17 Aug Dream Awake
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"Dream Awake"Written by
Estimated reading time — 20 minutes
When people are born blind, their minds never capture the visual stigmas that are necessary for dreams to be created. As a result, these individuals are eternally destitute of sight and stricken to experience only their other four senses while asleep. Some of these people find consolation in the fact that they will never truly understand the entirety of what they are missing. They go about their lives without the complete realization of what life would be with functioning eyes wholly due to the fact that they have nothing to compare their blindness to. For how can one explain a color to another who has never experienced it? Other people, are different with the implication that they are born with sight only to have it taken away by illness or injury at a later date. These people can still see while in their dreams because of the memories their mind captured when they had their sight. This is true even for those who lose their ability to see at a very young age; the only difference is that they are limited in their dream-scape more-so because their mind can only manifest simple structures from their compromised reminiscence. The people who fall into this latter grouping often find themselves having a certain level of internal torture in this fact. These individuals have the ability to experience a sense that their natural state-of-mind cannot, only to find that when they awaken, an endless void of black is all that greets them.
Unfortunately, I fall into the second category.
Around the age of one, I became permanently blind. My doctors spent a seemingly endless amount of hours trying to figure out why the sudden change had occurred, but there were no medically explainable answers to my predicament. My parents, rather than weep over my misfortune indefinitely, accepted my fate and lessened their time mourning in order to to begin preparations for the extra help I would need. The only true refuge I had from my blindness was my dreams – but since I was so young when I lost the ability to see – I was only able to form basic shapes and colors during sleep. Even so, I understood the value of the short window of time that I would be able to visualize in. The respect that I had for sleeping increased over the years and I felt as though the solace I had while dreaming would never be matched by anything else. During the day, life was just as tough as one would imagine a blind person’s existence to be. Simple tasks like walking and opening doors quickly became gut-wrenching puzzles for a child afraid of the dark.
I persevered, and slowly progressed to a level of confidence expected of me. I wanted to succeed, but I always felt myself being more concerned with the night than anything else. Instead of focusing on my brail teachings, I would often think of my dreams and the same was true for many other things in my life. I found that I was constantly asking questions about my sleep. Maybe I would see something I had not seen yet; maybe I would remember more that next morning than I did the last. It became somewhat of a personal goal of mine. I would try to outdo myself every time dusk fell and at dawn I would concentrate on what I had dreamed about, hoping that my mind could adapt and produce even more complex images.
As I grew older, I became frustrated with myself because I craved for increasingly intricate visuals. I needed more to quench my undying thirst for improvement and the days became just a means to an end in light of the fact that all I wanted to do was to return to my bed and try again. My attempts were largely futile and I started to become extremely bitter in the thought that maybe my mind would soon forget every visual I had strove to remember. I couldn’t let that happen and I told myself everyday that I would rather die than lose the only thing that helped me through my struggles. I would plan and process everything about my sleep. Making sure I was in the right position, ensuring that my room was in the perfect sleep-inducing environment. I started to create a system of rituals and small tasks that helped me get the most out of my night and I followed them to the very last detail. I would turn the temperature to a crisp coldness barely tolerable and cushion the crack at my door to dampen any sound that might enter into my sanctuary. I would surround myself snugly with an arrangement of coverings and blankets. I would make sure that my body was cleansed of any distractions both bodily and mental. Finally, I would lie down slowly with every worry leaving my mind as my breath would leave my nostrils. These things and more I did every night religiously. I had no other choice.
One of the undertakings that I consistently upheld was to feel around my body so that my mind could process and remember my dimensions. I did not know what I looked like, but I at least knew my shape and that was all that was necessary. Through description, I came to be able to piece together what buildings and scenery would look like and it didn’t take long before I could manifest a grid-like mapping of what I thought my world was. I did this so that I would have a firmer grasp on reality; any visual knowledge that I could obtain was crucial to my mission. Over time, my insatiable need for dreams only increased. My infatuation with the intangible images in my brain were always a very effective escape from the harsh existence that I lived in and so they remained as my primary concern in life.
