I attempted to keep myself calm. Still holding on to the fragile hope that this would all somehow go away and leave me alone. It wasn't believable enough for anyone to possibly help me. The most they could do for me would be to lock me up for being totally out of my fucking mind. Hell...I was beginning to wonder if that's just what I needed. Maybe this lucid dreaming practice of mine has some hidden side effects that I wasn't prepared for. Maybe I really am just losing it a little bit, and just need some more sleep. I tried to rationalize the whole thing out somehow. I tried to find that 'logical explanation' that would take away the fear long enough for me to figure out what to do about it all. But I had no luck in faking myself out. The realization of something more was right there...waiting for me. Calling out to me. Making me recognize its stubborn position in my mind, no matter how insane it seemed. It wasn't something that I could just 'wish away'. It was here to stay. And it remained one step behind me the entire time I stayed awake.
My next class was an excercise in focus. I didn't dare let my mind wander, not even for a second. And yet...there was something in the very back of my sbconscious that was continually tugging at my senses. Forcing me to notice. Trying to get me to sleep. I shouldn't be tired. I should be awake, and alert. But the sleep kept trying to pull me back into its warm embrace. Was it Caleb doing this? Or was I simply tired from staying up so late last night. It was hard to tell. But every few minutes, as my teacher was talking and writing on the blackboard...I could feel that 'pull' all over again. That loss of concentration. The haze that covered my eyes and threatened to suck me right back into that awful dream world where Caleb was waiting for me. To grab a hold of me, and refuse to let me go. It felt almost like I was getting ready to faint, my body swaying gently as I struggled to keep my eyes open. The sound of my teacher's voice blending and blurring into this distant hum of incomprehensible chatter. The sleep....the sleep was sooooo seductive.
The room seemed to tilt with the bliss of it. The walls seemed to bend, and the tops of my folded hands appeared to be the perfect pillow for me to rest my weary head and shut my burning eyes....just for a minute or two. The waves of comforting heat washed over my face, covering my cheeks in this fatigued tingle that begged me to stop resisting. But I fought it! I fought it with everything I had. I tried to pinch myself on the arm, hoping that the pain of it would keep me awake. But my body was numb with temptation, the lure of a restful slumber pulling me deeper into the abyss. I was thankful to hear the next bell ring so that I could move around a bit. I needed caffeine. LOTS of it!
I stopped by the downstairs cafeteria on my way to my next class, and got three Cokes and a Mountain Dew soda out of the machine. I wish we had something stronger, but it'll have to do for now. I opened the Mountain Dew and guzzled it down as fast as I could, only stopping twice to take a breath, and keep the fizz from burning my throat. It only took a few minutes for the jolt of energy to kick in, and I found myself able to at least keep my eyes open. That strange pull on my senses was still there, but it was powerless against the sugar rush flowing through my system. It gave me some temporary relief, but what was I gonna do? Not ever sleep again?
I was able to make it to the end of my next class without too much trouble. But the bad thing about a sugar rush is...when you finally DO crash and burn, it's even worse than it was before. Soon, my body began to drop down from its temporarily caffinated high, and it realized that it had just spent the last forty five minutes rapidly burning off what little energy I had to begin with. My sleepiness got worse, and I was forced to open another soda in the middle of my next class. Naturally, my teacher objected, but I had guzzled half of it down by the time she even noticed, and she figured she could just let me finish it. This energy boost didn't even last as long as the one before it. And I began to droop almost immediately. It was like that dream state was feeding off of it somehow, getting stronger. Devouring my energy, minute by minute, until it was all gone. It wanted me back. It wanted me to surrender to its call and lull me back to sleep. The dizzyness was unbearable.
Finally, the next bell rang, allowing me to get out of my seat and stand on my feet. With a stretch, I attempted to find my balance again. But then...as I looked at the blackboard in front of the room....I noticed the words written across it began to rearrange themselves into weird symbols and gibberish. I quickly reached a hand up to rub my eyes, but when I looked again, the swirling images began to swirl faster and faster, until the chalk dust began to flare up in a cloud of smoke. Everything else around me seemed normal, but I couldn't ignore what was going on. My teacher sat at her desk, not noticing anything wrong, and I hurried out of the door before it got any worse.
I rubbed my eyes again, and looked around me. I'm awake. I KNOW that I'm awake. I'm in school.....right? This....this is reality. Reality. I'm ok.
