Asleep but still awake
You are Lucidly Dreaming.
“Wake up...” A voice called to me in the black void. “Wake up.”
I could feel my eyes were closed... or at least covered... and I was laying down.
“Wake up!” The familiar voice of my mother called, as she shook my shoulder. Another dreamless night. I swatted her hand away with a grumble, sitting up. She left without another word, flipping the blinding, fiery light bulb on with a flick of her finger.
Sighing, standing, and rubbing my eyes lightly, I brought myself to the closet to change. A rush of black met me, sooty and drab, like coals. I promptly picked out the first two articles of clothing that met me, arranging myself for the day. Nothing fancy.
“Hey, did you know...” My brother began his usual rambling as I nonchalantly stuffed microwave breakfast down my throat. He was visiting, I had forgotten. At least it was only a week I had to deal with the 18-year-old. Ignoring him, I got up and threw away the disposable tray from my breakfast, tossing the silvery fork into the sink and walking over to my school stuff. Just a regular day.
Not even three minutes of silence in my mother’s car and she was already rambling about some topic I gave no care for. All I did was pull one of my earbuds out, nod my head occasionally whenever she asked me something, and watch her begin ranting again. Same old stuff.
Biology- we review over the same things, over and over, not really knowing what it all means. It goes by like molasses on a flat surface. APHG- Do mini-quizzes, review homework. It could’ve gone by so much faster. Study Hall- I talk with my friends, get no work done, and internally curse myself for the incapability to properly enunciate myself. It should be a two hour class, and push English out. Health- Watch video, do worksheet, lunch. Geometry- book work, graphing, boring, done. English- Reading journals, pretend to be a man by taking a male role in “Twelfth Night”, done. Japanese- Drill notes, homework, done. Magic Club- play Graveborn, get mana drowned, lose, fin. Victor was absent. Not too far fetched.
Closing the door, I climbed into my uncle’s vehicle. Show him my newest appropriate sketches-- check. I plugged in my music player to his car as he started driving. He barely talked, I barely talked, and life was good for twenty minutes. The music ruled over my silence as I watched the car pull out of the driveway. Just a normal day.
Upon entering the house and dropping my things back where they had been this morning, I was greeted by a half-eaten lunch-- my brother’s, no doubt. Wrinkling my nose at the scent, I delivered the parcel to the trash. My brother was asleep, he would give no care.
Picking up my laptop and sitting on the couch, I typed in my unnecessarily long password and watched it boot up. Keeping myself inconspicuous on the chats, I watched the others talk. They shouldn’t know of my lurking for at least an hour.
“Wake up.” An unfamiliar voice called to me from nowhere. Wake up to what? Ignoring the voice, I continued to be awake and lurking. If there had been anything to wake up to, I’d have already done so. This was a drab, melancholic refrain.
I ended up shutting my computer down and going to sleep without notifying the others of my presence. They had been ignorant of my lurking, as I had wanted. When my grandmother had asked of my condition, I simply nodded to indicate that I was fine and buried my head underneath the covers, mummifying myself in sheets.
“Wake up.” I heard the voice from the prior hours repeat. I simply allowed myself to drift off to sleep. How many days has it been?
The black void again. I tended to call it “Wake”. Wake was nothingness-- the nothingness between falling asleep and waking up. But this time it wasn’t nothingness. There was light-- substance. My formless gaze turned to the source. Nothing but light. How literal the phrase was.
“Wake up.” The unfamiliar voice said once more. It seemed the voice’s origin was the light. “Please...”
With an abrupt call of my name, I was torn from Wake.
The same old day repeated again, and I found myself going to sleep early again. Hopefully I would have consecutive dreams. I had heard of the phenomenon from others, but I could only hope it was true. Laying down rather haphazardly, I began trying to get to sleep-- and back to Wake. Sleep came after two hours of staring at the clock.
My “gaze” swept around Wake. Was the light still here? I soon found it, a hopeful smile creeping onto my face. I wanted to approach it, but it seemed as if something was surrounding me, binding me, even choking me. This was new. It didn’t seem to hurt, but it was certainly odd not needing to breathe.
Was this what a dream was? It seemed... boring.
“Wake up...” The same voice. Same light.
“H-hello?” I hesitantly attempted to speak.
I was snapped out of Wake before the light responded. My chest was tight and I felt feverous. Gulping down air like an alcoholic at a bar, I dragged myself to the bathroom to empty my stomach. Coughing and retching, I found nothing expunging itself from my insides. My stomach felt as if it was on fire.
I ended up staying home today. My burning stomach refused to let me rest, however. My friends would no doubt be worried. Absences were abnormal for me. My mom had me go to the doctor with my uncle while she was at work. Rather than plugging my music into my uncle’s car, I instead listened to it in private.