I felt as though my dedication to dreaming would eventually yield fruit, and it wasn’t very long before my dream-scape seemed to be gradually becoming more vivid. I was beginning to break through to a different level of cognizance while asleep and this understanding drove my determination to new limits. I wanted to tell my parents, friends, and doctors, but the possibilities in conversation overwhelmed me as I spent painstakingly long hours trying to figure out what I would try to communicate. I started to second-guess myself with questions. How could they expect me to be able to create more complex visuals in my dreams if I had nothing to compare to? How could I convince someone that I had been dedicating a large portion of my time to dreaming? I couldn’t prove anything to anyone, but in the inner sanctum of my mind I knew that I wasn’t insane. I came to realize that they would probably just laugh at me if I attempted to talk, so I gave up on the idea for the time being. In hindsight, exchanging thoughts with my peers might have been able to save me, but I didn’t want to be saved. I wanted to plunge further into the abyss that was my resting mind.
Years passed and at the age of sixteen, the next considerable milestone in my journey was made. One night, I found myself dreaming, but it was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I could see my body and felt myself able to reason with that fact that I was asleep. I was unable to grasp the situation completely, but the longer I was “awake” in my dream the more aware I became. I had the dispiriting and trailing thought that maybe I wasn’t as sane as I had originally hoped; what if this was all just a false manifestation that my mind created to keep my obsession satisfied? I remember thinking how surreal the realm felt; I became suspicious that perhaps this new dream world was a different place all-together from my illusions of old. The longer I spent in the dream world, the more worrisome I became. I tried to rationalize how this level of dream-perception was possible and surmised that because I had already formed the thoughts of my dimensions; my mind only had to fill in the blanks.
Maybe it wasn’t actually me, but I could look down with my eyes and see a body to which my thoughts were attached. That was significant enough for me and I was elated at my progress. Even so, the achievement was not without its setbacks. Beyond my person, I was still blind. I also found that in this realm, I couldn’t move. I was disappointed in this realization, but none of those things regressed my hopes. It was still a substantial progression from my past dreams and I had new found determination that I could learn to control my dream-consciousness even more. I decided to enjoy the experience for what it was worth and waited to see if anything else would occur. I figured that I would allow the realm to continue for as long as it would let me, but it remained for much longer than I thought possible. It seemed like an eternity that I was lingering, suspended in the blackness, and I was becoming apprehensive at the premonition that I would never wake up. I closed the eyes to my dream body thinking that maybe it would just eventually fade away, but to my surprise I woke up immediately afterwards.
I didn’t understand how that action had caused me to exit the dream world, but I pushed away the confusion due to the relieved feeling that I now possessed. I silently wondered to myself what the next night could bring, but I didn’t want to get too hasty. I arose from bed and walked around my room contemplating how I would start the day. I grabbed my clothes off of the top of my dresser and clumsily stumbled on the way to the bathroom. I entered the shower, continuing my train-of-thought from when I had woken up. I was becoming dizzy from the amount of focused energy I was exerting on thinking, knowing that I was on the verge of uncovering something substantial. The hot water splashed against my skin and I could breath in the mist that was arising. I just stood their trying to allow my nerves to return to a level of normalcy, but my thoughts of the dream world simply would not let me have that satisfaction.
I felt a certain level of forsaken knowledge entering my body, as though I had stumbled upon a loop-hole in the fabric of existence. I was uncertain as to why I felt so detached from myself, but I quickly ignored any further thoughts in context with the idea that I was doing something forbidden. I decided to exit the shower and go about my regular routine in anticipation of the night. I observed the nothingness that my eyes perceived, realizing that being awake was a constant reminder of the handicap that was becoming more of an unnecessary thorn in my side than usual. Halfway through the day, I made the enlightening determination that I could rid myself of the darkness at any moment, if only given the chance to enter my dreams. Mental anarchy was reigning in my skull; I made the decision that I would skip dinner in order to go to sleep earlier. That night, it took longer than usual to become peaceful enough to sleep, but I finally drifted off to find myself in a seemingly unfamiliar house.
