Fire over Water: High Priestess

Other submissions by JB Penrose:
If you want to read their other submissions, please click the links.
Shadow and Light: The Devil (Paranormal & Supernatural, Book Award 2023)
Transfer of Power: The Magician (Paranormal & Supernatural, Book Award 2023)
Fire over Water: High Priestess (Paranormal & Supernatural, Screenplay Award 2023)
Shadow and Light: The Devil (Paranormal & Supernatural, Screenplay Award 2023)
Book Award Sub-Category
Award Category
Golden Writer
Book Cover Image
Logline or Premise
After Marlowe Giles moves from Dallas to Manhattan, her dreams begin to reveal a magic she didn't know she had. The magic draws her into a world she didn't know existed. But the cry for help in her dreams also comes with a warning: Save Me. Save You.
First 10 Pages

Dear Diary. Or, Beloved Hesperus – my evening dream star.

It doesn’t matter how I start this journal; it still sounds stupid. But even what I need to journal sounds stupid, so I hope by starting this diary, this journal, I’ll be able to make sense of my dream. The only dream I’ve had since arriving in New York City. At least by addressing my entry to Hesperus, I can pretend I’m corresponding with a real person, albeit a mythological one. That’s nothing stranger than this dream.

The dream always begins with me standing at a golden basin, splashing some type of refreshing water on my face. I don’t want to question my environment; I’m trying to learn more in every dream.

What I remember is the sweet elixir of water that dripped onto my lips. It’s the first time I have ‘tasted’ in a dream, and it’s not water. I know the difference, and the sweetness is not easily forgotten.

Who tastes something in a dream?

And naturally, that woke me.

The first lesson is that any type of question, ANY question, will wake me from the dream. I need to train myself to let it flow and,

Don’t. Ask. Questions!


Mighty Hesperus, my guiding star,

There is no sense of effort in the dream. After rinsing my face and stepping away from the basin, I glance at my reflection in the gilded mirror. I feel ‘ready’, although there is no measurement of time, only a shifting of awareness.

I close my eyes and focus on a humming sound in the room - if it is a room. Or, if it’s humming; I quickly squash my curiosity. But opening my eyes, the colors swirling around me, are overwhelming. Rivers of bright yellows and pinks, of dark blues and greens, all floating like individual threads in the wind.

Each color is a vibration that creates a unique tone. I can hear them individually, like instruments of an orchestra tuning before a performance. The blues are deep, long whining notes. The yellows, staccato. Every color is mesmerizing. I try to let the dream flow without being the conductor.

Do colors have sound?

And I am awake.


Beloved Hesperus, hear my call.

The dream tonight began as usual. My first awareness was the bubbling, effervescent liquid splashing over my face. But when I raised my gaze to my reflection in the mirror: That’s not me! Those aren’t my violet-blue eyes! Not my hair. Not my crown. Crown?

My fear froze any response; I could only stare. Somehow, I knew she’d been waiting for me. She was connected to me.

Her lips parted, forming silent words as though she were practicing. Then she took a deep breath and forced herself to speak.

‘Salvum me. Salvum te’. Her voice was quiet, musical.

What does that mean?

And I woke up.


My heart raced. I didn’t remember bolting upright in bed with the covers gripped to me. But I had, and I was still breathing hard from the surprise. These dreams always followed a certain ritual. Seeing her reflection in the mirror tonight was a change I hadn’t expected.

And she spoke to me! Who was she? Was that a crown?

My shaky hand went to my forehead, wiping the sweat on my face with the edge of the bedsheet trying to calm my breathing. No one expects to see a different reflection in the mirror. My hands continued to shake as I reached for the journal on the nightstand. I had Granny to thank for the discipline of recording every detail before a dream evaporated from my memory.

The dream began as usual, splashing the refreshing water on my face from the golden bowl before raising my gaze to my reflection in a mirror. That’s my cue to close my eyes and reopen them to another segment of the dream.

But tonight, SHE was waiting for me. It was her reflection in the mirror. Her lips moved in slow motion, practicing, bracing herself like it took great effort to speak.

Salvum me. Salvum te.

I began with the phrase. Salvum me. Salvum te.

It sounded like Latin, but I hadn’t studied Latin or knew anyone who spoke Latin. I wrote it down and repeated it to myself a few times to get a clear pronunciation before I recorded what I remembered most vividly of the woman in the mirror.

Her eyes. They were strangely beautiful, an odd shade of violet-blue pools of color that lit up her face. Her lips were a natural rose matching the blush on her cheeks, and she smiled like we knew each other. Her dark hair was long, straight, and she wore an odd crown on her head like some kind of queen. The crown held a pearlescent jewel that looked like a full moon balanced in a golden brace. I say moon because the gem was luminous. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. It was also the size of a basketball. How did she keep it on her head?

