by Matthew Reed
A student’s experiments and observations on Dreams.
The experiments begin. They must begin now or else my curiosity will never have the opportunity to be satisfied. They need to be accomplished while I am still a student. It is in these brief years that I can be forgiven for mistakes rather than be ridiculed once my name has already been made as a surgeon.
This is not even in my field, then again whose field is the topic of dreams and their machinations? It might have wise to have consulted with my professors beforehand but if they discovered how I lent any credence to my grand uncle’s studies in the occult, they would laugh at me. And right they would be to do so.
My father said that my late ancestor wasted his years on mystic endeavors in his madness rather than the family profession. Indeed, pursuing such fancies were the height of folly but the hand that wrote these papers was not that of a madman. The visions described could be considered to be but hallucinations brought about by exotic concoctions but his handwriting was quite steady and legible and if even a fraction of the things he wrote of were true then it would be worth investigating.
The only one available to aide me is Roi. He is one of the few privy to the translations of my ancestors’ notes.
Roi always had a rather strange background for an aspiring chemist. Enough so that I find myself less ashamed for my family’s own embarrassment. He told me how the O’Harts is a line of artists but unfortunately age of arts is giving way to the sciences. He shared interest in my ancestor’s occult research for its collection of alchemical recipes. His primary interest would be the entries on ylister or prima materia as it was otherwise called. He finds the alchemists’ belief that all substances were different states of the same material to be astounding for their time.
My ancestor made efforts to distinguish the wizardry practiced in our lands from the sorcery of those beyond the ocean. His practices were deep seated in ritual and materials rather than spirits. It would be of little surprise if he professed himself to be a wizard though I would call him a fool.
Magic has no place in the sciences but what might be mistaken for the work of spirits might be an unknown science. The properties of medicines were once mysteries to those that employed them. Fortunately, the validity of my grand uncle’s recipes can be tested.
The spellbook or grimoire, whatever one wishes to call it demands the use of certain iconography and incantations. No such thing shall be implemented in our samples. What effect could words have on the distilling of herbs? More hazardous or vague ingredients will be substituted with something of similar properties. We wrote down the ingredients and proportions for every individual vial.
The experiment is quite simple, to prove that dreamwalking is possible, one must attain knowledge unknown to oneself. Each night, Roi will write a question to which he knows the answer and seal the question in an envelope. I, the subject, am to try to make contact with his dreaming self through the help of various potions and methods. The subject is to ask Roi for the question within and the answer while we sleep. Fortunately, we already share the same room in case proximity is a factor to consider. The next morning, we will open the envelope to see if the correct knowledge had been attained.
Roi will abstain from taking the numerous potions. In case the cause of the effects are hallucinations, one of us must keep our wits or else we both might get caught in the delusion. He will be the one to determine whether this is a success or failure.
Roi believes in a separation of spirit and matter so he might be eager to proclaim success but my own approach to emanationism might result in the rejection of positive results. Neither of us are unbiased but hopefully we will both be fair. Reaching a separate realm of existence would be proof of something beyond matter to Roi while it would satisfy me to find the world of dreams does not exist or if it is indeed its own existence then for it to be an echo of our own.
Our efforts prove futile. Even if our methods were somehow correct, our goal is forgotten by the time the dreams begin. That is if the night is even fruitful enough to provide a dream, several nights have been blank slumber.
My uncle wrote of such obstacles and offered a solution. Again, he resorted to what he considered magic. Truly, it is mere meditation.
From his notes, my uncle seemed content with the idea of being king of his own little world. According to him, his every desire could be fulfilled if he achieved mastery of his own thoughts.
My ambition is more practical, a necessity for this research. As deluded as he may have been, his methods appear sound and will be employed at least in this regard. The experiments will be suspended until the skill to enter a lucid dream becomes mine to summon at will.
The ability to control my own dreams through a mix of meditation and self-hypnosis is now available to me. Though oddly this development is quite unpleasant. I am fully aware now when I sleep and I find myself waiting for morning to wake me. The duration of the night’s reign was never fully realized by me until now, slipping into nothingness and waking refreshed, ignorant of the time spent is an experience that is deeply missed.
The first art to be mastered by me was the ability to wake at will. My ancestor wrote of dangers one might need to escape from though no such thing has been discovered so far. It was only after that that the ability to shape the dream became my priority.
The experiments have resumed but it is difficult to discern whether or not a connection with Roi is established in my dreams. My dreams conform to my desire and so I more often than not create a semblance of him to interact with. The fact he only recollects dissimilar scenes when we are awake and the answer for the contents his doppelgängers provide me are incorrect are proof enough that such attempts have been failure so far.
Roi’s images are based on my perception of him. How can they be proven to be unreal when they consist of all that is believe to be true about him? If asked a question, they will answer as he is believed he might. The only way for Roi to establish his authenticity that comes to mind if truly encountered would be for him to provide an unexpected answer.
