By: Samm Sanity
The wind bites into my exposed cheeks as I quickly dash across the street. I pull my Skullie cap tighter on my head and adjust my fuzzy black earmuffs. It is extremely too cold for my tastes and I wish my brother had been nice enough to offer me a ride home, but he hadn’t.
I wrinkle my nose as something wet hits it. I glance up to see small white dots falling down. It looks very beautiful, but I hate snow. I hate everything to do with this stupid season. I’d rather look at pictures than experience it.
I glance across the street from where I had just come. I furrow my brow – there were no flakes falling there. There weren’t any falling anywhere but right here. I shake my head, telling myself I needed to get out of the cold. I look forward again and fall backwards at the sight of a boy’s face through the flakes.
I feel slight dampness through my jeans and scramble to stand up out of the snow. I never break my stare with the boy, he looked very strange yet familiar. His skin was lightly tinted blue and I could see why. The boy was just standing there in a sleeveless shirt, thin jeans, and no shoes. I wondered what was wrong with him or why he wasn’t dead. His hair was frost white and he had icy blue eyes. He is what I imagine winter would look like as a person.
I lightly reach out a hand to poke him, but he quickly grabs my wrist before I can. Even through my gloves, I can feel how deathly cold his hand is. I shiver.
“You should be dead.” I state, without thinking first.
I think he’s about to hit me, but he doesn’t. After a moment of silence he speaks softly.
“I know. That is why I am here.” He says, letting my hand drop to my side.
I am taken aback, but I ask, “what do you mean? Are you high?”
The boy looks confused for a moment, pondering the question. Again it takes him a long moment of silence before he answers. I wonder if he is indeed on some drugs and cannot properly communicate.
“High? Nevermind that. I need your assistance. My homeland,” he pauses, “it is in dire need of help.” he states in his weird way of talking.
I give him a confused look and then laugh out. He was definitely on something.
“Well,” I begin, as if addressing a child, “I’m sure everything is alright. Go home, get some sleep, and it’ll all be better in the morning.” I say, partially laughing.
His gaze hardens, appearing not very appreciative of my condescending tone. I see this and drop my laughter and grin.
“Do not mock me.” he states.
I put up my hands in surrender, “Alright, I’m sor-”
Before I can finish, he grabs my wrists. I frown and get ready to kick his rear end. A sudden gust of wind and snow blow through sending a cold chill through me. I shiver and try to pull my wrists from his grip.
“Let go of me now.” I demand, swinging my leg to kick him.
That’s when I realize my legs were freely hanging below me. I chance a look down and see that I’m not on solid ground anymore. My eyes grow large as I begin to realize that I might be in trouble.
White clouds my view for a short moment. When I can see, all I see is white. Snow covered mountains, snow blanketing the ground, crystal-like icicles curving into intricate designs. It is a pretty and familiar, but dreaded sight. I hate winter. I hate snow.
We land gracefully on an icy balcony. I begin to shiver and realize I didn’t have my coat or my earmuffs or my gloves, or any of my winter clothes. I look at the boy and begin to feel less afraid and more pissed off. I was freezing
He gives me a curious look, sort of puzzled, “Why are you shaking?”
“Maybe because I’m standing here in a tank top and skinny jeans!” I exclaim, “and I’m god-knows-where with a druggie!” I say, finally losing it.
“You should not be shaking. Are you not Victoria? Who are you?” he asks.
“I’m the person who’s going to shove my boot up your-”
“I am Aquilo.” he says, offering a hand.
I stare at him incredulously, “You’re a weird one.” I say, “Where am I?”
“The Fae world of Neve. Do you not remember?” he asks, poking gently at my clothes.
“Enough. Take me home, now.” I demand, walking away from Aquilo.
“It is not that easy.” he says, stopping me.
I turn around and sigh, “I don’t know what ‘help’ you need, but It’s not me. Take me home, I’m cold and can’t stand this much longer.” I say, shivering hard.
“It never affected you before. Please, Victoria, help me.”
“What are you on? I’ve never been here-” I say, glancing around. Then I realize why he and the place looked so familiar. “I dreamt this.” I breathe.
