I wish these birds would shut up. I’m trying to sleep… What time is it? The sun seems so bright.
Did I forget to close the sunshades last night?
…birds? I never have birds around my apartment. There are no birds in the inner city. I slowly open my eyes, trying to search for the ceiling. There is no ceiling… Damn, everything is so hazy. I can barely see anything.
I reach for my nightstand to pick up my glasses. I grab and miss. No nightstand?
I’m beginning to feel that I’m not in my own apartment right now. How could that be though…? I can clearly remember me going to bed last night.
I sit up, pushing the covers off me. There are no covers either. I’m starting to panic a little. Did I sleep here? Where’s here? Where am I?
The haze is still in front of my eyes, as if there’s a cloud of fumes surrounding me, with the sun slightly glaring through it. It’s not mist. It’s the kind of haze that would hang in front of your eyes when you’ve been out relaxing in the sun with your eyes closed for too long. Have I slept that long? Is it afternoon already? The air feels damp and it’s definitely not cold out here.
I reach for my eyes to rub the sleep out of them, but hit something hard. My glasses… I have had them on this entire time. But why is my vision so blurry still? I slowly get up on my feet and look around. Nothing. I can’t see further than 3 meters. I feel I need to explore and find out where I am, but walking around without eyesight could be dangerous.
My chest burns… I put my hand on my chest, but can’t feel any abnormalities. Yet with every move I make, an antagonizing pain moves through my heart. What on earth happened to me?
I look down and notice leaves and twigs on the ground. I crouch to feel the earth. It’s warm, probably heated up by the sun. The birds above me are still singing. I get the feeling I’m in a forest. Perhaps there are people around.
‘Hello? Is anyone there?!’ I shout.
Or at least I try to shout, but there’s no noise coming out of my mouth. Everything in what I assume to be a forest just went silent. The birds stopped singing and the leaves and twigs on the ground stop cracking as I step on them. What’s going on here…? I sit back down and try to think things through.
The silence is droning, the only thing I can hear is the thud of my own heartbeat. I lay down, my arms supporting my head. I never experienced a silence like this. I try to focus on what’s happening, but slowly I notice I’m dozing off…
My bed is soaked as I wake up screaming. What the hell was that all about? I look at the clock on my nightstand. Tuesday, 10 AM… Great, I’m late for work. I get out of bed, freshen up and go outside. It’s cold outside, maybe 8 degrees max. Better call my boss and tell him that I’m on my way.
I arrive at work at 11:30 AM. Those damn traffic jams didn’t help either. The boss wasn’t happy and I was to come to his office as soon as I arrived.
Walking through the entrance hall, the receptionist smiles at me and says: ‘Are you okay? You look kind of pale. Are you sick?’
At this point I really don’t feel like talking to her and I reply with a mere: ‘Rough night, don’t get me started.’ and I walk on.
‘Come in!’ the man yells from behind the office door. I walk in and see my boss sitting in his chair that was about to collapse under his weight. The guy was unhealthy as can be and had trouble walking. He basically never came out of his office during work hours and led the whole firm from that poor chair.
‘Sit down. We need to have a talk’ he says.
‘It’s the third time in these two weeks that you show up late for work. And you know these are very busy weeks. We’re at the point of almost finishing up the biggest deal this company has ever seen. You should know this. You were one of the people that got us this close, and I know you don’t want to mess this up now, do you?’
‘Care to explain why you’ve been slacking off this much lately? Is it stress? Personal life? For crying out loud, if something is wrong with my best employee, I want and need to know.’
I want to tell him of course about the nightmare I had today. Not to mention other strange dreams in the past that made me sleep through my alarm clock. It’s not stress related, that’s for sure. But I feel weird telling about the nightmares that I had. Especially the one from tonight. But it’s just a dream after all…
‘It’s a bit of stress, sir. I can’t help but feel pressured by what’s going to happen these weeks, you know? But I’ll be fine.’
He looks at me for a few seconds and asks me: ‘Stress huh… You sure that’s all that’s bothering you? There isn’t anything else I need to know?’
‘It’s just stress, sir. Really, I’ll be fine. And I’ll get my act together, promised.’
Jeez… How about you worry about yourself first. You’re the one incapable of walking and are under heavy meds. Everyone has his own troubles, not just me. I can’t even remember what he meant with this big deal.
‘Alright,’ he says while smacking his hand on the desk, ‘Good talk. You can go now. And could you do me a favor and throw away this paper can for me, please? I can’t really throw it in the dustbin way over there. You know, with my back and all.’
‘Sure.’ I say.
A little exercise won’t hurt you though. At least it would give that chair some rest. But I’ll keep that thought to myself. Very well, on with the day.
It’s 12 pm, almost lunch time. I haven’t been able to concentrate much on work. I spent most of my time researching dreams and their meaning. I came across a website owned by a doctor who is an expert in explaining dreams. Doctor, yeah right. But who knows, maybe he can help. I want to get more information about these weird dreams I’m having. I’ll see what happens the rest of the week.
3 pm. I’m bored. I want to go home and watch TV. I don’t understand what all my colleagues are working on. Why do they take so much time to finish their work, while they could do it in two hours max.
5 pm. I’m going home. I don’t feel like talking to the rest of my colleagues about whatever pops into their heads.
8 pm. Even though I slept in yesterday, I feel tired as hell. TV is kind of
boring and I almost dozed off a couple of times. I’ll just go to bed and see what’s going to happen tomorrow. I take off my glasses and put it on my nightstand, next to the phone number of the doctor.
Darkness surrounds me as I open my eyes. I look to my right to check out the time. 2 AM… I feel wide awake. I might as well go to the kitchen to get a glass of water. I get up and walk to where I remember was my bedroom door. It’s pitch black and I don’t have my glasses on. Maybe I should get them first. I walk back to my bed and sit down to get my glasses off my nightstand. A sudden shock goes through my body as I fall through the air on the cold floor. I reach around, trying to find my bed or something to hold on to, but can’t find it. Damn…
Did I forget where my bed was? I get up and walk around, trying to find the walls of my room, trying to find the light switch, my arms reaching out in front of me, hoping to touch something solid. Nothing.
I try to get my eyes adjusted to the darkness, trying to find some landmarks which indicate where in my room I am now. Unless…
No… not again.
I didn’t realize it earlier, but the environment is silent. I can feel objects cracking under my feet, but I can’t hear anything. It’s as silent as I remember it was the last time.
‘Hello!? Anyone there?!’ I try to scream. But words don’t come out. It feels like some sort of shadow is lurking around, trying to capture my every sound and blend them in with the silence. I want to start running, I want to try and find something to hold on to, but my senses tell me not to. I sit down on the ground and try to calm myself down. It’s just a dream, I tell myself.
Suddenly I feel something as I sat down. There’s something in my back pocket. I reach for it and take the content out. Hmm… Feels like a key chain. It has a button. A light! It’s a small flashlight! I click the button and a small light appears. It’s not much, but it’s enough to see in a radius of a meter. I get on my feet again and look around. Darkness. There’s nothing but darkness at the end of my light stream.
