You know how sometimes, when you wake up, you can't remember your dreams, or vice versa? Well, I never remember my dreams. It's just a blur, of thought and sensation, and always that voice. I don't know who's voice or what it's saying. I'd always assumed that was how dreams were for everybody until I brought up the subject with my friends, after we saw the movie - what was it called? Interception? It was about some guy who went into people's dreams for a living. Anyway, I was confused about the concept and told my old pal Arnold why. He looked me in the eye and said "Kenneth, go see a shrink."
So I went to a shrink. His name was Dr. Ravenna. He was a really nice guy, Dr. Ravenna, with immense qualifications. After I told him about my dreams, he was very curious. "Kenneth," he said on our first session, "have you heard of the billfold syndrome?" I shook my head. "It's a condition where something traumatic occurred in a person's past, so they deal with it by forgetting all about the incident." I nodded, slowly. "Meaning, my dreams might be… memories?" Dr. Ravenna nodded. "A subconscious reminder of what you're trying to forget. Your mind is trying to tell you to remember, and I'm going to help you do that. But I need you to promise you'll cooperate. Will you do that?" I nodded. Dr. Ravenna smiled and jotted down some notes. "So, Kenneth," he continued, "let's begin with your mother."
It was a couple days later that I started to notice… well, I suppose the most accurate term would be "glitches," but that sounds nerdy. Then again, I am nerdy, so what the hell, we'll call them glitches. Okay, one thing you should know about me is that I have a serious Minecraft addiction. Seriously, I play Minecraft, I think Minecraft, I constantly drop Minecraft references in conversation, I even went to MineCon 2012, dressed as a Zombie Pigman. So usually, when I'm not watching Doctor Who, I'm playing Minecraft. I've also got the Dalek mod, but I'm getting off topic.
Anyway, I was playing multiplayer with Arnold and another old pal, Jack. We had finally tracked down a Stronghold and gotten enough Eyes of Ender to activate it. So we leaped through the portal, and there it was, the End. While Jack started slaughtering Endermen for no reason, me and Arnold started smashing Ender Crystals with arrows. Meanwhile, I was keeping an eye out for the Ender Dragon, and I'd brought about seven or eight Snow Golems for protection. Okay, Jack gets owned by Endermen, which comes as no surprise, and ends up right back at the spawn point, while we snipe off all the crystals we can find. Suddenly, there it was. The Ender Dragon, swooping towards us. It sent Arnold flying and he fell off the edge, right into the Void. So, until they can make it back to the Stronghold, which should take about five, ten minutes, I'm on my own. So, I start bashing at it with my diamond sword, and it flies off. I start sniping at it, and I'm actually doing quite good. I feel like a boss. I take off pretty much half it's health, shooting at it until it comes in to attack me, then hitting it with my sword. Then, it gets stuck in the ground, some sort of glitch. I couldn't believe my luck! I hit it with the sword repeatedly, and one more hit would kill it. Then, it escapes and flies into the air. If it escapes and flies to the last three crystals, it'll heal and my quest will have failed! Hurriedly, I grab my bow and fire, one lucky arrow. And it hits! The dragon bursts into light and dies, and the return portal spawns, with a Dragon Egg on top. I actually did it! I manage to break the Dragon Egg after some trial and error and I jump into the portal.
Now, when you defeat the Ender Dragon, it plays the End Credits, which include some sort of conversation between two higher entities about the Player. It's lengthy and doesn't make sense, so I'll spare you the details. I'll just tell you the last line, the one that had the biggest impact on me. It said "Wake up". When I read that line… I felt sleepy. And then, while I yawned, I saw something. Something strange.
I stood atop a cliff, looking over a valley. There was a black cloud looming overhead. Behind me, there was a man, a tall, bald man, in a cloak. He turned to me. "I'm sorry, old friend," he said sombrely, "we can't save the monastery. You must flee." I hung my head in shame. "Yes, master." As bolts of fire began to rain down, I leaped off the cliff, and hurtled towards the valley below.
When I came to, I was on the floor, surrounded by paramedics. I learned I'd had a stroke and they rushed me to the hospital.
The first person I saw when my eyes opened was Dr. Ravenna. "Hi, Doc," I muttered. He smiled. "Hello, Kenneth." I sighed. "Doc? Was I dreaming?" His smile faded. "Perhaps you were."
