Streaking across the midnight sky, fiery, silicate crystals emit generous hues of fuchsia, initiating awareness. “I'm here!” I was in a place I longed to be. The were no cardinal rules where I was. I was dreaming and I knew it.
Every night, the majority of lifeforms succumbs to the beckoning call of sleep. It affords a regenerating benefit, crucial to continued existence. Without it, insanity would dominate every human culture. Our life span would be brief and filled with chaos. I always tell my students, make sure and get enough sleep, you're going to need it!
Triggering lucid dreams became a nightly occurrence. I'd taught myself how to navigate the unimaginably spacious sectors of the mind by thoughts alone. Months of lessons in the form of researching books or experienced in dreams themselves, brought me to the apex of discovery.
There are many hidden places in the vast recesses of the mind that can only be accessed during the dream state. This is why some individuals never remember their dreams or don't think they dream at all. We descend below the deeper levels of rapid eye movement, just past the stratum of consciousness. This region prevents us from interacting with the improbable situations dreams behold. Just past this area is a hypothetical place called Arcrania. It is said that if you reach Arcrania you will encounter the Netherlands; a place where levels of awareness cross into new dimensions.
I found Arcrania but it was not a utopia. However, it was the grandest of illusions — spectacular locations that were real but not in the physical sense. I wish I never discovered it... They always knew where to find me. They can't be trusted.
My unfortunate confrontation began outside an incredible mansion covered in sparkling jewels, glinting with an abundance of color. I could feel its beauty inviting me to enter the doors. I realized I was dreaming when I saw a tv screen embedded in a long-lived oak in front of the towering structure. A dead giveaway, right? Not always. Dreams are tricky. Even the most outlandish sights will rarely trigger awareness. It's because we always seem to have a memory attached to any storyline within a dream, therefore, never questioning why we are there when it has nothing to do with our waking life. Somehow, I knew an unseen world would be found beyond the walls of that mansion. They also knew; they had other plans for me.
Suddenly, I was interrupted by screeching tires headed in my direction. The source of which was not yet visible on the dark neighborhood street. Within seconds, a glossy black limousine with silver trim came into view. It halted just a dozen feet from me on the tree lawn of the mansion. Two individuals with suspicious demeanors, wasted no time getting out of the luxury car, both adorning white doctor's coats. One was a young Asian woman holding an open laptop. Her curious eyes darted with intensity through her bifocals. It gave me the stark feeling of abashment, like she had never seen the likes of me before. The other one was a tall, burly white man who held no expression at all. Nor did he blink. His head was bald, his scruffy black beard frequently changed shapes and sizes. I knew for a fact he was her bodyguard. She began to take careful steps toward me while speaking.
"We've located one! He's a black male in his early thirties. He's breached the summit of Arcrania on midsection twelve. Requesting immediate transport."
The limo began to transform into an indescribable vehicle. It was absent of sound as the glass and metal reformed into a hovering object. I knew I wasn't controlling this and didn't understand what was happening. I reached inside my inner thoughts to concentrate on changing the scenery. The last image I saw was them urgently walking towards me. Their true faces began to flicker on and off until the real ones became permanent images sitting atop their shoulders. These figments were grasshopper-like entities with rapidly vibrating antennae that made a low humming sound like the purr of an idle engine. I'd seen enough. I consciously leapt out of that scenario to anything else.
Milliseconds later, I found myself in an old bustling town full of small, redbrick store fronts. There were signs written in a language I didn't recognize. The chatter amongst the inhabitants was also indecipherable. The details of this scene were vivid, almost unbelievable that I was still dreaming. Abrupt Laughter interrupted my moment of awe. I looked to my left to the sight of a small circle of villagers gathered around something. Curiosity naturally guided my steps toward them. In the middle of the circle was a dwarf man the size of a young child, he was demonstrating a magician's trick. There was an empty, black, top hat on a dilapidated wooden stool that stood the same height as his small stature. The eyes of everyone including mine were focused on what he was doing. He looked up from the hat, his eyes immediately locked onto mine which triggered an expression full of surprise, it quickly dissolved to discontent. He began jabbing his index finger in my direction, an apparent sign of disapproval. The small crowd followed his pointing gesture with their eyes, viewing me as the main attraction. This prompted a brief moment of embarrassment. I had to remind myself that this was not real, and these peculiar people were mere fragments generated by random thought energy. But that didn't stop me from feeling like an intruder. The dwarf snapped his fingers, regaining everyone's attention. Pink rose petals began to float down from the orange sky and landed everywhere. The crowd began to celebrate his trickery with oohs and ahhs, followed by applause. We continued our hypnotic stare during his demonstration. He snapped his fingers again and everything including the town and its people disappeared. All that was left were the two of us, the stool and the hat. I began frantically looking in all directions, confused as to how he managed to alter the scenery. His eyes turned beady, they continued to study me. He then took the hat off the stool with both of his miniature hands, turned it upside down and slowly began placing it back on the stool. During that moment, an ominous shadow took over the sky. I looked above me to the sight of a colossal version of the hat coming down over me. He was trying to capture me. I looked at him one last time before shifting my thoughts yet again. I needed to get out right away without physically waking up and I did.
