In the Slipstream, the rules of reality are poles apart from what we in the waking world regard as real. There, what we call dreams are the fabric from which actuality is woven. There, that fabric can be manipulated, molded and morphed into whatever our subconscious minds can dredge forth from our collective memories, to be showcased and produced as reality, and as easily dismissed and forgotten when we awaken. The dreams we remember, even in bits and fragments, are analyzed and deciphered, broken down into manageable vignettes that psychologists and therapists sell back to us piecemeal as catharsis.
For the enlightened, however, through the Slipstream, dreams are more than mere illusory sideshows for our subconscious edification. Here, dreams are communications wavelengths, inroads into one’s mind, where the practitioners of those skills necessary to bridge the gap between subconscious and conscious thought can commune and where mere suggestion can be manifested into practical application. It is here that we find the Other.
Having abandoned its pursuit of the spirit stuff of what was once Walter Cavanaugh in the Void as it rejoined the Source, the Other cast about until it found a portal into the Slipstream and entered the universe of dreams, seeking the distinguishing beacon of one of its own. It moved at near-light speeds through the myriad dimensions of subconscious thought, searching for that telltale that marked the Wayward, a black radiance of evil light vibrating like the rattle of some unearthly viper. It did not have to search for long.
Ahead of it, the Other sensed a violent upheaval of psychic power, an ebon stain against the luminous and multihued tapestry of the dream world, and homed in on it. With a final burst of speed, it entered the dream of its acolyte.
Here, light was anathema. Here, in the well of subconscious evil which was the dream of a Wayfarer, all was dark confusion, composed of disjointed images of rage and spite suspended within a murky haze rank with evil portent. The dreamer herself had not yet crossed the boundary between deep sleep and REM sleep, had not reached the stage where her subconscious mind could awaken in the Slipstream and receive her master. The Other, whispering to her astral being, provided the final push.
Instantly, the panorama changed. What had been disjointed now coalesced as she drew the surrounding darkness about her in a shadowy shroud around her spirit self. Her almond eyes, half lidded, glowed eerily in the gloomy atmosphere, bathing her face a wan green. Recognizing with whom she had audience, she spoke.
“Master, what is thy bidding?”
“I have need of you, acolyte. I seek a portal through which I may return to your sphere. Seek and find a suitable vessel for me to inhabit. Do not disturb or molest it; it must be intact for the transference. When you have done this, bring it here.”
The acolyte bowed her head.
“I live only to serve, master.”
As the Other left her and exited the Slipstream, Okino Musashi came awake with a start and sat up in her bed, flushed with the prospect of serving the Other and heralding its return to the realm of Earth. An honor, she thought, congratulating herself. Now she could be recognized at last as foremost amongst her fellow Wayfarers, a distinction she felt was long overdue. She had slaughtered dozens in the name of the Other, every four years on the 29th of February, the day of the Awakening, quite an accomplishment for a young woman of only thirty. She had killed her first, a young alter-boy of eleven she met at church, when she was seven years old and to her overwhelming joy, she found she liked it. Since then, she had perfected the art of slaying. Now she could use her particular expertise to bring about the final revolution and claim her place next to her master. Prime Acolyte. Her nerves tingled at the prospect.
Though there was still two hours before her alarm clock would sound, she hurriedly showered and dressed. While she ate her breakfast of warm oatmeal and goat’s milk, she gathered her thoughts and made plans for the hunt.