We decided to take some time to respite, spend a night drinking in a tavern rather than brewing in our room.
It was in this time we talked. Roi could handle more than me but he drank faster than I ever could so he was the first to voice his muddled thoughts. He asked not of the morality of our experiments but the morality of dreams themselves.
Memories of the conversation itself remain unclear but recollection the subject is enough to contemplate over it now.
If memories serve correctly, Roi asked me that since I was self-aware in my dreams, then was I responsible for all that transpired within. One such as me would be the lone god of one’s own temporary reality. If one murdered an imagined person in one’s sleep, would that person be as guilty as when awake?
It was an interesting question but a meaningless subject for now. Perhaps if another could be harmed when our dreams supposedly merge then it would be worth debating. However, I am alone with all but myself every night.
After inquiring with my father, it came to light that the cause of death for my uncle was starvation. Perhaps he created for himself something he wished to never wake from.
We have finally achieved a successful result. I have both properly discerned the contents of the envelope and conversed with Roi over a similar dream experience. Of course we will have to test again, if one had a thousand guesses, even a fool could be correct. Still, the results are promising.
The change in factors was that we decided to establish a physical connection between the two of us, in case it was possible my mind needed some tether or else drift freely without direction.
Metal halos were fixated around our heads, kept in place by pins pressed against skulls. The backs of the Rings were connected together with copper wire. Roi drew a diagram which will be found in our notes.
What transpired in my dream that made it different from the rest was a hole or rather a passage opened at the edge of my world. I walked through it and found myself in a corridor of what I believed to be clear glass. Beyond it was undulating blackness.
The blackness was not nothingness, quite the opposite. It was pure possibility meshed together into the stuff of chaos. There was no light, it was like walking through the depths of the sea but by the logic of dreams, one could still see the surroundings clearly.
I followed the path until what could be called a bubble came into view. It was not dissimilar from an air bubble though fixed in place unless the corridor it was connected to was moving along with it without me ever noticing.
I crossed the clear membrane that separated corridor from dream realm. There I encountered Roi.
Roi’s mindscape was a pleasant place to visit. From what could be seen, it was his family home on the countryside. The faithful dog he sometimes spoke of was still alive.
We conversed and I asked him of the contents in the envelope. He was at first confused, unaware of what was being spoke of. He thought we were still awake but after explaining to him our experiment, he managed to piece his memories together. His question was a childish riddle and he purposefully chose the wrong answer.
My initial impression of this encounter was that it still might have been my own dream so I did not test my abilities in there. I will do so tonight if we get similar results.
I can control Roi’s dreamscape but only as much as he allows. Even the tampering he consented to at times came to a halt as some part of him might have resisted. My attempt to turn the sun above blue failed in spite of him voicing permission and when it was moved, it was set back in its place when I blinked. It was possible to conjure food and drink though it seemed easier to do so when Roi was not observing.
Roi could join me in the corridor, through the passage was not visible to him until I entered his realm. He can enter my dream as well though he can not exercise control over it as I have his. It could be from difference in practice or him abstaining from the potions. We spent most of our time in the corridor.
The passage to the corridor could be closed by both of us but it would return after a time when we looked away.
My authority does not extend to the corridor. Though anything conjured within the dream can be carried into it. Within it, the principles of objects dwelling within are rather mundane.
When I was absent from my realm for a time, my bubble would retract into the corridor. When I returned through the passage, the bubble would reform and stretch out from me. The same could be said of Roi and his world. If he pressed on through my former entrance after my bubble had departed, it would be his realm that forms in its place.
I brought a glass of water with me. When poured, the contents spilled to the floor where it then pooled.
A rubber ball that was brought in bounced accordingly when thrown against the walls and rolled for a short time before coming to a stop.
A candle eventually melted through all the wax before guttering out. Beans planted in pots sprouted.
Strangely, an outlandish flying machine based on my impressions of an artist's sketches functioned. The ceiling was too low to freely operate it but it lifted off the ground with the same effort it did within my own realm.
There was much time to spare, in the span of what felt like months many observations were made. If only the papers I wrote in there followed with me, for I do not have the time now to describe every single occurrence.
My greatest failing though would being too cautious to test the strength of the walls. Tools were conjured for such a purpose but left unused. The thought the chaos outside might flood in like water if there was ever a crack plagued me.
Within the abyss outlines can be noticed, however shortlived they might be. Faces, structures, creatures, and other unidentifiable things would take shape and vanish just as swiftly as they appeared.
The applications for our research are countless. It boggles the mind what humanity could accomplish if this realm was readily transversible. My ancestor proved that there were those that put it to ill use but what is accomplished by anyone in their sleep?
