She appears in the throne room. Today, she looks so innocent, her legs hooked over the arm of the chair. And perhaps she is that innocent, she is Death, largely untouched by human desires, and the little bit – that single day every hundred years – is this thing of incomprehensible joy.
Her ice cream cone is dripping onto the memory of carpet. Dream took it from the dream of a carpet merchant in Bodrum, dreaming of the perfect sale, drinking apple tea with Dean Martin and Kamal Attaturk. Birds circle in the tiny ribbon of sky between the buildings.
“What I don’t get–” She twirls the pendant around her neck, which suddenly isn’t an ankh but a blue glass eye that means evil will never touch her. “– is how you just steal when you could have. I mean, Baskin Robbins has to be better than a dream of ice cream. It’s real. And what’s to stop you getting a dream of some poor British kid; they only have three flavours out there, four if you mix the three together. They call it Neopolitan.”
It can’t be like any Naples that Dream knows. A beautiful city dreaming in the shadow of a mountain of half remembered fire. Not even the ruins of Pompeii and fair Herculaneum will wake them. They sleep as their ancestors – Greek merchants and Roman playboys – slept in the new city on the sea.
And their cousins still sleep beneath the ash, still not dreaming that it might have been better in insidious Baiae. Dream cannot imagine – and that itself is unthinkable – his sister walking the roads of the notorious city. It’s something about her innocence. He knows she wasn’t always like this, but his memory lies…
…just as her memory lies. If that isn’t Delirium’s area… Delirium would have loved Baiae, dancing on the edge of madness… but then, Delerium was beautiful, terrible, worshiped beatifically. Women dancing with snakes, blood hot with wine, enticing her to visit them. Young men doing terrible things in her shades of dreams.
Not Dreams, not nightmares; something unique. Something once so powerful. What had happened? Had humanity become so accustomed to the terrible and dark side of their minds?
Dream picks up a slice of beef from the memory of a young man in the trenches of Ypres and puts it on his plate. The fat looks unappetising, but then, Dream doesn’t really want to eat. He has something to prove to his sister, but isn’t quite sure what.
Is Delirium just the first of them to… What if people stop dreaming, dying, desiring? Where would they go? Would their natures turn in on them, as Delirium’s has? Perhaps it would be better for them to flee like D—
“Come on, Dream, taste this. Live a little.” She’s dancing, standing still in front of him, proffering the cone.
It’s bubblegum strawberry.
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