Hope surged up inside of me so strongly that I felt downright giddy. Plum suddenly didn’t seem so big and bad. For once in my life, having an overactive imagination was actually going to be an advantage. I didn’t realize how tense I had become, until a wave of relief made me weak in the knees. I moved to sit on my couch and stumbled, abruptly finding myself in the middle of a crowded nightclub. Shock left me momentarily immobilized.
Having the rug literally yanked out from under me was disconcerting. I was supposed to be in control of my dream. The need to sit down before my quaking legs gave out propelled me towards the stools at the bar. I sat down, staring quizzically for a few moments at the strangers milling around me, before swiveling the stool around and facing the bar. Plum’s reflection smirked at me from a long mirror behind the bar. Her lips moved and I heard her voice inside my head.
“Did you actually think that you were in control?”
All of my hard-won self-assurance began draining away. If Plum could move me around against my will, then she would always have the upper hand. A moment ago, everything appeared to line up. Now nothing made sense. In the midst of my musing, Plum approached the bar and took a seat beside me. I tensed up, steeling myself for an attack. She chattered away, seemingly unaware of my horror.
When she didn’t attack, I began to calm down. My heart stopped pounding in my ears and I realized that Plum was saying the same things she said the night we were in the same club and I stole her cell phone. She was even wearing the same outfit. Looking around, I realized that my mind was replaying that night. The real Plum was still glaring at me from inside the mirror behind the bar.
Her cellphone was in the same spot on the counter. I still felt guilty about taking it, which made me assume that this part of the dream was nothing more than my mind grappling with that feeling. I sat there and allowed events to unfold, uncertain of whether to let things play out or do something differently. It gradually dawned on me that some things in the dream were different from reality.
Plum’s favorite color was purple. Almost everything she owned was purple, including her cell phone. It was red in the dream and so were her clothes. That was perplexing. I was mulling over possible explanations, when my grandmother suddenly came to mind. She was superstitious, always talking about symbols in dreams serving as signs. That memory sparked the idea that the red in my dream was symbolic in some way.
The red was so bright that it glowed in the dark club. Could it be my mind’s way of calling attention to something? One glance at Plum in the mirror confirmed that I was onto something. Fear was etched into her features. I blocked out the sound of her voice in my head. She had almost fooled me once. I wasn’t going to give her the opportunity to confuse me again.
The cellphone on the counter began ringing. It hadn’t done that last time. I wondered if it could be an important message. Anything was possible in a dream. A strong urge to pick it up came over me. The dream version of Plum was making her way to the dance floor. I was reaching for the phone, when the memory of Plum’s hypnotic chant over the phone, the night I answered her phone in that motel room, made me shrink back. She was obviously trying to distract me.
I turned my attention to the dream version of Plum. Everything was as I recalled it. She was dancing seductively with a partner while brazenly flirting. Catching looks from men dancing with women around her, enticing them away from their partners one by one. Nothing new there. She was always going after other people’s boyfriends and husbands. Plum loved the competition and challenge. Halfway through the song, she had four men dancing around her.
Suddenly bored, I was on the verge of turning away, when Plum’s smug expression faltered. The night that it actually happened, I thought that she was just a little uncomfortable suddenly being surrounded by so many men all at once. In the dream, I wasn’t distracted with seeking an opportunity to nab her phone. That freedom enabled me to see things in a different light. Plum loved being the center of attention. Those men weren’t grabbing or groping her. As a matter of fact, they were all staying an equal distance away from her.
I stood up slowly, leaning forward for a closer look. Their feet weren’t moving. At a distance, the people dancing energetically around them had created the illusion that the men were dancing because their arms were moving. Focusing on them, it quickly became apparent that they were moving their arms in the same sequence. Plum was beginning to look alarmed.
An overly enthusiastic dancer suddenly collided with one of the men, breaking their circle. Plum surged away from them through the crowd and came towards me at the bar. She was unsteady on her feet and she appeared to be confused. Looking back on my memory of it, I had previously thought that she was drunk. Reliving that moment in the dream made me realize that something else was going on.
Plum’s cell phone began ringing again, interrupting my train of thought. I tried to ignore it, certain that I was about to come to a very important realization. It was slowly coming to me. The ringing was so loud and insistent that it derailed my train of thought. In another moment, I was jolted awake and realized that the ringing was actually an alarm clock. Still bleary eyed and groggy from my drugged sleep, I couldn’t figure out how to turn off the alarm. Out of frustration, I covered my head with the pillow. Closing my eyes did nothing to help me fall back asleep or focus. The details of the dream were already beginning to fade.
Delilah bustled into the bedroom and shut off the alarm. As she turned to leave, I grabbed her arm. As soon as I began recounting the dream, a searing pain in my head made me cry out. Plum was trying to stop me. Delilah sat on the bed and waited patiently, as I slowly and described the dream to her, afraid that I would forget if I didn’t get it all out. Delilah’s face began to light up. She made me repeat everything, her growing excitement fueling mine.
“You know what that part of the dream in the nightclub means don’t you?”
“Without realizing it, you witnessed the lesser banishing ritual of the pentagram being performed on Plum by those four men standing around her. Sounds like they almost succeeded in exorcising her or at least temporarily weakening her possession of the body she occupied. That’s why she was unsteady and confused. No wonder Plum didn’t notice that you had taken her cell phone.”
“What was with all the gesturing those men were doing?”
“It was part of the ritual. They were tracing pentagrams into the air, boxing her in and riveting her to one spot. Good going girl, you’ve given me an idea of how to defend us against Plum when we get to the coven! Get dressed. We need to hit the road soon.”