Fuck!.. Oh no…
There’s that pain again, burning in my chest, so painful that I can’t stay on my legs. The pain is excruciating, so bad that my whole body starts contracting. I can’t help but scream, let out a sound as loud as I can.
Suddenly I hear a seemingly distant thump and just like that, there’s sound all around me again, as if my scream cut through the wall of silence. There’s wind blowing, children’s laughter and I can even make out some gunshot sounds. The sudden orchestra of sound is so loud that I have to cover my ears to protect them. I get up, shivering from the pain going through my chest, trying to look around. It’s still dark as fuck.
All of a sudden I see something in the distance. A light. A moving light, slowly, but gradually getting closer. With my hands covering my ears, I struggle towards the light. As I come closer, the light stops moving. I increase my pace and start walking faster. I shout to the light, hoping for a response from something or someone. I get closer and closer and the light gets bigger and bigger. The wind is almost blowing me off my feet as I try to make out what’s holding the source of light. I stop moving and call out to the light source, looking for my breath at the same time.
‘Hey… Help me… please,’ is what I say to the thing. I don’t want to come any closer, even though I need help. Who knows what this thing could be.
Suddenly the light weakens and as it does so, the sounds of the environment decrease in volume as well. I take my hands off my ears and stare at the light for a little while. I see the light slowly getting less bright, until there’s almost nothing left. At that point I run towards it, knowing that it might be my only chance of help in this place. One hand on my chest, the other one stretching forward I reach for the light, but as soon as I’m a meter away from it, I hear a thump and the light falls down on the ground.
I hesitate for a second…
But then I pick up the light source and look at it. An old fashioned oil lamp, with a valve to brighten up the light… I open the valve so I’d be able to see more. I look down and see the radius of the light beam expanding. The light beam sheds its light on something. On someone.
As I increase the light beam, the environment gets louder again. The sound is painfully loud now and I move closer towards the body to see what’s going on. On the ground lays a man. His hands are bloody, his clothes are ripped… I move the light further up and see that his torso is full of blood. I move the light so I’d be able to see his face.
This can’t be. What happened here? The visual image of the hurt man shocks me so badly that I can’t see anything for a moment. I stumble backwards and after a few steps my whole body gets numb and without knowing, I drop the light, thus killing the flame, making the environment pitch black again. The sounds of the environment however, don’t fade. On the contrary, the sounds get even louder…
I panic and cover my ears again as I run away, far away from the body. My chest is still burning, but I’m ignoring the pain. I need to get out of here, need to get away. I sprint as hard as I can for what feels like minutes. Suddenly my left foot gets stuck and I fall over, face first on the ground. Woozy from the fall, I stumble to get up, but don’t succeed.
Stop laughing, children. Go play somewhere else. It’s not safe here.
I open my eyes after what seems to have been days… months even. I don’t realize that I’ve been staring at the ceiling for god knows how long. I move myself up quickly, getting some spots of blindness in my eyes for doing so. Disoriented, I rub my eyes before looking around.
I’m in my bedroom. What time is it? What day is it? I glance at the clock next to me on my nightstand. Wednesday, 7AM.
I get up and walk through my house. I can’t believe that it’s not even been a day since the last memory I had of me going to sleep. I walk to the front door and pick up the newspaper that’s shoved into my mailbox. Indeed… it’s just the next day. How come I feel so weird then? Whatever. I guess I’ll go to work early today.
The streets are deserted. I’ve never driven to work this early before. It’s nice though, no traffic jams or anything. Every now and then you can see a pedestrian walking around, probably doing his morning routine. I like speculating what people do on a day. I see them walking and wonder… what is he going to do today? Work? Vacation?
I shouldn’t let my mind drift off now. Not while driving. But at least it keeps thoughts of what’s been happening the past nights away.
‘Morning Hank!’ I say to the janitor when I walk into the building.
‘Morning.’ He mumbles back. Poor Hank, always grumpy. At least I’m not the only one who isn’t having the best days ever.
I walk through the office, not sure what to do at this time. I know that if I’d start working now, I’ll be done around 11 AM, and would have to kill 6 hours doing nothing. So I’m just wandering in between the cubicles, looking at people’s workspaces. After two rounds of wandering, I notice something big and heavy is moving through the building. And sure enough, a moment later I see my boss driving to his office in his new modified handicapped scooter. I wave at him, but he doesn’t see me. He looks different from normal. Not as upbeat as usual, and he seems to be lost in his own thoughts.
I want to walk to him for a chat, but that would mean I’d have to start working right after that. Hmm… thank god he didn’t see me wave. Silly me. I’ll step by his office later today. For now, I’ll just go and chill in this cubicle. I lay on the ground and close my eyes for a few minutes. Damn, I’m exhausted…
There are the birds again. They’re whistling. I like birds, but not when I’m trying to get some rest. I open my eyes and get up to see if I can scare them away somehow.
Huh… birds in an office? That’s funny.
As soon as I move my head above the cubicle walls to look around, the walls collapse outward, the ceiling fades away and just like that, I’m back in the forest again. Even though this area frightened me before, for some reason it doesn’t scare me that much this time. I can see. I can hear things, nice things. Birds whistling, the wind gently blowing through the leaves of the large trees that surround me, some animal sounds and crickets chirping. I look around to see what place I’ve been spending my nights in. I notice I’m standing in the middle of an open area, surrounded by trees. I can’t see the sun, since it’s shaded by the leaves and arms of the big trees. There are some small rays of sunlight glaring through the green ceiling. It looks nice.
I think I’m ready to explore. I start walking forward, only to bump my nose into something.
What the hell is this? Am I trapped in some kind of invisible cage? I can’t even move more than two meters forward. I move my hand in front of me and notice that my palm turns flat in the air. This is weird… I can’t feel anything solid… Yet it appears there’s something blocking me. I move myself a couple of meters backwards and feel another invisible wall against my back. What’s going on here?
I panic a little bit and turn around again to walk the other way, only to be stopped after an even shorter distance. What is this? I turn around again to feel the distance of the other wall and feel that it came closer too. Panicky, I start walking to the side, only to be stopped there too. I turn around to try the other side. Maybe there’s an exit somewhere. But with every step I take, with every turn I make, I get closed in more and more. The invisible walls press harder, until I can’t move anymore. I’m stuck.
I can’t move anymore. I can hardly breathe now. With every subtle move I make, I can feel the walls pressing against my body.
Dammit! I don’t like small spaces! I can’t stay in here. Wake up please… wake up! Someone help me!
Suddenly I hear a faint whistle. It’s coming from above. With the last muscle I can move, I look up and see a dot in the air, something falling as it appears. The dot is getting larger every second and I can even start to make out what the item is. It’s a rectangular shaped object, a metal case of some kind.
That’s an object falling. Right above me. Uh-oh.
