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|What do you do if you have voices in your head that are more than voices? That are real people, people that you can see and talk to? That is what Rivka has to discover.||
I have always known I was different.
After all, how many people see people that aren’t there?
I don’t remember when it started, but I do remember when I found out that not everyone saw them. I must have been about five or six.
“No, I will not,” I told Hwesta angrily, stomping my foot and shaking my brown hair out of my eyes.
She just stood there, as imperturbable as ever in her dark green cloak. At the time I never thought to ask why no one else dressed as she did – in a tunic, breeches, cloak and with weapons – but I know now.
“Say something!” I ran forward and tried to pull her long, brown hair, but she just stepped away and muttered, “How did I get stuck with such a young, obnoxious Shell?” She rolled her silver eyes and disappeared, leaving me glaring at where she had stood.
I turned to see Mama standing in my bedroom door. “Who were you talking to?”
I sighed. Mama never seemed to hear when Hwesta talked, but she could always hear me. I sometimes wondered if she was going deaf.
“Hwesta, Mama. She was just here.”
Mama smiled. “What does Hwesta look like?”
“She’s tall,” I reached my hand up but it didn’t reach far enough. “Taller than you, and has brown hair this long,” I put my hand at my waist and continued. “She has these really neat gray eyes, but they’re not really gray, they’re more... silver. And they kinda reflect the light too! She doesn’t dress like you either. She usually wears brown or green, and this cloak thing about this long.” Again I gestured, this time about half-way down my thigh.
I looked up at Mama and saw Hwesta standing behind her with a small smile. “She’s standing right there, Mama, see?”
Mama turned and glanced around, quite obviously not seeing Hwesta. “Ah, yes, I see her Rivka,” she said, again obviously meaning the opposite. “It’s nice that you have an imaginary friend.”
“But Hwesta’s not imaginary, Mama,” I said, annoyed that she could be so stupid. “She’s right here!”
I ran forward and grabbed Hwesta’s hand. “See?” I demanded.
“Yes, I see,” she said again. “Now will you please bring Hwesta with you and help Mama with something?”
I went with her, perplexed as to why Mama couldn’t see Hwesta. I could, and Hwesta was obviously there since I could touch her.
“How come Mama can’t see you?” I asked Hwesta that evening after Mama had put me to bed.
Hwesta let out a long sight and muttered, “How do I explain this to a child?” before sitting on my bed.
“Rivka,” she started, before stopping and sighing again. “I’m not visible to most people in this world,” she said finally.
“What do you mean?”
“I’m a... I’m a personality and you’re my Shell, my... host. I occupy an unused part of your mind, I suppose, and that’s why only you can see me. Make no mistake though,” she added swiftly, “I do exist. I’m just taking up a... temporary residence in your head. If you die, I’ll move on to another Shell, assuming I can find a suitable one.”
“How do you know so much?”
“I just do, now go to sleep.” She glanced at the light and I heard a soft click as the lamp went out. Flopping over, I fell asleep immediately.
Hwesta wasn’t the only one either. Soon she was joined by eight others, including a centaur, an assassin, several fighters, a thief, some nobles and a mercenary rather too fond of ale. The assassin, Ilyena Nadori, appeared when I was almost thirteen, and by then they could talk to me without having to appear.
Then I started having these bouts of amnesia, usually without people present. They happened mostly when I was tired, and I heard some pretty strange tales afterward.
“Good morning, Rivka!”
I stumbled into the kitchen, still tired from a long conversation with my other personalities last night.
“This way, Rivka,” Adelie murmured, wrapping an arm around my waist and guiding me to my seat, her hooves clopping on the floor.
Adelie was the centaur, and sole member of a non-humanoid race. Despite her young age, both her long hair and her fur were silver.
“Sorry we kept you up last night.”
The comment came from, surprisingly, Sul-Arrana. The red-haired High Priestess was, in my opinion, self-centered and arrogant. She did have some redeeming qualities though, such as her awesome ability with the paperwork aspect of leadership.
“’S all right,” I muttered, pouring myself a bowl of cereal.
