A/N: A series of ficlets I was inspired to write after seeing Inception. I had a series of prompts left over from a writing challenge a few months back (thanks to Mira-Jade for giving them to me!), so I decided to see what my Muse could create. There's no word limit to the ficlets - they could be as short as a few sentences, or a drabble (100 words), or maybe a bit longer than that. I'm rather enjoying the freedom and prosaic (and perhaps poetic) license that gives me. Don't mind the french - it keeps finding ways of weaving its way into here, it's such a pretty language!
I have 50 prompts, so expect five chapters with ten prompts each. Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy this little creation of mine.
Au troisième temps de la valse
"aujourd'hui, ça commence avec toi"
The mind of a child was a strange and wonderful thing. Just as a child never knew when he was dreaming, a child had no concept of death. And just like you could never quite remember the beginning of a dream, you could never remember the exact time when you realised that there was such a thing as death.
Cobb had died countless times in dreams; so many times, in fact, that it was if he had become impervious to the concept of death. The idea of it was always there in the back of his mind, but it was overshadowed, consumed by the spectacular world of dreams – until Mal died. Until she threw herself from that building, stealing herself away from him and their children, forcing him to run.
He couldn't attend her funeral, he couldn't see their children – so what was he now?
He had seen death and knew the tremendous folly lying in wait of those who pretended it did not exist.
Limbo was beautiful, an empty canvas for them to create whatever they wanted. Here in limbo, they were gods of their own world. It should have been glorious. It was glorious.
But even glory faded over time, and eternity soon became a fate too horrible to behold.
Arthur had been left in charge of Ariadne's training, but he was convinced she didn't need it after their second trip into a dream space. The world she had created was a small castle in the Baroque style, set by a river. If you looked out a window, you could see for miles, straight to the horizon – but every window, no matter where it was positioned in the great castle, looked at the same horizon. The corridors all doubled back on each other and no matter how many times you tried to leave, you always ended up back in the same spot.
"Satisfied yet?" she said, watching him contemplate the structural paradox.
He grinned. "Very. My head's spinning."
"Come on, that's enough, Eames," Arthur said, trying to snatch the beer away from his inebriated colleague.
"I work better drunk," Eames said, slurring his words and making a sloppy grab for the bottle.
"Yeah? And how well do you think Fischer's going to react when you show up as Miley Cyrus instead of Browning?"
Eames sniggered and then broke into heavy laughter.
Arthur rolled his eyes and downed the last of Eames' beer before the forger tried to reclaim it.
The plan became flawed as soon as Saito was shot. Like the red stain seeping through his white shirt, all of their careful preparation had been torn and was now jeopardizing their lives. Even if they managed to get out of the dream world, Saito was at dangerous risk of falling into limbo and losing his mind down there… and that would be the end for Cobb. If Saito was lost, he would never see his children again.
Cobb looked at his crew, forcing himself to forget this thought for the moment: they would just have to continue on, no matter what happened.
"I never meant for you to become a thief, Dom," Miles said as they walked through the streets of Paris.
"Miles, haven't we had this conversation one too many times?" Cobb said abruptly. "I do what I do because it's the only thing I know. It's the only skill I have. And if it means I have to walk a little on the wrong side of the law, then so be it."
Miles halted and observed his son-in-law carefully. "I'm not sure Mal would appreciate you saying that."
The first time Arthur had attempted to set up a coordinated kick, it had gone quite badly. He had only managed to put one charge in place before projections broke in, stole the rest, and threw them into the rapidly flowing river outside the nearby window.
"Really smart, Arthur," Cobb said irritably as they dove behind a door for cover. "Congratulations on getting us into this mess."
"Weren't you the one who was supposed to be keeping them off my back?" Arthur retorted.
"No, that was Eames."
"Oh." Arthur peeked around the doorframe and immediately jumped back as a projection shot at him. "Where is he, then?"
"On the top level. He got shot."
"You're not helping."
The mind was a sly thing. The first time Mal had burst through into the dream had been a punch to the gut, and he woke up thinking that she was still alive. Thankfully, she had not damaged their mission, but she had set in motion a problem that could never be fully resolved.
As soon as it happened once, he knew without doubt it could happen again. Even though he was well aware what she was capable of, he found himself wishing for her to show up just so he could catch a glimpse of her – charming and beautiful, just as he remembered her. Who cared if she destroyed their mission? She was alive again.
And that was the beginning of his inability to dream without aid… and the start of his attempts to desperately re-live his regrets in order to fix them.
Since becoming an architect for dream worlds, Ariadne had found it increasingly difficult to concentrate on her studies. Designing buildings for the real world just wasn't enough for her anymore. There was something dreadfully bland about it – and not just bland… simple. Simplicity. It was too easy now that she had stepped through a world of paradoxes where the laws of physics could be bent into whatever shape she desired.
To stave off her boredom in class, she kept a small sketchbook in her bag and she could frequently be found drawing in it during class. Professor Miles was the only one who did not interrupt her; her other teachers, however, took note. One day, Professor Delacroix demanded that she hand over the book, he took one look at the carefully interwoven mazes of her dreamscapes and told her strictly, with a disappointed look on his face: "It's time to take your mind out of the clouds, Ariadne. Wake up and stop dreaming, or you'll leave this program faster than you entered it."
In return, Ariadne could only nod and smile knowingly.
Cobb had learned much about the laws of construction within a dream world. He and Mal had spent years together exploring the possibilities with fearless abandon. However, this cavalier attitude towards their craft had put him in more than one difficult situation.
Mal had told him not to enter the dream world when he was ill. She had insisted that he rest and recover; there wasn't much he could do with a fever. He, however, had insisted just as much that he would be fine – if anything, they should take this opportunity to see whether or not it was possible to keep the dream world in place while sick.
The dream collapsed almost as soon as they entered it and they were trapped; the experience was one they would never forget.
After all, it was the first time they had to kill each other in order to escape.