I try to move my arms to shield my head but I can’t move them. The walls are really squishing my body now and I can’t breathe anymore. My lungs are on fire… This hurts, this really hurts. I can’t do anything but close my eyes and wait for the thud of the case falling on my head.
I yell out. I open my eyes and notice that half of the office gathered around the cubicle to see what the hell was going on here. Even my boss came driving around to see what’s going on.
‘Alright everybody, that’s enough. Back to work. Don’t you guys ever have nightmares? Come on. Chop-chop, move it!’ my boss says.
Reluctantly, all my colleagues walk back to their stations. My boss looks at me and is obviously puzzled.
‘In my office. Now.’
I get up and follow him to his office, ignoring the stares of my colleagues.
‘Close the door behind you.’ he says.
I sit down at his desk and look him in the eyes.
‘Before you say anything…’ I start saying, only to be interrupted by him.
‘Stop it. Just… shut up and listen, okay? I asked you before if there was something I should know about. You said there wasn’t anything important going on. Then you come to my office, looking like some kind of ghost from hell and start causing scenes like that? You’re kind of getting on my nerves.’
His face swells up as he speaks and I can’t help but look at the veins that start popping out of his forehead. Yeah… he’s mad.
‘And I’m going to ask you again. And I want full honesty here and I will not ask it again. If you don’t give me a decent answer, an answer I can do something with, I’m going to have to schedule an appointment with the company’s therapist to have a chat with you.’
He stops talking and engages in a raging cough mode, making his face swell up even more.
‘I… I don’t know what to say, sir…’ I start telling him, almost crying. ‘I’m just on the verge of a breakdown. I haven’t slept properly in weeks and some nights I have these nightmares that really keep my mind occupied all day and they scare the living hell out of me… Man… you know?’
He looks at me, kind of puzzled, then picks up the phone and dials a number. I look at the buttons he presses and I recognize the combination. He’s going to make a call to the therapist. I jump off my chair and press the end call button. With two hands flat on his desk I tell him:
‘Sir… please, there’s no need to talk to the therapist about this. I… I found my own doctor already. Yeah! I didn’t call him yet, but I think he can explain to me what’s going on with me.’
Still confused about what I just did, he puts down the horn and looks at me.
‘Alright. I’ll give you the day off. Go make an appointment with that doctor of yours if you haven’t already. Make sure to drop in tomorrow too to let me know how things went down and if you made any progress. Then I also got a favor to ask you, but that’s for later, okay?’
A favor… he never asked me for a favor before.
I went to sit in my car with my phone in one hand, the phone number of the doctor in my other hand. I typed in the number 15 minutes ago, but I hesitate to press the call button. Come on, man… just do it. Call him.
10 more minutes passed before I got the guts to click the call button. I put the phone to my ear and listened to the sounds the phone made. Dialing… ringing…and a soft click followed by a low voice, saying:
‘This is Dr. Sethe speaking, how can I help you?’
I hesitated… ‘Uh yeah… hi. I uhm… got some bad dreams and uhm… I need help. I read you were an expert with dreams and such so I was hoping you’d have time to see me today…’
‘Sure thing, how about 3PM, that sound good to you?’
‘Yeah… 3PM is fine.’
‘Alright, I’ll see you then. Just tell my assistant that we spoke on the phone, she’ll know who you are.’
‘Okay. Seeyouthenbye.’ I mumbled out. I never have that much trouble talking on the phone. Weird.
I arrive at the doctor’s office at 2:30PM. The weather suddenly changed and dark clouds are forming in the sky above me as I step out of the car. I look up to see if there’s rain falling already, but there isn’t. The wind stopped blowing too. I guess this is what they call the calm before the storm…
I turn my gaze forward again and look at the building in which the doctor’s office is located. I guess I’m going in. It’s a pretty modern building and it really stands out from the rest of the street. I cross the street and almost fall down over the edge of the sidewalk, but I regain my balance before I do so. This building doesn’t fit at all. The rest of the houses in this block look kind of dirty, old, not taken care of. But this one… it almost shines. I kind of recognize this street too. But where have I seen it before? I can’t remember. My memory has been a complete wreck lately anyway.
I open the door and walk inside, looking around to capture some details of the building. As soon as I enter, I hear a friendly voice.
‘Welcome sir, you are the man the doctor spoke with on the phone?’ a woman said, while stretching out her arm to shake my hand.
‘Yeah,’ I say, while still looking around the building, ‘nice to meet you and such.’
The woman notices my confused staring and says: ‘Not quite what you expect in a neighborhood like this huh? Quite frankly, this whole neighborhood will get a renovation. Or well… the whole neighborhood will be taken down. Not good for the image of the city, they say. All will be rebuilt in the style of this building you’re standing in. Apparently they liked this building so much that they wanted the whole block to look like it.’
I look at her and say: ‘It is quite nice, yes. But all these other houses are empty?’
‘No,’ she says, ‘but word is that the government closed a deal with a demolition company, without notifying the civilians.’
‘Did they now?..’
‘Yeah… I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. Anyway, enough random chit-chat, you were here to see the doctor at 3PM, right?’
‘Yeah that’s true. But uhm, how is the doctor? Is he good? You think he can he help me?’
She looks into my eyes and says with a confirming smile: ‘The doctor is one of the best in his field of business. Don’t worry about a thing. Now, if you’d take a seat right over there where the chairs are, the doctor will be with you soon. Could I offer you something to drink?’
‘No thanks, I’m good.’ I tell her, and I go to sit down where she asked me to. I look at my watch, and see it’s 20 minutes to 3. Pff… all this waiting. I look at the window placed above the door where I came in and I notice that it started raining. I can also hear a very faint rumble in the distance. I listen to the sound of the weather, and try to pass the time that way.
Woah… I zoned off for a while. I look to my left and notice that the receptionist is looking at me, trying to get my attention.
‘The doctor is ready to see you now. If you’d walk up the stairs, it’s the first door on your right.’
I get up and mumble a quick thanks to her, then proceed to walk up the stairs. First door on my right… right. I climbed the stairs and arrive at the first door. There’s a gold plated plaque on the door, saying:
~~Dr. Adam Sethe, Dream Doctor~~
I smirked a little bit at the thought of it. Having a title like this probably doesn’t get you much respect in the academic world, let alone in any world. But I shouldn’t think about him this way. He might be able to help me more than I expect. I knock on the door twice and wait for a response from behind the door.
I open the door and walk in. The room was very different from the rest of the building I’ve seen so far. Marble floors and walls suddenly turned into wooden laminate flooring and oak walls. I look around and notice a man, sitting in his chair. As soon as my eyes cross his, he gets up from behind his desk and walks towards me to shake my hand.
‘Welcome, I hope you could find it easily.’ he says.
‘Piece of cake…’ I reply to him.
‘Hm… well, let’s get started then, shall we?’
I nod to him and walk towards his desk to sit down. I wait for him to sit down as well.
‘Do you mind if I smoke?’ he asks me.
