Interval 1: Asleep
And... here... we... go.
"Hey, can you help me out?"
I was asleep. But I awoke to the sound of a light tapping on my shoulder and the casual voice of someone who smoked a bit. I could tell it in the voice. I knew it too well. Raspy. He smelled of cologne and whiskey, and I imagined he wasn't past thirty. This I could tell before I opened my eyes.
"Man, I could use some help here!"
He sounded like he really did need help. Other smells began to emerge, and while my sight remained still a blur, I could see a faint blinking light from above. I tried lifting myself up, and realized I must've taken quite the fall, or quite the sleep on the wrong side, because I was stiff. I started blinking, to try and clear my vision, which seemed to work, then... Oh god...
"Phuagggh pleh pfft..." I started puking. Seeing everything so fast made me dizzy.
"You okay, man?"
The man's voice was closer. I could feel him lift me up and get me to my feet. As I began to trace around the room, I realized I was in a subway car. A wrecked one at that. Glass all over the floor, dented metal, broken lights, and nothing but pure dark outside in the tunnels.
"Look, if you need time to get your bearings, that's fine, but we should check the other cars. I need you to help me pull the door open."
I immediately stood up with him, and we slowly walked towards the other end of the subway car.
Hey! Be careful of the glass!
His voice started drifting, like an echo. I felt like a shell-shocked soldier, and I could barely make out what he was saying. My vision started blurring again, but I was focused. we made it to the door, without another bulimic burst.
On three! One... Two... Three! PULL!
I wrenched with my strength, and the door started opening. It began sliding, just enough for us to get through.
"Hey, good job. I-"
His voice came back for a moment, and so did my hearing... but he cut off just like that... I looked up, and nobody was there. It was an empty subway car, still running through the tunnels. Just as you'd expect any subway car to be. I just sat, trying to understand what the hell just happened... I closed my eyes...
The minute I opened them, It was day out. I realized we were in DC, I could see the Washington Monument in the distance, in the window across from me.
An empty metro car, on any given day, in DC? Does this ever happen?
Sarcastic a thought as it was, it held truth. Where the hell was everyone? I was cutoff as the brakes were put on and the train stopped. I hopped out of the train at a station called "Ronald Reagan Intl."
I realized I was at the airport. As I looked around at the station, it was deserted. All the lights, electronics, signs, everything was on and running, but nobody was present. I looked for a few moments, then it occurred to me to flag down the driver of the train. I jogged down the track and was about to hit the last car as the train started pulling out. It pulled around the corner, and I decided I'd hop onto the track, doing my best to miss the third rail. I made it down, and looked to my right to see the train, already hundreds of yards away.
What... the... hell?
I turned to my left, and saw the other train just inches away.
Interval 2: Nightmare
Look man. We were in a rough accident. You're lucky you don't have much of a scratch, I know I fell on some glass. It was like we just came out of the tunnel, and then... BOOM, that big-ass stop right there. Look, we gotta get to the station. You can get out and get to the temple. Butcha know we got to now, or they'll hit us hard.
"Look, we gotta go now!" The smoker said.
What the hell? I thought I was just...
"Get your head out of your ass! Let's go!"
"Right..." I said.
we stumbled on out of the car...
How did we make it all the way over here? what the hell is going on!?!?!
"Up the stairs. We needta go now!"
"Why?" I asked.
"No freakin' time to explain. Let's go!"
"No. You tell me now."
"What the hell is wrong with you? We need to..." his voice trailed off...
"What???" I asked.
"Shhhhhhii-" ...Just like that, he was gone.
For Christ sake. What is going on? Why do we need to go? Where??? WHY???"
I figured I'd follow his advice though. He seemed to at least have some understanding of what to do. We were in one of the underground stations, there were two busted escalators on each side, each meeting up top, probably with an exit to above. I was hearing some strange noise from down the tunnels, but when I stopped to listen intently... it was gone. I stumbled on upstairs, to a dirty, trash-laden walkway. Broken signs and cracked walls, some covered with graphic graffiti depicting violence covered the walkways. It was quite the depiction, something straight out of a survival-horror game. I didn't have time to study. If I needed to hurry, I should. I walked towards a broken, but still working exit sign pointing to a stairway. I trudged up the stairway and came to a set of escalators. It was daytime, a bright sky, and I could hear cars and shouts up the way. I began sprinting up the stairs to hurry, and tripped up on the last stair. As I began to get my bearings, the sounds got louder, and... stopped.