I walked slowly down the hall, knowing that I only had two classes left to go for the day. But as I navigated the path between hundreds of other high school kids, I began to pick out tiny little details that didn't belong here. I noticed a water fountain that was flowing upwards into someone's mouth instead of down like it should. I noticed an upside down banner for the school dance in the main hallway. And some of the tiles in the floor were crooked. The more I tried to widen my eyes and focus on what was real and what was out of place...the more my eyes deceived me. I noticed some crumpled up paper blowing across the ceiling, a laminated hall sign that seemed to be shifting and moving as though it were alive, and a trash can that was slowly spilling over all by itself, bubbling up from the center.
My head was spinning, and I leaned up against a locker for support. "Donnie..." Came a whisper over my shoulder, and I jumped away from the locker to see where it was coming from. I stared at the locker's shiny surface, and noticed a reflection in it. Behind me....stood a blond boy, looking over my shoulder. "Donnie...." I spun around again! But there was nothing there. I noticed a locker opening wide at the end of the hall. And then another, slightly closer to me. Then another. And another. They all began to open, on both sides of the hall. Rushing towards me all at once. "I just want you to love me, Donnie! Why won't you love me?"
"LEAVE ME ALONE!!!!" I shouted outloud, and noticed three girls standing in front of me who all jumped at my sudden outburst.
"What the hell is YOUR problem, you spaz?!?!?!" Said one of the ladies, and they gave me a dirty look as they tried to catch their breath and keep walking down the hall in peace. I straightened up, looking around me, and the hallway was normal again. Trash in its place, tiles back in line, lockers closed. It took a moment or two before I felt safe even moving from my position. I looked at the locker behind me, and there was no reflection in its dull painted surface. I searched my surroundings out of the corner of my eye, moving as little as possible. Is this real...or is it just another trick? Or...was the dream a trick?
I could feel the eyes of the other students staring at me. Gawking at the freak who was having a mental breakdown right in the middle of the hallway. I grabbed both sides of my head with my hands and leaned up against the wall...trying to rub the demons out of my skull. God....it felt so good to close my eyes. Even in agony. Soooooo good....to close my eyes.
I broke myself out of a beginning trance, and stood upright. I'm not gonna make it through the last few periods of school. I've gotta get out of here. I've got to. If I crack up completely, I can at least do it at home. At least....that was my logic at the time.
I made a beeline to my locker and grabbed everything I needed for the night, and then locked it up before heading out to the bus stop. I could have asked Bax for a ride, he would have jumped at the chance to ditch school with the semi-legitimate excuse of taking his sick home. But that would have led to him asking questions that I couldn't answer. Making me sound even more looney toons than I already do. Not to mention that he'd tell Jeff and April, who would worry even more than usual about my well-being. Somehow, having to lean on them was just making me feel worse. They don't understand. They don't see. So any further assistance from them is a burden on their part. And a useless attempt at sympathy that, ultimately, won't do me any good. No....I can do this myself. I can...I can....get him to stop. That's all. I can get him to stop.
I stood in the center aisle of the bus on the way home. Even though there were plenty of seats, the vibration of the bus and the motion of the vehicle alone would have put me to sleep instantly. The cold October air had chilled me to the point of being uncomfortably alert at the bus stop, but the heated interior of the transport was treating me to a silent lullabye that was hard to resist. Standing was the only thing keeping me conscious. But it still begged the question...what happens when I get home? What happens when the sleep wins...and I'm no longer able to struggle against its compelling current? Sleep is the enemy...but it is inevitable.
I paced back and forth, tried every activity, every gulp of soda, every video game, every selection of loud music that I could find to play at full volume through my earphones. But sleep overtook me eventually. It had only taken an hour and a half for it to claim me once I got home. And I surrendered. God help me, I surrendered. I just couldn't hold out any longer.
Even in the dream, I kept my eyes closed. I pulled the covers up to my neck, and rolled over on my side, my ears perked up for any noises in the surrounding room. There was nothing but silence around me. The kind of silence where you can hear your own pulse rushing through your ears as you lay against the pillow. It was deafening. Minutes ticked by, and I wondered how long I would have to stay here. Time doesn't exist in this place. Not like it should. It could be WEEKS, maybe even MONTHS, before I'm able to open my eyes again. And it was then that I began to tremble slightly, as I heard faint whispers coming from all around me.
