Dream Weaver

By Colin J. Fenwick

The moon lit up the thin patchwork layer of clouds from above, casting a threadbare blanket of silver in the dark blue sky. Stars glistened between the broken formations of clouds as they swept over the city underneath, carried by the night winds. The air was crisp and fresh and cold enough to chill anyone hardy enough to endure the night to the bones. A thin film of frost was beginning to form on the ground, puddles beginning to freeze on the pavements. Steam rose from vents in man-hole covers, releasing the smell of sewage and waste into the city streets.

Cars drifted along silent roads. Some travelling from work. Some carrying party-goers from nightclubs in the city centre. Some cruising for prostitutes. On corners of run down streets the prostitutes gathered, waiting for pick-ups. They shivered as they silently wished for a car to jump into, willing to do anything for any price just to get out of the cold, hoping that the next car would be the one; but the cars were few and far between and one by one they gave up and found whatever drugs and shelter they could find.

A group of three young prostitutes pushed their way into a derelict house, the windows boarded up long ago and decorated with graffiti. A host of cats patrolled the abandoned house, feasting on animals dug out of the overgrown garden and the smell of dead animals and excrement filled the place. Undaunted the three slid open the rotting board that acted as a makeshift door and giggled with anticipation of the drugs one of them had scored. They stepped over two homeless men who were sleeping and starving, ignoring the man with ginger hair who was dressed all in black. They found an unoccupied room up-stairs and prepared for a night of highs and visions.

The man in black ignored them. They were not his concern. His concern was for the two men that lay dying in the hallway. His hand glistened with a strange silver light - as if the moon reflected off wet skin - as it caressed the man's skull. The dying man's hair remained untouched as the fingers travelled across the man's scalp, and then penetrated his skull. The man in black closed his eyes and allowed the flow of images to flood the dying mind. He painted images of love and friendship. Images of warm summer days. Of fragrant forests. Of childhood innocence and the thrills of discovery. He painted every image that the man longed to see and feel. Images the man would carry into the twilight as his body turned cold. The man kept his hand there, even when the body became frozen in death, tears welling up in his eyes and rolling down his pale cheeks.

He turned to the second man, but he had already died and there were no dreams he could give, so he stood and walked out of the house and into the night. The cats turned and threw a casual, disinterested look his way and returned to their nightly rituals. The dream weaver walked on, his heart full of sorrow, and wandered the frosted streets in search of other dreams to weave.


It was not that Chiasma was invisible. She wasn't, but everybody she passed in the city centre ignored her. She didn't mind. There was too much going on for Chiasma to be bothered by something so trivial - the bright lights of the night clubs and the noise of taxis eager for business. The hustle and bustle of people huddling together, waiting for a ride home. The drunken laughter and antics of lads and lasses who had spent a good night out, but would most likely not remember it in the morning - it was all exiting to Chiasma. It intrigued her, and she longed to mingle with them, to listen closely to them, to peer into their souls and experience what they experienced. It was so alien to her, yet she was so alien to them. It was why she was able to pass through the crowds without a single glance.

Chiasma ran away from the busy city centre and headed into quieter streets, her feet barely touching the frosty pavement. The sylph floated through the city like the clouds in the sky, layers of sheer silk fluttering behind her, hair like strands of silver light flying in waves as she ran. She bathed in the night air. The night was a time of adventures and secrets and dreams, unbound by anything. The night made her feel free and made her footsteps lighter and faster.

She wished she could enjoy it. Wished she could linger among the dreams and aspirations of those who slept around her, but she could not stop and enjoy this place. She had purpose and it drove her on.

She entered a large park with hedgerows and paths and benches. Flowers were gathered in large patches of gaudy colours and in the centre sat a large fountain, now still and silent. Nothing more than a dark pool reflecting the backlit clouds. She slowed and looked around. There was a man wearing a long dark coat, his hair shining like copper under the moonlight, his hands weaving dreams for a woman laid out under a flea-ridden blanket, cuddling a scruffy dog for warmth. Chiasma watched him work and felt the sadness permeating from him. She was only young, even for a sylph, and such sadness was unknown to her. She knew only excitement and discovery and the usual frivolity of her kind. The feelings he held inside were terrible to witness and cut her deeply as she felt them for the first time.

