1. The Dreamer
Dreamers are the innovators of reality.
He opened the unblemished door.
A flash of light momentarily blinded him as he took a step forwards.
His heart raced wildly in the confines of his ribcage as he sniffed the blood-reeking air.
His eyes swept over the numerous mutilated bodies, quickly examining the soldiers’ remains before looking up.
Like the dead he wore a shiny armour, the metal was stained with blood, much like his crimson-soaked sword. He had a helmet with an officer crest on his head, that glinted as the sun came from it’s hiding spot underneath the grey clouds.
The knight’s horse turned, looking at the new addition on the battlefield. The boy stared wide-eyed at the white stallion, rendered mute by its magnificence. The trimmed, red horsehair atop the knight’s helmet danced in the wind like the dress of a lost damsel.
The knight raised his sword, his black eyes intoxicating pools of hopeless, miserable souls as he set his sights upon the boy.
Unfortunately for him, the door had vanished, leaving him incapacitated against the merciless shadow.
Defenceless, he didn’t move.
The sword cut through the wind making a light woosh in its descent before replacing its vermilion river with another.
Arno Light woke up with a jolt, his room was illuminated by a lightning strike as rain pelted down on his window, the growling thunder rumbled with more ferocity than Arno had ever witnessed before.
Ignoring the raging storm, Arno turned his head to the left, where his alarm clock was.
Three in the morning the red, irate numbers stared back at him, their emotions empathic with the storm. With a tired sigh, the boy got up from his bed and started getting ready, knowing that sleep had once again abandoned him.
He stood at six foot, with a bulging eight pack and arms veined from his wrists to his biceps. His hips formed a v-line to his crotch which was safely covered by his briefs; the only piece of clothing he slept with. His head was adorned with hair as black as a starless sky. His eyes were a dark blue, often mistaken by black; a crooked nose- never the same after an avoidable fight- was poised above plump, cracked lips that uttered few words.
Undressing, he walked to the bathroom to his right and turned on the shower. The rushing water blending with the mood of the gods.
Three years ago, Arno Light’s parents died in a car accident.
They were extremely influential people who did a lot of good in their lives, had abundant amounts of money and they enjoyed spending it, they also donated half of it to charities.
Arno loved his parents, he had had a hard time displaying his affections ever since he was young, but he tried. He gave them cards every holiday and made them presents every day; words didn’t seem able to form the complexity of his feelings like the magic of his hands did.
He could do anything with his hands. He could write books where English and every other language had no format. He could write something that would’ve made absolutely no sense if he were to say it aloud, but looked, felt and was right scribbled on paper. The beauty of calligraphy wasn’t lost on him either, the careful swirls and twists of the pen in the holder’s hands, how the ink magically appeared on paper as if it had always been there. It beat the swipe of a brush across a canvas, the way the colours blended to form a new one. Like painting, another hobby he had taken up.
He found it fascinating.
Ever since he was fifteen, when his parents died, he began selling his creations, his paintings. His books were the only thing he kept to himself.
He sold the mansion his parents owned for a quaint, two bedroom house; it was perfect for him. He’d transformed the second bedroom into an art studio, a whole different world.
His paintings were a success, now sold at millions of dollars. He had left his works anonymous, he didn’t want any fans disrupting his tranquil life.
The only person he interacted with was Julie Jones, a petite, overweight woman from Child Services who had helped him through the death of his parents, supporting him as he was forced to adapt to the sudden changes in his life. She had also adopted him, in a way, feeding him and clothing him as his mother would undoubtedly have done.
Arno was an extremely independent person, he had no desire for a new family; he doubted he could love anyone like he loved his parents. Nevertheless, Julie Jones signed the papers confirming her stewardship of Arno Light, she visited him regularly too, and she was the one who had introduced him to Felix Lickers, his art dealer.
To some extent, Arno cared for her, enough that he offered her a painting every Christmas.
Finished with his shower, Arno dressed in running shorts, a sleeveless top and trainers, ready to go for his customary morning run at half past three in the morning.
The clouds had cleared, and the thunder had quieted its rumblings. The ferocious rain had been tamed, pitter-pattering the streets and sidewalks like a happy infant's feet instead of an enraged child's stomping.
The streets were silent apart from Arno’s heavy footfalls, a splash of water, and the occasional chirping bird.
Deciding on his usual route, Arno took a sharp left, where he’d find a clandestine path which led to a park.
The terrain of the park was long and wide, approximately a football field and a half.
He ran around the green park for an hour, enough time that people started to appear like slowly growing mist from the bushes.
He paid them no heed, preferring to focus on keeping his legs moving as sweat trickled down his face like a child’s ice cream on a hot summer day. He felt as though he was melting.