I tensed up, unable to decipher what the whispers were saying, but I didn't dare open my eyes. Instead, I curled up into a tighter ball and refused to let myself become a part of the dream. I won't let it force m to be an active participant in this. Not anymore. I don't want to be here. I don't want to be aware of the dream anymore. I just wanna sleep. Please.....just let me sleep.
The whispers got stronger, closing in on me from all sides, and I did all I could to block them out. Then...I felt a pressure on the bed. As though someone were 'kneeling' on it. I held my breath for a moment, still trying to gain some kind of control. Still trying to push him away. But the mattress creaked beneath me, as his light weight body crawled further up the bed, his knees on either side of me. Don't look. Don't let him in. Fight it! I could feel the warmth of his breath on my cheek, and he waited for a moment...before leaning down to give me a kiss. I squinted my eyes together even tighter than before, and clutched the blanket as firmly as I could, as though it could be much of a shield. The form above me paused, and then I felt it slide over to the side to lay down beside me, spooning up to my backside. An arm slid its way around my middle, and I felt a single finger run slow circles around my navel. I couldn't block it out. I tried, but I was powerless to keep him at bay. "Donnie?" He whispered, his cold breath on the back of my neck. "Donnie, what's wrong? Talk to me."
I finally found the courage to speak, albeit with a shakey voice. "Please....just leave me alone."
"Why?" He asked. "Don't you love me anymore?" It was then that I felt a warm liquid on my stomach. It was coming from his wrist as he touched me there. It began to soak the sheets and slide over the surface of my skin. Only then did I finally open my eyes, and look down to see a growing bloodstain on the sheets.
"STOP IT!!!" I quickly jumped out of the bed and ran to the corner of the room, my body twitching and jumping involuntarily as though I was covered in spiders. But when I looked back at the bed, even though the blood was still there, Caleb was gone.
I looked around my room, searching for a trace of him, but didn't see anything. Did I wake up from the dream? Is this real? Or am I still asleep? It was getting harder and harder to tell the difference. I seemed to be caught in the middle of both worlds, each one fighting for my recognition while elements of both spilled over into my conscious. Certain things were familiar, others weren't. Some details remained the same, while others...I expected them to change at any moment. I walked quietly to the window and looked outside. I sharpened my focus, trying not to fall to some careless level of 'dream logic', and I found what I was looking for. The sidewalk was warped and bent to the side at the end of the block. And behind it...the mist. Dreaming. Nice try, Caleb.
I backed away from the window sill, watching to see if he'd try to slide his way into my view again. I didn't touch anything. I didn't try to change anything, or control the situation. I gave myself over to it, wiping my mind clean of its awareness and trying to simply let things happen like they were supposed to. I think that made Caleb angry. Because I could see storm clouds rolling in from the distance. Dark turbulent masses of lightning and thunder, flooding the sky with its presence, shaking the walls and foundations around me. I stood my ground as the roof above me began to tear itself away, and the winds blew into my face, making it hard to breathe. And then...I saw Caleb Jordan's form appear slowly in front of my very eyes. His grin was so natural, so sweet. His green eyes were glimmering with the kind of admiration that could lift someone's heart and soul...if only they weren't afraid to accept it.
"Why are you doing this?" I asked. He moved closer, hoping that his charm could win over my hesitation to reach out to him.
"Don't be afraid of me, Donnie. I don't want to hurt you." He begged with a boyish whine.
"What do you want from me?"
"I don't want ANYTHING...I just..." He stepped closer, an imploring look in his eyes, "...I want things to be just like they were before. That's all. We had fun, didn't we?"
"Caleb...please..." I started, but he interrupted me.
"You're so cute. Just seeing you here makes me soooo happy." He reached out his hand slowly to touch the fabric of my shirt, and a chill rushed its way through me. "You know...I dream about you sometimes. Here, in this place."
"Dream about me?"
"Yeah." He giggled. "I dream about your waking life. Kinda like how you dream about me here. I only get little bits and pieces, but I like it. It's nice to see how you live."
I stood frozen for a moment, and Caleb leaned in to kiss me. I turned away from him, and a hurt look crossed his face. It was quick to vanish though, and his smile returned even brighter than before. "I have to...wake up now." I told him.
"Don't be silly. You just got here. You need your sleep."
"No...seriously. I...I forgot, I've gotta do something before school tomorrow. I should get up and...and finish..." I tried to bluff my way out of it, but he wasn't buying it.
