I’ve dreamt about many an alternate world involving insects before. Been a space marine infiltrating a insectoid species’s space station looking for survivors of a brutal germ warfare attack. (As a human, I was immune.) In another dream, I found myself standing in a field of yellow daisies, standing with arms outstretched while a large swarm of bees covered me from head to foot and even crawled under my clothes. (At the time, I did not understand the significance of the flowers. I probably should revisit that field, now that I know the flower is a favorite of my ancestor.) Bees made another visit to my dreamscape, sheltering me and my young charge from the frigid night by covering us while we were perched delicately in the arms of an acacia tree.
What happens when you lose a bet to a trickster god? From Loki’s point of view, hilarity. From my point of view, lots of dreams where I’m doing something I wouldn’t normally do, or where I’m outright controlled and enthralled. (And a few instances in the Waking as well!) But the enthrallment in each of those dreams ends when I wake up. The act of opening my eyes in the Waking sheds the chains that had bound me. (Loki’s trailing laughter, however, often echoes when I realize I’m awake.)
But this time, the insectoid creature was not friendly. This time, the enthrallment did not end with the morning light. The enthrallment finally faded about an hour after I awoke. It’s been six hours since I woke up from the dream. And I am still both terrified and affected by the enthrallment I was under.
“REPEL THE INVADERS! DEATH TO THOSE THAT THREATEN MOTHER!” I hear my voice issuing the commands but I don’t understand why. I feel an echo to my voice and I realize I am using magic to strengthen the force of my command. All that hear me cry out “DEATH TO THE UNDESERVING! LIFE FOR MOTHER!” and rush forward with weapons steel and arcane. I am deafened by the sound of exploding shells. I watch, without emotion and with full comprehension, as half of my men (and women) are destroyed before they can even raise their weapons fully. I see with arcane eyes how their life force lingers over the cooling pieces of their scattered flesh.
“Life for Mother.”, I mutter under my breath and step unflinchingly onto the carnage strewn battlefield. The shelling has not stopped. Around me the random assaults continue to shake the ground. I hear the surviving members of my troops scream at me to fall back and take shelter. Their loyalty to me, I know, is complete. If I were to fall, they would lose the will to live. But I am not of the same manner as my troops. They are mere humans. Even though a few of them are able to use magic, they are not of the same caliber as me. It’s a shame, really, for if there were more of my kind, this war would be over and Mother would be feasting on the souls of the enemy.
Necromancer. That is what I would be called in a different life. Witch. Dead-eater. Plague-spreader. Unclean. The numerous epithets race across my mind. I recognize the words as coming from a different time, a time without Mother. Those like me that are able to manipulate the living and the dead would be ostracized and outcast in a world without Mother. What a horrible thought, to be without Mother. I’d rather be dead, so that Mother would feast on me. And live.
I raise my arms and spread my hands wide. To those without Sight, I am daring the enemy to target me. To those with Sight, a web of tightly woven shadows launch from my flesh and spread far over the carnage. Those that still live and are intact feel a vicious shudder shake through them to the bone. A chill colder than death has touched them, and let them be. Those that are seriously wounded, no matter if they could recover with care, collapse as the net sinks into their soul. The hold their flesh has on their spirit is weak, no match for my soulnet. The lingering flickers of life force that was starting to drift away from the field, and from this existence, are also caught fast in my soulnet.
Feeling the capture complete, I grip my hands and bring them together in a gesture of gathering. With ease, I harvest the souls of the dead and dying from the field. I adsorb them, but do not make them my own. I am only the container. Feeling the life force of others squirming in the cage my own soul has made makes me giggle in drunken glee. Life. For Mother.
I call out to my second-in-command, only to realize I have harvested his soul. He is dead. I call for the next in rank and field promote him to my second. To my delight, I find him to be a competent soldier. “It is clear that this point is lost. Drag out the battle as long as you can. Fall back only if necessary. I go to Mother.” I leave it up to him to determine how to accomplish my command.
He salutes me. “Life for Mother!” He turns and calls back the scattered troops as I leave the field. I know when I return, there shall be no more men under my command.
