"Dreaming is the only known portal to the human subconscious. It is not easily manipulated and impossible to control. You may enter, but the subconscious will always have it's way with you. In the realm of dreams, you are no more than a mere pawn trapped in a cruel game devised by your own mind. While conscious, only 10% of your mind may be accessed. Therefore, in dreaming, you have very little influence when the subconscious is the other 90%. The mind is your worst enemy. If you so enter with a feeble will, expect to be extirpated."

-Allan Lochmere

Project Dreamweave: The Seven

Subject: Elliana

This is a most unconventional subject, as I am not accustomed to dreamweaving for anyone close to me (in relation, not distance). This is because the 90 is a dangerous thing. If the closed circuit properties of the brain can somehow be linked to other minds through intangible synapses, those who are closest to me would share the strongest
mental bonds. This makes it a risky prospect in the event of the 90 revolting from their hosts.

Do not forget that the physical human being is only the 10; the minority. Anyway, I agreed to dreamweave for her. For the sake of her own safety, if not anything else. The 90 seemed dangerously close to crossing into flesh. She was loosing grip on the physical realm. Dreams were her reality. Reality was a dream. There was no distinction between the two extremes.

She did not remember everything from her dreams (as expected) and the details were rather spacey. Regardless, this is my best interpretation of her dreams with fewest extrapolations possible. They start out as your average series of nightmares (What I define as the 90 attacking the 10 through the psychological effects of fear.). But, there seems to be a connection between them. Elli seemed to plummet through seven levels of mental degradation.

Each time, she lost more of her will. You start with the 10 and lose 1% of your consciousness with every level of psychological decent. Reach zero, and the subconscious would be in control of 100%. This causes the physical body to enter into a coma where the mind in a state of oblivion ruled by the subconscious. I theorize that it is possible for the body to become a 'dream-walker,' where the body seems to carry on with normal life while being controlled by the 90. Elli descended seven levels, which left her with 3% of her will. That was perilously close.

Explanations aside, let's start with the beginning.

Enter Level One

Elliana lost consciousness and entered the dream realm. She descended into the first level of unconscious pseudo-reality. Black was the only colour that her expanded irises perceived; An endless field of darkness that extended in all directions. She was overtaken by a numb feeling that dulled all senses. Her lungs drew in air to what she could only guess to be its fullest capacity before attempting to call out through the darkness for the sake of anyone who might hear. Silence issued from her throat.

Was she afflicted by deafness or the muffling inability to scream? Claustrophobia overtook her as she began to walk forward with the irrational feeling that the darkness above was intent on crushing her. The walk broke into a frantic sprint without sense of speed or direction. Her sense of seclusion dissolved. She was not alone and felt as if being chased by the surrounding ebony curtain. It became far more centralized. Her neck prickled and hair stood on end as static energy lapped at her back. Elli continued her mad dash as the environment turned bone-cold. Her core body temperature drastically shot up to compensate for the adjusting temperature, which caused her to shake sporadically.

The shudders grew progressively more violent until one such spasm originated from her head and weaved it's way down to her feat. This caused her entire body to flail as she fell upon her face. There was no true 'floor.' Only, a cushion of black that she seemed to sink into. The static was upon her. It's coerced through her feeble body and altered the pumps and ticks of her quickly beating heart. Energy filled and stimulated her in a way that was both painful and empowering. Her vision was temporarily blinded as veins of gray static jumped from her limp form and snaked forward in a nearly straight line. The tail end of the static vacated her body and followed the trail. Once out of sight, the gray static light ignited in the distance like an expiring star. This eery brilliance then receded into a feint glow on the horizon. The gray speck periodically grew and faded like a warning beacon to wayward travelers. Elliana's strength was renewed as she rose to her feet.

With a few stumbling steps, she was en route toward the mysterious glow. As she walked, the light remained the same distance away. She felt as if she had been walking for an hour across the endless plane of oblivion in pursuit of the specter. Suddenly, a deep rumbling ensued. It sounded like a misplayed bass note slowed down ten-fold, distorted, reversed, and amplified to a painful volume.

