His dream began unbeknownst to him. As the setting was where he lived and the cast composed of those he knew, it was as if he had never drifted off to sleep. It says something about a person when their dreams take them no farther than what they already know. They might be the type who are happy and comfortable with all they've come to know and desire very little, or they might be the type who struggle daily and just wish to get things right. This subject was the latter, but unlike most, no matter how many times he ran things through in his mind, he could never quite figure things out. As usual, his thoughts took him back to where he had grown up and where he still currently dwelled.
In his dream, he woke up believing he had finally achieved a good night's rest. Light poured in through his bedside panes as he took his first steps out of bed. For a moment he reflected on how nice it was to not need to reach for the light switch nor need to rush to reset the alarm. For the past month he had trouble falling asleep in the dark, as though he were not within the safe confines of his own house but rather within the unforgiving limits of the wilderness. He had always slept in this bed, in this house which he had grown up in. The house was not haunted nor was its keeper the protector of some mystery, he just appreciated things as they had always been.
By the time he left to collect the eggs for his breakfast, the rooster had long retired to its coop. His boots picked up and carried the earth with them, leaving his trail in case somebody came looking for him. Although he rose in the sun's early light, the day had returned to the dreary state in which he had fallen asleep. The most intuitive of his animals, the rabbits, retreated deep into their hutches and at last emerged as he passed them. The least intuitive of his animals, the goats, rushed to meet him, their muzzles and bellies stained an uninviting shade of brown. Setting his eggs down, he warily tugged at their beards while he fed them from his other hand. Savoring the moment, they licked his hands clean, removing the stains they had just left. Content, he went on to collect from the rest of his animals before heading out to tend his crops. Then he would enjoy breakfast.
Who would have guessed that this subject, this man who lived so simply and peacefully, suffered in his sleep? This is why we study humans the way we do. Like their dreams, humans are far more than what meets the eye. So far I had a hunch about this man--he had lived a tranquil life, and for that he was generally happy…however he was the type to obsess over the slightest disturbance. To suffer narcolepsy, yet remain unaware of what it was that was troubling him, had made this man forfeit the fight with his nightmare, night after night. How could a man hope to tame a beast he knew nothing about? As kind as this man's day had been, I proceeded to survey on my own.
The scenic dream fell apart when he appeared. He was patched, as though the farmer had resorted to eating him in pieces. Despite his limp he overshadowed the rest of the herd, forcing them to retreat and reconvene in brighter pastures. Never had my work beheld such a lucid nightmare. Resigned to the afterlife, his horns grew crooked yet high upon his head. Needless to say, it would be necessary to take the bull by its horns and remove his crown. He was quite the specimen, one I couldn't wait to welcome into the Menagerie. But I couldn't allow first impressions to get the better of me. To be woken from death by this midnight ram, night after night...this subject would have testified to the most horrible of ordeals if he had not been spared for being unable to remember upon waking!
To sate my curiosity, I grant the black sheep the opportunity to find the farmer before introducing myself. For something like this to be birthed from the mind of such an unassuming man…was it simply the outcome of a guileless farmer having reaped what he had sown? While the dream had been plain and honest, was it wrong to interpret this nightmare just as literally? It was difficult to believe that this black sheep could have ever grazed among the rest…I would need to observe the farmer's response upon discovering it to ascertain whether it had once truly existed this way. At this time, I had become unaware of the whereabouts of the farmer, so I opt to trail the nightmare as it lurked about.
As the midnight ram haunt the grounds the idyllic dream once more gave way to a harsh nightmare. The sky had turned grey, the ground was left muddy, but worst of all the storm dwelt in the sky. On his hunt for the farmer, the ram came upon the boot tracks, and from there, the confrontation was inevitable--he merely had to saunter on. First he circled around the rabbit hutches, which I noticed had been left bereft of food and which needed cleaning. Then, he passed the goats lying in the mud, making it apparent how they had been left abandoned in the weather all this time. At last the nightmare finally came across the house, only to discover it was vacant. The smell of breakfast hung heavy in the air.
Circling around to discover boot tracks, the midnight ram continued on his quest. The trail no longer verdant and lush, the earth swallowed his every step, forcing him to toil on. His underbelly immersed, from afar one might mistake him as an ox just cut loose from a wagon he had failed to ford. As I trailed him safely from higher ground, I was able to make out the farmer first. Even higher still, the farmer sat by, unperturbed, dedicated to shearing his flock. He had beat the weather, for only his boots betrayed stain. Upon noticing the farmer, the ram abandoned the trail and weathered a straight ascent. As though to hold him back, the earth clung to him, sparing the farmer a crucial moment.
