Back To Part Two: The Desert of his Soul

"A Dead Guy Walks Into A Bar"
Noder's Digest Condensed Version

Part Three: Go where there is no snow
Based on a true story

Morning. 6 A.M. Too early.

The man never enjoyed waking up before he was damned well ready to "rise and shine." For once he was waking up without the help of an alarm clock. His eyes opened and he could clearly see the clock on the wall. What time had he collapsed the night before? He could not remember. Had he really taken all those pills and drank all that booze? Hard to remember. It seemed like a dream, but now everything was starting to come into focus. He remembered everything.

He thought getting out of bed might be a good idea. He was alone in the house and would have hours of silence. He had even remembered to call his supervisor the day before to inform him he would not be making it in. That made this sort of a free day. He might as well make the most of it.

I do believe I cannot move.

Total and complete paralysis, with the exception of his eyes and other elements of his face. His head would not even tilt. This was remarkably like living on the upside of a glue factory. For a moment he considered it amusing and then began to wonder. What did I do to myself? I am paralyzed for the rest of my life?

The lessons have only just begun.

The dreams began to come as he lie awake and motionless. Like vivid hallucinations of the kind no drug can provide. To dream awake in a state of paralysis is a gift as much as it is unsettling beyond the normal parameters of human life. Yet, he had no fear. Once afraid of everything, especially the sound of his own voice, fearing that anything he might say would be a mistake... he now knew none of that fear. They would appear like ghosts, the figures from his dreams. The woman of overwhelming beauty and simplicity... the red riders, great armored soldiers on horseback clad in red with multiple sets of wings... the winged unicorn, hunted and despised... they were all there.

"Find me and I will give you the answer."

They were in a cabin in the woods. She was reclined on the couch with a fire crackling in the fireplace behind her. He came towards her, wanting to touch her all too real face. Then came a knock on the door and in burst and angry man screaming that she was his wife. He had a gun and raised it, pressing the barrel against the dreaming man's forehead. He pulled the trigger and everything faded to black.

"You are a little man and without wings you are nothing now."

He was standing in a field. Two of the red riders were mounted on horses and blocking his path. They mocked him and moved their wings in an odd, almost backwards manner as they pointed swords towards him. They laughed and turned away, shouting about how he was no threat to them and was destined for failure.

"Rancho Nuevo. She will come.
The third queen.
The third of three to set you free."

A very old man sat behind a card table, with three cards laid out in front of him. They were the queen of diamonds, the queen of clubs and the queen of hearts. He asked the dreaming man to select a card. The queen of diamonds jumped away as he reached for it. The queen of clubs burst into flames at first contact with his finger, scalding his finger and shooting pain up his arm. The queen of hearts jumped to him, landing on his finger and soothing the burning sensation. After the pain had passed, he could not find the queen of hearts. The old man smiled and was gone.

Six hours passed and the paralysis held him. He thought of it as rigor mortis, the hangover of death. Finally, he could lie still no longer. Fighting great pain which emanated from his bones, he forced his body to rise. He pulled himself to the edge of the bed and dropped himself over the side, thankful that the bed consisted of nothing more than a mattress resting on a boxspring. Grabbing hold of the wall, he pulled himself towards the door and onwards to the staircase. He would go down those stairs, even as his body ached and creaked and refused to cooperate. He willed it to follow his instructions and eventually overcame its obstinance. Wrapping his arm around the bannister, he made slow and deliberate steps and descended into the living room.

He felt that his knees and ankles were soon to fail him completely, as if they might snap if he forced them to cooperate much longer. Seeing the sofa, he threw himself towards it. Collapsing once more on its soft cushions he took hold of his thoughts and drifted once again into slumber.

There was no way to escape the dreams and the messages they thrust upon him. They were too vivid and too real, unlike anything he had called a dream before. He knew they all meant something and they were a directory of sorts. He was to find this woman. She was a beacon of some kind, but what kind was the question. The red riders were the opposition and mocked him at every turn. The unicorn was symbolic, representing something he was to prevent from destruction. Still, he did not know how to tie the puzzle together. Three queens?

"Where am I supposed to look for you?" he asked the dream woman.

"Go where there is no snow," was her simple reply. It was certainly not enough information to begin a quest. It told him very little, but at the same time told him a great deal. Most of his life had been spent in the northeast and snow was a vicious part of his lifestyle there. He needed to leave this place. It was time to start over.

"There is more I need to do here first."

He did not realize it at the time, but for the first time in years he had taken a stand and made a decision. It was the first step towards bringing light back into his life. The first time he had not turned tail and run. Even if it had been part of a "dream"...

Part Four:
Testing the Waters

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