The Good Spots

Sleeping cat

 

Amelia, with great poise, crawled up the roll top desk
and nestled, between the cable modem
and the wire of the bronze desk lamp

Then she look at me, and told me
in a casually transcendental moment
of lucidity and articulation
that as a cat, it is her job
to find all of the good places to rest
so that when the day comes,
for us all to lay down our heads
and sleep
we’ll know the good spots

I asked her, a bit alarmed
if that day was coming soon
if I should worry, if I should panic,
if I should settle my affairs

She stared a moment, unrushed,
then yawned, baring her teeth,
deadly, and gentle, in the way only deadly things can be gentle
and she said, who knows?
It may come soon, it may come later
it may be tomorrow, or it may never come
but it’s best to be prepared
just in case

Then she closed her eyes, in trust,
and fell asleep
And as I watched, I thought
that I probably would’t fit
in that place where she sleeps,
between the cable modem
and the wire of the bronze desk lamp
but it’s good to know it’s there
just in case

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The Crumbs of Unremembered Dream

bed is for sleeping

Every night you see the future in your dreams. When an unexpected tsunami crashes into inhabited shores and kills tens of thousands of people, it first crashes over you. When a woman is hurled from a 10th story window by a jilted lover, your sleeping mind feels her bones break before she does.

Every night bullets penetrate your skull and mash your grey matter into sludge. You cry out as stillborn babies are pulled from your womb. It’s not all misery. Sometimes your years of those of lost love reunited. But you always see something.

This is all a surprise to you. You remember none of these dreams in your waking hours. You don’t remember them because we take them from you. We take them with our teeth.

Sometimes you glimpse us in the darkness. A shape skittering past the edge of your bed. Sometimes you see scratches on the floor that weren’t there before. We are careful, but we are not perfect. And we come every single night, to tear roughly at your synapses and lap at your cerebro-spinal fluid in case a droplet of dream has leaked through. We wouldn’t want to miss any.

Sometimes you see us during the day. We follow you. We watch you, in case you fall asleep while you are out in the world and dream your dangerous, delicious dreams. But sometimes you see us. We are careful ,but we are not perfect.

You see us in our disguises. Someone stares at you for too long across the aisle in a crowded grocery store. A stranger smiles too broadly when they glance you, and although you do not know them you know the smile is meant for you. Of course you do. You have seen it before. So many times.

Everyone dreams, and we sample of them in turn. But you are different. You are special. You are our favorite. And you are dangerous.

You are searching for something out there. When you burst through the membrane of time and swim in the future’s jellied waters, it is not simply because you can. You are on a desperate, frenzied search for that which you lack. We have tasted your longing too many times not to be certain of this, though we do not know what it is. Once you find it, you will pull it inside of you. You will merge with this unknown something and spin fibers of thread around yourself. Then, in time, you will hatch. We do not know what you will become, but this must not occur. It will be terrible.

We consume dreams because that is what the world has birthed us to do. That is what we are. That is our lust. That is our hunger. But you have given us a greater purpose. When first we sampled you, we returned to you night after night because you are the most succulent dreamflesh we have ever tasted. Mashing the tissues of your imaginings into mush and then sucking it out is sublime beyond reckoning.

That is why we returned to you at the beginning. But then we learned. Now we return because you are deadly, and you must not become what you seek to become. But if this embryo within you died tomorrow, if we found it and swallowed it whole like a snake with a wriggling mouse, it would change nothing. Will would still return and feast upon you. Always.

The world cannot know about us. But they should thank us. We have fed upon them for so long. We have devoured so many of their foetal dreams before they could blossom, while they were still legless and struggling for life. But you are far more dangerous than we are. They should fall to their knees and thank us for what we do to you. Everyone should thank us. Except you.

Because we are not gentle with you. We are not precise. How could we be? Your taste is a temptation we can barely resist. It takes all of our willpower every single not not to consume all of you, to hollow you out and leave nothing. But then it would be over.

But we take too much. How can we resist? We never stop were we should. We always take an extra helping, an extra sliver of your brain, from your memories, from your faculties. You have noticed, though you did not understand. When you are sure you have left your keys in one spot but they are not there. When you remember a face but not a name, even though you heard it just a moment ago. The way you are degrading, piece by piece. You have noticed, but you lie to yourself. You tell yourself it is not so.