‘No, it’s okay.’ I say and he immediately proceeds to light his cigarette.
The man looks a bit old, yet sophisticated. He was your typical shrink type of person. Grey beard, grey hair and some glasses pinned down on his nose. I observe him for a little bit. I don’t even notice that he’s doing exactly the same. Only a few minutes later I snap out of my zone and notice that he’s staring back at me. Right as I snap out of it, he starts talking.
‘Right, now that we’re back on earth, I understand that you’ve been having some trouble sleeping properly. What I’d like you to do now, is dig through your memory and try to figure out what it is exactly that you’ve been seeing in your dreams, what you’ve been feeling and what makes you feel so afraid.’
I hesitate… I don’t like to think back to it…
‘I understand that you have trouble going back to your nightmares. And it’s perfectly normal. But to get to the core of the problem, you have to remember, you have to feel the thing that’s bothering you. Only that way I can help you. Take your time… there’s no rush.’
I look at him and notice that he’s serious. He waits for me to talk. I start thinking back to the first night.
‘The first nightmare involved three things that scared the hell out of me. My eyesight was partially gone, there was a silence that scared the living hell out of me and my chest was hurting so badly I could feel my body collapsing inward…
The second nightmare I had involved even more darkness. I couldn’t see anything. I was completely blind and could only see for what… 1 meter? And that was with a flashlight. I encountered a light, held by someone. I can’t remember his face, but it was a man. The man was hurt, bloody. Dead.
The third nightmare I had, was this morning in the office. I was stuck. I couldn’t move. I was trapped in nothingness. And the briefcase. What’s with the briefcase?
That’s all I can remember doctor. What can you make from all of this?’
I got out of my memory and see that the doctor isn’t in his chair anymore. He’s pacing around the room, lost in his thoughts. He then says:
‘A very peculiar case, that’s for sure. Let me first tell you that dreams are generally considered games of the mind. People tell you that dreams are nothing but an illusion, a practical joke played by the brain. But I don’t share that viewpoint on dreams.
To me, dreams have a red line in them. This red line usually stretches through several dreams, creating a story. Then there’s also a blue, green and maybe thousands of other lines that swirl around the red line, making up details around the story that the red line makes. The red line gives out facts; it basically predicts your future.
Usually our mind doesn’t remember what the red line of your dream indicated about things that are going to happen in the future. Yet sometimes the red line gives out indications so strong, that your mind does in fact remember it. You get the feeling that you already experienced a moment when it comes. That’s what people call déjà-vu. French for ‘already seen’.
As for you, my friend, the dreams that you may be having is a way of that red line, trying to tell you something, trying to make you see something that is about to happen. From what I understand is that your dreams are getting less painful right? I mean, you regained your vision and you felt a certain form of enjoyment in the last dream, right? At first, that is of course.’
I nod. ‘They’re scary as hell still. But not as painful.’
‘So maybe your dreams are trying to protect you from, or warn you for something. For some reason they tell you a story in a reverse order. There’s probably a reason for it.’
I look at him and ask: ‘So do I have to fear for my life? I mean… I did feel a lot of pain in my dreams.’
‘There’s no need to fear for your life, however you can’t be too careful. At this point you can’t really tell anything for sure. Just know that the red line isn’t always the dominant line in your dreams. Sometimes, the blue line sends out a message too. Your pain might’ve been caused by the blue line, but it’s only the red line that tells you actual facts. However, at this point you might not know which line tells you what.’
I look at him again and honestly, I believe that this man is crazy. I get up and reach for my wallet.
‘Righty-o. Thanks for wasting my time. Here’s 50 bucks. If you want to scam people for their money, at least come up with a story that makes sense. Bye.’
I turn around and walk away. As soon as I touch the doorknob, the doctor says:
‘Don’t come back to me saying that I didn’t warn you.’
He barely finished his sentence and lightning and thunder struck outside, making it feel like the building was shaking. The room lit up for a few seconds, then went back to its normal state.
I look out the window, and so does the doctor. He turns to face me again.
‘Well that was kind of cliché, wasn’t it.’
‘You’re a crazy man.’ I tell him and I walk out the office.
I descend the stairs and walk past the receptionist. She asks me:
‘How was your meeting with the doctor, sir?’
‘Bad, thanks, bye.’ I say and I walk out the front door, pulling my coat over my head as I run through the rain towards my car.
I drove straight home. I open my door and drop my keys in the basket on the phone table near the door. I’m soaked; it’s been starting to rain even heavier. And I only walked from the car to my house.
The words of the doctor still float around in my mind. This guy… how does someone get so desperate for people to believe him. I walk into my living room and sit down in my favorite lounge chair. I wipe the water out of my face and rub my eyes. I’m a wreck. I close my eyes for a few seconds and feel the darkness taking me to sleep…
No… not now. I’m not going to sleep right now. I’ll take a shower first. I get up and walk up the stairs towards the bathroom. I undress and step into the shower cabin, closing the cabin doors behind me.
Finally something I’ve been looking forward to all day, a nice hot shower. I let the water flow over me, but it takes me some time to realize that the water isn’t flowing away the same way it usually does. Dammit, are the pipes clogged again? The water is up to my ankles at this point and I kneel at the drainage to try and find something that blocks the water from flowing away in the plughole. I can’t find anything… The problem must lay deeper in the pipe system. I guess that’s the end of my shower.
I turn the knobs to stop the water flow, but the water keeps coming. What the hell? The water has risen until my knees now and the only thing I can think of doing now is open my shower doors. I push against the doors, but there’s no movement in them. The steam of the hot water is building up against the cabin walls. I turn around quickly again to see if I can turn off the water anyway, but realize that the knobs are gone. Did they fall into the water?
I take a deep breath and go underwater to look for the knobs. I can’t see anything shiny and metallic, however the bottom of the cabin feels dirty. I scrape my hands across the bottom to find out how it suddenly got so dirty. I move my head up, expecting to get out of the water, but the water level suddenly seems to have risen meters above me. I try and jump, to get above it, but it doesn’t work. I’m starting to get out of breath and I can’t hold it much longer… I need air.
I push my hands across the surface of the cabin walls, trying to open the doors, but I don’t succeed. My lungs are on fire and I can’t help my reflex to gasp for air, only to fill my lungs with water. Panicky, I try and look outside, through the transparent doors. My vision gets less clear and my head starts to hurt real badly. With my last bit of vision, I can make out something through the doors. It’s the silhouette of 4 men standing there, looking at me. Looking at me suffering, wanting me to die.
I jump out of my place, face first on the floor, screaming. I’m in tears. I don’t know where I am right now. All I know is that I’m tired of it. So tired. I breathe heavily trying to get my grip on what’s reality. I’m losing my mind. I’m trying to look around, but I feel dizzy and can only make out flashes of the environment as I look around. Slowly I start to see things sharper, getting a feel of where I am again.