Chiasma watched him work until she saw the life pass away from the woman. She watched the dream weaver shed his tears and then their eyes met as he looked up. He was astonished to see her watching him, which didn't surprise her. Dream weavers went unnoticed and sylphs rarely wandered the mortal realm. He held her gaze, staring into her emerald eyes, as she walked up to him. She touched him softly on the shoulder and a sharp sting of electricity shot through his body, knocking him to the floor. He writhed on the frosty ground with the pain and when it subsided, he opened his eyes with rage to find that she had vanished.

He rose unsteadily to his feet, his head swimming, and looked around the park for the sylph. She was nowhere to be seen. He brushed her out of his mind and went back to his work, but his legs were unsteady and his head faint. He grasped hold of the fountain wall for support, breathing deeply in an effort to clear his head. Looking up he noticed a figure shrouded in black moving stealthily in the shelter of a tall conifer hedge. It drifted as gracefully as a sylph-like creature, yet it was hunched over and lay hidden in the shadow of its cloak. A large hood covered its head and Vermilion wondered how it could see where it was going since the hood hung so low it must have blocked its view. It drifted in and out of hedgerows as if it knew every facet and imperfection of its path.

Vermilion composed himself quickly and began to follow, captivated by the interloper. Vermilion did not doubt it was an ethereal creature. Its very movements - its swiftness and grace - betrayed it as such. Vermilion followed it from the park towards one of the run down housing estates filled with sex, drugs and the violence of gang rule. Here kids were free to roam as long as they roamed in force while young families and the elderly lived in a prison of fear. Here were courtyards filled with discarded needles, spent aerosols, smashed bottles and burned out cars. Vermilion rarely came here. This place was filled with a pain not even he wished to carry with him, but tonight he followed the shadow along pathways weaving through blocks of flats until they came to a courtyard surrounded by gutted homes with condemned notices stuck to boarded up windows. Glass shards were scattered across the great concrete plaza that doubled as a car park. Only two cars were parked here and they were devoid of wheels, one having been torched a few days before. Three teenage boys lay stoned in the burnt out wreck, but the shadow passed them by. It floated over the scattered debris field to the second car where a girl lay sleeping next to her boyfriend. The boy blew pillars of smoke into the frosty night air through the driver's window, reminiscing over his deeds so far tonight. He did not see the shadow approach, nor did he see Vermilion hidden behind the other car. He did not see the figure silently climb on top of the car. Did not see the long, shrouded arm reach inside, thin ethereal fingers stretching out toward his skull. He did not feel the slender fingers wrap around his head, one over each temple and one pressing against his forehead. He did feel the surge of pain as every memory, every dream, every wish was sucked from his mind in tiny electrical sparks to be absorbed by the creatures skin. He did not make a sound as the last of his mind fell away from him and into the creature. His body shuddered in one gentle convulsion as he passed away in silence. The creature then turned it's attention to the girl, and Vermilion could only watch in horror as it drained her mind dry.

The creature hovered over the bodies and then reared up to it's full height, the cloak falling away from it's arms, the hood falling back from it's head. Vermilion shuffled away in horror. Now he knew. Never had he expected to see one again. It couldn't be. Not here. Not after all this time. A sudden sense of panic siezed him and he moved to run, but the dream wraith turned it's bony head to Vermilion, casting it's single, oval, pearl-like eye at the weaver.

It jumped from the roof of the car and lurched toward Vermilion, a slender, smooth grey arm reaching out for him. Vermilion could not move. He was spell-bound. A great flash of light blinded him and when it died down Vermilion was stood by the fountain, the sylph twirling in front of him, her silver hair glistening like a whirlpool as it caught the moonlight.

Vermilion's head felt light and he reached out a hand to steady himself, but instead of cold concrete, his hand touched soft, cool flesh. The sylph was stronger than he'd expected and as her hand supported him, she spun, curling her other arm around him. He fell back, but she held him and led him to a nearby bench.

"Lean against me. Breath deeply and slowly, the cool night air will help," she said softly, her voice light and wistful.

"Who are you?" Vermilion asked, regaining himself.

"Chiasma. What is your name?"

"Vermilion. What just happened?"

