Ashes to Ashes and Cinder to Cinder (3 page)

BOOK: Ashes to Ashes and Cinder to Cinder
3.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

“That’s usually true,” Loki interrupted again. “But the ritual I am using will send us right into a memory of hers. A memory within a dream.” Loki said. “It’s hard to explain. You have to experience it yourself,” Loki stretched out a hand toward me. “When you come down here and sleep with me.”

“What did you just say?” My face knotted.

“I didn’t mean it
that
way. What’s with girls not having anything on their minds but that?” He shook his head, and of course, Bella still laughed. “Besides, if I want to sleep with you, would I want to do in a grave with a skeleton as bed? Argh. I mean sleep as in really sleep? The snorting kind of the sleep.”

“I don’t snort.” I said.

“Yeah. I know. All girls don’t snort on the first night then it’s a Bambi the elephant sleeping next to me. Anyway. Come lay down with me—I mean next to me and this
beautiful
fried up corpse so we enter her dream.”

“How about you
sleep
with your skeleton girlfriend without me?” I attacked like a mad rabbit.

“He needs you with him,” Bella explained. “You’re the one who can identify her in the dream. He doesn’t know anything of what we do or what she looks like, and he isn’t interested apparently. It’s part of your investigation.”

“Thank you,” Loki nodded at Bella. “What was your name again?”

“Bella.” She turned around abruptly to face him.

“Thank you, Bella. Sorry I didn’t ask about your name before. This beauty took the words out of my mouth.” He pointed at the corpse.

“That’s because you’re a jerk.” I interrupted him.

“And what is it about jerks you like so much?” He wondered.

“He
is
a jerk,” Bella whispered to me. “But if you want to know, you have to go with him.”

“Ok.” I nodded and climbed down the grave. “What should I do with this?” I asked him about the bag he gave me as I lay down on my back next to the corpse.

“Oh. That’s the magic dust. Give it to Bella,” he said. “All you have to do is pour some of it on our eyes when I tell you,” he explained to Bella. “This will put us to sleep into the dream. Then, this egg timer of mine will buzz in about thirty minutes. It will wake us up.”

“We can hear this stupid egg timer in the dream?” I wondered.

“Don’t make fun of my egg … timer,” He said. “And Bella, if we don’t wake up in thirty minutes for whatever reason, you’ll have to break one of the mirrors to break the connection with the Dreamworld.”

“Ok.” Bella said.

“But you have to do it without entering the Dream Temple or you’ll be sucked into the dream and I can barely take care of one girl. Ok?”

Bella nodded.

“Ready, Alice?” He tilted his head toward me as we lay on our backs with the corpse between us.

“How do you know my name?”

“It’s written in your beautiful eyes—”

“What?”

“On your necklace, I mean. Should we hold hands?” He stretched out his left hand.

“Is that necessarily?”

“I am afraid so. It’s the ritual rules. In the past we had to prick out fingers and kiss first, but they changed that and moved it to wedding ceremonies.”

“I can’t believe I am doing this.” I said as I stretched my hand. I lied again. I just needed Loki to help me locate Cinderella in the Dreamworld without him knowing.

“Yeah. That’s what girls always say in the beginning too.” He grabbed my hand firmly without hesitation. I liked it but I wouldn’t tell him.

Loki looked at the corpse irritatingly. “Thank god we’re not really sleeping together, or this would have been a deadly
Ménage à trois
.”

“I swear if you don’t behave, I’ll kick you ass.”

“Better wait until we’re in the Dreamworld. Killing immortals in the Dreamworld is really fun. Just like in video games,” He said. “By the way, the fact that you could kick my ass is the first thing that makes me want to know you better. Keep up the good work. I might like you after all.” Even though his arrogance was unbearable, he smiled genuinely at me for the first time. “And now, I need a word that if I whisper into the corpse’s ears, it will remind her of where you want to go into her dream. It’s called an Incubator: a word that will trigger a certain memory in the dreamer’s mind.”

“Interesting,” I mused. “So we can actually get into a past memory of hers?”

“A bit of both. A memory and dream,” He said. “So what’s the word?”

I thought for a second, arguing with myself if I wanted to tell him that the word is
Cinderella
. This is who I was looking for. But no. That would be leading the corpse to what I want to know. Besides, this corpse wasn’t Cinderella. This corpse, if she was who I thought she was, could only tell us about the whereabouts of the real Cinderella who had been cursed and buried in a dream since long ago, and it was my job to find her and help her.

My ancestors gave me that job me, to find the characters we thought were only fairy tales and to remind them of who they really were before it got out of hand. We have only one chance to find them once every hundred years since 1812 when my grand grand father wrote the tales.

“Murano.” I said. “Murano is the word.”

“Isn’t that an island near Venice?” he asked. “The one famous for manufacturing glass? They had the best glassblowers in the world, right?”

“So you’re not an airhead, huh.” I said.

Loki laughed. He had a magnificent laugh, one that I’d like to see and listen to in my dreams.

“Hey Bella,” he said. “Are you ready?”

Bella nodded impatiently. I suddenly got the feeling that she envied me, that she wanted to be with Loki in the grave.

“If the corpse snores while we are in her dream, shoot her.” Loki said. I can’t stand snoring humans, dead or alive.

