To Sleep, Perchance to Dream . . .

34c95-81igydlhxol-_sl1500_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.

 

View my current individual short stories and and Mindscapes collection along with most of my current books at my Amazon Author’s Page by clicking here.

 

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Free download of Mindscapes from Audible

Get a free download of my Mindscapes short story collection from Audible with a free, no obligation 30-day trial Audible membership here: http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Mindscapes-Audiobook/B00MXE2QSK . As a reader, I love fiction that entertains and elicits  an emotional and intellectual response by challenging preconceived notions and shedding light on the world from a different perspective. I hope my own fiction has the same impact on my readers, and that it both entertains them and leaves them with something to think about long after the stories end. Please share this post with anyone who loves audiobooks, science fiction and approaches life with an open, engaging mind.

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[From the Audible site description]

This audiobook is a compilation of 10 science fiction and speculative fiction short stories by the author from his two previous short story collections, Book of Dreams and Book of Dreams, 2nd Edition, as well as two new stories from 2013. Its scope extends from the innermost dimensions of the mind to the outer reaches of the universe, focusing from diverse perspectives on some common themes as to the meaning of life, the superlative strength and wrenching weakness of the human spirit, the power of love and the exquisite pain and ecstasy that flesh is heir to in its perpetual struggle between the duality of human nature that reflected both the divine and the profane.

In very broad outline, the 10 stories involve the following themes: If necessity is the mother of invention, could humanity use present technology to find a way to propagate its seed when faced with the certainty of an extinction-level event in less than two years’ time? What really caused the catastrophic failure after the first full-scale test of the Large Hadron Collider? Motivated, ingenious terrorists are about to try their own field experiment to replicate the classified results of the test on a large scale using two suitcase nukes and a modified jetliner in an attack that, if successful, will eradicate all life on earth, destroy our corner of the universe and, in time, give birth to a new addition to the multiverse. If we could communicate with the other sentient, intelligent species with whom we share our planet, what vital lessons might we learn from them and they from us? In a not too distant future in which all human beings on Earth are connected and integrated into a single neural net, what price might be exacted for one wishing to opt out?

©2014 Victor D. Lopez (P)2014 Victor D. Lopez

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Last Amazon giveaway for February: Eternal Quest

On its surface, this speculative fiction short story (7,800 words) deals with one man’s obsessive quest for knowledge and the devastating price he must pay for the knowledge he ultimately acq…

Source: Last Amazon giveaway for February: Eternal Quest

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The Grasshopper and the Ants – 21st Century Edition . . .

THE GRASSHOPPER AND THE ANTS by Aesop (Project Gutenberg, new translation, http://www.gutenberg.org)

One fine day in winter some Ants were busy drying their store of corn, which had got rather damp during a long spell of rain. Presently up came a Grasshopper and begged them to spare her a few grains, “For,” she said, “I’m simply starving.” The Ants stopped work for a moment, though this was against their principles. “May we ask,” said they, “what you were doing with yourself all last summer? Why didn’t you collect a store of food for the winter?” “The fact is,” replied the Grasshopper, “I was so busy singing that I hadn’t the time.” “If you spent the summer singing,” replied the Ants, “you can’t do better than spend the winter dancing.” And they chuckled and went on with their work.

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21st Century Version of the Grasshopper and the Ants (by Victor D. Lopez, fan of ants everywhere and every when)

One fine day in winter some Ants were busy drying their store of corn, which had got rather damp during a long spell of rain. Presently up came a Grasshopper and demanded that they give him a fair share of their stores. The Ants stopped work for a moment, though this was against their principles.

“May we ask,” said they, “what you were doing with yourself all last summer? Why didn’t you collect a store of food for the winter?”

“The fact is,” replied the Grasshopper, “I was busy with more important things, like hugging trees, holding hands and singing Cumba Ya with like-minded people. Unfortunately, these activities are not not prized by the stupid elites that unfairly oppress the lower classes and try to exploit them by such means as having them do meaningless, underpaid work that is beneath their dignity.”

