“Are you sure?” asked Meribah.
Nathanial gave his usual half smile and said, “I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life. This is it, this is where I want to be. This is where I have to be. I feel like I’m finally home.”
Joel walked closer and hugged Nathanial. “I envy you that feeling, my friend. Do what you have to.” Joel then turned around and walked away from Nathanial.
Joan shook Nathanial’s hand, wished him luck, and joined Joel. Lily and Marc did the same.
“You know, Nathanial,” Meribah hugged him tightly, “I’ve always felt close to you because we started off together. Just a couple of stowaways. I’m gonna miss you.”
“I’ll miss you too, but we’ll see each other again.” Nathanial swallowed the lump in his throat. “You can count on it. And it will be much sooner than you think.”
“Okay, you take care.” Meribah ran to catch up with the others.
Nathanial watched them, until they were black dots on the horizon. Just as he had hoped, no one turned back.
A city, not just a small town, made of wood, steal, glass, and brick grew larger as they approached it. Everyone’s excitement multiplied with each step.
The largest buildings were both hospitals. There were no skyscrapers or asphalt and cars, but it was a city. Well dressed business people walked down the streets, as did the homeless and the children.
Where the dirt path became cobbled stone, stood two signs. The first read, “Wezul, Population 50 000”. The second only had a large red symbol; a ‘V’ surrounded by a large circle.
“What do you think it means?” asked Joan looking up at the symbol.
“A city emblem?” suggested Marc.
“I guess we’re not going to know until we ask someone,” Joel said as he began walking on the cobbled stones.
Everyone looked at each other, shrugged, and followed Joel into the city named Wezul.
“Marc,” said Lily getting his attention, “I’m pretty sure Wezul is the Sorom word for dream. We’re in a city named dream. Isn’t that a little odd?”
“Maybe the founder thought they had found their dream,” said Marc.
They walked a little further and stopped to speak to a street merchant who was selling some kind of medicine.
“Excuse me, miss. Exactly what are you selling?” asked Lily.
“Dream potions,” answered the girl behind the table, “they give you control, control over yourself while you stay here.”
“Control?” asked Lily.
“Ah outlanders.” The girl smiled, “Welcome to Dream, where the Dream virus thrives. I sell potions that stop the dreams, or for you folks who came here to dream I sell pleasant dream potions that guaranty your dreams will be good.”
“I don’t think we’ll be needing any,” said Lily. “We’ll be moving on tonight.”
“I don’t think you understand.” The girl cleared her throat. “You’ve already been infected, everyone who steps into the city is infected. In about thirty minutes you’ll fall asleep, and you’ll be lucky if you wake up in twenty-four hours. You’d better decide quick if you want those dreams to be wild, or good, or nonexistent.”
“What do you mean wild?” asked Joel losing his patience.
“Uncontrolled. Many people come here to find answers, seek revelations, find their totems. You know all that stuff.” The girl winked at Marc. “And because you look like a nice group, I’ll let you have the pleasant dream potion for twelve dollars.”
“Dollars, we don’t have any money,” said Meribah a little worried.
“Oh, yes outlanders. I forgot. Well I’ll tell you what, for no charge, I’ll tell you where you can stay for free. Walk down three blocks turn right, it’s a big brown building you can’t miss it. You should be able to get a padded room for the five of you.” She sat down seeing that there was no sale to be made.
“How come you’re not dreaming?” asked Marc.
“I’ve been here for a week now. You only dream for the first day or so.” The girl looked annoyed. “But every time I leave the city to get new supplies I have to go to a dream house too. You’d better get going before you fall asleep in the streets.”
Lily thanked her, and the walked in the direction that the merchant had directed. No one quite believed the girl, but why take that chance and find themselves waking up two days latter in a ditch somewhere?
The building was rundown with its broken windows, fallen bricks, sunken roof, and its broken and missing steps to the door. The building stood as if in defiance and contempt of the rest of the city’s well kept structures.
A thin, pale, and gangly boy met them at the door. Marc explained their situation briefly and the boy led them to a room in the back. Before leaving them in the room, he explained that the door would be locked, but someone would check them hourly to see that all was okay and to let them out when they awoke.
The boy turned, closed the door, and left. Only a thin amount of light came in from under the door, and the room was quiet.