A Hundred Places Where I Fear


Scene Title A Hundred Places Where I Fear
Synopsis A few dreamers meet in the mind of Angel for more rhymes and symbols.
Date April 5, 2021


“Oom bop, dooby dooby, woo bop.”

A mop haired teenager sings along and bops along with the music pumping through the speakers of Al’s Arcade, while he gazes lovingly at the cardboard carton of nachos with that amazing cheese that makes nachos so amazing.

Was it even real cheese? Did it matter? Not really.

Where the skeeball games had been just a dream before was now a bowling alley. It was league night and Al’s was bustling. Tonight Cooper had given up his gray hoodie for a neon green and pink bowling shirt. Across the back of the shoulders is embroidered the name, Donut King.

The nachos are dropped next to his companion. “Dude, you really need to learn the words to that song,” speaks up the guinea pig headed man who sits at the desk, marking off his score on the overhead. A strike. “Get up there and bowl, it’s your turn.” A paw snags a chip from the pile and nibbles on it daintily while he waits.

“Always a critic,” the teenage Cooper grumbles, moving to pick up a glittery ball that looks like it’s filled with colorful sprinkles and glitter. He looks up at the score. His companion had strikes across the board, but Cooper’s score was all over the place. Seriously… why wasn’t he the one with the best score?!? Still the championship rode on his shoulders. They could win it all if he got a strike.

With a sigh, Cooper moves to the line and sets up for this final throw. Sighting down the lane past the ball, he is the epitome of concentration. He couldn’t let the guinea pig down. Taking those steps forward, he swings that ball back and chucks it down the lane. Almost immediately, he knows he’s got it. The ball was flying straight, his breath caught in his throat. This was it… it was going to be a strike.

But it was just not meant to be, Coop. Just before his ball reaches the pins, the wall and pins warp turning into a doorway that opens into a familiar place. “What?! No!” He cries out as the ball goes flying through the door and bounces off to who knows where. His strike! Their championship! Cooper’s head hangs in shame. “Sorry, Al… totally lost the game.”

“Hey, man, it’s fine… Tho… Just so you know… I’m keeping the nachos as payment for the hole in my wall.” The guinea pig headed man plucks up the container and walks away nibbling on Cooper’s snack. “Good luck with whatever she wants,” he calls in farewell.

“Yeah,” Cooper breaths out, turning back to the opening in the wall, “I think I’m gonna need it.” With all the theories… he can’t help but feel worry and dread gnawing at his stomach.


The lights on center stage warm her skin. The eyes on her warm her ego. The attention of the man at the bar warms her heart. Odessa stands before the microphone, a hand cupped around the back of it as she sings, eyes half-lidded and focused only on the one she wants to sing to. “I don’t care for sunrise. It only means it’s over, and I’m in no mood for that.” He’s shrouded in shadow with the house lights down and the stage lights partially blinding her, but she can see the silhouette of his artfully tousled hair. The lines of his jacket. She can fill in the rest of the details in the eye of her mind.

“Stay tonight. Don’t come morning, don’t come light. They may be lie—” Odessa’s voice cracks and gives out entirely. With a gasp, she stares out at the audience, mortified and wondering what she’s going to do. She can’t even stammer an apology or ask for help. No sound comes out. At the bar, the one her heart sings for turns his back on the stage, disgusted. The beer he ordered sits untouched, and he starts toward the door.

No, please! she cries voicelessly. Odessa jumps from the stage, landing in a heap and tangle of fringed dress and limbs. When she gets up, she discovers the pain she thought she’d been healed from has settled into her again. Bone deep and debilitating. Please come back, her heart begs. Tears fall and only the sound of her sobbing escapes her lips as she scrambles after him in spite of how much it hurts to do so. It hurts more to see him leave her.

They both reach the door. He pushes it open and the light from the marquis and street lamps beyond seem to render her sightless. Or maybe that’s just the light that radiates from him when she looks at him. But he doesn’t walk out, just holds that door open. “Someone needs your help,” he tells her.

