Lair of Dreams (The Diviners #2)
his feet, the snow vanished like a tablecloth snatched from under a place setting by a skilled magician’s hands. Now he stood on a weather-cracked road that stretched out toward a horizon line so sharp it seemed painted. Wheat fields lay on either side. The sky churned with storm clouds.
    On the windswept prairie, his mother sat in an enormous redvelvet chair. The wind whipped her silver-threaded hair across her delicate face. Henry couldn’t feel the wind or smell the dust—he never could on a dream walk, just as he couldn’t touch people or objects—but he was aware of the idea of both. Henry’s father stood behind his wife, one hand on her shoulder as if to keep her from flying away. His father’s face was stern, disapproving.
    “Saint Barnabas told me the truth,” his mother said, wide-eyed. “It was the vitamins. The vitamins did this to you. I should never have taken them.” His mother began to cry. “Oh, why did you leave me, Bird?”
    “Please don’t cry, Maman,” Henry pleaded, his heart sinking. Even in dreams, a fellow wasn’t safe.
    “What is this filth?” his father’s voice boomed. In one hand he held a letter, which grew so big it blocked out the sun. Henry’s heart pounded against his ribs.
    “It was the vitamins,” his mother said again, and she held out her bleeding wrists. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
    “Stop. Please,” Henry said. He shut his eyes and tried to seize control of the runaway dream. Why could he change dreams for others, but never for himself?
    “Louis! Louis, where are you?”
    The wind kicked up dust on the road, and in the dust, Henry could make out faint figures, as transparent as Irish lace at a sunstruck windowpane. Leading them was the man he’d seen on the tarot cards—the thin man in the tall black hat. Henry started toward them, but a crow darted in front of him with a great flapping of feathers, as if urging him away from this place, ahead of the dust and the things moving inside it.
    And so Henry ran after it, deeper into the wheat field.

    Ling’s eyes fluttered open inside the dream to a flurry of pink-white petals falling down around her. Sitting up, she found herself in a garden of cherry trees in full bloom. The place had no meaning for Ling,so she surmised that it must have had meaning for Lee Fan’s grandmother. Often when she conjured the dead, they returned to a place they’d loved in life—or a place of trouble they revisited in order to put that trouble to rest.
    Before sleep, Ling had offered prayers and joss money out of respect. She’d put Mrs. Lin’s ring on the index finger of her right hand. Now, as respectfully as possible, she called for Mrs. Lin and waited. Ling didn’t know why she had the power to manifest the spirits of the dead inside dreams. They didn’t come for long—usually just long enough to answer the question posed to them, and then they were gone, back to wherever their energy was scattered.
    Another person might’ve seen the power to dream walk and speak to the dead as a spiritual gift. Ling had no such sentimentality. To her, it was a scientific puzzle, a great “Eureka!” moment waiting to be explored, examined, quantified. Was a visit from the dead proof that time was merely an illusion? Was there something about Ling observing the dead that made it happen, as if the dead needed her consciousness in order to take form? Where did the dead come from? Where did their energy go afterward?
What
was that energy? Did the existence of ghosts mean that there might be more than one universe, and dreams were the beginning of a way into them? With every dream walk, Ling searched for clues.
    Soon, Lee Fan’s grandmother appeared. A subtle, shimmery aura fuzzed the edges of her. This was how Ling knew the dead. She paid attention to the golden glow, making mental notes like a scientist would: Was Mrs. Lin’s aura stronger? Brighter? Did it waver or hold other colors? Did she appear more like a solid or a wave? Did

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