Same doctor’s appointment. Nurse weighs you, checks your height, takes your temperature, then abandons you in a room after you waste your time and energy telling them your symptoms. Doctor comes in, prods your ears, nose, and mouth, then gives you a prescription, telling you to rest for x days, take your medicine y times, and that you’ll be fine. Afterwards, my uncle let me wander around in the pharmacy and pick something harmless out for my stomach. I chose peppermints and ginger ale. Checkout was quick.
On the ride home I managed to fall asleep...
“Don’t do it... not again...” The owner of the voice sounded on the brink of sobs. “I won’t be able to look for you again, please... don’t do this! Wake up!!”
“Don’t do what?” I quietly asked. “How can I wake up? What do you mean by ‘Wake up’?”
The light was silent, glowing as if in thought.
“Whatever you do...” Its voice was quiet. “Don’t take the medicine.”
The voice echoed in my mind as my uncle woke me up with a gentle shake of my arm. I was still in the car.
I had decided to trust the voice. Regretfully, that meant having to put up with my stomach. My family simply concluded that the medicine was “not working”. At least they were gullible enough to believe I had taken it, while in reality I had poured a dose down the drain to simply feign it.
Sucking on peppermints and nearly guzzling down ginger ale at the rate a Hummer drinks gas, I found myself having a battle against the most formidable foe: myself. Would I let myself fall victim to sleep once more? Or not be goaded into more pain?
I ended up falling asleep on the couch.
“I did what you told me to do.” I spoke to the light once it had come into view.
“Y-you did?” It asked me. “You’re alright, right?”
I felt myself hesitate upon the question, taking in my surroundings and situation. Still bound by this weird substance.
“I...I think I am.” I quietly muttered. “Where exactly am I?”
“You’re in the real world.” The light solemnly spoke.
“Real world? But this is just...” I trailed off. A dream, right?
“So you don’t remember...”
I was woken up before the light could answer.
My brother had been the guilty one this time. He was using my game console again, without my permission, screaming at some game I cared not to name. I pitched a peppermint at his head to tell him to shut up. Rather than doing so, he threw the peppermint back at me, yelling more into his game, of how I had just “gotten him killed”. It wasn’t like I cared. He threw my controller down on his lap, yelling, cursing at the game. I threw another peppermint, this one aimed straight for the eject button. It hit its target. My brother stormed off to the upstairs rooms as I looked at my now aching arm. The peppermint had left a bruise.
There was no way this could have been a fabrication. Frowning, I poked the fresh bruise, feeling a shot of pain shoot through my entire arm. This sort of pain couldn’t be faked, could it? I wanted to sleep, but I wanted answers even more. I needed them from an unbiased source. But who? I knew that almost everyone in this waking world would think themselves to be reality, even myself, and the light was obviously biased in his thoughts as well... but, deep down I felt like I should trust the light. But my brain told me not to. Aargh! This is all so confusing! I pulled the covers over my face and groaned quietly.
I didn’t fall asleep until late in the night.
Now there were two lights-- the one from before, which was a light yellow in color, and a new, icy blue one, slightly smaller than the first.
“Are you absolutely sure she’s going to wake up if we do this?” The blue one spoke.
“Positive.” The original one spoke.
“Alright...” The blue one flickered for a moment, and it suddenly got cold... very cold. Whatever substance I was trapped in was shrinking due to the cold snap. My arms felt like flimsy twigs in the grip of the relentless breeze with which the substance binding me was.
“S-stop it!! PLEASE!” I found myself screeching, vision tinting red like flames.
“This is something you must escape yourself.” The voice of the blue light spoke apathetically. “If your heart is strong enough then you will awaken and break the bonds with which you’ve tied yourself with.”
A searing headache shredded away my view of Wake. I could still feel the pain from the sleeping world tingling through my body as I shivered.
I was desperate for answers by now. I would have them, even if it meant having to stimulate my brain through the use of music (which was a terrifying to think of with my newly acquired headache).
Opening my computer and again typing in my password I found it to be well into the night... or morning, if you prefer. The chats had been active until the most recent hour, when they had been left to one lone person. I would stay off for now, in case someone logged on. Finding a browser window, I pulled up some music to think to.
I could feel the metaphorical gears in my head struggling to turn. The pain both here and in Wake felt real, so I could not base my conclusion on that. I really felt like I should trust the yellow light, though. But basing my conclusion on that could prove hazardous if the light was tricking me... Perhaps I would be my own judge. I would try to sleep as long as possible and gain as much information as possible. Yes, that sounded like a good plan.
Time to guilt my mother into telling me where the sleeping pills were.