"You had a dream."

"Impossible. I am a dream weaver. I do not dream."

"Nonetheless, you had a dream."

"How is that possible."

"Does it matter?"


"You gave the wrong answer. It doesn't matter at all." She leaped from the seat and spun on the frosted path, her arms reaching out for the moon. She stopped and cupped his face in her hands. She looked so young, so fragile, so innocent. "What was it like?" she asked with a childlike smile.

Vermilion shook his head free of her hands. "It was not pleasant. You saw it?"

"I saw only the end."

Vermilion rose to his feet. "Why is this happening to me?"

"Because it is," she answered and spun under the moonlight again.

"I should have known better than to expect a straight answer from a sylph," he muttered.

She stopped and reached for his hand. She turned solemn as she held it and planted a gentle kiss on the open palm. Her touch was like the touch of ice on a sweltering day.

"Because you are the one who has been chosen," she whispered.

"You still answer without answering."

"Not all questions need an answer Vermilion. Some you must discover for yourself. Some I can reveal, for I have been chosen as your guide. Your answers will come through dreams, and you will dream until your quest is done."

"What quest?" Vermilion's frustration rising.

"To find and stop the dream thief."

Suddenly Vermilion's frustration fizzled away. "The wraith. The one from my dream?"

"Yes," she replied and seemed to shrink like a frightened child at the mention of the wraith.

"Why would a dream wraith be so important. They have a place in this world just as the weavers do."

"Because this wraith feeds until it kills and it is also feeding upon the weavers."

Vermilion stood in silence as the impact of Chiasma's statement hit home. This was no ordinary dream wraith. It was one Vermilion knew. A sense of dread surrounded him, threatening to choke him.

"Why me?"

Chiasma stroked his cheek, a look of pity in her eyes. "Because you understand death. You surround yourself in its world. Who better to understand one who brings death."

Vermilion gently brushed her hand away. "I do not understand that kind of death."

"Death is death," Chiasma replied.

"It is not," Vermilion said darkly.

Chiasma held his face again, her own filled with empathy. "You are right. And knowing that, you understand more than most. Remember weaver, you will not be alone. I will be along side you. I will never be far away."

"I cannot defeat it."

"You do not need to." A flicker of gold shivered through Chiasma's hair and she floated close to Vermilion, her lips brushing against his ear as she whispered. "That is why I am here. Just lead it to me."

She stepped back and smiled in her usual childlike playfulness. She spun again, her hands reaching up as far as she could stretch, and as she spun, she faded, her glistening hair the last thing Vermilion saw.


Vermilion sat staring into space through the grimy cafe window. The cafe was small and dingy, the smell of coffee ever prevalent in the air. During the night it was filled with taxi drivers waiting around, swapping lewd stories. During the day it served hot and cold sandwiches to a regular clientele of office workers and shop staff who never stopped to eat here. In the brief hours between night and day the cafe was empty, the waitress and cook usually sat playing cards to pass the time away.

Vermilion's window looked eastward across the city centre. The cafe, being on a hill, had a good view of the eastern estates. Tower blocks rose up in the northern corner of his view and industrial warehouses sprawled away to the south. A solitary church tower sat surrounded by shops directly in front of his view and beyond them, fading away into the distance, were the many decaying housing estates. Beyond those, Vermilion knew, were the richer suburbs and the more pleasant estates.

As he gazed out across the grey vista, the sun just beginning to rise in a pale lavender sky, his thoughts dwelt on the events of the night. He watched clouds the colour of burnished silver float overhead. Followed the patterns in the thick layer of frost covering the ground, hiding patches of ice, slowing the early dawn traffic to a crawl. He tried to think about something other than the wraith, but couldn't. His thoughts snapped back to the creature as if an elastic chord connected them to it.

He was disturbed by the clink of plates and the smell of hot chocolate under his nose. Vermilion looked across the table and into the silver eyes of Argentis, his oldest friend. The two could have been brothers, their hawk like features almost identical. Just as Vermilion's hair matched his rust coloured eyes, so Argentis' hair was silver, glistening like his friend's, as if the strands held muted rays of light within them.

Argentis pushed the bacon sandwich toward Vermilion and tucked into his own. Vermilion just stared at it, his appetite long gone.