Just as the man finished shearing, another sheep bleat eagerly. At this, he offered it an apology, realizing once again that he could not finish all that he had hoped to accomplish today. Following his father's passing, he had decided to take over the farm and now it was his alone. Out here, where he had the whole world to himself, the man felt proud. Everything he needed was here at home; satisfying labor, good company, and most important: peace and quiet. A black sheep in society, the man knew he belonged back on his farm. Suddenly, his reverie is interrupted as he notices a massive black beast advancing toward him from the depths of the ravine. By this time the rest of the flock has fled, leaving the black sheep on his own.
Finally the man and his nightmare meet face-to-face. The man asks the black sheep whether he has come to be shorn. Weighed down by wool and mud, surely it must desire to be freed to graze among the rest of its kind? At that moment, I decided I'd seen enough. Curiosity sated, I step out and inform the man of what he must realize: Just like yourself, he's too proud to admit it, but this black sheep can't take care of himself. Look at his horns…sure, they're to be proud of, but they've grown far too much for him to handle! Besides, as no one has been there for him, he's had to burden maneuvering about under that midnight cloak all the while…
Just as the man's kindness had staggered the nightmare, my words had staggered this man. Peering at me curiously he implores as to what we should do. I correct him as I gesture toward the black sheep, Not us, rather it is you who must help yourself. In your solitude you have neglected what matters most. Like your farm, you have allowed yourself to fall behind because you haven't realized you need help from somebody else. Don't feel ashamed…
Musing over this, shears in hand, the man tentatively makes his way over to the black sheep. Drawing a rag from his pocket, he wipes the mucus off its muzzle and begins to offer it reprieve. The conversation goes on for a long time, and as the midnight cloak falls in patches, the man and the black sheep achieve peace.
The man woke up having finally achieved a good night's rest…and my job was done. Upon his awakening, I led the midnight ram back to my world, for if I had not, he would have dissipated into the dawn as nightmares always do. A source of pride to us both, he bears his horns as his crown. To this very night, he resides in the Menagerie under the classification: Aries.
Although teenagers are generally unhappy, it is adults which we are primarily called upon to handle. The dreams of teenagers are uncomplicated as they do not realize how simple their yearnings actually are. Unlike adults, which are defeatists rather than idealists, teenagers tend to share more in common, making them easier enigmas than they believe. Furthermore, teenagers lead more connected lives with each other than adults, therefore they are easier to learn about. Never before have I been tasked with investigating the nightmare of a teenager…yet, the subject of consideration that evening was none other than this teenage girl dropping by her locker. That's how I knew she was more than just her appearance, that this case would be more than just what meets the eye.
They say the best times in a human's life are when they are young, but in the case of this subject, the opposite held true. The survivor of a tragic adolescence, she was always found chasing disaster. Perhaps it was never clear to her how it was really her who had saved herself all along, or perhaps it was because she felt it necessary to maintain her adrenaline to keep herself alive. Despite this, she made the right choices…as one must be able to do if they are to stay alive in difficult times. It is said that the good die young and the notorious live long. Only a teen at the time, now she was a full-grown adult…but nobody could tell until she told them this herself.
Only in her nightmares was she thirteen again. Peering down at her ripped jeans, she could tell that she had awakened within yet another nightmare. School was back in session. Wondering whether she could pass the time with her friends until the ordeal was over, she heads to class earlier than usual. She reasons that there, things should stay okay, for who would dare take a drag just to be bad with the teacher there to see? To the chagrin of those who have seen her with her friends, she has never smoked nor done drugs. Nonchalant as always, she goes to retrieve her belongings from her locker. All this time she has seen no one else, yet she carries on as usual. As she shuts her locker, she suffers a sudden yearning for someone else's company. Perhaps it is the ominous echo in the hallway, or perhaps it is what she sees as she closes the locker door--an old photograph of her together with that boy. Anything can happen in a dream, right?
Stoicism as a philosophy is best learned as an adult. However it was taught to him young, when no one cared about his feelings. And, as no one cared, why should he? Unable to resist taking another drag inside the hallway, the teenage boy reflects deeply upon how he turned out. Though warned to never judge another based on their appearance, upon piercing his nose, even his parents began to steer clear. As soon as the deed was done he regret it, and yet, it was enough. Coming to find his girlfriend admiring the photo of the two of them in front of her locker, he charges boldly on, eager to talk with someone who will listen. On his way over he turns the corner too quickly and comes into contact with the wet paint. At that moment all he can see is red.