Elliana instinctively braced herself as if in preparation for an earthquake. The rumbling intensified and climbed to a higher pitch as the light moved closer. Ever closing in and increasing in shrillness. By the time it was a few yards away, the note rises to a ear piercing shriek. The light was an intense ball of static with tongues of gray lightning flickering towards her, but failing to make contact. Her eardrums took on decibel levels far above human capacity, which caused the inner-workings of her ears to falter. All became silent as the eardrums snapped under pressure.

Elliana fell to her knees under the onslaught of pain. Blood and pus oozed from her ear canals and dripped down her face like crimson tears. She watched the static shift to a position below her. Yet, she remained there on her knees illuminated from underneath by the dull light. As she stared down, the blood flowed across her eyes, tinting the light with a dark red shade. She frantically wiped away the blood and stared at her stained hands in disbelief. Elliana ran her bloodied hands through her frazzled hair. There was a significant static charge in her hair that itched her palms. Below, the light began to dim. It faded to complete black before bursting into a light of radiant brilliance. With a startled gasp, Elli fell towards the light source. She landed on a hard floor and blacked out.

How can one remember the origin of a dream?

Consciousness slowly returned. She was standing in the hallway of a home. This was the beginning of a dream. Or, the end of reality. The home was familiar, but it was unclear how. Nothing could be said for sure. The hallway was barely illuminated by a glow coming from the ajar door on the left side of the hall. Elliana placed her hand on the doorknob. It's cold, metallic feeling was nothing out of the ordinary. But, something felt inherently wrong and out of place. Regardless of uncertainties, she proceeded to push the door open. Inside was a dark room; Also curiously familiar. It was a place for dreaming; A place of dreams. The only thing she could see was the dim light pouring out of a static-lit television screen.

It was a large, wood-grain tube television from decades back. 80's swag. The static had a distinct crackling sound; Nothing but white noise. She cautiously walked closer until she stood nearly five feet away. The sea of static grew in intensity until it is an all-consuming blur. Elli's eyes fixated on the center of the screen as if in a trance. The static particles continued to move in random sequence, but something seemed off. They ceased flickering and the existing particles crawled like white ants across the screen. The particles bounced off the sides of the screen and spiraled in a swirling motion towards the center.

Elliana became enamored by the television and moved closer. The swirling white particles clustered into a white tornadic blob. It expanded until all particles were concentrated in a single fist-sized space. The rest of the screen was completely black. The white noise sounded as if a swarm of bees encircled her head. It was nearly maddening and completely disorienting. For no apparent reason, the environment disappeared. All she could see was the white light. It bleached her entire vision as if everything were a blank sheet of paper. All she could do was look. There was nothing else. Only white.

A sharp pop resounded as the light became a single streak running vertically across the center of the screen. This then disappeared. The television had turned off, leaving Elliana in the dark room. She was startled at first, but not significantly. It was most likely a power outage. However, this did not change the fact that everything felt so very wrong. Her eyes sluggishly adjusted to the utter lack of illumination. There remained a scarce amount light coming from an unknown source. The room had a bluish tint to it that gave it an almost aquatic atmosphere. Elli looked away from the television to survey the room. On the far wall was a window with shades drawn. Moonlight flowed through the gaps between the plastic shades. It was not enough to clearly survey the room, but enough to see her reflection in the convex glass screen that retained a feint afterglow.

She dropped to the floor and sat in front of the television with legs crossed. The reflection of her own face seemed to greet her as she sat down. Elli tilted her head to one side and watched her duplicate move likewise. Although, it was a blurred image, she could still see the dark bags that had formed under her eyes. She was in desperate need of sleep and began to nod off. With every owlish blink, things became more blurry. On the fifth blink, her reflection vanished from the screen. She blinked a few more times to make sure it wasn't an illusion constructed by her tired mind. No, it was gone. In it's place was left an empty void. She just stared at it in confusion as her heart rate increased. It felt as if there were a pair of eyes burning into the back of her head. Suddenly the door slammed behind her. With a start, Elliana spun around. There was no one there. Just darkness. There was someone on the other side of the door. She was not alone.

