Chapter 1: The Mind and The Dream

But the words do not sink in. Jal’s eyes flicker. He rubs them. Then, a chime, a distinct note that Jal knows only too well. His mouth twitches to make a smile but Jal shakes his head.

         “I must focus. I need to know.”

A page flutters out. A single word in curly, ornate handwriting. It almost bulges off the page: Lullaby. Then a hand, grey, mottled.

Jal wakes, Thea sitting next to him. He’s in his room, the walls identical to the library he was just in. The pale beige covers crumpled at the bottom of the bed. Jal sits bolt upright.

          “What happened?"

Thea raises her eyebrows.

             “I think you’re the best person to answer that.”

She throws the book onto Jal’s bed and tries to force-feed him green vegetables. Jal screws his face up and pushes the plate away. Thea sighs.

             “What’re you doing with this?

Jal shrugs. Thea punches him lightly in the arm, a flash of mottled grey. Jal bundles the covers over him. Thea scoffs.

             “What on Earth is up with you?”

Jal peers over the top of the covers. He grabs Thea’s arm, pulling her in close. Jal examines it. Thea pulls away rubbing her arm; small welts where Jal’s fingers were.

             “Fine. I give up.”

Thea darts towards the door. Jal calls after her.

             “Wait! Thea! There’s something else at play here. Something I cannot explain.”

She’s gone. Jal looks across at the table by his bedside. A family photo, but there’s something different about it. His mother cradles a bundled baby Jal, her arm mottled.

She stares down at her baby, her mouth open in what looks like song.

A Lullaby.