This post is part of ‘WORLDS WITHIN WORLDS’, a series of writings about Prunella (Ella) Smith, author, editor & reviewer, and the many worlds she inhabits: her physical reality; her online world where disgruntled author Dita stalks; the worlds of the books she edits; her dream world, and the world beneath the veil of her ordinary reality.
Click here for the previous offerings in reverse order, or here for links to them in order.
Worlds Within Worlds: Intruder in the Dreamworld.
My feet pounded the hard earth, jarring my bones, but I could not stop. I could hear the monster closing in behind me, his breath coming in hard pants. I tripped and stumbled over a fallen branch, only just saving myself from a fall. An evil chuckle reverberated through the darkening forest.
‘I’m going to get you, Bitch.’ The chill in the beast’s voice sent shivers down my spine.
I ran faster, my legs burning with the effort, and looked desperately for somewhere to hide, somewhere to escape this monster set on destroying the very fabric of my life. But I knew this forest, and knew there was nowhere here that could keep me safe from this thing bent on revenge.
At least I was making him work for his meal! The thought flashed through my mind, and I smiled—a ray of light in the gloom. My heart lifted. Surely this couldn’t be real. What had I done to turn a man into a monster? Tell him a truth he wasn’t willing to hear? Why then had he asked me to tell him?
My breath came in gasps and a stitch formed at my side. I clutched the pain, kept running, and chanced a glance behind. A dark, human-shaped blob wearing a hoody raced after me, but perhaps he was slowing. I hoped.
The rock! It might be enough. I ran down the track that led to the largest rock in the forest. A tree nestled close behind it. Perhaps I could battle the lantana surrounding it and squeeze between the two. The sticky plant scratched my face and hands and grabbed at my hair as I dived beneath it and crawled to the tree in the middle of the tangle of weeds. Yes! I squeezed myself behind the trunk and, with my back slammed hard against the rock, tried to still my gasping breath. Something crawled over my bare arms. A bite. Ants! I brushed them off and tried not to wriggle, or wonder what else lived in the bark.
The beast crashed through the undergrowth and stopped. I peeked through the scraggle of bushes and held my breath. The thing cocked its head and sniffed. God! Could it smell my sweat? The head swivelled and red eyes glowing from beneath the hood fixed on me. An arm pushed back the hood and an evil smile spread slowly over the pale, pockmarked face. Dita?
The monster pulled a machete from—I don’t know from where; one minute he had nothing in his hand and the next moment he was attacking the lantana with a machete, cutting a swathe through it towards me. I swallowed in a suddenly dry throat and, sure that something crawled on it, yanked a twig from my long hair.
Wait a minute! I don’t have long hair.
My eyes flew open, and I mentally kicked myself. I lay warm and safe in my bed, but I had allowed that bullying author to get into my dreamworld. He didn’t belong there. He didn’t belong in any of my worlds! But he had shoved his way in, spreading abuse wherever he went. In my physical reality, I hadn’t let him bother me; I’d just ignored him, but I still felt a little hiccup in my heart whenever I saw that he had written something about me. It didn’t last long; they were only words, after all, but clearly they had registered somewhere in my psyche, and now, like some virus emerging into its virulent phase, Dita had appeared in my dreams.
Next time, I’ll have a sword and I’ll be able to use it. REALLY WELL.