I looked around. Everything was deserted. Signs of stores were faded, every building empty. Clean-looking, but empty and devoid of labels and signs. *every* building. Wasn't even sure I was in DC either, looked more like NY. but I noticed off in the distance... a car. Open door, just parked on the side. I began sprinting towards it, ignoring my surroundings... when I finally made it over, I realized just what kind of car it was. A 1973 Chevelle, in black. Leather interior, keys on the seat... and two tapes. I sat inside the car, pulled up the seat, popped the keys in the ignition, and... it didn't start. I looked down at the steering wheel, and started banging my head into it.
OH. MY. FUCKING. GOD. WHY. THE. FUCK-
I got harder every time.
-AM. I. HERE-
Out of the corner of my eye...
it was night. I got out of my car, and then began to get a closer look. It wasn't night... It was black. The sky was black and empty. Like, absolutely empty. And it was getting lower... lower than the buildings. It was coming down on top of me.
Oh... my... god...
It was coming down, slowly, but everywhere... it was reaching the smaller hotels right now, and then the chevelle started up. I hopped right inside, and put on the gas. I pulled around a curve very sharp, and came upon a black wall between two buildings. I tried to stop, and realized the breaks weren't working. I had already hit 60 mph and wasn't stopping. I went right through the dark.
Interval 3: Apart
First darkness will come. Then... they'll be there. They will suck you in, and you will never awake. Get to the temple.
"Listen man, it's right behind the monument. See that? You got the dome and everything. That's your way out. I just gotta get you there and then..."
"OKAY. Tell me what the fuck is going on NOW!" I grabbed his shoulders and shook him.
He shook me off. "We don't got time for this!"
"STOP! Or I won't go another fucking step!"
"S'pose I do owe you an explanation. Let me start. Where to... that is..."
You're dreaming. You're having split dreams and split realities, one where I have slight balance and control, and one where they have control.
I'll tell you. Let me finish. You're stuck here. If you don't figure out a way out of the dream, it's possible you'll never wake up.
Who are you?
Alright. I'm an imaginary person. I'm a figment of your memory, possibly a friend or something. Maybe I'm the guy who makes your sandwiches at the deli, or the the guy who did your car wash once. I don't fucking know! Anyways, I'm trying to help you out here. You're stuck in two different dreams. One where I've got control, where I can guide you, and one where they've got it. Balance shifts occasionally, which explains why I disappear and you find yourself in their world. You need to follow my instructions and make it to the approximate equal locations from my world in yours. You need to do exactly as I do here, then you're done. Then they have no power, and you're free of their world. Limbo, as you may say. Do you know why nobody exists in that world? It's the deepest part of the subconscious. The deepest part. Nobody actually exists in any of these, but it's the deepest part where nothing will make sense because it is the dreamscape. They chose this, because they can mold it in their image. I chose this level because I can speak freely to you in a world that makes sense. I imagine the two cities that you've found yourself in are quite different, this one being DC, the other being?
Right. You need to find an equal location of importance. Central Park in NY, the walkways before the Capitol... You need to make it to the approximate location in that world. That dream.... The Rockefeller Center?
That's not anything like the capitol-
-But it's the only thing that makes sense...
Why does it have to make sense? This is a dream! How do you know they didn't pick the Empire State?
You're a fucking genius. That's so cliche, it must be true!
Well, what would you suggest?
The World Trade Center memorial site. The dome of the capitol. You need to reach the center of both...
Seems cliche enough.
Not particularly. Get over there, and open your eyes.
What? My eyes ARE open!
No. Blink. You have to blink. Open your eyes and... SHIT!"
We both looked to see blackness coming across the sky.
"Listen! I no longer have any control! You're on your own. Don't forget what you have to do!!!"
"Wait!" I screamed.
It was done, he was already gone. The ground was shaking, and the sky was pixelating, and losing everything to the black. I started sprinting towards the capitol.
Surrender yourself... and awake, or be lost forever...
I turned to see a silhouette, black as night, against a tree. In an instant, he was three feet away facing me. His arms reached out... and-
Interval 4: Awake
"Sweetie, it's time to wake up!"
I recognized it as my mother's voice. I woke up, in my actual bed, my drums to the side, my dresser, everything where it should be. I looked out the window to a beautiful morning sky, I could see cars on the road ahead and joggers and bicycle-riders on the paths. It was a beautiful day. My mind had forgotten the dream last night, and I was only reminded when I looked at a picture of me at the capitol building a few years ago. I disregarded everything I had seen as just that. A dream. A split dream I had.
