CJ Bernstein

CJ Bernstein

The Secret Society – The Dreamer

So I didn’t want to say anything at first, but I’ve been having weird dreams. Like WEIRD dreams. Vivid, weird, and in them, I’m not me. The thing is, I’ve been having them ever since Woolie was last in the office and I tried to console him. When I fell asleep beside him, and he disappeared.

I don’t know how ghosts work, but…

Backing up, I keep a dream journal. I have ever since I lost a chunk of my memories way back in the 90s (you know the story, blah blah blah, living storm, magic coin, etc.) I figured back then that maybe I couldn’t remember things, but sometimes memories become part of dreams, and if I kept track of them, maybe I could put some of those pieces together. That never really happened (well, sort of, but that’s another story) but I kept the habit, and I have tons of journals full of dreams. From detailed accounts to sketches, to single phrases, or even individual words… I don’t ever really go back and read them; it’s just become a habit. If I remember something when I wake up from a dream, I write it down.

The thing is, since Woolie disappeared, I’ve been having dreams that feel like they’re through his eyes. Not necessarily like he’s showing me things, but more like he’s dreaming inside me, and I’m along for the ride, but I can’t remember the details for longer than a couple of seconds when I wake up, so there hasn’t been a point in pulling out my journal. I can’t remember anything to write down. I know the dreams don’t… feel like they’re mine. They’re his, or someone’s, and I’m mentally piggybacking.

My family says I’m not myself lately. I’m distracted, in a sort of mental fog, and I have this constant feeling of what I can only describe as a mix of longing and dread. Like I’m not doing something I’m supposed to, but also fear doing it. And that’s how the dreams feel too. Also, I find myself replaying the City Hall station footage over and over and trying to figure out if the weird sounds and lights mean something or if it’s just noise. I can’t get it out of my head.

I mean, you know that picture of me that I didn’t take? What is that in my hand?

Anyway, last night I decided to pull out my dream journal and a pen and went to sleep with them in my hands. Thinking, if I’m not myself, then maybe I’m someone else right now. Or at least someone is visiting. I might not remember the dreams, but maybe Woolie does? And maybe he can write something down that would help?

I know. I’ve gone off the rails. But come on, we’ve experienced weirder. And also, you know probably know where this is going.

Yeah. It worked.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m possessed, but part of whatever’s left of Woolie has taken up residence in my head and I’m feeling his feels and dreaming his dreams. And this morning a ghost wrote his dream down, through my hands, into my dream journal.

You know, like you do on Sunday. This is Woolie’s nightmare.

“My memories are lies. As I fall to pieces, the lies fall away as well.

The man we saved from the boat, the one who began me on the path to Neithernor, he did not lead me down the path of wool like my memories tell me. I can see that now. He set me on a journey to the island across the great sea. To those who called themselves the Silver. That is how I first found Neithernor. I learned of the other houses from them, yearned for their community and sense of wonder. I never felt like I belonged with the Silver and in time they became suspicious of me and rejected me.

They made me forget them and set me back into the world with only an inkling, a need, to return to a place I couldn’t remember. And that’s how I found Neithernor a second time, though until these dreams I believed it was my first. That is how I joined All Ebgorad, how I found my Molly there on that shore that looked onto the sea that stretched between the Silver and us. How I found my home and heart.

In time, when a meeting was to be held on that same shore, a parley for peace that would begin on Assembler’s Day, I fought, despite my inexperience, to be watch on that night. To be the first sight. And Molly fought for me to have the honor, the responsibility. But it was not me who asked to be the first sight. It was the Silver. It had all been their plan. They sowed a seed in my mind before sending me back to the mundane world. A seed that would grow into a need for me to return as one of the six guilds, and to ignore their seabound betrayal until it was too late to stop them. The Silver lied, lied to us all, but it was I who was the betrayer.

When I saw them approach, their blood-black sails raised, the wave tall enough to wash us all away, I did not warn my kin, my family. My Molly. I watched, unable to speak. The seed they had planted in me had grown into a choking vine, and there I died in silence, beneath the waves, forsaking all I ever wanted. All I ever loved.

My every waking thought has been about returning to Neithernor to find my Molly’s spirit and hold her again. But I don’t deserve her. I don’t deserve the world I handed to our enemy.”

That was the end of what he wrote. But, sitting there with the journal in the dark, I was thinking about A.G.’s journal and how she said it helped her work through things.