"Donnie...come on. Quit fooling around. Talk to me."
"Seriously! I want to wake up, ok?" I said louder. I noticed that the walls in my room began to darken, and an ice cold breeze blew in through my open window. Caleb noticed it right away, and looked back at me suspiciously.
"Are you afraid of me?" He asked.
"No. No, I'm not afraid." But my dream world betrayed me. The very details of my subconcious thoughts began to melt into everything around me. Changing it. Warping it to fit my mood. I couldn't really stop it from happening. My true emotions caused the dream world to match my every hidden thought. "I'm fine. I just...I need to wake up now. Ok?" I asked, as Caleb seemed slightly confused by my reaction. "So....can you please....just...let me out? Please?"
"Is that what you think? That I'm forcing you to be here?" He pouted. I didn't say anything at first, but as the gentle wind got colder, and the walls turned black, he knew exactly what I was thinking. He narrowed his eyes, almost as if he resented me, and said, "You just wanna leave me. You wanna leave me here to suffer all alone."
"I don't want you to suffer, Caleb, I just wanna go home..."
"LIAR!" He shouted. "You used me! You tell me you love me, but you don't! You talk to me and act all nice and sweet...but you don't give a SHIT about me! Do you???" A tear slipped from his eye as his bottom lip began to quiver. "DO YOU???"
He was getting angry again, and I heard the rumble of thunder in the dream clouds overhead. I didn't want him to explode, I needed to comfort him enough to let me go. I needed him to understand. So I slowly peeled my back away from the wall, and took a few unbalanced baby steps in his direction. "Caleb...honey...it's alright." I attempted to mentally put the room back to normal, hoping to hide my feelings from him long enough to get him to listen to me. He had his head down, his blond locks shielding his crying eyes from me. I touched his shoulder, and he pulled away from me. But...when I reached out a second time...he let it stay, and began to whimper softly as he moved forward to hug me and cry on my shoulder. "Shhhhh...it's ok. I'm here. Ok? I'm here."
"Why did you take it back? Why don't you love me anymore? You said you wanted me. You said you felt the same way that I did. I thought we would be together. I thought we would be happy." I looked down at the top of his blond hair, and became a bit confused. It was weird, but I don't think he was actually talking about 'me' anymore. "You said you would never hurt me, Brett. Never. You promised." As Caleb's hand caressed my shirt, the color started to change, and it felt as though my appearance was changing right along with it.
"Who's Brett? Caleb? Who is he?" I asked, seeing the change spread even further. Caleb looked up at me with teary eyes, appearing so helpless. So miserable. "Who is Brett?" I asked again.
"He...he hurt me, Donnie. It won't go away. It still HURTS!" Caleb's eyes turned black, and his tears began to run red with blood. I saw him frown up, the anger returning to his voice. "He said, 'you knew what this was'. How the fuck can somebody SAY that to someone else? He threw it all back in my face! He just wanted to cut me off, and go be with someone else instead!!!" The thunder rumbled loudly outside, and Caleb's emotions seemed to enrage the whole environment. And then, in an instant, his mood changed again, and he began to sob sadly against me. "He didn't want to be seen with me. He wanted to whisper 'I love you' behind closed doors, but he didn't want to say it outloud. He got mad at me. I fucked up. I missed him, I didn't know what to do. He wouldn't talk to me. He...he turned me away." Caleb released his hold on me. "Just...like...you are."
The thunder blasted loudly, and Caleb began to float slowly away from me, his feet sliding across the floor's surface. My clothes went back to normal, and he began to see me for 'me' again. But the very fabric of this fantasy world seemed to be weakening. The walls began to crack. The floor boards tilted and stretched, and the celing began to sink in, looking as though it were ready to cave in on top of me. The winds began to blow curtains straight out and the sheets on my bed were pushed to the floor along with a chaotic assortment of paprs and debris from my desk. Eventually, I had to find something to hold on to, and squinted my eyes tightly as the room erupted in a cyclone of windswept litter, and Caleb levitated slowly off of the ground, his arms outstretched as his jealous eyes burned a hole right through me.
"I won't be hurt like that again." He said, his voice a deep layered growl that seemed to echo off in the distance. "I won't let you take advantage of my heart for your own sick pleasure, and then just 'forget' about me when you're through having your fun. I'm going to matter to you, the way you matter to me. I've had enough pain in my life to allow any more to penetrate."
