Last night I dreamt of standing in a
snow covered clearing. All around me were towering evergreen trees,
their boughs pointing towards the earth, heavy with a burden of fallen
snow. I turned to take in my surroundings and noticed four paths
breaking through the dark line of the trees.
It was cold. I was cold. The ground in the clearing was covered with a deep, unbroken sheet of white.
pulled my cloak closer around me as I breathed in the frozen air. My
exhaled breath spread out in front of me like whispering smoke,
disappearing rapidly with each inhalation. The stars above were masked
from view by heavy gray clouds unleashing more sugary fine snowflakes
towards the earth.
In the distance
I could hear the sound of explosions. A few moments later, the soil
rumbled under my feet. When I closed my eyes, I could imagine the
sounds of men yelling, screaming, running as the ground erupted up
around them, carrying them down and covering them with snow, dirt and
ashes. I could see them in my mind’s eye, rushing through the trees,
holding long weapons that shot flashes of fire from the blunt ends.
Somewhere in the expanse of this forest, there was a war raging.
opened my eyes and the sounds were gone. Everything was muffled and
silent, and I wondered if I spoke aloud, would I be able to hear my
Why was I here?
flakes of snow fell on me, lighting my face with little biting pin
pricks. I lifted my head towards them, resisting the urge to stick my
tongue out like I used to when I was a child. My frozen hands brought
the fur lined cloak closer around my body and I pulled the hood up over
my head. My feet were growing numb.
behind me, I heard a soft snort and turned, surprised to find a unicorn
standing at the edge of the first path. This beautiful animal snorted
and tossed his head, his horn shimmering against the falling flakes.
His coat shone with an inner radiance, illuminating the trees around
him with a soft glow. He bent his head towards me, his long white mane
sliding over his shoulder to brush along the powder. Another sound came
from my left, and I turned to find a large golden lion guarding the
I swung back towards
the other two paths, the snow under my feet crunching loudly in the
stillness of the clearing. Wind came rushing through the trees, causing
them to sway and send drifts of snow swirling into my face. I shivered
as I closed my eyes against the frozen onslaught, tucking my face into
the side of my cloak. When the wind left the clearing, I opened my eyes
again. The third path was now occupied by a large two-headed snake,
clearly as tall as I was. The snake lifted one head and looked towards
me, flicking its red forked tongue, feeling for my scent.
fourth path was empty, the dark corridor silent. No snow covered the
winding path, and I watched it for a moment, feeling a flicker of fear
rush down my spine for the first time since arriving here. The darkness
seemed alive, like it was waiting for me, wanting to swallow me whole.
time the shiver that ran through my body had nothing to do with the
cold. I was afraid to turn my back on the darkness, but even more
afraid to keep staring at it. It was drawing me towards it, and I
gasped as my foot sank deep into the snow in front of me. I looked down
and then up again quickly, at once thankful for the freezing snow
falling inside my boot.
was the mouth of hell and it awaited me. My eyes filled with hot tears
and I felt the heat of them freeze against my cheek as they tumbled
down my face. Finally, I could stand it no more and turned back towards
the lion and the unicorn.
as the sound of another explosion ripped through the emptiness of the
forest, echoing eerily against the snow-covered trees. Above, the low,
gray clouds colored briefly with orange and red fury, and I knew the
battle was no longer a trick of my imagination; the reverberations
sounded much closer than before.
unicorn and lion watched me, both standing soundless and still. If it
weren’t for the steam of smoke from their breathing, I could have
easily mistaken them for statues in the wood.
They seemed to be waiting, waiting for something from me. I didn’t understand.
Then suddenly, I did.
could feel the message they conveyed silently to me, just as I could
feel the malice of the message from the paths behind me. It was a
choice of course. A choice I would have to make somewhere, sometime in
the future. I stared at them with the darkness at my back and smiled
through my tears, whispering, “I understand.”