02 Aug Unconscious Objection
“Unconscious Objection”Written by Christer Maxine Schmidt Edited by N.M. Brown Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek Narrated by N/A
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available
⏰ ESTIMATED READING TIME — 8 minutes
I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t want to sleep. Sleep has eluded me for several days at this point, but to sleep is to give up and let guilt destroy me. That’s what I call it anyway, guilt. It was as plausible an explanation as any to describe the feeling in the pit of my stomach, this schizophrenic nightmare that eats at me day in and day out. But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. I should use this last bit of sanity I have left and write what I know before I get dropped back in with the chance of losing grip on reality. Cause at some point, I’ll beat myself at my own game, and that’ll be the end of me.
I’ve been staring at this white wall for seven hours now, awake for the moment. I know this because I’ve been keeping track. I see each second pass by me, the wristwatch’s second hand slowly ticking, ticking. Time is both a blessing and a curse.
Everyone dreams, right? At least that’s what I assume. You dream about all sorts of things. Good, bad, otherwise. This seems to be common with other people; I can’t be the only one.
But they’re always just that, a dream, a brief fantasy of the unconscious mind. It shouldn’t be able to harm you. Only now and then does the concept of dreaming ever manage to seep into what we typically think of as a shared reality in our conscious state. Drug-induced hallucinations seem to be a commonly shared one amongst people, as do concepts such as sensory deprivation tanks and the like, seeking to allow the mind to run wild and create its own visual worlds.
Time. I’m looking down at my watch again, another minute ticking past. Time is that which escapes my grip every time I fall asleep. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
One common trait of dreamers may be better known by the general public but seems to affect only those who don’t sleep lightly, much like myself. That’s sleep paralysis and the monstrous figures who hover between the depths of your mind and your bedroom walls. It’s commonly misunderstood amongst the general populace, and only some understand the sheer terror that strikes you when your eyes are closed, yet your mind is on, and it can see the red eyes that hover in your face, judging you.
The dreams began a while back, several years ago, I assume at this point. The exact amount of time isn’t clear to me anymore. It had been innocent enough. I fell asleep to the sounds of another YouTuber screaming at the sounds of the horror game of the week. I used to enjoy the genre, an avid fan of video games myself. But I can’t stand them anymore.
I keep derailing from staying on topic. I need to type this before my eyes give way to this shit again; someone needs to know.
I had fallen asleep, hard into the world of fantasy. No one ever seems to characterize dreams the way I experience them. They’re devoid of details, with grey masses of nothingness depicting the boundaries that trail into the distance endlessly. Like the edge of the map in a video game, but fuzzier and far less outlined.
The dreams always began with me studying something, a door, a signpost, a horizon from the top of a deck. It didn’t matter much, though. A robot factory, a school, an island dictatorship, they all ended the same.
Something would find me. I was never sure what it would be or how it would hurt me, but I knew I had to run far. My feet have never carried me anywhere in a dream, though. I would run hard in any direction, but my feet would ache severely, and I’d ultimately be running on what felt like a conveyor belt. These abominations would catch me. A man in a bowler hat, his smug face was nearing as he floated to me. A robot out of a childhood video game, glowing red eyes, and a laser gun cocked and aimed at me. A sea of sludge and various dead animals inside, not too unlike a childhood trip to La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. I remember an alien abducting me in my bedroom when I was tiny.
But as with a dream, you can’t die. The fear is entirely irrational and makes no sense. There is no physical object to harm you. So why do you run? Why did I run? What was the point? Whenever any would almost catch me, it’d fade to black. A blank slate grey mass took over my mind and sent me back into a normal dreamless slumber. I always assumed death to be a similar sensation.
Sometimes I run at the monsters to make them leave. They always get me, but at least the dream is shorter. Facing the fear head-on seemed to help.
That night was different, though. The typical dream had begun with a view of a trippy colorful world, not unlike that of LSD Dream Emulator, one of the few games ever to capture the actual feel of dreaming, in my opinion.
The world was laid out in front of me as splotches of jittery color splashed across the landscape. I realized I was in for my usual night terror quite quickly and decided to attempt to end the dream immediately.
When a dreamer realizes they have begun to dream within the dream, or to lucid dream as it’s referred to, the reality of the dream can shift drastically in seconds. Your unconscious mind doesn’t like to be questioned.
I raced up to the railing in front of me, my feet barely carrying me close enough even as I sprinted. I took a running dive off the balcony into the colorful abyss, hoping to end the nightmare before it truly began.
The air raced up to greet me, and a mass of grey began to spread across the color, the end of the dream nearing ever so closer. Ending a dream by jumping from a high place seems to have always been an effective way to end it on a dime—something about the shock of adrenaline or something to that akin.
Something stopped me that night, though. I hit the rainbow-colored ground with a slight thud, uncharacteristic of the feeling you usually get from falling through a dream. The ground was still shimmering with color, but it was oddly still.