"I'm not Brett, Caleb. My name is Donnie...remember? Donnie?"
But he hovered there in the air, motionless. Unaffected by my words. "You think you're just going to walk out on me again? You think you can ditch me and go find somebody else to be happy with? That you can just pretend this never happened? I don't think so. Not this time." He hissed. "I've invested a piece of my heart in your so-called 'love'...and I plan to get it back. Even if I have to rip it out of your chest personally....."
The roof blew right off the top of the house and the wind and rain came pouring in. It was so heavy that I could barely see, much less breathe! It looked as though the whole world was being swept up in a hurricane of rage and heartbreak, and just as my grip began to slip and I was pulled away from the wall...I was awake.
I was laying face down in my bed, again, away from the storm. Away from Caleb. Away from the rain. But...I couldn't move. I was....'aware', but still asleep. I tried to move my arms and legs, tried to open my eyes, but my body was paralyzed. Every inch of me was stuck in that position. I couldn't speak. I coldn't do anything. I just lay there, motionless, feeling like a lost soul trapped in a dead body. It only took a few seconds of pointless struggling to feel a panic coming on. My face was pressed tightly to my pillow, and it felt like I could hardly breathe. I was trying desperately to gather in big gulps of air, but I couldn't manage. I began to feel like I was almost suffocating. What WAS this??? I was stuck between both worlds. No longer submerged in the dream, not yet fully immersed in reality, but...awake. Caleb was still trying to pull me back in.
I don't know how much time passed, but I was almost ready to give up my protest and allow myself to return to the dream, if only to escape the hell of being so helpless in my own body. Then...I felt my finger move. Dear God..it moved! I tried to do it again...and again. It took every last ounce of concentration that I had to cause even the slightest twitch to occur. I could hear my own gentle snoring getting deeper, and soon, I felt one of my legs move and bend at the knee....almost involuntarily. I was determined to get out of this limbo if it killed me, and frantically focused on trying to move any part of my body that would respond to my command. A finger. A toe. An arm. A leg. Caleb CAN'T hold me here! I won't let him!
It seemed like it took forever, but I finally got my arm to lazily move up the mattress a bit, and I was able to struggle my position to lie on my back. At least I could breathe normally again. And as the tender 'buzz' left my limbs...I was finally able to open my eyes, and found myself staring at the ceiling. I was breathing hard from all of my unconscious wiggling, and my heart was beating fast from the scare of it all. I looked over at my window, which was still closed, but I could swear that I felt the harsh winds of the storm still striking me across the face. Everytime I dream about him, he seems to ge more real. More concrete. And it affects everything I do, even when I'm awake. ike now.
At least...I hope I'm awake.
I jumped out of my bed as soon as I had the energy, and it was still incredibly early for going to school. In fact, my Dad was still downstairs getting ready to go, his morning English Muffin popping up in the toaster. I went to the bathroom first, and then picked up my phone to dial Chucky's cell number. Chucky was always at school an hour or two early. They served breakfast in the cafeteria, and since his mom wasn't a morning person, it was either that, or starve until lunch. Besides, it was the only time that he could use the library and computer lab equipment in peace. No other kids would be caught dead trying to spend a single minute more in that building than they had to on a daily basis. Please be there, Chucky. Please!
Finally, I heard his cell phone click open. "What are YOU doing up at this time of morning? Was there an earthquake that I didn't know about?" He answered, seeing my number on his phone.
"Chucky! I've gotta come see you!"
"I'm flattered. Um....why, exactly?"
"It's about the dream!"
He sighed. "Again with the dream. Dude, what do I have to do to get you to leave that whole thing alone? Huh? I already told you...it's just your imagination. You're only making it worse by thinking about it all the time."
"Chucky, please! Just...tell me where to meet you. If for no other reason than to have some more psychotic ramblings to put in your notebook." There was a momentary pause, as I figured that he was pondering over whether or not to indulge me in this fantasy any longer. I made sure to get in one more plea while I still had him on the edge. "C'mon, man! Look, worst case scenario...you get a perfect example of what happens to people when they use the lucid dreaming technique way more than they're supposed to. Right?" I told him. "It's for science."
Chucky almost didn't want to answer, but he finally said, "Listen, I'm heading up to the second floor library. I'll be in the back near the video viewing rooms. I can meet you there. But I've got some homework that I've GOTTA finish, so make it over here quick, ok?"