It was two days later when Dr. Ravenna suggested hypnosis. "Now, I'll question you while you're under hypnosis, and hopefully we'll be able to uncover what your subconscious is trying to hide." "But what if I have another stroke? That was what happened last time I had a flashback." Dr. Ravenna scratched his head nervously. "Well, I'm pretty sure the stroke was the cause of the flashback, not the other way around. Or the two events could be unrelated, coincidental." "You don't think that's true, do you?" He shook his head. "I don't believe in the existence of coincidences. I believe everything has a reason for being. That flashback, for example. Do you play many fantasy video games, Kenneth?" I nodded. "Every waking hour of the day when I'm not working. Minecraft mostly, and some WoW on the side, with Skyrim when WoW's down." He nodded. "Now, I believe that those games might have influenced your flashback. For example, the army could represent life's worries, the tower could represent a feeling of isolation, and your jumping-" "Doc, I'm not suicidal." He nodded again. "My training teaches me that you are, but..." "But what?" He shrugged. "Call it a gut feeling, but maybe these unconscious signals have influenced your interest in fantasy instead of the other way around, like how the stroke might have caused or been caused by your flashback." He sighed. "There's an emergency team on stand-by, just in case." He produced a gold watch. "You've probably seen this on TV," he said, "so you probably know the drill. Look at the watch... focus on the watch..."
I was holding a sword. I could feel it's weight, perfectly balanced in my hand. It was my sword. And I was going to use it. I turned around to face it. The shadows laughed and something emerged from the dark. Something terrible.
I was on some sort of airship, and we were fleeing from a large army of creatures, flying creatures. The ship rocked back and forth, pummelled by their weapons, and I could see a flash of white as one of their projectiles ignited us.
I heard the voice again. Someone was reaching out to me, but I still couldn't make it out. Some sort of shadow was blocking me, something between dream and reality. It was reaching out to me, and it was angry. No, beyond angry - it was an indescribable, almost animal rage, pure, naked hatred, something evil beyond belief. And it was screaming. Pain. Such pain.
I screamed myself awake. I was covered in a cold sweat, and for the next half hour, the only thing I would say was "It hates me."
After a while, they released me from the hospital but put me under psychiatric observation. In other words, they stuck me in a rubber room. I didn't blame Dr. Ravenna, as he hadn't made the decision and had in fact protested against it. I just wanted to get out of there. The chief psychiatrist there, Dr. Martins, was very creepy. I don't understand why he became a psychiatrist, as he would have done very well in the FBI torturing terrorists. He had a moustache that practically screamed evil villain. All good villains need a moustache with personality. Anyway, there I was, sitting in this room, bored out of my skull, when Dr. Ravenna came in. I glared at him. "What am I doing here, Doc?" He sighed. "Kenneth, I did everything I could, but Dr. Martins thinks you need further psychiatric observation. He sighed and pulled a magazine out of his backpack. It was the latest copy of EGM. "If they ask, I was never here." He then exited the room as quietly as he had entered.
Leafing through the magazine with my feet (not an easy task) to look at their review of the new Elder Scrolls MMORPG, I noticed something fall out. I thought it might be an ad and left it on the ground. After a few hours, I had read the magazine from cover to cover, but Dr. Martins took it before I could reread it. And so there I sat, staring at the ad. I was so bored, I needed something to read, so I stretched out with my foot to grab it and lift it towards my eyes. That was when I realized it wasn't an ad. It was a note from Dr. Ravenna. It said Wake up.
That was when - you guessed it - I started dreaming again.
I could feel that shadow, trying to stop me, a wall between dream and reality. I struggled, but it came closer. I turned to face it. "Who are you?"
The shadow laughed. "Fine, Kenneth," it said, drawing out my name as if it knew something I didn't, "let's talk." "Okay," I continued, "I'd like to know a few things. First of all, what are you doing in my dreams?" The shadow roared, but I didn't budge. I wanted answers, and for some reason I felt totally fearless in the face of fear itself. I was calm and unafraid. Okay, I'm exaggerating. I might have been a little frightened. Fine, I was scared. No, not scared. More like imminent-fear-of-death mortified than scared. "I am not in your dreams," said the shadow, "I am between dream and reality. And that is your own doing." I was confused. "My doing?" "I am in Limbo," said the shadow. "You mean the Hawaiian dance?" The shadow roared again. "NO!! I am trapped, between worlds, in a dark void where there is nothing. YOU CAN'T IMAGINE THAT. Nothing. NOTHING!!" Kenneth mentally took a step back. "How is it my fault?" The shadow growled. "You fought me, with sword and sorcery. You were the Chosen One, and you defeated me in battle. But you didn't kill me. I wish you had. Mercy was always your weakness." I was officially confused. "How could I have done worse than kill you?" The shadow roared ten times louder than before. "Why do you think I am trapped here? BECAUSE OF YOU! YOU SENT ME INTO LIMBO! YOU EXILED ME FROM EXISTENCE INTO NOTHING!!" I then realized why the shadow was so mad. Nothing. I tried to imagine that concept. I recalled the Season 2 finale of Doctor Who, where the Doctor discussed the Void. "Eternity could pass by without you noticing it." That would drive anyone insane. "I tried to get my revenge," said the shadow, "by pulling you in with me. But you escaped my grasp, and you ended up on Earth. You crossed between worlds." The message took a little while to register. "I'm not from Earth?" The shadow laughed, but it wasn't a boy-are-you-funny laugh, it was a maniacal evil villain I-despise-you-but-you-are-amusing laugh. "You are from the land of Nod. Your 21 years on Earth were a fantasy that you dreamed up. This is a dream, or rather a nightmare, and I will never let you wake from it."