She heard twitching noises coming from the television as if someone was screwing with the volume and channel knobs. Her heart rate continued to increase as the speed of the turning knobs increased. Elliana nervously twisted around to view the television.

Her heart stopped.

The reflection on the television screen was not her own, but the ghastly pale image of a bone-thin, long black haired woman with deep-set, bloodshot eyes. She wore a menacing snarl upon her mouth that dripped oozing black fluid between her teeth. The specter's head cocked back as gray static jumped from the sockets of her eyes and the thick black liquid gushed forth from her gaping jaw. Elliana felt the tar-like fluid pour over her shoulders and drip down her chest. A pool of the stuff began to accumulate in thickening globs that coated her body. She began to flail in frantic attempt to wipe it off, but her arms stuck to her body as the substance thickened. Elliana could only lay there, immobilized on the floor. All limbs were rendered useless. The black stuff formed into a glob on her chest that spiraled and slithered. Individual segments of exoskeleton formed. It organized into seventeen pairs of legs, a set of excretion tubules, and forcipule pincers. There, crawling across her chest was a two foot centipede hell-spawned from pure fear.

It is here that we witness her first subconscious attack.

The centipede crawled around her neck and across her face, coiling around it. Elliana remained incapacitated and could only scream. Or attempt to, as her lungs lacked sufficient air. She felt every aggravating pinch as it's needle sharp legs navigated and punctured her flesh. It crawled down her face, over her nose and lips to seek shelter in her clothing by using her shirt collar as an entry point. It moved underneath her clothing for what seemed like an eternity. She could feel it sting her in multiple places, injecting the venom into her bloodstream. The pain was unbearable, but she could do nothing to remedy the agony. It eventually emerged from a gap in her shirt's waistline and proceeded toward her head. The centipede crawled up over her neck and reared up on it's hindmost legs to tower a foot above her face. Its endless entourage of legs twitched as the spine of it's body swayed left and right like a charmed cobra. Elliana was forced to stare into its compound eyes as it leaned forward, only inches from her face. The pincers spread apart to reveal its toothed mouth cavity. It made hissing noises as it regurgitated the oh-so-familiar black liquid that dripped from the open cavity. Her eyes darted back and forth with the centipede's swaying motion. It dripped the black fluid across her face as it moved. With a spitting hiss, it sprayed the black fluid across her eyes. This time, Elliana was able to scream, and scream she did as the highly basic fluid burned into the whites of her eyes, turning them into blood red spheres. As she screamed, the centipede surged forward into her agape mouth. It crawled down her throat, aggravating her uvula as it passed through. She could not scream, breathe, or puke.

The centipede was already halfway down her throat when Elli began to writhe on the floor like a decapitated snake. She was freed from immobilization, but this was the least of her concerns. As the thing continued it's progress through her innards, Elli crawled towards the door with six inches of the centipede's posterior end dangling from her mouth. Without warning, it surged forward lodging the entirety of its two foot length in her esophagus. Elli was able to close her mouth, but could not breathe. She leaned her back against the door as she sat on the carpeted floor; Consciousness quickly fading due to suffocation. It entered her stomach and gradually curled up in a ball as it fed upon her acidic bile. Esophagus cleared, she gasped desperately for oxygen. Elli watched her stomach as the centipede navigated it. It bulged in various places and constantly changed shape. Soon, it began to ripple and bubble as if a violent chemical reaction was taking place inside her.

