Fire and ice, forever joined, twisting in my soul.
I woke, sweating.
The dream. Again.
It was the same, every time.
Smoke choked my lungs and rivers of fire scorched a land pitted with ancient glaciers. It wasn’t earth – not any earth I had heard about at any rate.
I’d been visited by this dream since I was a child. My parents said it came from stress. They sent me to a shrink. I said they were probably right just to get out of his office. Of course, I knew better. I could see beyond the crack in the wall that led to another world – a world that tried to claim me in my dreams.
It wasn’t a real crack; I know that. Occasionally though, the lines of my reality – whether I was at home, at school, playing basketball with my friends or later, at work – would blur. It was a subtle shift: sounds would amplify and my vision would blur, sometimes for seconds, other times for a whole minute or more. I would see the steaming ice fields aglow with fire and the acrid smell of it would linger in my nose long after the walls of my cubicle asserted themselves on my fantasy.
By age seven – probably younger, but that is the earliest I can recall knowing – I recognized these symptoms as harbingers of the dreams. Waking or sleeping, it called to me. After the debacle with my parents and the shrink, I told no one. I waited for my bed to open up beneath me, for that world to swallow me whole.
And I knew when it did, I would burn.
I would burn with the fire of a thousand souls and wield a sword crusted with ice, wrecking my vengeance. King or pirate, leader or slave: I knew not what I was to that world, but I knew that there was a place for me there.
All I had to do was close my eyes, and dream.