She knew him since elementary school. The photo of them together takes her back to their childhood, back to when a relationship was okay between two friends, regardless of what others might have said about them. Though a rebel, he had been her protector after her father's life had been taken on the street, when she felt she had no one to keep her safe. Never before had she realized how fast and dangerous the world could be, but he taught her how to keep pace so it wouldn't catch her. In return, she helped him out of his hard times at home by lending him her ear. As time flew by, he grew up to be dangerous, but by then she had learned to survive.
Upon hearing his footsteps, she turns. Relieved upon realizing it is just her boyfriend, she yields and smiles. Another one of her nightmares, she knows what comes next. He waves at her and in reply she holds up her hand, urging him to halt. Although she knows he will tell her himself, she inquires as to why he appears the way he does. He smirks and holds up both hands, which he forgets are covered in red paint.
Just how a racecar needs a new paint job, I needed a change in appearance for high school. You look pretty as always, though. Don’t change!
Suppressing a smile, the teenage girl must compose herself before daring to look her boyfriend in the eye.
But you're the one who keeps telling me it's not about what's on the outside!
Defeated, he bows his head as though a bull about to charge…but then thinks better of it. Following an exasperated sigh he swaggers over, wiping his red stains off onto his black jeans. Before he can approach close enough to rub off on her, she remarks on how they have grown apart. Expressing her genuine feelings about their relationship, she explains how unfair it is of him to expect her to remain the same when he has changed as much as he has. Besides his sudden change in appearance she mentions how she no longer feels safe or protected, as his recent reputation has endangered them both in the past. Upon hearing her concerns he tries approaching her once more, however her nervous flinch changes his mind and causes him to bow his head once more.
In his mind he realized he has made the wrong decision. No one had ever cared to get to know who he truly was except her, so how was this teenage boy to know? All this time he hadn't actually changed who he was inside…it was just how he appeared to her now. After all they had been through together, how was danger an issue if he was always able to protect her? Amidst his confusion, he apologizes. Then he swears he will change once more, but into somebody better this time. But by then she has stopped listening…she had always listened to whatever he had to say before. As he realizes this is not who she is anymore, head bowed, he charges.
Over the years she had grown used to running away. But never from her protector. Fortunate for her there was nobody else to run into besides me. Built more for fight than flight, her betrayed boyfriend had given up the chase and by the time she had vaulted down the stairwell and lapsed the third corner, they were sure to never see each other again.
Although she'd be reluctant to encounter him again, now was the time to intervene. I would have to leave this teenage girl's trust to chance. Upon her turning the sixth corner, we run into each other. Offering her a tacit apology for not getting involved earlier, I cut to the chase: Today was long ago and he has hurt you to this very day. While no one can change the past you can still do what is right. You must forgive and leave him to the past, something your younger self struggled with all those years as she couldn't bring herself to do it then. To do this you must offer his spirit sympathy…only then will this nightmare leave you alone.
Upon taking my leave, she grabs onto my arm. She asks if we could be friends, but I know she means something else. Just as with other subjects I have aided in the past, she is fearful and only desires my security. Only when humans feel secure do they dare to care for anybody else in return…but as in the case of this teenage girl and her nightmare, humans never grow out of feeling insecure. Before I leave, I remind her that if she is to make amends with her younger self, she must face this bully on her own.
They meet up for the final time in front of her locker. He had resorted to waiting for her there ever since. Tentative, she steps forth. Nobody knows who they will grow up to become, and while we have grown up together, we must break apart! I understand why you changed yourself and wanted to grow up faster--because you were uncomfortable with who you were…But, I feel the same! Before, when you asked me to never change, I felt as though you were asking for the rest of my life…but we're only thirteen! Please, understand! As she finishes her plea, she bows her head, anxious for his response. Unsure, he merely extends his hand. By this time he has done his best to wipe it clean. As she reluctantly takes it and bids him farewell, she feels her younger self forgive her. The nightmare never visits again.
No one can stay thirteen forever. At last, the teenage girl can move on from her past. Upon her awakening, I bring the teenage boy back to my world, for if I had not, he would have dissipated at dawn without further contemplation. Since then, he is the nightmare we confide in regarding any curiosity we have about how it is to be human. To date, his classification: Taurus.