It was unbearable, but she could only double over in pain. As this continued, she rose upon hands and knees. The unstable fluid was rising within her. A feeling of intense nausea took hold as the bile made it's way up her esophagus. There was no sense in keeping it down. She puked in a forceful gush of black fluid. Nearly a gallon of the stuff sprayed from her mouth and blended in with the darkness of the room. With her left hand, she wiped the remainder of the fluid from her dripping lips. Energy depleted, she fell on her side in fetal position. Between where she lay and the television, the black fluid began to stir. It congregated into a puddle that thickened and formed. A two foot streak of ebony rolled into a sausage-like shape. Details articulated and it became the parasitic centipede that had previously come into her. It crawled under the television and disappeared from view.

Elliana took this opportunity to recover by sitting cross-legged with hands on the carpet to either side. She leaned back, sucking in lungfuls of air with her face turned skyward. This was a laborious task, as the air felt thick and devoid of oxygen. Lungs were constrained, but slowly compressed and expanded normally. After an approximately six minute recovery, she reassessed her situation. She felt strangely at-ease and alone. Elliana checked her stomach for bite marks and felt the carpet where she had puked the black tar-like liquid. There was no evidence of her encounter with the centipede, but was unsure about the girl she saw reflected in the television. She decided to search the room. The entire place was empty; Just the same symmetrical square room with a tube television in the center. She paced around the television multiple times, her footsteps making no sound. Total seclusion. The only thing unusual about the room was it's lack on furniture. Were her recent encounters merely fabrications of the mind? She sat down in front of the television and pondered this enigma. No, they felt too real. The television jumped to life with a flash of static.

They were real.

Anxiety became the prevailing emotion. Fear of the gray. Fear of the black. She jumped back from where she sat and ran to the door. It's was illuminated in a dull gray radiance by the television static. She grasped the doorknob and twisted in both directions. Locked. It refused to give way as she frantically shook it back and forth, trying to loose it of it's hinges. There was a overpowering presence in the room and it became apparent that she was not alone. Something was behind her. It wanted her and would do all in it's power to make sure that she would not escape it's static clutches. Elliana took a step back and delivered a vicious kick to the door's face. No effect. She continued her assault by pounding and kicking the wood until her knuckles bled. This left her without energy or hope of escape. Elliana collapsed against the door and slumped down so that her back rested against it. In front of her, the television still flickered and hummed with the familiar white noise.

Her vision began to fail as she stared at the displayed storm of static. As she watched the television, she caught something in her peripheral vision. Feeling uneasy, she glanced around the room. She saw nothing but black and refocused on the static. Something seemed off about it. Well, everything had seemed 'off' since entering the room, but this was different, because she could not pinpoint exactly what was askew. It was not the static. The television itself had changed. She found that it now had an antenna. A white stubby thing protruded from the top of the television. But, there was something further unusual. Elliana squinted to focus. It was not an antenna at all. From over the television reached a skeletal hand with thick blue veins running across bone-thin, pale flesh. It flexed it's fingers and clawed for the top of the television.

A second hand extended from behind the television, reaching for the ceiling. It was the right arm of an unknown owner. Along its wrist were the stripes of nine cuts that oozed black fluid. Suddenly, the right arm came down upon the television screen with enough force to create a web of cracks along the glass. It was then that Elliana could clearly see the hand's owner. From over the top of the top of the television had crawled the girl with long black hair and deep-set eyes. She wore a black gown that was torn in innumerable places to reveal her pale, dead flesh. Her face was the picture of insanity. The bloodshot eyed glowed like rubies from their position deep in her skull. Her skin was so thin that it fit her bony cheekbones like a coating of latex. The ebony curtain of frazzled hair floated in all directions as static electricity coerced through her follicles. Two rows of yellow teeth were clenched in a demented grimace. More black fluid seeped through the gaps between her teeth. She perched on the top of the television in a crouching position like a feral creature prepared to pounce.

She was back.

Elliana struggled to stand, but slid back onto the ground. Her mind raced as she stared at the hideous girl. She did not want to accept what her eyes were seeing, but could not deny them either. A single thought resonated through her head:

This is a reflection of your consciousness; The darkest corners of your mind.