The air shimmered again, and Rowena appeared. Brushing her dirty-blond hair out of her eyes, she inquired, “Shall I take it from here?”
Sarna, my mercenary rather too fond of ale, glanced sharply at her. “Are you sure? This is the first time we’ve tried it with her.”
“What could go wrong? Anyway, look at her. She needs it,” Rowena replied. Moving closer to me, she touched my hand and said softly, “Look at me, Rivka.”
I looked up and was caught by her deep blue eyes. They seemed to grow in my vision, threatening to swallow me. A part of my mind insisted that her eyes weren’t usually this compelling, but it was drowned out by the roaring that filled my ears. There was a brief flash of pain, I heard Rowena curse, and I fell into unremembering blackness.
I came back to awareness slowly and with a strange, detached sense. The first thing to come back was my sight, although it was dimmed, as if I wasn’t getting everything.
I glanced around, feeling the decidedly odd sense of moving without feeling my muscles move. I was walking up to my school, all ready for classes. Slowly all of my other senses came back, although they too were dimmed or muted like my sight. When I regained control of my movement, I stumbled, startled at the abrupt recovery. A moment later, after I righted myself and started walking, the dimness on my sense disappeared, making me wince at the sudden loudness from around me.
Walking through the school doors, I glanced absently at the day’s schedule, still trying to figure out what had happened. Turning left to my locker, I wound my way through the crowds. The last thing I remembered was Rowena’s captivating eyes. Wait a minute! What was it she had said that Sarna had argued about? “Shall I take it from here?” Could she possibly have meant that literally?
Grabbing my book – I always had one with me – I headed to the library where there would be less people around and I could ask Rowena. a
“Rowena?” I murmured, in the back of the library with a book open on my lap. She materialized, sitting cross-legged across from me. I was startled; They rarely appeared just to talk anymore. “Yes?” she inquired calmly, but I knew she wasn’t looking forward to this conversation. Since Hwesta had explained things to me when I was a child, they had given me information only when they had to.
Rowena knew what we were going to talk about, of course. She lived in my mind, after all, and could read my thoughts most of the time. Sometimes I could lock them out though.
“What happened back there? I have at least half and hour of my life that has disappeared, and you have something to do with it.”
Rowena’s expression didn’t change, but outside the walls in my mind I could hear the hum of voices. They went on for quite a while as I watched the motionless figure of Rowena. Finally she sighed and said, “Hwesta, Adelie, Sul-Arrana and a couple of others think you should be told. I’m not sure if I agree with them, but I’ll tell you anyway.
“We have the ability to take over your Shell...”
“My what?” I interrupted. I had heard the term before, but never asked about it.
“Your Shell, your body. The house for your personality. We have the ability to take it over. It is easier when you’re tired and when you submit willingly, but we can force our way in. That hurts though.”
She stopped, letting me digest the information. “You mean to say that your, or Hwesta or,” my eyes widened in horror. “Or Ilyena could take over my body?” Rowena nodded.
“Do you have access to my memories?”
She nodded again and I winced as someone walked though her.
“Do I have access to yours?”
“No,” she replied, “Which is why you don’t remember anything. After a time, you might be able to be aware while someone else is controlling your body, instead of asleep, but you won’t remember anything.”
I sat back, biting my lip and thinking this over. So they could take over my body, huh? That could be useful at times, like this morning, but I didn’t like the idea of them being able to force their way in.
“If you can force your way in, does that mean you can get past my shields?”
Rowena smiled slightly and I got a very bad feeling. I was quite proud of those shields. “Yes, but I usually don’t. I can’t speak for the others, but I respect your privacy.”
I thought about that a bit longer before something occurred to me. “Why do you need to take over my body? I’ve seen you pick up things and turn out lights before.”
“No,” Rowena corrected gently, “You’ve seen Hwesta, Sarna and myself affect things by using our magic through your body. Ristôna would be able to as well, but her magic works differently and she has to be in control of your Shell to use it. Have you noticed that whenever we use our magic, you get really tired? That’s from the strain. Magic doesn’t like being forced though another body.”
