What if you woke up outside your body and couldn’t get back inside?
I flew out the window. Wait a second? I flew out the window? I couldn’t fly. I didn’t even like to drive.
I closed my eyes and shook my head. Clearly, I had made a mistake. Flying was impossible.
Ok, I thought. Let’s try this again.
I took a breath and slowly opened my eyes. In front of me was the edge of my balcony, only I was on the wrong side.
Well, that’s not so bad.
Then I peered down at my feet. They hung in the air, 50 feet off the ground.
It was hard to argue with that.
I expected to fall, to plummet to my death at any moment, but somehow I kept on floating. Apparently, it wasn’t like the cartoons. My body didn’t seem to care if I noticed or not.
“I must be dreaming.” I said, or a least tried to say.
It came out more like, “wha, fuuu chuuuck palanieosk…”
Everything was garbled nonsense, like my brain had suddenly been cut off from my mouth.
And my hands too, they moved in slow motion as I tried to lift them toward the balcony.
Even the fear I should have felt was duller, less intense, as if the sharp edges of the world had been chiseled off.
Okay. This is definitely a dream.
I peered through my apartment window, back into the bedroom and what I saw was so strange I couldn’t even be shocked by it.
There, in my bed I saw my body. Stranger still, on top of my chest was a small black scaled demon, complete with a pair of blood red wings. I-It looked like it was trying to kiss me!
I tried to yell, to scream something at the creature, but all I could manage was, “guh batttt!” At the same time I kicked my legs, somehow thinking flying would be like swimming. It wasn’t. I didn’t even move an inch.
How can I...No sooner did I think about being by my bedside than I felt a tug in my belly, followed by a violent pull. Instantly, I was there.
The creature paid no attention to me. It was hunched over, very close to my body’s mouth. I quickly realized a little kiss was the least of my worries.
A strange red energy was flowing out of me and into the little beast. Was this...was it my life force? My soul maybe?
I lunged forward in a panic and tried to push the demon off. A white barrier of white light erupted around the imp, throwing me to the floor.
You won’t take my body! I won’t let you! I thought.
I tried to push myself up but found my arms passed through the carpet. Of course, I had to think!
I closed my eyes and focused. A moment later I teleported to the closet. My ghostly hands reached through my school books and into my sports bag. I knew what I needed, it’s image clear in my mind. A moment later my hand came back holding a glowing aluminum baseball bat.
I raised the dream weapon high over my head and ran at the demon. With all my strength I swung at the its head.
It didn’t even flinch. The bat glanced off the barrier and slammed into the wall.
What’s that saying, if at first you don’t succeed? I raised the weapon again.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” said a soft voice. “You’ll just tire yourself out.”
I turned and passing through the window I saw another strange being. It wore a long white robe that hid the rest of its features, save for its bald, overly large head.
What are you? It’s what I wanted to say, but only the strange garbled mess would come out.
The creature laughed as it settled beside me. It was much smaller than I realized, barely reaching my knee at its full height. It looked just like a stereotypical “alien” you would expect to see in a black and white sci-fi flick.
There was something familiar about it, kind of like an older brother. Maybe it was the all knowing tone it used.
Whatever it was, it made my blood boil. What did it know! Like I was going to take advice from some stunted b-movie castoff!
I raised the bat again and swung. Again, the white barrier rose as the bat glanced off, striking my body in the shoulder.
The Demon shrieked and cast a wary eye at me. It’s shield extended out further, covering my body, sealing it off completely. Now there was nothing I could do.
“Why did you come back here?” Asked my new friend. “You left for a reason, you know? Now you’re causing nothing but trouble.”
It rose up and floated toward the window.
“Come on!” it said.
I looked at my body. And then helplessly at the alien.
“What’s it doing to me?” I asked.
This time I was able to speak, but it didn’t come from my mouth, it was like my voice came from the air itself.
“To you?” it said. “The being is not doing anything to you. It’s preparing to enter the vessel. Only one can claim it at a time.”
“That’s my body! It belongs to me!”
The creature floated back to me and slowly extended out a long vine-like arm, placing it on my shoulder.
“You must be so confused. Good connections can sometimes do that, and yours was great! But we all have to move on.”
It gave an encouraging smile.
“Come now,” it said. “We’d best find you a vessel, too. Don’t want to get stuck without one. Now THAT would be terrible.”
I looked at the demon feeding on my body. There had to be a way to remove it. This alien or whatever it was, had to know something that could help.
“Please, can’t you do something?”
It shook its head. “Once a bond is made it can’t be un-made. As I said, this vessel’s been claimed.”
It sighed and hovered right to the edge of the window.
“I came to help you, but I’m certainly not going to waste my whole night here. Stay or go, it’s up to you.”
I glanced back at my body. My eyes shifted from my sleeping face to the small demon.
It was hard to believe this was me. In fact, the more I stared at my body, the more I began to wonder if it really was me. It seemed different, almost foreign, an odd doppelgänger, some wax model that just wasn’t quite right.