During his run, his subconscious pulled at him, offering him something to focus on other than the pain at his side or the stiffness of his overworked muscles.
The dream, the knight... his eyes which were as soulful as the river Styx and as cold as a forever-frigid winter. Arno couldn’t help but shiver as he remembered the second when the knight’s eyes turned to him, void of anything. There was no rage; no happiness, no sadness, no remorse for the lives he was taking, yet, he didn’t seem to be enjoying himself like the psychopath he appeared to be.
His eyes begged for help. For salvation.
When the sword sliced clean through his neck, those last few moments in which his eyes remained open even as his head parted from his body, Arno had no desire to save himself; he needed to save him. Sometimes, the knight in shining armour is the one that needs to be saved.
Shaking his head, Arno paused his thought torrent, wasting time dwelling in his dreams wouldn’t get him anywhere.
A woman with a dog suddenly came from the greenery to his left, colliding with Arno, making them tumble to the ground.
The German Shepherd pounced on him and licked his face, getting his saliva all over Arno who picked the canine up by his armpits and set him aside.
“I am so sorry!” The lady said. “I really should stop running that path, it’s the third time this has happened.” The woman looked up, her wide, light blue eyes locking on his hooded, dark blue ones. Her breath hitched as she stared at the handsome man who continued to pet her dog.
He raised an eyebrow, amused that she could be so clumsy as to bump into three people the exact same way.
“H-here,” she stuttered. “Take this lollipop.” She removed a lollipop from her back pocket and handed it to him. “Consider that my apology!” She got up and resumed running, her German Shepherd, Rex, dutifully following behind her.
Arno looked at the heavy sweet in his hands, it swirled around and around, randomly switching colours from yellow to blue to pink to green to red...
He stared at it for a while, wondering what he was supposed to do with a lollipop. He liked sweet things, unfortunately, he was extremely sugar intolerant and had to give up any sugar-containing delicacy. He pocketed the circular shaped sweet, deciding to keep it for a random child.
The streets were alive as Arno gently jogged through the multitude of growing families and rowdy teenagers.
He slowed to a walk, taking in the joyous atmosphere that smiling families always seemed to create in harmony with the arguing child and overcaring mother.
He thought about his own mother and her caring ways. His lips found themselves tugging upwards as nostalgia embraced him.
He remembered the times when his mother would smother him, forcing him to wear an itchy scarf in the winter season to protect him from a cold he barely felt; fire would forever burn within him, winter was no enemy of his. Or the times when his father was slightly harsher towards him for not speaking to them, his mother would always come to the rescue; comforting him, saying he was perfect as he was and they didn’t need him to talk to understand him.
“Your father loves you,” she’d say. “He wants to connect with you, but he doesn’t know how. He just wants to be a father, son.”
On the side of the street, on the edge of the pavement, stood a girl.
There was nothing ultimately eye-catching about her, or anything too strange for a girl her age, and yet she brought him out of the memory. She wore a frilly, pink dress that reached her knees, the dome-like skirt creating a princess look along with the tight bodice which wrapped around her torso like melted marshmallow. Her calves were covered by snug, white socks up to her knees, successfully hiding any leg skin from prying eyes. In her hands was a lollipop, exactly like the one Arno kept in his back pocket. Round and circular-shaped with a mix of green, red, blue, yellow and many other colours which blended together in a hypnotic twist.
Unconsciously, Arno reached a hand to his bum, grabbing the stalk of the swirly lollipop in reassurance that it was still there.
The girl licked her lollipop once, twice, three times, before looking directly into Arno’s blue eyes and winking; one of her round doe eyes blinking at him.
There was nothing uncommon about her.
Apart from the fact that she had made various appearances in his dreams, and if she could be there, then so could he.
The girl skipped across the street, her hair, carefully tied up in a neat bow, jumped up and down behind her, a few strands catching the fleeting wind.
“Hello, Mister!” She exclaimed, her exuberant orbs looking up at him filled with excitement and clandestine mysteries.
Arno simply looked at her and took her hand, still unbelieving of who he was seeing.
“You know Arno, I don’t think humans take kindly to a stranger grabbing a young girl’s hands, no matter how handsome he may be.” She was playing with him, he knew. She liked to that.
‘A wolf in sheep’s clothing,’ was the perfect quote to describe her. She adapted well to anything- like a chameleon- and everyone always trusted her big brown eyes. She also had the advantage of looking like a child.
He walked at a frantic pace as he dragged her to his house, hastily pushing her through the door and closing it before turning to her, a furious, bewildered frown on his face.
“What are you doing here Kandy?”