The powerful herbs in Delilah’s tea made me lose consciousness quickly. My mind’s eye opened. I found myself staring at a dingy ceiling for several moments. The water stain running across it looked familiar. I shifted and an errant spring in the mattress upon which I lay dug into my side. That settled it for me. I knew then that I lay in the narrow bed in my apartment. Looking at the shabby walls around me was reassuring.
I laughed out loud. Maybe the whole nightmare with Plum had just been a bad dream. For the first time in my life, the prospect of getting up and going to work made me happy. The idea of returning to my routine of sleep, work, sleep made me positively giddy. Life before Plum may have been dull, but it was safe. If I needed to get a second job to make ends meet, then that’s just what I’d do. No more looking to make easy money.
My alarm clock went off and I went into autopilot, going to the kitchen and turning on the coffeemaker before, going to the bathroom for a quick shower. I switched on the light and a gleam caught my eye as I walked past the mirror. Something about it was disquieting. I didn’t want to look in the mirror. Dread rose up in me so quickly that I held my breath. I wanted to get in the shower, but something compelled me to turn towards the mirror.
My eyes went to the choker around my neck. I leaned in, trying to figure out why it looked different. It slowly dawned on me that the symbols on it were backwards. I looked up and was stunned to see Plum’s face reflected back at me. Shock made my mind go blank. The next thing I knew, Plum was reaching through the mirror. I looked down at the sharp fingernails with the deep purple manicure, reaching for me.
My mind told me to move, but I was transfixed by the unreality of it. The memory of Delilah drugging me returned in flashes of recollection. Having a bad dream wasn’t so bad. At least, Plum couldn’t harm me in my dreams. Her laughter was sinister.
“That’s where you’re wrong Patricia. Didn’t anyone ever tell you, if you die in your dreams you die in real life?”
“What do you mean?”
“When I kill you, your soul will leave your body.”
The thought of being evicted from my body and Plum’s life force taking up residence in it, got me moving. Plum was faster. Her hands closed around my throat. The strength in them was shocking. Each finger felt like a band of steel. My breath was abruptly cut off. I tried not to panic over the fact that my strength was ebbing away. Clawing feebly at her hands did nothing to relieve the crushing pressure on my throat. As my vision dimmed, I groped blindly for anything that could be used as a makeshift weapon.
My hands closed around thin air. In desperation, I balled up my fists and hit her wherever I could. Plum leaned back into the mirror so that only her arms protruded and my fists were battering the mirror. I heard a loud crack and the mirror shattered. All at once, the pressure on my neck was gone, I fell to the floor gasping, too weak to lift my arms and shield my face from the falling shards of glass.
My brain was shouting, “Get up! Get up, before she attacks you again!” Fighting back waves of nausea and light-headedness, I struggled to my feet and barely made it back over to my bed before my shaky legs gave out. The apartment was so small that from where I sat, I saw that Plum was gone. My fear slowly eased. I let out a shaky breath and lay back on the bed with my eyes closed.
The suddenness and strength of her attack had rattled me. I felt powerless. The urge to hide out in my cramped apartment was overwhelming. But then again, it wasn’t really my apartment. I was dreaming. My experience with dreams was that anything could happen at any given moment. Some people claimed that they could control what happened in their dreams. I never learned how that worked.
The thought of Plum attacking me in my weakened state frightened me. I felt like a sitting duck. Panic began welling up inside me again. I had the presence of mind to realize that giving in to fear wasn’t going to do me any good. What had Delilah said about dreams? I had drifted off while she explained things to me. She had something about the imagination being just as strong as any spell Plum could cast. According to Delilah, the key was to remain focused on what I desired and repeat my intentions. Thoughts were generated by energy, just as magic was generated by energy.
Those ideas made me feel a little less helpless, but I still had no idea where to go or what to do next. Until I learned how to translate her words into actions, I’d continue to be at Plum’s mercy. She had just mercilessly attacked me. So, why didn’t I put Delilah’s assertions to the test? My eyes flew open and I sat bolt upright, feeling a little encouraged. Figuring out how to manifest something then and there might give me a fighting chance at staying alive. So, what would make me feel safe? I opened my hand and closed my eyes, focusing on an image until I felt something solid in my palm.
A gun had materialized in my hand. I sat staring at it in disbelief. It had a solid, reassuring weight to it. Was it loaded, or did I have to dream up bullets for it? Only one way to find out. I aimed the gun at a picture on the opposite wall and pulled the trigger. There was a loud report and a small hole appeared in the middle of the picture, surrounded by a web of cracks in the glass over it.
I squinted at the picture. Was that how a bullet impacted glass or should the glass have shattered completely? My mind automatically conjured up an image of a bigger hole in the picture with the glass completely shattered out of the frame. In the next moment, the picture in front of me suddenly had a bigger hole and glass shards fell at my feet. I realized that I didn’t even need the gun!