Not even a minute and I had extracted the information. I found the bottle quickly, pulling a single dose of the medicine out and getting a glass of water to take it with. Here’s hoping it wouldn’t cause my uproaring stomach to expunge its contents. Bottoms up!
After a mere 10 minutes on the couch again, I had fallen asleep yet again. That medicine was very efficient.
Now there was another light in Wake. This one had an orange aura, and stood slightly larger than the blue one, but still not as large as the yellow one. It sounded as if they were arguing amongst themselves.
“What the Hell, Damien!” The orange one snapped. “Why can’t you let bygones be bygones?”
“And let her die?” The yellow one responded. He must have been Damien?
“Technically speaking, she would only be forever stuck in that prison she crafted, neither dead or alive, just existing.” The blue one analytically spoke. Well, that was delightful to know.
“Hnf. She can’t destroy a simple obsidian prison?” The orange light spoke off-topic, seeming to get closer. “You should know that obsidian is fragile and breaks easily.”
“You would assume that.” The blue one stated. “But it would have broken by now. It’s been a year, and in that time, cracks would cover the rock.”
“You’re just weak like she is.” The orange light chuckled. I kept my tongue bitten for now. If I let my silence go for this creep I’d let my cover go too quickly.
Something upturned the obsidian I was encased in with a loud crack. My view of Wake was spun back to black for a moment as a sizzling sound was evident in the air. After around 10 seconds, the lights somehow returned to my sight.
“She just repaired it.” The orange light stubbornly muttered. It sounded as if it was behind me, even while I could see it in front of me. Goodness, this was disorienting!
“She did nothing, in case you bothered to notice.” The blue light noted.
The orange light simply disappeared with an annoyed grumble. The air was silent for a few minutes before the blue light spoke.
“I need to return to my post, Damien.” It spoke with a sigh. “If anything new happens within the time you’ve left visiting here, send a light orb and I’ll do my best to come by again.”
“Alright, I’ll be sure to inform you, Aurore.” Damien spoke to the blue light (whose name I now knew must have been Aurore).
“Good luck, Damien.” Aurore spoke quietly.
With that, Aurore disappeared. The silence was chilling to the bone. I decided to break the freezing air with a few words.
“So... how’s the weather out there?” I asked awkwardly.
“Scorching.” Damien’s response was equally awkward. “How is it in there?”
“Freezing, but not too unpleasant...” This small talk was going to get me a total of zero miles. I felt the silence trying to squeeze its way back into the environment and I whipped up a question off the top of my head. “So what exactly did you mean when you asked me to ‘Wake up’?”
“What I meant by that is to break the obsidian prison you built for yourself. Things are starting to fall apart without you.” Damien sighed a bit. “The only problem is that you don’t seem to remember us...”
“Us?” Was he referring to himself and Aurore...?
“Aurore, Evin, and myself.”
“Evin? Was he the orange one that was here before?” My question felt so unspecific.
“Orange...?” Damien seemed confused. “Can you perhaps elaborate that statement?”
“The orange light. You’re yellow, Aurore was blue, and that other one was orange.” I added in about a second after “I think the orange one was the one who also upturned me.”
“Oh, him. That’s not Evin.” Damien’s voice seemed to get quiet. “That’s Destruction.”
“Is that seriously his name?”
“No one’s really bothered to ask, and he responds to it... so...”
“I think we got a bit off topic here...” I spoke in a hushed voice. “Sorry.”
“So... any ideas on how I get out?”
“I would assume you have to melt the obsidian.” Damien replied.
“Doesn’t obsidian have a very high melting point?” I meekly asked. “Besides, how would I melt it?”
“Hm... what’s something that really makes you boil?”
“How would that help in melting obsidian? Especially a brand hard as diamonds...”
“It will. Just trust me on this and think of something that really makes you mad, it should work.”
“What do you mean?!”
“Just trust me.”
“Al...right...” I would do as Damien ask and submit to rageful thoughts. Time to list things! Bad time travel, homophobes, stupid rules, heat, being tardy, reading journals-- Oh! “This isn’t working...”
“Are you focusing on one thing that absolutely fills you with rage?” Damien asked.
“No, I was listing them.”
“Pick one of them and think of how much you hate it.”
“That sounds extremely cheery.” I sarcastically spoke.
“And cheesy.” Damien admitted.
“The statement shall be shredded and top the world’s most cheesy nachos to be melted like obsidian!” I found myself giggling a little bit.
“I’m glad you haven’t lost your sarcasm.” Damien chuckled a little bit.
“I could make a reference you wouldn’t get, too.” I inwardly smiled.
For a few moments, Damien was gone. He flickered back into view abruptly after a second.
