Dreams. Everyone dreams. All the time. For one reason or another, there are always a couple that stand out, but most of them are forgotten by morning.
For good reason.
This is a story about my experiments with dreaming. I'm telling it as best as my memory will allow, but memory can be a funny thing.
I guess it all started because of the internet; I had read an article about lucid dreaming, and it sounded fucking awesome. That night, I spent hours looking through various lucid dreaming websites and fora, absorbing as much information as I could possibly find on this phenomenon. That night, I was so excited about the possibility of flying or having telekinesis or having orgies or whatever else people do in lucid dreams that I could barely fall asleep. When I finally fell asleep, the next thing I knew, it was morning. I hadn't had a lucid dream.
This continued for about a year; occasionally, I'd get brief moments of lucidity, but for the most part, my dreams were non-interactive if I even remembered them at all.
But then, one day, something just clicked. I went to sleep, started dreaming, and realized I was dreaming. I didn't know how I knew it, but it was like I had a sixth sense for whether or not I was dreaming. Each night, when I went to sleep, I would wake up in a dream-world which I could shape according to my every whim. Every night was an adventure; one night, I'd be soaring over bizarre, yet beautiful, alien landscapes, the next I'd be exploring shipwrecks without any bulky SCUBA gear. And yes, I fulfilled countless sexual fantasies, too.
Every once in a while, though, instead of the vivid, exciting dreams, I would find myself lucid, yet in a dream over which I had no control. Everything was dark and silent, and my entire body was numb. I could sense absolutely nothing, not even which way was up. I would be grateful for the shrill, piercing sound of my alarm clock which released me from the boredom of these dreams that I couldn't shape myself.
Over time, I began to notice that my dreams began to feel longer and longer. I looked for information on the internet and discovered that REM sleep does not usually last longer than 15 minutes, yet I had been having dreams that seemed to take around an hour to finish.
It was at about this time that I began to pay more attention to the dark, empty dreams I had been having. They seemed to be the only recurring dreams, and I wondered why that was. Instead of being bored during these dreams, I started trying to pay attention to them.
I could tell from that sixth sense I told you about earlier that there was something... off... about these dreams. Or perhaps, more accurately, I should say that it's what that sixth sense wasn't telling me; normally, my dream-sense tells me that I'm dreaming when I'm dreaming and that I'm awake when I'm awake, but I couldn't feel it at all in this dream. It was completely numb, just like my other, "natural" senses.
In fact, as I sat (laid? floated?) in the empty black void, I came to realize that there was another sense missing, too: my sense of self. Indeed, I felt completely disconnected from everything. There is no psychological experience more profound, or terrifying, than the sudden realization that you do not exist.
After what seemed like hours, I awoke from that dream (which had turned into what was probably more accurately described as a nightmare) and was grateful to once again be reassured of my own existence.
Unfortunately, I couldn't stop myself from having lucid dreams; every time I slept, that sixth sense would kick in and bring me back into consciousness whenever I was dreaming. I had no choice. I had to dream.
And the dreams were growing longer. They would carry on for hours, or even days. I was getting bored, running out of things to do. You can only have so many dream-orgies before they get kinda old, and an orgy with 1000 people isn't really much different (for an individual, anyway) from an orgy with 100 people. Flying wasn't interesting any more. There were only so many places my mind could invent for me to explore before they all started to look alike.
I started experimenting with weirder things. I performed scientific experiments to see if the laws of physics were any different in my dream-worlds. I tried walking places instead of flying. I recorded the stars, came up with names for them, invented constellations. But none of it was really very exciting any more.
One night, before going to sleep, I decided that there was one major thing I hadn't yet tried in my dreams: dying. In my dream that night, I was a bit nervous about it; sure, it was only a dream, so nothing could really happen to me (right?), but the human self-preservation kicked in anyway. I spent a couple of dream-hours putting it off, playing around with things that I had sworn were so boring I'd never play with them again. Finally, the boredom overcame the self-preservation.
I found a knife. For some reason, even though I knew I wouldn't really be dying, I decided that, just in case, if I would actually die, I wanted it to be interesting. Guns, poison, and strangulation are all kind of boring. Knives are special. They have a certain aura of mysticism and nobility about them. Guns are impersonal, but knives are intimate. Anyone can kill a man with a gun, but it takes a certain, special quality to kill a man with a knife. Looking at the knife in my hands, I admired my own imagination. It was a beautiful blade, better described as a work of art than a vulgar weapon. I took a deep breath as I held it out in front of me, its tip pointed at my heart. I gulped, then plunged the shining blade into my own chest.
Blackness, but not just any blackness; it was a familiar blackness. Once again, I felt absolutely nothing. I wasn't. My thoughts floated around on their own, as if thought up and perceived by someone else. My dream-sense was silent. A creeping terror came over me. I didn't exist. Again.
And then a skeleton popped out.