“There,” I say to Rebel, a proud grin upon my face as I place the final velvet curtain on the rung. The daylight from outside seeps through the small, star-shaped holes throughout it, giving the room—my business enterprise—a truly dreamy ambiance. “Now the only light that our customers will see is starlight. What do you think?”
I wait patiently for a response, but after a few seconds, all Rebel does is climb higher up on the ceiling and nestles herself into the corner above the main entrance.
“Fine,” I bite at her. “Pout if you must, but even you have to admit that this room looks dreamy.”
Her body jiggles, and I’m almost certain if she was able to laugh, then that’s exactly what I just witnessed. But instead of gloating further, I leave her to her usual brooding. I suppose it might actually be closer to mourning, actually. Ever since we came to the Olympus building, Rebel has not once seen any of her insect army brethren. I tried reassuring her that the thought of domesticity likely repulsed them, and that they found another dumpster to sleep behind. But I do believe she misses their presence, and perhaps even feels guilty for not staying outside with them. Some days, I think she considers returning to them, but only half-heartedly. Rebel and I have been through too much; I think she’d rather abandon her kind than me, and the feeling is mutual.
As I walk through the main corridor, I trail my hand through the bushes of foliage lining either side of the foyer. My pale fingers get lost in the midnight and burgundy leaves of the dark lace elderberries, diabolo plants, Queen of Night tulips, and bat flowers, until I make my way into what I’m affectionately calling the Chamber of Dreams.
In the Chamber of Dreams, there are eight doors, each leading to private rooms—private dreamlands—with their own personalities and appeals. In fact, I’m basing each of the dreamlands off one of the seven deadly sins:
Gluttony—a room that, when you open the door, you are greeted by the warm scent of sugar cookies from the instant you walk inside. This room is decorated like a gingerbread house itself. White ruffled curtains outline a single window like sugar icing; the doorknob from the inside is shaped like a gumdrop, and the bed is adorned with a deliciously quilted comforter of gingerbread and candy cane fabrics, and washed only in cinnamon-scented soaps.
Wrath—as you can imagine, I’ve created this room to be able to handle some thrashing. The walls are covered in padded red vinyl and that’s about all there is inside. Every light fixture is protected by thick glass, and is stuffed inside the ceiling, rather than dangling like those in other rooms. This room is empty and open; at first glance, there isn’t even a bed. However, once I pull back some of the slats beneath the black, shaggy carpet, a hollow opens to a rock-hard mattress with a single thin blanket, meant to help their rage continue boiling as they dream. This room will likely be used exclusively for All Nightmare Long clients.
Acedia—a dreamland for sloth, apathy, and lethargy. This space is designed for lounging and losing track of time. There are ample seating arrangements, all inviting naps and comfort. Picture books in novel-format line the bottom of one of the walls—who needs to waste the energy to read, or the energy it takes to take a book off a bookshelf and to put it back on? Definitely not the people who will be interested in a vacation in this room. They’ll be more preoccupied with the bar at the back that automatically serves any greasy meal or alcoholic beverage they desire.
Avarice—think chandeliers and embossed wallpaper with gold trim. When people enter this space, they feel like they themselves are royalty, or perhaps on the Forbes 100 list, which I’ve heard is a thing many mortals covet. There are even two white, glossed, porcelain greyhound statues at either foot of the bed, pieces that I’m told cost more than most people’s monthly incomes.
Which, I’m sure has you wondering, how is the recently impoverished Melinoë affording such luxury? The answer is simple and two-fold.
First, there was a lot of “junk” that the other Gods and Goddesses had thrown into the dumpsters behind the building. Given my recently-developed comfort with dumpsters, I had no qualms rifling through all of the used items in search of the gems I needed for my dreamlands.
Second, I’m charging an exorbitant fee and am already booked-out well through the next vernal equinox.
I’ve spent most of my time in these dreamlands, making sure the decor is just right for each of them, but I am still working on perfecting the Pride, Fornication, and Envy rooms. By next week, I expect all of our affairs to be in order, just in time for our first client.
You might be wondering why I’ve chosen such dark concepts to use as inspiration for the dreamlands, or perhaps you’ve already figured out that at the crux of all dreaming is darkness. Dreams derive from our deepest desires, the ways in which we long for something better…greener grass. People want fame, they want to experience love, they aspire for adventure. Almost every single dream they request of me is directly correlated to one of the seven deadly sins.
Of course, it is unnecessary to share this knowledge and harsh truth with my clients. When someone requests a buffet dream I won’t tell them, “Let me show you to our Gluttony dreamland.”
These little room nicknames will be kept between Rebel, me, and my most devout followers. My clients will feel no shame or guilt in regards to even their darkest cravings. If anything, those dreams are of the most interest to me.
So, I’ve told you of the seven doors that lead into the seven deadly sin dreamlands, but there is an eighth door.
I twist the frigid, metal doorknob and step inside the living blackness.
The shadows ripple at my presence, a gentle caress in greeting as I step inside my very own bedroom. I fling myself onto the round, satin bed, curling into the sheets and the warmth and comfort of my shadow creatures. Their opaque smoke bodies are like clouds of heat against me.
As I lay in darkness, I consider what I have accomplished since arriving to the mortal realm. I have a job; I even have my own business. I have a roof over my head, and dare I say, I have a handful of friends.
With an impatient huff, I roll onto my side. I should be fulfilled. I have all of the things that mortals usually crave. I toss to my other side. Clarity strikes me.
Not all of them. I’m still missing one.
Love. A partner. The other half of myself; the one who will bring balance to my life.
At least, this is how I hear the mortals describe it. I myself have no previous experience. The only love I’ve ever known is the love of wreaking havoc and instilling nightmares.
When I open my eyes and shift over to my back once more, I’m blinded by a sudden burst of light. A sheet of paper, sturdy and folded in two, appears before me.
“You are cordially invited to the Silver Bow Foundation, a benefit for Wildlife Preservation and Women’s Shelters. The events will take place from December 27th-December 31st.”
The invitation went on to list a variety of events that sound of no interest to me, but one did catch my eye: an auction for Gods and Goddesses to bid on a date with a selected few.
Perhaps love wouldn’t be so difficult to obtain after all.
With a single thought, I command some of the rogue shadows in the room to ink themselves on the other side of the invitation in looping, cursive letters: “Melinoë will attend.”
It’s only when I turn the invitation back around that I read the fine print on the bottom of the card.
“Any donation will earn the donator one favor from Artemis, good through December 2020.”
I flick my wrist and the invitation disappears, soaring through the ether to wherever Artemis may be.
“One favor,” I say to myself, grinning wickedly. Gently, I tap a finger on my chin. “Oh, what I could do with one favor.”
146 total views, 1 views today