Breaking through the Barrier

Adam doesn’t get any sleep the night before he summons his guardian spirit. He’s not supposed to, for one thing, but he’s too wired for sleep anyway. He sits in the Black room and spins the words of the ritual over and over in his mouth silently their corners have all worn away. He traces the shapes that he will paint on the floor later with his fingers, rubbing them out when he make a mistake, starting over and over again until he’s perfect. He can’t afford a mistake in the actual ritual; he’s been seven years preparing for this night and if something goes wrong it’s another seven years before he can try again.

Adam doesn’t get any sleep the night before he summons his guardian spirit, but he dreams even so, visions and events floating ghostly over the unmarked perfection of the Black room. The Black room invites these kinds of waking dreams; its empty walls reflect the soul back and forth so many times it takes form in the air. Toward the end of the night, Adam sees his mother. She’s standing in a grove of cedars and singing. He can’t hear the words but her voice is rich and full and terrifying. She turns and sees him and he sees that she has a lion’s head. She roars a greeting and Adam roars back, the words of the ritual wound tightly about his voice.