Read the First Chapter

Chapter 1


Tessa cracked open her eyes, dark lashes veiling her expression from Riley. Sitting up slowly, she took a deep breath and stretched.

“How do you feel?” he asked, struggling to keep his voice calm. With any of his other clients, this would be easy. This client, and what she’d revealed, made his insides roil with questions. He forced himself to stay professional, at least until his subject was back in the here-and-now, not the there-and-then.

“Wonderful!” his subject said. “Like I’ve just had a nap.”

“And do you remember any dreams you might have had during your nap?” he probed.

She frowned, her eyes unfocusing. After a moment, she shook her head.

“No, nothing.” She looked up at him from the worn sofa they’d found and brought home to their third floor walk-up. It had taken several friends to horse it up the two flights of stairs, almost flattening Alex at the second bend. “That’s good, right?”

Riley smiled down at her. “Yes, that’s good,” he assured her. Then he frowned. “I do have some questions, though, if you don’t mind.”

“About what?”

He tried to act nonchalant. “Oh, just some background. That’s all.”

“Background, huh?” She raised a lone eyebrow at him and swung her legs over the side of the couch. Stretching one arm along the back cushions, she cocked her head at him. “Go for it, Doc Mezmer.”

He smiled. She’d given him that name when they’d first met in college. Maybe this won’t be so bad, he thought.

“Okay. First, have you been playing any new online games? One set on an alien planet, perhaps?”

She considered for a moment, then shook her head. “Nope. There is a new one I’d like to get my hands on, but it won’t be out for a couple of weeks yet.”

Riley sighed. So much for that idea.

“Uh, have you ever written a story about an alien planet?”

“Hmmm.” He could see her consulting her inner filing cabinet. “I did make up a world of sparkly unicorns in the fourth grade. They could make cookies out of leaves and change water into lemonade. Does that count?”

He snorted a laugh. “No, but thanks for the visual.” Turning serious, he continued, “Did that world have silver grass and trees with orange bark and blue leaves?”

Tessa’s eyes widened and she went still. After a moment, she asked, her voice laced with tension, “Where did you come up with that image? I dreamt of that place a lot when I was little. It had turquoise waterfalls and the clouds were somewhere between gold and pink. The sun seemed smaller than normal, too.” She paused, shaking her head. “I hadn’t thought of it in years. Until recently. Those dreams started up again a few weeks ago.” Her brow furrowed and she looked at him suspiciously. “How could you know about that? Am I talking in my sleep? Or have you been rummaging around in my brain during regressions?”

Riley reared back. “Who, me? That’s not ethical and you know it!”

“Then where did you get it from?”

Riley inhaled deeply, steadying himself for whatever happened next. Taking her hand, he plunged ahead.

“I got it from your regression. Not just this one, but several of the previous ones too.” He paused, letting her absorb that. He’d regressed her several times since he’d finished his hypnotherapy internship. He needed the practice and she was a willing and handy subject. It wasn’t until he tried to delve into past lives that this unfamiliar world had begun to manifest. He’d tried to make sense of it, turning the information around and around, examining it like a gemstone cut in a novel way. No matter how he looked at it though, he couldn’t find any explanation that made sense.

“And just now, you gave me more information that I hadn’t gotten through the regressions.” He paused, thinking about his next move. “Are there other details you can remember from that world? Scenery, people, anything?”

Tessa looked down at their joined hands. “Details? Hmmm.”

She looked up, meeting his gaze. Her face reddened slightly before she continued. “You’re going to think I’m crazy.”

Riley smiled at her. “Honey, I love you. I don’t think you’re crazy. But I would like to know more about this world you’ve dreamed of.”

“Well, if you’re sure. Let’s see. The people there are shorter and more muscular, for a start.”

Riley nodded. “Okay, so the gravity is heavier than ours. Good, good. Go on.”

With a sigh, she dropped his hand and squirmed into a more comfortable position. She curled her legs under her and leaned her dark head against the heavy fabric of the sofa. Riley watched as her face lost its frown and took on a rather dreamy expression.

“I dreamt I had a kurvan named Jesler. I remember a small warm orange sun in a blue-green sky with fluffy honey-pink clouds. The trees are orange with blue leaves.”

“Wait a minute, what’s a kurvan?”

Tessa smiled, “You’d call it a pony.”

