Keeper of Dreams

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Alden is a city rat born in New York City whose father told him stories of the outside world that he must live in. He told them they must treat every living thing with dignity, even if we would never receive it in return. Especially the Dreams, humans most beautiful and abused creation.

Submitted: January 03, 2014

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Submitted: January 03, 2014

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My name is Alden and I was born in the walls of a Chinese takeout place. I remember not being able to see. I remember my nose fumbling restlessly in the air as I was assaulted by the smell of fried eggs and sweaty men. I remember being tucked against my mother’s fur and the moist insulation installed six years before the dirty kitchen when it had once been a record store. I was born with eleven siblings. My mother prided herself on her voice and when she was sure that the angry men with knives could not hear us, she would sing to us short, soft songs about heroes and trees. She was beautiful. Her ears were a blush pink and her fur was a soft mixture of deep brown and creamy white. I remember wondering to myself if I looked more like her or my father.

My father would visit at least once a week. He told us of the river rats that found their homes under bridges and in sewers. He told us he found the flow of water relaxing, but after meeting my mother he stayed with her. He would nuzzle against her neck. When he turned his attention to us he told us of the outside world that we would one day live in. He told us to be gentle to all creatures even if they did not give us the same dignity.

He told me his favorite human creation and how they were so poorly treated by their creators. Dreams he would describe as small humans, with long noses like us and skin as white and translucent as the napkins that mother brought in to keep us warm. They were only the size of our legs when they stood on tip toe. He told us that only lost dreams were unhappy. When they are born, they are cradled in a human’s brain being fed by electricity that passed from one hemisphere to the other. But many find that one day they are no longer being fed. They awaken and are unable to find the electricity. They crawl through the ear and rest on the shoulders of their original maker. They are sad inventions that cry for the person they have come to love. After they are discarded, they desperately cling to their owners until they can no longer hold on. They are crushed by a world they knew nothing of by people who easily forget them.

He told us that even though we are feared by humans it is worse to be ignored. We were to always be gentle to the dreams we came across. We were able to find homes, but abandoned dreams never would. He would kiss each of our heads and curl up next to Mother and fall asleep. He would disappear for days to check on his other families in the river, but he would always return to her side.

My mother did not come back after a scavenging when I was four weeks old. Many of my brothers and sisters left our nest, hoping to find where they belonged. Many stayed with the city rats. I stayed hidden in the walls for a few days buried in the pink insulation that was no longer warm. I closed my eyes and remembered her voice.

When I awoke I found my home abandoned. I yawned, my head shaking and my muscles stretching. My paws dug through the insulation finding a well-traveled path imprinted with the footsteps of my siblings. I squeezed between the layers of wood, concrete and insulation, finding the hole that lead to the outside. I blinked rapidly and looked around. It was night and it was dark like my home. A single streetlight illuminated the black concrete across from the alley. I kept close to the walls, my legs feeling clumsy underneath me as I skittered past three dumpsters that rested heavily against the wall like tired workers. The sidewalk twisted in front of me. The humans walked past me like giants, their movements slow and fluid. I watched the joints in their bodies change position as they continued down their paths, unaware of my presence.

One foot landed close to my nose and I jumped back and ran along the dumpsters to the hole in the wall. I stopped before I could enter. My father came out, his eyes downcast and his gruesome teeth visible between black fur.

“My family.” He muttered. He laid in front of the hole and curled his pink tail into his side. I waddled in front of him. He did not even look at me. I laid down and nuzzled my nose against his head. His nose leaned into my neck and I let him fall asleep there.

When he awoke the next morning he stared at me, his small black eyes misty.

“I want to help the dreams.”

“What?” I asked as my head rose in confusion. He stood on his legs and turned toward the street.

“The dreams. I cannot let another die without thinking someone cares for them. I will not let them die alone.”

He walked past me and I hurried to follow him. “How can we help them?”

“The nest that we lived in. It is now empty and the dreams could come and create a life, a town for themselves there. I would not like it to remain empty. Neither would your mother.”

He slowed and shook his head. “We must help them.”

“But we can’t approach them. We will scare them.”