I looked to my left. However, I wasn’t in my body anymore. That was a relatively normal occurrence, though. You’d see yourself in the third person but still be in control of your actions; it made the dream an almost cinematic experience.
There was a grey figure standing in the distance. I couldn’t quite make out much of it, though it had a pair of red glowing eyes. I debated running, but realizing this was what kept this dream from ending prematurely, I sprinted towards it.
I ran towards the figure but made no progress. But it floated over to me slowly, understanding my want to come near it.
The red, glowing eyes dimmed down, and I could see the red reflected in a pair of realistic eyes. The figure was definitely me. It was myself in the dream, or a character using my body anyway.
I tried to fling myself at it, but the figure floated back, dodging.
“I understand that you wish to end this dream.”
It had spoken to me in my voice.
“You’re not real. Why don’t we shatter this reality and move on?” I looked at the figure, watching the unblinking neutral stare.
It considered the request. “No, I don’t think I will let you today.”
“What gives you the right to choose? You’re not even real; you’re just me.”
“I might just be you, but I assure you I’m real.” The figure turned and looked out into the grey mass. “Emptiness is a terrifying prospect, is it not?”
The grey figure stood tall and stared out into the abyss.
“Damn you, come over here so I can end this dream.”
I reached forward, but the figure vanished. I was stuck in a colorful pit, the grey mass far off from me. Nothingness would have been a comfort to me at that moment.
The figure eventually returned to me. But it felt like hours. Days even. Dreams aren’t supposed to feel like that.
I could feel its presence behind me, watching me search endlessly in the void.
“Do you understand why I let you wander endlessly?” the figure stated.
“Cause you’re sick. Do you know that? You’re sick.”
“If I’m you, and you call me sick, what does this say about you?”
I angrily rushed the figure, clawed my way towards it. It kept moving away from me faster and faster. My legs burned and cramped; I was barely keeping pace with the figure. I ran as hard as I could, trying to capture it, knowing it was my ticket out of there. I leaped at myself and grabbed it.
The grey mass engulfed me, and I thought I had woken up. I was in my bedroom, staring up at the ceiling, a cold sweat across my forehead. My legs burned, the pain of running a marathon in a minute all too real. Way too real.
I looked up at the ceiling. It made me freeze. The ceiling was transparent, and above the roof was a huge floating head… my head.
It stared down at me, a grin plastered across its face.
I was frozen in place except for my eyes. They jittered, trying to make out the details of the head. My mind couldn’t comprehend the sight.
It slowly moved through the ceiling, closer to me. I struggled to move but paralysis had taken hold of me. I hurriedly began to hyperventilate, wishing I hadn’t slept on my arms, numb from lack of blood circulation. The increase in oxygen made everything fuzzier as the head was right up in my face, now screaming.
I awoke in reality that time—a nasty nightmare, but one that was at least over. I sighed in relief, my anxiety causing my heart to beat out of my chest.
I attempted to sit up, but it didn’t feel right. My legs hurt. I looked down at my calves, and they were black and blue. My arms were red and bruised as well, and I felt pain in my left ankle like it had snapped in two.
I grabbed my phone by the side of the bed and read the time, 11 am. I had wasted the morning of that Saturday fighting nightmare creatures. At least I could get up and throw some food in the microwave and forget about this.
That’s when I saw the date below. It made me freeze. It wasn’t Saturday; it was Sunday. There was a text from my friend waiting for me in a notification bubble.
“Dude, where are you? You never showed up to the party last night?”
I texted back. “What party? I thought that was tonight.”
“You missed it, man. It was pretty great. Were you up smoking weed again or something?”
I had set the phone down. Had I taken anything before bed? I didn’t think I had. It had been like any other night at my house. Boring, predictable, and filled with an unhealthy amount of electronic usage before bed.
I assumed it was nothing the first time—a fluke of odd sleep patterns. But I was wrong.
This dream has been repeated over and over again, subtle variations leading to the same result. Sometimes I was underwater, the dreamscape cold and uncaring. I’d wake up covered in sweat, or hives, or rashes. One time I broke a bone trying to capture the figure. It got smarter each time the dream happened, my victories against it getting closer and closer.
Every dream, the amount of time grows dramatically and the difficulty of escaping increases. The first time it was only one day lost. The last time I spent six months trapped in my head. I’ll never get back that time in the real world. My friends have all but abandoned me, assuming I’m some insane basket case that can’t be cured. But they don’t understand, and I hope they don’t ever have to.
This is going to continue. I’m exhausted as I write this. I can’t leave my head anymore. Even when I’m awake, my anxiety pounds me with the thought that I’ll be asleep again soon, and this time I may not come back.
I can’t take this anymore. I’m sorry I killed her. I repent, I concede, I give up. Please give me the courage to die. This reality pains me. I can’t handle it anymore. I can’t take it. I can’t. I can’t. Let me go. Please, I beg you. If you’re reading this, let me die.
🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None AvailableN.M. Brown Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek Narrated by N/A