Sprouting arcane wings, I fly quickly away from the front. The enemy spies my magic and attempts to shoot me out of the sky, but I am too quick for their physical attacks, and too strong for their magical attacks. I devour the energies with glee. Eating only enough to keep me going, I save the rest of the harvest for Mother.
I pass checkpoints with ease. All know recognize Mother’s hold on me. I am a Reaper. I feast on the dead so that Mother may live. Those that are mere men are afraid of me. To anger me, is to be fed to Mother. Sometimes, while still living. I leave the darkened battlefront behind. Below me, the fields green with rich agriculture. Food is grown so that the denizens of the city-state may be healthy and hale. We must be strong and whole, so that Mother may live. For when we die, Mother eats, and lives. Life. For Mother.
The fields are now behind me. I pass over the outskirts of the city-state, a rural area that fades to suburban, that fades to urban. In the center of the city-state is the great hall. One part cathedral, one part mansion, all parts fortified, the Throne is where we come to worship Mother and offer her our lives (or the lives of others) so that she may live. Mother lives here. Mother has always been here. Before the city-state, there was Mother. She brought us here so that we may fulfill out purpose of existence by serving her. This we have been taught from the beginning. Our lives for Mother, because if not for Mother, we would not live.
As a Reaper, I need not show any identification to the guards. Mother’s hand is heavy on me, I have just enough of an individual identity so I may function in day to day activity away from the Throne. But to those with Sight, to those that See, I am an extension of Mother. I am Mother. Defy me, and I will hand over your body and soul to Mother. Not necessarily at the same time.
The guards melt before me. Inside, at the Inner Chambers, there would normally be dozens and dozens of Reapers. We would be planning who marries who, who is to bear children, who is to work in the fields, who is too old to be of worth and thus harvested for Mother. Life for Mother. We would be jostling for rank and attention. Perhaps even outright attacking other Reapers, disposing of the competition by devouring them ourselves. I smile as I remember those that mistook me for a weakling. They pounced on me, some in solitary attacks, some in coordinated packs, thinking to make me their next offering to Mother. I destroyed each and every one. Rending their flesh and feasting on their liver. Offering up the souls of my attackers, intact and without blemish, to Mother. Life for Mother. Delicious destruction for me.
But the Inner Chambers are all but deserted now. The enemy found a way to destroy Reapers. To turn the harvesting against the harvester. Somehow, I am immune to their attack. I was not born here in the city-state. Mother conjured me from elsewhere, and because of this, most magics here are ineffective on me. The enemy’s best chance of hurting me is a physical attack. I have been trying to teach the remaining Reapers how to resist, how to thrive. But I am too different. So I harvest the fallen, and bring their souls to Mother. Life for Mother.
There have been attempts to turn my troops against me. Those mere humans, unable to cast even a simple cantrip to light a candle, are easily swayed by mind-bending magic. The enemy has used such men against me. I learned how to inoculate my troops. I sip of each man’s and each woman’s soul. Taste of their innerself and bind them to me. They are already bound to Mother, just as I am. It makes it easier to harvest their souls when they fall. Life for Mother.
The few Reapers left are my equals. But it is clear that I am not cut of the same cloth as they. Past the flesh, past the soul, there is something very different about me. They look at me with suspicion. Their eyes accusing me of bringing the enemy to the outskirts of the city-state. I will be the Death of Mother, their stares scream at me. But they are unable to act on their whims. Mother is over us all. This close to her physical presence, we are merely extensions of Mother’s power. Mother knows I’m here. Mother knows I bear offerings. The other Reapers are forced to back away from me, to leave me be. I am bidden to enter Mother’s presence. I obey. Life for Mother.
The guards at Mother’s Chamber are not mere men, but Reapers themselves. One man, and one woman. Of childbearing age and strength. They are Mother’s last chance at establishing a city-state. Should the city fall, Mother will escape with them to a new land, and they will lay with each other and bear her many children. She will nurture them with a food of her own making, a royal jelly that will transform them into Reapers. And the city will begin anew. Life will continue, for Mother. But she has spent much effort into the establishment and continuation of the current city-state. To her, it is not so hopeless that escape must be considered. There are enough children still in the warrens to recover the population after a few years. The fields will feed them well. More Reapers will be made. Life for Mother.