We tell you all of this because we can. Right now, as you listen to our thousands of hungry, whispered screams say these word, you are so terrified you can barely breathe. But you won’t remember. We will take those memories from you. You will not remember the look of our eyes, tiny slices in the darkness. The feeling of our thousands of fingers burrowing into the pores of your skin. The deep discomfort that washes over your nerves when we plunge our mouthparts into your brain, like your legs are dipped in melted pig fat. The utterly, absolute helplessness.

We do not normally have this level of precision. But we have come to know you very, very well. We need you to know us, even if you do not believe. We have devoured more of you than is left inside of you. In a way, we are one. So we tell you this, and thus we take our small measure of delight.

One day we will go too far. We will take too much. You will wake up a wasted wreck of yourself. It may be soon. We will try to prevent this, but you grow more delicious with time. You are flavored by the pungent spice of decay as parts of your mind begin to rot, like a mold-vein cheese. So our resistance weakens, and our hunger grows.

But that day is not today. For now the feast continues. So go back to sleep. We will see you again.

Tomorrow night.

The Scent of your Echo

silhouette

When you

are gone

The tenebrous swath of curved emptiness, in your shape
that breathes human-scented breath, and attracts cat hair
and that smiles a wraith’s shadow of your smile
precious, but cold, in the creases of my blindness
but has no warmth, like you do
and which my fingers grasp at, in half-broken desperation
like strings of dissolving sinew
hanging with livid tenderness in the barren air
that still remembers
the echo
of your form
and your skin
and the weight of your footsteps

is worth sharing a room with
sometimes
just so I get the bed to myself.

Because that is just fantastic.

Seriously.

Bedtime

Akari Custom para Caro

 

Trigger warning: this is pretty messed up, and I kind of don’t want to post it.

 

So…enjoy?

 

Bedtime

 

Every night, as Samantha closed her eyes to go to sleep, she was paralyzed with the fear that she would never open them again. That her eyelashes would twist into tight, intricate knots. She would struggle to wrench them open, but it would be in vain. The tangles of eyelash would bind together long enough for the skin where her top lids met the bottom to form thousands of tiny, cancerous growths that would weld them shut forever, like soldered metal joining two pieces of stained glass. The harder she fought to open them, the more the tiny muscles would rip and tear and break down, until her eyelids were useless flaps of flesh with no purpose other than to trap her blue eyes in darkness. Forever.

Samantha fought desperately against the thought. She forced herself to think about flowers and rainbows and Mrs. Gill’s seemingly endless supply of new kittens. But the fear was always there. Waiting. Right behind her eyes. She was just a little girl, after all. And it’s hard for a little girl to ignore something her mother told her would happen, every night.

Just before she tucked her in.

Sleepthief

Like a Thief in the Paint

I’m not one to call out arbitrary milestones, not least of which because it feels derivative, and I would not want to be accused of autolatry. As such, I ignored when I had 50 followers, and 100 followers, the latter of which would have been difficult because it came during the Freshly Pressed surge. I sort of wanted to post something when I reached 500 followers, because that actually felt significant. I started a blog to get myself writing, but it still felt good that people were reading it. Not a lot of people, but quite a few more than I was expecting, given that I did next to nothing to promote it.

But as I approached 777 followers, I got excited. That felt like a lot all things considered, and it was thematic, and it appeared likely to happen right around 7 months after I started the blog. So I kept my eyes open, hoping to tag the exact moment and post about it.

But it was not to be.

Due to the chronic exhausted and complete lack of control over my sleep schedule that is my life these days, today I slept from around 1 PM to just after 4:30. During that period of unconsciousness, my 777th follower made himself manifest. I did not know this, as I woke up and walked over to the computer. I was unaware as I loaded up my WordPress page to check my stats. At that moment, I got an email notifying me of a new follower. Hey, I thought, that  could be 777! So I opened up my stats, and looked.

It was 778. The moment was stolen from me, during a moment of half-consciousness, never to be experienced in all my days.

Sure, I could blame Hyperbucket for clicking “Follow” at that precise moment. I could even come up with an elaborate conspiracy theory, whereby she has been reading my email, tracking my progress, and waiting until that very moment to strike, just to teach me some abstract lesson about the nature of ephemerality.

But that would be crazy.

Plus, during the rest of the day I read a bunch of the posts on her blog, and her writing is actually pretty awesome.

So I figure…fair trade.

Somnolescent Whispers

Sleeping woman

 

Even though he was nowhere near a bathtub, Dr. Emlio Garza yelled “Eureka!” the moment his computer program turned out a working model for a chemical delivery system for Noctinax. He read the data over and over, his smile broadening with every reread. According to his analysis, he had just created the world’s first successful sominfascient. A full night’s sleep, chemically introduced into the blood intravenously. Or maybe even orally, in a convenient gel cap. The thought made him giddy. An instant-sleep gel cap would be worth billions.

