At least this time there would be no giant. Agent Dale Cooper was relatively certain of that, insofar as anyone could be certain about the content and context of dreams.
He turned carefully on his heel, taking in his surroundings. Any detail might prove significant, after all; certainly they were all of interest.
Apparently Cooper was in a lodge that was not a lodge. The walls were draped with black velvet, rather than lined with wooden siding; no moose heads or stuffed ducks were mounted for display. The furnishings were elegant and elaborate: chaise-longues thick with quilted white satin, chairs rimmed with carved ebony backs, tables spun of frosted glass. Instead of oaken boards and bear rugs, the floor was tiled in ivory-colored marble.
Cooper nodded and murmured, "A lodge that is not a lodge."
A red silk curtain hung over a nearby archway, and Cooper sensed that he was meant to pass through. He drew the silk aside and found himself traveling down a long, winding hallway, also draped in black velvet. As he walked, he passed a small table; atop its polished surface was an apple. A perfect, crimson, Washington Red Delicious apple. Cooper took it in his fist -- it was just the size to fill his hand -- and bit down.
"Sweet," said the man without a mouth. His white necktie seemed to glow in the hallway. "But they're no use in pies, no good for baking at all. You have to eat them fresh."
Cooper tilted his head, acknowledging the tip, and chewed thoughtfully. Never knew when that information might come in handy.
The whisper came from everywhere, and from nowhere. "Save me."
Who was that? Cooper was certain he knew the voice, but he couldn't recognize it. He began moving more quickly down the hall. For a moment, he considered tossing the apple aside, but then he realized that it might be important. He took another bite and kept going. Sweet, these Red Delicious apples.
By the time he was done with the apple, Cooper was running down the hallway. Did it go on forever? Quite possibly. In the part of his mind that was more awake than asleep, Cooper resolved to discuss this at length with Diane; her insights were always helpful.
But then he reached the end, skidding to a stop as the next red silk curtain fluttered in front of him. Carefully, he put the apple core on the glass table, then pulled the soft curtain open with both hands.
Inside was a white room. In the center of the white room was a black bed. In the center of the black bed was Audrey.
"Agent Cooper," she whispered, crossing her legs. My goodness, but she had long legs. "I was sure you'd come."
Audrey wore shining black patent leather Mary Janes over white ankle socks; eyelet ruffles gathered at each ankle. Her legs were bare -- such very, very long legs -- until the high hem of her red satin negligee. Cooper did not consider himself an expert in the areas of women's fancy nightclothes, but he felt this particular negligee was remarkable in any number of ways.
"What's the matter?" Audrey said, re-crossing her legs. Cooper tried very hard not to look down while she did it. "Don't you like what I'm wearing?"
"I like it very much, Audrey." Cooper studied her face as he said, "Did you call for someone to save you?"
Her lower lip pushed forward in a pout. "I called for someone to save you."
Audrey's lips were perfect, crimson and full, rounded at the peak, pointed at the bottom. Not unlike the outline of a Washington Red Delicious Apple.
Cooper had not made up his mind what the message of this particular dream might be; it was best to be open to all interpretations, he found. But whatever the message was, he felt increasingly sure that the dream had drifted away from it. Certainly his attention was in dire danger of drifting away from anything but the image of Audrey, now leaning back on the bed. The satin between her breasts rippled as she moved. He attempted a polite escape. "I have to look for clues."
"I have a clue for you," she promised. Slowly, Audrey uncrossed her legs; once again, Cooper didn't look, but he could nonetheless tell that she was sliding one hand between her thighs. Then she drew up a card and flipped it around, so that he could see the face.
Carefully, Cooper took the card from her. It was still warm.
A shining cup stood upright in an outstretched hand. Above the cup was the outline of a white bird, perhaps a dove, which appeared to be diving into the very center of the cup. The cup itself was overflowing, filled with liquid, which spilled over the rim, over the outstretched hand, into an unending sea below. "What does this mean?"
"Many things." Audrey smiled, her scarlet lips gleaming in the pale light. "What did you expect? The Jack of Hearts?"
Cooper resolved to ask Diane to research tarot-card imagery at the next opportunity. "Thank you."
"Now you have your clue." Audrey reached out with one foot, brushing it against Cooper's leg. He thought he could feel that eyelet ruffle tickling him, even through his suit.
"Audrey --" What was he going to say to her? What did he want to say? Cooper thought the room had become smaller; certainly it had become warmer. "You're only seventeen years old, a beautiful young girl with her whole life ahead of her."
"You have to eat them fresh," Audrey purred. A ringlet of her coal-black hair fell across her pale cheek.
"Both Jung and Freud have some interesting insights about the morality of actions undertaken in the dream state --" Cooper's voice trailed away as Audrey clutched his necktie and pulled him down toward her.
"Agent Cooper?" she whispered.
His hands seemed to have found her waist of their own accord. He could feel the warmth of her skin beneath the thin satin of her negligee. One slender strap slid down her arm, accentuating the white curve of her shoulder. "Yes, Audrey?"