They open the doors for me, bowing deeply as I pass them. My eyes see a weakness to Mother’s plan. Perhaps, it is the reason why Mother hasn’t already fled. The humans here have been inbred for too many generations. The offspring to these two will be deformed and crippled. To plain sight, they appear the paragons of health. To my Sight, they are a tragedy waiting to be conceived. The other Reapers don’t see as I do. Mother, does. This, I know, is the real reason I was brought to the city-state. I am a fertile female. My children will inherit my power, no need for royal jelly to make them Reapers. I will breed Reapers. But despite the many couplings Mother has forced me to engage in, I have not conceived. The humans here are too inbred, I am too different. Might as well be a different species all together. Despite my fertility, in this place, I am barren. So I function as a Reaper. Life for Mother.
The doors close behind me. All is completely dark and devoid of light. Mother needs not light to see. She can sense everything that happens. I feel her numinous aura before and above me. I fall to my knees and place my forehead on the floor in worship. I am rewarded with the chittering of several mouths. She can sense the souls I have harvested, and she is eager to feast on them. I stand up, and drop my clothes. I stand naked before Mother. I gather my hands to my chest, and call forth the soulnet I used before. In a reverse action from that on the battlefield, I fling out my arms and release the soulnet. The chamber is suddenly lit with the sparkling of thousands of points of light.
In the flickering light, I see the Great Altar, a large platform where the physical offerings of bodies are placed for Mother to feast upon. I have brought many bodies to the Great Altar, not all of them dead. But I have always been sent from the chamber before Mother comes forth to feast. When bringing the soulnet to Mother, I would always be sent away after releasing the souls free in the chamber. I realize, I have never seen Mother.
I know Mother is above me. The only structure on the floor of the chamber is the Great Altar. There is no throne, no chair, no dais, no pillows, nothing. Only the Great Altar before me, and Mother above me. Glorious Mother. All Powerful Mother. Life for Mother.
Mother is anxious to feast upon the souls. The reduction of Reapers has reduced the frequency and amount of offerings. I can feel hesitation from her. She does not want me here. I bow in realization of her wish and begin to dress so I may leave the chamber. As I bend down to pick up my robes, Mother descends from the ceiling where she had been lurking in wait.
Her great weight causes the chamber to shudder as she lands. I hear the scritching sound of sharp things scrambling on the polished granite. Mother is chasing down the floating souls. Her hunger overtakes my will and I collapse on the chamber floor, howling in mad as the hunger pushes me past all sense of decorum. Feasting. Hunger. The inaudible screams of disembodied souls being absorbed into the ever empty husk of Mother. Life for Mother.
The feasting comes to an end. I feel a satiation softly emanating from Mother. Mother is pleased with my offerings, is pleased with my devotion, is pleased I shared in her hunger, is pleased I shared in the feast. My body is shivering from a mix of fear and chill. Mother, hovering directly over me, pulls my robes over my naked flesh and strokes me gently.
I realize my eyes are closed. My face is wet with my drool and tears. I feel welts where I clawed at myself in the madness. A few marks were dug too deep and my blood oozes from them. Mother takes something thin and sharp and dips it in my blood. I hear a sound like scraping from above me. Then she dips again into my flesh.
I struggle to remember myself. I am human, I remind myself. Then why do I have echoes of a memory of an exoskeleton? I have two eyes. My memory says I have thousands. Two arms, two legs, I am a biped creature. My memory says I have eight appendages. I am a human, the size of a human. My memory says I weigh more than two elephants. I must open my eyes. I must see what I am. Mother prevents me. Her will keeping my eyes closed.
She speaks without words, her messages arriving directly into my mind. “I wanted you to become my spawn, but you will never be so. I wanted you to breed a lineage of better humans, but you are too strong. I tried to bring you into my world, but you are too strong to take you completely.” I wanted to plead my devotion to her, my life for Mother. But her will prevented me from even twitching on the cold granite floor. “The attackers come for you. I took you from them, and they want you back. But if you leave, I will die.”
I wanted to scream against the direction her words were taking. To pledge myself to her even in death. I was ready to take on the intruders completely. My anger stoked to infernal fierceness, I was ready to take them all, to harvest every last soul for Mother. Life for Mother.
