|Mongoose Totem animal|
On waking after the shuttle flight from Lotor, Jeb finds herself in a strange white hall, on a platform of statues. She finds Mongoose among them and tries to wake him, to no avail. At last she can only hope that he'll wake her when he wakes ...
In my dream, Mongoose does wake. He glances down and steps over me, hops down to floor level and walking toward one of the white walls disappears into it.
I’m so frightened I shudder and wake.
The great white tile-shining hall is alight with a time of day I might as well call morning.
Mongoose is not breathing beside me. Then I remember … he was standing. Without looking in his direction—I’m so so afraid—I feel for his animal-feet.
I don’t feel him. The dream was real?
I stand up, the better to flick my gaze over the podium, animal to animal, corner to corner, end to end. He isn’t anywhere among them. Among us. I sob.
I want to find him so desperately that my eyes want to bulge from their sockets trying to see him, somewhere, in this shining … white … nothing. I ignore the mirror newly installed opposite the podium because Mongoose is gone and what could possibly be more important than that? I call him and my voice echoes tinnily from the hard shining surfaces.
His weaponry and his pack are gone too. My voice clatters and falls, and I fall to the carpeted podium.
All the time I’m noticing that there’s no sound other than me crying. No change in the light surrounding me.
There wasn’t a mirror anywhere in the hall the first time I woke.
There is now, and no other change except that Mongoose is gone. I run my gaze over the rows, everyone else is still here. All of them still in statue-mode.
I’m the only one awake. That mirror is meant for me to look into.
I didn’t hear that.
"To see how I have improved you," says a room-sized voice.
I didn’t hear that.
"I replaced your chip with a newer version, as well."
I suspect something so dreadful that I am pulled to the mirror. I rise, walk, squat to jump from the podium, walk up to the silvery rectangle.
The mirror reflects someone I don’t know. Almost I try to look beyond her.
"Isn't that much better?"
The young woman in the mirror is willowy, I think they used to call that kind of shape. The hem of her tunic brushes her mid-thigh and her legs are straight and smooth. No lumpy legs on this girl. Her tunic is cinched at the waist with a narrow gold belt and her chest, too, is well-proportioned.
I have the irrational desire to rip off the mirror-girl’s tunic to see the real girl beneath. I twist and turn to see what her back looks like. Her hair falls in luxurious waves past her shoulders, in a pointed golden fall to the middle of her back.
She makes me sick she is so perfect.
Her eyes are a piercing green. Her eyebrows are gold which means that all her body hair is also that same sickening gold. Forget seeing her naked. “No wonder Mongoose left without me. He didn’t recognise me.”
I turn, walk, climb onto the podium and curl up in the mongoose’s square.
"You aren't pleased," says the entity.
I try to fall asleep. Maybe if I wake out of a different dream, Mongoose will still be here … or we’ll still be in the shuttle, him beside me. What is this place, anyway?