"THANKS, man! I owe you one!" I hung up the phone and rushed to get dressed. I hope Chucky has something in his notebook about haunted dreams. Otherwise, I'm all on my own. And I don't have any idea of where to begin.
I washed up and brushed my teeth, looking at my hair in the mirror. I didn't take a lot of time to fix it, but I didn't really need to do much to it anyway. And then, as I was packing up my backpack and putting on my shoes...I heard a low rumble of thunder rolling in my direction. Deep, and foreboding. I froze up instantly, my eyes widening to search my room for anything strange.
No...no, I'm awake. Right? I mean...I KNOW that I woke up! I....I got out of bed. I talked to Chucky on the phone. I brushed my teeth. This...this has to be real. It HAS to be.
I heard a bumping noise coming from outside my bedroom door. It was soft, but I heard it. Thump, thump, thump...quiet, steady. I opened my door, while taking a deep breath...and then...sighed in relief as I saw my dad lightly pounding in a few raised staples down on the stairs. "Jesus, Dad." I said, feeling my heart still pounding in my chest.
"What's the matter?" He asked.
"Nothing. I just..." How do I say this exactly? "...I thought I was dreaming."
"Well, technically, you should be. I haven't seen you up this early in the morning in a long time." He stood up, dusting off the knees on his slacks. "I hope I didn't wake you up, I was trying to be quiet. Some of these raised staples can be a hazard if you let them remain untouched for too long." He stopped for a second, and got a good look at me. "Have you been getting enough sleep, kiddo? You're getting rings under your eyes."
"If you ask me, I've been getting too much sleep." I told him, not following that up with an explanation. I started going back into my room, but he spoke to me.
"Uh...you might want to take an umbrealla." I could hear the tone in his voice. It was one of those 'do you need to talk?' tones where he felt awkward, but obligated to make a connection anyway. "It...looks like rain, outside." Ever since I came out to my parents, they've been supportive. But some days, they act like I'm hiding a nuclear bomb from them in the basement or something. I wish I had a way to convince them that I was fine.
There was a short moment of silence between us, where I just said, "Thanks. I'll...take one."
"Good." He just stood there, tapping his fingers on the rail of the staircase. "So...you're still liking the new house, right? I mean, you're not sorry that we moved away...?"
I interrupted him before he got into any kind of meaningful conversations. "You know what? I think I'm just gonna...go to school early today. So...?" I waited for him to get the hint, and thankfully, he did.
"Sure. That's ok." He made sure to look closer, just in case I was secretly 'upset' and wouldn't tell him about it. Sigh...parents just don't get it sometimes. "I'll see you around at dinner then, alright?" He sounded so concerned. As though I needed his quality time and attention and he had just become aware of it. My father was one of those people who always worries that he's not doing enough. So when he sees an opportunity where he might have been lacking in the 'daddy' department, he always wants to fix it with a family dinner discussion or something similar. Real 'Brady Bunch' shit. It wasn't necessary, but, you know...whatever does it for him. At least I know he cares.
"Dinner. Sure thing, Dad." I said lazily, and went back into my room to finish getting ready. He meant well, I know. But it wasn't the kind of help I needed at the moment. Not by a longshot.
It had been a long time since I had taken the bus to school. And as soon as I walked out to the bus stop, the first few drops of rain began to fall. Maybe I should have taken that umbrella with me afterall.
I got to school just as the downpour began, and had to run inside before I was completely soaked. I shook the water out of my hair and my shoes squeaked their way to the second floor library, where Chucky was waiting for me. "You should have brought an umbrella." He said sarcastically as he saw me dripping wet.
"I don't have a whole lot of time. This paper is kicking my ass, and I've got to have it finished by seventh period today. I'm NOT skipping lunch, either!" Chucky told me, pushing his glasses up on the bridge of his nose. He opened his notebook and turned to the section with my dream notes in it. "Alright, notes ready, pen ready, subject....thouroughly shaken...tell me what's going on."
"I'm not in control anymore."
He looked up at me. "What are you talking about?"
"The DREAM, Chucky! I'm not in control. I thought I was, and I was trying hard to get it back...but....something's wrong. Something's different. It's like he can tell when I'm asleep and when I'm awake. He can pull me in whenever he WANTS to..."
