Elysian Dream

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Golden Writer
Logline or Premise
Benji discovers no one in his life is who he thought they were. Thrust from his easy life in Edinburgh into the magical world of Elysia - a world where the mythological beings are real, he undertakes a perilous journey with girlfriend Kim. War is coming and they are caught up in the middle of it.
First 10 Pages

(Formatting lost when cut and past)



Chapter 1 - Visit

Benji only half heard Professor Long droning on – the previous night’s blackout, and subsequent recurring nightmare, still fresh in his thoughts. A trickle of sweat worked its way down the side of his face, as the pounding of hooves and the raging battlefield, replayed in glorious technicolour in his mind. He could almost smell the blood-soaked soil.

He sat next to the aisle at the back of the lecture theatre ready to make a quick getaway when the bell rang. As Benji wiped his face with his sleeve, the Prof’s voice filtered through again.

“There are three possible reasons why you’re doing this module. In order of probability these are: one – your parents decided for you; two – you have ‘issues’ of your own and you’re looking for answers; and three – you’re actually interested in psychology. Well, there may be a fourth, but we don’t need to go into that right now. Most of you think you’re a three, but ones and twos are far more probable. Have a think about where you really sit on this. Analyse your reasons for being here…”

The Prof’s voice faded into the distance once more. Benji’s phone was in his lap and he was ordering a pizza when everything went quiet. The only sound a little snigger somewhere nearby. Benji snapped to and looked up, all eyes were turned on him, except his girlfriend, Kim’s, of course. She had her elbow on the writing tablet and her head in her hand, her long ebony hair obscuring the side of her perfect face. Benji cringed; he was in for some grief.

“Well Mr Jarrett?” came the voice from the podium.

Benji looked at Long. “Um er four sir. I’m a four.”

The Prof looked long and hard at his quarry. “Mmm. See me after class Mr Jarrett.”

Benji ran his fingers through his mop of golden hair and glanced behind him at the door. Could he make a run for it? Probably not. The rest of the lesson passed by in a blur. The bell sounded. He looked at the nearby door again as everyone began to move in his direction.

“Mr Jarrett.” Long wasn’t about to miss his opportunity to give him some stick. He headed down the wide steps.

As he passed Kim she raised her eyebrows at him but said nothing. She’d be waiting outside for him.

“So Mr Jarrett, what exactly is your number four?”

“Er well sir, um, I’m kind of interested in the mythology and folklore.” Benji became more animated. “It’s in the module brief.”

“I see. You realise that section is covered in only two lectures? The two sessions focus on how mysticism has played a role in developing the human psyche, and how that has extended into the arts. You plan to do a whole module just for this? I ask, because you clearly have very little interest in the rest of what I have to say.”

Benji studied the portly teacher more closely. He wasn’t actually smiling, but there was a sly twinkle in the old man’s eye. It encouraged Benji to engage him a little further. “Sir, you’ve written five books on the subject. I’ve read them all, cover to cover. It’s fascinating. If there had been a module just on this topic, I’d have done that instead.”

Long was quiet for a few moments as he studied Benji’s face. “So what –

are you expecting me to produce a fae or a kelpie or something on the podium here for those lectures?”

Benji’s heart skipped a beat. Kim was going to go mad at him. He frowned at his own random thought. Why would she go mad at him? He shrugged. Now he could look anywhere except at Long. He knew he had to say something – anything. “Can I go Sir? I need to get ready for my next class.” Long’s eyes bored into him, but the old man just nodded his assent and Benji bolted for the door, his long, skinny legs carrying him quickly up the steps and away.

The doors banged open and Benji burst through, a little breathless. Kim had been talking to a couple of other girls, but they left when they saw him coming. He melted at the sight of her as she turned her full attention on him. Even now, after all this time, he could hardly believe this amazing girl chose to be with him. Flicking her hair over her shoulder Kim said, “I saved the seat next to me for you. I thought perhaps, for once, I could keep you from embarrassing yourself. A forlorn hope it seems. What did Long say to you anyway?”

Benji’s breathing slowed to normal. “He wanted to know why I’m doing this module. He asked if I was expecting him to bring a fae or a kelpie to class.”

Kim’s eyes widened. “What? What did you say?”

“I panicked. Don’t know why.” He shrugged. “I just had to get away so I told him I needed to get to my next class.”

She pulled him to one side, out of earshot of the passing students. “Tell me the whole conversation. Word for word.”


Slowly the room came into focus. Damn, another blackout. The first thing Benji noticed was the empty space on the wall where Kim had taken down the ‘girly’ calendar – again, a pity, he particularly liked Miss October. The throbbing in his head became more pronounced as he swung his legs round and tried to sit. He gave up, curled back up in a ball, pulling the pillow across his face. It didn’t help, and in a momentary flash of irritation the pillow went flying across the room knocking Kim’s cittern over with a distinct sigh of the strings. “Oh shit!” He looked around as if she might suddenly manifest in the tiny bedroom. Almost as if thinking of her had conjured her up, her voice came through from the next room. Staggering over to the window as the fog slowly cleared from his mind, Benji picked up the cittern and stood it back into its normal position against the wall, grateful for its thick case.