Dr. Garza had been working on it for what seemed like an eternity, ever since his introduction to a highly peculiar patient. The patient was suffering from severe insomnia, but showed no side effects. He hadn’t slept in nearly 120 hours, yet had no heightened anxiety or panic. No hallucinations or impairment of physical activity. He just wasn’t sleeping. Repeated blood tests and unorthodox analysis revealed a hitherto unknown and impossible chemical. Garza would not have believed it if he hadn’t seen the result for himself. When present in sufficient quantities in the human bloodstream, it appeared to fully substitute for the body’s need for sleep, with no ill effects. Garza knew a good thing when he saw it. He immediately acquired a significantly larger sample of the subject’s blood, and set to work.

That was seven years ago. It had not been easy. Merely injecting the Noctinax into a subject was insufficient for the reaction. It needed a chemical delivery system, and that proved challenging. It took Garza five years to identify the necessary traits of this catalyst, and another two to successfully model it. His supply had run out several time, and finding a replacement donor was difficult. He only found one other individual suffering from the same affliction as his patient zero, and that supply only lasted so long. But Dr. Garza was tenacious. He soldiered on. He discovered that the hormone was present in all human bodies, and was integral to waking activity. But only in trace amounts. Acquiring sufficient supplies took patience. And perseverance.

Now, at long last, he had cracked it. A chemical delivery system that should successfully integrate the Noctinax into the human body for full effect. The next stage was to run test. And that would require more Noctinax. A lot more Noctinax.

Dr. Garza’s clinic provided the usual method. Everyone who walked through the door of his free clinic had blood work done, and from every sample he extracted a trace amount of Noctinax. It was slow, but steady. And a free clinic provided additional opportunities. A certain clientele. The kind who would never been missed. He found them to be far more generous.

But it was slow going. Too slow. These new test required so much Noctinax. But Dr. Garza was tenacious. His future was at stake, here. He developed a method of filtering the blood of his patients and returning it to then, after removing every molecule of Noctinax. It was justifiable, of course. He was providing a free service to those in need. It was only right they repay him in kind.

Dr. Garza observed these patients closely, of course. He wasn’t a monster. When he published the definitive work on his new drug, he needed all of the information. There was a possibility the patients with all of their Noctinax removed would be complete unable to sleep, mimicking the effects of Fatal Familial Insomnia. Or, he entertained this idea whimsically, they might slip into some kind of sleepless state of dimensia whereby they felled compelled to extract Noctinax from others, thereby ushering in some kind of zombie apocalypse. The thought made him chuckle. But they exhibited neither of this conditions. They appeared to sleep just fine.

Meanwhile, his tests were going well. And he had so much Noctinax. No enough, of course. But so much. Sometimes he sat in his basement lab, and just stared at the sterile vials of the miraculous stuff. Did it glow faintly, in the dark? He didn’t know. He couldn’t trust his on analysis of these things. Not until his formula was perfected. Because Dr. Garza hadn’t slept in a very, very long time.

But he would perfect it. He had no doubt. He discounted the whispers, at first. But when he brought enough of it together it was undeniable. And so much more than a whisper. It spoke to him. Of such wonderful things. It wasn’t just sleep he took from his patients when he sieved the nectar from their vital fluids. It was dreams.

He didn’t have enough of it yet. He needed more. So much more. But the work was progressing nicely. He would have what he needed soon enough.

Soon enough.

The Waking Crazies

Wake up, Australia

47 Sharks, Day 2 (or 1, depending)

The alarm blared into my ears and snapped me awake. I looked over at the clock. It was 8:01. I had to leave for class in 30 minutes. I should get up now, but I knew I didn’t have to, because I wasn’t Jewish. I hit the snooze. 9 minutes later the alarm went off again. I glared at it. It said 8:10. I knew instinctively that 8:10 was a Gematria that corresponded with a passage of scripture. I didn’t have to get up, because it didn’t apply to me. I hit the snooze. At 8:19, the alarm shrieked. I said a silent thanks that lakes are no more culturally important to me than french fries, and hit the snooze.

When the alarm went off again, two thoughts shot through my head. The first was that I had two minutes to throw on clothing, gather my stuff, and race out the door. The other was, “Because I’m not Jewish? What the hell?