The previous encounters had never happened before where people and things in my dream were just as cognizant as I was. I could have easily woken myself but was on the edge of discovering Acrania. I was close, real close. I could feel it.
Alluding the pint-sized man, I found myself in the middle of the playing field in a sports arena with hundreds and hundreds of versions of myself. I thought them into existence with the hopes of creating a diversion so I could learn more about this new set of dream dynamics which apparently were beyond my control.
Looking toward the stands, illuminated by unseen lights, I saw a trio of older white men dressed in sky blue, toga-styled garments. Their long, puffy gray hair moved like the clouds, billowing without increasing in volume. I knew the one in the middle was the leader. He wore an impressive, shiny, gold gladiator's belt. The others did not. He stood up from a glass throne and spoke to us. His voice was deep and amplified.
"Only one of you is worthy of this prize. The rest of you are pure imagination. I command you to reveal the one!"
His eyes blazed with green energy. A riot ensued. My clones ravished through each other like a death match on the Serengeti. I was almost trampled by the amount of violent action taking place. Slowly, one by one, they eliminated each other until there were just a few of us left. The men were all looking at me; the only one standing without a scratch on them. I began concentrating on leaving but nothing changed. Within seconds, the trio were standing right in front of me. The leader candidly spoke.
"Howard Stephenson... A man of presumed innocence who once stole his grandmothers fur coat to pay a measly gambling debt. A man who also cheated his way through academics with clever tactics. But most importantly, a man who has learned a skill not easy to acquire. Very few of you make it this far, it’s extremely rare indeed. Your kind is forbidden to enter the Netherlands, it's beyond your scope of existence but we welcome you."
This god-like man turned his head to the right and then to the left as if seeking approval from his counterparts. They did not exchange words but nodded in agreement. He turned back towards me with blazing green eyes. All three began levitating, their cloudy hair flowed backwards while miniscule lightning bolts circulated throughout. He spoke again.
"Let us now show you a glimpse into the unknown. Is it not what you've come for? Pay close attention...Howard!"
His hands outstretched, then came crashing together, creating a thunderous clap. I was instantly encased in a large, transparent container with two feet of wiggle room in every direction. The trepidation was overwhelming. I immediately began a routine that wakes me up. It failed. All three of them smiled with cunning satisfaction, they knew I couldn't wake myself. They returned to the ground and walked closer to my glass prison. They were not figments at all, they were real.
"Who are you people? What do you want? Let me out of here! Let me out of this dream. I control it and demand to wake up...NOW!"
Nothing happened except laughter coming from the leader. The other two had no reaction at all. Their eyes began to blaze with the same green energy. He spoke.
"The question is...what do you want from us? You finally found what you have been searching for, but it's not what your immature brain expected. This realm is millions of times more complex than your current understanding of the word. Finding and traversing the Netherlands requires more than your definition of luck. It requires purpose, an attribute you seem to lack. Your purpose has become to serve our interest with the incarnate. We are a distinguished order of being responsible for matters that surpasses your mental ability to comprehend. We know you, Howard. We have seen every dream you have ever had and can pinpoint the date and time in which they occurred with a thousand percent accuracy. But what we can't do is experience the dense realm in which you reside... unless you fall within our vicinity."
I barely understood what he was saying or where he was going with this.
"What do you mean, unless we fall within your vicinity?"
His green eyes deepened. He walked closer to me and took his index finger to the outside surface of the glass barrier. He began tracing imaginary lines. This created a visual for the words that were about to come out of his mouth.
"At this very moment, your physical body is looking into the mirror of your bathroom quarters with new eyes. It's 6am, you have a board meeting today at 8 am at a place called Penn St. We will keep this appointment for you and will do our absolute best to maintain normalcy in your life while you are detained. You have given us a way to... how do you say... live in your shoes. By possessing your body for an undetermined amount of time we can accelerate our own evolution. Your inquisitiveness led you here, now allow us to reap the benefits. Sleep, Howard... sleep."
My eyes widened at the realization of what was being said. The images of me getting ready for work, were disturbing, incomprehensible, devastating. They were stealing time from me, and I could do nothing to stop them. My vision of the three men slowly dissolved until darkness took over and my thoughts were silenced.
* * *
My eyes began to blink at a sun-scorched sky, I regained consciousness. I quickly rolled over and stood on my knees. I was staring at sand in all directions. I began spitting it out my mouth and wiping it off my face. I didn't know where I was, but I knew I wasn't dreaming. I knew I had been set free, no longer a prisoner of my own mind. The growth of facial hair led me to believe I'd been away from my entire life for weeks. I wondered about the circumstances that brought me to that barren landscape. What had they done to my life? I remembered everything up until my mind was frozen in time. How many other lives have they stranded in this same way? The entities who abducted my time had given me one last puzzle to solve, either find a way back to civilization or die searching for it. Maybe they wanted me to die. If I didn't survive, no one would ever know that dream catchers exist. Until I found my way back and retrieved my purpose in life, I had no purpose. Engulfed in the desert's parched silence, I was nothing but another grain of sand in the wind.
About the Creator
Creative writer in the Northeast US who loves the paranormal, mystery, true crime, horror, humor, fantasy and poetry. Take a chance, you'll be thoroughly entertained.
"Life is Love Experienced" -LW
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Compelling and original writing
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Original narrative & well developed characters
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