The first humans to become self-aware went mad, until a little girl taught them how to sleep like other creatures. Her mother named her Kokora, or “dead girl”, since she could lie down for long periods without moving. At night, Kokora moved between men, women and other children—all of whom wanted to hide from the darkness and forget the beasts that hunted them.
“Take me to a brighter place,” some of the men would ask her.
Kokora closed their eyes, touched their foreheads, and said, “dream.” She sent them to a world outside their bodies where darkness could not find them. They ran through forests, hunted elk, destroyed the beasts that attacked them, and laughed as they shared meat.
“Take me to a safer place,” some of the women would ask her.
Kokora closed their eyes, touched their foreheads, and said, “dream.” She sent them to a green field where no enemies lurked, where they could gather all the food they needed.
One woman, Liluru, dreamed that her dead mate had returned. Upon waking, she screamed and beat the ground with her mate’s old club until it broke in half. Wiping tears from her eyes, she decided to stalk Kokora until the girl went to drink from the pond. Then, Liluru sneaked up behind Kokora and pushed her into the water. She held the girl’s head down and drowned her.
That night, Kokora’s corpse crept out of the pond and continued to make people dream. This time, she sent the men to worlds where lions tore them apart and the moon swallowed the sun. She sent the women to burning forests, and to hills made from the bones of their men. In the morning, Kokora returned to her pond, where the fish ate her flesh.
For three days, nobody closed an eye. Once again, their sleepless minds began to drive them mad. Fights broke out, and six of the men slew each other. The chief called a meeting, where Liluru confessed to murdering Kokora.
“You have until tomorrow’s moon to fix our dreams,” said the chief. “Otherwise, to appease Kokora’s soul, we spill your blood in her pond.”
Liluru nodded once and stared at the ground to avoid the chief’s gaze. That night, everyone watched as she closed her eyes. She dreamed that Kokora rode a dead, six-legged wolf and hunted her through a burning forest. Liluru, knowing that death would claim her in one form or another, turned to face her pursuers.
“Why don’t you run?” asked Kokora.
“Fear has forgotten me,” said Liluru. At that moment, the wolf became toothless and Kokora’s bones fell apart. The fire retreated, and the dead trees stood up and returned to life.
Liluru woke with a smile. “Listen to me,” she told her people.
On that day, humans learned to face the demons in their dreams. Those who learned to fight them became soldiers. Those who learned to control them became leaders.