"The Council of Queens requests your presence in Convergent City."
My dreams have taken a strange turn lately. The city that so recently was in ruins has been rebuilt, and it is stronger and more beautiful than any city possibly could be. Since the end of the War of the Zealots, the city rose again, but the threats against it continue. There are still those who would seek to disturb its peace.
There are six queens on the council. They are divided into two groups, the death queens and the life queens. The Death Queens, Tina, Christina and Tammy sit on the left side of a giant white statue of an angel. The Life Queens, Marci, Victoria and Megan sit on the right side of the statue. They have requested my presence. There is a new concern that has arisen.
"The red riders will not allow the fourth queen to enter the city."
I am to undertake a mission to lead this fourth queen to the city. I am to be accompanied by Marci, the first of the life queens, and her male consort, who is a rather limp and unimpressive shrew of a man. He pulls me aside before we leave the throne room.
"You do understand that if you bring the fourth queen into the city, you will undermine the power of the existing queens and leave them without authority."
"Then why do they want me to help her reach the city?"
"No one who deserves power will ever be granted power," he says as he changes, momentarily, into the card dealer, the wise old man who gave the original prophesy of The Three Queens. "Those who willingly surrender power when it is not asked of them are truly blessed."
At the edge of the city we are met by a large contingent of red riders. They are angels who wear red and have three sets of wings. They tell us that the final piece of the prophesy cannot be fulfilled. They will not allow it to. They ask me to be satisfied with what I have and to ask no more. They will destroy the city before they allow the fourth queen to enter. They make this very clear.
We retreat back into the city. There is a parade. Tina, the first of the death queens, is being carried aloft on a regal platform adorned with golden linens. The people are praising her as the one true queen. Marci and the little man lead me down an alley. We say nothing until we reach the other end of the alley, which opens into the hills beyond the city.
"There is a route we can take that the riders do not know about," Marci tells me. She then summons three horses and makes a crack about whether or not I will be able to ride.
"Why do you want to bring the fourth queen here so badly?" I asked her.
"I never asked for this, and the balance of the council is not what you think it is. The council will destroy itself without the fourth queen. You're still such a moron sometimes."
And then I woke up.
The following night a darker dream invades my consciousness. The cabin in the woods has returned, but as a backdrop for an unfolding story. Marci has been killed in a car accident, one that leaves her unrecognizable to authorities. In fact, no one is absolutely sure it is her, but they are unwilling to commit to further tests such and dental records and DNA because, "It costs too much and we need to get her buried."
I get in contact with her mother, who has no doubt the burned and crushed body from the accident is her daughter. She also is completely unmoved by the death, shrugging it off as an annoyance that has upset her plans for the week. Retired and living in South Carolina, she asks if I'll handle the funeral and all of that so she can play golf. Her father also seems quite fixated on not having to cancel golf plans.
I drive from Florida to Massachusetts in a broken down junker of a car. There is someone with me in the passenger seat. The person is familiar to me and female, but I do not know who it is. A usual sign of "future memory." We get to New Hampshire and find the death and the body are being treated coldly and without much interest or compassion. She's in a metal drawer at the morgue three days after her death because no one has come to claim the body. I refuse to make a positive identification, which they require of me before releasing the body to me, but this is a horribly charred and twisted thing that doesn't even look human. My refusal to make a positive identification results in the attendant telling me, "You'll never let go, will you? Not even with the evidence in front of you."
"What evidence? She isn't dead, you idiot. This is someone else."
I am greatly disturbed by the complete indifference of family and friend to Marci's death, as well as their inability to consider that this might not be her. I learn that the car she was driving that got into the fatal accident wasn't hers. There is absolutely no evidence to show that it was her, other than the fact that she disappeared around the time of the accident. It wasn't her car, there was no identification found at the scene of the accident, and no one is interested in doing any tests to identify the body. They continue to shrug and simply say, "Yup. That's her."
The card dealer appears as I walk away. He throws the Queen of Spades down in front of me, on the ground and says. "Fourth queen rising."
"There has never been a Queen of Spades," I tell him.
"Only because you've never been able to see her before. The gateway is only opened this way."
And then I woke up.