"You know, just once, I'd like to stroll up to that counter and ask for our usual. We come in here every day." Argentis said cheerily.

"And they never remember us. As soon as we walk out of the door, it will be as if we never came here."

"Doesn't it bother you?"

"No." Vermilion sipped from his drink, wiping the foam from his top lip with a paper napkin.

Argentis studied his friend. "You look like hell. Hanging around the dying is taking it's toll on you. You should try something else. Have a break."

"Perhaps I could warp fragile little minds with nightmares." Argentis froze, as if stung. "I'm sorry," Vermilion apologised.

"Something must be wrong. That's the first time ever you've had a dig at me. I haven't seen you like this since Cerulean died."

Vermilion shut his eyes in an attempt to block the memory, but it only made the images more vivid.

"It's happening again," Vermilion said, his voice unable to hide the dread. Argentis froze as his blood ran chill.

"How do you know?"

"I saw it in Peasholme Park. Followed it into the Cathedral Closes."

"Cathedral Closes? Things must be bad if you're going there."

"It was a dream." Argentis was aghast and Vermilion felt embarrassed at the confession, but carried on, telling his friend of the dream and his meeting with Chiasma.

"Are you sure this is for real? You know what reputation these sylphs have. As my father used to say, 'never trust a sylph lad'."

"You never had a father."

"That's not the point. The point is you can never trust a sylph."

"Well, there's only one way to find out."

"And what if it's there. What do we do then."

"We hope this is one sylph we can trust."


The two dream weavers walked out into the frosty morning, their faces already forgotten in the minds of waitress and cook. The streets were almost silent as the sun continued creeping into the sky. They wandered without speaking, breathing in the smells of the city - the smell of freshly baked bread and grilled bacon, exhaust fumes and rotting litter - as they mixed with the freshness of the winter air. Frost crunched under their feet and under bus tyres. The early hours of the day were Vermilion's favourites. There was both peace and promise in these hours. A calmness draped the landscape before being ripped to shreds with the morning traffic and the hustle and bustle of the day that would not cease until the clubs kicked out and the night claimed its own.

The city centre fell away as the two came upon the Cathedral Closes, a large collection of concrete courtyards surrounded by parking spaces and back gates. A wall of four story flats overlooked each courtyard opposite the only road in and out of each close. A covered walkway at each end of the flats led to a series of paths connecting to other closes. Houses lined the other sides forming a collection of fortresses. The two walked past the first close and gazed at a smouldering car blocking the entrance like some post-apocalyptic barricade.

Between each close paths dissected opposing rows of houses. It was along one of these paths that Vermilion and Argentis walked. They walked between the houses until they came to a clearing. Trees stripped bare of leaves and decked with underwear and bicycle tyres stood guard over a small play area. Litter of all kinds lay strewn around the swings and rusty climbing frame. Beyond the clearing were several other paths, some leading to the front doors of homes, some leading into the inner courtyards. They took a path that led into the courtyard from Vermilion's dream and Vermilion's blood ran chill as he saw the two cars. In the first were the three boys, their faces blue and frozen, eyes glazed over and far, far away. Vermilion forced himself over to the other car and knew before he saw what he would find. The boy and the girl, their skin frosted over, the tell tale tear of blood hanging from the corner of either eye betraying the cause of death.

Argentis could think of nothing to say, remembering the discovery of Cerulean's body. Vermilion had witnessed the death and Argentis - weaver of nightmares - couldn't begin to fathom the effect on his friend. He was sure that was the reason Vermilion wove only for the dying, just as he himself had withdrawn into his own world of weaving nightmares for children. He couldn't explain his reasons and he didn't really want to discuss it, so he left things alone to fester, not wanting to think how it would destroy them both.

"We'd better go find Illuminar. Warn him," Argentis suggested, but Vermilion was transfixed by the faces of the two youths. "Vermilion."

Vermilion snapped out of his trance. "What?"

"Let's find Illuminar. He'll need to know."

Vermilion looked again upon the two faces, the expressions blank and empty. "Okay."


They found him as morning passed into mid-day, a bald figure hunched over a weary looking woman, sleeping her day away in preparation for another night shift. Argentis and Vermilion waited outside the bedroom until Illuminar finished. Illuminar led them out of the house and into next door.

