Nightmares on the Road to Motakke

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The pair set out the next morning in silence. After a few miles, Leela sensed Raizo looking at her.

“What’s on your mind, Raizo?”


“Nonsense. You’ve been sneaking glances at me all morning.”

“Well…I was wondering how old you are.”

“How old I am? Why?”

“See, I was thinking you’re awfully young to be having such a troubled past—such disturbing dreams.”

“Did I mumble in my sleep?”

“A bit, a bit. It’s not surprising, though. This forest does that to people; makes them remember.”

For a moment, Leela did not reply. Then, “I’m twenty, I think.”

“You think?”

“I’ve lost count of how many winters passed since I left home.”

Raizo paused. “I would have thought you were thirty. But you know what they say, every day on the road adds two, eh?”

“They also say commenting on a lady’s age is rude.”

Raizo chuckled. “Fair enough. So what do you plan to do after you speak with Motakke?”

“Raizo, can we just walk in silence, please?”

“Sure, sure.”

Like the first night on the mountain, Leela and Raizo came upon a stone shelter just as the sun began to set. They set up camp and cooked their dinner.

Leela stared absently into the fire, the remnants of her meal set aside. “Raizo, you’re staring again.”

“Am I? I’m sorry.” He did not look sorry.

Leela sighed. “Go ahead, ask your questions again.”

Raizo puffed on his pipe. “I suppose I’ll get to the heart of the matter. Why are you here?”

Leela poked at the fire with a stick, stalling. “My brother. I did something I shouldn’t have and…he…well...” Leela faltered.

“I see. Was his same Sanjay?”

In her surprise, Leela dropped the stick into the fire. “How’d you—”

“You mumbled in your sleep last night, remember?”

Leela crossed her arms and glared. “What were you doing, watching me sleep?”

Raizo tugged at his mustache. “Calm down, calm down! I’m just getting old, is all. It’s hard to stay asleep most nights.”

“Hmph.” Leela laid out her bedroll with unnecessary force and laid down, her back towards Raizo.

Raizo spoke softly. “I’m sorry. But for what it’s worth, Leela. I hope you get what you’re looking for.”

Again the dreams came. It was mid-day, a breeze whispered through the trees on the river bank, and the clear water raced below the cliff. A boy lay idly in the shallow water. Leela splashed out into the river, but could not get close to him no matter how hard she ran. The current pushed the boy along gently. But as he turned, his head came into view: his neck was bent at an unnatural angle…his face was glassy and wide-eyed. The clear water turned crimson—and Leela awoke, heart pounding and stomach knotted.

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