Upon a lake the fellow and his dog play fetch beneath the Weeping Willow. As though choreography, time flows smoothly on as the wind blows through the fellow's hair and the waves lap against the dog's paws. Noticing the sunset just begin to reflect over the surface of the lake, the fellow and his dog decide then is a good time to break and return to camp. Once returned they share a rib-eye right off the grill before finishing up in the kitchen. Both satiated and cheerful, together they plan out their next day. At sunrise they will settle fetch and then follow up with birdwatching in the woods. As they both eagerly await for the Audubon app to download, the fellow can't resist but point out the moon and stars. There is something captivating about lying beneath this starry sky, he muses to his canine companion just before returning inside to flip the switch and call it a night.
Although well-read in the subject, the fellow had never taken off for more than the weekend and so the woods remained no more than as he had read about it in his nature guides. In spite of his avid interest in nature, the other campers remarked on how there were aspects about this individual which perplexed them. Such as how he would refuse to accompany them on their trips to museums or menageries, explaining how he felt that the very concepts of domestication and nature in captivity were abhorrent to him. Furthermore, being the hands-on-learner that he was, he would go on further to explain how camping out was simply enough of a learning experience for him. Just like his husky, which would always accompany him while camping, this domesticated fellow still had a wild side despite his fuzzy appearance. As he was the type of camper always asking for a close shave, he found it irresistible to abandon their dinner leftovers on the grill. As the ranger would later explain: When it comes to camping, you will find there are those who can play with fire…and those merely meant to tell scary stories. Needless to say, this fellow was the latter camper.
Besides the opportunity to tell a tale, there is a sense of intrigue associated with exploring the unknown. Just as meeting a stranger in the woods is a novel experience, so was every one of this fellow's camping adventures. Unexpected yet exciting, he would relay the story over and over to his canine companion on the way home. However there comes a time when every camper must come to realize that the woods is best not taken in jest, lest one find their self unable to return to tell of their test. As this fellow had no ears for anybody other than himself, he could only hope to awaken to the truth in his sleep. But, while a dream typically delivers its hidden message by dropping its subject into a deeply personal and familiar setting, this fellow's would do none-other than drop him deep into the unknown…for one who believed they knew so much, yet knew so little, would need to find their self lost in the woods time and time again.
Although a heavy sleeper, he wakes unknowingly in a nightmare. Contemplating what might have awakened him, indignantly he voices his opinion to his canine companion, imploring as to whether it lies wide awake as well. Upon receiving no reply to his complaint, he warily leans over the foot of the bed, only to discover that there is no one there to listen! After deliberating for some time, he gets up to perform some undercover investigating. Hoping to remain covert, he switches the lights off and heads downstairs. However, upon having to recover at the bottom step, he regrets his decision and switches them back on. Just as his vision adjusts, he discovers the kitchen raided and the door left ajar. Apprehensive, he argues with himself for quite some time, before being forced to confess that he might be to blame after all upon seeing the latch left undone. Admitting he might have to take things outside, upon exiting the cabin he discovers his companion remains nowhere to be found. Then, as though the mysterious canine had intended to leave its owner alone to wander off into the woods all along, he gets lost in the woods.
Despite how he might later tell the tale, the fellow never gives up hope of a reunion with his companion. Amidst the storm he seeks shelter beneath an ancient tree. However as the storm drifts overhead, it struggles to free itself from amongst the winding boughs of the tree and forces the canopy to rain upon him. His spirits put out, he finds himself left with no other choice but to seek shelter once again. But upon settling beneath another tree, the storm sends forth lightning and sets the overhead canopy on fire. More afraid of catching a cold than catching aflame, he then removes the canister of alcoholic tincture from around his neck and pours it upon the flames. But his attempt to douse them backfires as they merely lick up the liquor and further ignite. With wild disbelief he can only watch as the tree becomes fully engulfed by the electric blue aura. At this time, the fellow wonders whether the woods is playing a prank on him. Betrayed by its bark, even the nearby birch seems to be peeling with laughter. Only wanting in on the joke, the fellow then decides to wait out the storm in its company, accepting asylum beneath its branches.
The pun then being done, the storm soon subsides and allows the fellow to continue on with his quest. At this point he is no longer so self-assured and he admits he is lost. Still, his determination to reunite with his canine companion shifts him into high gear and fuels him further on. After driving on for quite some time with no clue as to where he should be headed, to his relief he sights another refugee off in the distance and promptly detours to ask for directions. But, just as the stranger's silhouette comes into view, a red warning light flickers on in his mind. However in his eagerness he further accelerates, paying it no more mind than the bucks which resort to diving out of his way while he is on the road. Suddenly to his surprise the stranger issues a honk, as though warning him to drive out of its way, instead. Mistaking its horn as mere acknowledgment, the fellow then finds himself charged by the moose. Afraid of being charged with a hit-and-run, the moose drives away from the scene of the crime.