The woman extended her arms to either side, where her fingertips conducted static energy from the television. The chain of light jumped up her arms and flickered across her entire body and caused her dress to sway with the sparking energy. Her eyes changed from flaming crimson to an eery shade of gray similar to the lining of a storm cloud. Sparks jumped from the woman's incandescent eyes as they made contact with Elliana's gaze. She felt her stomach drop and blood drain away from her face. This left her feeling lightheaded and excruciatingly worn. The woman continued to draw in raw energy until her pale flesh practically glowed. She clenched her bony fists and crossed them across her chest in an 'x' shape. The television had become dim from the endless energy leaching. It was absorbing into the woman's skin as if she was some kind of capacitor. Static simply slipped into her, leaving no light behind. None, except for the pair of bright gray eyes. The room grew dark as the static faded and the woman was concealed by black. Elliana felt that familiar sense of seclusion once again. But, she would not fool herself into thinking that the woman had fled. She doubtlessly knew that it was still perched atop the television. It was completely quiet inside the small space, besides the sound of her own short, quick breaths.

She desired to live, but feared attempting escape. Ever so slowly, Elli reached upward towards the doorknob. She felt around in the darkness until she located the brass sphere and grasped it tightly. It felt warm relative to the chilly atmosphere of the room. Elli began to twist it with great caution. She heard the click of it successfully unlatching. This was her opportunity. With a yank, she pulled the door open.

Armageddon breaks.

The television snapped to life with a blinding flash of static. It drew Elliana's attention long enough to see what her subconscious intended. It stood atop the television. The same woman as before, illuminated by the ghostly television light. She seemed to menace Elli with her ghastly smile. The door remained open as a clear means of escape, but her feet were rooted into place and unable to move. No matter how fervently she willed them, her legs were numb; Utterly useless.

From the television, issued a deafening screech followed by a light so intense that the entire room was illuminated with white. She could see clearly now, as every detail was clearly visible. Things that did not previously exist had fabricated into place.

The room was her own.

Elliana caught the gaze of the woman dressed in black one last time before her legs were freed. She attempted to bolt out her room in a frantic burst of energy. The static prickled at her back and hairs stood on end. It was a familiar feeling, but she could not remember another similar instance. She had to have one more look; a single reverse glimpse of the thing that hunted her.

She obliged the temptation.

With a ear-splitting shriek, the woman lunged forward in a shower of sparks and black fluid. She was upon her.

We shall have our way with you.

Enter Level Two

Elliana struggled and fought to escape, but was snared in her own tangled bedsheets. With the fling of an arm, she cast the covers off and stared at the ceiling of her bedroom. She had escaped the nightmare. Her room was a welcome sight in comparison to the hell from which she had fled. All was familiar and comforting; Nothing out of place. It was a late hour, sometime well-into the night. Her home was so quiet that Elli felt as if she was the only person awake. Not likely, of course, but it seemed like there was no one else in the house. She took some time to relax by curling up on her bed, enjoying the comfort of reality. It was chilly enough to cause her a slight shiver, but she was too lazy to get up and retrieve the bedsheet that she had thrown off. So, she just lay there.

The black television on her dresser unnerved her. It was turned off, but was a reminder on the gray light. Elli shrugged off the notion of paranoia. She was awake, after all. The room was pretty quiet beside the usual sound of air conditioning. It was safe within the protection of her room. Naturally, she did not want to slip back into the dream realm to combat phantoms of the mind. Nor did she plan on it, as insomnia had kicked in. She would wait out the morning in peace.

An hour went by and it seemed nowhere near morning. Elli grew bored. So hysterically bored. She decided to retrieve the sketch book and a finely-pointed pencil that lay on the floor beside her bed. A feint smile crossed her face. Finally, something to kill time. She flipped through the pages in search of the sketch that she had been working on the previous day. As she turned the pages, she noticed that some had been torn out. Perhaps, she removed them. But, this was odd and unlike her. The missing pages had one common trait: They were of real people or locations.

