Cathal Murray – Dream Catcher
By Cathal Murray
She leaped from the ground, up to the ladder on the alley wall, knapsack hitting silently off her thigh. Climbing swiftly, she defied the moisture that remained on the rungs after the storm the morning before. She flung herself onto the apartment block roof and sprinted, jumping every few seconds to cross gaps in buildings. She stopped at an edge and dropped to the ground noiselessly, only to bounce back up into a bedroom window. She paused, opening her knapsack to retrieve a dusty glass jar.
She tiptoed over to a child who was sleeping fretfully. She opened the jar, releasing a cloud of dust into the air. The jar was left down on the child’s dresser and she placed two fingers on either of his temples, hushing him. She fell into a trance and bright wisps of energy began to entwine themselves around her fingers. When the strands began to thicken, she removed her fingers from the child’s temples and began to mould the energy into a perfect sphere. The flow of magic soon stopped, and the boy became calm. When all of the wisps had been gathered up in her hands, she turned slowly towards the dresser, dropped the orb of light into the jar and immediately screwed the lid back on. She carefully placed the jar back into her knapsack and vaulted the windowsill to land expertly on the tarmac.
She immediately began to run again, through dark alleyways and brightly-lit streets. She didn’t slow until she reached the river. She retrieved the jar from her knapsack and crouched down. She found the usual bend in the river and splayed her hand. A bolt of light shot out of it and opened a gap in the river. She flung the jar into the gap in the river. She closed her hand, the gap disappeared and the nightmare in the jar was gone.
She sat down, exhausted from the night’s work. The headaches came again. Another child. Another nightmare. She rose from the ground and turned. Standing in front of her was a man. He was tall, pale, and terrifying. His face wore no features.
‘Morpheus,’ she breathed, ‘Don’t do that!’
‘Do what?’ replied Morpheus.
‘Sneak up on me like that!’
Morpheus gave her that look. Even without features, he could make what she liked to call “almost-expressions”. ‘On an unrelated note, how many ‘mares have you collected?’
‘Three.’ Morpheus shook his head disapprovingly.