“If you spent the summer singing, holding hands and hugging trees” replied the Ants, “when you should have been planning for the winter and building up your stores to see you and your family through the winter, you can’t do better than spend the winter dancing.” And they chuckled and went on with their work.

The grasshopper, who was a very sensitive sort, was deeply offended by the selfishness and intransigence of these wealthy ants who were unwilling to provide their fair share to support the less fortunate members of the community, like himself. “You did not build the corn you reaped through your avariciousness over the summer while more enlightened people than you were hard at work exploring their sensual and artistic natures. You did not cause it to rain, or the sun to shine, or the bees to pollinate the nascent crops. You simply reaped the benefit of the bounty of nature that belongs to everyone and greedily attempted to keep for yourself a harvest provided not by your work but by the grace of mother earth. You are thieves, hoarders, and selfish beasts that would take for yourselves that which nature provides for all of her children in equal measure.” He then stormed off, while the ants shook their heads, smiled and returned to their work.

Later that day, the grasshopper returned with hoards of like-minded people seething about the outrage and disrespect shown them by the selfish, cruel, heartless ants. They fell upon the ants beating them senseless, took the greater part of their harvest and burned what they could not take to teach these evil little ants a lesson, all the while chanting:”Yes we can,” “power to the people,” “no justice no peace” and a range of similarly catchy phrases as they beat the selfish ants, liberated their food stores and burned the rest. It was a great day for grasshoppers who danced into the night around the bonfires of their victory.

That winter, the ants starved, as did the grasshoppers who had gorged themselves upon the liberated stores of the selfish ants in a few days of round-the-clock partying and soon exhausted them, and could find no succor from the other free spirits in their village. As their last act, they gathered, held hands, hugged a tree and sang in unison their final song: “It is all the fault of the stupid ants who brought their destruction upon their heads and ours through their selfish unwillingness to share their hoarded bounty. Stupid, selfish, egotistical, greedy little ants. All their fault. All their fault. If only they had been as enlightened as we.”

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Victor D. Lopez [Originally posted by me in Publisheduthors.org]

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Last Amazon giveaway for February: Eternal Quest

On its surface, this speculative fiction short story (7,800 words) deals with one man’s obsessive quest for knowledge and the devastating price he must pay for the knowledge he ultimately acquires. Beneath the surface, this story is about deep friendships complicated by unrequited love, split loyalties, the interplay of id, ego and superego, (or Plato’s appetites, reason and the spirited element that Freud “borrowed” and “re-labeled”) and existentialist lessons learned much too late in life.

It is about looking for truth and meaning in all the wrong places and about the deep tragedy of misdirected efforts in the single-minded pursuit of all the wrong things. It is also about love, and the noble and often tragic self-sacrifice that true friendship requires, about the pain of unrequited love and split loyalties, and ultimately the very real tragedy of too many lives spent in the single-minded pursuit of lesser important things. Nothing else I have ever written since those happy, productive days as a college sophomore means more to me, and it remains little changed from the original.

Please enter for a chance to win a free copy and/or share the following link with anyone whom you believe may enjoy a short story that sums up what I believe to be the meaning of life in both fiction and fact. You can enter here:  https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/f3da20911647f3f8 . Thank you!

 

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/181305

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Intellectual Property Law: A Practical Guide to Copyrights, Patents, Trademarks and Trade Secrets

The paperback and eBook versions are available for libraries to purchase with  library discounts for the eBook version. Please consider recommending it to your local library. Libraries can order the $8.99 eBook for $6.99 through one of my distributors so it won’t break the bank. The list price of the paperback is $18.95 though distributors can price it lower or higher as they see fit. A giveaway for the Kindle version of the book in the U.S. is currently underway as well here: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/d07a803485634cb0. A final giveaway for my Mindscapes short story collection is also still live here: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/57bef69f6b727c97. Thank you for your interest!

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Poetry reading – free verse

Here is a link to a long poem on my dad’s passing – Unsung Heroes: Felipe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMhHLYK92Js

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