Usually I can laugh off those little terrors once I wake up. In the light of day, those phantoms of my sleep evaporate with the dew and at best appear ridiculous and unfounded. But not that night.
I was swimming in the water in Lake Powell. Water was warm and placid with the vertical red rock cliffs testing their shadows across its surface. It is the place to which my extended family retreats each year for our family reunion and seems like a second home to us. I recall that I had been swimming in the water next to a small boat in which one of my sons, represented by a small child in the dream, was playing with me.
That was when the crocodile appeared, swimming towards us with its eyes barely above the surface.
Now, a crocodile in Lake Powell is, in and of itself, a preposterous idea. The enormous Lake is set in the middle of a Western Desert and crocodiles are about as indigenous to that region as snakes would be in Antarctica. Nevertheless, there was a reality about this crocodile that I could not shake in my mind.
That crocodile seemed only mildly curious but was swimming directly toward my son.
Due to its location, the waters of Lake Powell are, in most places, literally hundreds of feet deep. I could see the sand dune shores but they were too far away to offer any practical escape. Touching bottom with my feet was impossible. Swimming freely, there was no place where I might find leverage to counter this creature that was moving so smoothly in what for him was a native environment.
Somehow, I found something in my hands. It was a broomstick; hardly an effective weapon to counter this 15 foot long predator now only a few feet away from me. I used the stick to push at the beast as it swam toward my son. I managed to deflect the crocodile off of its course, but with a lazy casualness it moved past us a short distance and then turned to swim again with curiosity in our direction. I tried several more times with the stick to urge this monster away from us, but to my horror I realized that my every attempt at deflecting this monster only seemed to heighten its interest and hasten its return.
Gratefully, my son by this time was nowhere near by and had somehow vanished from the equation. However, because of my prodding the crocodile, huge and powerful, had now taken an interest in me. My stick was no longer effective in deflecting it and I could see its narrow snout pushing through the water directly toward me. I abandoned the stick and in desperation wrapped my hands around the jaws of the crocodile to hold the enclosed. I had read somewhere that the jaw muscles of such creatures were designed primarily to be powerful when biting down but not nearly as strong in terms of opening their maw. I thought, “as long as I can hold on, and keep the crocodile’s jaws closed, then he cannot destroy me.”
But I also knew that I could not hold on forever. My arms would tire, my grip would weaken, and those terrible jobs would be upon me. Worse, I knew that by holding closed the crocodile’s jaws, I had enraged it and was only making it more enraged by the moment. Angry and intent, the crocodile began pushing me through the water. I could feel my hands shaking, losing their grip. I could see my wife, Laura, and a small boat about 100 feet away but I knew I could not last long enough to get there. I considered briefly the shore but knew that when I arrived there I would still have two face the same predator lock in my weakening arms. Every scenario, every possibility was exhausted in my mind and I could see no way out of an inevitable and terrible outcome.
It was then, from inside the dream, that I realized I was dreaming. The only way I would survive, I thought, was to wake up.
And so I did.
I remained awake. Somehow I knew that if I went back to sleep, that crocodile would be right there again in my arms and I simply could not face that before another dawn.
So, why am I telling you about my nightmare. I am telling you because I have realized that I have been gripping the same crocodile for the last seven years. It has been threatening to eat me, destroy me, and tear my hopes and dreams asunder. And still, I hold on.
It has been too long since I have been back to Mordale. I have missed it city streets. I have missed the friends whom I have met their, both in the streets and among you good friends who have been wanting to share this journey with us. I have been doing everything that I could in order to survive.
But there is more to life than surviving for at least four to life than just surviving.
And so, my friends, I am happy to tell you that we are at last be turning to Mordale. It is time at last for us to visit the Lady of Lorem Street, to get to know her and to discover the fate of the city and magic. We will begin releasing chapters weekly as we should beginning May 17 and it is our intention now to continue faithfully to the final chapter.
And it is time that I thank you for your patience and your support. If I have managed to wrestle this crocodile for this long, it is in no small part due to the strength that you have lent me.