As it turns out, in order to aid this fellow in escaping from this nightmare, it would be necessary to solve the mystery of his raided cabin. A Dream Detective nonetheless, it fell on me to take on his case and solve this mystery. However, lest I be falsely implicated upon stepping onto the crime scene alone, I would need to comprehend the culprit on my own. From the beginning of the dream, I remained undercover of the woods and so stood witness to the entire crime. Once the fellow had fallen into deep sleep, it was then that the culprit finally emerged to carry out its mission and settle its unfinished business. The dinner left upon the grill was not enough, the culprit wasted no time in taking advantage of the cabin's undone latch to finish none other than what had been left undone in the past. Then, having tasted the pleasures of mankind left it less than satisfied and so it commenced to raid the kitchen. But all of a sudden, having realized it had woke the fellow upstairs, the culprit had no other choice but to flee into the woods and relieve itself of its dirty deed. All the while I had remained out of view but at this time began to trail in close pursuit. Although I would conclude the chase and apprehend the culprit, I would return to discover the fellow was gone. Left without any further clue as to what to do, I had no other choice but to resort to releasing the culprit back into the woods to find its owner.
By the time he finally reaches the lake it is night. Still seeing stars from his run-in with the moose, the fellow now takes a moment to catch his breath. As he takes a long-awaited drink and cools down, he anticipates taking a dip with his canine companion in these waters once more. Peering across the surface of the lake, he spots the Weeping Willow they had played fetch under. He then can't help but wistfully reflect back to the start of his journey and look forward to settling their game once and for all. However off in the woods he notices the moose and the moment is lost for he can't help but lose it upon remembering their earlier affair. Just as the moose sidles over to his side for a drink, who comes to save him other than his canine companion? As his assailant is driven back into the woods, the fellow can finally allow himself to smile--what a tale! But then he can't help but frown. Although it only right that they reunite, it is like two long-lost twins meeting for the first time, their reunion is just too difficult for anybody to believe!
Now reunited, the fellow can patiently trails his companion as it begins to smell their way back to camp. Every dog has its day, the fellow declares proudly into the woods. Just as he says this his companion finishes sniffing about and settles on its favorite tree.
In time they come to pass the Weeping Willow, and the fellow then realizes now is an appropriate time to conclude their day's journey and takes this opportunity to recite a poem:
The sapling grew tall and proud until the sky threatened to uproot it by its very branches.
Thus the sapling wept growing up, afraid of becoming torn from its roots.
Although grown wizened and wise
To this day the Weeping Willow still reaches towards its Mother Earth.
Suddenly struck by a revelation, he shares it with his companion:
I have just come to realize that my tale is similar to the Weeping Willow's for I, too, had grown much too proud and needed to root myself. All this time I needed to realize there were some things I could accomplish alone and this journey has made me all the wiser. Can you truly comprehend all that you have done by bringing me back home?
His companion sneezes, but assures him not to worry so much about it, because it can still smell their way back.
Shortly thereafter they return to their cabin. Despite all the excitement over their newest tale, all the fellow can manage to do is make his way to bed. As he falls into a deep sleep he looks forward to settling their game of fetch once he awakes.
He falls asleep only to wake up to what is real. In the morning he will discover his real companion resting at the foot of his bed, its imaginary counterpart having returned with me to the Menagerie before it could fade away with the rest of the dream. To this day, it uses its nose to sleuth the natural artefacts which we bring from your world. Its classification: Gemini
Life was a race. Always rushing to get to the end of things, she felt that if she wasn't moving forward, she was falling behind. She could never keep still, nor contain her self-perpetuating curiosity. Although she ran the same trails day after day, she could always find a breath-taking souvenir with its own tale to tell. At the end of the day, she derived respite through spending time with her friends by the sea. A conditioned athlete, she would hold her breath for extended periods before returning to the surface to catch her friends by surprise. There in its endless depths, she found freedom. Unlike the linearity of the trails she ran day after day, the sea offered to take her in any direction she might dare explore. There, within the depths of its solitude, she knew she could finally deliberate on her decisions. Whenever she desired time alone, far away from the world, she would only need to dive deeper.
Among her friends she was the one which most enjoyed pushing her limits. As she feared she might miss out, she would often rush into things without thinking and never spare danger a second thought. It was to nobody's surprise when, despite the weather warning, she and her friends would carry on with their intentions to go diving amidst the storm. But how could her friends have imagined the dangerous depths to which she would dive before they would find her washed ashore?