Once again I found myself asking questions; was this the very house that I lived in, only brought to life in vision? The house felt so real that it was as if my eyes were seeing everything while I was awake despite my brain not being able to process it. I was ecstatic and longed to get up from my bed in order to explore, but my body was continuing its ailment from the previous dream. I was immobile. I laid there for a while knowing that eventually I would wake up by using the same means that I had before. I wanted to be patient, though. Perhaps if I waited long enough, I would be able to move.
After a considerable amount of time passed, I began to feel a bit uneasy. I felt less like the dream world was something that I wanted to experience and more like I was being punished. I began to wonder why I was paralyzed and the only possibility I could think of was that maybe I was strapped in the bed by some physical binding; however, I found that I was completely free of any perceivable restrictions. Mentally, maintaining this state was tiring and I was beginning to give up when suddenly I started to hear a faint whisper. Cold breath against my neck pierced through the air like a sharp knife through flesh and I tried to turn to look at whatever was there only to find that my body wouldn’t allow me.
Just a few moments ago my neck was able to pivot, but now I suffered a even more invasive paralysis. I started to become aware that my body could be static due to the unfathomable terror I was now experiencing. The whispers I was now acknowledging were there since I had awoken in the dream world, but in my excitement I had not realized that they existed. I tried to calm myself down and found peace in the fact that I had the ability to wake up whenever I chose. At this point, the “whisper” had gotten much louder and eventually became a deep guttural bellowing that caused my eyes to water in horror. Whatever was next to me wanted me to know that it was there, but all I truly discerned from reverberations was that I needed to escape as soon as possible. After a while, when I felt its presence increasing, I started to feel more worried that this would be my final dream. I tried to close my eyes, but found that it was incredibly difficult to “un-see” what was happening. I squeezed my eye-lids together forcefully knowing that it was the only chance I had. Luckily, l was successful in my second attempt, but I learned not to take my chances if the situation would arise again.
The next day, I tried to express to my friends my un-containable findings. I knew they wouldn’t listen to me, but I still felt saddened at the sound of them ignoring me. I went to my parents and the same result was apparent. They cut me off before I got into any details and left me at the dinner table feeling insignificant. I felt a silent scream developing in my heart because I could not effectively portray my experience with anyone. My dreams were falling on blind eyes around me and my words on deaf ears. I was secluded in my discoveries, but it did not discourage me too much. A few weeks passed and the dream reoccurred to me almost every night. My days became more eerie and my nights became equal to that of a solemn risk with my own sanity. I soon found myself in terror of going to sleep when only a few weeks ago I couldn’t wait to see what advances I could make in my dreams. I was doomed while awake to my blindness and I was cursed at night with never-ending nightmares.
I thought that my sleep paralysis would be indefinite when one night, I found myself able to move while in the dream world. I hesitantly got out from bed and walked around to find out that the house in my dream had the same floor plan as my real house. I was beginning to feel like I was playing with destiny and quickly remembered the entity that plagued this realm. I cautiously allowed my mind wonder if danger was close by and thought that I would be too afraid to explore thoroughly, but my curiosity proved to be stronger than my fear. I noticed that my movement was far from natural. Each step felt like a thousand and I had the unshakable feeling that my stifled limbs would be my tragic undoing. Suddenly, the walls around me started to recede into the ground. They retracted without warning in order to expose a barren wasteland just outside the confines of the house. The ground was hot and I could see nothing of the grasses or trees that I felt while awake. All that was observable surmised to scorched dirt and a giant ball of fire closely looming above me. I felt out of place and looked at my body to find that my skin was a lighter shade than in previous dreams. My heart was racing and I could barely stand the wave of discomfort flowing over me. The air grew foggy and heavy with the stench of death. My dream world seemed to be forcing me into the same blindness I experienced while awake.
