Throughout November I’ll be concentrating my posts on Welcome to the Valleys in honor of NaNoWriMo. If you’d like to catch up on this story, the first post of this story can be found at this link
Shortly after he insisted Walter take up his office as Senator the old trader reluctantly agreed and food was brought out. Famished from the meager faire he had received at the tunnel exit, Jeremy dug into a wonderful meal consisting of a hearty stew and brown bread. While it had none of the elegance of the meal he’d shared with Walter and Ama in Shelter, it seemed to whisper to him the contentment and comfort of home.
Somewhat saddened by his own inability to remember where he’d come from, Jeremy turned from his food and had tried to listen as his friends made plans for their journey the next morning. Weary, he found himself nodding off. After he almost fell into the remains of his meal, Tollen had stood up and ordered Jeremy to a bed and rest.
“No, really, I want to stay.”
“Son, you’ve been through more than you can both imagine and remember. Best get some rest. Up the stairs, first door on the right. You’ll find bed clothes laid out and a basin for washing. Sleep well.”
Jeremy marched up the stairs sullenly, and turned into the room to find it just as Tollen had said. He washed with the basin, stripped off his travel clothes, and slipped the comfortable night shirt over his head. Despite his weariness, he was certain he would have trouble quieting his head to fall asleep, but was unconscious shortly after his head settled into the down pillow.
And then he dreamed.
He was flying over a city, with towers rising up so high they touched the sky itself. Far below he saw a crowds of people moving through the city streets, passed by vehicles moving by them at high speeds. The city will filled with the light of shining evertorches, but these didn’t glow with the golden hue with which he’d become accustomed. Rather, they were a brilliant white, and lit up the city streets as if it was day. In fact, the city was so bright he had to turn his head upward to see that it was, indeed, night. The stars shown down on the city barely piercing it’s glow.
The noise of the city rose even up to his height. The incoherent roar of the mass of people, each involved in their own conversations, mixed with the mighty cries of engines and the sounds of angry trumpets rising over the din. It was so crowded and loud Jeremy couldn’t understand how people actually lived in the place.
Then a new sound arose. Not from the city, but from off to the North. Jeremy felt it before he heard it, a deep rumble which seemed to move through his very soul. He looked around at the towers and saw them actually rippling as the sound moved through them. Far below, the voice of the city changed from the busyness of existence and took on a more panicked tone. The vehicles had stopped, the trumpets no longer sounded, and the people had ceased moving.
Then he saw the light.
It grew in the North, and along with it the noise of a violent surf. The light was yellow, tinged with orange, and it roared with hatred. As it approached a wail of despair reached his ears from below. Jeremy risked a glance downward and witnessed people cowering in fear, too afraid to run and too certain running was futile. It seemed as though hatred itself was about to crashed down upon them.
As the light approached Jeremy felt it’s heat. In that moment he knew that that light had been sent to burn the city, and destroy it’s memory. He weeped for the people, lost in their terror, but then sometime caught his eye.
The evertorches were going out.
All around the city, darkness grew. From Jeremey’s vantage point he saw shadow envelope the city like a dome. The heat from the light met the chill of the darkness and wind began to swirl around him. He could still hear the cries from below but they were distant and muffled, as if a great barrier were blocking the sounds.
Jeremy had only a moment to wonder at the strange dome of darkness when the light from the North finally crashed down upon the city. For a time the light flowed around the dome, but then Jeremy witnessed gaps begin to form. Through the gaps he could see the mighty towers begin to crumble and fall. As the roar of hatred began to burn through the city, the dome became more and more fractured. As the city fell Jeremy could feel pain radiating out from the darkness, and he thought he could make out a shout of defiance against the hatred unleashed upon it.
Finally, the light from the North passed, leaving a scar in the landscape moving off to the South. The city was in ruins, towers had fallen and the sounds of wailing began to ascend to his ears. Slowly, the evertorches which had not fallen with their towers one again began to shine. Gentle warmth replaced the chill of the dome and then Jeremy noticed. The evertorches had begun to glow, but they were no longer the brilliant white which had previously lit the city. Instead, they had taken on the honey-hued glow which he’d seen in The Valleys.
Jeremy woke with a start, sweat drenching his night shirt and falling from his brow. A word formed in his mind which he’d not been expecting. “Home.”
Before he could fully awake and commit the dream to his conscious mind, however, a tendril of shadow reached out from under the cover the evertorch at his bedside. It drew heat from the room as it touched Jeremy’s temple and muttered, “Danger. Do not remember. Not yet.” With the shadow’s touch, Jeremy laid back down and fell into a dreamless sleep.
The next morning Jeremy remembered nothing.