The sound was loud and insisted on staying. For a moment, it seemed they were really ringing at the door but it happened to be all in the dream. The sound was horrible, louder than anything he had heard in the past. He wanted to wake up but couldn’t until he forced his body to answer to his command. It hurt, like peeling of a Band-Aid. The sound then stopped and he felt he was back at his bed but the truth was his own brain had deceived him. Unable to get him out, it had just transported him elsewhere.
First, he seemed to be sleeping in something similar to a bed but then the feeling fade away and he started falling and falling and falling through consecutive holes in a deep blackness of his subconscious mind. He felt the wind on his face and his ankles but did not worry. Somehow, he knew that he would land softly somewhere, eventually. The area kept changing color, sometimes being red and other times black again.
Again, he felt he had woken up but this time he knew it wasn’t real. He hadn’t landed anywhere, instead having appeared in a grassy field with small hills and nothing else in sight. Then, the sky changed and it became nighttime and in the ground a forest had sprung up to life. He automatically entered the forest and hoped to find a proper exit to his dreams from there. Maybe there was a door or something special he had to do to end all of this nonsense.
He felt trapped in a world similar to the one in Alice in Wonderland but the difference was that Alice’s world was at least funny and interesting. His dream world was seriously boring next to it. Having realized he wasn’t able to wake up by his own will, he tried to change the world he was in but all he could achieve was to make some flowers appear. As night had fallen just minutes ago, he could barely see them so he tried to change night back to day but al he could do was getting the sun stuck in the sky, casting an annoying twilight all around.
Walking became harder as his eyes had to be covered because of the light. He walked as if he had become blind in a second, touching everything he could and doubting every step he walked. Then he reached a cliff and had to stop moving. But that didn’t change anything: he still slipped and fell, again falling through holes and for a long time.
Then, he actually woke up for a moment and realized he was very warm beneath his blankets, so warm in fact that he had been sweating a lot. He removed his short in a moment and fell fast asleep once again. Surprisingly, he wasn’t wearing a shirt either in his dream. Apparently his subconscious liked the idea of being shirtless so much that it had put him in a tropical setting, which he appreciated.
People he knew were all around: his family, some of his friends, even people he had never been very familiar with. They were all in the beach, playing volleyball or laughing or splashing water to others. It was a small paradise and the sun felt real on the skin, on his face. He wished the dream wouldn’t end but he knew that wasn’t possible, not even if he died in his sleep.
He stood up and walked down the beach, smiling at his mother who was attending to a younger him and then watching how many of the guys he had dated were casually talking in a small group. They all smiled at him and waved their hands and he knew it was very strange but still waved his hand and smiled too.
There was a pier he hadn’t noticed before, made of cement pillars and wood planks on the floor. He walked slowly on it, feeling the wood on his feet and the warmth of the sun on his cheeks. He really wanted this to be real, to be the world he lived in. Not only because of the beautiful setting but because he didn’t feel any worry, he didn’t feel he had to do anything. It was just perfect.
At the end of the pier there was a man, taller than him and shirtless too, that looked at the ocean. All he could see of that person was his back, which didn’t look bad at all. And as he saw him, he realized he knew who he was and that he had to talk to him, to see his face and to hug and kiss him and share his life with him and cherish every single moment they were able to be together.
But just when he was able to touch the man’s arm, the scene changed and the guy was behind him, with his arms around him. He had no idea why, but he wasn’t compelled anymore to see his face. Maybe deep down, in some other level of consciousness, he already knew who that person was or at least what he looked like. Maybe that’s why he didn’t mind turning around and stop watching the sunset beyond the perfect blue ocean. It was the first time in his life he finally felt at home.
As it happens often, his body chose that exact moment to wake him up. He opened his eyes sad, frustrated to know all that had happened was a lie and that there weren’t any arms around him hugging him, making him feel alive and safe. He turned his head for a minute, realizing it hadn’t been his brain that had woke him up, it had been the rain in the window. It was very dark outside and he knew he had some more hours to sleep, after all it was Saturday the next day so he wasn’t precisely going to wake up early for anything.
This time, it took him a while to fall asleep, as he kept analyzing what he had seen in the dream, trying to remember more about the man in the pier. But his mind finally let go of the thought of someone that didn’t existed and just surrendered to the few extra hours of sleep.
This time, he ran through some destroyed street. There were bricks all around and graffiti on the wall and he felt he was in some serious thing because he couldn’t hear anything besides his feet stomping on the ground. He finally stopped running and went up some stairs, to the second floor of a typical movie motel. He had never seen one of those in actual life, but he had seen so many in movies and TV series that his brain must have design it from similar memories.
He entered a door on the second floor and locked it. The room was all done in a clear ‘70s style, with the orange and brown curtains smelling of pot, silky sheets on the bed, furniture in gold and silver and a TV set with no remote control. Everything was on point and he knew, again thinking of himself as asleep, that he had seen some place like this one before. He was sure of it.
Suddenly, someone entered the room and he just had seconds to run to the window and jump towards it. Whoever was behind him had starting shooting and his only option had seemed to jump through a window. He landed on the pool below, which was rapidly tainted with his blood. He had no idea how but he managed to get out of the pool and run down the street again. His body was aching but he had no idea where it hurt exactly. He just ran, preventing more damage.
Out of nowhere, a neighborhood of tall skyscrapers and perfect sidewalks appeared in front of him. He entered the closest door, which happened to be a department store. He went up one floor on the working escalator and sat down by all the men shoe section to check his body. Only one bullet had hit him, on the right thigh, but it didn’t really hurt. He cleaned the wound with a shirt he grabbed from a table and decided to look for supplies or at least something to eat.
Common sense drove him to the lower level of the department store. The supermarket was there and he suddenly felt very young and happy. He grabbed a cart and started grabbing various things he had eaten throughout his life: cookies, beverages, fruit, vegetables, cooked meals that smelled delicious, water and even deodorant. He went around with his shopping cart, happy about life and all it had to offer.
Then, the man from the pier stood in front of him. He knew it was him, even if he couldn’t see his face. The man had been the one firing at the motel and this time he wasn’t going to miss. He had him in his hands and one last horrible thought crossed his mind: “What if I really died here? What if I never wake up? What if this was all a trap?”