I awaited another change of events when, in the distance, I saw a figure in black. It was hard to make out, but I observed that it was wearing a hood and that it had a menacing stature. It was coming closer, but the fog made it hard to tell how quickly it was approaching. I decided that I would stand my ground because my inquisitive nature was continuing to somehow overpower my fear of imminent demise. I found myself unprepared as the entity appeared directly in front of me with eyes that never blinked and that looked as if they were examining my very soul. It looked into me with a certain level of wild abandon that made me feel akin to a corpse being dissected. It seemed intrigued, but I was beginning to worry about why it was so interested in me. I felt myself becoming prey to the figure and realized that it could sense my obvious weakness. The entity’s form was starting to be made more clear due to the fog dissipating and my horror reached new heights now that I was looking at it completely. The humanoid guardian was a gray skinned being with skeleton-like features. It stood above me easily by four feet and was extremely lanky; I shivered at its aroma of cursedness. Even though the outward visuals of the figure made it seem as though it was frail, I knew that it had immense power behind the limbs it was concealing within its black cloak. I glanced at the robe and discovered that it was very intricate; it gave me a distinct and irrational feeling that it belonged to someone else. Alien symbols were strewn across the covering like the blood of a newly sacrificed lamb across a temple floor. The blackness beyond black of the robe contrasted greatly with the husk-like grayness of the being’s skin. I focused into the dark cloth and felt akin to being swallowed by quicksand. The robe was like a black-hole in context with the fact that it was slowly and literally pulling me towards it. Soon, all I could hear was an endless screeching.
The figure opened its mouth and my ears absorbed the sounds of bone crushing against bone, the noises of people being ripped limb from limb, and the cries of millions through centuries of imprisonment. I wanted to run away, but I discovered that I was unable to move any part of my body. My eyes were fixated on the entity in front of me and the distinct blank expression on its face was frightening enough to make me wish that I would be blind forever. Something was continuing to draw me into the visage of the figure even though I could sense my impending doom. It reached its arms out to grab me and the hellish noises it was emitting continued to haunt my every attempt to resist. The sounds of random notes on a piano could be heard playing, the noise of a fingernail scraping a chalkboard was roaring out of its crevices. I couldn’t breathe as it surrounded me in the confines of its robe and I felt my lifeblood flowing out from every orifice in my body. Inside the bleak blackness of the being’s cloak, I could hear a continuous chanting…
“My still beating heart clings to a hope in creation.
From the beginning, certainly dreaming –
of one lonely destination steadfast in elimination.
Flowing in the wayward streams of redeeming –
towards every choice and path in foundation.
Silently turning away with shut eyes screaming –
turning to nothing and fruitless temptation.
Or at least finding away to set up releasing.”
…The message was being carved into my skull by the voices of children who were bludgeoning the words inside me. The entirety of the situation was not registering and my fear prevented me from waiting any longer to see what would happen. I closed my eyes in order to save myself from the being’s clutches and woke up in a cold sweat back into reality. I wept to myself at what I had experienced.
My paranoia increased throughout the next day considerably. I could hear the heart-stopping sounds from my dream and I could feel the figure’s eyes staring at me within the darkness. My house felt different and I was uncertain if I could trust anything anymore. The figure was too vivid to ignore, yet too morbidly realistic to believe. I told myself that I should just try to forget about my obsession with my own dreams, but I knew that I was just lying to myself. I would never stop because I had to know more. I had to find out what was plaguing my subconscious. The inner facets of my mind were grinding so intensely on what was happening to me; I knew it was only going to drive me further into tears, yet I still pondered aimlessly on the subject.
My torment went on for several months and frequently the being would return to remind me that I would never rid myself of its presence. My days were synonymous with the memories of my night and the opposite was also true. The dream world and the real world began to mesh to the point that I lost sight of all temporal matters. I no longer talked to my friends and rarely said more than what was necessary to my parents. I stopped eating regularly and lost all desire to focus on the little things in life. I no longer cared what the flowers outside my window smelled like; it no longer mattered whether or not I could run my fingers through my own dog’s fur. It was as if my brain was shutting off all my other senses to focus on the one it would never truly posses. I wanted the nightmare to end, but I was completely blind on how to make that longing a reality. I laughed and cried myself to sleep that night at the ironic pun my brain was living.
