A City in Dreams
Belraina is a city. A beautiful renaissance city in which two ducal families struggle for power. It is this mist of silver spires and deadly politics that Helen Morning, a 21st Century London teenager, finds herself in, in her dreams and in her pajamas. She is soon caught up in a wave of events she barely understands, torn between her own, mundane world and the friendship, love and danger she finds under the Belrainan sun. --feedback seriously appreciated--
A Lunatic or a Liar
â€œYes, I think so.â€ She paused. â€œErm, so, where am I then?â€ The stare had returned, and the question was odd. It gave Viola the impression that to answer it was her job, her purpose. Well if it was her job, then it wasnâ€™t very difficult.
â€œWeâ€™re by the harbour,â€ she said gently, wondering if the girl was simple.â€Look,â€ she pointed out at the boats but kept studying the girlâ€™s face, feeling concerned. She could have sworn that she rolled her eyes. A cart swerved in front of them, narrowly avoiding Violaâ€™s outstretched arm. The driver swore angrily at her and the two girls jumped.
â€œWe should get out of the way,â€ said Viola, at the same time as the other girl repeated, â€œNo, I mean where am I? What is this place?â€ She paused again. â€œWho are you?â€
She chose the least confusing question first. â€œIâ€™m Viola. Look, why donâ€™t we go this way?â€ They negotiated their way across the street and into the opening of a smaller alley, the stranger following in bemused silence. â€œThis place... do you mean Belraina?â€ Viola asked her.
â€œWell, if Belraina is this place then I do. But itâ€™s not helping.â€ She laughed. â€œWeâ€™re getting nowhere.â€ It was a very carefree laugh, as though no amount of confusion really mattered. She did it again and tilted her head sideways. â€œAnd who are you?â€
Viola bit her lip. â€œIâ€™m Viola,â€ she repeated softly â€“ softly by most peopleâ€™s standards, not just her own. â€œWhy donâ€™t we sit down?â€ She gestured to a crate on the floor by the wall. It smelt of straw but looked strong enough.
The girl looked at the crate and then back at Viola. â€œIâ€™m not an idiot,â€ she said wearily. â€œBut I have no idea whatâ€™s going on. It doesnâ€™t matter, you see.â€
â€œWhy doesnâ€™t it matter?â€
â€œIâ€™m dreaming.â€ The girl sat down and smiled at Viola, who remained stubbornly standing.
â€œNo youâ€™re not.â€
â€œHow could I not be? Viola, Iâ€™m in bed. I went to sleep and now Iâ€™m here. Everything seems so clear... itâ€™s strange, but Iâ€™ve felt like this before, I suppose, in dreams.â€ Her voice drifted off and she kicked a stone on the floor, watching it bounce with the sort of keen concentration that might be employed to understand a particularly but complicated joke.
Viola tried to run a hand through her hair, but realised she still had the headscarf on, so she tugged at that anxiously instead. â€œThis place is real, I live here, and youâ€™re real too. Look.â€ She sat down next to her, took her hand and dug her nails in. The skin underneath went white and, when the girl snatched it away, she had two small crescents marked on her palm. â€œOw!â€
â€œSee? Real.â€ But the girl seemed unconcerned. â€œThat only works in movies. Iâ€™ve tried it in a dream before... I knew it was a dream, had to be, but it still hurt, or rather I thought it did.â€
â€œYouâ€™re not very good at telling when youâ€™re dreaming. And whatâ€™s a movie?â€
"Never mind.â€ She ignored the question with a small snort. â€œI know Iâ€™m dreaming.â€
Viola ignored her in return and tried a different question. â€œWhatâ€™s your name?â€
â€œAnd where do you think you are, you know, asleep?â€
Helen shook her head slightly. â€œMuswell Hill. You wonâ€™t have heard of it.â€
Viola shook her head more clearly. â€œI havenâ€™t. Is it not near here?â€
â€œTotally different dimension, Iâ€™m guessing.â€
â€œAnd thatâ€™s where your clothes are from?â€ She tried to keep the scepticism out of her voice. Was she talking to a lunatic or a liar?
A nod this time. â€œThatâ€™s right. Look, you donâ€™t have to keep talking to me. It doesnâ€™t matter, but if you do, what should I do now? I donâ€™t seem to be waking up and Iâ€™m a bit... lost. I donâ€™t feel like I fit in, but I might as well try to explore while I have the chance. This is quite exciting.â€ She said it all rather quickly but Viola wasnâ€™t really paying attention. She was feeling the fabric of Helenâ€™s clothing. It was a weirdly revealing garment, but incredibly soft.
â€œWe should get you something normal to wear. Follow me.â€ She stood up and dragged her lunatic-liar back out into the street, this time with a plan in mind.