Then I saw that people in the mall were being held hostage. The offending group was an extremist left-wing group that was trying to convert people to their beliefs. In real life, I'm a centrist, but stand left of centre on most issues, especially social ones. I have a real fear of extremists on both sides. I think fundamentalist Christians, for example, share many attributes with far leftists. Anyway…this group in my dream was abducting people and brainwashing them.
I realized that C had been abducted. I continued my search. I was frantic now. I was shouting his name and asking people if they'd seen him. I wandered all over the mall. No one could leave, as the group had blocked up all the exits.
At one point, after several days had gone by, I saw the leader of the group and started shouting at her that I wanted C back. I tried to attack her, but a couple people held me back. I was told that if I wanted to see him again, I'd have to become like them. I'd have to be willingly brainwashed. I would get to be with C again, but we would be different people. We would never again be our own people, never again would we be individuals, and never again would we have our life together -- the life that had brought us both so much joy. I resisted. I still had hope that I'd find him and we'd carry on our life together.
I continued searching, day after day. Finally, I stumbled into a group of converts and C was among them. He recognized me, but blankly smiled at me. His eyes were oddly vacant. I tried to jump into his arms, but he shrunk away from me and told me not to touch him. I could only touch him if I wanted to be converted. Again, I understood that I could be with him again if I submitted and allowed myself to be converted. He had been forcibly brainwashed, because they had chosen him to be a kind of mercenary, but I had the choice. If I allowed myself to be converted, I would lose all memory of our life together, but at least I could be with him. Once again, I chose to remain myself, with the hope that C could be saved. I hoped that he'd come back to me.
Finally, those of us in the large mall who had not been converted were released. I was able to go home, but C was still with them and I was devastated. Much time passed and I learned that C had died carrying out some undercover mission for the group. The last part of the dream was me telling C's parents and siblings everything that had happened.
(image by focusgallery via DeviantArt)