There are a variety of themes that run through most of my fiction. One major theme concerns the nature of reality and the interplay between the conscious and subconscious mind. To paraphrase Hamlet, there indeed is much more in heaven and earth than is dreamt up in our philosophy. This short story centers around a man at the brink of both death and a mental breakdown who has the unfortunate experience of tapping into the 90 percent of the brain for which no specific use had hitherto been discovered. Here’s a preview:
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.
The nightmares I speak of were recurring, but not repetitive, as if some sort of continuing drama were being played out in my head every night. I don’t want to digress further by giving endless detail. The gist of it is as follows. I am held captive in a windowless, doorless cubicle that constantly changes in size to accommodate the beings who visit me there. I am unable to move and find myself sitting, in a reclined position or lying down, depending on the whim of my captors.
My captors, by the way, are not “nightmarish” creatures; they are for the most part quite human. I can recognize some of the languages they speak–German, Spanish, Catalan, Galician and Italian, among some others I cannot place. They visit me at will, materializing individually and in groups into my little cubicle which expands as needed to encompass them. Some are dressed in almost contemporary garb, others in anachronistic styles and a few sport only a thick pelt of hair over muscular torsos and look more like gorillas than human beings.
The first two nights of my recurring dream, I’d merely spent watching a seemingly endless parade of human and nearly human forms that came to observe me, sometimes caressing, poking or pushing my motionless body as if to reassure themselves of my existence. On the third night, a group approached me and, after discussing me at length among themselves in various languages, one of its members addressed me in Spanish, my native tongue. My questioner identified himself as a Spaniard, yet his version of Spanish was unlike any variant spoken in any region of contemporary Spain. Nor did it bear a resemblance to the many, easily identifiable variants spoken in modern day South and Central America. He questioned me on politics, science, philosophy, and aesthetics. I had to answer; I was not coerced in any way, but I felt a compulsion as though I were under a hypnotic trance, while remaining fully conscious and alert.
End of preview.
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