I’m in my house. Okay, that’s good. Where in my house am I? There’s a chair… coffee table… kitchen door… Okay. I’m in my living room. I turn around and look at the place I fell out of. It’s my chair. I fell asleep in my chair. How long has it been? I feel my clothes and hair and notice that I’m still wet from the rain. Can’t be too long then. I look at my watch and notice that I’ve only been asleep for 6 minutes. Damn…
I guess I’m not sleeping tonight anymore.
I walk to my kitchen and start making coffee. Lots of it. I need to stay awake tonight; I can’t take another one of these nightmares. I guess I’ll be watching movies or maybe play some video games. But first things first. Coffee. Yes, that’s a good idea. Coffee.
Hours went by and I’ve been watching 3 or 4 movies at this point. Although watching is kind of a big term for what I’ve actually been doing. I haven’t really been paying much attention to the movie and its story. I’ve mostly been watching some moving pictures. I think I drank at least 5 cups of coffee already. What time is it now? I look at my watch and see that it’s 3:15AM.
Better turn up the volume of the TV to keep me awake. I look for the remote, but I can’t find it. Must’ve fallen on the floor. I get up after sitting for 8 hours straight, trying to see if the remote is on the ground. But mere seconds after I get up, my vision goes black, my head starts spinning and my body goes numb and I crumble down on the floor.
…should learn… not to get up… too fast.
I open my eyes and see a familiar environment. The forest…
I immediately jump up to look around, scared about what might happen this time. I stretch out my arms to feel if there are any walls. But there aren’t. I walk forward and notice that I’m not bound to any radius to walk freely in. There’s lots of background noise as usual. Just like last time.
‘There you are.’
I suddenly hear a voice behind me, and it scared me. I turn around quickly and see someone I didn’t expect to see here. Not in this state anyway.
‘Good to see you here right on time …’ my boss said.
I look at him, surprised and say: ‘Sure thing, why wouldn’t I be?’
He drives closer to me with his handicap vehicle and continues to speak to me. His voice… it echoes a little bit. And some parts of his speech cut out…
‘Well both … good with you lately. So how … doctor? … it did, otherwise you wouldn’t have … right?
Anyway, yesterday I told … you. … pretty important. I want you to … operating in. There are some issues … close and I want to take matters … escalate and … mayhem. But I don’t … right? After all, you’re … big thing. Now then, let’s go, shall we?’
I focused as hard as I could to try and understand what he was saying, but I couldn’t make much from it. I try to signal him that I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but he doesn’t seem to understand what I’m trying to make clear.
‘Sir… I don’t really know what you’re getting at…’
He looks at me with a funny look and turns his vehicle around, saying:
‘Hahaha! Some joker you are. Come on, let’s go.’
I need to follow him, so I start walking after him. But his vehicle is too quick and starts speeding up more. I try to call out that he needed to go slower, but I realize that it isn’t him who’s going faster; it’s me who’s going slower. I look down and notice that my feet got stuck in the ground, as if the ground suddenly turned into hot asphalt, waiting to dry. I get more trouble walking with every step, and at a certain moment, my whole foot gets stuck and I can’t move anymore. I try to pull my foot loose from the substance that’s on the floor, but don’t succeed.
I lose my balance and fall over. My face hits the ground and the ground starts absorbing it as well. I try to pull myself out of it with all my power, but it doesn’t let me. The last thing I hear is the voice of an unknown man, telling me that I need to slow down…
That phrase rushes through my head as I wake up swiftly again, noticing I’m on the floor of my living room. What time is it?
I look at the clock on my TV-stand and see that it’s 6AM. I get up, I can feel my body shaking a little. My head hurts, probably from that fall I made last night. I walk to my kitchen to get a drink. I might as well take some aspirin too. Damn, I hate aspirin.
I walk back to the living room and sit down in front of my television. I place my arms on the sides of the chair and feel the remote laying on the arm of the chair. Weird…
Let’s see if there’s something interesting on TV. I ended up zapping for two hours. There’s never anything interesting on TV anymore. The only thing that caught my attention was the news, talking about a storm that’s passing through the area. Oh well… at least it’s time to go to work. I put on my working clothes, brush my teeth and go out.
Indeed… the weather man didn’t lie. I pull my coat above my head as I walk out and rush to my car. I drive off and once again, the streets are pretty empty. Who can blame people anyway? With this weather, I’d rather stay inside too. At least I can kind of step on it.
I drive through town, approximately ten km/h above the speed limit. Suddenly I see lights flashing in my rear view mirror and I can hear an alarm sounding. Damn… just what I need. I pull over, turn off the engine and wait for whatever is going to happen next.
Looking in my side view mirror, I see an officer stepping out of his car, walking towards my car. I roll down the window to hear what he has to say.
‘Sir, do you realize that you were driving 60 in a 50 zone?’
I don’t really feel like staying here and talking with him for long. So I answer short and polite:
‘Yes officer, I was aware of that fact. I just felt that those extra 10 km/h’s couldn’t hurt, since the streets are deserted anyway.’
He looks at me, a bit annoyed and says: ‘Sir, do you realize that a speed limit still is a speed limit, even if the road is deserted?’
‘Yes officer, I realize that. It was my bad, and it won’t happen again.’
‘Alright, I’ll let you off with a warning this time. Just remember to slow down when you’re driving in urban areas, alright?’
A bell rang in my head. ‘Excuse me? What did you say?’
The officer looks at me and asks me: ‘Do you have trouble hearing, sir? Or can’t you grasp the simple concept of road safety? Slow. Down. When. In. Urban. Areas.’
I can feel my heart beating in my throat. I nod to the officer and roll up the window as he walks away. Slow down… slow down… Déjà vu?
I sit idle for a few minutes, before turning on the engine again and driving off. I turn my rear view mirror towards me and see that my skin turned very pale all of a sudden.
I simple refuse to believe the words of the doctor. That man was out of his mind. Dreams predicting the future? No way.
I arrive at the office, park my car and run to the entrance, with my coat covering my head. I don’t greet the receptionist, nor Hank and walk straight up towards my boss’ office.
As I arrive there, I knock on the door and rush in as soon as I heard my boss saying I could come in.
‘There you are. Good to see you here right on time …’ my boss says.
I look at him, surprised and say: ‘Sure thing, why wouldn’t I be?’
Only just realizing what happened when I came in, I quickly cover my mouth. My boss looks at me, a bit confused, but proceeds to talk.
‘Well both you and I know that things haven’t been going very good with you lately. So how was your visit with the doctor? Did it do any good? Surely it did, otherwise you wouldn’t have been here at this time, right?’
I don’t even know what to answer. He continues talking.
‘Anyway, yesterday I told you about this favor I wanted to ask you. It’s pretty important. I want you to accompany me to visit the area that we’re going to be operating in. There are some issues concerning this deal we’re about to close and I want to take matters into my own hand, before things escalate and could probably cause a lot of mayhem. But I don’t have to tell you that, right? After all, you’re the main man who led us to this big thing. Now then, let’s go, shall we?’