My dreams were technically reoccurring, but they were different in the sense that they were progressively getting worse. I noticed that the house would deteriorate quicker and the ground would be hotter; the fog would return with greater intensity, yet none of those things really impacted me as much as the figure’s face staring at me. That night, however, a more significant contrast was made known. I squinted my eyes out into the distance to discover that there were more than just one of the beings. After observing for a few moments longer, I saw that the other figures were exactly the same as the first and it wasn’t long before I realized that they all would stalk me in the foggy maze of nightmares with equal ferocity.
Even though my future now seemed undeniably grim, fate seemed to be smiling upon me when I discovered my newly-gained ability to have a full range of motion while in the dream world; the liberty of full-movement, however, was bitter-sweet. I could still be overpowered and stuck in place due to one of the figures’ gazing eyes and as a result, it didn’t make much difference how much I could move – because every time I dreamed – it would only be a matter of time before one of the figures would get a hold of me. I acquired a little bit confidence in the fact that I was learning more of the dream world, but that was of no consequence either. I could tell that the figures were toying with me now. The beings knew everything about my movements and they knew that I was afraid. Throughout the fog, I could see them acting as if they were aimlessly reaching their claws out for anyone that might be unlucky enough to run into them, but I knew that I was the only one around that they could possibly want. Every time I felt as though I could escape them forever, I only found myself having to change course at the sight of one of their faces peering at me.
The figures were relentless in their hunt, but I never caught them running or even walking at a brisk pace. The beings always seemed to appear in the perfect locations to cause my distress and I hardly ever took the chance of looking behind me when I was in the middle of an escape. The fog would thicken the longer I stayed in the dream world and I was terrified that one night, I may not make it out. I survived as long as I could, but eventually fell to either exhaustion or fear. After lying on the ground, I could see that my skin looked sickly and old. My body felt different, as if I had been given a foreign set of bones. I remembered thinking that my stride was longer than usual and that the figures seemed less intimidating in size than before. Perhaps I was gaining strength slowly and unknowingly; maybe I could combat them soon and take back my dreams for myself. Just as I felt myself resurrected in a new-found determination, I looked up to find myself being absorbed by one of their robes. As I was being engulfed, the familiar voices of the children returned to remind me of the message I was never to forget. This time, however, the message continued longer…
“Walking in the light between gray linings.
I solemnly wait whilst stricken and gated –
seeing the sisters cackling, whining.
One would shed single tears for those faded –
I cut their strings with death undying.
Gasping for air as the strands are braided –
hang them from their threads unwinding.
A destiny for a soul are things common traded.
Flying through time and ripping the fabric of existence.
Living the fear of perfect desecrate –
trying for the solace in true wild sense.
But knowing what security lies in await –
facing down in a immense pretense.
Breathing in air surrounding those innate –
setting me behind yet further with no expense.
This is the true purposive trait.”
…The message repeated in its usual manner and I realized that the children were very solemn in their resonances, despite the tone of their voices. I began to cringe internally at the thought arising in my mind. Even though the situation was grimly disturbing, I could not keep myself from listening until I had committed the entire passage to memory. I closed my eyes as I usually did to foil the beings’ plans to capture me and awoke to feeling the same fatigue I experienced when I fell to the ground in my dream. My limbs were sore and I was over-heated from the excursion of running for so long, but I knew that there could be no logical explanation for those feelings. My mind was panicking and I held my breath hoping that I was just still dreaming. I knew that I wasn’t though; I knew that I would have to get out of bed and strive through the pains of the day.
Whenever I had a second to think, their faces would always appear. Whenever there was a fleeting second of silence, I always heard the terrible screams of those who had already fallen into their cavernous robes. I could feel them around me when I walked and I could sense their eyes watching me even when I was surrounded by real world presences. I surmised that they simply didn’t care and supposed that they didn’t want anyone else; they only had their sights on me now. I was so enraged at the universe for putting me in this hellish existence because I felt like it had only put me on the list of creation to torment me and scoff at my pathetic attempts to free myself from the figures’ grasps. I became somewhat of a recluse and locked myself in my room for days at a time in order to recollect my stability. I kept myself awake for what seemed like weeks formulating a plan to rid myself of the demons that encompassed my entire mind. They had invaded and taken everything from me. My world, my sanity, and my dreams were nothing but instruments in their songs of death. They would never stop in their conquest and so I had no choices left. I was to strike and take my revenge, but a certain revelation overcame me when I was processing my would-be tactics against them.