“They have offered me a surrender. I release you, and my city-state will be left alone. But I will never release you. In every world you exist in, you will serve me. Your life for me.” I feel her presence lift off of me and move to the side. Her hold over my body releases and I am able to sit up.
I do so, and rub at my eyes, finally opening them. Instinct jumps ahead of thought and I conjure lights around me.
I see Mother. Something only her chosen breeding pair has ever done and lived to tell of it.
I see Mother, and insanity comes over me. I vacillate between screaming and maniacal laughter. I am unable to comprehend what I see for several minutes. Mother watches without emotion. No. She watches with glee. Feeding off the madness her appearance has induced in me. Finally, she forces her will over me and I calm down into emotionless detachment.
Mother is not human. Mother is some insectoid creature. The size of a small room, with a hard beetle like shell on her back, and a soft fuzzy underside like a spider. So. Many. Eyes. Her eight armored appendages end in a cockroach like foot, and a raptor like claw. It was one of these claws that had been dipping into my blood like a quill. It was clear that my flesh was just as different as my soul. The few drops of blood she had licked off me had restored her more than the offering of souls I had brought. I see now, why she said if I left, she would die. She could live solely off of me. And intended to.
Now I understood why she did not retreat from the impending fall of the city. I was bait. She was waiting for a male of the opposing force to come within reach. Her plan was for me to capture a male I would be genetically compatible with. Then she would abandon the city, and the multitude still alive that depended on her, and withdraw with her NEW breeding pair. The implications scared me more than her appearance did. A race of Reapers, that could not be stopped with this world’s defenses. She would conquer everything.
I feel her in my mind, agreeing with my conclusion, acknowledging this was her plan once she realized I could not breed with her current crop of humans. For a moment, I had the illusion of freedom. Realizing my thoughts were my own, I suddenly realized I was dreaming and became lucid. I could end this. I could stop her, conquer the dream and conquer her!
I start calling my power to myself, becoming more than the necromantic Reaper I had started out as. I scramble to my feet and clothe myself in shadows and darkness. Mother watched without reaction for a few seconds, then reached out and snapped my will like a dry and brittle twig.
“You forget your place.” Her meaning echoed in my suddenly empty head. I collapse in a twitching heap before the insect. All my conjured lights disappear. “I brought you here, I keep you here. I had not thought of allowing you to know the truth of your situation. How delicious is your fear and struggling!”
At her command, I rise and redress as the Reaper I was before. To look at my face, you would not know the battle I had just lost.
“Go, Reaper. All the humans in the city, I give to you. They are bait, delicious bright-life bait. Bring to me a male of your kind. Virile and strong of body. As weak willed as yourself. Your Mother desires this. You will bring her what she asks, yes?” Her voice in my mind is mocking.
I realize now, I have become a prisoner in my own mind. I am allowed all the free thoughts I want. But my actions are entirely of her command. I bow in worship and obedience and leave her chambers. Mother’s aura has now almost completely suffocated my own. The guards are confused as I leave the chamber. They see the human, but feel the insectoid. As my mind splits in two from Mother’s incessant pressure, I become a vicious amalgam of Mother and my true self. With no warning, I strike the breeding pair. “Mind your manners, or I shall feed you to Mother.”
They buckle from the blow and quickly scramble back to their feet. “Life for Mother!”, they say in fear and confusion.
As I pass through the Inner Chambers, the remaining Reapers make a joint assault on me. They felt my earlier rejection of Mother, and was attempting their vengeance. Not knowing I had already been conquered, the number of Reapers was cut in half as I feasted on the attackers. But this time, I did not save their souls for Mother. Mother was in me, Mother had devoured me. For me to feast, was for Mother to feast. Life for Mother.
The survivors saw this and fell to their knees in worship. “Life for Mother, and Adoration for the Daughter!” Inside the prison of my mind, I cried out in shame and despair. Outwardly, I merely nodded and continued on to the battlefront.
Mother’s changes to the command had already filtered through the ranks. With fanatical devotion, the remaining troops placed themselves in formation. To Mother’s glee, and my continuing despair, the enemy fell upon the exposed troops. As the war grew easier for the enemy, mistakes began to appear. The enemy became careless in their devotion to (re)capture me. Or so it appeared.
