Wake me up when it's all over...

Submitted into Contest #113 in response to: Write about a character whose dreams are portals to other worlds.... view prompt

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Fantasy Speculative Thriller

What are dreams? Why do we have them? Why do they sometimes take us to green pastures and valleys full of wild flower scents and sometimes they are so brutal they suck our souls out of our bodies? Sometimes they leave you wanting more, a little more time in the dreamscape. And sometimes we have to fight for breath running away from our demons.

Science has long been trying to define dreams. To capture them in a nutshell of logical terminologies. To define something so magical in words that can be contained within the small confines of our brains. Science says dreams are merely thoughts, images, and sounds from our subconscious that plays in our minds like a reel.

Scientists say dreams are just a way for our brains to process the memories while we sleep. Theory upon theory but no one is sure what is true. How can we understand dreams when we can’t even comprehend properly the brain; the mind? I can’t imagine dreams could be something as trivial as just a storage of images and sounds.

I think it’s preposterous. Think. Imagine if dreams were something else; something more. What if through our dreams we were entering alternate universes? Like entering through a portal… what if our minds had the ability to let us peek into other worlds? Like we wink out of existence in ours and blink back into another for a while? How wonderful would that be?

………

I kept staring at the dream catcher mounted on the wall in front of my bed. The thing was, as expected, useless. And so was the poster of the weird beast alongside it; Baku – the kindly spirit who kept watch over dreams and saved from nightmares. I’d just woken up from yet another nightmare. I was floating around on a small boat in a vast ocean. The water was almost still. There was a light fog all around but never absolute darkness and neither any sunlight. I didn’t get thirsty or hungry but I did want to eat sometimes. It had been so many days in the ocean that I’d lost count. It never ended. There was water as far as the eye could see. Neither a bird nor a fish in sight. There was no land, not even a piece of rock pretending to be an island. How long had I been here, in this world made of water? How did I end up here? Was this my hell?

The shrill noise of my alarm clock woke me up. I was covered in cold sweat amidst rumpled sheets even though the dream wasn’t violent tonight. It was 4am. And I had to go running to keep myself rooted in this world; here and now. Tell me again if I wasn’t in that world made of just water. Aren’t there worlds full of water or ice or where it rains diamonds?

………

When my parents died I used to dream of them. Sometimes they were sitting around in our living room; talking and laughing to each other and they would smile upon seeing me. Sometimes they would be strolling in a garden so beautiful… hand in hand; always together and they would reach their hands out to me as if to ask me to come to them. But every time before I could reach them my dream would shatter.

………

I dropped the pill in the toilet and flushed. I only saw my psychiatrist because my aunt was always so worried about me. And because I wanted to talk to someone who wouldn’t look at me strangely. But I never wanted to let go of my dreams and the worlds they took me. Even though sometimes they took me to some really scary places. Like the one time when I ended up surrounded by flames… and I ran and ran and ran but the flames all around me never ended, neither did they touch me. Then a huge creature descended out of the skies, ripped apart the thick sheet of smoke and pounced. I had never seen anything like it and I knew it wasn’t from my world. One look in its glittering eyes and my heart stopped. I couldn’t even shriek.

 But the hope to one day visit my parents in their new world remained and only through my dreams could I enter there. So I never took the pills that would grant me a sound sleep. I feared the doors to the worlds I visited would shut on me if I ever acted against them.

I never dreamed of unicorns and pixies though, so maybe they really are a myth.

………

It was a dark place full of mist and shadows as far as I could see. I remembered though… remembered who I was and where I’d come from. I remembered the ones I loved and the ones that looked at me like I was a raving lunatic. And now I’m here – in a land so dark and lonely it might as well be hell.

I remembered the accident. I remembered spinning round and round in my car as it lost control over the wet road and hit the tree.  Maybe I was dead and this really was hell, or maybe I had been transported to another world fully this time because this seemed real and physical as nothing had felt before. You’d think it would be exhilarating and liberating that at last I was proven right but fear gripped my heart as I turned in a circle and found nothing but slithering shadows. And it was cold – so cold here, I shivered uncontrollably.

If it was hell, I was relieved that I couldn’t see my parents here, but in this vast emptiness, I missed them… I had waited so long to reunite with them.

And then suddenly there was pain… excruciating, bone rending pain. It was like I was being shredded apart, being wrenched out of my body, being burned inside out. I didn’t know how long it had been but then voices started sounding around me. Unclear, garbled voices in my head that I could not decipher due to the static in my ears… and someone screaming, and screaming, and screaming.

I realized that it was me who was screaming… in endless pain and agony. It certainly was hell and i didn’t know what I had done to deserve this fate.

And then there was nothing. I was nothing.

………

*At the hospital*

The doctor looked at the monitor where the lifeline was now a straight line and hung his head. His assistant called the time of death. Another young soul claimed by death.

“I’m sorry Ms. Anderson. We tried our best”. The doctor’s eyes were dull with sadness. The boy was so young. He hadn’t even had time to fight for his life.

………

I woke up to my mother gently shaking my shoulder and calling my name again and again. “Mom?” I said groggily, rubbing my eyes. Never before had she been able to touch me. I sat up against the head board and looked at her smiling face while she picked up my dirty clothes from the floor. “Mom what happened? When did I get here?” as happy as I was, I was also slightly alarmed.

“What are you talking about Max? Did you have another dream?” she looked at me knowingly and okay I was anxious now. What dreams? Was I dreaming even here? Did I really just dream about my accident and now I was dreaming about my mom? But something told me this wasn’t a dream. This felt real and physical; corporeal.

But if she was waking me up… if she was touching me… did that mean the accident was real and I was with her now? Was I dead?

My father called from downstairs. Breakfast was ready. Today was Sunday and as usual he was giving mom the day off from cooking.

………

I wondered if this was the real world and I had visited in my dreams the other one they called earth.

………………

October 01, 2021 13:05

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4 comments

Tommie Michele
01:09 Oct 14, 2021

I love the ambiguity in your story and the thematicism (if that’s a word?) of it. The questions that the narrator repeats about dreams are questions that provide an intriguing perspective on dreams, and I found it fun to consider everything with the narrator. The ambiguity at the end was my favorite part—I’m a sucker for open and ambiguous endings. Nice work, Jade! —Tommie Michele

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Jade Wolf
01:39 Oct 14, 2021

Thank you so much for such nice words Tommie.. It means a lot.. Yeah i left the ending ambiguous because nobody knows for sure what dreams are actually... Let everybody extract their own conclusions. :)

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Tommie Michele
01:45 Oct 14, 2021

I love that idea of letting the reader have a part in determining the meaning! That’s one of the best parts of reading for me and part of the reason I loved your story so much

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Jade Wolf
08:10 Oct 15, 2021

Thanks loads :)

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