She was close to my age, but the flowing blue robe with a square cross over her chest was out of step with any modern fashion trend. Even trying to remember with my eyes closed, only those details came to mind. Everything else was a blur.

Salvum me. Salvum te.

Reaching for my phone, I Googled the phrase. Turns out – it was Latin.

Save me. Save you.

With the journal resting on my lap, I contemplated her cry for help, my fingers tracing the gold embossed M of my name on the cover. Granny always wanted me to write – though I’m not sure Dear Diary counts as using my English degree. ‘Marlowe Giles has something to say,’ she always insisted. ‘Write down the details before you forget!’ Granny made sure I had an endless supply of blank journals to fill.

But these dreams were different. Reoccurring. It’s not like I dream them on-demand – I am dreaming them whether or not I want to. The journal helps me remember the details, even if I struggle to understand the meaning.

When the dream flows at its own pace, each night contains a lesson. Learning to taste. Learning about sounds and colors. The appearance of this queen was new to the ritual, and to have her speak to me would have awakened anyone. Who speaks Latin in the 21st century?

Salvum me. Salvum te. Save me. Save you. What could it mean?

That was the question that woke me. Why would she ask me to save her? What would she need saving from? Why did I even think she was real? These were only dreams, right?

Thoughts crashed together until they echoed in my mind.

Save me. Save you.

Wait! Why did I need saving?


I finally stopped shaking with worry after my shower, even if it started again as I dressed for work. I questioned whether my legs would hold me steady on the trek to the office.

Weaving through the morning rush of pedestrians, I tried to match their determined pace. Getting comfortable with the number of people walking in the city was my first adaptation after moving from Dallas two months ago. Nobody walks to work in Dallas. But the energy of so many people in NYC was exactly what I needed after Granny died. The buzz of street conversations, music, or even the clash of honking horns was a special blend of city ‘white noise’ that kept my adrenaline flowing.

I avoided glancing at the storefront windows, afraid I might see a reflection of the dream queen. Thankfully, in the occasional glimpse, my image was all I saw.

The weather improved my mood. It was a crisp, sunny day in September that smelled of every type of food that could be hawked on a street corner. Coffee and pastries sweetened the air as much as trash and beer soured it. It was all part of the city experience.

The walk allowed me to reflect on my dream, one that began the first night I arrived in Manhattan after a five-day trip from Dallas driving a moving van. I took my time to enjoy the scenery along the 1,750-mile solo adventure. I needed a fresh start, something to fill the void after Granny died.

When the dream started, I thought I was tired from the trip, or tired from moving into my apartment. Maybe I was tired from sleeping with the mattress on the floor before I finally assembled the bed. Whatever started it, every night was like my first time dreaming this dream.

And now it came with a warning.


That night, I sat in bed braced against the headboard, letting my fingers feather through the pages of past dreams. The taste of the elixir, the threads of color and sound. The reflection of the queen in the mirror. ‘Queen’ was how I described her because of the crown on her head. All of this seemed like magic. But the queen’s appearance felt real to me, and that made the warning real, too.

It took a month to learn how to let the visions flow naturally. Then, another week tasting the elixir before I stopped waking at that experience. It took ten days after discovering colors had sound before I could ignore those sensations.

But a week after the dream queen appeared, I was already hoping for another lesson. I needed something tangible to help her. Something I could do in real life. After all, her dream was a cry for help: Save me. Save you.


Hesperus, my Light in the Dark – what are you trying to show me?

After the Rinse, I found the queen’s reflection in the mirror and read her lips as much as I heard her soft voice. Salvum me. Salvum te. At least now she was part of the sequence, and I was no longer startled at her appearance. I gave a nod of recognition and closed my eyes, expecting to shift into the room full of sounds and colors that swirled around me like an unwritten song.

But tonight I opened my eyes to a quiet darkness and a dimly glowing white rose with gilded edges positioned in my lap. I fingered the thornless rose, bringing the bloom closer to inhale the fragrance deeply. Granny loved roses and knew the varieties by their smell alone. This was a scent I couldn’t identify.

Can you really smell something in a dream?

And of course, that question woke me.

It didn’t matter what I wondered; if I asked a question, I was immediately awake. Was I asking the wrong questions?

I should have learned by now: Don’t. Ask. Questions!

I grabbed my journal from the nightstand and started with my question: What was that smell? Was it a real rose? Not one I could recall seeing before. How could a rose help save the queen in my dreams?

Tonight, questioning the fragrance had taken me off course once again, and I still had no idea how to save the dream queen or what danger awaited. Why did I need a rose that didn’t smell like a rose?

After every dream, there were always more questions than answers. No doubt it scared me, even if it felt like magic to see her reflection in place of my own. I don’t know why I believed in magic. I. Just. Did. Not that I knew what magic was. Granny always said magic was real. She just didn’t know any. However, she knew enough to insist I record every dream. And since arriving in New York City, this dream felt more like magic every night.

