Alarm off. A slow glance at the clock. The time flickers a thought in my head.
That can’t be right. Close my eyes again as if the sheer act of doing so will change what they witnessed. A slow peek before I’m careening out of bed. A mad scramble of clothes and contacts and “did I shower last night?” and deodorant and shaving and finding a shirt and…
It’s already past the countdown clock moment. Now it becomes the beginnings of a true decision. Formulas scream through my brain.
How long is the trip?
When is it too late?
Damn… missed class again…
Many years ago Chad told me that he preferred nightmares to pleasant dreams. The very concept made little sense to me at the time.
“Because when I wake up from a “great” dream, I’m back in the real world where things are inevitably worse than the worlds I had just visited. But with a nightmare, I have absolute and utter relief, because my waking life is so much better then any nightmare.
“Suddenly I’m happy to be awake!”
I struggle to fall asleep. Not stay asleep… oh, no. That is well taken care of. I tend to stay up too late and want more than my allotted eight hours the next day.
Henry Rollins said that you either sleep or you don’t – but you can’t catch up.
I respectfully disagree with that sentiment.
Your body knows when enough is enough. When you’ve pushed yourself. When you have burned that candle down to nothing but a pool of wax and a long-forgotten wick.
That’s when you need to let yourself catch up.
Tonight, I don’t want to sleep. I want to stay up, looking down the internet rabbit hole – wondering where it will take me. I wonder if ancient scholars had the same feeling reading the same obscure text.
Sadly I’m reading about football or baseball or something else not quite so grand.
My nightly ritual where I put it off as long as possible. One more minute. Five more. Let me just finish this article. Where is that link going to take me? What about this video on something from 1 year ago. Five years ago. 100 years ago.
Yeah, I could wait until the next day, but then the information couldn’t swim through my head waiting to greet me in my dreams.
I need to know RIGHT NOW!
Reality vs. Dreams? What is the difference really? What if the world ceased to exist when we closed our eyes? And then the very act of opening them created a whole new world?
In dreams we are the creator, not always in control, true, but building.
Yet, I have to wonder. Is that actually a truth or just something I believe without real proof?
If that was true, why would I set the clock to a point where I’m late for class? Why torture myself when it is nothing but mental 1s and 0s of my own personal Matrix? What good does it do my body to send that familiar rush of fear and anxiety through my body?
What if it were the opposite? What if we are only the creators when we are awake? What if when we shut our eyes that was the real world(s)? That’s why we don’t have control over it. That’s why we can’t get off the railroaded path provided to us.
As strange as that reality might be where physics no longer works the way you think it should. Where people you’ve not seen in years suddenly have different personalities than you are used to. Your wife recognizes you, but she’s different and the same and…
We have to follow Alice down that damn rabbit hole no matter what.
Another friend in high school once commented that he woke up early (most weekends) because he was afraid of missing something. Better to be awake for whatever exciting/important/whatever thing than to not be.
As if the world ceased to exist when we shut our eyes.
The world continues to exist when we shut our eyes.
John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.
He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!
He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.