"There are three here. If we take one each then I will have time to talk further. One is a child Argentis, and I am sure you will weave for her, but do not weave one of your usual nightmares. This family live and work by night. They need rest."

"Very well. I think I can remember what a pleasant dream is."

Argentis left to find the child and Illuminar turned his focus to Vermilion. "I have never liked his ways," he confided.

"Nightmares have a place in the realm of dreams. They help shape strong minds. The young need to learn to face fear, and conquer it," Vermilion answered.

"I suppose. Why don't you weave for the mother. You have a knack for easing burdens and she has many."

Vermilion nodded. He wove a dream of golden and endless summers and the thrill of young love. As he walked away from her he took comfort from the slight smile on her face as she dreamt. He walked outside and leant against the crumbling brick wall, waiting for the other weavers. Argentis arrived first and it was some time later that Illuminar joined them.

"What brings you here Vermilion?" Illuminar asked.

"Something important. Is there somewhere better to speak?" Vermilion queried.

"We are dream weavers. No one will notice us here."

"This isn't the best place," said Argentis.

"This is my place. If you wish to speak to me, then you speak to me here," Illuminar replied without arrogance or pride. Vermilion knew little of Illuminar, but was impressed by the authority and empathy in his voice. Empathy that was reflected in his pale smoky eyes.

Argentis looked to Vermilion, but he just shrugged. "Here will do," Vermilion said, and turned to Illuminar. "There is a dream wraith loose in the city."

"A dream wraith is of no concern to us," Illuminar replied.

"This one is," Argentis interjected. "It feeds on dream weavers."

"And it feeds until the victim dies," Vermilion added.

This got Illuminar's attention. "It was here, was it not?"

"Last night. It killed two youths not far from here," Vermilion stated.

The three stood in silence, waiting for Illuminar to speak. "I will watch for it."

"Be careful," Vermilion added. "I have seen this creature at work. If it seeks you out, you will be dead."

Illuminar nodded and left for another house, continuing his work among the night workers. Vermilion and Argentis wandered away, Vermilion leading the way, setting a swift pace out of the estate. The two boarded a bus and Argentis spent the time weaving day dreams in the mind of a young man looking idly out of a window, watching the world pass by. When the boy walked off Argentis sat by Vermilion.

"I think I could grow to like weaving pleasant dreams."

"I doubt it will last long," Vermilion noted. "You have a dark river flowing inside you. You cannot resist your nightmares. Here," he said and walked to the front of the bus.

They stepped out into a cool afternoon and made their way through the crowded city centre. The pedestrians parted for them like a stream around jutting rocks and the two made good speed, entering a small shopping precinct. They stopped at a quiet ice cream stand, sat down on gleaming metal stools, and watched people file past, oblivious to the presence of the weavers. Argentis made to speak, but Vermilion's head suddenly dropped forward and Argentis had to move quickly to catch his friend. He held Vermilion's head in his hands.

"Vermilion! Vermilion!" He slapped Vermilion's face, but there was no response. He felt helpless, not knowing what was wrong.

And the crowds walked by, ignoring what they did not see.


The night was quiet and still. Nothing disturbed the warm summer air. The quarter moon in the clear sky took a back seat to thousands of brightly shining stars. The village was bathed in a night without streetlamps to disturb the beauty of the heavens. Vermilion wandered from home to home, weaving pleasant dreams without a single care. After the last house he wandered down the country road to the next village. Stone walls fenced him in on either side, the embankments filled with thistles and weeds, their many colours hidden in the darkness. Vermilion could still see the colours though, and their many scents made the journey a pleasant one. He slowed his steps to savour the peacefulness of his journey.

He was saddened when the next village came into sight. Here his solitude would end as he met up with his friends. Argentis would be late, as usual. His playful antics delaying him as he wove surreal adventures with such intricacy, it took almost twice as long to weave as the plain simple dreams Vermilion loved to weave. A single streetlight flickered over a telephone box. It's red paint gleaming under the light, the glass shining. It was surrounded by a single row of small flowers in pinks and whites and Vermilion reasoned this was as good a place as any to wait.