I felt compelled to keep writing, for her. For Woolie. For everything they’ve sacrificed, and honestly, this could be nonsense, or it could be clues…

Fall below the five waterfalls and trade a whip-crack for whiskey.
In her city of the dukes, find the fifteen creatures standing guard.
Coyotes drink in the place of wells where the black stars lie.
The father of gazelles hides a phantasmic collection in a minuscule place.
The proclamation tree casts shadows on the heads of the beautiful island.
A war of knives in a city of light follows a path to a star.

Notable Replies

  1. If it comes to it, I’ll definitely hit you up, @Robert.

    I can’t explain it, but I don’t think Woolie meant to do this. Maybe it was the ash, maybe it was dozing off in proximity to him when he was fading, but I think this might be magiq at work, trying to save what’s left of him. It’s definitely not optimal, and I’m hoping that we can resolve it, though I’m not sure how we can fix it without destroying what’s left of Woolie in the process.

    Help me run a little publishing company, she said.
    No big deal, just paperwork, and social media, she said.

  2. Rimor, I don’t really have any waterfalls by me. I do, however, have a place with 15 animals standing guard:

  3. The father of gazelles hides a phantasmic collection in a minuscule place.

    So Father of Gazelles is Abu Dhabi. Abu dhabi is twinned to Brisbane.

    Brisbane has a tiny shed with a collection that’s constantly changing. A little bookstore. Is this anywhere near you, @Skylad?

  4. Okay, here are some things I’ve been thinking about, regarding the Secret Society and “The Last Figuration.”

    First, what if this, all this, the events surrounding the Secret Society pins, was The Last Figuration?

    Avis said the changes happened too fast in the BotW for the tripwire to work, so all their preparation, the objects, the safe, the powerful item Sullivan gave Avis, and Avis sending the safe away, seemed to all be for naught. But what if it wasn’t?

    Avis said herself that the spell would trigger when magic was at a dangerously low point (we’ve been told over and over that that’s happening now, here), and that it was meant to bring together the people, places, and objects that could help cast the spell. (The pins, Woolie, the office, all of you, me…) A spell that would help someone find the objects that would open the safe and help fight the destruction/erasure of magiq with something powerful hidden inside.

    Could we be in the middle of The Last Figuration?

    Well, how could we be casting a spell that was destroyed along with the Book of The Wild, you might be asking…

    The Book of The Wild
    The Book of Kings
    Two Worlds Rebound
    In Butterfly Wings

    We created some sort of connection between the two “Books.” Whether the Book of The Wild is some other timeline, or just the ruins that our book is built on, we unlocked The Book of Briars and in doing somehow made a connection, however faint. We know that’s true. All the weird stuff in the AGP offices, the echoes of the other age…

    Did the Council somehow know about The Last Figuration and help to protect the little bit that’s left of magic?

    We only know two members of the Council of The 18 Gates, the group trying to help us from The Fray, some kind of in-between place: That’s Brandon Lachmann/The Last Traveler, and King Rabbit, who was more of a work-for-hire than a member of the Council, based on what we know…

    But could someone else on the Council have known about the spell Sullivan and his aunt created?
    I have no answer, no solution, beyond a bunch of rambling…

    But the idea that we’re actually in the middle of the spell that the Greens and their coven created feels right. At least to the guy possessed by a ghost.

    It lines up with everything we know from her journal. I just don’t know if I’m right, what we’re supposed to do if I am, how we’re supposed to unlock this safe, and what we’re supposed to do with whatever we might find inside.

  5. Okay, so here’s what I got.

    Our Shield Ward, a concealment ward, and protection ward in order.

    And here’s my items for the scrying spell.

    The items for my totem are my jade from china, given to me by a friend; my Celtic ring from here and my Celtic ring from Glastonbury England; a mala themed around my fire from Hawaii; some Palo Santo, my fave wood, that appeared at my house; a Gaia Memory Toy from kamen rider; a zippo I found whilst out in nature; and my silver fleur de Lis necklace from a ren faire.

    My grounding items are Ferris, my Iron bird Familiar; a pocket watch, given to me from my future wife, inscribed with lines about finding each other from Howls moving Castle; the requisite nails (they’re small so I did my normal rule of 3); and all in a box that held the ring box for my fiancee’s engagement ring.

    Let’s see how this goes. Off to Austin.

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