Catching The Wish - 2006

Comic Book Puzzle Issue #1: A Puzzling Dream

There are two pages in the first issue of the CTW comic under the general heading “Creators’ Journal”, in which Dale talks about the process of creating the book. The pages are a mixture of text and images from his handwritten notebook, which he often writes in immediately after waking, right from his dreams. The book includes drawings and stream-of-thought type passages, since he is only semi-awake when transcribing many of them.

This puzzle involves Dale’s recitation of a particularly vivid dream he has had that he tries to transcribe, but it was so rich and detailed that he finds it fading away from his memory before he can finish it and ends up just jotting down bits and pieces by the end of it.

I awoke (in my dream, that is) to find a man standing at the foot of my bed. He wore a robe with a cowl pulled up over his head, his face a mere pool of black in the already darkened room. His left hand held a staff, upon which he seemed to lean with a heaviness belying his size. As I sat up in my bed, his deep voice boomed, seemingly from everywhere at once around the room.

“You would serve us now, it seems, so you must first see things as we do. In so doing, your true nature shall be revealed.”

Before I could reply I was transported, transformed, the darkness of my room replaced with the darkness of the forest. But I could see effortlessly in the pitch darkness, my heavy paws barely touching the ground as made my way between the trees. The taste and warmth of fresh blood was still in my mouth as I chased after yet another prey, whose scent was string within my nostrils. And then he was there before me, a man who turned in terror as I entered the small clearing behind him, his torch throwing just enough light to see me as I leaped across the space between us. One word escaped his lips, “Tiger!”, and then I was gone.

In that moment, as I leaped across the clearing, my jump became flight, and I somehow knew I was a heron, gliding along the water’s edge. I saw everything with perfect clarity – the fish just below the water’s surface, and the creatures moving in the grass in the field surrounding the lake. A rabbit leapt high above the foot tall growth and suddenly I was the rabbit, darting rapidly through the field I had just soared above.

I think I grew confused then, for there was a period where I couldn’t see anything, and I thought I would return to my bed. Instead though, as I tried to open my eyes, the darkness became a pool of water before me, and my reflection as a large and majestic elk, bending down to take a drink. Overhead, a movement caught my eye and I looked up to see an eagle circling overhead. A moment later and I was the eagle, looking down upon the elk, before flying off to the plains beyond.

At this point I began to have trouble remembering the details of my dream, afterwards while I was writing this down, so I tried the best I could to recall and record the animals who I temporarily became, although many of the things I did and saw while them escaped me.

I was lion, proud and strong, but also wracked with enduring hunger and thirst, as I prowled the plains; an elephant, also consumed by hunger in a constant effort to find enough to support my size. I was a turtle, swimming through murky depths and the trout that passed above him. I was an egret, standing at the water line, and the raccoon washing his food a few feet away. And, I was the snake, lying in the grass and watching the raccoon consume his meal.

I swam as the salmon, scared away by the raccoon’s noisy meal, and the alligator trying to catch the fish that would become his next one. And I was the vulture, patiently circling above, waiting to consume what the raccoon did not. I was a bird that could not fly, an emu feeding on bugs and flowers on the Australian plain.

And finally, right before I awoke (for real, this time), I felt myself transformed into something grand and powerful, a creature ancient and wise, with great scaly wings and fiery, sparkling eyes. Just for a moment, in that twilight between sleep and waking, I knew I was a dragon.

The Solve: The hidden message lies in the list of animals that Dale recites while he retells this dream. If you put them in a list and then look at just the first letter of each animal name, you'll see the secret message: three letters saved

All puzzles, websites, images, character names, and story descriptions are copyright 2007 - Dave Szulborski