He waited for some time before deciding to wander around the village. Argentis was always late, but Cerulean was rarely late. Vermilion turned down a small path leading to three thatched cottages set on a small hill. He padded along between the first two cottages and froze as he came to face the third. A grey figure crept before him in the shadows, it's skin leathery, shining as though it were wet. Its slender arms stretched out into three lean fingers that raked the ground as it moved. On it's arms and legs were four dull patches where the skin parted, revealing muscular strands underneath. It's head was shiny and from Vermilion's view point, it was featureless. It seemed to mull around as if it were waiting for something. Then it moved like lightning to the doorway of the cottage and Vermilion looked on in horror as the beast assaulted Cerulean.

Vermilion was frozen, impotent with horrified fascination and fear. Cerulean tried to run, but the creature was too swift and agile, leaping to intercept the dream weaver. Within a heartbeat the demon had Cerulean pinned under the long talons of one foot. An arm reached slowly up, the fingers wrapping themselves around Cerulean's skull. He tried to wrench his head away from the grip, but the long fingers curled around his temples far too tight. Cerulean let out a cry as thousands of tiny lights flashed around the creatures hand, sparkling along the skin until the muscular strands absorbed them. Cerulean's last cry was like a child's, weak and full of fear and utterly without hope. When the creature finished it hovered over Cerulean's body as if to gloat. It turned and Vermilion froze, hoping the creature did not see him. The smooth, bony face was not featureless, but inlaid centrally in its skull was a single large pearl and it stared in Vermilion's direction. Then the creature leaped from Cerulean and disappeared into the shadows and into the night.

Vermilion stood frozen to the spot until Argentis found him, a look of pain in his eyes. The two walked slowly to Cerulean's lifeless body, the shock seizing their throats. Vermilion knew he would never forget this moment, but more than anything, he would remember the look in Cerulean's eyes. Those ghostly eyes that had once held so much joy, the deep blue now drained of their colour, holding nothing of Cerulean. A drop of blood hung at the edge of each eye, like a final tear that would never fall.

Vermilion turned away as tears trickled down his cheeks. A hand touched his shoulder and Vermilion looked behind him to stare into the emerald eyes of Chiasma. A wave of deep blue washed away the emerald and Vermilion remembered Cerulean's eyes being that shade. He looked away to survey his surroundings, but the cottage was gone, replaced by the Cathedral Closes. Dusk was approaching and people were walking along the paths to their homes, oblivious of the two strange figures stood in the garden of a burned out shell that had once been a home.

"That was painful for you to see," Chiasma noted, pity in her voice.

"I am dreaming again."

"Yes. You do not like this dream."

"That was no dream. That was a memory."

"Ahhh," said Chiasma as the pieces fell into place. "You know the wraith."

"Is it the same one?"

"I believe it must be."

"Why must I dream this?"

"Because you must. More than that I do not know."

"For a guide, you are not much use." Vermilion regretted the bitterness in his voice and looked at where Cerulean's body had been, now replaced by Illuminar. "No," he groaned.

Chiasma turned to look at the body and placed her head against Vermilion's chest, her hand stroking his back. Vermilion broke free from her embrace and knelt by Illuminar's body. He wiped the tears of blood away and closed the dead eyes.

"What can I do to stop this?" he asked.

Chiasma knelt beside him and whispered in his ear. "It is not yet dusk. Awake and do what you can."

He felt Chiasma's cool hand press against his forehead and his eyes opened. Argentis was gazing over him, concern showing in his eyes. He helped Vermilion sit up. Argentis heard him speak, though his voice was dry and weary. One word.



The pale blue winter sky was obscured by a layer of clouds slowly thickening and threatening snow. The air grew chill and people huddled into hats and scarves to keep the cold winds at bay. The city became draped in a sense of quiet as people went their ways, knowing what the night would bring and not wanting to be caught in it. They were filled with an urgency to get into the warmth and the safety and seclusion of their own homes.

The sun descended and dusk arrived. The pale blue melted into ashen blue, as a thick layer of clouds claimed the sky. Streetlights flickered to life one by one. A crisp, icy breeze swept through the streets, penetrating even the thickest of winter coats, chilling to the bone. The first flakes of snow fell to be trampled underfoot, but the snow was not to be deterred and soon the battle was won as it settled on everything in a pure white blanket.

