The Terrorist’s Game
“I don’t know that anyone comes from a truly functional family.”
When Talia fell asleep, she regularly found her psyche in an Eastern European city that she couldn’t quite identify. There were crowds of people, animals, and all kinds of noise and music. It was always the same from the town square to her showdown with Dmitri, but this time there was something different about the dream. When she looked over her shoulder at the carnival, she recognized the person who had been calling to her for years every night in her subconscious. It was Cameron Walker.
Cameron had just nodded off when he heard her scream. He was so shaken; he fell out of his bed onto the floor. He ran to her room and found her sitting straight up in bed. Before she was fully conscious, she burst into tears. She shook violently and sobbed uncontrollably into her hands. He put his arms around her, and she collapsed on him like a rag doll that had been discarded onto the floor.
Talia hadn’t felt a man’s arms around her when she awakened since she was last with Dmitri. Her semi-conscious state caused her to hallucinate.
“Oh Dmitri, I had the most horrible dream! Thank God you’re here! Don’t ever leave me again.”
Cameron didn’t know what to say. “It’s time to wake up now.”
She looked at him, realized who he was, and jumped up and away from him. She stood in front of him, glaring at him.
“What the hell were you doing?” she asked. “Who the hell to you think you are? Do you have no shame? I should punch you dead in the face!”
“You woke up screaming,” he said, ducking as a knee jerk reaction. “I wanted to help. I would never hurt you, and I didn’t mean to upset you.”
She sat down in the nearest available chair and stared at him for a moment. She was starting to fully wake and beginning to feel extremely self conscious of her behavior. “I was screaming?”
“Yes. You woke me up and scared the hell out of me,” he replied. “I’ve never heard anything like it. What on Earth is it that makes you scream like that? It’s creepy, and it makes me worry about you.”
“I had a bad dream.”
“I’ll say. What could you possibly be dreaming about that would make you scream bloody murder?” he asked. “I’ve never heard a woman scream like that, and I live in the land of Bigfoot sightings.”
“Never mind,” she snapped. “You’re making fun of me. It’s not funny.”
“No, I’m not,” he insisted. “Sorry, bad comparison. But seriously? Never mind? That’s all you have to say? Maybe I can help or at least understand why you’re going to wake me every night while we’re running around together. It’s a blood curdling scream like you’re in extreme pain, and it’s disturbing. I think you need help, and I want to help. I’m not a psychologist, but I’m willing to try and help you stop having that dream.”
She had never told anyone about her dreams except for one psychologist that she saw briefly, years before. The psychologist told her that she was feeling betrayed because her husband died, and that she was feeling lost and guilty about something. She had accepted the theory at first, because she had felt guilty about leaving Anya in Russia, but she had never felt that Dmitri had betrayed her by dying. The concept sounded absurd and as time went on, she couldn’t agree with it. After a few sessions, she decided to abandon the therapy process, because she didn’t think that the psychologist was going in the right direction.
Talia sat and stared out the window of the apartment at Vatnsstígur along the waterfront not far from Harpa Concert Hall in downtown Reykjavik. The lush modern apartment was not typical of Talia’s tastes. There was no pink involved. The floors were hardwood. The windows were floor to ceiling, but the walls were merely drywall painted in light neutral colors. The decor was minimalist with only the occasional single piece of art on the walls. No shelves, no photos, nothing personal. Most of the furniture looked as though it hopped right out of an IKEA catalogue and ranged from honey to dark wood colors.
The main feature of the Vatnsstigur apartment was the view. The harbor laid out in front of the building with only the downtown section of the Ring Road separating the mostly glass high rise from the water. To the left, the old harbor and Harpa, to the right, the newer part of the harbor. The view of the water was spectacular from the 14th floor of the building. During the summer, it was one of the best places in town to watch the sun set in the middle of the night. Watching those sunsets was one of Talia’s favorite hobbies when in Reykjavik, Iceland.
She stared out the windows for a moment. The calming view helped her gather her thought, and she was trying to decide what to say. She had no idea what her dream meant, and wasn’t sure that it meant anything. Irregardless, she wanted to be very careful what she said and how she said it. She felt that her dream was insane, and didn’t want to make Cameron think she was insane, if he didn’t think that already.
“I can’t tell you,” she groaned. “You’ll think I’m insane. Maybe I am insane. I feel insane. My dream is insane, that’s for sure.”
He didn’t want to upset her. “I doubt that you’re insane, but I can’t force you. I just thought that sharing could help. Typically speaking, talking is the first step to dealing with issues. I learned that from a show I saw about Carl Jung on the Discovery Channel. They have great shows.”