I sped downstairs to breakfast, grabbed a bowl of cereal and started eating. I saw my Dad in the kitchen and he said good morning, followed by a quick-goodbye as he walked out the door.
"I'm going to go for a run, okay?" My mom was an avid runner. At least five marathons in her wake. Nothing out of the ordinary.
"Sure." I said. My cereal tasted great. After finishing, I rinsed my bowl out in the sink, and dropped it in. I walked into the living room to sit down to some Xbox. I started playing... and realized my brother watching.
"Hey, you're up late." He said.
"Yeah, I had a nightmare."
"Yeah. Hey, what time is it?"
"HEY!" I yelled.
"What time is it? Did you hear me?"
"It's 10:00 A.M. Why?"
"Wanted to know how late I got up... heh. And the day?"
"It's Sunday, why?"
"I usually ask."
That wasn't the real reason. My dad was military. His job required him to leave at 6:00 A.M. sharp. This could've been an off-day with not a lot of work for him to do, but something seemed strange about them both. It was a hot summer day, and yet my Dad was wearing his utility outfit. The biggest kicker of all...was that my family was Methodist. Why were none of them in church? Why did I not get up earlier?
I walked up the stairs, took a left, and entered my room. I went back to that picture of the Capitol. I looked in closer. And I realized something was missing. I quickly grabbed my dragon necklace out from under my pillow, and placed it on my dresser.
"Hey, could you come down here for a minute?"
It was my Mom. I figured she'd be up angrier if I didn't answer, so I quelled that potential argument and responded "Yeah, just give me a sec!"
I heard her yell up some random affirmation, and I was about to walk away... when I looked back again and saw the black sky against the capitol.
"What gave it away?"
It was a deep voice. Not my mother's, but I didn't dare turn around to find whatever it was.
"You did an okay job, but I imagine placing us in such a complicated house with every surrounding based off my memories was too difficult to perfect, especially considering you would also need to build a church scenario with all those perfected surroundings & people. You did well on the fact that it was a Saturday night I fell asleep, that my mom was a runner, and my Dad military, but not on their schedules. Finally, the picture was taken at night, but you've failed at making all those complex stars in the sky, so you just made it pitch black." I told him.
"It doesn't matter. You're going to die here. In limbo."
"What? I thought-"
Heh. You don't even know do you? Maybe he kept it a well secret from you. Probably kept you from losing your sanity. I'm not afraid of that because that will keep you from stopping me.
Interval 5: Revelation.
I awoke inside the chevelle. I was surrounded by darkness, and the lights were off. I looked to the seat and noticed the two tapes. I was about to check them over, when under them... a wireless tape player.
I popped the first tape, marked "Revelation" into the player.
It began, scratchy, at first, but I recognized the Smoker's voice.
"Hey man. I should've been honest with you. I should've told you. Maybe it would've come as less of a surprise, but I needed your trust and loyalty. Your attention. Telling you, it would come as a shock in such a short time... The world is gone. This dream, this world, is reality. I am the only survivor of a plague incident where a supernatural being from a higher dimension simply came... and removed. He removed all life from the world, except me. I survived. For some unknown reason, at the time. He never told me why, but I figured it out eventually. He is the maker. He has created the universe for time before time, and since the dawn of the time before time, has destroyed and recreated the universe. Over, and over. Everything you know, is gone. Everything I knew is gone. He plans to destroy everything, recording all data, then recreating a new universe. The pixelations you see are simply the way your mind processes such destruction. All that shall remain will be darkness. I created you, from a memory I had of a guy I once knew. He was a thinker. Imaginative, creative, and absolutely determined if you could get his mind straight. In essence, you are his subconscious. In layman's terms, you could say you are a ghost of sorts. I am alive, but you're dreaming. If you can wake up, then perhaps you can recreate the world the way you saw it through all your memories and knowledge and knowledge and memories of everyone else through this infinite data storage. I am trapped here now, and will cease to exist when he wishes me to be. You are the last hope for all life in the universe and the universe itself. He kept me here because he wanted me to help him recreate the universe out of my memories... But I have forgotten now. I don't remember. I don't remember the world as it was before at all. I am useless. And when he finds this out, he will remove me, and recreate and destroy in an infinite cycle. You must stop him and restore everything."
As if, in a split second, the other tape started playing.
"You cannot challenge a being who is not. You cannot challenge me. I am everything and nothing..." It was... HIS voice.