"Whoah, hold on, Donnie! Slow down. You're talking about him as if he was a real person."
"He IS a real person, and he's haunting my dreams!" I said louder, and it caused the librarian to look up from her breakfast bagel and shush us with a frowned expression. "Look, yesterday, I was taking a test, and Caleb showed up right in the middle of it. It was like he sucked me right in."
Chucky couldn't grasp what I was saying. Not fully anyway. "Dude....maybe you just fell asleep during the test."
"I didn't fall asleep. I was wide awake the entire time. And he was THERE. He was trying to pull me in all day yesterday. And last night, it happened again. I can't even tell what's real and what isn't half the time."
"You haven't been sleeping, Donnie. That's what's causing your confusion." I started to shake my head furiously and disagree, but Chucky turned to the computer screen and showed me some of the information that he had pulled up while I was on my way over there. "Look at this, ok? Please? Just...drop the 'ghost story' for a couple of seconds and try to think rationally for a minute." He said, and scrolled down to some key points that he wanted to highlight. "You see, it says right here that excessive lucid dreaming can sometimes cause paranoia, memory lapses or confusion, restlessness, insomnia..."
"I KNOW all of that! But you're not listening to me!" I said, and the librarian shushed us again from her desk.
"Look at your eyes, Donnie. Have you even seen a mirror lately? You're starting to look like shit." He told me. "You see this notebook? Over ninety percent of it is full of your dream weaving work. In just six weeks. I TOLD you that you need a break, Donnie! You're burning yourself out. You've gotta free dream. Your subconscious has its own problems to work out, and you're not letting it happen like you're supposed to."
"I WANT to free dream! But I CAN'T! He won't let me..."
"Oh, I see. 'HE' won't let you. Are you hearing yourself right now?" Chucky wasn't buying it. He couldn't seem to get past the goddamn info on that stupid screen. "You're NOT being haunted by the spirit of a dead teenager. You're the victim of sleep deprivation, that's all. Look at what it says here..." He said, scrolling down a bit more as my frustration began to build. "...It can be diagnosed by bouts of daytime fatigue, memory loss, difficulty concentrating..."
"Dammit, Chucky!!!" I shouted, and the librarian gave us our final warning. Threatening to kick us both out if we couldn't keep our voices down.
Chucky looked at me with a raised eyebrow, and added, "....Irritability."
"I'm not being irritable, I just..." Please hear me, Chucky. PLEASE just believe me! "This isn't some weird side effect to me not sleeping enough. He's real, do you understand that? He talks to me. He knows things about me. Things I do during the day."
"He's in your subconscious, Donnie. That's what is supposed to happen."
"But he's not a PART of me, I know it." I pleaded. "I dreamt about him, and he found out that I could see and hear him, and ever since then...he's been a permanent part of my dreams. Every night."
"Only because you keep persuing this fantasy of him being something more. You read about him, look at pictures of him, you're obsessed..."
"What about yesterday's test? I wasn't thinking about him then. And he literally 'forced' me into a dream. In the middle of class. I couldn't stop him."
"Look, it says right here, that in extreme cases, sleep deprivation can even cause hallucinations and momentary loss of consciousness." He said calmly. "You were probably half asleep, and trying to burn energy that you didn't have on a test that you didn't want to take. Your mind wandered, your lack of sleep caused you to momentarily drift off, and you started practically dreaming with your eyes open."
"What about this morning, huh? I was trying to get away from him in the dream, but he was trying to pull me back in. I couldn't move. It's like my body was....DEAD or something!"
"It's called sleep paralysis. The body creates a chemical that paralyzes you while you sleep. It keeps you from acting out your dreams. It happens to everybody. Sometimes you wake up and your circulation hasn't gotten rid of it all yet. That's all." Chucky saw me struggling to make him believe, and he put a hand on my shoulder. "Dude, all of these situations have a completely scientific explanation. You just have to look for the truth instead of making up some kind of sci-fi answer for what's happening to you."
"It was....it was so real." I said, my eyes looking down at the floor. "It won't stop. This can't just be some kind of mistake."
"What you are experiencing are severe moodswings and insomnia based on a picture you saw in a yearbook from 1996. That's all. This...'Caleb' person is just a representation of your wants and needs. Just like the Jesse McCartney dream. You're making this happen, Donnie. And the more you think about it, the longer he'll stay. Do you understand?"