That was how they found Illuminar's body, laid in the frozen stillness of the garden, a layer of fine snow settling to cover the body, the white stained scarlet where Illuminar's frozen eyes lay hidden. Vermilion dropped to his knees, his body and mind felt numb. He felt a hand on his shoulder.

"Time to move on?" Argentis asked.

"And then what?" Vermilion replied.

"It can't be the same one?"

"I would rather believe in only one of these beasts killing weavers."

"So what do we do?"

Vermilion tried to sift through the arguments forming in his mind. After Cerulean's death, Vermilion and Argentis had moved away from the idyllic country life and come here. Vermilion began his crusade among the dying and Argentis descended into weaving his nightmares. Both moving on and yet both hiding from the memory of Cerulean's murder. Illuminar had not been a close friend, not like Cerulean, but Vermilion had respected Illuminar. To move on again did not seem like the right course of action, but neither did staying. To stay was to fight and Vermilion didn't know if he could. Nor did he know how.

Vermilion looked up at his friend only to see him knocked flying. Vermilion fell back as a shrouded figure swept past him, carrying Argentis out of the garden until the two landed on the snowy path. Vermilion got up onto his knees to see the wraith poised over Argentis, the smooth fingers reaching out for Argentis' skull. He cried out, but the wraith ignored him. The first finger touched the silvery mane just as Argentis kicked up and turned, dislodging the wraith. He scrambled on his hands and knees, trying to get a purchase on the path with his feet, but the path was icy underneath the thin layer of snow and he slipped. The wraith leaped upon Argentis' back, the fingers snapping tightly around his skull. Argentis began to groan as his mind was slowly drained.

Vermilion leaped, wrapping his arms around the beast, but the wraith kept the callous grip on Argentis and Vermilion was rolled over onto his back, his head crashing against the icy tarmac. He rolled onto his side, his vision blurred, his head throbbing. He tried to shake off the concussion, but all he could do was stare in horror at his closest friend. Argentis fought, but only managed to roll his head.

"Run," Argentis groaned.

Vermilion made another attempt to shake off the concussion and attacked the wraith, his shoulder pile driving into the beast, but it reached across with its free arm and threw Vermilion hard into the garden wall. Vermilion shook the collision off in time to see Argentis lurch, his back arching in agony as the last of his mind drained away to be absorbed by the wraith.

Vermilion couldn't move, or speak. He froze, staring at Argentis as he had all those years ago at Cerulean. An emptiness filled him, left him as if he were dead. He hoped Chiasma would appear. He wished it were just a dream, that he wasn't witnessing yet another weaver's death. He turned his gaze from Argentis to the wraith. It hovered over the body, savouring every last morsel, then it turned, casting it's single eye upon Vermilion. Vermilion swore he could discern a smile upon the smooth face. A smile so evil he would never forget the cocktail of fear and hatred that stirred up inside him. The wraith rose to its full height, casting away the shadowy cloak, the lights from nearby houses reflecting off its leathery skin. The snow melted as it touched it and the grey skin looked even more pallid than before. Vermilion suddenly became aware of the snow as it froze his cheeks and brushed his eyelashes.

The wraith stepped over Argentis, moving slowly toward Vermilion. Vermilion didn't move, the anger in his eyes burning into the creature before him. The wraith crouched down, lowering it's bony head until the single eye was opposite Vermilion's nose. Vermilion stared right into it, hoping his hatred and anger would show. Then he crashed his forehead into the single eye, and the wraith stumbled back in pain.

'Run,' came Chiasma's voice in his mind. He got up and started to run. He didn't look back. The hatred burned from him allowing his fear to take control. He didn't want to know if the creature was following or gaining on him. He just ran, not knowing where he would go, or when he would stop. An image flashed into his mind and he knew then where to run. He darted through a nearby house, the boards covering broken windows rotting at the corners. He smashed his way through the broken back door, ploughed through a jungle of weeds and crashed through the back gate and into a large courtyard. A group of teenage boys were getting ready to torch a stolen car as Vermilion ran past them. They watched him weave his way out of the courtyard via a corner snicket, and then carried on, forgetting what they had seen.