Seeing that I wasn’t convinced, Rowena sighed and said, “Look.” Standing up, she walked over to a bookshelf and made as if to punch it. I started up, afraid that she would hurt herself, but her hand just passed though it. Withdrawing her hand, she tried to pick up a book. Again her hand just passed through as if nothing was there. With her hand still inside the book, she looked at me. “Well?”
Despite this demonstration, I said stubbornly, “Whenever you touch me, I can feel it. And you’ve picked me up before.”
Rowena sighed again and Hwesta appeared, fingering her daggers. “As I explained to you already,” the brown-haired mercenary said, “we occupy a part of you mind. Therefore, you and anything directly touching you we can affect. Anything else, however, we can’t touch. For example, if I hacked at you with these,” She indicated to her weapons, “You would be injured. If I attacked someone else,” She drew one of her daggers and randomly swiped it through the person behind her. “Nothing happens.”
I looked at the two of them for a while, trying to understand what they had just said. I was about to say something when I heard a voice, not theirs, call my name.
Turning, I saw my friend Laurinda approaching, her short, red hair curling around her face. “Laurinda!” I called back, glancing behind me. Hwesta and Rowena were gone. “Who were you talking to?” she asked, drawing level with me.
“Nobody. Just talking to myself,” I reassured her. Perfectly true, if not exactly the way she took it. We chatted for a while before the bell rang and we headed off to our respective classes.
I never did finish off that conversation with Rowena. I asked her about it later, but apparently it had been decided that I didn’t need any more information, because she didn’t say anything useful.
Life was fairly normal after that. At least, normal for me. Most of the time I was in control of myself, and sometimes, when I was tired, I would let one of my personalities take over for a little while. Rowena usually did that, since her personality was the closest to mine. I made sure to be in control during class though.
Then I started loosing control, and that was when I started hearing the really strange stories. But every cloud has a silver lining, as they say.
The day started out fairly normal. I hadn’t gotten enough sleep last night, and needed Rowena’s aid. The day went well until Science, last block of the day.
It was winter, and my science classroom was cold. Rubbing my arms to warm up, felt something hard running along my forearm. I sighed. “Not again!” Pulling back the sleeves of my sweater, checked and sure enough, a brace of throwing knives was there. “Irilani!” I complained quietly to my thief. “Or was it you, Ilyena?” I heard a soft chuckle in the back of my head and wished I could glare at them.
I had no idea where the daggers or the leather braces had come from, but sometimes when I let my personalities take control in the morning, I discovered weapons hidden in various places. This appeared to be one of those times. I talked quietly with them for a bit longer before I was interrupted.
“Rivka?” I heard a sharp voice demand. I looked at the teacher who had spoken. I waited a moment, but he didn’t seem about to say something so I said, “Yes?”
Apparently not for the first time, he repeated the question. “What is the next step?”
My eyes flickered to the board, where I saw we were part way through balancing equations. “I don’t know,” I told him, and he replied just as swiftly, “Since this is the third time I have asked you this, you may stay after this class for ten minutes.”
Great. So now I was stuck here for an extra ten minutes with a teacher I didn’t even like. “You got me into this, now you get me out of it,” I murmured to my personalities.
“Are you sure?” one of them replied, and I heard a hint of a knowing smile.
“Of course!” I muttered back. They didn’t answer.
I sat through the rest of the class, my resentment growing. The bell rang, and I saw myself starting to pack up. –What! I’m not doing that!- I thought, and tried to stop myself. Merely attempting to move caused pain to shoot through me, although it didn’t affect my body’s movements. I continued to struggle, unable to cry out, before everything went black.
“Rivka,” I heard Laurinda call as I ‘woke up’. “What happened back there?”
I blinked and found myself in the back of the library. I was sitting on the cushions that lined the ends of the shelves, and Laurinda was crouching next to me, holding one of my daggers. The tip was red with blood.
“What did happen back there?” I murmured, looking at Laurinda. She had an excited smile on, but I could see worry in her eyes.
“How did that get there?” I said anxiously, referring to the blood on the dagger. I didn’t know who had taken over earlier, but I suspected it was one that had few restrictions on killing. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know where the blood had come from, but it was probably better to know.