“If I want to come back, all I have to do is think about this place. Is that right?”
The green creature smiled at me, it’s thin slit of a mouth curling up impossibly wide.
“Now that’s an interesting notion. I suppose one could, if they fancied.”
I nodded. If the alien didn’t want to tell me anything I’d follow it long enough to find my own answers.
“All right then,” I said. “Show me the way.”
It smiled and rolled up one of its sleeves. With its wispy, leafy green fingers it drew a rectangle in the air.
A moment later the invisible lines began to glow. They extended and joined, molding into a frame that slowly grew solid. A few more seconds and a heavy, wooden door was hovering in the middle of the room.
“This will get us moving a little faster.” said the Alien. “You don’t mind, do you?”
“Wait!” I said. “What do I call you?”
It flicked its fingers and the knob turned. The door swung open. Then it turned to me and gave a bow.
“Mr. Greenpeace, at your service. Shall we!”
Mr. Greenpeace wasted no time, immediately diving into the darkness beyond.
I looked into the doorway, trying to ignore the fear building in my stomach. I took one last look at my body, at the demon, still frozen, drinking up the red energy.
Immediately, I felt the strangest feeling of revulsion, a kind of nausea. It wasn’t coming from the demon, either. It was my body. Something about it was making me almost sick just to look at it.
When I looked back at the door. The air on the other side seemed fresher, inviting even. The darkness was scary sure, but I couldn’t deny I felt exhilarated at finding out what was on the other side.
I lept. There was darkness, the slightest rush of air, and then I felt softness.
“That wasn’t nearly as awful as I expected. Once it opened into a volcano! Can you believe that?” said Mr. Greenpeace, his voice somewhere to my left.
My eyes struggled to adjust to the low light. I reached out with my arms, trying to get my bearings.
“What are we?” I asked.
“Hmm, not sure,” he said. “But if I had to guess, I’d say we landed on pillows. I mean we usually end up in bedrooms, after all.”
“I can’t see anything!” I grumbled.
“Not to worry!” Said Mr. Greenpeace. “Lumin lupacious!”
A spark lit the room. Across the floor boards I saw a handful of glowing seeds scatter in all directions. Roots took hold quickly and soon there were twenty small trees, perfectly manicured bonzai. They were filled with flowers all glowing in a soft green hue.
“That’s a nice trick.” I said.
In the new light I saw we were in the corner of an incredibly large room. Both Mr. Greenpeace and I were straddling a large stuffed animal. It was easily twice my size, and it was dwarfed by the massive chair that supported it. It was like we had suddenly entered the land of giants.
Across the room, laying in a bed with protective bars, was a young girl. She was hooked up to an IV. This wasn’t a bedroom. It was a hospital.
“What is this place?” I said.
“Quickly!” said Mr. Greenpeace. “There isn’t much time.”
We approached the girl’s bed carefully. Once we got within a few meters, a white barrier erupted, just like the one the Demon had erected around my body.
I watched as Mr. Greenpeace solemnly bowed his head and began to whisper.
“And if I die before I wake I pray my soul, the lord to take...”
“What are yo...”
He swiftly smacked me in the stomach.
“Hey, make the offering or you’ll get us both rejected! I can’t believe you forgot that, too!”
I repeated the words. In saying them I felt the strangest sense of peace. Not only did I feel I had I said them before but I felt their meaning.
This…no, it wasn’t me. These weren’t my words. This was something the girl had said before. Probably this very night. Maybe every night.
How could I know this?
There was no time to think. The white barrier shattered, bursting in a brilliant scattering of light. As Mr. Greenpeace floated to the edge of her bed, I felt another surge of deja vu.
“Come closer.” he said.
I didn’t even question whether or not to obey. As I looked at the girl I felt an instant connection. Her body, it seemed so much more alive, so right, so...me.
“What do I do?” I asked.
“Climb up! Quickly!” said Mr. Greenpeace. “We aren’t the only ones searching tonight!”
From underneath the crack of the door a large black mist filtered into the room. It snaked its way along the floor and up to the bed.
It swirled violently, forming into a hard shape that finally condensed into a small black beast with red glowing eyes.
“We were here first!” said Mr. Greenpeace. “Find your own vessel!”
“You can’t claim a vessel,” said the beast. “It shall decide! Those are the rules!”
It jumped over our heads, softly landing on the young girl’s chest. She frowned slightly, the heart rate monitor increasing ever so slightly, but other than a slight discomfort she didn’t seem to notice the creature.
“Hurry!” said Mr. Greenpeace. “Make your offer before she chooses the other.”
“But how do I...”
“Good god! Just touch her. It’s not complicated. Just copy it.”
Mr.Greenpeace pointed at the red eyed beast.
Not wanting to hurt the girl, I carefully placed my foot onto her belly. She didn’t react. Even as I pressed down with all my weight I was barely able to make the slightest indentation on her blanket.
I looked at the beast. It was frozen now, a strange white light was coming from its mouth and into the girl. I could see her eyes straining.
