Little Shaman. I see you. I hear you. Come to me. Wake me.
I was standing on a tree-lined street in a suburb I could not name. The houses had no numbers, and the street signs were blank. The street was empty of cars and people. On the other side of the street lay a forest -- a tangle of trees and underbrush and vines, thorns and high grasses. They rustled. They glinted green in the bright noon sun.
Little Shaman. Come and find the tree.
I moved forward, across the street and into the tangle of plants. It parted before me. Some of the vines smiled. "Let the path open for the chosen one," they said, "whom the city has called to its salvation."
Before long, the forest floor turned from matted leaves to green grass, and I stood at the center of a wide clearing. Within stood a single tree, and at the base, between the rotos, there was a wide hole.
I crawled into the hole.
I emerged in someone's backyard. A 2-story bungalow with a garage and a patch of grass and a back patio.
I looked to the left. The house beside had the same plan. I looked to the right. That house had the same plan.
I moved forward tot he street and looked up and down the block. Every house looked exactly the same. But the trees were tall and broad, with limbs overarching, almost blocking out the sunlight, and the roots had grown under the concrete paving stones of the sidewalk, and lifted them at angles. The roots had grown under the asphalt of the road, and made it as bumpy as a forest floor.
Are you clever and brave, Shaman? If you can find the house that has the first key, I will know you are truly worthy of freeing me. Come find me, Shaman. I am waiting --
"Young Student! Wake up!"
I awoke standing up with my hand on the doorknob. "What? Oh. Um...sorry about that."
"Well," said the lock, "nobody can help sleepwalking unless they scatter tacks on the floor beforehand. Not your fault. I just didn't want you to go out into the hallway with your eyes closed. You might wind up down at the end of a hall and have no idea how to get back here, or you might stumble down into the basement and meet one of the Rejected Books. Bad idea."
"What's going on?" said a groggy voice form the bed. "Pat? What are you doing up so early?"
"Just...just a dream. A bad dream. Not a nightmare, exactly. But...Lock, you'd better shut yourself tight every night from now on. I have the feeling this is going to keep happening."
"Come back to bed," said Jo. "Lecture is at six and we stayed up until eleven practicing with my Wizard Glasses."
"And fall asleep again? And let my soul wander? I'm too shaken up. I'll just...get ready for the morning."
I shuddered as I grabbed my toothbrush and toothpaste. Something was grabbing my soul each night, and not letting it go. This wasn't like the usual meetings I had with the great spirits. This was out of my control.
Not if I knew dreams, though. Not for long.