Odessa nods her head slowly, reaching up to feel for a moment the fibers of his scarf between her fingers. She just can’t help herself. Her voice finds her again just in time to say goodbye. “I’ll do better next time,” she promises and takes one step across the threshold. A moment of bravery seizes hold of her and she turns back to say one last thing. “A—”

But he’s gone. And she is somewhere else.


Seren sat in the cold, waiting on a park bench for a person who was never going to come. It's then and now and never all at once. They're young, they're themself, and they are the them of only their dreams in a yawning blink of an eye.

They look down at their hand while they wait, palm turning over and facing up. With a glance, they look in the direction the Company agent usually came from. A cloud of breath leaves them as they opt for rebellion instead of sitting bored.

Their palm closes, and when it reopens, a crystalline snowflake rises from its center. Their eyes shift from a mundane grey to a silver-limned spectacle, and despite themself, a smile subtly curves up the corner of their mouth. The snowflake scatters into a shock of silvery sparkles— diamond dust that glitters the way their eyes do, before the air clears and their eyes lose their sheen once more.

The world around them is as grey and dull as they feel when they let go of their power. Seren folds their arms against the cold and continues to wait for a contact that is never again coming. They need to wait, though. If they weren't here, where they were supposed to be, it'd be a broken contract. They could be found thanks to the tiny lines etched into the side of their neck.

And this time, their perpetual last chance expired, they'd never see home again. They were a risk, peeling back the reality that people with strange, unexplainable powers existed and in a number. They were harmless, but visible, and that, too, was unacceptable. Seren waits patiently for the contact that will never come in the hopes that the worst will never happen.

The longer they sit there, the more they age. It's strange — their hair recedes up into the red cap snug on their head, and in exchange gossamer fairy wings grow through a slit in their black coat. Seren's eyes silver again, and this time, it never really leaves them. But still they wait, even though they know the world's changed. This is a fear that will never leave them — one that persists because there are still people who hate the changed world they live in, who would rather people like Seren stay silent and invisible and not challenge the reality they live in.

People walk past the bench. The passerby never look directly, but Seren's shoulders shrink slowly anyway, imagining those look on with distaste. At least Baird isn't here to receive hate he doesn't deserve.

Something compels them to look up again, and when they do, they see a door that wasn't there before. Instinctively, they know where it leads. Their head lifts higher, posture righting.

They leave behind their vigil for a contact who's never coming. There's something more important that lies ahead now.


Angel stands, staring up at a huge tree — the clearing around it is roughly circular, surrounded by smaller trees — pines and firs, with needles unlike the long, ovoid leaves of the giant tree at the center. Above, the sky is clear tonight, with no clouds shaped like snakes or stallions or anything else. Instead, every star seems to be visible, so many that they mottle the backdrop of the firmament, giving it that cloudy appearance that has earned the galaxy its “Milky Way” description.

She stands so still that it may seem she’s become nothing more than a statue once more, her expression beatific and fixed to the stars above. But it’s only still for a moment, before a rumble shakes the ground and she stumbles, falling to her knees with a cry.

"Ange? Ange, it's okay!" Seren's hardly had time to adjust themself to the shifted scenery before something rattles the world, but they're confident in their need to be there to support the dreamer who seemed to be trapped even as she freed them from their nightmares. Mothwings the rainbow color of oil sheens drape down their back, shifting out of the way as they kneel and offer a hand to Angel.

"We're here." They look up for a moment at the others, recognizing most, but not all of them. "We're here to help."

There is a “Whoa!” when the earth shakes just after the teenage Thomas Cooper steps through a sudden arched doorway in a brick wall. Still wearing that bowling outfit, down to the rental shoes, he pivots to look back where he came from almost tempted for the first time to flee back in. However, the crying behind him and the call of Angel’s name stops him.

Cooper hated himself for this hesitation he’s feeling, he didn’t even know the full situation, yet. She could still be the victim.

There is a moment taken to look at the sky, like a sailor at sea seeking guidance from the stars… So too were they dreams lost in how to help… or stop… their host. Cooper silently beseeches them to show them the way to her.