“You’re not real. Neither is this place.”
Aquilo nods, “I’m very real, as is Neve. There is no time to be pondering whether I exist or not. Come. Now.” he says grabbing my wrist, once again, and pulling me into the building the balcony is attached to.
It’s just as cold inside as it is outside. I don’t feel very well and I wonder if I can survive much longer in this place. Aquilo hands me a hooded capelet. I hurriedly put it on and give him an appreciative look. He nods and leads me out the room and down a corridor. We pass many doors before he opens one and leads me inside.
“They are trying to murder me.” he tells me once we’re inside.
“What? Why? Who?” I ask.
“Nevermind who right now. If I pass, Neve will perish and so will everyone here. I cannot let that happen.”
I nod, not completely understanding, “Why do you need my help? I can’t do anything really.”
“You can pass between worlds. Those who wish me dead cannot and they have no one like you on their side.”
“How is that going to help at all?”
“It may not be worth much in your world, but in Neve it is quite special. You may be able to hide this place from them. It is a temporary solution, but it will give me time to find a permanent solution. Will you help?” Aquilo asks with a pleading look. I sigh, unable to say no. I nod.
“What do I have to do?”
He smiles and motions for me to follow him. I do.
Aquilo leads me into a room that looks as if plans and meetings for war are made here. It was a dark red room with a long table full of figurines and maps. He offers a chair to me, but I decline. We both stand at the table and look at the items strewn across it. He then begins to explain to me what I need to do.
“So I have to return here in a dream?”
“Yes. You may become permanently stuck in Neve if you do this here. You will be safe in a dream state. I had thought you could perform it from here, that it would have a better chance of succeeding. But I have decided not to test it. You cannot survive as I thought and I did not wish to keep you from your world.”
I nod, “I will try. Do you think I can do it from a dream? If it is not special in my world, would it work?”
Aquilo runs a hand over a sheathed dagger at his side, “That is a very excellent point.”
I glance to the wall sized window and look into the distance. I couldn’t stay here, but I wanted to help. I had spent many nights in this place, it was a way to enjoy the beauty of snow and ice without having to actually experience it. What if I could never see this place again? My nights would be very dull. But I could never stay here forever.
“Are you sure I’d be stuck here?” I say.
Aquilo looks up from whatever he had been studying on the table and nods solemnly, “It is a very probable chance you would be stuck. Once you hide Neve, it is hidden from all worlds and lands. You would not be able to return to your world. Even if you could, you would not be able to visit it in your dreams until Neve was no longer hidden.”
“So would I be stuck in my dreams?”
Aquilo looked at me and I didn’t need him to answer. I frown and tug at the capelet. He frowns as well, looking very sorry.
“But you said I wouldn’t be stuck if I did it from my dreams?” I say.
He shakes his head, “I did not say that. I said you’d be safer in your dreams. Your physical body would be in no danger if something were to happen in Neve. If something were to happen, you can reopen Neve to other worlds and leave.”
I glance down at my boots, thinking everything over in my head. I would be stuck in a dream state until Aquilo could find a better solution. If he didn’t, he’d let me leave. But what would happen to him and Neve?
A cold hand grasps mine, “You do not have to help, but it would be much appreciated. I do not want to force you, as I have been. It’s your decision.”
I look up at him and sigh. All this time I thought this world wasn’t real, but it is and it’s in very real danger. It would be selfish to say no, I can’t leave them to defend themselves. Maybe I could help while I was here. I wouldn’t be in danger, I hope.
“I’ll do this.” I say, squeezing his deathly cold hand. Aquilo smiles.
He grabs my other hand and the process of wind and snow starts again. Before long, we are back where he had encountered me, except it is much darker out. He bids me farewell and disappears. I stare at the ground where he stood, then quickly run home.
Once home, I scurry off to my bedroom, ignoring the calls from my brother as to how late I was. I didn’t bother to shed any layers, I just fell into bed. I didn’t realize how tired I really was until I curled up into bed. I hugged my bat plushie close and curled up deep into the covers.
I closed my eyes and awaited for sleep and dreams to come.