Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cairo

Hello, my name is Beijing.

I never really liked the name when I was younger, but when I reached high school and then college, it was nice to not just be another Mary Sue. I never understood why my parents chose an exotic-sounding name, they were certainly not exotic people themselves, just a John and Jane Smith is everything but name. I don't remember my last name anymore, I haven't used it in years.

The doctors here want me to write an account of what happened to me, because even those that saw me "arrive" are too trapped in their rational worlds to see the shadows on the wall.

~


I was born in this universe and was a precocious dreamer. They happened every night as far back as I can remember, and were always very vivid. While I was younger, they were about making friends and having grand ol' adventures; as I grew older, they grew more refined, and though I kept many of my friends, while they were off adventuring I started building a place for myself, a home and a world around it. It was always there, perfect and complete when I came back to it, night after night, and unlike developments in this world, it didn't encroach on the beautiful world around it, just squeezing in as if there had always been room for it, or it had always been there.

In high school, I was first introduced to the concept of lucid dreaming. Before then, I'd wavered between thinking everyone could do it, they just didn't like to talk about it and being alone in my ability. My Intro to Psychology and Intro to Fiction classes changed all that. I followed those studies far beyond the range of the classroom's limited curriculum and went in search of more information both from non-fictional and fictional sources, the latter which seemed the more willing to share details.

I found Carlos Castenada and Don Juan, and thought them limiting and short-sighted; I found Stephen LaBerge and thought him remedial at best; I found Charles deLint and fell in love with his characters, finding their stories inspiring and full of hidden information.

I left school with a Bachelors in Writing and a minor in Psychology, left civilisation itself, and found myself a small place where I could continue to study and reach out to the world that I had fallen in love with. I grew deeper and deeper into my obsession and addiction, and slowly the world that I lived in, this waking world, starting to lose color and sharpness. The world in my dreams grew more tangible, more solid, and more persistent until I didn't want to wake up anymore.

~

One night, I went to bed, and for the first time, I felt dream paralysis. I had certainly read about it before, as anyone who delves into the world of lucid dreaming does, but had never experienced it before. I opened my eyes, and saw myself laying on my bed, staring up at myself. I tried to move, but I couldn't, just hovering and watching myself. Then, without any willing participation of my own, my body sat up, climbed out of bed, slipped on my shoes, and walked out of my cabin. I followed, still tethered to my body as it walked into the forest and down a path that I had walked so many times before. This time however, it was far more vivid, holding the color and sharpness that I had been experiencing in my dreams.

My body stopped suddenly, and I, not noticing, too busily entranced by the light around me, stumbled into it. I was re-merged with my body, and regained control over my limbs. I turned in circles, then and when I returned later, but could never find my way back to my cabin. I had successfully crossed over, but had no breadcrumbs to lead me back.

As I walked onward, marveling at this world that I felt I could more closely participate in, I recognized the forest that I walked though, and soon came to a fork in the path. There was no sign indicating one choice over another, but I had been here before, had taken both paths already, and knew where they led. I chose the left path, and soon came upon the slice of civilisation that I had built with my friends all those years ago. I found my home just as I had left it, minus the thin layer of dust that had many small footprints cantering through it.

~

I didn't dream while I was there, as I lived in my dreams enough while I was awake. I still went on adventures, but was a might bit more cautious lest I get injured. Injured I did get, but my days and weeks spent recuperating were no less marvelous for my limited mobility. I spent years, and the time flew by. I aged slowly, though still faster than most of my friends, and knew nothing of the passage of time in the waking world.

One day, I found a glass door in a tree. It was not so much strange that it was a door in a tree, nor that it was locked to me, but what I saw on the other side of it: a boy or a man, not far from my age when I had set off on my own, sitting staring out the door. He looked unhealthy, though dressed comfortably, seated is a room larger than the tree (in itself, also not unusual) that was padded, walls and floor, and electrically lit.
I tried the handle, not surprised to find it locked, and then banged on the glass. He started, surprised, stepped forward and placed his hand on his side of the glass. I tried shouting to hm, but he shook his head, unable to hear me.

I tried gesturing, and he understood. For once I was grateful to my parents for my name, and I imagined he felt the same. Beijing. Cairo. Two cities with landmarks that had not changed radically in the time I was gone could be easily exchanged. I told him some of myself, mouthing slowly when my gestures lost him, and gesturing when he had difficult reading my lips.
I told him I couldn't come home.

Cairo reminded me of a passage that he'd read in a book by Charles deLint, one he had expounded upon and found new meaning in, but only brought him a glimpse of the world I had succeeded in reaching and a one-way ticket to the room in which he sat.

~

I could hardly keep myself from trying it. I held my fingers out in front of me, index to index, thumb to thumb, and tried to see the world that I had left behind. I sat beside his tree, leaning against it for metal support, and watching the world that I lived in as he saw it: though just the small window.

At first, I saw nothing, but slowly I began to see shapes moving and shifting in my peripheral vision, growing clearer with every passing day, until I was confident I could step through. I thought for a day where I should do it, whether I should try to walk back to where I had passed through myself, but there would be no telling what I might find on the other side. Here, if I succeeded, I could show Cairo that it wasn't just a dream he had, or a disorder of the mind.

So I stepped through. I was beside the tree, out of sight if Cairo. Maybe I should have stood against the door itself, but it's too late now.

~

I came out in an observation room looking into Cairo's cell. I tired to yell out to him, but he couldn't hear me, couldn't see me. I didn't see the doctors until it was almost too late. I banged on the window with a final act of desperation, kicking at it until they hauled me away, the same pattern I had pounded onto the glass door the day we met.

~

They won't let me see him. I don't know if he got my last message. The doctors are worried that my delusion will only make his worse, regardless of how many times I tell them that it's real. I'm not sure precisely where I am, but I think our rooms our geographically close. Learning how to feel how far you've gone in any direction is really important on the other side, something that could kill you if you estimated wrong.

I tried to step back again, and almost made it now that I know how the trick works, but they put me in a straight jacket when they saw what I was doing. It's hard without the visual aid of your hands being there, but if it's possible, I'm sure I'll get it eventually.

In other news, my dreams are coming back, but very slowly. They're about as vivid as the waking world was when I was getting close to crossing over, but they're helping me hold on and keep trying.

I hope Cairo's holding out alright. I hope we can get back to the dream world someday. I really want to hear his voice.

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