Roi and I wounded each other in the dreams to test the safety of our environment. I felt my injuries as if they were real while Roi stated that while he thought he felt his, the intensity was not accurate to the damage. Any pain incurred is lost upon awakening. We abstained from murdering each other but short of that, we found is little one can do to hurt another in that place.
In all, the rewards are worth the risk, less dangerous even than crossing a street to purchase a book. In theory, one could perform years worth of study in a single night. Though the knowledge gained would only have merit if anchored in reality. One with no knowledge of astronomy would gain nothing from observing their own imagined constellations but if one was to be linked with a master of the subject, one could derived what is desired from images rooted in the waking world.
The fact physics act consistent within the corridor to reality suggests that those concepts are being enforced. The collective acknowledgement of how water should flow down rather than upwards if had been decreed to do so in a singular realm.
The sea outside the bubbles could contain within it the wealth of all human and perhaps even nonhuman knowledge. If one found a way to pan through madness, one should find all one could ever desire.
We had put aside our philosophical differences when we first began our investigation of the corridor but Roi had time enough to form his own theories. He proposes that the sea beyond is the birthplace of the gods the ancient heathens once worshipped. He can not be proven right or wrong at the moment but he theorized that if enough people collaborated as we did, they could carve out a stable realm and fill it with inhabitants.
We will need to get our notes published and gather a larger sample size to test his hypothesis. It is the least I can do for him who tolerated my own whimsies.
We encountered something. It approached from the beyond as we studied the corridor.
The thing approached, a massive shadow within the fathomless depths. It did not start small, it was from the very beginning seemingly the size of a whale and only grew further as it drew nearer. Thunder erupted from the distance. Before long, all that could be seen was shadow of an island or even continent sized mass. The thunder grew louder and the corridor quaked.
Dread filled me, the paralyzing fear one sometimes felt in their worst nightmares as a child threatened to overwhelm me. The mantra of awakening formed on my quivering lips and I was returned to the waking world.
I woke Roi as swiftly as I could. He recalled similar horror but he had witnessed more of it after my departure. He failed to put it in words and instead drew it, a whirlpool that seemed both like a spiraling seastar and a crooked man.
We removed the wires from our halos. No potions will be taken for now. We will wait a few days for that thing to go away before we can dare to resume.
We waited three days before I started to ingest potions again. I encountered no sign of the thing but also made no contact with Rio’s dream realm. After a week of such caution, we deemed it safe to reconnect ourselves through wires. For all we knew it could have been a natural phenomenon, a hurricane of sorts within the sea of dreams rather than what we thought it might have been, some sort of creature.
The way through the corridor was uneventful, no signs of the thing were detected. It was several hours into the dream that the danger all too suddenly became clear.
The sky transitioned into a deep purple and the sun broke apart into a cloud of dust. The plants and structures became irregularly angular as the wrongness infected the very geometry of the place.
A titanic arm or at least what seemed like an arm emerged from the passage I had traversed. Its fingers became limbs as it took a mockingly humanlike shape. It would be more fortunate that the aberration was truly beyond description, that the human mind could not witness it.
However, some part of me knew it for what it was, an instinctual terror resonated within me. Its body was comprised of countless blackened stars swirling towards its center in a cloud of darkness. There was so much more to it but the scope was beyond the ability to fully grasp in a single glance and my mind even now lets the image slip the way one allows nightmares to blur.
We were in Roi’s realm, there was some hope of resistance when it first emerged. I tried to conjure a weapon but the world refused to heed my call, if anything it felt as if my own existence was being drawn into the dream. With a thought I tried to push it out but it came forward with the crashing of thunder.
I did as I did before and recited the mantra. As soon as my eyes opened, I rushed to wake Roi. I shook his shoulders but to no avail. His heart still beat and he still breathed but was otherwise unresponsive.
My screaming must have alerted our neighbors for next I know it, the guards are knocking at our door. They came across our scene and after I explained they thought it to be poison. They called for the marshals.
The marshals will likely plan to arrest me, my story is too unbelievable. The accusation that I poisoned Roi so he might not discredit my notes is one of the many conclusions they could reach, though they would never reach the truth as will I.
They would not be wrong to hold me responsible for what transpired, I am guilty. Who knows what might have transpired in the moments it took me to awaken and how such matters might have ended differently if I stayed.
I already have a knife prepared. If all goes well, they will kill me in the oncoming struggle. Better to die awake than return to where that thing may be waiting for me.
I made sure to burn the notes and my ancestor’s cursed book of spells. I wish I could warn others of what lies beyond besides this final journal entry but the risk this knowledge might bring is too great. Do not make light of the horrors of the human mind.
I believe Roi’s theory regarding the birth of gods was right. Though I hope what I saw was no deity. It was inhuman yet so intimately known to me, an evil born of humanity.