There is a common thread in many of my short stories and even in my poetry about the nature of reality and the relationship between sleep and wakefulness and the conscious and subconscious mind. As is the case with a number of my short stories, this was inspired by a dream. It delves into one possible explanation for what lurks in the dark recesses of our mind for which science has yet to discover a clear use.
This short story appears in my Book of Dreams: Science Fiction and Speculative Fiction Short Stories, (C) Victor D. Lopez 2011 .
Please note: This story can no longer be posted in its entirety due to an exclusivity agreement with Amazon for its distribution. Instead, I will offer an excerpt only below.
To Sleep, Perchance to Dream . . .
I am not insane, of that fact I’m certain. It matters little that nobody reading this will believe me. Frankly, I don’t much care. My death will be hardly noticed. I’m not even sure why I’m writing this; ostensibly it is to leave a warning, some vital information which is quite valuable if it is believed. But I guess it is also out of a childish need for reassurance that I leave this testimonial. I suppose I’d pray if I believed in God. How comforting that would be, to simply go to bed, close my eyes and put everything in the hands of some benevolent deity. If only I still had even the illusion of hope.
No matter. I just want to make it clear: I am sober, lucid and drug free, facts the blood and urine tests that will doubtless be performed on me post mortem will clearly verify. And I hope this letter will convince you that no illness or natural cause can explain my condition that the coma I’m sure to lapse into as soon as I am no longer able to remain awake has no physiological cause and is not rooted in some infirmity. Please, please believe that; the hope that you may is the only remaining source of comfort in these waning moments of my life.
I’m sorry if I ramble; I’ll try to be concise. I’m so damned tired, though; I’ve not slept in twenty days. That’s ironic. It’s a new record. Nobody’s been able to stay awake that long before others who’ve tried cracked in little more than a week. But then, their lives did not hang in the balance between sleep and wakefulness. In any case, it will end soon.
But to the point. It all started just over a month ago. I mean the nightmares at least that’s what they seemed to be at first. God, it felt good to wake up the first few times and know it was only a dream. I never fully appreciated the absolute bliss that awakening from a bad dream brings in its delectable deliverance from the unimaginable inner horrors of the sleeping mind; there is no pleasure quite like being rent up from the bowels of hell, squeezed up through the narrow, shimmering tunnel of our emerging consciousness to a rebirth in the warm safety of a familiar bed, the light of a new day pushing nightmarish images back into the shadows of the subconscious mind, calming the frenzied hammering in our chest back to blissful quiescence. It had never occurred to me to be thankful at such times before, or even to revel in the delicious feeling of dissipating tension as fear fades, its effects lingering in the awakening consciousness, with adrenaline still pumping and the heart pounding in a chest seemingly too small to contain it. I’d gladly sell my soul, had I one to sell, to experience that indescribable relief once more.
As I said, it appeared to me about a month ago that something was really wrong. I’d had nightmares before, of course, but not like this one. It was so devastatingly real that it took me quite some time to shake it off upon awakening. And it returned the following night, and every night thereafter until I stopped going to sleep after nearly a dozen repeat performances, when it became clear that the inhabitants of my dreams intended to take over my consciousness.
I know how that sounds; I’m not yet quite past the point of reason. I would also dismiss anyone making such a ridiculous statement immediately. But then, when you read this you will have some objective proof my comatose body. Please keep an open mind.
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