Oh... Shat, this is screwed up.

She continued through the pages, moving towards the more recent drawings. The trend continued. She was only pages from her most recent sketch. Three. Two. One page to go.

She flipped the final page.

It was a drawing of a perfect that she had conjered up in her most flamboyant dreams. She had not got around to shading it in and had left it as a barebones skeleton. This must be remedied. She brought her trembling pencil to the paper.

The pencil bled.

A smudge of red ink dripped from what was supposed to be a graphite pencil. The drip flowed on four separate directions, creating a bloody 'x' across the page. Elli shouted like a wounded animal and tore the page away. Underneath, was a fresh white sheet of paper. At least, white until the pen dripped a second red smudge. This time, it splashed upon the page, creating a multitude of red drops. She stared as they began to swarm across the page, forming shapes. Letters. Words. It appeared as if someone had penned three words in blood.

This is reality.

The blood seeped through as she tore the page.

This is home.

With a dismayed shout, she ripped this page away as well.

This is you.

Elliana chucked the sketch pad across the room.

What the flip is going on?

She clenched her hand into a fist and slammed it into her face at full force. The blow caused her to double over, stunned.

"WAKE UP!" she shouted, tugging at her hair.

A sharp clinking noise came from her door. The knob had been turned. Elliana watched in horror as the door slowly swung open to reveal something she prayed to never see again. A woman wearing black moved into the room, without noticing Elli. She slid across the floor, while remaining still as a statue. Upon closer inspection, she was, indeed, levitating near the foot of her bed. She look nearly similar the woman from before, except for her dark skin and brown hair. Elli lay staggered from her self-inflicted injury, fixated on the still figure. It began to rise and rotate counter-clockwise, as to face her. Throughout the rotation, the woman remained petrified with her arms held in front of her waist like a plastic doll. Her face was not visible, as it was concealed by a curtain of overgrown brown-red hair. She appeared young; Most likely in her twenties. Elliana's eyelids began to feel lead-laden as she stared. The woman did not move and remained as a still image in her mind Elli drifted into unconsciousness.

Her mind was black. Elliana was fully aware that she was dreaming, but saw, heard, felt, tasted, and smelt nothing. Her thoughts were limited, as if restrained. The only understood who she was, the fact that she was asleep, and blackness. There was no recollection of recent events. Nothing. Perhaps, that's all she was; Nothing.

The void was broken by sound. Slow, ragged breathing could be heard for somewhere in the darkness. It's tortured wheezes could be heard clearly; Every one sounding like the final breath of a patient dying of lung cancer. Elliana could then feel the warm moisture of breath on her face. This snapped her into wakefulness.

The breathing was not her own.

The woman's face was an inch away and her facial features were clearly visible. The eyes were an almond brown with blood lining the eye sockets. Her flesh was dark and devoid of any signs of age, as Elli was close enough to see every pore. She was young. The woman's presence did not intimidate Elliana at first. That is, not until she realized something significant. She breathed with her mouth closed. It did not come from her nostrils either. Elliana scanned down her face until she came to her neck.

It breathed.

Through a bleeding laceration in her neck, air flowed freely. The cut opened and closed with every breath, spitting out red clouds of fresh blood. Elliana shrieked upon realization of who this person was.

This is your death.

She blacked out.

Enter Level Three

Elliana found herself sitting in a hospital waiting room.

Dear Elliana,

I wish to personally thank you for allowing my pen to illustrate the 'darkest corners of your mind' in epic detail. It's a braincell-killing piece of work, but completely worth it if I succeeded in scaring the piss out you (as stated in the challenge). Not trying to wish you horrid nightmares, but keep dreaming them. They certainly help my dream weaving. The more morbidly jacked-up and insane, the better. Again, thank you, my friend.

A pleasure as always,

-Allan Lochmere

Oh, and try to catch some sleep tonight.

The 90 beckons.