This was it. The night he would dream his way back inside the forgotten land. It's been weeks since his last visit. He tried but failed. Philip rushed to the door and swung it open. It caught his neighbor by surprise who dropped his keys.
"Hey, move your fucking car. It's blocking my spot."
"I'm sorry I didn't -"
"Go fuck yourself."
The man froze as Philip stared him down. He jumped when the door slammed shut. Philip poured a few drops of heavy-sherry whisky and let it rest on the table. He didn't use ice. The bottle was one of his most beloved spirits. He nosed it for minutes. He sipped the amber liquid swirling it around with his tongue. The complex flavors coated the inside of his mouth and nose making Philip breathe in slowly. Whisky was his only hobby. He never got drunk on it. One dram was all it took to level him out.
His peaceful state was shattered when the phone rang. A mild headache struck.
"Yes, hello. Mrs. Smith, what seems to be the problem? Is there any bleeding? Just pain… Any change in color or swelling? I think it's fine, no need to worry. Please take your meds and call me if you have bleeding or the pain gets worse."
Philip glanced at the oak wood box atop his desk. Its carvings were elegant and intricate.
"If you want I can squeeze you in tomorrow between two patience for a checkup."
He rubbed his aching temple.
"It's fine, no trouble at all. Try and get some sleep. Wounds will heal faster."
He hung up and realized his home office was pitch black. The green-stained glass lamp clicked on. The doctor's desk was empty except for two items: a whisky glass and the wooden box. All manner of professional publications were on display in his colossal bookcase. The filter hummed a soft tune. It was medical-grade equipment that purified the air in his sanctuary. The fabric armchair endured his burden.
Philip underwent surgery under general anesthesia a month back. It wasn't life-threatening by any chance. He knew the rates of success were very good and he'd worked with the team before. They were his team with whom he performed daily. His colleague was a prime surgeon. The procedure went perfectly. It took Philip two days to fully come out of his induced sleep. The nurses and doctors told him that he was in a trance-like state. Philip talked nonsense. One doctor said it's scripture. He speculated that Philip's dreams were inspired by what he read recently. Given the fact he underwent surgery, they assumed he prayed right before it happened. Philip traveled to a time where technology was advanced beyond anything he'd ever seen. The plane was lush and full of beauty. The air was sweet. People were different, they treasured life. It was easy to lose it. Somehow he was able to live a year inside the realm in just two whole days. The life he chose was very different from his current one. It gave Philip the liberation he lacked. He was a brilliant surgeon but as time went by he grew weaker and weaker. People tended to leach his vitality. He started his journey wanting to relieve people of their suffering but as time passed he grew angry. Countless lawsuits were filed against him by outraged family members. They didn't comprehend the limits of medicine. The stressful job destroyed his marriage. He had no time left for his wife and daughters. He had visitation rights once a month. Sometimes he dreaded operating on a patient because he knew it would be in vain. But he couldn't refuse. That would bring even more legal problems etc. Philip lost his status as a respected doctor and saw himself as a waiter, serving others who "knew better".
He lifted the lid of the wooden box revealing its contents. Inside were family photos of Philip, his wife, and their two daughters. The doctor reminisced about the simpler time when he was young and poor. When his wife loved him. When they lived a modest life in a small apartment. A time before he earned the prestigious positions he held for the past fifteen years.
He opened the mini-fridge. Philip prepped the syringe and let it warm up. He knew the correct dosage. Passed out in his chair Dr. Philip slipped into his dream world. He knew not if this was real or just a side effect of the powerful narcotic. It didn't matter all that much to him. Once again Philip woke up on the shores. All manner of ships filled the harbor. The salty air filled his lungs and brought tears to his eyes. His soul felt at home in the bustle of the wharf. He ran as quickly as he could to the familiar ship. It was a massive frigate powered by engines unknown to him. Philip was stopped by a rugged-looking sailor. A steel sword poked from its scabbard.
"Why does your ugly face look familiar, you runt?"
"I'm one of you," Philip said.
"Oh really? Unless you're the new cabin boy I suggest you fuck off and get back to begging in the streets."
The doctor unbuttoned his shirt revealing a chest filled with scars and tattoos.
"Ugh, you look like shit. Haha, welcome aboard, lad. Does your mom know what you're up to?"
"Then sail with us. It will put some hair on your chest."
Philip climbed aboard the pirate ship. The young man's body which he inhabited was his ticket to a world of adventure. He would take what he wanted, do as he pleased, and kill anyone who tried to stop him. Philip had the time of his life. He wished he would never wake. The last year he spent in the dream he faced countless perils. He took part in ship battles, got drunk in every port imaginable, mastered the arts of the sea. A life with no rules suited Dr. Philip and he was happy.