"But, with him gone, I have an offer. You can become the new creator. We can design an infinite universe in your image. Everything, everyone, all your emotions, memories. You can recreate the universe in your image, with my help. You can become, as you would say, a god, to be worshiped through the history of time throughout. This is the natural cycle. We shall create, record, then destroy. Then we shall create from anew."
"Or, we can be adversaries. But you will fail. And I will do as I have done and carry on the process for time and time after time. You will be eaten alive and destroyed by ways only you can imagine."
There was a flash of light, and....
I woke up outside the capitol.
I saw your choice before you did.
I realized I had a short period of time before "they" arrived. And I heard the noise, the same I heard in the subway. Out of the tunnel... came an unimaginable creature.
Abhorrently frightening, a monster of incredible size and imagination, fiery pores of molten and unidentifiable substances oozing out, wings of impossible size, ripped and torn, black as night, creating sound and shock-waves, earthquakes with every flap, tremors felt at every stomp of its incredible legs, large, covered by obsidian and blood-stone chain leading up wrapped around the horrendous and abominable body, blood waterfalls rushing down from exposed lacerations across its torso, each laceration as deep and wide as a trench. Head of forged metals and fiery eyes, skulls of past races serving as teeth, mouth conversing foul and vulgar obscenities and abominations, dripping tears of blood from its eyelids and nostrils, razor sharp bladed-wires embedded in the brows, and hair of twisted thorns puncturing the demonic, oozing, decomposing ripped & torn skin, arms slashed with blood gaping from the wounds, hands rough, edged, with ripped, splintered claws stretching multiple meters long, A tail of pure dragon skin, spines of ten-foot razor-edged blades culminating in an epic spike on the tail's end, a terrible creature to behold.
It stomped, leaving craters which each step, letting out a cry so loud, deafening, and sharp, it could drive any man insane, an unimaginable cry louder and higher than a banshee, shattering. every pane of glass within dozens of miles.
I had to get inside. The sky was pixelating, and out came several smaller monsters, razor-edged teeth, hairy balls of chainsaw-like jaws, chasing after me. I raced inside the capitol, locked the door, barred it, and ran for the dome.
Interval 6: Climax
I was at the WTC memorial, the twin pits of water flowing in memorium of the fallen, killed by men as angry as they were insatiable, using religion as a means to justify murder. I had no time to mourn such losses. I needed to get down into the first memorial. I slid down the water and swam to the end, only to flash to-
The dome of the capitol building.
You've failed. I will take you back, and we can still recreate, but you must give up this struggle. What you have lost, you have lost forever. Why should you be lost too?
"Because I want to be WITH THEM! Because they were my loved ones! You took them away, you motherFUCKER!"
So be it.
I turned, looking at the amazing paintings of the dome, only to watch them ripped and destroyed by the unimaginable beast. It looked into the dome, watching me. I lost focus for a moment, and its horrendous face induced me to vomit uncontrollably. I could hear the buzzing noise getting closer, and as I recovered, the smaller monsters swarmed and surrounded me. Out from them came the black silhouette.
"You've lost. And now, you will be gone, forever."
I thought of my home, and the day I had before I went to bed. I thought it up. I kept it in my mind.
What are you doing?
I thought of it, and closed my eyes.
You will not succeed!
I could feel, hear, smell the monsters getting closer, coming to swarm me, and him reaching out.
I tightened my eyes, tighter, tighter, and felt my arms being ripped off.
YOU ARE NOT DREAMING. THIS IS REAL! THIS IS REAL! YOU FEEL REAL PAIN!!!
And time stopped. I opened my eyes, and there was a flash of light.
I awoke in my bed. It was 4:00 A.M. I stopped for a moment. I went downstairs to our guest room, and waited. Waited for so long, and my parents came down, my dad preparing breakfast. My mom went to get dressed, and I waited. She knocked on my door, wondering where I was, and I went back upstairs to meet her. I asked,
"What time is it?"
"I don't know."
"Alright. What time do you guys need to leave for 'church'?"
"7:00 A.M. Would you come early?"
"Yeah. I'll go with you guys, actually. Let me get showered and dressed."
Everything felt right. everything seemed right. My shower gels were right when I showered, my clothes that I put on were all in order. The pictures were right, and everyone was right.
There was one thing to be sure of. I checked for my dragon necklace where I left it Saturday night, under the pillow. In the dream, I left it on the dresser.
Do I check the pillow first, or the dresser?