Note: This is a continuation of the story that began here The Old Woman, the Stag, and Me and continued here The Howling Woman and here A Box Among the Stars. You can read those segments first if you like, or you can simply join the story right here. There is also a category on my home page for easy reference to the previous parts.
The trouble with Reality is that its people are fearful of the unfamiliar. They laugh nervously when asked about their dreams, and the notion that they might have a spiritual self makes them oddly uncomfortable. It is as though they have become so strongly rooted in rationality they have no capacity to entertain ideas where no logic exists. In the same way the brain only processes a small proportion of what they see, and fills in the gaps with what they expect to see, they have become blind to the fantastic.
I estimate that the stag left the hotel on no less than five occasions during that first week without covering up his hooves and antler stumps fully, but not once was his met with the screams of terror you might expect. There was one time he was asked to pose for a photograph, by a child who thought his costume was awesome, but other than that no one seemed to notice.
Still, we imagined it was only a matter of time before we were discovered unless we made efforts to blend in. The old woman had recollections of cruel and relentless witch trials in this world, during which people were executed for having far milder magical abilities than we had.
Back in the dreamscapes, although coins sometimes existed, we never needed them. Our currency was healing and divination, which the local people were almost always happy to accept. In Reality however, money had become godly. Coins themselves were strangely few and far between; what was commonly referred to as money was an ethereal thing. A promise. A spook. A straw man. Yet it was consistently valued more highly than health, happiness and spirit.
We were determined to explore the place for a while. If we wanted to eat, keep our shelter, and interact properly with others, we would have to find a way to obtain some money. Initially we found we could use sleight of mind to convince merchants of our wealth, and to take all we liked in return, but it seemed unnecessarily deceptive. We bore the people here no ill will, and agreed that we should respect their rules wherever possible.
“How do I look?” The stag was standing in front of the full length mirror on his wardrobe door, sporting a tailored black suit. He wore a wig of short curly hair to hide his antler stumps, and had given himself a close shave. He looked funny, and I told him so.
“How dare you, this is my finest attire! I look fit to meet a King!” He said in mock indignation. I could tell by the glint in his eye he found this as absurd as I did, but was enjoying every minute.
“Now, we’re going to need names. They don’t call you by type around here so no more stag or magician OK?”
“OK…” I responded in hesitant agreement. He’d sure done a lot of research while I was predominantly testing out the hotel hot tub.
“I’m going to be called Hertz, and you’re going to be called Purple. The hag over there I name Ida.”
The old woman looked up from her knitting and stuck her tongue out at the playful slight.
“I’m sure we’ll fit right in. Why those names might I ask? And why do you get to choose them anyway?”
“Well it’s all a matter of frequency really isn’t it, the way we travel through the dream realms? Hertz was the father of frequency here in Reality, so I want to be him. You’re Purple because you always have that hue about you -”
“Don’t tell me you hadn’t noticed? And Ida is -”
“The intuitive energy channel, yes very clever dear.” Smiled the old woman, content with his suggestion.
I joined the stag by the mirror to see if I could make out the purple aura he had alluded to. I couldn’t see it, but was willing to believe it: my specialty was seeing what can’t be seen in others, not myself. He gave me a squeeze around the shoulders.
“You’re going to have to get dressed too or we’ll be late, Lady Purple.”
I noticed there were some clothes laid out for me. A hideous purple blouse, a restrictive looking skirt suit, and a set of high heels I would probably break my neck in before I reached the lift. This is no fun, I thought, and we’re doing no one any good. I want to go back to the village. But the stag – Hertz, I mean – was glowing at the prospect of new experience, and I have to admit I was intrigued to see how we might end up contributing to this strange society. I let out a big sigh.
“Come on then, let’s go to this agency of yours and get ourselves employed.”