That night, Elias dreamt a dream.
He had returned to his cave through the deep darkness of a cloud-covered, moonless sky. Part feeling his way through thorns and rocks; part by memory and instinct; part by the faint but intermittent starlight.
He lay down at last, the blood from his hands caking under his fingernails, the blood from his knees and shins forming their first crusts.
His breathing – heavy – matched for a time the inhalation and exhalation of cold then warm air of the deep tunnels which lay beyond his cave. Then his breathing slowed, his body softened and he passed into sleep.
In his dream, his spirit – wide-awake, irrepressible – broke away from his body and flew: first out into the night sky above the cave mouth, then, turning, it re-entered the cave and descended; down into the blackness of the deeper earth, out of sight, leaving him behind.
His body remained. It dreamed dreams of its own. Pulsating carnal dreams of blood pumping and muscles twitching. Of gradual growth and renewal. Of circulation and digestion and dissolution. Defecation. Contented feelings.
The body-dreams scurried up and down the pathways of his limbs and organs, mapping out the geography of his living corpse, exploring all the feelings and reactions of the flesh. Freed of its tiny, limiting, guiding mind, the various parts competed all at once. A cacophony of blood and bile and muffled sparks of life. It juddered and twitched intermittently through those dark hours until it once again became just a host.
His spirit had forgotten whatever it had witnessed, or done in the deep caverns. It just remembered the blackness. But one thing it did know – its body ached.