I breathed deeply one more time to memorize the scent of that rose before pushing myself out of bed. Might as well get ready. It never hurt to be early in the office.


Today, everyone decided it was a good idea to walk to work. It was a dance maneuvering into the stream of pedestrians moving in the direction I needed to go. The chill was brisk, but the breeze was light and my sweater was all I needed. That and sunglasses – sunlight reflecting off mirrored buildings could be blinding.

The tide of people carried me along, automatically stopping or moving at the pedestrian crossings with everyone else. I wasn’t focused on my destination, just content to experience being in the city.

Even lost in my reverie, my feet stopped moving when an unfamiliar fragrance wafted my way. Not unfamiliar, indescribable.

“Hey! Watch where you’re going!” A few more rude remarks were aimed at me for turning against the flow of pedestrians to hunt the scent that brought my whole body to attention.

That fragrance!

The image of the gilded white rose tickled my memory, and I surveyed the area to find a cart overflowing with colorful bouquets on the corner. Drawn by the fragrance and colors, I strode forward with anticipation.

Flowers! Flowers! Flowers!

The wagon was so full of color it looked like spring in September. I bent to smell each bouquet, trying to isolate the perfume that matched my memory.

It was intoxicating. And frustrating. There must have been a hundred bouquets for sale. I was still hunting for the right fragrance after smelling half the inventory.

“Are you searching for something specific?” the vendor inquired.

I straightened and blinked a few times to clear my vision in the sunlight that radiated from behind him. My sunglasses were perched atop my head, but I didn’t want anything to filter my view. When he walked around from behind the cart, my breath hitched at how unexpectedly cute he was. His broad chest and brawny arms matched his tall height, and I thought him more of a, well, I don’t know. But not a florist!

“There was a rose in my dream,” I admitted, although I wasn’t sure why. Flirting was something I was not experienced with, but I might have added a bit of Texan to my accent. “I thought I caught the scent at the intersection.”

He raised an eyebrow and grinned, revealing a single dimple on the right side of his smile hidden under the shadow of his morning beard. “Smelled it in your dreams, did you? Let’s see.” He shuffled some boxes underneath the stand. “What do we have that dreams are made of?”

I watched, suspicious that he was making a show of finding something he didn’t have. Not that he was hard to watch. He was about my age, and more street savvy than I dreamed would appeal to me. But it did. Be still, my heart!

His black hair was tied in a chonmage topknot, short on the sides and long on top, highlighting his striking facial features. His body was as ripped as his jeans, toned and muscular. The maroon hoodie he wore had a Time Lords Academy patch on the back. He was a Whovian! And those hazel flecks in his deep brown eyes simply added to his out-of-this-world appearance.

“Do you remember what this rose looked like, or only how it smelled?” His eyes held a tint of amusement and maybe something of a challenge.

I laughed. “I wouldn’t care what it looked like if it was the fragrance I remembered, which is hard to describe,” I admitted, feeling a little silly. “It’s, well, unusual. But in my dream, the rose was white, and gilded on the petal tips and leaves. Got one of those back there?” I challenged him, knowing what I’d described was not like any rose I’d ever seen growing.

At my description, he cocked his head, his smile lost for a moment as he studied me. As much as his attention flattered me, I fidgeted under his scrutiny and glanced over my shoulder at the changing light. Work was waiting, so I only allowed myself one more pedestrian sequence before giving up the chase for my elusive fragrance. Besides, he was really hot!

Our staring contest was practically a standoff. Neither of us moved or looked away. Finally, I had to go. “It’s okay. I’d better get to work.”

“Wait!” He stopped me with his smile. And that dimple. Then with some flourish, he reached inside his sleeve to pull out a silk-petaled white rose, tinged at the edges with gold. “Is this the fragrance you dreamed of?”

I grabbed for his hand to bring the flower to my nose and inhaled. “That’s it! It’s perfect! Please sell it to me! What can I pay you?”

“Just your name,” he told me, smiling at my touch to his hand. “I’m Char.”

The fire of a blush burned my cheeks. “Hi, um, Char. Let me pay you for this.” He hadn’t released ownership of the rose, and his eyes held mine as firmly as his grip on the flower. “And you are ...”

“Marlowe.” My gaze dropped under his examination. Then his smile reappeared with that dimple as he released the rose into my hands.

“That’s all I need, Marlowe. My day is now complete.” He winked and his hands shooed me toward the light. “Besides, you need to get to work.”

The light counted down the pedestrian time to cross, and I turned to go. “Alright, I do – but thanks! You’re sure I can’t pay you?”

Char laughed. “Go on! I would never charge you for something in your dream!”

Excited, I ran to the crossing amidst the crowd, inhaling fragrances and looking back with each step. I took a last look before turning on the street to my office building, but the multitude of pedestrians kept me from seeing anything other than a burst of color.

I inhaled again, the fragrance a reinforcement of reality.

My dream was real.