’t think it would be this soon. I hoped we would have more time.” She cried. My mind couldn’t process the words she spoke. I thought about the dreams I was having. There was no possible way that I was seeing through some other Alyza’s eyes. They were just dreams. Sure they were vivid and I was stabbed in one but it was still just a dream. I didn’t die! Any moment I was going to wake up in my classroom. The tears in her eyes finally fell down her cheeks. “I’m sorry, but if you are here, then you must have expired in your realm. When one Alyza dies, another takes her place. It is her curse. Your curse.”

“What do you mean I died. I was in geometry class, I fell asleep and now I’m here. This has to be a dream made up in my mind.” I was beginning to become anxious and started screaming my words.

“I’m sorry but it’s true. This is a realm that exists on a higher level than yours. If you are here now, then that means the Alyza in this realm perished. Most likely in the battles she was taking place in. You are here now, and cannot exist in two places at once, which means your body will have ceased in your realm.”

“So, you’re saying I literally died in geometry?” I asked, clearly still confused. I know my teacher is boring, but did he really bore me to death? Shaking my head, I began to tremble “This isn’t possible. Life doesn’t work like this.”

“When most people die, they ascend to where they are put in line to continue with their next life, apart from a few. You on the other hand are brought here and only when the Alyza of this realm dies.” She paused for a moment to gather herself. “One Alyza many years ago sought out immortality. We believe your image will be preserved forever, as every time Alyza dies, another takes her place. Allowing her to live on eternally, but only as an icon, not a physical entity.”

As she spoke, I began to feel nauseous. I couldn’t have died. I wasn’t here now, and this wasn’t happening. I felt trapped in denial. What would happen to my mom? I could only imagine what she’d feel getting a call that I had died in class. I tried to process what was happening. I couldn’t focus and my vision began to blur. I felt myself fall backward. Great, I’m dying again! I collapsed and allowed myself to drown in the darkness. I prayed when I opened my eyes, I’d be back in geometry, drooling on my desk.

Read next: Understanding the Collective Intelligence of Pro-opinion
Kat Jadzia

See all posts by Kat Jadzia