There’s the ongoing feeling of déjà vu again. In the past I would always try and continue a déjà vu for as long as possible, before my memory lost the trail of what was going to happen next…
But this time I don’t want that to happen. I want to tell my boss that I can’t do him this favor, but all that comes out of my mouth is:
‘Sir… I don’t really know what you’re getting at…’
My boss drives around his desk towards the door, turns his head and laughs, calling me a joker.
‘Come on, let’s go.’
I’m scared. Could the doctor be right?
‘Let’s take my car, it’s modified to carry me and my vehicle around,’ my boss says as he throws his keys towards me. I catch them and look at them. I notice my hands are shaking too. The déjà vu ended, but still I couldn’t help but think about what the doctor had told me. I walked to the driver’s door, opened it and sat down. It took me a minute to realize that my boss wasn’t entering the car.
Right… he doesn’t walk. I get out of the car and walk to the back of the car. My boss is sitting there with a funny look on his face. I can’t blame him. It’s pouring outside and both of us are already soaked from the trip from the office to the car. I open the back doors and jump in the car to bring out the rails that are kept in the back. My boss drives over them, giving me a faint smile as he enters the vehicle. I fasten the straps to keep his vehicle steady, put the rails back in and jump out the back.
Right… now. Where to go?
I get in the driver’s seat and start the car. There’s a walkie-talkie on the dashboard. It has a flashing light on it. I pick up the mic and say:
‘Boss? You can hear me?’
I wait for a response and sure enough, he can hear me.
‘Yeah buddy, I hear you,’ he says. ‘Now, I want you to drive to the address that’s pinned down under the sun visor. The address should be familiar to you; you’ve seen it many times before. In case you don’t know how to get there, there’s a GPS installed in the car.’
For some reason, I don’t need it. I do remember the address. I’ve seen it yesterday. I know exactly how to get there, although I don’t know how I know.
As I start driving, the rain starts getting heavier as well. The windshield wipers are at full speed and are having a hard time wiping away the enormous amounts of water which are flowing on the window…
My brain is on autopilot right now. I don’t have to focus on controlling the car. All that’s on my mind at this point is the gnawing feeling of discomfort.
‘Boss? Could you remind me who we are visiting again?’ I ask him.
‘What’s wrong with you, man? We’ve been struggling with this issue for a long time now. And I finally figured a way to get rid of the issue and you can’t even remember what this is all about? Sometimes I think you’re not as smart as you usually seem on a normal day.’
A loud laugh followed his demeaning comments. I keep on driving without talking. But the closer we get to the destination, the more anxious I feel.
Arriving at our destination, I try to make out some landmarks. I’m trying to see why this place seems so familiar. But the rain is too heavy to see anything through the windows. I pick up the walkie and say:
‘Boss… we’re here.’
‘Good,’ he replies to me. ‘Could you unload me please? Bwahahaha!!! That sounded disrespectful if I do say so myself. But in all seriousness, could you help me out?’
I take a look out the window, already feeling the amount of water I will get over me if I get out now.
‘Sir? Don’t you think it’s better to wait for it to dry a little bit before we get out?’
‘Nonsense. What are you made of? Sugar? Come and get me out of here. We can’t be late for our meeting.’
Reluctantly, I put down the walkie, take the keys out of the contact and open the door. I jump out quickly and within seconds, I’m soaked. Running to the back of the car, I try to look around to see if I recognize the place. I… I do recognize it… I know I shouldn’t be here.
I stand still for a few seconds, trying to push away the feeling of panic that suddenly came over me. I hear my boss smacking the inside of the car. Quickly, I get out of my zone and walk towards the back of the car. I open the door and my boss is ready to drive out. He drives forward without waiting for me to put down the rails and jumps his vehicle out of the car. A loud smack follows, but his vehicle still works.
‘Slowpoke…’ he mumbles to me. ‘Come on, let’s go, we’re running late.’
I look at him while he drives off and I walk after him. But I want to get an explanation from him. I start talking as I walk.
‘Hey! Just… stop there. With all due respect, sir, I’ve been asking you several times what this was all about. And you just won’t answer me. Really, I need to know what we are about to do. I’m not joking around here… My mind is a complete blank! I really… really don’t know what this big thing is all about. So please, I’m asking you. What are we about to do?’
He stops his vehicle from moving and looks back at me.
‘My friend… obviously you haven’t had the best days ever. I realize that. But this thing we’re about to take care of? It’s not something to forget about, even if you’re stressed out. Especially since you and me are the ones who caused it. These people we are about to meet aren’t in the best time of their lives right now, and it’s because of us. Personally, I don’t give a damn about them. But it’s time to take care of business. And if your mind is troubling you, well… you should’ve thought about that before we caused all of this. Now get your act together and stop pretending you can’t remember shit! There’s loads of money to win or lose here. And I’d rather choose to win.’
He drove onwards after his speech and I reluctantly follow him, still unclear about what I’m doing here. The rain keeps falling down on us, the wind blowing in our backs. I can’t stand the rain anymore, I can’t see how my boss can be so unmoved by it. This whole time I’m following him, I’m looking at him, trying to figure out what he means to say. Damn, I can’t even remember what kind of work I do. Is it because of my nightmares that I remember so very few about my life?
My boss suddenly stops in front of a dark alleyway.
‘Here it is.’
I look inside the alleyway and wonder what kind of meeting he has set up.
‘It’s here? In this alleyway?’
‘Yes. It is. What’s the matter? Afraid of the darkness?’
I don’t want to admit it to him, but I am in fact afraid of the darkness. Especially after the past few days and nights. My boss turns his vehicle, switches on his headlights and drives into the alley. I can see the rain falling quickly and swiftly in front of the light beam, once again reminding me of the terrible weather.
I stop walking for a second. I feel something… I feel familiarity with this place. I turn around to see what’s across the street. I squint to make out some details of the building across it. My eyes suddenly grow bigger as I see where I am… I gasp for air as fear runs through my body. I wipe away the water from my face, hoping that what I saw was just an illusion. But it’s not. I’m looking straight at the doctor’s building. My memory… it’s much clearer all of a sudden.
‘Hey! Stop slowing us down!’ my boss yells at me.
I quickly turn around and run towards him. I jump in front of his vehicle, begging him to stop moving.
‘Stop… please. I have a bad feeling about this. I… I remember now. This neighborhood. It’s going to be torn down, right? We were planning to destroy it, right? That’s what this is all about, isn’t it?’
My boss looks at me and smiles. ‘Welcome back to the demolition team, my friend.’
He starts moving further, pushing me aside, leaving me standing there with nothing but his empty response.
Though I remember now. It’s my job.
I’m the person responsible for the upcoming destruction of this part of town…
But I can’t stay here alone. I need to follow my boss and help him out. I can’t leave him to do this on his own, especially since my senses tell me that things aren’t going to end too well today…
I walk after him into the alleyway, until he suddenly stops driving. I stop as well and try to see what’s at the end of the alley. The rain is flowing down my face, getting into my nose and mouth as I breathe. It’s so heavy that it almost feels as if I’m drowning while standing here.
