Expanding this jerky high-points outline into a full detailed rendering of the dream is going to take more time than I have to spare. I did not want to make this public, but the dream would not leave me until it was not only recorded, but exposed to the public. I do not know what is here for you to gain, dear reader. I do know I will answer any questions that may arise very carefully, because there are things here I do not have the right to elucidate on further.
The dream opens with my lack of lucidity amid the discovery of my tarot decks by the group who kidnapped me and other Americans. Upon discovery, they made preparations to publicly execute me as an example of what happens to those who defy their religious beliefs. However, the warlord who had ordered our abduction was told about me and he had me brought into his room for a personal interview before the proceedings.
“I have seen many who claim to know the future. Do you?”
“A pretender, then.”
“No. A diviner.”
“What is the difference?”
“Those who claim to know the future can only speak to the fact that every man born will die. Everything else is an educated guess. The pretender seeks power, money, or both. The diviner seeks answers, even if those answers hurt or may cause the diviner to lose face. The understanding that can be sparked by those answers is more valuable than usurpable power, worm-stolen money, or both.”
“And what did your cards tell you, Diviner? What terrible answer keeps you from begging for mercy? Why are you so calm?”
“Because my cards told me I will die in three days and I have made peace with that. Your religious oaths will not allow you to let me live, not even in cruelty, now that you know what I am and what I do. I am going to be put to death and that’s that.”
“… Because you acknowledge the power over you, I will allow you to choose the manner of your death.”
“If it pleases the power over you, on the first day, allow me to bathe and eat as richly as you, even as richly as your favorite companion. On the second day, allow me to bathe and but to eat only vegetables and to drink only water. On the morning of the third day, allow me to bathe but only give me water to drink. At sunset, allow me to wash myself only with water and to wear the cloth I will be buried in. May that cloth have enough excess to drape over my head as a hood that covers my sight.”
“… And what will I do after these preparations?”
“If it pleases the power above you, after I am dressed for my burial, bring me back into this room, and you shall ask questions that only the dead can answer. As I will be mostly dead by that time, you will receive answers. This only I demand of you: When you have heard enough, kill me cleanly. Snap my neck with your own two hands.”
The warlord kept quiet for a long time before turning his attention to the guards. “Throw her back with the other prisoners. If she speaks a single word to them, kill them all. If she remains silent until dawn, she will be attended by my [Precious Woman].”
He turned his attention back to me. “If you speak to anyone before the night of your death, they will all die and your suffering will be for decades. If you meet your death, here, in three days as you have spoken, I will release them all. So I speak in the presence of that power above me.”
I clapped my hands together, bowed, and said nothing more until the third night when I was escorted into his room with only a large burial cloth wrapped around me and over my head.
Though I had no drugs or drink, I was near delirious from the act of the ritual alone. The Dead were so close to me, closer than the cloth wrapped around my naked body. I remember kneeling before him then pulling the cloth over my face.
The Dead are not cold when you are one of them. But, oh! How bright and hot are the Living!
I woke in a gilded room. Servants waited silently on the floor, kneeling before the wall for my command. My body had been washed and rubbed with roses. The floral scent mixed with the musk of my body to further awaken me.
Sunlight filtered through the closed curtains to console me.
The warlord, armed with daggers and guns, sat on a stool at the foot of the silk covered bed.
“Did I fail?”
“No. You just undermined all of my goals, that’s all.” He checked his watch. “In 20 minutes, the survivors will arrive in Cairo. They will mourn the one hostage who was torn from them three days prior to their rescue. You kept your word. I’m keeping mine.”
“Liar. I still live. You were to kill me.”
“Yes. About that. How is your neck?”
I reached up and felt a series of bruises that complained profusely about severe mishandling. “Sore, down to the bone.”
“I snapped your neck with my own two hands when I heard answers I could not bear to accept. The moment your body went limp, I understood the meaning of what the Dead told me and my eventual fate. I mourned you. Deeply. Sincerely.”
He sighed and idly stroked one of the silver daggers unsheathed on his lap. “The Dead… They… They unwound your neck and continued speaking. Your body had no pulse. Your eyes were milk. But still your voice continued.”
“They told me I could spare my family or spare myself. I asked to spare my family. They told me to prepare you for burial as if you were my sister, and to lay you in a place of honor as we wait for my reckoning to arrive. Your body was cold when I pulled the covers over you as if sleeping. I just watched the spirits carry your soul on sunlight and quicken your body as if you had been only sleeping this long and terrible night.”
He placed his weapons on the table beside him. “So, no, Diviner. I did not lie to you. I killed you, as I promised.” He sighed again. I thought I saw his breath in the warm room.
I meant to ask him a question, but a sharp pop in the distance caught my attention. I recognized it as the sound of a missle launching just as said missle stuck the compound nearby.
He said something to the terrified servants in a language that was comfortable for him to speak but impossible for me to understand. They made a bowing gesture to him and me before fleeing.
“Am I your last hostage, then?”
“No.” As he paused I heard a New York drawl shouting commands outside. Heavy footsteps started advancing up a nearby stairwell. His body tensed as he turned to face the door. “You are the witness to my death.”
The door attacked the wall as the soldiers attacked the room. The warlord grabbed his rifle off the table and aimed at me while smiling the most peaceful and serene calm I have ever seen.
His hand jerked as the round through his forehead sealed his fate. Only the lack of retort from his weapon revealed how he kept his promise. As he fell dead, I saw his rifle lacked even a magazine. He was only acting to shoot me, so that he would be certainly killed in reflex.
As the soldiers cleared the room and eventually me, I saw a mist gather in the room. It shunned the sunlight flooding in after the curtains were ripped down. I found myself unable to speak from the shock. All I could do was shiver and mutely cry.
As the soldiers drove me away from the ruins of the compound, I finally fell asleep from exhaustion. I dreamt I was in the warlord’s room again, but the space was now thick with the Dead. I was suddenly and starkingly lucid.
“My options are to be judged into perdition by the power above me, or help you. If you will allow, I will be here for you, in whatever manner I can. Choose your questions well, Diviner.”
I awoke fully in my bed. It took an hour for the feeling of drowning to go away.