Kim’s words filtered through to him as he walked over to the door.

“We can’t leave this too much longer mother. I can’t keep doing this to him.” A pause. She must be on the phone – to her mother? She’s never mentioned her before. It then occurred to Benji that maybe he should have asked Kim about her family. Why hadn’t he? And what was she doing to him – if she was talking about him that is?

“When?” Another pause. “Someone needs to make the assessment soon. If Dom can’t make it himself, and no surprises there, then perhaps you could come.” Her voice softened. “It would be good to see you mother, and anyway, Dom values your opinions.”

Benji waited to hear what else she might say, but Kim said no more. Curiosity burned inside of him as he opened the door. “Who were you talking to?”

Kim swivelled, quickly hiding something behind her back. “My cittern better not be damaged. Are you feeling better?”

Benji remembered the headache as the pounding reasserted itself. “What happened? I don’t remember getting drunk.”

“Well, it really doesn’t take much does it? Don’t you recall? It was your idea to go to The Corn Exchange.”

He didn’t remember going there, not at all, and this wasn’t the first time he’d completely blanked out a session at the club. “You seem to be ok,” he accused.

Kim ignored his comment and went to get her cittern. She started to play a soothing melody as she once more she changed the subject. “By the way, my mother’s coming for a visit next week.”

All the urgency had left her voice now. He kept his own voice on an even keel too, but tested the water none the less. “Oh, that’ll be nice for you. Do you want me to make myself scarce?”

Kim stopped playing, a flash of shock showed momentarily in her eyes, and then it was gone. “No. No of course not. She’d love to meet you. We should go to lunch, how about the Bridge Café?”

Elysian Dream – by Sarah Burchett-Cook

Chapter 2 - Test

Sitting at the corner table of the Bridge Café, Benji’s skin almost prickled at the tension between the three of them. It was a busy lunchtime, the general chatter in the room and the piped classical music barely covered the sound of clanking dishes coming from the kitchen. Benji could hardly keep from staring at Luci Maine. She didn’t look old enough to be Kim’s mother, an older sister maybe, but mother! She had the same ebony hair that Kim had, and the same green eyes with gold flecks. Her skin was flawless, but unlike Kim who put comfort first, her demeanour and dress were very business-like.

“So, you’re the gangly youth that’s stolen my daughter’s heart.”

Benji caught the warning look Kim flashed at her mother. He thought he’d better say something. “Have you come far Mrs Maine? Did you drive up, or fly into Edinburgh?”

“Actually I took the train.”

Benji wriggled in his chair. He ought to try to keep on the right side of Kim’s mother, but there was something a little disturbing about her. He couldn’t quite put his finger on what that was, but he was certain she hadn’t blinked since she sat down. This was going to be a difficult lunch date.

It was an overcast day, yet a beam of sunlight shone through the window behind Mrs Maine’s back. It made her hair gleam. Benji tilted his head but couldn’t quite see the break in the clouds that must have been there, odd. He glanced Kim’s way. The brightness surrounded her too. Doubly odd. A tiny, yet distant smile broke on her mother’s otherwise stern, no not stern, sorrowful face.

At last the waiter came over with the menus. It broke the tension that had crept over their little gathering. He perused the lunch options, but when he looked up he found Kim’s mother staring at him instead of at her own menu. “D...do you know what you’re having?” he asked. “The paninis here are great, or if you go for the jacket potato, they bake their own in the oven, they’re not nuked in the microwave.”

Both the women turned their noses up when Benji ordered the coronation chicken panini. Kim and Luci went for vegetarian options.

“What did you think of the station?” Benji knew he was making inane small-talk, but Luci Maine’s silent scrutiny was messing with his nerves.


“Edinburgh station. It’s quite an impressive building don’t you think?”

“I suppose so. I didn’t have much time to look.”

An awkward silence.

“You really take after your mother Kim.”

Another awkward silence. Kim fidgeted, darting her eyes between him and her mother. Why? She was normally so composed.

“Are you planning on staying in Edinburgh for long Mrs Maine?”

Luci stared at Benji for a moment, then sighed and dumped her serviette on top of her unfinished salad. She ignored Benji’s question and looked at Kim. “Enough of this mindless small talk. Let’s get this over with.”


Benji, smiling politely, looked from Kim to Luci and back to Kim again. “What? Get what over with? What are you talking about?”

“Let’s go back to the flat. We need to talk,” said Kim.