“Shoot! I think I’ve run out of time!” I hissed. It had barely been 10 minutes! “I’ll be back as soon as I can, I’ll probably be asleep again within the hour!”
I heard no response from Damien, and was unsure if he gave one. Things faded too fast for me to catch anything.
I looked at the clock as soon as I woke up. It had barely been an hour. Time to add this to the list: faulty sleeping pills. I still wasn’t feeling better, either. In fact, somehow my stomach had managed to feel worse. This was so stupid, why didn’t I take my medicine?! My limbs ached for the relief against their attacker, and no prospect of them fighting back met me.
I gave up and went to take my medicine. The week went by without Damien visiting me in Wake anymore. soon I returned to school. The refrain was returning... and I hated it.
I started counting the days of an empty Wake, and no break seemed in sight. Beside the count laid notes detailing the occurrences of my few conversations there.
Study Hall- Days since seeing others in Wake: 18.
Today was different-- an oddity. My table at Study Hall was completely empty, save myself. It’s odd and I finish my work quickly. I have 20 minutes to think, and it disturbs me greatly.
That was yesterday. Today they are still absent, and a whole row of people are gone in Health today-- the row of people I talk to. The days of an empty Wake only continue to stack, and more people become absent. At this rate I’m afraid I’ll be the only student running around in the school, alone.
Days since seeing others in Wake: 32.
My fears seem to be coming true. It’s as if every student I’ve ever talked to has disappeared. This is so weird, it’s as if it was staged.
When I get home and log on to my computer, another rare-- and seemingly staged-- occurrence occurs. The chats are starch white with emptiness.
I’ve decided to look over my notes from Wake. I don’t know why, I just did. Maybe they would hold some answers... no, that was wishful thinking.
Flipping away from the page with a sigh, I navigated to the first one-- my notes on Wake. Perhaps I shouldn’t have taken the medicine...
What other things could I try perhaps? My eyes scanned over the page silently as I came across Damien’s last suggestion: rage. I was extremely reluctant to try this one, but if it would give me someone to talk to in Wake... maybe, just maybe... it was worth it.
Having locked myself in the closet with paper, pencil, and light, I knew I was ready to try this.
“Confusion.” I wrote on the paper. Drawing a line under it, I began to brew up reasons why it made me want to scream out in enraged agony. “Being misinformed leads to extremely stupid things happening. It can cause people to not understand one another and lead to conflict.”
This really wasn’t a good topic. I barely had any reasons to hate confusion other than it was really annoying. A call of my name brought my attention out of the closet. I hissed quietly and navigated my way to where I was being called from.
I would add this to the list: Lack of privacy and free time.
I never got the chance.
Tonight Wake was different. So much more different. I wasn’t bound-- I could move, but now there were more lights. Though they took shape, it was still quite a lot to take in.
Red and brown light made up the ground, and in the distance I could see a few mountains, crafted of the same light. Most of them seemed to have their tops cut off. The sky took a pitch black color, no light coming from it, save a few grey ones splattered about. Clouds, I would assume. This was odd.
With a light sigh, I got my balance, trying to stand up. Looking down, I couldn’t quite “see” my legs, but... I think they were there? Taking a hesitant step, I realized they were simply blending in with the red of the ground. This was getting confusing.... and very disorienting.
A single figure stood out on the ground: a whitish grey light. It appeared large and boxlike. I found myself heading towards it. Hesitantly, I brought my hand to touch the light. It felt like stone, but it was so.... ethereal... It was as if the stone had free will and decided to both be cold and hot at the same time, smooth yet rough. I gasped a bit as my hand dipped into the stone. There was a hole in it?
I fished my hand around for a moment, running over powdery, soft stones that gave off no light. I could feel the small rocks leaving a thin residue on my hand. Overturning a stone, I revealed one that glowed a pure sky blue. I gently picked it up, and suddenly I could see everything as if it were normal.
Gasping sharply, I realized two things. One: I wasn’t seeing with my eyes, I was seeing with the stone; and two: I had my hand in a furnace, filled with hot coals. Screeching, I found myself falling backwards, vision returning to mere shaped light as I dropped the stone back into the furnace.
The sound of a large fire starting up in the furnace met my ears for a moment as grey light billowed from the opening. I would assume that was smoke. How was I not burnt from those coals, if they were billowing so much smoke?
Suddenly, Damien’s light appeared before me, and he took a shape soon after. He appeared to be in a turtleneck, and his hair was messy, yet straight (another contradiction, yes). I couldn’t make out anymore of his features with my undetailed vision.
“Well done...” He spoke softly. “You’ve Awoken.”
It would seem you've woken up...
...Or have you?