When I came to, I looked around me. It felt so real… but was it? All I knew was that I was a prisoner living out a fantasy. Unless that thing was lying. I knew the only way I could find any answers was by finding out what the voice was saying, maybe breaking through the wall the shadow had made. But how could I do that?
I thought as time passed. Dr. Martins came in a few times, but I ignored him and every attempt he made at communicating with me. I was occupied. I just couldn't think in a rubber room. But I wondered. If this was a dream, then none of it was real. I could escape. But that would mean admitting that my entire lifetime was a lie. Was I ready to do that?
I tried to imagine the walls disappearing. I tried to imagine myself coming free. I dreamed that I was holding a sword, and I could almost feel it's weight. Perfectly balanced. It was my sword, and I was going to use it. I chopped through the ropes, and…
Nothing happened. I needed to focus. I closed my eyes and tried to focus on the sword. Nothing but the sword, in every detail. I tried to forget all that I had imagined over the course of my non-existsnt lifetime, forget the lies. But I couldn't. I couldn't let go of that lifetime. I had to use those memories to my advantage. "Fus ro dah," I muttered. The sword was still absent. "FUS." I thought about the sword. "RO." I thought about the Shadow. "DAAAAAH!!" I felt the blade in my hand.
I quickly sliced through the ropes and stood. Now that I knew how to manipulate the dream world, it was easy. I held out my hands and gestured pushing, and the walls collapsed. Suddenly, I wasn't in that rubber room anymore. I was flying, high into the sky, with my sword, ready to go home.
As I felt reality melt away, I closed my eyes, because I knew if I looked into Limbo, I would die. I felt the Shadow coming for me, wanting to destroy me, trap me. I grabbed a tendril of darkness and leaped into the emptiness.
Every atom of my being was severing. I knew not who I was, but I knew I had to get past the shadow. I had to go somewhere. Where, exactly, I wasn't sure, but I knew I had to get there. I swung my sword through the darkness and hacked through it. Walls of shadow rolled towards me, but at the edge of the dreams, I had to conjure… something. I knew how, by instinct. I knew that light counteracted shadow, like water against fire, and I willed a beam of light. The shadow roared and fell back, and I formed a bridge, a bridge of light. I reached, but the bridge was crumbling. Then, I heard the voice.
I could see her now, as beautiful as I remembered her. She was reaching out her hand. "Wake up," she said, "please, wake up!" I grabbed her hand and I was pulled back. But I was not alone.
When I awoke, I felt something in me - cold, and horrible. I screamed. The shadow was within me. It burst forth and laughed, coldly. "Thank you, Kenneth," it said mockingly, "for I am free now." She stood, light gathering in her hand. "No, you aren't, Morgaraith. You will never be free. Free from the prison you built yourself." She turned to me. "Draikhan, now!" I summoned up a bolt of light, and together we poured it into the shadow-thing. It screamed, and slowly it ceased to be. The light filled up every corner of every surface, and nowhere could the tiniest amount of shadow escape. I turned to see the rest of the Aetherian Guard, beaming light, and soon nothing remained of Morgaraith but a smell of burning in the air.
I embraced her, and we kissed. "I remember you. Oh, Kione, I remember you!" She laughed and we kissed again. "I never forgot you," she said.
I stand now on Earth, one last time - not a dream after all, just a lower plane of existence, as real as the land of Nod. I am writing this, so you'll know who I am. Why I came, and why I left. When you dream, you enter the land of Nod, as a spectral being, a ghost. I am a Dreamlord, an inhabitant of the land. We keep order and prevent things from getting too crazy. Prevent nightmares. Most of them, anyway. My name is Draikhan. But remember me as Kenneth.
This letter was found among the personal effects of Kenneth Waterhouse, deceased. He died of unknown causes in an insane asylum. Or did he? Rumour has it that he flew away from the prison, according to eyewitness accounts. Absurd, right? But you never know…