I decided to take a break from Camp NaNoWriMo and try my hand at a fun prompt over at The 13th Floor Paradigm. The prompts, entitled ‘All in a Word’ encourage those taking part to create a story around a given word. This week that word is nefelibata, defined in the Urban Dictionary as;
(n.) lit. “cloud walker”; one who lives in the clouds of their own imagination, or one who does not obey by the conventions of society, literature, or art.
I don’t feel too much guilt about the dalliance, as there are links to my novel World Apart. I might even use the character somewhere down the line.
I hope you enjoy.
Miles from Home
Gillian Donovan sat against the lonely backdrop of a sparse living-room, locked inside a world of her own making.
She could no longer exist outside the dreams of others. She was a shell, a broken and empty shell, save for the corridors of a mind too chaotic to control.
Gillian was one of the so called ‘Dreamers’, though she had been known as many things in her twenty-two years. She was, in some circles, the Nefelibata – a cloud walker whose gift was known to only the privileged.
As a child she was accused of being a daydreamer, one who lived with her head in the clouds. Gillian was all that and more. She could invade the fantasies of others; leave her own stilted daydreams and become the resident interloper in a variety of worlds.
There were rules to her gift. She could only share the thoughts of those who gave her permission. Breaking this condition had dire consequences and Gillian had learnt that the hard way.
She hadn’t meant to deviate from the plan. Having a structure to her travels helped her to control the abilities, and to ensure she returned to her own reality at the end of her journey.
Neither had it been her intention to leave for more than a few hours. She’d risked travelling without her anchor, and that had been her first mistake of the day.
At first the trip began like any other. She had joined with an alternative version of herself, a version she was intimately familiar with. The fantasy she belonged to had all the elements she enjoyed; danger, excitement and a touch of the ridiculous. But it ended too quickly, before she had time to release herself from the twinned subconscious and so she jumped into the first mind she could find.
Only then she was lost in the fantasies of a stranger, and instead of experiencing it through their eyes, she was a separate entity.
The moment they faced each other, Gillian felt the impact. It was like a physical blow that cast her out of his mind and left her adrift. Scared and confused, with nothing and no one to latch onto.
The hardest part was that they recognised each other. It was difficult to comprehend, since they had never met, and yet the connection was immediate and absolute.
Even though the bond had lasted for only a moment, Gillian could see the echo of him in her head. It tormented her, haunted her every thought, so that as she travelled from one mind to the other, everything was tainted by him.
She had no way of knowing how long she’d been drifting, unable to find herself, or return to her own reality. She wasn’t even sure whose world she was in. Only one thing was certain. With every passing day the link to her body grew weaker. Without her anchor she would die.
Her only hope was the authorities. They would become aware of the breach eventually, and when they did, they held the key to bringing her home.
Thanks, as always, for reading.