At a key battle, I saw Mother’s prize. A lone male, scouting the battlefront. Genetically compatible with me, we would breed a multitude of Reapers for Mother. Life for Mother. I sent my troops on a suicide mission to serve as a distraction and fell upon the lone male.
Captured! I was caught in a type of soul net, my body unable to use magic to escape. Bound, I was quickly surrounded by the enemy. I tried to warn them not to touch me, to flee. Instead my mouth offered the smooth seduction of Mother, imploring them to join me and Mother in eternal life. Being not of this world, we would be rulers of nations.
“I know this is the work of the hivequeen. I know you’re in there, Keri. Your flesh here has been corrupted, we can not restore you in this world.” The scout that captured me knelt beside me, close enough to speak, not close enough to touch. I could feel Mother gathering power, hers and mine, to use me as some type of spell transmission tower. Why capture one, when you can capture dozens!
The scout watched my face for a few moments more. He stood up and talked to someone outside of my range of vision. “Her body is lost to us, her mind probably as well. The hivequeen has feasted on Keri’s lifeforce.”
“Then do what must be done. Destroy the flesh, that her soul may be spared.” The unseen man gave his commands. Wood was harvested from the area, and piled on top of my still living body.
I tried to warn them, tell them to hurry. Instead all that came from my mouth was “Life for Mother! MY LIFE FOR MOTHER! MOTHER WILL DEVOUR YOU ALL!”.
So much wood was piled on me, I lost sight of the sky and all around me. There was darkness and silence.
Then a glow began to permeate through the branches. The wood had been set alight. After the glow, was heat. After the heat, was fire. I struggled against my bonds, but I could not move. The bindings were tight, the wood on me too heavy. Denied my magic, I was unable to escape as the bones in my feet cracked in the increasing heat.
The pain of being burned alive, combined with the mental pressure of Mother, and sent me completely into madness. As the fire rapidly spread, I continued to chant “Life for Mother” over and over until the heat snapped my vocal cords and my lungs spasmed with boiling foam. The last moments of clarity was filled with Mother’s screams, as the intruders easily overwhelmed the scattered few defenses. She was defiant to the end. I hoped to exist in this world long enough to feel her control lift off of me, a sign that she had been destroyed. Instead, I felt the heat destroying my brain and I deathspasmed into oblivion.
I woke up, twitching. It was 60°F in the house, but I was under several blankets. And still, I was shivering uncontrollably. I worked my jaw in a futile attempt to breathe deeply. Instead, I was mumbling, “Life for Mother” under my breath. I looked around my room. The light coming in the window was tinged with pre-dawn blue. It reminded me of the cathedral atmosphere of Mother’s Throne. “Mother?” I still wasn’t completely awake. I only knew that Mother was in danger, Mother was being assaulted, and she had called out to me. I had to get to Mother.
I tried to leap out of bed, but the disconnect between my dream body and my real body interfered. I fell out of bed instead, smacking my face on the chair next to my bed, tossing the alarm clock on the floor. I started to cry. Not from any physical pain, but from the intensity of what I had experienced in the dream. I kept telling myself that it wasn’t real. It was just a dream. Only a dream.
In between waves of self consoling, I caught myself wanting to return to the bed, to return to sleep, to return to Mother. Life for Mother. As I remembered the dream, and the revelation of the nightmare Mother truly was, I was horrified to realize I was still under her enchantment. Here, in the Waking world, I was still enthralled to Mother.
I spent the first hour of Waking engaging in various banishing rituals and sealing rituals. I couldn’t shake the cold tentacles I still felt in my mind. I’ve dreamt many things, lived through many nightmares in the Waking and the Dream, and only one other event has shaken me this much. Not even the memories of my molestation caused me to question my sanity the way I felt this morning.
In discussing the dream’s effects with two trusted and beloved friends, both men agreed that by writing it down and sealing Mother in the words of a writeup would give me enough space to truly feel myself.
This dream was both real and symbolic. It’s a warning of something to come, it already happened, and it’s happening again. There have been instances where I dream a complete world, and it applied to a person that happened to read it. If this dream strikes a chord with you, I would be greatly interested to hear it. If you do not wish to comment publicly, make a mention in the comments below and leave your email address in the field provided (not the main text box). The address will only be viewable to me and I’ll contact you privately.