Like their friend, humans which pursue athletic endeavors envision the world as a physical boundary to overcome. Leading fast and competitive lives, they often over-attribute the physical and thereby miss out on the intrinsic qualities of what surrounds them. For this reason the intangible aspects of sleep leave them feeling disempowered or disoriented as they struggle to recognize the hidden meanings and significance of their dreams. As is the case of any athlete, navigating a world of abstraction can be a nightmarish ordeal that anybody would need help to escape from.
Their friend finds herself deserted upon the shore. Lest she were to become content and stay where she was, there is nothing but gray sand, no shells nor sea-glass to admire. Alone, the only company she is given is the tide, gasping as though it were alive. Left with no other choice, she resorts to walking along the shore. Just as she begins to wonder how she has come into her situation, she notices her thoughts have been writing themselves in the sand. There, succinctly scribed and properly punctuated, they remain along the shore until the tide carries them away. Just as their words drift off to sea, so does their meaning as she suddenly finds she is unable to recall them. Finding herself washed ashore, stranded alone with only her thoughts for company, it is as though the tide only wishes to carry them away and keep her lonely.
From the shallows, where the tide breaks and leaves foam in its wake, the crab washes ashore. A body with no head, it struggles mindlessly to coordinate its return to the sea. The girl notices this just as it falls into one of her footprints and flips over. As she witnesses it flail helplessly, she can not help but reflect. How strange it would be to be without a head! I would personally rather have a head to think with, even if I had no body to take action with… Her thoughts immerse the crab as they are both carried out to sea by the tide. Resituating its six legs, the sea insect commences its creeping along the shore just beneath the surface, unable to resist becoming ensconced in the girl's thoughts as the tide delivers them. As the chase commences, the girl warily becomes alert to the sudden change in the tide. As she feels it tug at her ankles, she reflects on where her thoughts are leading her, but at this time recollection is beyond her ability. No longer able to recall where she started or how far she has come, she resists the tide and retreats upshore.
Just as she begins to believe the desert will extend endlessly, a mirage emerges upon the horizon. Its verdant canopy in sharp contrast with the torrid turf to which it has been forced to adapt, the tree stands alone. Intrigued by its very existence, she reasons it must be more than what meets the eye. As she makes her way towards it, she can't help but worry about what might become of her. If the tree is just a mirage brought upon by her wishful thinking, she will remain stranded in the sands of time. Just then, a terrible thought arises from the back of her mind, Is the tree the mere remnant of another stranded soul made to wander alone? Terribly shaken, she is finally relieved to come into its company and find herself no longer alone.
From amongst its branches, the kindred spirit drops her a line. Its rope ladder ascends to a treehouse offering her further respite. However as she climbs and enters, she realizes the treehouse betrays her naivety. An ascetic abode, its precarious foundation makes it difficult to trust. From the composition of its constituents she can determine it was built piece-by-piece from goodwill and charity over time. However, its knotted and distorted junctions only afford her a crude window to peer out of...One whose sill is so crooked that one could only hope to rest a half-empty glass upon it.
Despite its austerity, the treehouse would be expected to withstand a nightmarish ordeal. From the tree's highest branches one could observe the course of her journey and further survey the dreamscape. Nothing existed other than an endless expanse of sea and desert. Their only interaction was the coast upon which she had washed ashore. As she had settled into the treehouse, the sea had begun its invasion. The tide rose upon the land and the storm encroached upon the horizon. This treehouse would be her only chance. Lest she succumb to doubt and abandon her protector, I intervened: You washed ashore to find yourself stranded out at sea. Afterward you wandered on, only to find yourself stranded once again in the desert. Trust in how far you have come and never abandon this abode, otherwise you will only find yourself stranded out in the wind and rain, lost forever in the sands of time.
The forewarning carries on the wind before reaching her. Her sense of loneliness having returned, she believes it is the spirit of the tree and this renews her spirit. As the storm proceeds, the rain pools into the window's sill and provides her water. As the tide rises, threatening to drown the tree and leaving behind a flood, she finds herself confined. Then, only able to derive respite by gazing out the window upon from the clouds passing by, she begins to reflect on the past. She reflects back to when, as a child before her decisions were her own to make, she could be found waiting by the window for the rain to pass. Then left waiting on the weather to go outside and play, now she finds herself left waiting on the tide to escape her nightmare and return. As time passes, she spends more time leaning out the window, reminiscing of her childhood in hopes the spirit of the tree will answer her.
