Digital Dreaming 1.08: “Sleep Mode”

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“So,” Val asked, “how are we going to track down this Dreamlord of yours?”

“With this.” Sand placed two fingers to his temple and drew out a small and shimmering haze. He cupped it into his hands and blew gently on it. When he opened them, a small globe of light drifted out and began to bob and weave away from where Sand and Val were standing.

“A will o’ the wisp?” Val stared at the light. “Is that entirely wise?”

“It won’t lead us astray. It can’t.” Sand began walking, following the pale globe of light. “It’s not really a will o’ the wisp. It’s, well, it’s more like a daydream given purpose.”

Sand didn’t volunteer any more details. Val didn’t ask. He stretched his legs a bit to catch up to Sand and walk next to him.

The wisp led them down a couple of blocks. It had an unfortunate tendency to veer through backyards or fences, making Sand and Val really stride to keep up with it. After that, it reached a long strip of greenery and suddenly turned to bob west along a dry streambed.

“What’s this?” Sand asked, looking back and forth at the strip of green cutting a swath through the otherwise orderly rows of houses.

“Minnehaha Parkway,” Val answered. “It runs from Minnehaha Park, over there,” Val jerked his thumb toward the east, “where Minnehaha Creek joins the Mighty Mississippi, all the way back west to the Chain of Lakes.”

“You like you bike paths and hiking trails, don’t you?” Sand asked as he stepped onto the neat, pedestrian walkway that followed the curving course of the creekbed.

“One of the best parts about the Twin Cities.” Val answered. “It’s too bad the creek’s dry. Takes a bit of the nice out of the walk.”

“Is that usual?”

“Not really, no. Just a really dry summer. That, and they shut off the overflow out of the bigger lakes so the boats don’t bottom out.”

“Doesn’t seem fair to the creek,” Sand opined.

“No.” Val shot Sand a sidelong glance. “No, it doesn’t.”

They followed the wisp in silence after that. Its light was already pale, and though the day was cloudy, the occasional beam of sun would occasionally shine out to make the wisp even harder to track. Fortunately, the trees along the parkway and the shadows under the frequent bridges over Minnehaha Creek provided wide swathes of backdrop against which it was easier to spot the little, bobbing light.

As they passed under one such bridge, Val’s hand suddenly shot out, stopping Sand in his tracks. Sand staggered against Val’s arm.

“What—” Sand started to ask.

“Troll,” Val answered shortly.

Before Sand could ask where, a section of the bridge’s stone support began to crack and move, showering grit and dirt onto the path in front of them.

To Be Continued…

Next Time, on Digital Dreaming: “My Way or the Parkway”

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Author: Robert Berg

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