Vermilion kept running, but now he knew he was not alone. A glistening figure flashed past the corner of his eye, moving around him, vanishing into a nearby house. Vermilion continued on until he came to the edge of the Cathedral Closes estate. He ran out and across a busy road, weaving in between slow crawling cars. He felt a rush of wind and an icy touch on his shoulder knocked him off balance. He slipped, bouncing onto the bonnet of a car. He rolled over the bonnet and back onto his feet. He lashed out, but the wraith had already fallen. Vermilion ran on.

Houses sped past on either side of him. Snow fell against his face, freezing the ethereal skin. Plumes of breath effused from his mouth and hovered in the air, leaving a wake of fetid adrenaline and fear. He saw the wraith moving swiftly to his left, running alongside the weaver, gradually working its way toward him, but it didn't matter. The houses gave way to a major road and Vermilion darted across it, ignoring the traffic. Drivers pounded their brakes, and then wondered why. Vermilion entered the park. Waves of snow rose and fell as he ran across the grass to the frozen fountain, then something grabbed his ankle and he plummeted to the ground. The wraith leapt on top of Vermilion, but Vermilion was were he knew he should be and his fear had dissipated. His knee crashed into the wraiths leathery belly, knocking it to the ground. He quickly came to his feet and grasped the wraith's skull, wrenching it back, then instinctively placed his hand across the eye. His ethereal fingers reached into the skull.

"Now I have a dream for you," he whispered venomously.

He closed his eyes and let all his rage and hate flow from him and into the wraith's mind. He could feel the beast writhe under his grip, but his grip held fast and the wraith could not shake itself free. Vermilion wove his dream, bringing back the weavers it had killed. The wraith found itself surrounded by them. There was Cerulean, Argentis, Illuminar and others Vermilion did not recognise. Their eyes remained fixed in the glaze of death, tears of blood at each eye. The weavers reached out, placing their hands on its head then a bright light flashed outwards. Vermilion was thrown back and knocked unconscious.

Vermilion groaned as he came too, and looked into the calm face of Chiasma. For the first time he noticed her fragile beauty as the snow fell gently around her pale skin. He could see the flakes reflected in her ever changing eyes, that were now orange, even in the darkness. Then he remembered. He looked over at the wraith. It was writhing in agony, but he could tell the agony was fading.

"What must I do?"

"You have done what was needed," she answered. "Now it is time for me to play my part."

Vermilion didn't understand.

"You have done well Vermilion Weaver. Be at peace."

She leaned in and kissed him. As she pulled away he could see tears welling up in her eyes. Then she turned away and danced across the snow to the wraith. She watched it for a while until it stopped squirming and then raised the bony face until it stared at her. The two remained locked in each other's gaze and Vermilion stared in fascination at the two, not noticing Chiasma's legs were fading in the snow.

A chill wind struck up, blowing flurries of snow across the grass. A tiny blizzard swept over the sylph and the wraith, scattering the two as if they were nothing but glittering snow. The wind died down and they were gone.


Vermilion sat himself down in the snow, staring into the empty space where the two ethereal creatures had been. Snow fell, covering him, transforming him into a frosted figure. A sudden wave of peace washed over him and all his fear, hatred, despair and pain were gone. The memories were there, but the dark shadows they used to bring with them were not. There were just his memories now. He couldn't explain it. Couldn't understand it. Perhaps it would take the rest of his life to do so.

Suddenly he felt a need stir within. He shook off the snow and stood. He looked up at the clouds and watched the snow fall in the dark sky. He looked around him. The park was empty, but he could sense a few early sleepers in the homes directly south of the park. He walked slowly south until he came to a row of townhouses. He walked through the front door and stepped softly up the stairs until he came to the room of a baby boy, not quite six months old. Vermilion brushed his hands against the soft fuzzy head and wove a dream that would bring a smile to the baby's face as he slept. A dream that would be forgotten as soon as the sun began to creep back into the sky, chasing the night into memory.

The End

Copyright © 2003 by Colin J. Fenwick

Bio:"I am a father of two living in Lincolnshire, UK and study photography part time. I have been published previously in the April 2002 issue of Aphelion."

E-mail: colin@verkivick.org.uk


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