Ariel’s Dream: S & H Teen, Falls Creek, VA. Copyright © Tahlia Newland 2013
Ariel’s somewhat prophetic dream occurred three years before the events of the Diamond Peak Series.
I shivered, but not just from the chill damp penetrating my thin pyjamas. The air seemed to thicken and time stretched, as if something was about to happen but never would, or perhaps, in some parallel universe, it already had.
I stood in the feeble light of a dusty bulb and reached for the last bottle of wine in the six-tiered rack. Granite block walls and a low wooden ceiling enclosed me in some kind of cellar; our cellar, I thought—but we don’t have one! I paused and glanced around, sniffing at the musty smell. Discarded remnants of my life lay scattered across the bare concrete floor—crumpled clothes, a one-legged teddy bear, a broken stroller, old school books and a rusty pink bike with flat tyres.
The bulb sputtered, then died, plunging me into relentless black. My heart plummeted, but I grabbed the bottle and pulled it from its resting place. Mum would be waiting for it, and it’s only darkness, I told myself, nothing to be afraid of. But I couldn’t see the stairs. I couldn’t see anything. I blinked and peered into the gloom. Nothing. Time paused, waiting for me to move; but how could I? My sense of direction had abandoned me. Everything had abandoned me.
My stomach twisted with anxiety, but before it bloomed into full blown panic, my eyes adjusted to the darkness. A slither of light spilled down the stairs from the kitchen above. A weight lifted from my chest at the sight of this tentative beacon of hope, and I shuffled towards it, trying not to trip over the symbols of an abandoned childhood beneath my feet. I should have felt better as I drew closer to the light, but the chill in the cellar seemed to deepen, and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.
Ouch! I bumped my hip on the corner of an old washing machine. The impact with solid metal left tender flesh that would no doubt blossom into a bruise. That would look great in my bikini, I thought, but the sarcasm didn’t lighten my mood. Not surprising really; stumbling through a pitch black cellar couldn’t be anyone’s idea of fun.
At last my foot found the bottom step, and I started up the stairs towards the light peeking through the crack in the door at the top, but with every step I took towards it, the further away the light appeared to be. I stopped and frowned, then my eyes widened as the stairs grew impossibly long above me and the light shrunk to a pinprick in the distance. Time stretched with the stairwell. I wanted to race up those stairs two at a time, but my limbs wouldn’t obey.
Suddenly, something snake-like peeled itself off the right hand wall and waved towards me like a tendril of slime. My eyes widened. What on earth? I swallowed in a suddenly dry throat and took a step back, but something tickled my ankle and something greasy stroked my shoulder.
I swung around. Tendrils of black slime oozed from the walls behind me, barring my way. Panic took over. I spun back, heart pounding, and catapulted up the stairs. I pushed my way past the growing number of snakes. Their slimy skin gleamed in the fragile light. A vaguely human-shaped shadow peeled itself off the wall and blocked my way. I swung at it, but the wine bottle whizzed straight through the shadow, smashed against the white-washed wall and trickled like blood down the stones. Sorry about your wine, Mum.
A realisation cut through my panic. It was just a dream!
The shadow vaporised. The stairwell fell away and the darkness dissolved into light. I stood on the top of a snow-capped mountain surrounded by a brilliant blue sky that stretched endlessly in all directions. Sunshine warmed my skin, eased into my flesh and penetrated to the very depth of my soul. Relief washed over me like a balmy breeze on a cold day. The view went on forever, and I stood like some lord looking over his lands. Undulating fields of green and gold, dark forests, ancient villages, craggy stone cliffs and, winding down amongst it all, a river, shining like a silver ribbon. I belonged here. No. More than that. Somehow, I was this place and it was me. I wanted to embrace it all and shout at the top of my lungs, ‘I’m here. I’m here, and they’ll never touch you again!’