I tried to fight for my own belief. I tried to make him see that this wasn't just some kind of weird psychosis that I was bringing on myself. But...my side of the equation wasn't as well thought out as his. It didn't have a nice internet website to back it up. It didn't have any serious studies or sane arguments in its favor. Instead...I felt my mind trying to give way to what he was saying. And I tried so hard to accept it. "So....what do I do?"
"I don't know. Dream about something else." He said. "You're the one in control. Whenever he shows up in your dream, ignore him. And dream about someone else instead. Change the location of your dream. Change the weather. Take your control back. Then you'll see that it was you all along." I thought about it, and Chucky asked me, "Isn't there anyone else that you could dream about? A powerful image that you could focus on in order to take you away from the norm?"
I didn't blurt it out or anything, but a slight blush came to my cheeks. "Well....I did kinda dream about....'someone' recently. But....it was kinda weird."
"Was it a strong image?" He asked.
"Oh yeah. Believe me." I answered. "Just...a friend though."
"Is it Baxter?" What??? How the hell did he guess that?
"W-W-What makes you think it's Bax?"
"Well, first of all...you stuttered when you asked me. Two, you wouldn't tell me his name, which makes me believe that I know who he is." He gave me a sideways look. "There aren't that many people that we both know."
"That doesn't mean..."
"And THIRD....you're gay, he's blond, you couldn't get much more predictable if you tried." He told me. "Besides, you have a blond fetish. It just makes sense."
"I don't have a....'blond fetish'. What are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about the typical gay teenager with the same taste in boys as every other gay teenager on the planet." He said, writing notes in his notebook.
"Don't write that down!"
"I'm not writing 'that' down, I'm just taking some notes." He assured me. "Look, it's ok to have a blond fetish. I didn't say there was anything wrong with it."
"There's nothing wrong with it, because I don't have one."
"Sighhhh....is Baxter blond?" He asked me.
"Just because Baxter is blond and I've been having sex dreams about him, doesn't mean..."
"So you HAVE been having sex dreams about him?"
"NO!" I said. "Wait...well....not REALLY. I mean it just...." I saw him writing more stuff down in his book. "What are you doing???"
"THAT...I'm definitely writing in the book."
"I don't have..."
"So Baxter is blond, right?"
"And this new Austin boy? He's blond?" He asked, and I gave him a look. "April told me."
"He's blond too. So? Coincidence."
"And this 'Caleb Jordan' boy in your dreams is blond?"
"Well I didn't MAKE him blond! He was blond alrea...."
"And Jesse McCartney is definitely blond, right?" I didn't even answer. "I rest my case. Blond fetish. Congrats, you're but one among the most stereotypical gay teenage boys on the planet. Hooray." He said with a sarcastic twist in his grin. "Don't sweat it, I'm glad. Anything to keep little ol' me off of your hoochie coochie radar is a blessing, believe me." He said, snapping his notebook shut as soon as I tried to look at what he wrote down about me. I heard the morning bell ring, and that meant that school was officially opening its doors. "And now...I'm gonna have to skip lunch to finish my homework. Thanks a lot."
"Chucky...do you really think that thinking about somebody else can help me get rid of him?" I asked hopefully.
"You don't HAVE to get 'rid' of anybody, Donnie. He's not even there. Just guide your dreams in another direction until he disappears. That's all you have to do." Chucky told me, and stood up to collect his things. "It's a recurring nightmare, that's all. The sooner you work out whatever subconscious problem it is that you have stressing you, the better. And when he's faded away into the back of your mind...do yourself a big favor...." He said, hoisting his backpack up over one shoulder. "....STOP dream weaving. Ok? Just get yourself some sleep and let your brain work out its own issues from now on."
He started to walk away, and I asked him, "Hey...you're....I mean...you're not gonna mention the Baxter dream thingy to anybody are you?"
He gave me the most malicious smirk, and said, "We'll see how I feel." And he turned around to leave the library. He wouldn't. I doubt it. Would he? Nah...no way.
I looked back at the computer screen he had up, and saw the symptoms and side effects listing again. The shifts in my mood, the fatigue, the hallucinations...was I really losing it? Was my behavior that off track where I just wasn't making any sense of the world anymore? Who knows?
I'll try what Chucky suggested. He's been right every time so far. And he's done much more research on this than I have. So I guess it's worth a shot.
Let's just hope that Caleb is as 'unreal' as Chucky says he is.