At last, she awakens from her past and finds the tide presently subsiding. But upon rediscovering each other, she recoils. A body with no head, the crab struggles mindlessly towards her. Although a sea insect, its six appendages fail their blind attempt to clasp and capture. Then, the futility of their endeavor realized, the crab resolutely recommences its chase and begins to mindlessly encircle beneath her. But by this time, she has retreated, withdrawn far into her thoughts. I would rather have a head to think with, even if I had no body to take action with...even if all life became was seeing the world through a window and never being able to go outside…
Long after the tide returns to the sea, the crab remains in the shallows. The mindless body incessantly continues to trace along the base of the tree, seemingly content to subsist on the water pooled in its trench. Overcome with thirst, she dares emerge. Finding herself by the window once more, she wonders whether she will be found this way, a lost soul stranded in the sands of time. But upon leaning out the window, to her relief she realizes the spirit of the tree has been listening all this time, for far below the crab's sun-bleached shell lies motionless deep in the desert sand. As she dares descend from the branches of her protector, she finds her thoughts scribbled along the sides of her pursuer's enclosure to remain for all of time. The nightmare is done.
Time heals all wounds. Despite the torrential tide, the friends still dared to dive unaware that the storm had raised the tide, tricking them to dive into the shallows. While foretold their friend was fated to fall further into her coma and pass away, she would eventually resurface and surprise them. But upon recovering her consciousness, she would find her body broken. With her friends' support, she would recover in time. But until then, she could be found waiting by the window, taken back to the treehouse from her dream time and time again.
In the meantime, I submit my report to the Menagerie and submerge the fossil once more. As though time in reverse, it returns to life, content to mindlessly circle its enclosure around the clock. Its classification: Cancer.
Just as the sun brings out the day, the moon brought out the night. Every fresh start arises from a dead end, and this is why the detective lies in wait. An ambush to put things to rest so he may wake in peace, he looks forward to something he has not in a long time. For too long his smile lay hidden in the dark, as though wary the truth might become known to all…but suddenly, thunder interrupts his silence. As the echo dies, he grants himself time to recover from his stupor, contemplating whether anybody else might betray their self with the same mercy when subject to the same doubt…but by then, all is lost. He just realizes this in the fallout of the strike, as his long-awaited moment is stolen and the thief makes a getaway. Who lied in wait to ambush who? Dreading over where his assailant may be, the detective resigns to lie in wait, fearful of limping into a fatal struggle. Left to the mercy of his assailant, he beseeches for another chance--for a fresh start to arise from this dead end. His words linger and abandon him, he wonders whether he is fated to remain this way forever. Struck dead to his assailant, yet left aching to tell the tale…
Time and time again his nightmare would leave him this way, wide awake with the sheets clinging to his body as though a burial shroud. He was the type of man who believed direct confrontations made him honest and honorable, however all they did was betray him as headstrong. A retired actor, the detective took on this role to become someone other than himself, but by now, at his age of twenty-six, he should realize that the best role an actor can play is their self. In this new vocation he must learn to take things as they come if he hopes to survive. If this is ever to become genuine and not just an act, things must come naturally to him. He must be able to do it in his sleep…and so in the dead of night he falls further asleep only to begin his nightmare anew once more.
Another take on the night before. He starts his day at his computer and reviews the case through an email. Finished, he bcc's his correspondence with the local department. Once at the scene, he meets with the rest of his squad to get assigned duty. It was found that cannabis was cultivated in exhibits around the zoo and was being kept among the veterinarian's supplies. Nothing had been suspected until yesterday when the cultivator had leaked residue into the animal feed after an attempt at processing it into a palliative. During the initial stage of the break-down, the lion had broken out of its enclosure and the veterinarian was reported missing. It was left undetermined whether the incident was connected. That was why the department had called the detective in. Before they go on their way, the officer warns, Keep an eye out for that veterinarian.
Fortunately, there were no casualties in the fallout. A blood test collected from the lion following tranquilization by the zoo keeper revealed it to be under the influence of cannabis. The lion had emancipated itself through the fence wiring which had been bent away at the corner. Traces of blood and fur residual on the fence matched those taken from fresh scratches found on the lion's shoulder. Now the corner's jagged edges have been inconspicuously crimped, and the lion returned to prowl its territory once more. Upon closer inspection, just on the other side, the detective discovers a disposed injector. But all of a sudden something catches his attention farther into the exhibit. Picking up his receiver he relays his findings: Found the veterinarian. Come to the lion exhibit. As the detective provides more details, the veterinarian notices him and flees the scene of the crime.
