The River Flows On

She dreams about rivers. Flowing, dark, endless. This time, the river twists and curls, bending at weird angles and slowing, before picking up speed and rushing downwards like a waterfall. Only, instead of water it is blood. Blood, red and thick. It's always blood now.

Since becoming an Animorph her dreams have become more vivid and her nightmares have become closer to reality than ever before. Sometimes the river she dreams about feeds into a yeerk pool. The yeerks swim around. Splash and play like it's all a game. To them, it is. The kadrona rays nourish them. The blood feeds their thirst. It is fun for them.

Some yeerks plop into the water from their hosts, breaking the surface and making tiny droplets shaped like tears splash up with the impact and then down again to rejoin the river's thrum. On the pier, the hosts remain screaming and struggling, but restrained by Hork Bajir and other indescribable horrors she and her friends have thankfully not faced.

Other times, she is in a boat and navigating an ocean of blood that has no end. All she can see is the brown of the wooden planks and oars (half-dipped in blood) and the red of the ocean and the red smudges and splatters all over her skin from where the water splashed her. When it gets too much – and it does, every time – she tries to convince herself it is red paint. It never works.

She wakes up sweating, and that freaks her out even more, because she can't tell if she's sweating water or blood until she looks in a mirror.

She is swept away by the power of it all. The danger. The horror. The violence. She wonders if it is her or the world that is messed up. Is her mind telling her that the world around her is wrong? Or is it telling her, via her dreams, that she is the one out of her mind and crazy?

What does it all say about her? What does it say about her friends?

Is she a monster and all these bloody dreams are telling her that it is time for her to reveal her true nature? Is she evil? Is what she does, and what the other Animorphs do, as evil as the yeerks' taking of hosts? Are they hijacking the minds and senses and bodies of animals, when they haven't the right?

Are they just as bad as the yeerks?

This time, the river keeps flowing, a thin stream of red sided by barren landscapes where once there were trees. Nothing but orange dirt stretches out for as far as the eye can see. Tree trunks poke out from the dry ground. Branches are bare of leaves. They're all dead, all well past their time, but they aren't quite gone yet. They and the rocks are the only signs there ever was life.

Maybe this is where things are heading. A blackened, abandoned Earth is not misaligned with yeerk intentions. Rivers of blood and grey skies and dead trees. Human life, all eaten up and dried up. Gone.

The river flows on.