Finally, he moves towards them. “Yeah Angel,” he finally says out loud, looking back down at the stone angel. He stops not far away with hands tucked into pockets, watching Seren comfort her. “You’re okay. No need to be scared, we’re here for you as long as we can.” Cooper doesn’t mention that he’s been tapped to go overseas. For now, he just offers that easy smile, even if doubt is swirling in his head.

There’s a sharp gasp that heralds the arrival of the troubled O. “Ange.” It’s not a greeting, but a realization. After taking a moment to orient herself to the different surroundings, she makes her doe-footed way toward the others, stance wobbling after the sudden quaking of the ground.

Odessa steps past Cooper with a nod, then lays a hand on Seren’s shoulder, alerting them to her proximity before kneeling down next to them and reaching now for the stone dreamer. She feels her pain so keenly. Sometimes she can’t tell it from her own. An abrupt inhale sees tears falling from her eyes. “You aren’t alone, Ange. We’re trying to help you.”

“But I am!” wails the angel, hard and cool hands grasping both Seren’s and Odessa’s, but she turns her face up toward Cooper. “Wherever I am, I am alone. Cold. But he is free. Free to destroy the world. It’s his way. His nature. He’d chew everything up and spit it out again.”

She turns her face back toward the tree. Before their eyes, it turns from healthy and hale to something blighted, sickly gray and withered from the base up. “He destroys it. I would have destroyed it with him, if he hadn’t abandoned me.” Her face turns downward again, a tear sliding down the cheek. “And now I’m alone.”

The last word becomes a keening cry, the o elongated and echoing back to them.




The same echoing voice comes back again, this time not with another refrain of alone but with a verse. The sound, while an echo from somewhere in the distance, also fills them, in their chest and throats. As the dreamers look at one another, their mouths open and they too say the words in unison, their voice the same as the echo, as Angel’s, in quadruplicate.

Time does not bring relief; you all have lied

Who told me time would ease me of my pain!

I miss him in the weeping of the rain;

I want him at the killing of the tide,

Seren looks surprised at the mention of a he, and even more when it sounds like— after all— that Angel would have wrought wrongs with him. Before they can begin to ask anything, though, their voice is compelled to say other words first.

Poetry, again. The words etch themselves into their mind for how they come of their own accord, for how the sounds involuntarily make their way from their throat. When it's done, Seren exhales a sudden breath, less certain than they were before about anything.

But they firm their hand around the stone angel's hand anyway. In the churn of their imagination, they imagine warmth for the distressed. "I know what it feels like to miss someone you think you can't live without. But I promise you're not alone. Not right now."

A chill runs through Odessa. All of it chills her. The way everything the angel says rings so very true to her. The way she speaks words that aren’t hers, yet feels in her very soul. In so many ways, it feels like this beautiful, pained creature of stone, understands her better than anyone else could.

“Millay again.” Even if she hadn’t been forced to speak the words, Odessa would know them. This… This is another poem she’s committed to memory, to heart. Who would better connect with a poem about all the things time cannot grant? “Shrinking,” she says over her shoulder to Cooper and to Seren. “The tide should be shrinking.”

So that’s a K then.

I feel your pain.” Odessa reaffirms the clasp of hands. “Душераздирающий Ангел,1” she murmurs to her, concern creasing her brow. Her Russian may have the wrong accent to a native speaker, but she hopes it will be enough to confirm something they suspect all the same. “Почему речные города?2

“No! I do not want him! I would have done anything he asked — but at what cost? Prison? Pride? Death?” Angel roars suddenly, and the earth they stand on trembles beneath their feet.

On the outskirts of the circle, the trees and earth break off, like the eroding underside of a cliff suddenly crumbling and falling away. There’s no sound of the falling debris hitting earth or ocean or lake below, and when the dreamers look, they can see they stand on a circle of earth surrounded by sky, like a floating island, with themselves and the giant tree and Angel in the middle of it.

The use of Russian has her blank eyes turning to Odessa, and a smirk lifts the corner of her mouth in a whiplash of emotions. “Trouble in River cities and that starts with T and that rhymes with D and that stands for..”

Her mouth opens, as do theirs, and the next part of the poem spills out in the little girl’s voice, multiplied.