I started to think about why closing my eyes in the dream world would awaken my mind to the real world. I thought about how a normal person’s mind would process things and realized that for anyone else, the world would be reversed. Normal people see everything while their eyes are open, but when their eyes are closed, they are surrounded by black. When regular people ready themselves for rest, the blanket of darkness is a much needed break from the constant barrage of sights on their minds. For me, it is entirely different because I spend most of my time awake being in the dark; and when I close my eyes for sleep my brain fills the void. When I sleep it is as if I am awake and so it is only appropriate that when I close my eyes in the dream world to darkness I open them in the real world the same way. It seemed as though I had finally figured out how my mind worked, but my discovery brought a new sense of dread. Maybe there was a reason for why I am blind. Perhaps there was a purpose for my eyes to be without function.
I felt as though I was a glitch in the system and that the other forces of this universe were trying to balance the anomaly. Why had I lost my vision so early in life? Why have I always had an uncanny hold over visualizing despite the undeniable truth that I was without sight? I could feel myself being lost in the ambiguity of the infinite possibilities. I tried to rationalize, but it only deluded my thoughts further. I was seeing things that were never suppose to break through the cover of darkness that had been placed over me. When I was sleeping, I was in a world that was not meant for eyes to observe. I grew tired and my eyes became heavy. I drifted off.
In the dream world, things moved at the now-expected pace. The house deteriorated before my eyes and the wasteland emerged with the fog already settling in. I awaited the figures and had the feeling that this would be my last venture into their presence. I started to cry because a part of me didn’t want this world to end; I knew, however, that it would be either me or them, so I swallowed my pain and looked everywhere for any signs. In a circle around me, they all emerged screaming the screams of infinite and disturbing emotion. My mind could hardly handle their eyes, which were just pupil-less orbs floating in gray tissue. Their robes flowed in the non-existent wind and I prepared myself for the final confrontation. I assumed that my nerves were strong enough to handle anything at that point, but my attempts to remain stoic and statuesque were futile. I wanted to run and the shaking of my body proved it; every fiber of my being was on fire telling me that I was wrong to remain steadfast.
My instincts were unadulterated, but I was not about to continue this spiral into endless declivity. I had never waited to see what would happen if I let the figures take me and at that moment, I finally understood that a fight would be to no avail. I decided to let them have me, mostly because I wanted a release and I knew that this was going to be the most satisfaction that I would ever obtain. They drew closer with their arms outstretched. Their usual expressionless faces were contorted all at the same time to form a subtle and unanimous grin. They knew that I had given up and so they approached with more intensity than ever. It was then that the children relayed the final section of their message to me…
“You see, I have ended the fate that burdens me.
Crawling in the dirt of reality forsaken –
cutting out the hearts of an eternal decree.
Taking back the breath that must be taken –
of those who would pay the final fee.
Millennium of rock and ground unshaken –
with hands closed of veins in everlasting treaty.
Begin to move and realize, awaken.”
…My mind couldn’t take the immense stress being placed on it and I attempted to back out by trying to close my eyes. I soon discovered that I was wasting my time. A single tear streamed across my face as I finally understood that escape was no longer an option. I felt my face to reassure the terrible truth I was experiencing; I had created a dream world in which I had no eye-lids. At that moment, I hysterically begged for their mercy and frantically dropped to my knees as they drew in closer. I knew that there was no chance for my pleas to be answered, but the primal instinct to invoke pity was the only option I had left. I quickly looked down at myself to see that my skin was just as horribly gray as theirs and I realized why it was they never blinked. They couldn’t.
The figure directly in front of me pulled out a single black robe from under its arm. It extended its reach in my direction, waiting for me to take the initiative to willingly clasp the robe on my own. I took the cloak reluctantly and put it over my shoulders with the hood still resting on my back. The figures started their usual assortment of macabre noises and I felt as if I was doing something to cause their uproar. I put the hood over my head to mirror how they had theirs and finally understood the cryptic message they were relaying to me.
“We tried to warn you.”