My nervousness was unfounded, however, as Laurinda blushed and stuttered, “Well, ummm... I picked it up from where you... dropped it, and I accidentally poked myself with it.” She blushed even more and I sighed in relief. It seemed that whoever it was had been had some restraint. I hadn’t seemed that major an annoyance to me, but some of my personalities got riled up at the strangest of things. Hwesta, for example, and Sul-Arrana...
“So what happened? I mean, you went totally crazy back there,” Laurinda said, hesitantly handing me back the dagger.
“I don’t remember,” I said slowly, accepting the dagger and absently slipping it into the brace, after cleaning it with my hands. “Could you tell me?”
Laurinda looked at me funny, but I used Hwesta’s trick of starting impassively at her and she soon started talking.
“Well, the back rang and you started packing up. Our teacher told you to stop, but you ignored him. He told you to stop again, and you looked at him with this weird, smug smile on. It was almost like you were taunting him, as if anything he could do to you wouldn’t matter.
“He told you to sit down, or else it would be ten more minutes, and,” She stopped for a moment, and I realized why only a moment later. “And a knife appeared in your hand. Where’d you learn how to do that?
“Anyway, when he saw the knife, he got all serious like and told you to hand it over before you hurt someone. You laughed and said something like, ‘What are you going to do if I don’t? I doubt you could take it from me.’”
- Ilyena, probably, - I thought, starting to get worried. Ilyena was dangerous, always wanting to kill anyone in a political position. She had this vendetta against all politicians, but I didn’t know why. It was safer not to inquire into her past.
Laurinda continued, unaware of my thoughts. “Everyone had stopped and was looking at you, but you didn’t seem to notice. You just stood there, glaring the teacher. Then, all of a sudden, there was this knife quivering in the wall near his head. We all looked at you, but you still had a knife in your hand and were walking towards the door. We all scattered, of course, and I, erhm, picked up the dagger and followed you.”
She stopped and looked at me. “So what happened back there?” she asked again.
I sighed. Laurinda was my friend, but this was something that I couldn’t tell her. I wasn’t sure what people might do if they found out about my personalities, but I was fairly sure they’d think I was crazy.
“Umm, Laurinda, I’ll – I’ll tell you about it later. You’d better go before you miss your bus.”
She looked at me for a long moment and bit her lip. I could tell she wanted to press the issue. After a moment, though, she nodded and said, “See you later, Rivka.” She hurried off and left me looking after her and almost wishing I had told her.
Stepping back out of sight, I spoke to my personalities. “All of you, visible. Now.” They obeyed, obviously realizing that I would broke no defiance. I was very annoyed with them, and wanted to find out just who had done it and if, no, how to prevent it.
One by one they appeared, until I was facing a semi-circle of nine oddly-dressed females.
“What happened back there?” I demanded, and Ilyena replied sarcastically, “I thought your friend already told you.”
“You would know,” I snapped back. “You and Irilani are the ones that use these. I jerked up an arm, indicating to the daggers.
“Ilyena, stop that.” Ristôna said. She was an odd mix of diplomat, spy and warrior; useful when one of the others stepped out of line.
“Rivka, you did ask us to give you a hand, and that’s all we did. And Irilani and Ilyena aren’t the only ones that can use daggers. Etheria and Sul-Arrana can as well.” The two she had named were both nobles, and I could see why they might know that. “For your information, Ilyena did take over, but Sul-Arrana and Sarna also helped.”
I nodded, but my attention was caught by someone in the corner of the library. A blond-haired girl was apparently having a very angry conversation with an invisible person. Looking at the visible person a bit harder, I recognized her as Lynessa, a quiet girl I hadn’t talked to much before.
As I watched silently, Lynessa reached up and slapped the invisible person. It looked quite odd, because her had stopped abruptly in mid air. The invisible person didn’t seem too happy, and Lynessa’s head snapped to one side as the invisible person slapped her. A red handprint on her cheek, Lynessa drew back and punched the invisible person. Then the invisible person punched her, sending her flying backwards into the bookcase behind her, and sliding to the floor, stunned and bleeding slightly.