The old snows melt from under mountain-side,

And last year's leaves rend smoke in every lane;

But last year's grievèd loving must remain

Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide

Cooper slowly turns his attention back to Angel from his scrutiny of the tree. He keeps finding his eyes drawn to it. He shakes a thoughtful finger at it, “You know. I wonder if she…” He’s quickly interrupted by what’s going on at the base of the tree. Odessa’s comment about the poem gets a curious look, he might have said something… something smart-alecky and jealous at her memory when he can barely remember what he ate yesterday…

But… As soon as his mouth opens words not his own start pouring out. Cooper looks very confused, clapping his hands over his mouth with wide eyes. Of course, since Odessa knows this one, he looks over at her expectantly.

Thomas is almost afraid to remove his hands… It was rather disturbing to have a high pitched voice come out of one’s mouth like you’ve been kneed in the groin.

Odessa flinches as though she’s been slapped. Again, those words hit so very close to home. Prison. Pride. Death. She’s certainly faced down two of the three for the love of one man. The last is still the spectre that haunts her. It isn’t off the table.

Clutching a little tighter to the angel as the world shakes and begins to collapse, becoming smaller, Odessa’s fear overwhelms her for a moment. It also brings her some comfort. That’s her, her own feelings. She isn’t losing sight of herself completely in this strange emotional landscape she’s sharing with other dreamers far afield from herself.

Taking a deep breath, she steadies herself, focuses her ability on the one made of stone. “What does it stand for, Ange? Because it rhymes with P and that stands for Pool.” Odessa always did love to watch musicals while she was a ward of the Company. She means to ask more, but then her mouth opens once again, speaking different words of its own accord.

It’s no less disconcerting than it was the first time. “Ah— Under is wrong. Rend.” Her voice lowers to a whisper as she recites the words to herself, trying to decide what she remembers and what’s changed. “But last year’s bitter loving must rema— Grievèd.” Odessa’s eyes lift skyward as she goes through the last of it. “Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide. The rest of it’s unchanged.”

She’ll leave the others to start putting the letters together. For now, Odessa fixes her sympathetic gaze on the one that should be impassive, except for everything she feels beneath the marble surface. “I’ve loved men so much that I would— that I have given up pieces of myself. For affection, approval, appreciation. I lost an eye. I nearly hanged for it. I don’t want them anymore either.”

Now, she beseeches her for the answer. If not the answer, then at least for another piece of the puzzle. “Please, Ange. Tell me the snake’s name.”

The angel lays a hand on top of Cooper’s — if her gray stone eyes could sparkle with amusement, they would. As it is, her lips curve into a small smile, before she turns to look back to Odessa.

“I wanted to destroy the world with him,” she whispers, and gestures to the tree, her hand moving in an arc that follows the outline of the full, arching canopy of branches and leaves, then continues to gesture at the ground below their feet. The tree’s roots are thick, winding and ropy things that likely spread out beneath the clearing they stand in to take up at least as much space as the canopy above, if not more.

What seems to be a root suddenly writhes, and what seems to be a snake slithers past them. Just before it burrows down into the root system, two forelegs appear, clawing at the ground. But then it is out of sight, serpentine tail vanishing into the earth. Angel backs away, bumping into Seren, then wrapping her arms around herself, forlorn.

“What’s in a name? It is not hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man,” the angel tells Odessa. “But is it a part belonging to a snake?”

The ground rumbles again, and more of the land at the edges of their clearing crumbles away into the nothingness they can feel at the edges of this now flat earth.

Again their mouths open — except Cooper’s, clamped shut as it is, and recite the next lines of the poem in the childlike timbre:

There are a hundred places where I fear

To go,—so with his memory they brim

And entering with awe some quiet place

Where never fell his foot or shone his face

I say, "There is no memory of him near!"

And so stand stricken, so remembering him!

Seren places their hands on the Angel's shoulders when she bumps into them, brow worrying its way together when the snake with legs writhes its way past and into the ground. If there's a message in the imagery, it's not one that makes sense to them.

