The day before moving into her new dorm, college freshman, Maya Lilac, has a haunting dream that ends with her coming face-to-face with a second version of herself. After being haunted by the dream during move-in day, she finally comes in contact with her double, nicknamed “Lucent”, and learns that she actually has powers and can—among other things—make her dreams come true.
Maya’s heritage, however, runs deeper when she discovers that she’s the True Dreamer, a person reaching back as far as Joan of Arc that’s tasked with protecting her species, as well as the world, from any and all threats… including her seemingly-peaceful and non-combative double. But, not everyone shares Maya’s vision that her clone isn’t out to harm anybody, especially her mother. As Maya and her mother fight over whether Lucent is a legitimate threat, Maya trains in her now-active powers to fulfill her destiny of protecting the world, whether she has to take care of Lucent or not.
Maya, are you there?
“Guys, I gotta go. I’ll see you later. I have a club meeting.”
Bailey cocked her head to the side. “I didn’t hear anything about a club meeting. Which one meets today?”
Right. Dreamkeepers follow you everywhere.
“It was a really impromptu meeting that Bethany wanted to do for the Astronomy club,” I lied. “She just telepathically told me she wanted to meet. I’ll be back! Just a few minutes!”
I left the room before answering my clone. Yeah, I’m here. What’s up?
I was wondering if we could talk. About what happened in the Chronicles.
I frowned. And where do you want to talk?
The Reverie? Why there?
Lucent took her time answering. Because it’s far enough away that everyone won’t try to kill me.
What about The Daemon?
He’s not here now. Besides, if we make a dome around ourselves, we won’t be hurt by The Reverie’s chaos. Can you come?
I hesitated. After last time, I didn’t want to go back to The Reverie—and certainly not in my physical body, since it was much more dangerous. But if we could talk without any interruptions, maybe I could learn from Lucent what was really going on.
I forced my corset dress to appear. Fine, I telepathically said. We’ll meet.
A purple and black mist extended from the carpet and whisked me away.
The part of The Reverie I appeared in was devoid of domes—of people dreaming—but that didn’t mean the dreams didn’t exist. Wisps in multiple shades of purple, black, pink, and blue swept across the barren plane. They mixed into each other and broke apart, like some sort of airy water, each action more random than the last. They glided past each other, split straight down the middle, rippled as they combined to form lighter and darker colors. The movements entranced me; they seemed random, yet intricate, like a dance I couldn’t hear the music to.
Suddenly, the wisps swirled around me and formed four walls—a bedroom. Red beams of sunlight blazed in through large windows. A silver chest sat on the dresser next to the bed, and in front of it lay an open book the size of a journal. I picked the book up and flipped to the front cover.
For Jordyn, it said.
A brown Cairn terrier sat on the bed, looking up at me. From where I stood, I could see its nametag read “Toto.”
Then, my surroundings broke away. The bedroom and everything in it vanished as the wisps returned to their former state.
I heard Lucent’s elated voice. “Maya, you’re here!”
“You wanted to talk?” I asked, turning around.
Before I could fully register what was happening, something flew at my head, but I dodged it. In the same instant, the ground of The Reverie swallowed up my legs. It hardened, trapping me in place.
“What the—?” My focus shifted to Lucent, who stood a few feet away.
Something seemed off about her. She hovered in the air, wearing her corset dress, and while she still looked like me, her eyes didn’t seem as sincere.
What’s wrong with her?
The Dream Daemon appeared beside her. The Reverie’s wisps crawled around him, drifting over the sharp, jutting points of his wings. His red eyes lit with joy when he saw me trapped. “That was easy. I thought you’d be just a little bit cautious, but oh well.”
Dream energy appeared around me before transforming into a battle arena. A little girl appeared too, her eyes ghostly white, her face blank and emotionless. The veins in her fawn, yellowish-tan face glowed light blue, and her mousy brown hair stood on end as she levitated. A green halo hovered above her head, matching the green Angel’s cloak she wore. The cloak must’ve been created specifically for her; no Angel types had bright green cloaks. Olive green was as close as it ever got.
“Maya, meet Serenity,” The Daemon said. “Serenity, meet your target.”
Serenity thrust her hand out, psionic energy flying from her palm and forcing me to the ground. I let out a hard cough before trying to make her disappear. Nothing. I tried breaking down the walls of the arena. Still nothing.
“Yeah, that’s not going to fly, Lilac. You’re not just going to dream your way out of here; not in my world. Only way you’re leaving is if you kill her. And before you think that’ll be easy…”
Serenity fell to her knees and looked up, her amethyst eyes revealing fear, confusion, and last of all, recognition. She knew me.
“Mommy?” she asked, voice trembling. Despite her fear, the question sounded mellifluous, as if the word was a song to itself.
“Mommy?” I asked.
“That’s right: Mommy!” The Daemon smiled, revealing a pearly white set of teeth.
Serenity looked around, saw him, and tried to fly toward me for safety. She stopped abruptly, her neck cracking and her head twisting. She tried to scream, escape, anything to counteract the hold The Daemon had on her, but he refused to even let her flap her wings.
“This little girl is your daughter. Granted, she’s from a universe where you’re older, but she’s yours nonetheless. And I don’t imagine you’d really be willing to kill your own daughter, would you, Maya?”
“You are sick,” I said, disgusted with the creature in front of me.
“As long as I’m killing Dreamers, I could care less what I’m called.” The Daemon shrugged nonchalantly. “Now, remember, either you leave by killing ol’ Serenity here, or you die by her hands. Those are your only two options. Now, get going. Time’s ticking.” He disappeared through a purple and black mist that appeared at his feet.
Lucent, smirking, vanished in the same fashion. I glared after them before taking a step toward my daughter.
Her eyes glowed white again as she levitated and telekinetically threw me back. She rushed forward, the tips of her wings taking on a blue sparkle as half her halo turned blue. She threw a scythe of Aether at me. With a gyrokinetic hold, I halted the Spiritual Sickle and scurried away. Serenity raced after me. I tried pinning her to the ground with my Gyrokinesis, but she teleported away.
Prize: One (1) signed ARC of Dreamer by Ja-mel Vinson