Dream a Little Dream
A Xenocide Production
AN: Something I wrote for Iron Fic 5, a running contest over on TFF. If you're interested, take a peek.
Enjoy and review...please?
Summary: Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men.
Disclaimer: If anything, I wish I owned Neil Gaiman's way with words and storytelling. He is among the many, many authors whom I envy.
The Lord of Dreams is always very busy.
For as long as the vast rectories of his memory can recall, which stretch nearly endlessly back to the dreamsong of the first star, Morpheus has always been hard at work maintaining the Dreaming and his demesnes. There was that unfortunate incident where he was…detained…for seventy years, but one generation as humans count them was not even a blink of his eye.
There were a few difficulties he had had to overcome, for even less than the blink of his eye had weakened him after a fashion. But dreams are made of sterner stuff than what can be found in waking and Morpheus was once again tending to his flock, as it were.
As one of the Endless, he does not grow tired. He exists for one sole purpose and he bends his entire will and being toward the fulfillment of that purpose. He does not know boredom but nor does he take joy in what he does. Morpheus simply is and goes about his work with the single-mindedness that a master artisan wields when practicing his craft.
Morpheus is in the business of shaping dreams.
Each dream is a work of art, a perfect thing that the Lord of Dreams doesn't take pride in because one can't take pride in perfection if it's a standard you've held yourself to for countless millennia. He crafts dreams of flight and gives them to men who secretly yearn for and envy the freedom that the meanest barn swallow enjoys in a blue sky. He crafts dreams of godhood and grants them to the beggars who sleep in the filth of the gutters. He crafts dreams of lust and passion, doling them out to young lovers who have yet to realize that love exists. He grants wealth to the poor and freedom to the imprisoned. He offers eternal youth to those destined to face his sister, Death.
Some of his dreams take on lives of their own, much to his secret amusement and sometimes dismay. The first god he made was a thing of fire, borne from mankind's fear of the dark and a desire for warmth in the depths of winter. Gods are only as long lived as the dreams that power them and mankind is never very faithful to his dreams. Flames flared briefly in the Dreaming and then just as quietly flickered fitfully out of existence within a few thousand years or so.
Nightmares are made with the same careful attention that dreams are given. Morpheus considers nightmares more important than dreams, in a way. Morpheus does not care one whit about good nor evil, nor does he believe in absolutes of either one. However, he does recognize that one cannot exist without the other and he feels that every candle should have a shadow to counteract it.
And so, he fashions dreams of darkness and bestows them upon those who yearn for light. He gives dreams of war to the soldier in peacetime. He creates monsters in closets and under beds for children. He gives illusions to those who seek truth. He offers the murderer the voices and grasping hands of his victims. He grants the old a less peaceful look at Death. Nightmares were created to be the darkness, and the fear of darkness in every human heart. A black mirror, made to reflect everything about itself that humanity will not confront.
For every candle, a shadow.
But there are times when Morpheus does not work. It's not because he's tired. Nor is it because he becomes bored. He is Endless and knows neither of these things. He simply chooses to do something else and leaves the Gate Keepers, guardians of the Dreaming, to keep things in hand for when he returns to his work.
When Morpheus is not making dreams, he watches them. One night, a hundred years past, he recalls watching the dream of a small girl, who wanted nothing more than to run with her brother through the wild hills of the wilderness instead of being chained to two frail legs and crutch. Her dreams were always about running so fast that she could fly and nothing in the world could catch her. That was one of the rare times that Morpheus smiled at a dream he had created.
Tonight, a prophet was dreaming.
In the Zagros mountains, home to the ancient ancestors of modern day Iranians, the Zagarthians eked out their living, their people stretching from the shores of Lake Van to the coasts of Makran. This particular prophet was from a small village who lived just below Mt. Dena. The village was a quiet place, a small corner of the world where the pastimes of farmers and shepherds had not changed over thousands of years.
Morpheus found himself drawn to this man's dreams, for it seemed he had been marked by two of his other siblings, Death and Destiny. It seemed that very often, those two walked hand in hand.
A prophet dreams differently than ordinary mortals. He dreams of things that very often, he doesn't understand. He dreams of endings, beginnings, and the paths to take to reach both. He dreams things that mortals cannot possibly dream; the last star that winks out at the End of the Dream and the beginnings of the music that Morpheus treasures above all else, starsong.
The prophet dreamed of a world where no one understood each other and greed, and jealousy, and hatred burned entire countries with fervor. He dreamed of a world where the soldier is spat upon, the priest is ridiculed, and the human soul can be bought and sold at market. At these things, he frowns in his sleep and clutches his cloak tighter to his breast.
Morpheus was unmoved at the prophet's discomfort.
The prophet then dreamed of things that will never be. He dreamt of a world united, of people from every nation and every race working together towards a common goal of peace and acceptance. There was no word in any language for war or hatred. He dreamt that things like compassion, love, and brotherhood transcended the boundaries of nations and language. At these things, he cried silently, for he was filled with both great happiness and great sadness. Happiness, at the vision of what could come to be; sadness, at knowing, somehow, that it would never be.
The prophet's dreams blur together in a meaningless jumble of laughter, fire, tears, and light.
He awakens with a gasp and hears the thin wailing of his son beside his wife, who is stirring sleepily at his side. He covers his face with his hand and breathes deeply, unmindful of Morpheus, who peers down at him curiously. This prophet is no different than any of the others whose dreams he had made; a small man in a decidedly large and uncaring world.
In ages past, dreams were of much import and people lent their ears more closely to prophets than they do in this age. Before, the Lord of Dreams would not have cared how his dreams were received, much less who received them. But as he looked down upon the small man who hid his face from the world, he felt as if he should comfort this mortal who dreamt things that no mortal should dare to dream.
He bent down very carefully and said softly, "It was only a dream."
He straightened, looked over the man's wife and son in passing, and left to join the dream of a Kentuckian miner, who dreamt of blue waters and white shores.
The prophet looked up and through the only window in his small but cozy home. Dawn broke and sunlight peeked shyly through the wooden shutters. He decided, quite irrationally, that today he would walk the 5 mile trek down the mountain to share his dream with whoever would listen.
His wife awoke, kissed his cheek, and set about to making breakfast.
Peace, tremulous and unexpected, shot through his heart. And the remnants of a dream dissipated like the early morning mist.
Well? What did you think?