Oh god no… a fear shook through my heart as I look down the alleyway and make out a silhouette in the distance. I remember this. The rain, the feeling of drowning. The 4 men.
I shout to my boss:
‘Boss! We need to get out of here! NOW! It’s a trap!’
He turns his head around to look at me, shocked by my sudden panic. His mouth opens to tell me something. But before he can make out a sound, I feel a hard hit on the back of my head, instantly making my vision blurry. I drop down on the ground, into the cold water that was pouring down my face before.
‘100 grant? He wanted to give us a 100 grant to silence us?’
‘It would’ve taken a lot more to convince us. The greedy son of a bitch. Did he really think that he would get away with a lousy offer like this?’
‘Doesn’t matter now. We keep the money and we’ll get rid of those two.’
‘It doesn’t feel right to me. 100 grant to be divided amongst us? What about all the families that will lose their house because of these two?’
‘Come on, man. Think logically for once. No main contractor, no deal with the government, no destruction of the area. Should make sense.’
‘Maybe you’re right… But are you willing to kill two people for a 100 grant?’
‘These two here aren’t people. They’re vermin. The dirt of today’s society. All they care about is money and that’s it.’
‘Alright, so… we split the money even? 20,000 each?’
I hear 5 voices around me. I slowly am able to open my eyes. I notice I’m not outside anymore. The floor on which I’m laying is dry. I feel cold. I try to make a sound and ask what’s going on. Before I can even say anything, one of the men notices I’m not knocked out anymore. He walks towards me and kneels in front of me. He starts talking to me.
‘Hey there sunshine… how was your sleep? I wouldn’t worry too much if it wasn’t good, because soon enough you won’t have to worry about sleeping anymore. Hell, you don’t even have to worry about waking up either.’
He gets up again and walks towards the table they were standing around to pick up something. I hear two clicks and the man appears to pick up something heavy. I try to see what it is, but I already know what’s coming. I try to shield my face from the briefcase he’s going to hit me with, but I can’t move my arms quickly enough. I feel a pain flashing through my head and I lose consciousness again.
I can’t move again. I’m stuck. I try to move my body, but it feels just like in my dream. Am I dreaming now? I could be. But I don’t think so. This feels a lot more vivid than it would in a dream. I try to feel what’s holding me from moving.
It’s not the invisible walls. It’s rope. My wrists are tied to something, my middle is too. The rope is so tight that I have trouble breathing. I can’t move my legs either.
It appears I’m in some kind of cellar. There’s light shining through a small window above me. It looks like I’m below the floor. It has stopped storming and raining too…
Fuck! My boss! I didn’t even think about him. I try to look around to see if I can find any trace of him around me. I want to call out for him, but I know that it’s not the best idea at this point. I start moving, trying to get out of this chair. I’m moving my entire body, trying to get loose. But I don’t succeed. I lose my balance bouncing around, and fall down on the floor.
So this is what the doctor wanted to make me see. He was right. He was oh so right. My dreams did tell me what was about to happen. And I just let it happen too. Why didn’t I want to listen? I could’ve still been in my apartment, watching movies at this point… I close my eyes and let out a single tear. I feel my end is nearing. If my dreams were accurate so far… who knows what’s going to happen to me.
I didn’t even finish my thought or the door on top of the stairs that led down to the cellar flew open. I quickly turned my gaze towards the door and in the door opening I see the same image I saw in my dream.
It’s a man. His clothes are ripped. He’s bloody. He’s dead.
My boss’ lifeless body tumbled down the stairs, making the dust on the floor spread out as he hit the cold stone tiles. I look at the body and I can’t believe what I’m seeing.
Why did I ignore the dream I had? Why did I… Two men come running down the stairs, before I can finish my thought. They cut me loose from my chair and drag me up the stairs. No matter how much I struggle to get out of their grip, I don’t succeed.
‘Please… I don’t want to die. Don’t do this please… I didn’t mean to do what I did. It was an accident…’
I look at them desperately, but they don’t seem to be interested in whatever I have to say. I get dragged to what looks like a hallway. The 5 men are looking at me as I get dropped on the floor. I keep begging them not to do what they did to my boss. One man steps forward and holds a piece of cloth in front of him.
‘No… I don’t want that. I don’t like the darkness. Don’t put it on, please. Don’t blindfold me; I’m afraid of the darkness!’
The man doesn’t seem to want to listen and he puts it on anyway. I struggle to make sure he can’t put it on. But with the last bit of energy I have in my body, I can’t really get much done.
‘Hey… Hey! Stop struggling. It’s not like you can do something anyway. It’s better that we blindfold you before doing this.’
I ask him: ‘Do what?’
The man sighs, some of the others laugh.
‘What? You think we were going to throw you a surprise party? Nah, it’s much different from that. You see, what we’re about to do, doesn’t just benefit us. People like you… people who only care about money and their precious business, they destroy this world. Let me ask you, rhetorically of course, because I can’t really care about what you actually have to say for yourself; how much money would you’ve made, from destroying this block?
2 million? Perhaps 3 million?
Not a bad score. For destroying hundreds of people’s lives!!!’
The man fell silent for a few seconds after that outburst. I can hear him pacing around the room.
‘Were you really able to live with that on your conscience?
Are you really that cold of a stone? Surely you’re not going to make me believe that ‘you didn’t know’?
Because we all know that you did know. And not just you, no… that dirt bag of a boss of yours too. And you saw what happened to him.’
I reply to him, desperately:
‘Please man… I’m sorry. I really am.’
He laughs at my response and proceeds to talk:‘Sorry? You’re sorry? Bullshit you are… You’re sorry because you’re about to die. And dying you will. Goodbye.’
Oh god… I close my eyes, waiting for what’s about to happen. I can already feel the pain from my dream rushing through me. I can hear the sound of a gun clicking, then firing two, three times. I can feel the bullets piercing my chest, giving me the actual pain I’ve felt in my dream too. Only this time… it’s real. And I won’t wake up. It’s not a dream. It’s reality… The pain is real. And my dying is real.
‘No it’s not.’
I hear a faint voice, slowly getting closer.
‘It isn’t real. Well… it WAS real. Past tense. So did you find out what you wanted to know?’
I open my eyes and notice that I’m lying on a couch. I look up and let my gaze flow around the room I’m in. Oak walls… I move myself upward to get my orientation back.
‘Not that easy, was it? Most of my clients don’t take stuff like this seriously. But as I said before, it does hurt and it might make you feel empty afterwards. But for some that’s a good thing.’
My vision slowly becomes less blurry. I sit on the side of the couch, my head in between my hands, trying to figure out what just happened.
‘Don’t shield yourself from what’s here and now, my friend. And stop dwelling in the past. You came to me looking for answers. And answers you got…
Here, take this, it’ll help with the headache.’
