We remembered these skies. It took a long time to get back to them, but we remembered the blueness of their open vistas that spread out to the horizon and the clouds floating free on the winds and breezes.
So different to where we’d been.
Chorla took me by the hand and led me up the soft grass of the hillside. There was a place, we liked to think of it as our place, but the names carved into the stones up there showed it had been their place to many other couples over the centuries too.
It was nice, in the best sense of that word, to come back to a place with history, to get away from the dark lands we’d hunted and been hunted through for so long.
When the nightmares began, no-one made the connection. Those creatures and the landscapes they inhabit have haunted the human mind for eons,
It was social media, of all places, the place where the trivia and the tedious meet, that first noticed the phenomena.
None of the people who first had the nightmares realised there were people out there waiting, watching for it to reappear.
They called themselves The Sentinels.
Chorla and I were amongst the first they recruited. We were in that first cadre of those taught how to twist our dreams open so that they connected to each other, and how we could step inside those dream landscapes, into the nightmares, to fight the creatures that were coming for us, coming for all mankind.
All religions appear to have devils and demons, tricksters and hell landscapes. Some see them as metaphors as ways of giving evil a habitation and a name. But those of us who had the nightmares, learnt how to enter them know that those landscapes are real.
But not real I the way this blue sky, Chorla by my side, and this soft grass beneath us is real.
The nightmare landscapes, the Dark Vales as the Sentinels call them, are real but part of the imagination too.
Those hellish landscapes of churning darkness and searing flame are real but they exist only in the mind, as do the creatures that live there.
But those landscapes can be fatal and those creatures can kill. Given enough imagination they can spread, grow, become so powerful that they can escape the mind lands and walk this earth of blue skies, soft grass and gentle touches. Tearing it all apart and bring their smoke, fire, sharp claws and ripping teeth to this world.
We give them power through our imaginations, our dreams, and they are willing to take it, tearing us apart as they break free of that prison our minds and our waking hours make for them.
All it takes is for people to share their nightmares, link them together, tell each other the tales of how they stumbled unaware into the Vales, and how those creatures were there, waiting for them.
Then, it’s for us, the Sentinels to take up our arms and enter those worlds to keep everyone’s dreams safe from the nightmares that threaten to become too real.