Petals of the Rose
Dreams of Abduction
Since it is very late and they’ve obviously got a lot more work ahead of them, they decide not to traipse into the Hedge at this time of night. They also want to talk to Lucinda. They agree to adjourn for the night and meet at Pioneer Square in the morning.
That night, each one dreams…
An asian girl is walking somewhere in the afternoon. All around her are the iconic trappings of the late sixties. People dressed like hippies, a pair of men in clean-cut outfits with buzz cuts and horn-rimmed glasses. As she walks along, she decides to take a different route than she’s taken before.
A man calls to her, asking if she can help him find his dog, Skippy. He holds up a leash. Nervous, she tries to turn him down, but he pleads with her, and she finds herself agreeing to search. Together, the two hunt along the sidewalks of the city. Then the man gasps and points, and they take off after the fleeting shape of a small dog. They turn down an alley and the girl notices the area growing more wild. They must have entered a park.
Continuing to chase along after the fleeting glimpses of the dog, the girl outpaces the man, until he is running along behind her. After a while, she forgets why she is running. Was she searching for something? Something is behind her. She must be running from something! She flees, until eventually she finds herself cornered.
A towering shape overshadows her, and glowing eyes smile at her as a voice says, “There you are. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Running away like that. Let’s take you home…”
The dreams roil and shift…
A man hunches over a workbench in a musty shop. He’s interrupted by the jingle-jangle of the door to the shop opening, which is odd because he could swear he’d locked it. He looks up to see a dark man in a big coat standing in front of him.
The man holds up a box. He says, “If you can tell me what is in this box without opening it, you can have a treasure beyond your wildest dreams.”
“Without opening it? Well, perhaps I can do that. What sort of treasure?”
“A fantastic one. So you intend to try?”
“Sure, why not?” The hunched man stretches his back and takes the box. It’s a very small wooden box, engraved with all sorts of symbols and shapes on its surface. It doesn’t appear to have a latch or a lid, or seams or joins in any places.
The man at the table fiddles with the box, commenting to himself about the nature of the symbols, inferring cultural associations and possible age. Accidentally, he discovers a hidden button which causes the box to pop open. It holds nothing inside it but a dead gerbil.
Confused, the man looks up. The dark gentleman’s eyes glitter from underneath a pile of hair that suddenly seems to quiver excitedly. “You failed. But you displayed an interesting command of historical details.” He snatches back the box, and holds it open for the man to see. It seems to grow, enveloping his vision, until he is swallowed up by it and there is the sound of wood sliding into place.
A lull comes, between dreams, and then…
A scruffy young man is hanging out in his apartment. He’s watching television. After a few minutes, a Hispanic guy comes into the room, followed by a short man with a weasel-y face and twitchy demeanor. The guy on the couch looks up as they come in and frowns. “Jake, where have you been? You were supposed to be back hours ago?”
The Hispanic guy says, “Hey, Josh. I was out drinking and I met this guy. He’s cool.”
The short guy steps around Jake and offers Josh some sort of green glass bottle wrapped in a brown paper bag. “You seem like a nice guy. Want a drink?”
Not only disinterested in the drink, but punched in the nose by the stench coming off of the creepy little man, Josh turns him town. He continues, “I think you should get out of my apartment.”
“I came here to have a good time.”
Jake grabs the guy by the shoulder and says, “Hey, let’s just go. If Josh doesn’t want to drink with us, we can go somewhere else.”
Snarling, the man gives Jake a mighty shove against the wall. Jake crumples to the floor in a heap, and the little man turns to leave. Josh springs up from the couch. He gives one look to Jake’s unconscious body and then launches himself at the weasel. He spins the man around and punches him in the jaw. It’s like punching a brick wall. Josh clutches his hand in agony.
“You’ve got spunk, my boy. You might go far.”
The weasel grabs Josh around the throat and hauls him out the door, into a world of thorns.
A reprieve follows, before the sound of leaves blowing…
Two young men walk through the forest. They spend a few minutes talking about their father, and his problems with drinking, and whether their mother can be forgiven for her actions.
Scooping up and throwing a stone, the younger man is puzzled by a clacking sound when the stone hits the ground. “What was that?”
The older one says “I don’t know. Let’s go check.”
They come upon a hole in the earth. There’s a cave opening right there, and the younger man says “Let’s check it out. Huh?”
“I don’t know. We don’t know if its safe.”
“Don’t be a baby, bro.” He pulls out a flashlight and climbs down into the cave. The older brother reluctantly follows. After a few minutes of exploring, the walls of the cave are beginning to show signs of vegetation, lichens and mosses covering parts of the walls, but with nasty thorns buried in among the loamy green patches.
The young men have lost sight of the way out, having taken a few turns here and there and being surrounded with darkness.
Without warning, the narrow tunnel they were following opens into a chamber surrounded by a ring of lava. Lava! The boys stare around in puzzlement. They separate around the edge of the room, getting as close as they dare to the heat of the lava.
When they meet again at the far side of the cavern, they haven’t found any other exit. Back across the space, there is no exit. No way out, The wall is bare and has no path back the way they came.
Right as despair begins to take them, a rumble rises from beneath their feet, and then the ground cracks, and an immense shape stands from a tunnel it has pierced upward into the chamber. A giant of stone and magma spots the two terrified young men and reaches for them. “Youuuuuuuu doooon’t belooooong heeeeere.”
It takes one boy in each immense fist and then plunges back into the earth.
And everything is darkness.