Prologue: The First Dream

The dream began as any other. It was an absurd, shapeless swirl of black and blue and red. But things were never really seen in dreams. Images that came into view were thoughts, not very clear at times and flawless at others; random concepts pulled from the darkest recesses of the mind involuntarily in unconsciousness. Some were cheery. The idea of happiness flitted into view in a gentle yet glorious array of gold and purple. The hint of a smile tugged at the corner of the young girl's slightly ajar mouth. She moaned unknowingly in contentment.

Somewhere in the distance an owl hooted, breaking the silence that only existed during the night. But there was something amiss that night. The usually serene, pleasant midnight melody was growing loud; not as it did with the coming of dawn, but with a growing whisper of urgency. Even in unconsciousness the child could feel the disturbance and she moaned again, this time in discomfort. Without leaving the world of sleep she stirred. Abruptly, the colors of her dreams darkened.

Purple and gold faded to black. Images, detailed like she'd never seen in her dreams were drawn before her eyes. It was the face of a woman, long since buried in a grave that came into view. The girl recognized her mother and she smiled, mirroring the smile on the woman's face.

Deep blue eyes twinkled, their hue so dark that they almost seemed brown, like the swirling depths of the sea. Her rosy red cheeks and perfect smile were inviting, making the girl wish her mother would still be before her when she opened her eyes. But she'd trained herself in not longing for the impossible.

Her mother's lips started to move, not as though she were speaking but like she was singing. But there was no sound to be heard and the girl was not surprised. All of her dreams were soundless. Somehow, though, she got the since that whatever her mother was singing was a beautiful melody.

The girl thought then of the melody of her mother's jewelry box that had sat for years on her nightstand. Suddenly, she could hear the music clear as day. But something was definitely wrong. It was the night; the warning of the owl and the urgency of the whispers. They mixed with the jewelry box's music and made it a crude mockery of what it was supposed to be. The girl cringed. Her mother's face faded away until all she could she was the jewelry box.

The stained glass lid was wide open and a shining yellow star spun continuously in the center. Other than a couple of plastic earring, strange, shiny pebbles, and a handful of other random oddities, the box was devoid of any jewelry. The box itself held far more value to the girl then anything she could ever put inside. The stained glass that composed it was much like her dreams: a blend of colors that somehow came together to make sense. The other thing to mar its beauty was the foul music that radiated from it, creating uneasy shadows in the child's mind.

The melody and the night grew louder and their song's clashed, becoming a freighting chaos; a storm that showed no signs of abating. The child whispered disapprovingly at the lack of control in her own mind. It was when the night's noise overcame the jewelry box when the girl was truly afraid. She attempted to pull herself back to wakefulness and from that the harsh song held her fast, keeping her young mind from resurfacing back into reality. Her struggle became more desperate as the song rose like a crescendo of booming laughter.

The owl hooted again. The wind blew its words of cautious notes to add to the eerie symphony. The jewelry box's song was all but forgotten in the midst.

There was resounding crack and the corner of the jewelry box caught flame. As the noise grew the fire spread, charring the beautiful stained glass black. In seconds it consumed the rotating star and it melted like something akin to candle wax. There were quick flashes of red and yellow adding fire to the nightmare.

When the dark the dark song rose to its highest, shrillest note, the entire box burst into ashes. All in a moment nightmare released its grip on the girl.

The child bolted upright, out of breath and gasping desperately for it. Her quaint room was spinning before her eyes with the after effects of the dream. Her normally gentle heartbeat was erratic, racing at a million miles an hour. She could feel that her nightgown was soaked through with sweat. Her short brown hair was plastered to her forehead. Her small frame shook from an inner cold that not even the warmest of her blankets could chase away. A stream of tears ran down her face. The mocking song rang through her ears with astonishing clarity. The only thing she could think of doing was switching on the light that rested on her dresser in the corner of the room.

The floor was freezing beneath her feet when she swung her legs over the bedside. Her footfalls were frantic by the time she finally reached the dresser, which seemed eternally far away. See, darkness is a strange thing; it has a way of deceiving. It makes moments seem as minutes, minutes as hours, and hours many eternities. It takes away sense of reason and comforting memory of light. Things appear different. A discarded pair of pants cans seem like a monster rising from the ground. And the night's song did nothing to calm the child's fear. It fueled them.

When she reached the dresser she grabbed blindly for the lamp and its switch, her fears growing stronger by the second and her tears coming faster and harder.

She felt her arm hit something hard enough to send it sprawling over the edge. It hit the floor with a crash. It shattered and the child felt the glass slice into her bare feet. She screeched, falling in the dark.

Footfalls could be heard pounding down the hallway until and man in his mid-forty's burst onto the scene.

"What in the name of…" the man said as he switched on the lamp effortlessly. The sight that met him was the little girl on the floor, cradling her bleeding foot, crying both from the pain and from the morbid sight of the shards of her mother's jewelry box.