Sleep has become the Enemy

Soundtrack for this post is here.


When I close my eyes, I drift again across that canvas. Ahead of me floats the candle in the dark, color bleeding from its wick, spilling across our communal souls. Tiny hooks prickle across my skin, bury into my flesh. I open my mouth to scream, but it is too late. The side of my face bursts into pestilence and corruption.

I wake with a scream on my lips. My hand flies to my cheek, but it is smooth. The pus-carved word long since healed and faded.

Sleep has become the enemy.


“In the deserts North of Old Vegasia, there lived a Raider King, who was said to raid the desert caravans and take a new Rover bride every morning, only to kill her at midnight, to begin the hunt fresh the next day…”

Eli’s voice is cedar and smoke. Dark eyes watching us across the campfire. Wendy’s thigh is beneath my palm, her honey breath soft in my ears. There are metal shavings in her hair, souvenirs of the workbench, and a kiss mark on her breast, souvenir from me. Or Eli. The Blame has been passed back and forth a few times so far. Punishment meted out in pinches and yelps.

In our nest of blankets and arms, the Canvas is further away. A backdrop against which my nightmares are merely silhouetted, not painted vivid. The raised arm and the jagged knife. The black holes of his mask.

I can no longer tell dreams from memory.


“Vivi absolutely hated my ex, Rayne. She and River tried to talk me out of marrying her, and I should have listened.” Ulysses voice lifts in time with his hands, gesturing emphatically. Starlight glitters in his dark eyes and my hair spills across his lap, tangling with our scarves. He tugs at a few strands as he speaks. 

“So there we were… Me, Bro, and Dorian, threatened some asshole not to call her a whore again. And out of nowhere she walks up, loud and plain as can be ‘I’m a whore! It’s a protected right in Bravo.’ Like it ain’t legal in every other settlement I’ve been in. Braves sure are proud of being whores.”

With his thigh as my pillow, the Canvas is further away. A tarp spread far below to catch the splatter of my racing mind, running into walls. So long as I don’t have to look down, I can pretend it doesn’t exist. I don’t have to watch Roxy drowning beneath waves of sand. I don’t have to watch Nasatya fleeing before the braying hounds.

I focus on Ulysses’ voice, his laugh cutting through my nightmares like a bell in fog. Leading me home.

I can no longer tell dreams from reality.


Firelight dances along our skin. The Iron’s voice drops low as he leans closer, suspense building with his sing-song story.

“So if the devil asks you to dance, you’d better say never, cause a dance with the devil might last you forever…” Ynk’s eyes are dark as words on paper. He speaks in shadows and secrets. Red glow brushes along my arm, illuminating goosebumps.

The Canvas is a Dance Floor. I’m in the arms of Stacey, now Havelock, now Roux, now Sam. The room is spinning, the floor crimson and sticky. I dance across the red blood of Astor, or is it Ayrian, or Harper? It flows from seashell-delicate ears as their mouths open and their brains melt.

I can no longer tell dreams from prophesy.


 

You wouldn’t believe
The things that I have seen
I wouldn’t expect you to
You’ve never been asleep

I got this feeling that we’re dead
I got this feeling that we’re dead

And there’s nothing more.

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