The strangest thing that has ever happened to me happened today.
I was cleaning in the library when I found that one of the bookcases opened up like a door. Marcus being Marcus, I wasn’t surprised; his entire mansion is probably filled with a hundred consciously-decided plot devices. I mean, really, I should have just taken it for granted that he has a secret door behind a bookcase.
So, I walked through the bookcase and found a dank, musty old stone corridor. Again, predictable enough. So I walked down the corridor for about ten minutes or so and emerged in the ruins of a castle on top of a snow-covered mountain in the middle of a great forest. At that stage, things had gotten a lot less predictable. Finally starting to get worried, I tried to turn and go back down the corridor. Of course, it was gone.
So I wandered around the castle a bit. I nearly slipped plenty of times on the snow-covered stone but managed to stay upright until I reached the throne room. The doors opened seemingly of their own accord and from within the throne room, the sky outside was dark and filled with stars. The entire room was in darkness but for one slender beam of moonlight shining on a dark puddle of blood.
Suddenly, fire came out of nowhere, snaking its way up the pillars holding the roof and somehow melting them without even warming me. The whole room was now filled with light and how I wish it hadn’t been. Bodies everywhere, lying eviscerated on the floor in various states of decay, dangling by ropes from the ceiling with hollowed-out torsos and nailed to the wall with spears covered in coagulated blood. And basking in it all, the Tree Walker himself seated lazily on the throne. To be honest, even now, I can’t decide which unnerved me more, the mounds of bodies or seeing that thing seated so…no, actually, I don’t need an adverb. Just seeing that thing seated was wrong on so many levels.
I was frozen in place as it lurched upright and started shambling towards me like a corpse fresh from a turn on the rack. It stooped over awkwardly and brought its face right up to mine. As I tried to fight the urge to vomit at the sight of the skin stretched tightly across its featureless skull, I started to hear a noise in my head. At first, it sounded like static but then, in a moment of clarity that was all too brief, I realise it was the sound of a waterfall.
Then the world exploded.
I woke up in a chair in Marcus’s bedroom. For a minute I thought it had just been a dream and the entire episode was pushed out of my mind when I heard Marcus mumbling. I ran over and put my ear to his mouth. He was mumbling “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to” over and over again. At that moment, I didn’t even stop to think about how creepy those words were, I just fell to my knees, overcome with relief that Marcus was starting to recover. Then I looked down and saw that I was kneeling in snow.