Sunday, 8 January 2012


Note: this is a sequel to Five.

After flying for hours without a break, his wings had grown so heavy it felt like he had to beat the air he was supposed to glide through into submission, and it got harder with every flap. Some part of him, the one that was still thinking, had hoped the exercise would free his numb mind, but it didn’t. To the contrary, he was now feeling dizzy of exhaustion as well.
At least he had reached the Himalaya. Instead of heading towards his cave, though, the dragon decided to go on - and up. His lungs seared as he climbed through the clouds, which clung to his body as though they’d never want to let go. Some part of him, the one that felt the agony, wanted to see heaven.
The clouds around him got denser and denser, until he lost all sense of direction. The mountain peak, white with snow, was only visible up close. The last thing he saw was the glitter of frozen snow.

“Brian.” The voice was soft, nothing but a whisper. He remembered looking for heaven and glitter in his face, and thought of an angel.
Carefully, the dragon opened his eyes. The world took some time to slide into focus, but in the end the white blot before dark background resolved to be humanoid, with huge feathery wings, in front of hard rock.
“I am dead,” he said with certainty.
The angel smiled. “No, you are not dead, although you did give it a fairly good try, Brian.”
Groaning, the dragon lifted his head. “What happened, then?”
“You were confused, I assume, and got lost inside a cloud. Then you encountered a mountain and crashed right into it. I watched, and brought you home.”
“Why didn’t you warn me?”
“We do not interfere.”
“But you brought me home.”
When it was clear that the angel wouldn’t elaborate, Brian concentrated on his body instead. It hurt, but there didn’t seem to be any serious injuries.
“I wanted to see heaven. You know, they say Himalaya is so close that you could jump right into it from there.”
The angel smiled. “In heaven we've always considered this to be a slight exaggeration. Except, of course, when you jump off a mountain; then you might have a chance.” He winked.
In the silence that followed the angel’s statement, Brian got slowly to his feet and looked around. He was back in his cave all right, and the world outside was dark enough to suggest that it was night, considering that the light of stars and moon was always reflected and multiplied by the snow.
“What’s your name, by the way? Or should I simply call you ‘my saviour’?” he asked the angel, smirking.
“I see you are recovering fast.” The angel grinned back at him. “My name is Arthur.”
“And you already know who I am, of course.”
“Of course.” Arthur’s face turned serious then. “I think we have to talk, Brian.”
“More non-intervention?”
“Something like that, yes.” The angel sat down on the ground and waited for the dragon to do the same.
“The confusion you are fighting with is dangerous. Not only to you, as we have seen, but also to the whole dream world. We need you as our guard.”
“You have two options: either you come to terms with what happened, or we make you forget again.”
Brian growled. “Again? Does that mean you have done this to me?!”
Arthur shook his head. “No. That you forget your past is an essential part of the transition process. The guard has to live for this world, not think of the other one.”
“Has it always been like that?”
“Nobody ever remembered who he or she was?”
“Until the day they died. Then, and only then, are they allowed to remember and return to their human bodies.”
“But by then all their friends and relatives are already dead, right? Norbert told me he was more than two hundred years old.”
“That is correct.”
“This is crazy!”
“No, Brian. It is necessary. And you agreed, before you were transformed. You were ready then.”
“LIAR!” The whole cave shook with the dragon’s rage. “I cannot remember any of this.”
“You only remember what you want to remember, Brian. The memories Anne woke in you, the things you now know, are a small fraction of your former life. They are only the good things, those that would make you want to go back. The others, the things that made you come here, have not yet surfaced.”
The dragon shook his head in disbelieve. “Anne? The girl I once knew? She was the old woman?”
“How long have I been here?”
The angel shrugged. “We are not good at counting years, but between 80 and 90 of them, I should think.”
“NO!” Brian’s scream bounced through the cave. Outside, an avalanche rolled down the side of the mountain.
“You see, it is too late to go back, Brian. Let me help you.”
“And what are you going to do? Take my memories away from me again? NEVER! I’d rather live with the pain.”
“Are you sure?”
“YES. Now leave me alone.”
Reluctantly, the angel faded away, leaving the dragon alone in his cave. He curled up near the entrance, his head on his tail, and stared at the stars.
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