The boy was only passingly aware of the hallways he passed through on his way to class. The dream of this morning was still fresh in his mind; its sharpness made the physical school less real by contrast. He’d been underground; he could still smell the old, old stones that formed those dream hallways. He walked slightly hunched over; his body still remembered the terror of what he’d found down there, some gargantuan monster…
A part of him did not want to forget it. It felt important, it felt like he’d been altered in some way, and he had to hold onto it. He had to remember how he’d changed.
Other students bumped into him as he made his way through the crowd. A larger boy shouted a curse at him, then shrugged and walked on when he was ignored. Normally the boy kept out of the way, made himself unnoticeable, but the present moment did not have his full attention.
Maybe a hundred feet away, a girl was walking swiftly, eyes to the ground. For the first time in her life, she had had a dream, and she almost remembered it. It had been some horribly dark place, as if the sun hadn’t shone there in centuries. It seemed like it should’ve been a nightmare, but she had no memory of being afraid.
Nearby students saw the imminent impact, raised their hands to shout something—but the boy ran straight into the girl, their foreheads knocking together painfully.
Embarrassed, the boy stepped to the side of the corridor, to let the press of students, and the girl, pass. As things like this sometimes happen, she stepped in the same direction at the same time.
A moment went by, their faces squinted up with pain, and they regarded each other.
A small-ish, mousy-haired boy gazed at a girl with an unruly lion’s mane of golden hair, framing a round face with lips that were just a little too large.
He knew he should look away, shouldn’t stare at her so intensely—but as he looked into her green eyes, it was as if they had become open floodgates of memory. The dream was pouring back into his mind.
He’d been in a library underground, but there were no books. Instead, everything was carved into the stones, and entire hallways, vast chambers… these were the books themselves, in a way. He’d owned the place, or made it, or been trapped inside it… Committed to the library somehow, he’d been there for centuries, studying.
And suddenly he remembered the monster, and blinked (still returning his gaze, the girl blinked as well). But it hadn’t been a monster at all, just some lonely creature the boy himself had made, to guard a door down there.
The boy didn’t know how, but he felt undeniably that the girl had been down there too. Her eyes were slightly glazed, as if memories were unreeling before her mind.
“The library?” he asked.
Shock, then her eyes showed a sullen defensiveness. Then with a short laugh, she shrugged. “Yeah.”