PART SIX: THE DREAM PHANTOM
Maude Harrington settled in for the night after having completing her pre- bedtime ritual of reading a chapter from her favorite paperback romance book that was all the rage in those days. As always, the smile on her face did not fade and it took a while for her to sleep considering how energetic she still felt despite her busy day. She turned this way and that on her large bed, trying to find the best position to sleep for quite a while before settling on her favorite sleeping position- facing the window in the fetal position. She merrily sighed and shut her eyes firmly, willing for sleep to come.
As she slowly but surely departed from the realm of reality and happily descended into the world of dreams, Maude recalled the events of the previous day when she and her daughter Melody, had visited her husband at the Super Max detention facility he was being detained at. As she had previously noted, Sven seemed visibly worn out but he smiled as brightly as he could muster so he would not worry his family any more.
Sven had previously explained through letters he sent back and forth to his family that the detention facility’s most hardened criminals were currently detained in Cell Block G and that these criminals were kept in highly specialized cells; each tailor made to effectively reduce any chances of escape. Sven’s cell in particular, held both he and his cellmate who were both Shadow casters and their cell had a constant supply of UVC generated which was a Shadow Caster’s kryptonite of sorts; immobilizing them more effectively than the Psionic power dampening collars all prisoners were expected to dawn as part of the prison attire. As a result of it, however, Sven and his cellmate often felt tired and some biological consequences were also incurred as a result, least of them being that they both had tanned skin as a result of the exposure.
Melody found her father’s ordeal quite distressing but as always, Maude found a way to find a silver lining and even joked that she thought Sven looked better with tanned skin to make him feel better. Sven was happy that his wife could find humor even in such circumstances but he and Melody exchanged worried looks about her and the attention was once more turned to Maude and how she was doing in general. As always, Maude had nothing negative to report. She did miss her husband and daughter but she was still content nonetheless. She had the sense that her family was discontent with her explanations but she took it as their concern for her and so it did not worry her.
‘If only Sven hadn’t given into Gia’s demands, then maybe we wouldn’t be in this situation,’ Maude thought. And even as that thought crossed her mind, it disappeared without a trace and before long, she found herself descending into deeper sleep.
‘Why, Sven? Why did you have to do it? Why did you kill Sune, your own twin brother in cold blood? Why did you have to kill those other people? Why did you do it, if you knew you wouldn’t get away with it?’ Maude asked herself. Why did she have to suffer the consequences of Sven’s past actions? Couldn’t he have chosen the path of light by himself?’
Suddenly, the anger that had eluded her and the despair at having lost her husband to the Penal system came to her and assaulted her senses. All the positivity in the world could not help her as she processed the negative emotions assaulting her then and yet she could not open her eyes- she had descended into REM sleep and therefore could not move a muscle.
In the midst of her sleep, she saw herself as a phantom in the Shadow World, moving faster than the speed of light within it and then exiting the Non- Physical Plane towards the Physical world. Before long, she was observing the premises of the Detention Facility passively and wandered about for several moments before seeing where Cell Block G was and once more speeding towards it. She then hovered as she observed Sven sleeping soundly in the top bunk of his cell, his features contorted as if he was in pain.
‘Pain? You do not know pain, Sven Harrington. I shall be so glad to show you its true meaning…’ Maude thought.
She had not known anger like she felt right then, and for every harrowed breath Sven made, Maude desired to slash away at his chest and gnaw at it until she reached his heart. However, when she was about to follow the drives of her id, she hesitated knowing that somewhere beyond the anger and pain, there was love- this was her husband, her partner for life; through thick and thin, they had endured and there was more love than there was anger and pain; it simply had to be so or else all their years of marriage were for naught.
However, the anger she felt was simply too powerful to be placated by the notions of an ideal marriage. The phantom kept growing and feeding on Maude’s negative emotions and it demanded recompense of some sort. She turned towards Sven’s cellmate and jeered at him. He too, was a criminal; someone irredeemable enough in the eyes of society not to be missed. Sven’s cellmate had taken the lives of others; broken up families for whatever selfish motive he had at the time. Surely getting rid of him would be a service to society.
The monster settled on him as a suitable substitute to Sven and metaphorically ripped the cellmate to shreds, greedily tearing into where his chest was as if clawing its way towards his heart. There was no blood shed but Maude was astounded at the carnage happening before her eyes and was even more astounded to see a dark substance emerge from purported victim and the creature consumed the substance until there was nothing left. Satisfied by whatever it was consuming, the creature was sated and it withdrew to the Shadow World. Only then was Maude released from the shackles of deep sleep and she woke up, contemplating the strange things she had observed in her dream.
And yet, Maude would have the same dream recurring. She would find herself contemplating one negative emotion or another and it would cause her to want to harm Sven but she would turn away from him and the phantom would sate itself on some other hapless victim and while the dreams were disturbing, when she woke up, she would feel so much better and go about her days without a care in the world.
On one particular day as she sat down in a rocking chair cradling a young child in her arms, merrily humming a tune she recalled from memory, she saw her daughter marching up to her and when Melody was close enough to her, Maude could see her sombre expression and it worried her.
“Mom, we need to talk,”
Maude nodded and handed over the baby to another attendant, walking towards her office with Melody and shutting the door firmly behind her.
“What’s wrong, sweetheart?” Maude asked her daughter gently.
Melody sighed and shook her head. “Mom, did you know that dad was put in Solitary Confinement?”
“They’re blaming him for 5 separate unexplained deaths occurring in the prison. I wouldn’t have known that were it not for Ada filling me in. Isn’t that insane? How could they blame dad for something like that?”
“5 deaths? How-“
“Apparently they brought in experts and they determined that it was some kind of Shadow magic being involved in each case. They blame dad because the first victim just so happened to be dad’s cellmate and upon reviewing the video of his strange death, they found only dad was with the victim at the time and since the other victims succumbed to the same manner of death, it was assumed that dad is the culprit behind all the cases…”
“The gravity of the situation is dire, mom. If dad is found guilty, his sentence will be bumped up to death and yet the Detention Facility didn’t even inform us that dad was a prime suspect in the murders…”
Maude stared at her daughter in confusion. No matter how the situation was diced, there was no possible positive way of facing this dire situation. So why did she not feel frightened at all? Why did she continue to stare sheepishly at her daughter as if Melody was some kind of alien?
“Mom? Are you okay?” Melody asked her surprised. Maude burst into hysterical laughter all of a sudden.
“It is preposterous that we are even having this conversation. Sven doesn’t even have access to his powers! How could he have possibly killed five people and what’s more, done it in a way that even modern technology could not detect?” Maude asked, still laughing hysterically.
Melody simply stared at her for a while before nodding and turning on her C-pad. Soon afterwards even as Maude continued laughing hysterically, the holographic image of Prince Ismead was superimposed on it.
“Darling, is everything alright?” he asked concerned.
“My prince, powdered snow is bitter-sweet,” Melody responded.
“Understood,” the Prince simply responded and disconnected.
“Oh, was that my future son-in-law just now?” Maude asked, wiping tears of joy from her face.
Melody simply smiled feebly and within five minutes, Maude was taken away by people from a Psychiatric Health Facility.
“Melody?” Maude asked surprised.
“I’m sorry mom, but this is the only way,”
Maude was taken into their white van kicking and screaming and would soon go under the effects of an administered sedative as she observed the White Lotus Orphanage surroundings fade to black.
TO BE CONTINUED…
What was the meaning of the phantom appearing in Maude’s dream with murderous intent? Is Maude truly okay? Stay tuned to find out. Links to previous parts are listed below! Enjoy!