The detective wastes no time in reaching the officer, who is performing forensic analysis on the veterinarian's supplies. Having finished with the lion earlier, the zoo keeper is with him at this time. Upon seeing the detective's expression, the officer assures him everything will stay just fine just as long as they all remain together. In the meantime, he divulges that the forensics has revealed that the veterinarian had an accomplice. Another thing, although nothing else was found amiss, two of the EpiPens are currently missing. Noticing the others' inquisitive expressions, the officer then withdraws one from the shelf and provides a false demonstration of the sedative injector. Just as the detective is about to mention the disposed injector he had discovered, the officer's receiver goes off. The lion has escaped again. Please notify the zoo keeper immediately. At this time there is no further information regarding the whereabouts of the veterinarian, who was reported found around the lion's exhibit earlier but remains on the loose.
Two predators on the loose. Upon escorting them to the zoo entrance, the officer instructs the detective to return home for the day. It is too unsafe. We are unsure of the whereabouts of the lion and our culprit so for now we must ask everyone else to leave until further notice. Then he gestures for the zoo keeper to accompany him over to the lion's exhibit. In response, the zoo keeper suggests to the officer how it might be more convenient if they split up according to their roles, him to capture the lion and the officer to apprehend the culprit. As they had taken this approach the day before, the officer agrees to take this approach once again.
To help the detective overcome his nightmare and help solve the case, I remained at the scene of the crime to do reconnaissance. As it turns out, both hunters underestimated their targets, and as a result, fell prey to the other's predator. Although the lion had always lived in captivity, its ability to navigate the grounds more adroitly than even the zoo keeper took the officer by surprise. And while the remains of the officer were left to be discovered, the veterinarian came out of hiding and took initiative on the zoo keeper. Anticipating the detective would need me to shed light on the situation lest he was to succumb to a fatal ambush, I scourage among the veterinarian's supplies to retrieve his flare gun.
The rest of the day the detective relays the possible scenarios over and over in his head. The newest conundrum, he wonders how the lion could have torn away the steel crimping. Later that evening, the news reports that police department is still waiting to hear back from the officer and the zoo keeper. At this, the detective is put on edge, knowing that if the department were to hold over the investigation to the next day, the veterinarian could escape and leave his victims to their fates. So against everything he has been instructed to do, he resolves to return to the scene of the crime.
Upon his return, he wastes no time and rushes over to the lion's enclosure. As he naively optimizes the setting on his flashlight, he discovers that the crimps remain undisturbed but the opening of the enclosure has been left ajar. The veterinarian had released the lion, after all. Brazen, he casts his light into the zoo keeper's entrance of the lion's exhibit. To his horror he disturbs the shadow lurking inside. With alacrity he powers off his flashlight, shrouding the lion's enclosure once more into darkness. But it is too late.
What was to follow was only nature: Predator vs Prey. Disturbed while moving the veterinarian's body into the lion's enclosure, the predator was forced to change plans. Having finally dealt with his partner in crime, the zoo keeper had believed he was out of the woods. He had even found and disposed of the first EpiPen he had used on the veterinarian, before he had released the lion during the start of the initial investigation. Besides this first success, he had even succeeded in using the second EpiPen to fend the veterinarian off successfully once again. If only the veterinarian had agreed to run away with him, then he never would have had to release the lion…but he should have known better if he could not have been honest from the start. The cannabis had been to sell all this time…not for the production of palliatives for the zoo animals! Now he couldn't believe what he had to do now…Wasn't it enough, already?
Having by then discerned the shadow to be the zoo keeper, the detective lies in wait. By this time it has set in that the zoo keeper was guilty all this time to have not reported back to the police department. Upon coming to this conclusion, the detective knows better than to expect assistance from the officer and so the matter falls to him. Feeling his back pocket for his handcuffs, he prepares to make a brave stand and apprehend the culprit. As the moments pass his anticipation builds. As thunder erupts, he can't help but feel the scene is being set for his debut. But just as the storm sets in and its roar dies away, the zoo keeper is upon him. Just before the fatal strike can land, a brilliant flash erupts. As the illumination begins to fade, the detective takes advantage of the insight it has provided him and knocks out the shocked zoo keeper. Then, he abandons his former plan and makes an escape, realizing that if he had chosen to stay and fight, there would only have been the lion left in wait.
Able to swallow his pride at last, the detective would live to fight another day. Before his dream fully fades away, I move quickly and transfer the lion into the Menagerie. To this day it is quite a storm to be reckoned with--just as lightning is always accompanied by thunder, a storm is best seen from afar than heard nearby. Classification: Leo