I take the mug that the man is offering me. His voice sounds familiar. I look up and stare into a pair of familiar looking eyes.
‘Call me Adam, please,’ he said with a confirming smile. I wanted to ask him some things; I wanted to clear up what just had happened to me.
‘Hey… did I just die? Am I dreaming right now? What did you do to me in the office that I don’t know of?’
He sits back down at his desk and puts his feet on the table.
‘Well, well, looks like you won’t change. Always looking for answers, never satisfied with what you got. Alright then, here we go: Yes, you died. You are dead. Did you die just now? No, you didn’t. Now, with that information, let that brain of yours work and start digging in your memory. Why are you here with me?’
I start thinking… I start running through the flashes of my memory, trying to look for some images that can explain what happened to me. Flash after flash runs through my mind, until I encounter something I haven’t seen in the past days. Everything in the memory is grey. I close my eyes and focus on the moving images.
I see myself walking around, trying to talk to random people that are walking around a cold, grey looking area. Nobody seems to want to respond to me. Their skin looks pale and rotten. They don’t have hair. All they do is shuffle around, not sure where to go. I look at my own hands and I notice that my skin has gotten pale as well. Everything is silent. There’s no noise.
Every now and then one of my own thoughts breaks through the barrier of silence.
‘Help me…’ is what I say. ‘Help me figure out what happened to me.’
But nobody seems to be able to hear me. I look around me, trying to see if there’s something or someone who can help me. In the distance is a building. None of the other people seem to notice it. I start walking towards the large building.
After what seemed to have been an eternity, I arrive at the building. The material looks brand new, and it seems to shine more than anything else in this area. I walk up the stairs and open the door.
I walk in. As soon as I enter, there’s a man lifting himself out of a chair in the large hallway. There seems to be sound again… He walks towards me and says:
‘Glad you could come. I was expecting you. Follow me and I promise you that after this, you will feel much better. Dr. Adam Sethe is the name, nice to meet you.’
A huge flash suddenly kills my vision and I feel a sickening lurch, pulling me out of the memory. The flash slowly fades away and I’m back in the doctor’s office.
‘You remember now, do you?’ He said.
‘I came to you… for help. I wanted to know how I died. You’ve been helping me figure out how I came to my end!’
He nods, then proceeds to speak: ‘That’s right, I did. And I have to tell you, you didn’t die in the most comfortable way. But then again, you probably deserved it, right?’
I look at him and want to protest, but I know deep down that he’s right.
‘Yes, Adam. I deserved it. But I still don’t get it. All this time I was tracing back my steps, thinking I was living in the real world. But if I understand correctly, I had already been dead this entire time?’
‘Then what was the forest all about? My nightmares I was having? The shower, the darkness, the pain? That all actually happened somewhere around… here? The real world I thought I was living in was nothing but an illusion? A dream?’
‘Take a look at this.’ He gets out of his chair and walks to the window. ‘Come now, you might want to see this to fully understand.’
I get up and walk to the window to look out.
‘It’s the forest! It’s so vivid compared to the rest of the grey environment…
You… you’ve been watching me go through all the horror? Or… was it you who made that happen?’
‘Well, if you put it that way, it may seem pretty harsh, but that’s basically true, yes. You came to me, hoping to reclaim some of your memory. But you see, the process of getting parts of your memory back after you die, consists of two parts.
As soon as people walk into my office here, I can tell how and why they died. That’s why I’m here, that’s my purpose in death. However, when I try to tell them, they won’t believe it. They don’t remember it. So I have to take different actions.
By putting my clients through several things that appeared in their lives prior to their deaths, I try to stir up their memories.’
During his speech, I keep looking at the forest. I then say, with a mind as clear as crystal:
‘You made me drown to remind me of the rain. You hit me with the briefcase to tell me about the money. You closed me into an invisible box to remind me of the ropes that bound me to my chair. You showed my dead boss, you showed the darkness from being blindfolded and you made me feel the pain of a gunshot wound…’
I look at him; he looks back at me and says with a smile:
‘Pretty genius huh… But, that’s not all. There’s a second part to the memory regaining process. You see, the death also dream. They do. They don’t do it very often either, mostly when they want to remember something important.
However, the memory of a death person is very bad, to say the least.
I had been struggling with this thing for a while. Prior to your visit here, I had loads of clients who just couldn’t link the things I put them through, with what happened to them before their death. Very troublesome.
I made a visit to one of your dreams, remember that?’
‘Yeah I do remember…’
‘Now, I’m sure you also remember what I told you about my theory about dreaming, right? You seemed to think I was nuts. But with all the new things you experienced now, it doesn’t seem very implausible anymore, does it?’
I walk back to the couch and lay down on it. ‘No… it most certainly doesn’t. So dreams actually do predict the future?’
‘Well… it hasn’t been proven yet and probably never will, but it’s a better explanation than most others. So it got me thinking, if the dreams of the living show the future and work towards the end of a person’s life, would it be the exact opposite in death? Will the ‘death dreams’ show the past?
So I started experimenting a little bit. And sure enough, when the death dream, they dream of their past life.
So if you combine this method with my ability to make them feel how they died, I can make the death figure out how they got to their end. They can put 1 and 1 together.’
‘So everything that happened in what I thought was real life, actually happened? Even the nightmares I thought I was having?’
The doctor sighs and turns away from the window to face me and says:
‘You still don’t completely understand it… My theory… remember my theory, man. Talking about all these lines? It applies here too. These death dreams have the red line too. And the blue, green or whatever color line. It works the same way, only here the red line shows parts of the past instead of the future.
Who knows, you might’ve fallen asleep at the office, maybe you spent 8 hours staring at a television screen sipping away liters of coffee. But maybe you didn’t do those things at all.
You probably didn’t even have nightmares when you were still alive. Perhaps the green line sent out that message; however the green line doesn’t show the truth. But one thing is for sure. You did get killed. And that’s what the red line offers you, and that’s what it wanted to show you.’
My mind is blank. I don’t know what to say or think anymore. I should be happy with what I know. After all, I came here to find help remembering. But somehow I don’t feel free.
‘You don’t feel free, huh…’ he says. ‘Don’t worry, you’re dead. You’re not supposed to feel free. Death isn’t a joy, I tell that to all my clients here. I just wish they would’ve lived a better and healthier life so I wouldn’t have to put them through all their misery, even after their deaths.
It’s not a fun task I have to do here. But I hope I can at least help people get closure. Now, if you’d excuse me, I got some more clients to take care of.’
I get off the couch, still not sure what to say to him. He walks towards me and shakes my hand. He then leads me outside, into the grey environment I remember so clearly was around the house. I descend the stairs in front of the building and blend in with the people shuffling around. I turn around to look at the building one last time, but… it’s already gone.
I turn around again to blend in some more and I start to feel in place. Every second more that the house is gone, the volume and sound of the bleak environment turn lower and lower. I look to my right and smile at the dead person walking next to me. He looks back and smiles at me too. With the last bit of sound in the area, I speak to him:
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