Where the hell was Asklepios? It was dark and late and he had not come back from his walk. Tim chided himself, he should never have let that irritating yet likeable man go out on his own.
His leather jacket was still damp, he put it on anyway and walked to the end of the street and stood at the corner. Amber street lights illuminated a road with sparse traffic, fewer pedestrians and a lone cyclist.
There was little more he could do unless he wanted to spend the entire night walking the streets. Brighton was a reasonably safe town. Little harm was likely to come to Asklepios unless he was very unlucky. He would have a far better chance of finding him in daylight.
Tim returned home. Worried, he stayed up for another hour in the hope of hearing a knock on the door. He read a book, his eyes drooped, he dropped the book and jerked awake. This was achieving nothing. He took himself to bed, briefly lay in the dark making plans to locate Asklepios before he fell asleep…
…And found himself alone in a broad and deserted avenue of black-leaved trees. A blustery wind surged in the high branches. He looked up at the clouds billowing in the night sky and instinctively knew he could fly.
Tim took three steps and sprang into the air. Strong winds shoved him steadily out to sea. Far over the heaving water enormous clouds piled up in a roiling black mass. Lightning flashed soundlessly inside the clouds. Frightened by the sea-storm, he fought his way back to land against the relentless winds.
Brighton lay quiet and dark, a monochrome city of elaborate empty houses and windswept streets lit by a sparse scatter of streetlights.
Out at sea the storm clouds flattened into a titanic anvil-shaped thunderhead and spread towards the coast.
He looked for landmarks, there was nothing he recognised. Dream Brighton architecture was grand and uniform, every building a Palladian mansion. He rose higher, battling the wind, hanging close to the coast. The royal pavilion must be here, that white onion-domed folly was its own dream even in the waking world.
Irresistible gusts flung him towards some enormous trees. He caught hold and clambered into the swaying branches. The trees were stupendously high. Far below and far away he saw the white domes of the pavilion among the black buildings of the dark city. A glimmering silver thread ran from the building. He pushed out into the air and the sea-gale flung him down towards the needle-sharp tips of the white domes. Tim kicked and struggled, he dropped into calm air in the lee of the pavilion. The silver thread shimmered through the night, he followed it past palatial beachfront hotels into an alley that narrowed and narrowed so the beetling walls of rough black stone scraped against his body. Then he was free again and soared high over the shingle beach.
Monstrous waves crashed on the shore, pebbles sucked and roared in the surf. The silver thread ran on. Far down the beach a light flared. Tim swept towards it. A windswept figure stood among the tangled ruins of the west pier: Asklepios, lost and alone in the dream lands. He saw Tim and raised his arms.
This is my dream. Tim swept down, gathered Asklepios in his arms and rose into the sky. I can take him home.
The mist brightened then cleared. Tim hung over a narrow, dusty street flanked by whitewashed walls set with high, tapering archways. The air was warm and dry, spiced with heat, mint, and orange blossom.
Yes. Asklepios reached out happily. Thank you.
The mists rolled back, cloying, smothering. Blinded and disoriented, Tim felt a hostile third presence. It buffeted them, dragged and shoved them this way and that. Dislocation followed, Tim fought to hold his position. Then, once again there was bright sunshine and balmy air, a magnificent walled city in a plain, towering ziggurats. A throng of olive-skinned men and women in pleated white robes strolled along a broad paved way.
Tim had brought Asklepios home. He released him. Goodbye. Farewell.
No! Wait, Master! Asklepios cried, but he was falling, the scene fading into the mist.
Tim floated peacefully, the dream diminished. He stirred, awoke briefly in his own bed, and slept again.
To be continued…