“We cannot let that stop us.” He declared as he stood and glared at me. “Just because we are feared does not mean we cannot do great things. On the contrary, many great things are done by implementing fear.”

He placed his paw on my shoulder. “I will go near the river, you stay around here. Avoid the being caught in the sunlight. People will notice you and you don’t want that.”

I watched as he skittered away from me, his broad shoulders twitching quickly beneath matted, black fur. I stood alone in the alley. My nose rose as I sniffed the air. I ran across the alley and watched the city unfold in front of me like a map. Water and dirt layered my once soft paws and I felt the beginning of callouses. I stopped next to a wall and sat there. I picked up my blacked palm and stared at it. I brought it to my mouth and licked away the dirt and slime. The taste burned my tongue, but it was a soft pink again.

That was when I saw the creature that used to be nothing but a bed time story to me. His ghostly body was wrapped around itself and sparkling blond hair spilled out around a small face. I could see his body heaving as he sobbed. My eyes darted nervously from side to side and I hesitantly approached him. I wasn’t sure what to say, but I knew that I could save him.

My shadow slipped over him and his cornflower eyes widened.

“Dream.” I tried to say calmly, but I knew my voice sounded like a raspy shriek. He jumped away from me, his chest rising up and down as he took in giant gulps of air.

“Please don’t hurt me!” He cried as he pressed against the brick wall desperately.

I lowered my voice and laid in front of him, hoping that it would make me look smaller. “I am here to help you, Dream. My father has told me about you and we want to take you some place you will be safe.”

“Will you take me back home?” He pleaded. His pale blue eyes were perfectly round and covered three quarters of his face. His sharply pointed nose hid his mouth as he crouched down closer to me.

I looked at him sympathetically. “No. But I will take you someplace to be with your kind. I am taking you to a new home.”

The dream’s eyes filled with tears, but he inched closer to me and touched my snout. I didn’t move and soon both of his arms wrapped around my nose. I felt his cool body press against my wet, pink nose and I let him cry. “Why? Why didn’t he want me anymore?”

I couldn’t answer. I merely lied there. Soon, the dream settled and I asked him to crawl onto my back. It was the first time I had ever felt needed. Felt beautiful like my mother.

He nodded and his miniscule hands dug into my fur. He sat on my neck and I began to walk.

“What is your name?” He asked.

“Alden. And yours?”

He sat for a moment and thought about it. “We don’t really have names. But my keeper’s name was Derek and I was going to help him become a doctor.”

“Then we will call you Doctor.”

That was my first Dream. It has been two years since my father introduced the dream colony. With the help of the new dreams, it is a home for them and many live happily together.

I wander the streets today, hoping to save some of the dreams. I have watched many dreams fade into the sidewalks of New York City. I have watched their slim white bodies crumple and dissolve as they were pelted by rain and crushed by hurried footsteps. It was always difficult to approach these beautiful cast-out creatures. Rats are not known for their easy charisma and welcoming smiles.

Humans are so careless with these fragile creatures. They create them, love them, and then it happens in a day, a week, or a year. Humans toss them away as if they were nothing. They think they are silly or childish, but I have yet to meet a dream that wasn’t beautiful. Dreams are the most innocent and hopeful creatures I have ever met. What I would not do for a dream of my own. I would cherish it, making sure that I would never lose it. I would never be so thoughtless with these lives.

I still do not understand the dreams, but they have not given up on these selfish humans. No, they cannot go back to their loved ones, but they can help others. They attach themselves to this person and help them through their troubles. Maybe there is a God, maybe there isn’t, but I know that dreams are the ones that work miracles. No one is as dedicated as they are. 

When I first bring them to the “Train Station” as they call it, they are angry and bitter. They are depressed, but after time spent with their fellow dreams, they wander away and find someone to help, someone to care for.

I wish I had hope like the dreams. I wish I could find forgiveness as easily as they did. Perhaps if I understood what it was like to be cherished I would.  One day, I hope that humans will know that I took in their orphaned dreams and cared for them. I have found purpose in a life that many see as meaningless. I am a rat. But more than that, I am Alden, Keeper of the Dreams. 


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