Light Reading -continuation of Prism Sentence

This is a continuation of Prism Sentence. I’m not sure, yet, where this is going, if indeed it is going anywhere, but then that’s part of the fun. Again, this is based on a prompt from BeKindRewrite’s Inspiration Monday: “Light Reading.”

Octavian lifted a hand to his face and noticed that his own arm was draped in layers of dark fabric, the same that covered the inhabitants moving around him. He grabbed the nearest passing figure and jerked back its covering.

A rounded, tortoise-like head blinked up at him before the creature shoved him back with a short, but powerful, arm. It shrugged the covering back over its head and wandered off at a faster shuffle than before.

Again Octavian was aware that the world moved while he remained still. When the tortoise-man shoved him, it shoved itself, and its surroundings, off of him. He took a step back and  nearly lost his balance. The movement felt strange, but he could not remember why.

He pushed the ground under his feet until he shifted it to the nearest doorway. The place had the appearance of a public building, drab with dirt, but decorated in elegant, carved scrolls and fern fronds. It was familiar.

His light came in contact with one wall, and as it did, it shifted into a sconce.

Octavian paused to stare at it. He took a step sideways. The light traveled along the wall in pace with him.

With a shaking hand, he opened one of the large doors and bolted inside. The light followed, silently, now matching the interior fixtures, glass flowers hanging from spiked chains. It was farther over his head, but the increased distance made matters worse. He knew it was present, but could no longer watch it without craning his neck.

The room he entered was a quiet, open gallery with a floor of dark granite, polished to a mirror-like shine. One of the fabric-draped figures was slumped at a long central desk, its back rising and falling slowly, as if in sleep. Octavian ran forward until he hit a flight of stairs, then pushed the whole world down with each step. His feet echoed loudly. When he reached a landing several flights up, he paused.

His instincts were screaming for him to jump off the balcony. Will the world move when I don’t touch it? Or will I move in it?


He was over the railing before he had time to think, but the space below made him pause. A soft creaking sound drew his attention and he saw his light sway above him, just barely.

It cast a strange shadow and, turning, Octavian saw the shrouded desk-keeper moving up the stairs. It didn’t shuffle like the other creatures had. It didn’t move as if it had feet.

He released the railing and fell. The stairs rushed past. When the floor hit him, he felt an impact, but not much pain. A bright burst enveloped and blinded him.

 Sight returned gradually. Sparks popped across a dark field, then they shifted into dim fireflies, drifting about on either side. For a long time that was all he could see until, looking up, he found a silhouette of evergreens framing a patch of sky barely lighter than black.

A whispering sound caused him to look over to his left. A firefly, about the size of a grapefruit, was sitting on the ground beside him.

He tossed a handful of pine-needles and dirt at the thing. It flicked its wings, but otherwise did not seem to care.

Anger outpaced his terror and he rolled over and tried to smash the insect with his fists. But touching it filled him with burning pain that centered on his heart and flowed through his whole body. He collapsed, writhing until the feeling abated and he lay still, breathing hard.

Aula pursed her lips as she studied the read-out from Octavian’s prism. Then she laughed.

 “I win!” she scooped up the small pile of coins sitting on the table. Her companion, Sertor, groaned and put his feet up on his desk.

“Dammit. The cocky ones’re usually too cowardly to try that for days.”

“This one’s gutsy, I’ll say that for him, but he won’t try it again any time soon.”

The voice of  Secunda, the on-duty Oneirologist, crackled through the intercom. “Aula, you need to even out prismer seventy-one. At this rate, you’ll give him a stroke.”

Sertor rolled his eyes, but Aula obediently fiddled with her controls, tweaking the light through Octavian’s prism.

“She’s new.” Aula shrugged. “Scared of having an accident on her watch.”

“Maybe I’ll leave his record on her desk. A little light reading might give her some perspective.”

“Bad, huh?”

“You didn’t read it?”

Aula twitched. “You know how I feel about personality violation. If I’m going to do my job, here, I’d rather not have the details.”

“Fair enough. He’s a dear.” Sarcasm drenched the last three words. “So, when do I get a chance to win my snack-money back?”

“Hm. Well, what’s your newest prismer up to?”

Sertor glanced over at the read out of one of the prisms under his charge. “Not much. She must be worn out after that chase-dream.”

“Ok. If yours gets going first, you get your money back. If mine does, you’ll watch all the prisms while I take a nap.”



About jubilare

Just another tree in the proverbial forest. Look! I have leaves! View all posts by jubilare

27 responses to “Light Reading -continuation of Prism Sentence

  • Colleen

    You’ve done it now. More, please.

  • Stephanie

    This has definitely got to keep going. I want to know just how bad he is, and whether I can still root for him, and whether the girl will be someone important, too.