“There’s nothing to deal with,” she snapped. “Fine. I have the dream a lot. Anya watches me leave with a devastated look on her face. That part I know is guilt. I hate myself for leaving her. Eduard is an amazing person, but I should have raised her. She’s my daughter. I feel guilty as hell about that. I mean, what mother wouldn’t?”
“Is that the part that makes you scream?”
“No. That part is realistic. It’s the crazy part that makes me scream. This is going to sound stupid. I have a dream that I’m walking across some old town square. In Eastern Europe I think. I’ve never been there, and thanks to Percival, I haven’t ever been able to go and figure it out. The town may not even exist for all I know. I mean, I’ve never been there. I haven’t seen anything on YouTube or anything about it over the years, but then again, I’ve not known what town to look up.
“Anyway, there’s a carnival I think; it’s crowded. I walk through the square and the crowd to a black stone house with carvings above the door and windows. It’s part of an old row of houses; centuries old, but only one is black. The others are yellow and grey and colors like that. Once again, I looked all over the internet, but nothing. Of all the things I’ve found on the internet, you would think that if this place existed, I would find it on the web. But no.
“I digress, sorry. Next, I walk to the house reach for the door, and I turn the doorknob to enter. Next, I’m waiting in an office and Dmitri comes in. I’m angry, we have a fight, he turns into a giant red serpent, I pull out a gun and I shoot him. That’s it.”
She waited, but Cameron said nothing. “A psychologist said that I probably have some anger at Dmitri for dying. I have no idea what the dream means, but I think that the psychologist I spoke with was nuts. Probably a little too much Freud and not enough real life experience.”
He didn’t know what to think and wasn’t sure how to respond. “What you’re telling me is that you wake up screaming because you shoot him? Is that where the dream ends? With a gunshot?”
“I suppose that’s what does it. That would upset most people, wouldn’t it? I’m really not sure. It’s a dream, and I’m unconscious and have no control over it.” She was worried that he was going to decide she was insane and leave immediately. She wanted him around. “I’ve been having that dream for years. Regularly since I left Anya in Moscow. It’s awful, and it’s always the same. Until now. This time there was something different.”
“I always stop in the middle of the crowd in the square and look back over my shoulder, because someone calls me. Tonight was the first time I ever saw who it was.”
“Who was it?”
She looked at him, puzzled. “It was you.”
“That can’t be, we’ve just met,” he replied. “It must have been something that manifested, because I entered your life. Maybe I’m just stuck in your head.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” she scoffed. “This is not some stupid school girl syndrome because I met you. This is not about you, clear?”
Cameron put his hands up in the air, to signify that he was backing off. “Crystal. So why would I be in your dream?”
Talia had long been aware that she had never been to the black stone house in her dream, or the city square in which it was located. She lived for years in Russia and traveled to many cities in Eastern Europe while she was married to Dmitri. It was none of those cities that she dreamed of. She had tried for years to place the house of which she dreamed to no avail. The house and its location was a mystery that she had so far been unable to solve.
“I don’t know. I’ve never been to the city or the house that I dream of either,” she said. “No matter how hard I look, I haven’t found anything. It might all be in my head.”
“What does that mean?” he asked. “Are you psychic? Is it a sign? Is it a premonition?”
She got up, walked to a cabinet and took out a bottle of vodka. She put ice in two glasses and poured a generous helping of the vodka into each. She returned and handed one of the glasses to Cameron and took a large sip of her own drink.
“That means, I don’t have time to worry about my dreams. My reality is bizarre enough,” she said.
“Are you sure?” he asked.
“Positive,” she replied. “I’ve spent enough of my time trying to figure out why I dream about that town, or if it exists. It’s like chasing rainbows.”
“I can’t help but think it’s a sign.”
“There are signs everywhere. So the saying goes.”
“What if it’s an important sign?”
“Maybe it is. Maybe, it’s a sign that I need to quit worrying about stupid dreams and concentrate on what to do about my father in law running Russia for a separatist group based on King Arthur. And, if that doesn’t strike you as ironically outrageous, then I don’t know what would.”
She stood, walked to the window and stared out at the harbor.
He decided that, as much as he would like to try and analyze the significance of the dream, she had a point. “Why do you stare out the window at the harbor. What are you looking for? It’s not like you’ll see him standing in the harbor, waiting for you to come and get him.”
“I don’t know,” she sighed as she took another drink of her vodka. She turned to look at him. “Answers.” She turned back to the window. “Always answers. It’s all I want, besides my life back.” She tipped her glass in a toast to the window. “Here’s to the land of the Vikings. Maybe Thor will drop out of those clouds and bring me an answer.”