© 2020, Jori Hanna
“They call him the Dreamsharer. Which of you will be brave enough to step into the chamber with him?”
Willing hands shoot up around me, people whose eyes are sunken into dark circles far enough that their faces more closely resemble skulls than skin. The announcer’s eyes land on me, and in a sweeping motion he extends a striped arm, his mangled hand and gnarled fingers gesturing.
“How about you?”
I didn’t volunteer. Why me? Hands go down as disappointed volunteers gripe and they realize the announcer has picked the Dreamsharer’s victim. Why did I stop at this tent?
The announcer’s striped black and white suit crinkles as he shifts his weight, waiting for me to make my choice. His black eyes hold steady on my face, daring me to say no. What kind of circus participant would I be if I didn’t comply? I step forward and a Cheshire smile spreads across his wrinkled face. One golden tooth glints in the dim light of sunset.
“You claim to be brave enough to face the Dreamsharer. Test your strength and step into the tent.” He finally straightens up and moves a curtain out of the way with a cane, its tip decorated with rotten apple core. My heart pounds faster than it should, or maybe it’s just the drum beat from the band a few booths over. I step into the tent.
The curtain swings closed behind me and all I hear is silence. The band must still be playing, but I can’t hear their noise now. A strange blue light emanates from the space ahead of me, so I step toward it. A low clicking noise meets my ears, followed by a sort of growl and a hiss.
“You dare dissssssturb my ssssslumber?” The voice is deep and rich, like melted fudge or caramel corn.
“I didn’t mean to end up here.”
It sighs, almost saddened by this reality. “Whatttttt do you dreeeeam?”
“I am the Dreamsssssssssharer. Tell me your dreamsssss and I make them realityyyyy.”
“Where are you?”
A large shadow slinks up in front of the light, creating a snakelike silhouette. No, not a snake. A centipede with a king cobra’s head.
“What are you?”
“The Dreamsssssssharer.” It growls and hisses and clicks again, and I realize I’ve made it angry. I step back. Maybe it would be better to just leave now and pretend I’d actually let it share a dream with me. I don’t want this. As I step back again, I bump into a strong carapace.
“Tell meeeeee your dreeeeeeeam,” it insists. I feel the legs moving at my back—they’re the cause of the clicking noise. It shifts around the room again, its head drawing nearer to mine —the cause of the hissing noise.
Just think of a normal dream. Then get out of here. “I dream of running through a field of daisies.” Three short grunts. Is it laughing at me?
“As you wisssssssh.”
In a moment its head and body illuminate the room, casting the eerie blue light all across its carapace. For a second, I’m struck by its beauty—how often do you get to see a room of blue stars spiraling in around you, closer and closer and closer until . . . Pain. The stars are too close. The carapace crunches around my tender flesh. Its legs pin my body in place and its fangs sink into my head. I try to scream, but my consciousness is no longer in the room with the creature. Now I skip through a field of daisies, growing lighter and lighter each time my feet leave the ground. On some plane of my mind I feel my body go limp, become aware of seeping darkness. The blue stars uncoil from around me and I fall in bliss to the ground, the Dreamsharer flicking its tongue around its fangs as its lights diminish. I lean down and pluck a daisy. Two men in striped suits collect my arms and drag me from the tent, out the back way. When I raise the daisy to my nose to sniff, it is not the pleasant scent of a flower, but the rotten scent of an apple far too old to eat.
The daisy field lingers, leaving me lethargic as I struggle to straighten and move back into the fairground. The wise part of me tells me to leave the Dreamsharer’s tent well enough alone, to walk away from it and never look back. But never before had I seen such beauty or felt such peace. My feet wander toward the tent again, my eyes catching a glimpse of myself in the opening of a hall of mirrors. My face has lost some color; my eyes have dark circles. It’s nothing. I’m not like the others yet. I can still come back from this. I enter the crowd in front of the Dreamsharer’s tent.
“Which of you will be brave enough to enter?”
My eyes darken, and I feel a need unlike any I’ve ever had before. I must see that beautiful creature again. I must tell it the truth this time. I must let it show me my dreams. I must. I must. I must.
My hand rises with the rest.
This story, segments of this story, and ideas from this story are not to be duplicated or replicated in anyway. This content belongs to J. J. Hanna alone.
Please note: This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to real life events is unintended by the author.
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J. J. Hanna is a writer and reader from Colorado. She loves suspense stories above all else, and is currently working on a debut novel of her own. When she's not writing, you can find her cuddling with a cat, drinking a caffeinated beverage, and watching one of her favorite shows. Go find her on social media @authorjjhanna to keep track of her most recent reads, current adventures, and to get the most up to date news on all things publishing.