Open Your Mind by Ramona Gore

Annette was dreaming. She was dreaming of roaring waterfalls, a green landscape, and streams of sunlight warming her skin. Clad only in a simple sundress, Annette tread carefully over mossy ground and protruding roots. She shivered, reaching out for the large dog by her side. He gave her a gentle nudge and Annette continued her journey through the vast forest.

She stopped at the brink, balancing on the rocky edge as the water flowed rapidly before her. The sound of the waterfall was thundering, obscuring all other sounds and leaving her in trepidation. Annette could almost feel the cool breeze, but she knew it was all in her head.

The girl took a breath and tried to find solace by burying her fingers in the great pyrenees’ fur that she could only dimly perceive. Even if the sensation was faint, Annette was still touching her familiar, and it grounded her. She braced herself and released her grip on the dog, feeling ready now.

She began to chant, calling on Oadhenth, a creature that could only exist in dreams and could not be invoked in the physical realm. Annette remembered hearing about it from her mentor. He had cautioned her that, while it was capable of providing vast knowledge, it always came at a price. It would be worth it if it meant others would live, especially her father.

The archaic words she spoke flowed naturally from her mouth, with little hesitancy. As the tension in the air increased, Annette sensed the spell reaching its peak.

“—ego te arcesso ut adiuvet me in tempore necessitatis!” she yelled.

In response to her words, there was a burst of blinding light. The landscape became distorted, rippling as something clawed its way through the growing rip in the sky. A beaked head topped with a crest poked out, delivering a thunderous screech. The beast thrashed as it dragged the rest of its body into this world. As its frame tipped forward, it beat its wings to stay afloat. Once the monster’s lengthy tail had passed through, it hovered in front of Annette.

The creature was grotesque, appearing as if it had been skinned. It’s body was slick with a substance Annette didn’t dare guess at. It towered over her, making her feel even smaller than usual. Her familiar’s lips pulled back to reveal sharp teeth as it growled at the monster. She placed a hand on the huge pyrenees’ head but it did nothing to ease his stiff posture.

“Oadhenth,” Annette started, “I seek knowledge of the illness plaguing the kingdom. In exchange, I offer my own good health if it will guarantee that the people of my kingdom may recover.”

It stared into her eyes, weighing her resolve and all that she was. The monster suddenly inhaled causing Annette to stumble. She dug her feet into the ground, grabbing onto her familiar. Annette felt herself growing weaker, as if the creature was draining her, and collapsed against the great pyrenees. She could only take a breath once it had stopped, no matter how labored.

Her familiar licked her cheek, offering comfort. Annette buried her face into his fur, wishing she could truly feel it. From the corner of her eye she saw the beast open its mouth, a blazing inferno appearing at the back of its throat. It exhaled, and for a split second, as a stream of fire came towards her, Annette wondered if she had made a mistake.

She tensed and closed her eyes, bracing herself for what was to come. Except, there was no heat to it, only the stream of knowledge from it to her.

Once the flame extinguished, the creature flapped its wings and soared away back into the hole in the sky. The rip sealed itself back up behind it and though it had been but a brief encounter, it had felt as if hours had passed.

But Annette knew what she had to do now.

She turned to her familiar and muttered, “Time to wake up.”

Ramona Gore was born in Iowa and has lived in Virginia, New York, and Arizona. She is currently a Cinema and History major at Binghamton University, minoring in Asian and Asian American Studies. Her work has been published in Duck Duck Mongoose Magazine.

Twitter: @ramonavegagore