Contributed by Lucas Fisher
His expression ceased to waver at Clementine. She had heard in the torture cells that only children with powerful or formidable qualities could be testified. Unbeknownst to her, each sentry reported signs of individuality and unbreakable will power from her time in the prison and the cells. Each device had her scream but never conform to their commands as the others had. This drew the Practitioner from his studies in bitter haste. Most of the subjects sent to his care were broken beyond salvation. Clementine was beckoned to the sofa. Humans had a saying (now null and void) that the spoken word is one of the triumphs of man. Now, their evolved deformities and monstrous abilities improved their understanding of the invisible vortex, a gateway to the dimensions beyond our third, and usage of its foreign laws.
No words were uttered, not a single vowel or form of syntax. She could feel his communication within. The hypnotic spell his eyes cast slowed her heart rate and absorbed her energy into a dreamful sleep. Unlike the others, her dream wasn’t a flash before waking. She became engulfed within her own psych as the Practitioner communicated. Clem could move freely similar to the real world with the exception of no ground. She could walk, but not fly. It was a void that contained swirling doors, each more unique than the last. Lost in a transparent universe, the man forced one entrance to illuminate brightly. This is a dark door wrapped in chains and whip marks and smelled of cursed cinnamon; the worst torture of all. The Practitioner sent a gift through the dream world, her only belonging from within the prison, for comfort and courage of knowing there was an outside world awaiting her.
Each door led to memories from get-ups to rags, but all were closed to her except the darkest entry-way shrouded in unpleasantries; a journey no other has returned from in the humans’ eyes/history. No child has retrieved it quite yet, they have always lost to temptation or madness. Clementine could feel the insane laughter of abandoned test subjects as she drew closer. She entered her nightmares. Alive but dead inside, at least not yet.
She clutched to the umbrella within her fingertips in observance to the world around. The door was still behind her in this planet of oddities. In the new void, landscapes metamorphosed around her. The door changed into an exit while walls and floors asserted themselves.
Clementine stood in a newly created passage with doors on either side of her down the hall. Each one leading to an exaggerated memory. Similar to human magic, her umbrella lit up blue, a light amidst dark and grew brighter as she paced quietly through. The blood velvet rug never faltered beneath her in the endless hallway. Her purpose was unclear as the item intensified with each door she passed. In a bright and sudden flash, a door to the right sprang open as ink seemed to cover her peripherals. Within, a cottage laid quiet to draw her curiosity and familiarity. The view flew to the grimy, stained window where she could relive only one of the few precious moments in her life. All Clem needed was to step in, let go of the umbrella and become absorbed in her mother’s eyes. She ceased inching forward. Something wasn’t right. Her mother spoke in a strange lure. With extreme effort, she slammed the door closed to escape temptation. Within the dream realm Clem may be immortalized, but her spirit wasn’t. The yellow, blue shining umbrella proceeded to brighten, the further her fears climbed. For once, her only desire was to return to the Cloud. Spiritually at least.
There was a beat. A rhythm that soon pulled Clementine into conformity within her breaths and heart rate. For some reason, her umbrella quit growing in luminosity and stayed consistent. The beat pulsed louder and more powerful until it became a burden. Her pulses, beats and breaths thumped to the rhythm that invaded her ears. The threat quickly (and ironically) rose as the rhythm began to slow, bringing herself down with it. It kept dwindling and shrinking; breathing became difficult and any will to stray off beat produced a sharp pain. She begged for the Practitioner to send a sign, to guide her. A desperate final attempt for life drove her through a hellish door to the left. In the new reality, there was no beating. Everything seemed calm. Feeble and afraid, Clementine lifted herself up as the glow began to intensify once more. Twisted. That’s what this is. Curse the humans. Clementine despaired at the thought of them sending her into an evil abyss. Whatever the Practitioner desired, she wouldn’t give it up that easily.