1.1 The Marshal Dreams

by Matt P.

The Marshal, who was not yet the marshal, lay in slumber. He dreamed, and he did not dream; he saw, and he did not see. Seeing and unseeing swirled around him like the mists drifting off a lofty mountain peak, shadowing the heights.

He held her for so short a time. He saw her in his arms, like it had been, and then she was gone. His room was empty, the walls blank. No pictures where they should be, only strange writings. He started to look at one of them more closely, but then he realized why they looked so odd. He was hanging from the ceiling, suspended upside down by a rope around his left ankle. His right leg crossed it at a jaunty angle, and he thought it was probably for comfort.

He started to reach for the rope, but in a moment it was gone and he was right side up. He thought his room was the same, before he realized it had in every way been turned to a giant tree stretching up to the sky. He hung from it suspended by the neck and wrists. He expected it to choke him before he realized he was already dead, and in realizing that he was alive once more. The tree stood on a low hill, or perhaps was the low hill, looking over a whole verdant world. Every bloom was a part of the tree, and the tree was a part of every bloom. In a moment he understood every part of their connections, and knew he would never remember them. The whole world all coming together, a thousand places and names drawn together into one place. The tree. The corner of creation.

The Border.

He would hold it in his hand, between life and death, and fire and ice. He would know its secrets for a time, and he would decide what to do. Worlds would hang in the balance, as he hanged, and he would choose.

The Marshal, who was not yet the marshal, awoke. Sunlight crept in through the window with the sunrise, teasing like a lover’s caress on his cheek. He almost felt her again, before he rose and put on his pants.