Bella stuck out her tongue at him. “What if
you
snore?”

“Easy. Shoot her.”

Bella laughed.

“It’s time for you to use the magic dust on us,” Loki said, “And by the way, did Edward and Jacob ever make out in that movie? Because I’ve been waiting for this to happen all the time.”

Then I went to sleep, entering an immortal’s dream, looking for the real Cinderella.

***

Time feels so real and present in here.

Entering the Dreamworld of an immortal seems too easy, I think. I just woke up, coughing, and lying on my back in what looks like an abandoned house. There’s that smell of cinder everywhere as if someone is burning something nearby.

“Shhh,” Loki grips my hand, looking around suspiciously. “Rule number one in an immortal’s dream: Look for a killing weapon.” He whispers.

“I smell cinder,” I say, freeing myself from his grip. “Pick yourself some.” I stand up and walk out of that abandoned building.

“And do what? Swallow it and puff out ember like a dragon?” He says as he follows me outside. “Hey you … uhm … what was your name again?”

“My name is Alice!” I shout over my shoulder. I can’t believe how rude he is. He called me by my name in the real world.

As I step outside, a broad smile sweeps over my face. I guess the Incubator word worked just fine. This is exactly where I wanted to be in the witch’s dream: Venice, Italy, hundreds of years ago.

“No freakin’ wonderland,” Loki bursts out after me. “Alice.”

Even though I know I need to find the witch and complete my mission, this boy really gets on my nerves so I turn around and face him, gritting my teeth and clawing my fists. I think his rudeness in the real world is different from the Dreamworld. There, it was arrogance. Here, his is trying to cover that fact that he is scared.

“You’re that last person on earth to make fun of names, LOKI!” I spit accidentally on his face. I didn’t mean to. “What kind of name is that? How can you even live with it.”

“Wow,” He rolls his eyes – those beautiful green eyes. So distracting. I have to get him to wear shades in this glaring sunlight or something. “I didn’t know my name turns you on that much.” Unapologetically, he pulls me closer again with one hand. It’s a rough pull but my body closes in toward him in a theatrical way as if this was a rehearsed move in a Tango dance. I find myself resting my hands on his shoulder. He wraps his other hand around my waist and throws a most-devilish young-blooded smile at me. Why does he have to be so attractive? I don’t need this. I am on a mission.

“Wanna make out?” He blurts, titling his head seductively to one side and gazing at me from the corner of his eyes. His gaze is different from other boys I’ve met. His gazes wanders from my eyes to my chin then to my lips in a triangular gaze repeatedly as if he is afraid to miss a part of my features. Then he pulls me even closer and whispers in my ear, “Make-outs in the Dreamworld don’t show up in your real world resume. Making out in a dream is almost the perfect crime.”

As much as a restless jerk he is, there is that sound in his voice, that tingle in his touch, and that warmth in the palms of his hands that makes me trust him in an annoying way though.

“You can’t be serious, right?” I can’t tell him he is a jerk again since I have seen how he has an instant comeback for that.

“Stay put,” he whispers in my ears, hugging me in the middle of the street in Venice, hundreds years ago. What a perfect romantic place, even in a dream, but maybe with the wrong boy. “Pull me closer to you. Act as if you can’t live without me one second of your life.” He whispers – Ok. Now this is lame.

“You wish—“

“Just do it.” His voice changes into a darker color drastically.

That’s when I get what’s going on.

I hug him back, looking at the pedestrians eyeing us everywhere, walking past us in their centuries-old outfits. Instead of being dazzled by the beauty of old Venice, they all stare at us.

“What’s going on?” I ask Loki.

“We have to act weird and outrageous as possible,” He whispers back. “We came into the Dreamworld with our jeans and t-shirts form the 21
st
century. They can simply tell we don’t belong here unless we act like totals loons kissing and making out in public, which will explain why we look so different. They have to think that we are weirdoes, and that what we wear is some kind of an occult divergent from the norm.”

“I am not going to make out with you in public.”

“That’s what I thought,” He pulls my hand and walks slowly through the crowd, looking for a place to hide. We could hide in one of those abandoned buildings on the right. “You look like a homey girl to me,” He adds. “Every dream has those characters who for some wicked reason might know you’re an intruder.”

“At least that means we’re sure the witch is an immortal.”

“That’s true.”

We hide in one of those buildings after he sharpens a piece of wood into a stake.

“She is not a vampire.” I protest.

“I know, still stakes work, even with ex-girfriends. I don’t have time to explain to you how the Dreamworld works.”

“And we’re not here to kill her.” I add.

“That doesn’t mean she wouldn’t love to kill us,” He says. “So what is this place? Where are we?”

“We’re in Venice, around 1291, in the witch’s dream.”

“And what is your mission here? We only have very little time for me to help you accomplish what you want from the dream.”

BOOK: Ashes to Ashes and Cinder to Cinder
3.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Nobody's Prize by Esther Friesner
Leave the Grave Green by Deborah Crombie
Tormented by Robert J. Crane
Kindred by Dean, P. J.
Misery by M Garnet
Felicia's Journey by William Trevor
A Breed of Heroes by Alan Judd
Golden Son by Pierce Brown