It was summer. High summer. The sky was clear and blue, the wind was crisp, and by God if the grass wasn't as green as it could be.
I have an image in my head. I look up at the trees. The sunlight isn't shining through the leaves- they're too thick for that- but it makes their green even brighter. I can see the occasionally flash of blue as they move in the wind.
Me, my sister and the neighbor girl who lived next door are walking down a path. One second, we're on the sidewalk a block and a half away from our houses, coming home from the corner store. The next: we're in the middle of a graveyard. And it's not any graveyard I know, either. This one is old- you can feel the age weighing down the air. It's unkempt. No roads or people at all.
Being a dream, we don't find this at all odd and continue along with our walk. Out of the way, beneath a weeping willow, we find a vine-covered, weather-beaten old statue of an angel. It's on its knees, hands clasped and head bowed in prayer.
It is nighttime.
From the front, it's just a statue. When looked on from the back, however, the angel's head is cut off. Blood drips down from the stump and soaks its back. Etched into its back, between the wings is the figure of a man with antlers.
My sister shrieks out that it's probably the something devil related because, you know; blood, mutilated angel, horns. I disagree and tell her it's Cernnoreth, an old god of the hunt who had deer horns (NOTE, after a quick wiki search, I found that the name is actually Cernunnos, not Cernnoreth. No idea where my subconscious got Cernnoreth).
Blank looks all around, so I try and clarify. "Herne? Erlking?" In the end I give up. "Yeah, okay, fine. Satan." Because I guess people got the horn idea for the devil from Herne, so it kinda counts.
Apparently, if you touch the back of the statue, it takes you to a really dark, red-tinted forest-y place that reminds me of something made by Tim Burton. Nothing specific, mind; it just looked like his style.
Then. . . stuff happens. You know how dreams go from super clear to blurry acid trips? Yeah. The statue is somehow back at my place because. . . my subconscious is self-centered? I don't know. I think we brought it in a wheelbarrow.
In the midst of the blur, Nancy slowly but surely morphs into another friend, Tara. Nobody finds this at all odd. Tara and I are speaking to another childhood friend (Jennifer, who was Tara's BEST-best friend and only my SORTA-best friend) about it and how it takes you to a cool-yet-dangerous place.
We're walking to my place to go see it, when, for no apparent reason, Tara runs off ahead of us, giggling and apologizing.
Me and Jennifer-who-now-looks-like-Nancy are going "What?" and chase after her, just in time to see the horned god himself rise up out of a dark mist. Tara vanishes into the portal, and Cernoreth/Cernunnos/Herne/The-dude-with-the-antlers tells us how she'd made a deal with him and is now doomed to be trapped in the 'nth dimension forever.
I get pissed off and tell him that he'd better let her go or else something really bad will happen to him. Yes, it was as pathetic and as vague as it sounds. He pulls the old 'Foolish Mortal' speech that all ancient and powerful entities like to do in those sorts of situations, then vanishes in a puff of smoke.
Utterly ticked off, I go back home and tell my sister to help me call up some help.
Together we go to the (Nonexistent-in-real-life) freestanding, oval mirror in our mom's room. Using it and some sidewalk chalk from outside, we call up Sekhmet because who better to take on a stag-themed god than a lion-themed goddess?
She steps through the mirror, her head is lion, her eyes are human. Dark hair falls over her shoulders. She radiates power and grace and -hiding just below that- a sharp sense hinting that though she's friendly now, she has the very real potential not to be. She smiles when she sees us, in a sly, very feline way. We smile back. She is our friend. She is our sister.
We tell her what's going on and she says she'll help us. She's shocked- shocked that a wimpy little deer is causing so much trouble. Damned herbivores need to be put in their place.
So we take her through the statue and into Burton-Land. Sekhmet and Cernunnos meet and exchange some banter and veiled threats.
She's getting bored, I can tell. She examines her fingers. I notice for the first time that she doesn't have regular nails: she has curved claws. Cernorreth says something about pussycats. Her tail twitches.
Eventually we get to brass tacks. He won't let Tara go. Sekhmet has lost any amusement she might've had with talking to the little deer god and wastes no time. She lunges and rips his throat out.
He didn't see it coming. Never even thought about the possibility. He goes down without a sound.
She's on top of him, snarling. "Little deer, little cow. You who live in the soft, green places." She pulls up a blood soaked hand and shakes her head in disappointment or disgust. "Eating grass all the time- it makes you stupid."
We get Tara back and Sekhmet escorts us as we walk Jen/Nancy and Tara to their prospective homes. Along the back from that, we three talk about what can be done with the statue. It's starting to give us the creeps (especially now that Cern's corpse is still in there), and we're pretty sure mom would kill us if she found out about the whole 'mutilated angel' trick of its.
The dream ends on a peaceful note. It's summer, still. The air is cool, and the sun is peeking through the trees. There's a slight breeze, but it's comfortable.
I'm almost asleep, leaning against a pile of rags and listening to the lapping of waves. My sister is manning the boat for now- she'll wake me up in a half hour when it's my turn. Beside me is a large crate holding the statue. Despite what you may have heard, the river Styx is quite pleasant, and filled with clear waters, little fish and surprisingly friendly turtles.
Sekhmet had told us that nobody in her pantheon would want the statue (because it's cursed and more trouble than it's worth), but someone from the next one over may want it. Apparently, Hades is a collector of bizarre things, and this statue would be right up his alley. He might even pay us for it.
With a contented sigh, I fall asleep.
Then, of course, I woke up.