He glanced down at his session recorder. Good, it’s still on. At least he’d have something concrete to show his mentor, Dr. Jake Adams, when he saw him at the hypnotherapy convention in Seattle next weekend.

Tessa blinked and sat up straight. “Now, where did all that come from? Growing up, I soooo wanted a pony.”

“Like you don’t want a pony now,” he scoffed. “If I have to watch another rerun of The Black Stallion, I’m gonna scream.”

She smirked at him. “I only watch that when I’m really stressed. It’s only been—”

“Let’s see, six times this year? And it’s only March!”

“It hasn’t been that many.”

“Trust me. I’ve counted.”

She grinned sheepishly. “Well, business has been a little hectic lately. Diana and I finished our last project just under the wire. Okay, the client was extremely impressed and we did get a bonus, but stress is stress.

“And speaking of Diana, while you and Alex are away at the convention, we’re having a spa day. If, that is, she can get away from her husband. I swear, if Bryce weren’t so darn good looking, I’d tell her to ditch him.”

“He’s possessive?”

“Oh, yeah. She told me they got into fight after BayCon. Remember that picture of her getting hugged by some costumed Klingon? When Bryce saw that picture, evidently he flipped out. Demanded to know who she was having an affair with at the convention.” Tessa laughed. “She told him, ‘What? You think I’m having an affair? The only person I’ve ever slept with besides you is Tessa. And before you ask, we just slept.’ As you can imagine, that didn’t go over very well. She said it took a week before he stopped grilling her about it.”

Looking Riley in the eye, she asked, “What if it’d been me in that picture? Huh?”

Riley wrinkled his brow and shrugged. “I’d have figured he was from the Klingon Embassy and had had too many prune juices. You know how they are. Mostly harmless, despite their looks.”

“See? No big deal.” She sighed and stood up, stretching her arms over her head and rolling her shoulders. She paused. “Well, to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, he’s never been to a science fiction convention, ever. Maybe he’d mellow out if he could tear himself away for a weekend in Never Never Land.”

Riley had to agree. Most people don’t understand the sci-fi convention subculture. People seen in normal society as nerdy, flourish when surrounded by ‘their people.’

“I suppose,” Riley said, shutting off the recorder. He stood and threw his arms about Tessa, impulsively kissing her on the nose.

“Gotta run, Tess. Still have some packing to do for my convention.”

She laughed. “Well, it wouldn’t do if the eminent Dr. Riley MacPherson, Clinical Hypnotherapist and Doctor of Psychology,” She made air quotes around his name and titles. “was late for anything, now, would it?”

He sighed. I never have to worry about getting an overinflated ego with her around. She’ll always be there to pop my bubble if it gets too big.

He shot her an affronted look, but that only caused her to giggle. Pulling her closer, he kissed her properly. After a few breathless moments, he stepped back and cocked his head. “Gonna miss me while I’m gone?”

“Not a bit,” she said with an impish look in her eye. “After the spa, I might just laze about the house watching horse movies and eating bonbons.”

He smirked. “Bonbons?”

* * *

Mezmer Notes – Update 12:

Subject Alpha still has no memory of the strange environment described during our regression sessions.

Information related in the most recent session:

  • Trees with orange bark and blue leaves
  • Silver grass
  • People are short and muscular (higher gravity perhaps?)
  • Small orange sun
  • Blue-green sky
  • Fluffy pinkish-gold clouds
  • Subject had a kurvan, a “pony-like” pet, named Jesler

Information from previous sessions:

  • Turquoise water
  • Pale orange ground
  • Orange squirrel-like creatures
  • Blue fruit that tastes like a mix of strawberry and mango (that the Subject didn’t like and was being forced to eat)
  • Bright red clothing (Subject could not explain what the clothing looked like)

The level of detail that the Subject provides in our regression sessions amazes me. It’s obvious they feel they are physically there in that place. But these details must be some made-up fantasy that the Subject is creating in their own mind. Other than the few questions after this regression, I have not discussed this with the Subject for fear of creating false memories or causing the Subject to make up details simply to please me.

I plan to discuss this case with Jake at the conference this weekend. Hopefully he can provide some insight into this strange ‘world,’ for lack of a better term. Maybe he’s encountered something like this before and can advise me how to proceed. I haven’t seen any other indications that the Subject possesses mental issues as might be indicated by the fabrication of an entire world like this.