May 21, 2022 3:15 PM
Noah dreams of something nice, for once. | Sheriff in Wakefulness
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Noah doesn't consider the sea home. It's a challenge which he needs to overcome. It's the way to escape his miserable day-to-day, fighting just to keep his head above water. He wants to save himself and his mom, but he can't- so he'll have to save this other world instead. Astrid is the only light in that dark, deep ocean- at least, that's what it feels like. It looks like he might have more than just her in his corner. He still isn't sure what Marin wants from him. She talks in riddles. Things are just complicated, now. His life used to be simple- not easy, but simple- and now it's a web of secrets and lies that he can't begin to untangle. He hopes that he can find the line through it all that keeps everyone safe. Until then-

Until then, he dreams.

This dream is a little different than usual.

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He finds himself in a meadow, there's a gentle breeze and some trees dotted around in the distance.

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That's not normal. Where- he can't feel the water around him and over him. It's the kind of dream he might have had before all this started. Astrid-

"Astrid!"

Noah shouts, hoping that she's somehow here with him.

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Nobody appears, the sun shines brightly above him and the grass and flowers sway in the gentle wind.

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That was too much to ask for. Noah looks around and listens- any sign of something moving? Animals that might want to take a bite of him, most importantly. Something that could explain- this.

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The meadow is stubbornly empty of animals of any kind and definitely doesn't have predators.

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Noah examines the terrain. He pokes and prods the trees, just to make sure they feel real. It's a dream, so 'real' doesn't even mean anything, but he still feels better about checking.

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There's a feeling that he could do something to the tree maybe something around understanding it better? The sense isn't completely clear.

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Noah would really like to understand this tree, yes, along with everything else here. He tries to understand it.

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Now there's a new thing in his head almost like a memory but not exactly he can see an image in his minds eye of the tree including its whole root system and a feeling he could make another tree just like it. There's also a feeling that he could copy part of the tree instead of the whole thing.

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Noah pulls his hand back, startled. He nurses it like it's been burned.

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Whatever that was, it was not what he was expecting. He finds a spot near the center of the meadow and just sits, trying not to think about Astrid or the trees or home. He just enjoys the breeze blowing; it's gentle, and the perfect temperature. It's nice. It's the nicest he's felt in a while.

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He will have a relaxing and uneventful night and eventually he'll wakeup.

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The day is not relaxing or uneventful. His father rips him a new one, talking about how he needs to do more for his poor mother. He's not drunk, but that doesn't improve the man's demeanor on any axis that matters. Noah listens, and acts appropriately deferential, and dreams about the future- about when he can leave, and get his mom a nice house by the beach. He bites his tongue when Mr. Stillman berates him for roughhousing, when everyone can plainly see that he's standing up for the kids who can't defend themselves. He thumbs through the library book he's been keeping for way past the window, on dreams and what they mean. He still hasn't been able to prove any of it's real- no sign of Marin out here in the real world. Maybe this is just what happens, to kids from broken homes.

He sleeps, hoping that he might dream of the same nice, safe place- and that Astrid could come with him.

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He finds himself in the meadow again. Fluffy clouds slowly drift by overhead.

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Fluffy clouds are nice.

No Astrid, of course. Noah watches the clouds go by for a while, before finally getting up and approaching the trees again.

They're weird trees. Or maybe he's weird. He's not sure anymore.

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Noah closes his eyes, and tries to copy one of them.

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The trees sway a little in the breeze but otherwise steadfastly behave like trees in the waking world. When he touches one he doesn't have the same strong immediate sense as last night but if he focuses he can copy them just the same.

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Noah wants to copy this tree. He wants that same feeling as last night, the feeling that made it seem like his dreams could finally be an escape and not just a rehashing of his daily reality.

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He now has two trees in his mental library. He has the feeling he could make a copy of either of them or a part of them.

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Start small. Noah wants seeds or roots in the ground ahead of him. He wants a tree that'll grow taller than the others here, one day, if he just gives it time.

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He can feel a seed appearing in the ground nearby.

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Noah walks to it, kneeling down as he concentrates on it.

"What do you need from me, little guy?"

He's never grown anything before. It sounds like a big responsibility, but not the scary kind.

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The seed makes no demands.

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"Right. You can't talk, you're a seed."

Noah imagines the tree growing and tries to see if he can feel anything else from the seed- like how long dream trees need to grow. This doesn't seem natural, but it doesn't seem exactly like a dream, either. It has more rules than his dreams usually do- did.

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There doesn't seem to be anything he can do now that he's planted the seed.

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