Recurring Dreams
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By DivineAtlasDivineAtlas (author page).
Thanks to pnn wepmpnn wepm for critiquing my article.
Special thanks to r a t i fr a t i f for the critique and Greenlight!

Mentions of strange, recurring dreams have been reported by random wanderers. Not only have these nighttime events recurred for months, many have reported experiencing the same dreams as others. If you suspect that you are being affected by this anomaly, please seek assistance and do not sleep alone as it may lead to extended rest.



It was like a dream

Fleeting, ephemeral

Such is the nature of my memories, tinted like smoked glass

I can see fragments of it in my mind

A spattering of images drifting through the synapses of my brain

Incomplete moments that piece together to form a broken puzzle

You could call it a level

I can't even tell you if it exists

It was inside and outside at the same time. A dark, unforgiving forest and infinite winding halls made of red wood, faded and rough like the exterior of an old barn. The tunnels match the ebb and flow of the hills and the natural shape of the forest, two conflicting concepts that are unyieldingly separate but are truly one. I can't see the floor, perhaps there isn't one. My footsteps echo silence down the halls into infinity. I've dreamt of this place several times, always picking up where I left off. I make ample progress; it's much easier to explore when you don't need to eat or drink. I finally come to an elevator, a silvery machine ready to whisk me away. The moment I enter it I look around, it is made of glass. I see a universe of clouds, their fluffy cumulus drifting lazily into infinity with the midday sunlight dancing off of them. The doors close and I am floating in this new world beyond the stratosphere.

Every time the elevator would move, I would awaken

Continue with my day like nothing had happened

Unable to recapture my slumber

I finally find rest again, returning to my elevator. It moves with nary a sound and with incredible smoothness as it glides upwards. As it travels, the blue of the sky fades and melts into buttery twilight, the oranges and pinks of the setting sun scattering across the voluminous surfaces of the clouds. The elevator finally came to a rest, the doors slide open ever so gently. I step out into a new world, a carnival swathed in autumn and an effervescent sunset. I wander through it, the fallen leaves in their orange and brown swirling around me as a gentle breeze runs through the carnival like a secret river. It brings with it the warmth of summer and the chill of winter, a place truly in between. The red and white striped tents are empty, husks sitting as vacant silhouettes against the decaying sunlight. The rides, teacups and rollercoasters, are dead and gone, inoperable remains without a proper burial. I lament their loss, the joy they will no longer be able to bring. I wander on until I reach the edge of the world, the elevator once again waiting for me.

The shades of night descend upon the elevator

I once again awaken within my slumber to this mysterious world

Its gossamer strands tethered by this strange machine of glass

Once the moonlight fully shines across the clouds, the doors open once more. I am again thrust into a wondrous world. It is the dead of night, the stars twinkling their charming lights at me, the crescent moon beaming with pride across the dirt path on which I stand. The air is humid and warm. I see a woman there, I see her face, but it changes like the surface of water. Each time I blink, her face is different, a million different people in her eyes. She holds my hand, and I feel her warmth and kindness as she pulls me down the path. Fireflies pierce the shadows as they lazily float around us. We marvel at their beauty. She brings me to a lake, her hand letting go of mine as she steps into the placid mirror. I see the stars reflecting onto the surface as I plunge in after her, though there is no water. I enter it like one would walk through a threshold, stepping as gravity accommodated our adventure. I gaze back at the reflection that was once me and continue on in the world inside the lake. She takes my hand once again, guiding me back to my bastion of tempered glass.

I am awake, yearning to return to sleep

Craving the dreamscapes painted by my subconscious

Alas, I must live

Slogging through the haunting corridors of an abandoned universe

My eyelids shutter.

I feel a poignant stab in my heart. Perhaps it is instinct, but I know my time here is coming to an end. The sunrise blossoms in the distance, coloring the clouds with liquid butter. The elevator reaches its destination, and the doors open. I am in a great and sparkling sea. The morning lights playfully tease the roiling surface of the ocean, and dolphins breach the surface with merriment and mirth as they corkscrew through the air. I see an island in the distance, a sandy atoll with a single palm tree stoically enduring the winds. As I walk across the water, curious fish of all shapes and sizes follow my footsteps with vapid interest. Large, blue waves rumble along in front of me, and I laugh. I sprint up the side of one and roll down another. I giggle; they're just like hills. I finally make it to the beach, removing my shoes as I walk around my tiny islet tucked away in the great sea. I can feel the sand beneath my feet, each warm grain shifting from my weight, wedging between my toes. The ocean is calm as I look down and see a single seashell sitting alone, nestling cozily into the sand. I gently remove it from its earthen grave, brushing stray particles from its smooth surface as I inspect it. The shell is white, with thick ridges running its length. Soft, dirty pink trims the edges of the ridges while the inside contains a pearlescent shine. I put the shell into my pocket and begin to walk to the center of the atoll.

I see my reflection, but it's not me. With each ripple, the image changes. Different people, some young, some old. Mostly me. Sometimes not. Life, like the tides, changes quickly, and so do I. I smile as this small oasis is the end of my journey. The water vanishes and I am on the clouds I had long admired in my dreams. The sun has fully risen, and I walk across their bouncy surfaces into the horizon.



After that, the dreams finally stopped.

My reveries had become mundane, and my sleep more irregular. I wanted to go back, but I didn't know how. Was it even real?

Several days had passed, and I had been folding my clothes. I felt an odd lump in the pants pocket of a pair of jeans, so I reached in and pulled the object out.

It was a small, white seashell.

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