What's in a name, though, brings the light in their eyes to shift. "Shakespeare?" they murmur, looking down at the statue. "That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet; So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called…" It's as far as they make in the recitation before the ground begins to shake. Seren lets out a startle of a shout, holding onto Angel more tightly in their own fear.

In their own dreams, often they can fly. But here— somehow it feels different. They don't even have time to comment on it before the next chunk of the poem comes from them, echoing in their ears. It's different than the hush of the remembered line they'd spoken themselves. This is more haunting, indeed.

"Ange, this is your dream," Seren says to her shakily. They fear what happens when the edges collapse. "Names don't matter, but faces do. Can you show us his face?"

Once the words are said, Cooper slowly lowers his hand and opens his mouth. When he doesn’t sound all girly there is a sound of relief. Pale eyes study stone ones, a little sad, a little confused. When the world shakes again, he looks up at the tree following it’s lines, until he ends up looking at Angel and the others with them.

“You might have wanted to help him, but you didn’t. Am I right?” Reaching up, Cooper’s fingers touch the leaves gently, while he watches her out of the corner of his eye. “The hardest thing to do, is to walk away when you love someone so much. The pain won’t go away, but you can move past it and endure. The world won’t truly end, it will continue on and you will find that so can you.” It was heavy words coming from such a youthful face. He offers Angel a gentle understanding smile.

“You know,” Cooper starts again, his teenage voice cracking, reaching out to try and gently take her cold stone hand. “We ask all these questions, but we’re not asking one very important one. Do you want to be helped, Angel? We could search every clearing and every tree, along the rivers, but it’s for nothing if you don’t want to be found.” He looks up at the tree signification, before looking back at Odessa and Seren.

“I’ll happily keep coming back if you just want company for a short while, ‘cause I’m totally determined to beat big Al at something.” He motions over his shoulder vaguely in the direction that his door was. Turning back to Angel Cooper adds, “Admittedly, though, it would be nice to finally meet you in person. Someone who truly understands the awesomeness of the suicide soda.”

I wanted to destroy the world with him. Odessa is shaken, forced to further introspection by the angel’s anguish. “Me too,” she commiserates in a hush, her next exhale a shaky one. “I wanted to kill the whole world. Burn it all down. Watch it wither and die…” She wipes tears away from her own face. “Until I didn’t anymore. I wanted it to heal. I wanted it to thrive.

Self-conscious about having said entirely too much about herself, she turns the spotlight back on the dreamer. “It’s not your fault.” It could very well be, but this isn’t a courtroom. There’s no trial to be had here. “A name,” she beseeches, “can help me find the snake. And if I can find him, I can find you.

The ground rumbles once more and Odessa tries to shrink in on herself, smaller. Easier to hide, harder to find. Her mouth recites the words of the poem of their own accord. If she’d had control her tongue would trip over the usurpers. The misshapen interlopers. “A and N are our final letters,” she tells the others as she turns toward the tree.

She takes a deep breath. “If she loved him…” This could end very poorly for her, the edges of the world encroaching as they are, but there’s something about this tree. Maybe the snake will ensnare her ankle before she reaches it. Odessa knows what to do with snakes. Approaching the trunk, she presses a hand to the sickly wood, searches for signs of some kind of arborglyph.

Did they carve a heart and initials into the skin of this tree? Can she find another clue here? With a sharp sound, the air is expelled from her lungs, a shiver wracks her frame as she tries to reach deep into the core for the emotional echoes, if they can even be found in a dream. But she can sense the others… Why not this as well? If she can find the signature here, she’ll know its tang if she can find it in the waking world.

The tree doesn’t feel like a person — any emotive signature comes from the angel herself. But as Odessa searches the wood for signs of carvings, of names or initials, the whorls and knots in the wood seem to shift under her eye, twisting and turning into what look like runes for a fleeting moment — far too fast for her to latch on to any single one of them to commit to memory, there one moment and then gone, like a trick of the eye.

Hairline cracks begin to appear in Angel’s robe and arms, splintering upward. She shakes her head — at which question, it’s hard to tell.

“I’m not all here. I’m missing pieces,” she whispers. “Names and faces. Words. Time.”

