PART ONE: THE TWEAKER – London, England
Chapter One – Ewah the Great
(Vibrant Emerald Green)
I was twelve years old the first time it happened. Or at least the first time I noticed it happening.
I was babysitting Quincy Graham, the neighbours’ little girl.
My first ever job.
I fed her and played with her, and then, just like Mrs Graham had told me, at seven o’clock I went to put her to bed. But Quincy wouldn’t sleep. She cried and cried, and so I did the only thing I knew. My one real memory of my mother’s love … I climbed into the bed beside her, and cuddled her until she fell asleep.
Lying there in the dark, listening to Quincy’s steady breathing, and feeling her delicate rib cage rise and fall against my arm, it was hard not to be lulled to sleep too, but I knew I must stay awake. I was a big girl, and the Grahams trusted me. I was responsible. I must stay awake. And so I looked around the room for some distraction. And that was when I heard it.
The noise appeared so suddenly it made me jump. In fact that was how I knew I wasn’t asleep. I felt myself jump. Quincy was still beside me, sleeping soundly in my arms, and everything around me was just the same, but there was that noise. Like a television sprung to life in another room. These days I like to think of it as a radio frequency I’m specially tuned into. A menu of shows, exclusively for my viewership. But that night, it was a TV. A TV someone just happened to switch on.
A TV Quincy switched on for me.
I still can’t work out how I knew. Because I did know. I didn’t move. I didn’t unwrap my arms from the sleeping child. I didn’t go looking for the TV. I just lay there beside Quincy, tenderly stroking her arm, and I fell right into the sound. I fell into the show.
I’ve revisited that night a thousand times, and the more I remember that show, the less I believe it was the first time. Perhaps I’d always had the gift, but I’d just been too young to appreciate it? Perhaps in a world of adults and older children I had understood what I’d seen, because their shows belonged to a world I knew, and just accepted it … but Quincy’s show was different.
I fell into the show, and there I was, in a room full of pillows. It was strange because I couldn’t see them, but everything just felt so soft, and the only thing I could associate with the feeling was pillows … I could smell milk, so sweet it made me drowsy, and the world flashed with colours and noises I understood and yet I didn’t.
And then I heard her. Her voice rang clear. Clearer than anything in the perplexing world of things I felt I knew but didn’t. Quincy spoke. Not the confused burbling of a toddler, but the fluent thoughts of an adult.
‘Save me!’ she cried. ‘Save me from the monster!’
Suddenly in amongst the smells and colours, I could see her. The tiny toddler stepped into view. Her steps were as confident as her voice; completely different to the uncertain wobbles I had seen her take in everyday life. Quincy stepped into the show, and behind her was the scariest monster I have ever seen.
And trust me, these days I know my monsters.
I am faced with them on an almost nightly basis. But Quincy’s monster was definitely the scariest, because it was the first time I had ever seen a monster in the flesh.
You see that’s the thing about the show – the forecaster believes it. Every part of his or her mind sees the show as reality … and so that monster was as real as day. Or should I say night…?
The monster was thirty-feet tall, its scales a putrid green, and smell reminiscent of pond water. Two evil slits claimed to be eyes atop his pig-like snout, and his sharp teeth dripped with sticky saliva.
‘Ellody, I’m scared!’ Quincy shouted at the top of her voice, and yet I was still so aware of her sleeping peacefully in my arms.
It was the first time I’d ever heard her say my full name. ‘E-wah’ was the moniker I had become used to.
‘Ellody!’ she screamed again, and I ran to her. ‘Quincy, I’m here, I’m here!’ I shouted, but the little girl didn’t hear me. I grabbed her arm, and felt the warmth of her skin, so similar to that of the child who still lay in my arms, and yet she didn’t turn. She didn’t even flinch. It was as if I wasn’t there. Instead, she stared up at the evil monster, completely unaware of my presence … and then I stepped into the show.
Not the ‘me’ I know. Not the five-foot three weakling I see in the mirror, but a giant, formidable version of myself. It was definitely me. I recognised the jet black locks and icy blue eyes … but there was something so different about me.
Apart from the obvious fact that I was forty-foot tall!
You see in the show, I towered over the evil monster, and yet the first thing that struck me … the first random thought that pinged into my brain … was how radiant I looked! I seemed to glow – a look I doubt I would ever be able to achieve even with the most carefully applied make up! But here in the show, I glowed like a Cover Girl commercial. My very presence seemed to warm the room, or the hollow, or whatever weird pillow-filled reality we were all standing in.
Quincy beamed up at the Giant Me, and then I spoke. Well I didn’t speak, but the giant radiant me did … ‘Quincy, I will save you. Do not fear!’ I boomed in a voice that reminded me of my primary school headmistress. And Giant Me whipped a sword out of nowhere and cut the evil monster in two!
I leapt from the tiny single bed, panting for breath. Not quite sure what had gone on, but knowing that somehow, the gross monster slime that had spurted out from the decapitated beast and covered me, was on some level real. As I brushed my arms, trying to remove the sticky substance that wasn’t even there, Quincy stirred. I had woken her up in my haste.
‘E-wah …’ she said sleepily, and then beamed up at me, with a look that I knew meant that I had really just saved her …
My name is Ellody Rose and I’m a Dream Navigator.
Or at least that’s what I’ve come to call it. Giving it a title, it’s like giving myself a vocation, making what I can do legitimate. But in reality, what I can do is pretty bloody weird.
I see people’s dreams.
I don’t just see them, but I take part in them. I travel around inside people’s head, an uninvited visitor. I live their dreams along with them, unseen. Hiding behind the excitement, the drama or the fear. But being a Dream Navigator is much more than that. I’m not a helpless spectator to their selfish whims and hidden fears. No, I physically live in their dreams.
I experience their demons with the same tangible reality as my first day of school, the day my mother died and my first kiss.
© C-C Lester 2011