Quiet Dreaming Pt.2
A voice calls out to her while her blood surges from the drugs. She cannot decide if it's real or not.
The voice was middle-aged, or perhaps only slightly older than Renard. To her, it sounded like a man’s voice, but she couldn’t be sure, it had no real characteristics other than the calmness of it. It wasn’t panicked, it wasn’t booming, it wasn’t angry, sad, or confused. It seemed, rather, to speak with the kind of grace that comes with an incredibly long life.
She brought herself down slightly from her trip using a trick she had picked up from a monk off-world, enough to where she retreated from the darkness of the void and saw herself once again in her bed, staring at a ceiling which contained the vastness of space and the evident tear. “Who are you?” The voice called again.
“Renard. Is my name. Who are you?” she replied, speaking within her own mind, her eyes closed, her brow furrowed in deep concentration.
“I’m…not sure…it’s been so long since I received any sort of appellation.” The voice now seemed slightly fearful, lowering in pitch and growing slightly quiet.
“Are you real? Do you exist? Or are you just something my brain is trying to conjure up?”
“Well…what do you think I am?”
“I’m not sure.”
“If you’re not certain if I exist, I can assure you that I don’t. But, then again, neither do you. Not to me, anyway. Does that make sense?” The voice was getting excited. With her eyes still closed, Renard reached out to pull the tear wider, exposing a bright white light that blinded her for a brief moment.
“No. That doesn’t make any sense. Surely one of us must be real, otherwise what would be the point of this conversation?” She smiled, to her knowledge this was her brain playing tricks on her.
“Perhaps I don’t exist in a way that matters to you, as you have never noticed me before this present moment, nor have I ever noticed you. I’ve met with your kind before, although you seem…different…older. Not you, personally, but you, metaphorically, as a member of a species. Perhaps I exist on a different plane from you, or perhaps you are simply too blind to notice me. The point is, and to answer your question. No, I don’t exist. Not to you, anyway. Though, I certainly exist to me. You, also, certainly exist to me, as I can see you and hear you. Though, I wonder, do you exist to you?”
“Of course I exist to me.” She sensed the voice emanating from the blank void was moving closer toward her, as she could vaguely make out a black shape drifting closer to the opening. “I’m just tripping, you’re a manifestation of a drug I just took.”
“No?” her annoyance was very audible.
“No, I don’t accept that. I’ve existed for far longer than you have, I’m sure of it. The last time I saw one of your kind, however, you were different. I would say more primitive, though…it doesn’t appear as though much has changed. They called me Mau, as they felt I resembled an earthly animal.”
“And which earthly animal would that be?” She questioned, squinting her eyes to make out the figure growing closer and easier to distinguish. Black feet began to become clear to her, black fur covering a small and slender body, pointed ears only a few degrees off of bright white eyes. A long, prehensile tail waved back and forth, completing the image of an immense black cat. It’s coat, a myriad of darkness speckled with shimmering lights that appeared as stars in a night sky. It’s eyes, shining white balls stained only in the center by pupils containing ever-rotating singularities. The claws upon its great feet extended with a light brighter than a supernova as the full face of her conversation partner came into view.
“Renard is a fascinating name, no? I do recall bits of your human history – more and more, actually, as this conversation goes on – that is a human French word referring to a specific animal. A ‘fox’ I believe you would call it.” The voice was slightly clearer now, though still difficult to ascertain the gender of, nor the origin, it had an accent unlike any Renard had heard before.
“Yeah, my crew gave it to me on account of it fitting my personality. Dude, what the fuck are you?” She stared at the body of the cat, peering through the tear in her ceiling, yet somehow not falling through.
“I am that I am. Isn’t that what your people say? I am myself. I am Mau. I noticed your presence in the thinness between spaces and figured I would slice my way through. It’s been a long while since my last conversation. What are you?”
“I…I’m…” Renard felt herself fading away as darkness swarmed every inch of the portal and consciousness began to escape her. The world slipped away around her, sending her spiraling into a deep and dreamless sleep. She awoke several hours later in the same position, surrounded by the multicolored furs of her bed. Getting up slowly, she procured a small device from a drawer on her nightstand; a tablet of sorts that lit up upon her touching it.
On the screen, which was now illuminated with a bright blue light, she saw all kinds of statistics about her health. Everything from her current pulse, her stress levels, the iron content in her blood, to even things like brainwave activity and psychological distress. She pressed a few buttons on it and swiped the screen to the right several times, attempting to review what had happened to her body during the trip.
Much to her surprise, her numbers were all completely normal. Nothing was out of the ordinary now, nor had it been while she was communicating with Mau; her brain had lit up in a particular way that was indicative of taking a drug of this particular variety, but aside from that, nothing bad had happened. She did question, however, the nature of the drug.
Was that cat…thing…real? Why was it so concerned with the nature of my existence? She thought to herself as she paced around her bedroom, staring at a large bookcase filled with old books she would never read, and old journals she used to keep. As she reacquainted herself with the tangible things she had in her room, she chuckled slightly to herself, believing with some certainty that it had all, in fact, just been a product of the drugs.
Renard was confident, now, that she and her associates would be able to pedal this stuff, evidently the dealer wasn’t lying, it really was good stuff. She moved to the center of her room where she stood on a large circular rug that rested underneath a clear, circular coffee table. Picking her cell phone off the table, she sent a series of messages to her friends and associates, notifying them of the effects of the drug and that they should start peddling it to the outer planets as quickly as they could. Most of the remainder of her day was spent simply getting everything together.
It’s always a grueling process when they tried to introduce a new drug, peddling wasn’t as easy as it used to be, especially on the outer rim. All day, however, she couldn’t get the words of that celestial cat out of her head. Do you exist to you? That was what it had said. A question she barely understood and couldn’t hope to answer. Staring now at a large window in her ceiling she observed the complexity of the stars that lingered above her room when suddenly she heard it, that voice, the same one from her supposed hallucination. It came from above, from the void that she stared into, and yet somehow it also felt close, as if it were being whispered directly into her ear.
“You know…not every question actually needs an answer.”