She didn’t like something. In a quick burst the connection was severed and I heard the beast cry out.
“She rejected me! I was only trying to help!” It cried.
“Quick!” said Mr.Greenpeace. “Make the link before it tries again!”
I started to ask how, but a memory quickly rose inside of me. This wasn’t one of my memories. I was Jim Reynolds, born in Camp Springs. But this, it was...from before.
Just open your mouth. Open yourself to the host, came a strange voice from within. Was that...me?
It didn’t matter. It was more than words. I felt it. I wanted to connect with this girl.
I opened my mouth and my mind went blank. When I regained my senses I was sitting on the branch of a large oak tree. The girl was beside me. She was wearing a beautiful summer dress and a large pink hat. Thankfully, she was no longer a giant and looked more or less like a normal person.
“Are you here to help me, too?” She asked, sarcasm dripping in her voice.
“I-um, yes I am.”
“Well...what are you going to do about that!”
She pointed below. A large snake, nearly 20 feet long with a body as thick as a barrel, was climbing the tree, making right for us.
My heart started to pound. What could I do? Kick it? Maybe grab a small branch and club it on the head? On both counts it was too large, and it was getting closer.
“This way!” I said. I held out my hand and started to climb. The girl followed. We went up the branches, tens of meters, until the snake was far from view.
“Won’t it keep coming?” Asked the girl.
I gave her a smile. “Then we’ll climb higher!”
For the first time, she smiled. We both looked up and watched as the tree extended up. It didn’t stop, going up and up, so far that we couldn’t see where it ended.
There was another flash of light and suddenly I was back in the hospital room. Mr. Greenpeace was sitting beside me grinning. The beast was there too, glaring at me.
“I guess you got accepted.” said the beast. “Hmph, I tried to kill the snake. Isn’t that what people would usually do?”
The creature’s body relaxed and he slowly formed back into a mist, this time filtering into an air conditioning vent.
“He was too violent!” said the girl. Her eyes were now open and staring right at me. “You’re a better match I think.”
“That’s great! You’re finally getting back to your old self, huh?” said Mr. Greenpeace.
But I was Jim, right? Jim...wait, what was my last name again? I was a...what was my job?
“I’ll leave you too it!” said Mr. Greenpeace. “We’ll see each other tomorrow morning anyway. I’m with the brother! It’s gonna be great partnering up again!”
He slowly floated up to the ceiling and as he did I started to remember. We were from the same shrine. I remembered flashes of light, of coins being tossed into an offering bin, an old stone building. Two old women were praying they wanted protection for their family...that’s...where we were born.
Mr. Greenpeace winked at me as he passed through the roof.
I smiled and looked at the girl.
“Are you ready?” I asked.
She nodded, but I could see some uncertainty in her eyes. She clutched her small stuffed cat tightly to her chest. In its gleaming eyes I caught sight of my reflection.
I was small. Slender. My scales weren’t black like the first demon, nor did I have a long oval head like Mr.Greenpeace. My body was turquoise and on the top of my head there were two short golden horns.
That’s right. I wasn’t Jim, not really. He didn’t need me anymore. Or was it the other way around? I guess some things were still foggy.
It didn’t matter. This girl, we were similar. It would be a good partnership.
“Don’t worry.” I said. “Just think of me as your other half.”
“W-what do I do?” She asked.
“Just close your eyes.” I said. “Everything will be different in the morning.”
I opened my mouth and was surprised to see a red light emerge. I wasn’t pulling anything from the girl. It was the other way around. She was pulling my energy into herself.
I’m not sure how long the transfer took, but when I opened my eyes I was back in the tree. The girl was there. I knew her name now. Alice.
“Is the snake still there?” She asked.
“It’s gone.” I said. “I won’t let it hurt you. In fact, I think it’s time to wake up.”
“Good,” she said. “I’m tired of this dream.”
I searched her memories and found the right images to conjure. Below the tree a familiar street appeared, leading to a small, two story house at the end of a cul de sac.
“Isn’t that your home?” I asked.
The girl smiled and nodded. I took her hand and we floated down from the tree. We walked along the sidewalk and I heard her giggle as we started toward her house.
Alice Randboul woke with a gentle smile on her face. She usually hated the mornings, that’s when the pain was the worst.
This morning, however, it wasn’t so bad. Her body still hurt, but the pain didn’t feel so overwhelming.
“It will pass! You can beat it!” said the voice in her head.
Yes, she thought. You’re right! I can beat this!
She looked out the window.
Down below she could see the road leading to the main entrance of Memorial Children’s Hospital. A beige Prius was driving toward the gate. That would be David and her Mother.
She felt lighter today, healthier. Maybe it was a turning point.
“It’s our first step!” said the voice in her head.
She laid back in the bed. She couldn’t remember the dream she had last night, but could feel that it had been a good one.
As she watched her family park in the side lot she smiled.
I hope they had good dreams, too. She thought.
In that moment the strangest feeling struck her. She was almost certain that David, her little brother, had almost certainly had a wonderful dream himself.