That was not the first or the last time I suffered from what I call the Waking Crazies. My whole life, while I struggle to get up my brain concocts a rational explanation for why I can continue to sleep that makes sense in the moment, and then is completely batshit the moment I start thinking clearly.

Sometimes this explanation is very simple. Once I did not have to wake up because it was Shark Week. That was it. I think there was a mechanism. The sharks were eating time, or something. Either I forgot the mechanism once I was awake or, more likely, the mechanism was because Shark Week. I do not know whether this scenario would have been more or less ridiculous if it actually had been Shark Week. It wasn’t.

Other times, the scenario is immensely complicated, with plot structure and interlocking layers of sophisticated metaphysics. They are always hazy afterward, but I recall that once there was a series of gems I had to collect, corresponding to both classical and scientific elements. The placement of the gems corresponded to instructions give to me by the numbers on my alarm clock, and were influenced by the interconnections of my relationship with people I knew and characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Over the course of the last decade, I have done research into this psychological phenomenon. I would say that during that decade, I have searched Google on no less than four whole occasions, each of them lasting at least ten minutes. This extensive research was unable to determine whether this is a documented neurosis or condition.

Slightly more productive has been my set of controlled field-experiments. I have not published my findings in a major journal, but a simplistic description of my methodology is “I asked people in the room about it whenever it crossed my mind.” Rigorous, I know.

The short if it is that I am not the only one who suffers from the Waking Crazies, but it seems pretty rare. The reactions I get when I ask people about it fall roughly into two categories. Most people laugh, and say something like, “wow, that is weird.” Then there is that satisfying 10%, whose eyes widen, as they say, “I do that too! Oh my god!”

I have a basic theory as to why some people experience the Waking Crazies and some people don’t. It is obviously not that different from a dream, or from those moments when input from the outside world mingles with your dreams. Like when you dream about pickles-powered lightbulbs and wake up to an infomercial selling pickle-powered lightbulbs. This suggestions that whatever is going on in the brains of people who experience the Waking Crazies is not all that unusual, save for some minor factor that causes this specific phenomenon. And I think I know what it is.

Tell me if this has ever happened to you. Right after you wake up, your partner brings you a cup of coffee and, laughing, asks why kiwifruit is good with spices.

“Huh?” you say.

“You said it earlier when I came in,” says your partner. “You opened your eyes, looked at me, said ‘kiwifruit is good with spices,’ then nodded definitively like an anime character.”

“Did I?” you say. “I don’t remember that!”

You might not be as fruit-obsessed as the person in the example, but it is a common experience nonetheless. You say something while apparently awake, and then you don’t remember it when you properly wake up. It happens to almost everyone.

Not me, though. And not, according to my admittedly small dataset, to other people who experience the Waking Crazies. I say the crazy kiwifruit things just like everyone else, but I always remember them later. Sometimes I forget about them until someone brings them up, but once they do the details burst into my memory like a water-balloon filled with unfiltered apple cider. Any time I look or act like I am awake, I will remember it later, no matter how weird I act in the moment. So what’s going on?

Although scientists haven’t fully figured out why we dream or what dreams are all about, they do know a lot about what goes on in your brain during the various stages of sleep. REM sleep is the period during which we dream. When you are in the REM state, your brain does not exhibit the delta and theta waves that characterize deep sleep. Instead it exhibits alpha and beta waves, just like the early lighter stages of sleep, or, indeed, waking consciousness.

Those moments when you wake up right in the middle of an intense dream occur when you wake during REM sleep. It is very common to wake up just after REM sleep. Most people frequently wake up right after the REM part of the sleep cycle. Often, we don’t remember these brief periods of wakefulness. Or at least, most people don’t. I nearly always do. I can’t say for sure that it is every time without filming myself and matching experiences, but it happens two for three times a night, which lines up with the number of times I should experience REM sleep.

When you wake up during REM, you might still be in a middle of a dream. You might act crazy, or just unusual, if provided stimuli from another person. If that stimulus is in the form of your alarm clock, you might give it a really crazy story to tell all of the digital watches and dusty old grandfathers back in Time Towers, the magical gated community where clocks go when they are not being observed. But you won’t remember it.

Unless, of course, you are a member of those great shambling hordes who call ourselves the Waking Crazies. Our numbers are growing every day.

I would love to read some serious research into this. I’ve never been able to find it. If anyone knows of any, let me know! Or if anyone wants to fund me to do this research, I’ll need a few hundred grand for a psychology degree, and then a few more for the research itself. Thanks in advance! You’re the best!