  • technicolorlilypond

    I love it! I would’ve been pleased if you had just stuck with the dream-scape but now you’ve added new characters in a workplace I’m very pleased. More, please? Also, I like “Oneirologist” as a neologism, very cool. :-)

  • A-Ku

    Very nice!
    I absolutely love the way you’ve crafted the “prism-cell” (seemed like the obvious name!) and the way the guards behave in the tail end of the story really made it feel so much more real.
    Your imagery here, in particular details like the world moving and not the person just blew me away and fascinated the curious cat within! Kudos sir on a job well done.

    • jubilare

      Prism-cell works for me!

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying this. It is very fun to write, too. I’m going to have to turn my attention to editing my main WIP, for a bit, but I will come back to this, hopefully very soon. My own dreams, even the good ones, have always bordered on the nightmarish, so writing Octavian’s prism-cell comes pretty naturally and is quite cathartic.

      Lol! Not a “sir,” but thank you! The encouragement is much-appreciated.

      • A-Ku

        Sorry, the “sir” was just a typing reflex! :D
        Due you perchance keep a dream journal of some kind? I ask because you mention recall/familiarity with your dreams and most folks tend to not remember them much.
        I used to keep one but am terribly undisciplined so stopped at some point.

        • jubilare

          I don’t keep a dream journal, though I have taken notes on some of the stronger ones. I have a handful of dreams that just stuck with me and show no sign of fading even years on. Most dreams of mine, though, fade within minutes, like those of most other people I know, and I haven’t had a strong dream in several years.

          • A-Ku

            Oh I definitely know what you mean about a handful of dreams that just stay with you!
            I will admit though, keeping the journal did make a notable difference while I was maintaining it, in that after doing it for just a few days, the level of recall and detail that started to come through go better. Once I stopped that faded back to normal-levels but it was intriguing and I keep meaning to do it again.

          • jubilare

            I imagine so. The mind is a fascinating thing, and our perception is… well, it’s more than a little unreliable. The things we pay attention to become more prominent, while other things fade into invisibility.

            I am not ignoring the other comments. Things have just gotten hectic. I hope to attend to them soon. :)

  • medievalotaku

    I love the idea of banishment to a dreamworld for committing a crime. The way you write captures how surreal dreams often are, and I can’t wait to see where this adventure goes.

    • jubilare

      That idea has been bouncing around in my head for a long time, but it’s fun to see it actually go somewhere. I have no idea where, yet, so it will be fun for me to figure that out, too. :)

  • Krysta

    I love it! It’s so original and I especially love how you got “prism” from “prison.”

  • stephencwinter

    And now I find myself wondering about the significance of the word Prism. Might the story lead towards to that meaning as its conclusion, I wonder? And “Light Reading” does that connect as well?

    • jubilare

      If it does, it will be a surprise to me, but that said, I hope it does! Prism Sentence started with a simple prompt born out of a play on words. It evolved from there. Light Reading was another prompt that seemed appropriate. Then, this week, I was offered “Blue Nightmare” which might feed into the next installment. We shall see.

      What I love about these spontaneous, un-plotted things, is what my subconscious surprises me with.

      • stephencwinter

        There might be a certain synchronicity here so you might be interested in a discussion on the prismatic effect of the curtain of water at Henneth Annun in LOTR going on at my blog in the Comments. I really did not see it coming and I am fascinated by it. It is definitely un-plotted and spontaneous! I look forward to reading more of the way your tale develops.

        • jubilare

          I was listening to a recording I made, yesterday, of Tolkien’s “Mythopoeia.” I made the recording so that I could listen to it, because I absorb so much more from listening. You know that I heard?

          “Man, Sub-creator, the refracted light
          through whom is splintered from a single White
          to many hues, and endlessly combined
          in living shapes that move from mind to mind. ”

          I wonder if, somewhere in my subconscious, that was rattling around when I wrote these snippets. The mind is a bewildering and amazing thing.

          • stephencwinter

            Thank you so much for sharing that! It is a quite astonishing passage. In a way it shows the remarkable journeys our minds start to take when we begin to bring to the light of the conscious mind the treasures of the subconscious.

          • jubilare

            Indeed. I think that is one of the main premises of the whole poem.

            I love the Mythopoeia for many reasons, not least of which being that it was apparently written by Tolkien, to C.S. Lewis after they had been arguing about the nature of myths. It must have made quite the impression on Lewis, for the ideas show up again and again in his own writing.

  • David

    I like the further exploration of the dream world. In fact, the new images (and my subsequent wonderings about what they are or mean) are fresh and interesting enough that it was a tad disappointing to step out into a somewhat mundane workplace. Not that that was a poor choice: it reminds us of the real context of Octavian’s story. Perhaps my only complaint is that I don’t feel this vignette really advanced the story or world much from the previous installment. Not much new is revealed, nor does anything really change, as far as I can tell. Still, it’s an intriguing glimpse into this other world.

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