Photo by Robert Lukeman
The mysterious Map their Aunt Aloysia had given them wasn’t in English, nor in any known alphabet. And yet Gina and Zack were able to read it, which had something to do with what happened when they’d first touched it—it had somehow become part of them.
They tried for days to figure out where the Ten Kingdoms of Ismara were, but to no avail. Gina poured through Dad’s old Britannica, Zack combed the Internet. But there was no Ismara anywhere; there never had been.
Who would go to the trouble of making a huge, detailed map of a place that didn’t exist? And why did the Dore siblings feel so certain their Aunt Aloysia had meant for them to go there? How could their minds have been flooded with images of non-existent places? And why did they long for Ismara the way people long for home? They eventually gave up hope. Yet, oddly, the less they looked, the more they dreamed of Ismara:
Gina dreamed of a forest filled with glowing copper-barked trees, of fields full of yellow-green grain, and a kingdom made entirely of ice. And something else invaded her dreams, or rather someone: a tall figure shrouded in a heavy cloak, whose face was obscured by a strange purple-gold helmet. She was inexplicably drawn to him (she felt certain it was a him). Only his eyes were visible, but, oh, those eyes. They were deep-set and sable brown, and bore an unfathomable sorrow. The moment he saw her, each time, he would reach for her, but then she would wake up. Shaking. Excited. Relieved. Disappointed.
Zack dreamed of mountains so high they held up the sky, and of a city that was half in the tree tops and half underground. But his dreams were also invaded by something else, something horrible and inexplicable: First he would see dark-cowled figures, Gerdan Tinkurs, dragging terrified animals toward a stone platform—he didn’t recognize their species but he recognized their pain, because in his dreams he would become one of them. Then, after being nailed to the stone platform, he would look up into the soulless eyes of a sallow-faced man.
Zack would struggle at first, but then surrender as the pain swallowed his body; he would watch as the man lifted a gleaming violet blade and cut into his living flesh, removing his organs one by one. The agony was beyond pain—it was as if the man were cutting away his very being. And then the sound of his own moaning would wake him up, and he would find himself tangled…
In a knot of sweat-soaked sheets.
To read the next episode, click here.
Thoughts: Are our dreams simply echoes of waking life? Or are they sometimes whispers of an unimagined future?