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Charles de Lint - The Dreaming Place

Charles de Lint - The Dreaming Place

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Published by: SomeThingWickd on Mar 13, 2009
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11/25/2012

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The Dreaming Place
Charles de LintIllustrated by Brian FroudISBN 0-689-31571-6
OCR from PDF.
Summary: When a manitou, a winter earth spirit that is withering and in need of blood, fastens uponNina, her sixteen-year-old cousin Ash enters the Othenvorld to stop the spirit.
CHARLES DE
LINT received the first annual William L. Crawford award for Best New FantasyAuthor of 1984. In 1988, he won the Casper Award for Best Work in English for his novel
 Jack theGiant-Killer.
His writing includes short stories, poetry, and nonfiction, reviews for various magazinesand newspapers, and his most recent novel,
Svaha.
He is the proprietor/editor of Triskell Press, a smallpublishing house that specializes in fantasy chapbooks and magazines. In addition, he has sewed on theNebula Awards jury. He currently makes his home in Ottawa, Ontario, with his wife, Mary Ann Harris, atextile artist.
ForKirsty & Katie
Walking with Spiritsthrough murals of mist  I visit my totemin the Dreaming Place.
—Jane Leverick,from “Dream Time
Nina
“I didn’t see you at school today, Nina,” Judy said. “Were you sick?“No. I just couldn’t go in.”“Well, I wish you’d tell me when you’re going to skip. I was looking for you all over. The Tank andher crew ended up sitting at my table for lunch and I could’ve just died.”“Why didn’t you just get up and leave?”“Why should 1? I was there first. Besides, I thought you or Laurie’d show up to rescue me, only shewasn’t at school today either. How come you were playing hooky, anyway?”“I had another one of those dreams again last night, and I just couldn’t face going in.”Judy giggled. “What were you this time? An elephant?”“It’s not funny.”“I know. I’m sorry. What were you
this
time?”“A rabbit. One of those little miniature bunnies you see hanging out on the common by Butler U.”
 
If she looked between her sneakers, which were propped up on the windowsill, Nina Caraballocould see the ornate bell tower of Meggernie Hall from her bedroom window. It stood on UniversityHill, overlooking the campus and the park where last night she’d dreamed—Her
body felt all wrong. Disproportionate. He
point
of view was far too low—like she waslying on the grass—except she knew she was sitting up. Her peripheral vision was so broad shecould almost see behind herself. Her nose kept twitching and she could smell everything out therein the night. Newly cut grass. The sweet pungency of the lilac bushes nearby.
A
 fascinating odor that rose from a discarded candy wrapper.She started over to investigate it and fell all over herself in a tumble of limbs.
Rear
legs toolong and awkward, front legs too short.
A
sound came from her throat that sounded far too muchlike the squeal of a pig for her liking.
Lying
there, sprawled in the
grass,
she could have cried. Because she knew.
This
was another one of those horrible dreams.Clumsily, she righted herself and looked around. And found herself beginning to clean herself,licking at the soft fur of one shoulder with a pink tongue.She immediately stopped, disgusted at the action.
I
want to wake up!” she cried.The words came from her throat in another squeal.Followed 
by
silence. But not a complete silence.
Her
long ears perked up as she heard rustling footsteps in thegrass. She turned her head to see a massive shadowy shape approaching her cautiously from
across
the common.She froze, petrified with fear. It was a huge mastiff.
A
monster of a dog that she’d have avoided even if she were in her ownbody.The mastiff paused when it realized she had noticed it. Through some quirk of her borrowed body’s eyesight, when it stopped moving, it became almost invisible to her. She stared harder,trying to make it out, heart thumping double-time in her tiny chest. The sweep of the lawn and themastiff’s bulk all blurred into one indecipherable shadow.Until the dog charged her.
Its
growl froze her for long heartbeats more, then she bolted.
Or
tried to.Unaccustomed to the odd shape of her limbs and their correlation to each other, she went sprawling again. Before she could recover, the mastiff was
rearing
over her.
Its
 jaws closed onher, capturing her 
tiny
body, grinding bones against each other as it bit down on her 
flesh—“And then I woke up,she said.“Oh, that’s gross,” Judy said. “Did you really feel yourself 
die?
I’ve heard that if you die in a dream,you die for real.”Nina shifted the phone receiver from one ear to the other. “But that’s not the worst of it,she said.“This time I’ve got proof that it’s Ashley who’s hexing me.”Judy laughed nervously. “Come
on.
You can’t really believe that.”“I saw her,” Nina said.
She woke in her own bed, drenched in sweat and tangled up in her bedclothes. Her relief wasimmediate. The
dreams
might keep coming—once a week or so—but they were still only dreams. Not real.She hadn’t almost died out there in the common while trapped in the shape of an animal. Not really.
But
still.
They seemed
so real.She shivered with a sudden chill and thought she could see her breath for a moment. It was socold you’d almost think it was still winter. She exhaled experimentally, but couldn’t really see her breath. The room seemed far warmer already, and she realized that her trembling chill was just aresidue of her dream.
 
