Feb 23, 2020 8:24 PM
One of Will's hallucinations doesn't disappear
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Will follows the feathered stag. He knows that this is not safe, this is not wise. He knows the stag isn't real.

But it steps out of the woods, and looks at him and then turns as if to run but doesn't and he knows it is waiting for him. He knows it wants him to follow. So he does. 

He doesn't put on shoes. He does close the door. 

It runs when he steps off the porch, but stops again when it's almost out of sight. They continue like this, the stag running and then stopping to watch Will as he steps barefoot over the carpet of twigs and pine needles. Distantly he is aware that his feet are bleeding, but that doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is the stag's endless eyes. 

He and the stag are not alone. Garrett Jacob Hobbs steps out from behind a tree and walks with Will for a time. Georgia Madchen reaches out and runs her fingers over Will's face. He reaches up to touch her fingers and comes away with a palm full of ashes. 

There's a boy, standing in the trees. Will doesn't recognize him and the strangeness of this is almost enough, but then the stag runs again and Will has to follow.

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Tav is six this time. His legs are short and stubby and his feet blend in with the brown of the dirt as he walks, and then runs, towards the man and the feathered stag. This dream, he thinks, is interesting

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Will has never seen this child before, but he is small and the ground is rough and out of instinct or worry or half forgotten habit Will reaches down and scoops him up. He continues to run. 

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Tav flails. He is small but he is fast and he does not like being picked up like a baby.

He wriggles out of the man's arms, darts around a tree, and continues to follow the stag.

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Will doesn't fight this, he lets go the second Will realizes the child wants away. 

He's keeping up and the stag is almost out of sight. 

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Tav gets bored of running soon after, as he is fast but apparently not fast enough to catch the stag.

He scrambles up into a tree and watches the man instead. 

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Will stops and turns to look up at him. Their eyes meet and Will jerks away. He turns to pursue the stag, but a soft red light is filtering through the trees. The sun is rising. When the light touches the stag, it dissolves. Will reaches out a hand as if to catch it.

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The stag--disappeared. Tav follows the light to its source and is mildly disappointed that there is only one sun.

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Reality comes back to Will. The pain in his feet rips up his legs and he realizes that he is freezing. 

He sits down, back against a tree, and buries his head in his hands. 

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The man doesn't look so good.

Tav jumps down from the tree at a height that would have been impossible to survive if he were a normal child, and pads over to the man.

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Will looks up at the sound of footsteps. It seems reality has not yet returned to him.

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"Hello," Tav says. His own voice startles him. It sounds different, somehow.

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"Hello. Have we met?"

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"Nope!" Tav says cheerfully. He decides that he likes the sound of his voice and the weird way it echoes around the woods. "Neeeverr," he sings, and giggles.

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Will smiles a little. 

"I've never seen a stranger here before. I'm Will. What's your name?"

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"Tav," Tav says after thinking a bit. It's been a while since someone asked his name. Then he asks, "Where's here?"

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"Figuratively, my hallucinations. Literally, the woods outside my house."

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Tav frowns. "What's a hallu-ci-nation?" And then he spins around, peering through the woods. "I don't see your house."

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"Hallucinations are dreams that happen when you're awake and we are very deep in the woods."

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Tav's frown deepens. "Don't be silly," he says. "Dreams only happen when you're sleeping. should know." He puffs out his chest a little and raises his chin.

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"And why should you know?"

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"I'm a dreamchild," Tav says. "Duh." 

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"Of course. What is a dreamchild?"

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"I was born of dream and live in dream," Tav recites with solemnity. "I visit people's dreams while they sleep. Like yours!" He looks around again and pouts. "I wish the feathery thing were back. I bet I could make it fly."

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"Do you know how people dream?"

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Tav scrunches up his face. "I think I used to know. But now I don't."

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