Watch her now as she performs the ritual. She is not who you think she is. Yes, she may still be the librarian who smiles as you go in for your study sessions on weeknights. Or she may be that front-of-house friend you had keeping you sane as you worked the morning shifts together a couple jobs ago, whom you haven’t spoken to since quitting. Or she may even be the aunt on your stepfather’s side who seems nice, but keeps to herself and you keep to yours and that’s all very fine. But then there is the ritual, an evening act no one has witnessed in all her unknown years here until now. She shows you, has invited you to her home this particular day because by the laws of this plane her time is running short. She has aged; the ritual can only be performed by her so many more times before she succumbs to the earth, as we all do. And for whatever reason, of everyone she has met in this world you are chosen, you are her most trusted to see the ritual continued.
Watch carefully. Take note.
She closes the door behind you. Standing at her heels you absorb the room. It is quaint, somehow just as you imagined it to be. Maroon drapes shutter the windows, furniture sparsed about, a chest high dresser to the left, a full body mirror to the right of it. The centerpiece: a king sized bed, commanding the space as such, leaving little room for legs to circle around it.
Without looking back at you she disrobes. Were it not for the prior discussion between you about the events to transpire you would be taken aback at her candor. As she approaches the bed, however, you realize that she has absented you from her focus. She has succumbed to the ritual.
Looming beside the bed she peels back the duvet and top sheet in one, revealing a door. It is a simple, single wooden door, windowless, not unlike what would be found as the entrance to any common neighborhood home. It lies there, not on top of the mattress, but sunken in lightly, to be level with the top of the cushion.
She climbs into bed with the natural non-grace of any normal human, though at this point it has become clear to you that that is a naïve observation. Otherworldly events transpire here.
Pulling the covers over her body the woman nuzzles into a comfort. Her body rests atop the door, nestled carefully within its frame. She closes her eyes. You stand there immovable, afraid of the slightest creak from your shifting body interrupting her drift.
It is but moments before she is asleep.
With the fading of her consciousness the door slowly opens beneath her. Now you approach, to keep her in view.
Down she floats on lunar-like gravity, sinking deep and deeper into a dark cerulean void. Her hair spreads out with the porosity of water as she falls. Past her body you see the truth.
Mountainous from head to toe, curled up like a fetus in womb, is the colossal god, or God if the spirit allows. You, a dream, can see the Dreamer. The One for whom the reality you live in, universe and all, is nothing more than an unconscious fantasy. The One whom in the threat of waking, can blink you and everything you know out of existence.
Listen closely, for here is the remedy to that nightmare for which we all fear.
She sings to It.
A gentle, harmonious, soporific lullaby. A spell of her own making to keep God under. The same song she used in the Beginning to put It to sleep in order to escape a judgment for unknowable crimes in the realm she fled from.
Successfully she has hidden here, the real world to us and a dream refuge to her. Living an honest life to repay her sins in another, performing the ritual each night till her last. The lullaby that must never not be sung to the dreaming.
Soon she will be able to sing it no more.
Ben Talley was raised in the humid stew of Alabama and is a pretty okay guy, despite what the cat thinks. If you speak to his grandmother, let her know that he eats regularly.