Her
stupid dream.Which wasn’t real. Everybody had dreams.She glanced across the bedroom then to see that her cousin’s bed was empty. Still shaking, shegot up and shuffled across the floor,
arms
hugged around her thin chest, to look down the hallwaythat lay outside their room. At the far end of the short hall, the bathroom door stood open. Thelight was off. There was no one inside. It was past midnight, so why wasn’t Ashley in her bed?She tiptoe
past
her parents’ bedroom and crept down the stairs, avoiding the third anseventh steps, both of which she knew would creak alarmingly. Halfway down, she could makeout a dim glow that was coming from the living room. Because her mother’s beaded curtain hungacross the doorway, it wasn’t until she was directly outside the room that she could properly seein.There was
Ashley, sitting
cross-legged on the floor in front of the fake mantelpiece.
Her
dyed black hair stood up three inches from the top of her head and hung in shagged layers down heback, and she was wearing one of her typical headbanger T-shirts—not her usual tight, torn ones,but an oversized Metallica shirt that she used as a nightgown.
By
the light of a candle that shehad placed on the end of the coffee table, she was reading a book. Nina couldn’t see the title, but she didn’t doubt it was one of those creepy black-magic books of which her cousin was soenamored.
Sensing
her presence, Ashley looked up, her gaze locking on Ninas through the beadecurtain.
A
smile that was more a sneer touched her lips, and then she returned to her book,ignoring Nina’s presence. Nina fled back to their bedroom.
“But that doesn’t mean anything,” Judy said. “Just because she’s weird doesn’t mean she’s a witch.”“What else would she be doing down there in the dark?” Nina wanted to know.“You said she had a candle.”“That makes it even worse. Witches always use candles and stuff like that for their spells. I tell you,she’s hexing me. I looked through some of her books when I stayed home today, and they’re all aboutcasting spells and awful things like that.”“She’s just trying to spook you,” Judy said.“Well, she’s doing a really good job.”“You should talk to her about it.”Nina laughed unhappily. “I can’t talk to her about
anything.
And besides, if she’s not hexing me,she’d tell everybody and I wouldn’t be able to show my face outside the house ever again. I’d
die
if itgot out.”“I won’t tell anyone.“I know. But she would. Just for spite.”Judy sighed on the other end of the line.“Want to watch something on TV?” she asked.Nina knew exactly what her friend was about. Time to change the subject. Not that she minded.She’d been thinking of nothing else all day long and she was sick to death of it. It made her feel like shewas going crazy.“Sure,” she said.She got up from the chair by the window and slouched on her bed. Leaning over, she switched onthe battered twelve-inch black-and-white that was on her night table.“What’s on?”“‘Beauty and the Beast’ started around ten minutes or so ago on three.”Nina turned to the channel just in time to catch a commercial from one of the local car dealershipsup on Highway 14. A fat man in an ill-fitting superhero costume was extolling the virtues of “!!Hundredsof used cars at rock-bottom prices!!”“I hate this commercial,” she said. “Friendly Ed’s such a geek.”

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