by Kaleb Tutt
My name is Max Walters and I can’t sleep. No, I don’t have some rare sleep disorder. I’m not some medical anomaly. I can’t sleep because I saw my Lucid Self. I wish I had never read about lucid dreaming. It was the worst mistake I ever made. I should’ve just listened to my mom.
“Don’t play with your dreams. Your dreams are another realm. You don’t play around with that kind of stuff, you hear me?”
I said I heard her, but I didn’t. Not really. I heard the words but I wasn’t listening. I was reading, over and over, drowning myself in esoteric knowledge. Online forums and communities promised me something I never had before – control. They told of splendors and grandeur I could achieve through my dreams. I could be whatever I wanted, have my every desire.
They didn’t tell of the Lucid Self.
Y’know that itch in the spot you can’t reach, the one in the dead center of the spine? No matter how much wriggling and reaching you do, it lies just out of arm’s length? When I first read of lucid dreaming, it was like that itch appeared, but now I could scratch it. With lucid dreaming, anything is possible.
That is not always a good thing.
When you first learn of lucid dreaming, it opens an infinite universe of possibilities. Flying dreams are always fun. Like any drug, though, the mind builds up a tolerance. You can only jump off of so many buildings.
That is when it becomes dangerous.
It seemed so innocuous. I read about it online like any good teenager. Someone told a story about their dream experiment. They, like me, had grown bored of the mundane (odd word for dreams) and wanted to expand their horizons. I recall the story so clearly because I wrote the steps down in my dream journal. In fact, here are those very steps:
1. Perform reality checks throughout the day
*Note – reality checks are when you attempt to do something impossible in daily life; like flying or sticking your finger through your palm. Do this throughout the day so when it works, you will know you’re dreaming.
2. Stay calm. Keep yourself composed to ensure you don’t wake up too soon.
3. Have fun, but stay focused. This dream will be like no other. You will discover things you probably shouldn’t.
4. Find yourself. No, not metaphorically or like you’re “discovering your inner light.” I mean, find yourself literally. You’ll have to search hard. Your Lucid
Self doesn’t want to be found. It has secrets. Knowledge.
5. Once you find yourself, don’t talk. This is vital. Just listen. If it wants to speak, let it. If not, don’t pester. Once you wake up, you will never be the same person again.
The doors of possibility revealed themselves to me through these words. Knowledge. Wisdom. Things unknown and things I shouldn’t know. I guess that’s the real draw, the shouldn’t. What mysteries lie in my Dream World? I can’t wait to find out.
Tonight, I become aware the way a girl crossing the street with her eyes on her phone realizes she’s in the center of a busy intersection. The world around me is real yet artificial, a construct of my mind.
I have been here before. The walls and floor are white as good china. On the wall in front of me hang 6 translucent discs, each the slightest off-kilter from the other. I walk up and touch one and in explosive chain-reaction, they all burst into glowing gold orbs of pure light.
My body tenses as I hear a familiar yet foreign clutch of an opening door. A panel separates from the wall then dissolves. Out from the nether crawls something evil. It has my short chestnut hair, but its eyes are much blacker than mine. Its skin is melted candle wax. Worse, it crawls on upside-down arms. I wonder for a moment how it will share its secrets with me if it doesn’t have a mouth to speak.
My Lucid Self does not want to speak to me. It scuttles away, a swine backed into a corner. Its elongated finger-claws tink against the white porcelain stone as it creeps back into the darkness. It hums a haunting lullaby, calling to me. Arms outstretched in zombie-trance, I follow. It leads me into the nether and as my feet fall from under me, I toss my arms to grab ahold of nothing. The sensation is that of a flying dream but I am not flying. I am falling infinitely into infinite blackness. Faint words of warning whisper in my ears.
Don’t play with your dreams.
My name is Max Walters and I can’t wake up.