I stepped closer, but was stopped by shock. The invisible person had apparently reached forward and touched Lynessa’s face where she was bleeding, and now there was a finger-shaped blob of blood floating in midair.
“What the...!” I exclaimed softly, absently letting my dagger slip into my hand as I approached.
With the other hand, I reached up and gingerly poked the floating blood. I stuck to my finger, and I examined it for a moment before turning to Lynessa. She blinked and opened her eyes. Upon seeing me, she sighed in desperation and muttered something like, “Not another one!”
“What happened to you?” I asked, making her jerk upright. “Even worse!” she mumbled, before stammering, “I... um... well... I – I was practicing for my play!”
“You were thrown into a bookcase and started bleeding,” I told her flatly.
“Edonil!” she said angrily, before catching herself. “I... well... I’m a very good actress!”
I was still skeptical, but I merely asked, at Hwesta’s urging, “What’s the name of the play?”
“Um, Defenders of the Forest,” was the reply.
The phrase, coupled with the name Edonil she had said earlier, made me stop. Hwesta, when I could get her to talk about herself, had mentioned and organization called the Defenders of the Forest. She had also mentioned a friend who went by Edonil, or at least she did now. Apparently she had changed her name a couple of times before that.
Regardless, it seemed decidedly odd that Lynessa was mentioning two things I had thought only I knew about.
Hwesta walked over, hiding a smile. “Ask her if there’s a character named Hwesta in her play,” she said. I favored Hwesta with another glace, but did as she said.
“Is there a character named Hwesta in this play?”
Lynessa started and stared at me. “Yes...” she said slowly. I watched with interest as her eyes flickered to the air next to me. Her mouth moved slightly, but I couldn’t hear what was being said.
“What character do you play?” I asked.
“Um, a few.”
Lynessa’s answers and her actions earlier were making me very suspicious. Was it possible...? But I thought I was the only one! Surely no one else had other personalities like me. I had read up on schizophrenia, but they seemed... different from me. And they only seemed to have one other personality.
Did Lynessa also have personalities too? And if she did, how could I find out while keeping in mind that she probably didn’t? If she didn’t, and knew I did, then she would likely tell someone. I could probably escape fairly easily, but none of my personalities knew how to use guns. They were all from medieval times.
Realizing that I had to say something, I asked, “You wouldn’t happen to be in this play all the time, would you?”
It seemed a safe enough question, if a bit vague.
“Um, yes,” Lynessa replied slowly. “Are you in that sort of play too?”
I took me a moment to reply. From what she was saying, and what I was guessing, she did have alternate personalities! I wasn’t alone!
“Yes,” I said, hiding my elation. “What are some of the other characters in this ‘play’?”
She looked at me consideringly, and I could almost see the gears in her mind cranking like mine had a moment ago. After a while, she apparently decided to trust me, for she said, “Well, there’s Edonil, who you already know about-” She stopped at the look on my face. When Lynessa had said Edonil’s name, a person had appeared. No shimmer, no walking around corner; she just – appeared.
The person was short, had blond hair, blue-gray eyes and wore the same clothes as Hwesta, minus the daggers and necklace. Instead she had a sword buckled at her waist.
Pointing at her, I asked, “Is that Edonil?”
Lynessa glanced at her and nodded. “You can see her too?” She seemed just as surprised as I was. “Nobody else ever could. I wonder why. You aren’t another figment in my mind, are you?”
“Not unless you are!”
We looked at each other for a moment before laughing. “Where do you live?” I asked, glancing around at the empty library. “Perhaps we can walk home together?”
As it turned out, she lived fairly close to me. Walking home together, we introduced our various personalities. I had more than her, but hers were more annoying, and more powerful. Walking with Lynessa, the wind blowing my hair, I couldn’t help but feel that life would be much easier now that I knew I wasn’t alone.
|Waking Dreams: Chapter Four||Waking Dreams: Chapter Fifteen|
|Irisa||Waking Dreams: Chapter Seventeen|
|Waking Dreams: Chapter Ten|