The earth rumbles below and their circle grows smaller yet — perhaps some twenty feet across one side to the other. “I didn’t leave him. I was forsaken. Left to be taken so he could be free.” Tears slide down her stone face, passing the splintering cracks that ascend at the same time.

“He would hate me if he knew what I was now. And so would I.” Her head lowers, and she looks at Cooper’s hand in hers, her fingers, cold in his, tightening. “I don’t know that I exist in person. Maybe I’m a ghost.”

She looks up, blank eyes moving from one face to the next. “After all, he is.”

Thomas notes the cracks and there is concern, he angles a worried look at Odessa and Seren, before giving Angel his full attention as she gets down on herself.

“See what you become? You mean, beautiful? Amazing?” Cooper asks with a cheeky grin on his thirteen year old features. It sounds as awkward as it would be from a teenage boy, trying to be nice to a girl. “I mean… look at this place,” he sweeps a hand to the world around them, noting it’s deterioration… but someone still looking calm, though Odessa would know otherwise. “I mean sure it’s a little Neverending Story right now, but I could never have done this.”

Turning his attention back to Angel, Cooper bites the inside of his lip before he dares reach up with his free hand and touches her stone cheek, he gives her a serious look. “Don’t let what he did destroy you. My daughter was cast aside for what she became by her mother, she came out stronger for it,” he explains quietly, “And so can you. You have a friend in me, okay?” He offers with an encouraging smile.

Even though you can’t squeeze a stone hand, he still gives it a gentle squeeze. “Don’t let the Nothing take you. Don’t hide, let us find you, Angel,” Cooper pleas.

Odessa squints at the bark of the tree, this shifting thing she’s trying to get a read on. While she’s certain there’s emotional significance tied to this tree in particular, it infuriatingly doesn’t translate to the realm of dreams. “There’s something here,” she calls out to the others without turning back. “The tree is twist—”

The rumble cuts her off and Odessa leans into the tree for stability. She doesn’t want to fall. A chill runs through her frame at the thought of it. It stays with her, permeating her bones. But for all that she’s afraid in this place, the angel must be infinitely more so.

There’s no way to make sense of the runic writings on the tree, and that infuriates her, but she’s heard someone far more prescient than she say you can’t win them all. “You’re real, Ange. Whatever you are… Wherever you are…” Odessa shakes her head, drawing in a deep breath as she lets the emotions of the dreamers wash over her and pass through her, mingling and twining around her own, becoming her own. “You are.

The encroaching edges of the ground are a thing Seren fights not fearing. But the small cracks that spread across the Angel's being help motivate them away from it. They wonder— if she shatters, is that the end? Or will she shed the shell she's wearing now and find a new skin?

One maybe truer to herself? Or one that's lost one more piece of who she was?

They crouch by Angel's side, looking up at her. "Ange," they repeat calmly. "Do you want us to help you?" Their grey eyes soften. "Because we will— we'll try. But if you don't want to fight your way back to being you…"

Then tragic as it was, they'd have to accept that.

Angel looks at Cooper with a fond, sad smile, even as her hand crumbles to dust within his. The bits and pieces break off and toward the sky above to camouflage themselves in the stars. “There’s nothing new under the sun,” she tells him with a small smile for the comparison.

“I don’t know that I am,” she murmurs to Odessa, touching her cheek with her other hand, which hasn’t yet begun to disintegrate. “Don’t be like me. Don’t let the snakes devour you. They’ve tried before. They may try again.”

Her brow furrows. “Snakes. Snake. How many? Endless? At least one changed its skin. It’s hard to keep track. The world is cracking, not just this one. Snakes can slip in.”

As she reaches to touch Seren’s face, this hand begins to crumble. “I don’t think there’s a me to fight for. I don’t know if she’s worth fighting for. But you are. Be wary of the snakes. They would destroy all worlds with people like us.”

The ground beneath shudders violently, a rift pulling Angel to one side and the dreamers to the other, before they all fall. The ground falls away beneath their feet and their stomachs lurch as they drop into nothingness, falling, falling…

Until they land softly once more in their own dreams.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License