Benji slowly roused to consciousness. Not again! He didn’t remember walking back to the flat after that awkward lunch with Kim’s mother. In fact he couldn’t remember anything after starting his lunch. His regular blackouts after a night out worried him. Kim always had to fill in the blanks. This time it was different. They’d just gone out to lunch, and he didn’t think he’d even had a drink – in fact he was certain he hadn’t. He’d never had a blackout during the daytime before. He must be getting worse. He should see a doctor. He frowned. Kim always played his blackouts down, insisting he didn’t need to see anyone about them. Benji sat up on the bed. As usual his head was thumping, but it didn’t stop him going to the door to listen in to the urgent, whispered conversation going on in the next room.

“…are you sure?” It was Kim’s voice.

Her mother answered. “There’s no doubt about it. It’s the strongest reading I’ve seen in centuries.”

Benji frowned, centuries?

“Shhh, keep your voice down.”

“Oh, don’t worry, I gave him enough amnotin to keep him out for hours yet.”

“Don’t count on it. I’ve been having to up the dose as he comes out of it more quickly each time. It’s getting harder and harder to keep the truth from him. His innate clan memories reassert themselves that much sooner after every dose. I’m pumping him with amnotin at least once a week now.”

“We need to move quickly then, before they become permanently suppressed and he’s of no use to us. I’ll get back and talk to Dom about making preparations.”

Benji’s heart was thumping. His mind swirled and he fought down the queasiness in his stomach. His legs turned to jelly and he turned, slid down the door to the floor and wrapped his arms around his knees.

Kim had been drugging him. Kim…had…been…drugging…him. What the hell! He’d trusted her. He loved her. Desperation warred with the hurt of betrayal, but for what purpose? Something nefarious – but what could they possibly want to do to him? The front door closed. His eyes widened, they mustn’t know he’d heard them. Scrambling back to the bed, he pretended to be asleep. Kim came in. Benji squeezed his eyelids tighter.

“Been awake long?” Kim asked then.

Dammit. “Er no, I just woke up when I heard the door shut. I have a headache. I just want to sleep it off. Leave me alone.” He rolled over to face the wall.

“Ok hun. I’m just going to get a few bits from the shop, can I get you anything?”

“I’m good thanks.” He pulled the blanket over his head.

The front door closed and Benji sprang up. He pulled a spare sweatshirt, some socks and a pair of jockey’s into his rucksack, grabbed his toothbrush, toothpaste and a bar of soap from the bathroom, donned his coat and trainers and quickly left. Where to go, he wasn’t sure. He only knew he had to get away from his crazy girlfriend and her weird mother. Whatever game they had in mind for him, he wasn’t going to play.

Chapter 3 – Escape

With more than a little trepidation, Kim phoned her mother to tell her Benji had slipped her grasp.

“You were supposed to be watching him. This isn’t like you Kimjora. You have clearly developed feelings for this boy, goodness only knows why, but it’s affected your objectivity. Your mission is compromised, I’ll send in a team to help you find and recover him.”

“No Mother. I have a few ideas where he might have gone. Let me see if I can find him first. You gave him quite a big dose of amnotin – it should be at least a week before he starts seeing anything. Even then he won’t understand what’s happening.”

“Alright. You have one week. If you haven’t found him and brought him in by then, I’m taking this case out of your hands. Dom is furious. I’ve had to do some fast-talking to keep you in the field as it is. He wanted you back home to face the Court.”

Kim breathed in sharply as relief flooded through her. “Thank you Mother. I won’t let you down.”

“Kim, our auras slipped for a while in that café? You know he could see that, right?”

Kim nodded, even though her mother couldn’t see her. “I know. It wasn’t the first time he’s seen it, but the amnotin takes the memory away each time.”

“Benji, please pick up. I know what you heard sounds weird, but it’s not what it seems. Just come back to the flat and I’ll explain everything. Trust me.” Kim’s sixth call to Benji had gone straight to answerphone, just like the last three. He must have switched the damn thing off after her second call, but she kept trying anyway. He wouldn’t be at a friend’s house. Benji didn’t have any friends, she’d made sure of that. She dropped her phone into her bag and headed over to the uni. When she got to the uni library she went straight to the desk. “Hi Ruth. Has Benji been in today?”

“Sorry Kim, no I haven’t seen him,” she rolled her eyes, “perhaps he’s got lost somewhere.”

Kim frowned. She didn’t much like Ruth’s sarcastic tone. Maybe she’d done too good a job at isolating him. “If you see him, ask him to call me would you?”


Where else? Pizza Hut? The Corn Exchange? The public library? Burger King? Kim tried everywhere she could think of that Benji might be hanging out, then traipsed slowly back to the flat they shared. Kim paced the living room floor. It was the morning of the forth day she was at a loss as to where he might be. She cursed and thumped the wall with her fist, wincing at the discomfort of grazed knuckles. Her mother was right, she’d taken her eye off the ball, and her current project had slipped her grasp. Only three more days before it got taken out of her hands, and Dom would recall her and confine her to quarters.

(Chapter continues).