Hello, Sweet Dreamers and Nightmare Bringers!
Am I dreaming? Am I still awake? I can’t tell… this is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. There’s no way I’m awake… is there? No one is going to believe this place, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!
Dreams. Places of fantastical stories and unbelievable events. You never know what could happen, for there isn’t always a plotline to the dreams we have. But this is more than just what goes on within our minds.
A dreamscape is a landscape or scene with the strangeness or mystery that dreams often have. Places that may or may not actually be real. Say, for example, you venture to a far off land you’ve never visited before. Sure, you’ve seen photos and heard stories, but to lay your very own eyes upon it yourself is nothing short of wonderful. From endless flowery fields, to waters filled with glowing algae, to the highest peaks in the world overlooking the rest of this beautiful planet. These scenes are certainly breathtaking, and one might even describe them as something from a dream. Maybe you’ve moved to a new town, and upon wandering, you find the most serene, secluded little spring amidst the crowd of trees behind your new home. The waters glisten, the grass is a blue-green, it’s simply beautiful… just like it was when you dreamt of exactly this scene so long ago.
One thing to remember, though; not all dreams are pleasant. Maybe the landscape you come across is some old, ancient battlefield left to time. Armor, weapons, and skeletons are sprinkled across the dark, shifting sands. Perhaps some broken architecture protrudes from the dunes like crumbling claws grasping for the clouds above. Maybe the land before you is vast, rolling hills… charred black and still smoldering from the forest fire that had just passed, leaving the once lush valley scorched to ashes at your feet.
Beauty, light, serenity…
Repellency, darkness, desolation…
Only a few of the valid words to describe a world that blurs the line between dreams and reality. Now, venture forth, and paint with colours unknown a land that no one sees like you do.
Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.
Tune into the stream this Saturday at 3:00pm CST to see if you made the cut!
The whole purpose of this is to show off the creativity of the community, while also helping each other to become better writers. Lean into that spirit! Get ready not just to share what you’ve got, but to give back to the other writers here as well.
Rules and Guidelines
We read at least four stories during each stream, two of which come from the public post, and two of which come from the much smaller private post. Submissions are randomly selected by a bot, but likes on your post will improve your chances of selection, so be sure to share your submission on social media!
Text and Formatting
- English only.
- Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
- Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
- Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
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What to Submit
- Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
- Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
- Write something brand new; no re-submitting past entries or pieces written for other purposes
- No fan fiction whatsoever. Take inspiration from whatever you’d like, but be transformative and creative with it. By submitting, you also agree that your piece does not infringe on any existing copyrights or trademarks, and you have full license to use it.
- Submissions must be self-contained (everything essential to understanding the piece is contained within the context of the piece itself—no mandatory reading outside the piece required. e.g., if you want to write two different pieces in the same setting or larger narrative, you cannot rely on information from one piece to fill in for the other—they must both give that context independently).
- One submission per participant.
- Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
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- Be constructive and uplifting. These submissions are not for a professional market, and shouldn’t be treated as such. We do this, first and foremost, for the joy of the craft. Help other writers to feel like their work is valuable, and be considerate and gentle with critique when you offer it. Authors who leave particularly abrasive or disheartening remarks on this post will be disqualified from selection for readings.
- Use the same e-mail for your posts, reviews, and likes, or you may be rendered ineligible (you may change your username or author name between posts without problem, however).
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- Understand that by submitting here, you are giving us permission to read your submission aloud live on stream and upload public, archived recordings of said stream to our social media platforms. You will always be credited, but only by the author name you supply as per these rules. No other links or attributions are guaranteed.
Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.
By G.J. H.
“You? You are dead!”
He smiled and leaned back into his armchair.
“Yes, regrettably so.”
“So, this isn’t real?”
“You didn’t figure it out yet? This is a dream. Look around, does anything here seem real?”
A large Printer walked by smiling as he twirled his walking stick. He left inked pages where he had walked. The pages landed near a table in a tiny room on a wide grassy plain where some men sat and drank beer from flowerpots not minding the giant lilac bear that was crammed into the room with them.
“I see. I didn’t notice them before.”
“That’s not your fault you couldn’t have noticed them, you hadn’t dreamt them up yet.”
“I… didn’t. Ok, so it is a dream. But did I dream you up as well?”
He leaned forward again and tilted his head.
“Well, not really. You see they are products of your mind but I exist beyond it. It’s somewhat complicated. You might say I dreamed myself up, using your imagination.”
A Tentacle wiggled up between the opening the eye at its tip, looking around.
“Uah! What is that??”
He looked at it briefly, then shrugged.
“Don’t mind it, you dreamed it up you can probably undream it.”
The eye closed again and the tentacle withdrew.
“So… everything here is just made up by my mind. But you are not?”
“So, if you’re not really a part of this dream. Will you still exist when I wake up?”
His lips curled into a sly smile.
“You won’t wake up.”
By Gabriel M. Rayback
The architect of dreams is one that I don’t believe we will ever fully understand. What he does with the inner workings of the human mind is a very complex craft, using our deepest inner hopes and fears to craft strange moments. What does he gain from crafting these strange episodes that happen while consciousness is away from our grasp?
A doctor I once knew, one Doctor Jacobson, once tried to confront this strange artist. I had been asked to accompany him as he undertook this bizarre experiment. I remember very vividly the strange capsule that he took: one half red, one half yellow. The Doctor had designed this pill to grant him the ability to have conciseness while in the strange lands of the inner subconscious. He looked at me hopefully as he swallowed the pill dry and lay down upon the bed.
Several hours had passed before the Doctor awoke. I had almost been taken by sleep myself when he jolted awake. I saw the fear in his eyes as he turned to me. His voice was that of a man who had seen something he shouldn’t have. I remember exactly what he said to me, and I fear it to this very day: “I have spoken to the architect, the one who creates the dreams. Beware him and his power. Keep the dreams in the dreamscape.”
A Vision in the Dark
By: Arith Winterfell
The darkness of the cave surrounds me along with the smell of incense. The sound of the flutes and drums echo through the corridors from beyond the cave’s entrance. Outside the celebration continues, but here within the cave of dreaming I see the soft pinpoints of glowing light from the candles in the wall alcoves.
The room shifts in darkness, like black spirits moving and dancing about the candles’ glow. I feel the strange slipping sensation, as if my mind is like the sand of an hourglass slipping from one chamber to another. Then the room brightens. I see the endless sands stretch before me. I am standing in a desert at night. Three alien moons hang in the heavens above. Before me stands a towering statue, broken at the waist with the top half missing. Still the statue exudes a commanding presence despite being broken and crumbling, speaking volumes of this dead and terrible king. All about me stretch the endless dunes, vast and desolate.
Suddenly my eyes are drawn to the three moons now realizing the moons just blinked at me. Not vanishing and reappearing, but rather like the slowly blinking eyes of a terrible creature or alien divinity, its form suddenly visible, not from light, but in the moving darkness that blots out the stars.
Now I am falling, tumbling, reaching out to grasp the stone walls of what looks like a deep well into which I am suddenly hurtling. The hands of my kinsmen reach out to me from the walls of the well. I reach out and grasp them, only to gently land and find myself once more in the desert, though this time no triple moons disturb me with their presence. I hear the distant chanting of my kinsmen rising like a glorious anthem, I rise with them, and awaken in the cave once more.
The attendant looks at me with concern. “What did you see?” he asks softly.
“The tusked men’s king will fall before us, but a more dangerous threat lies beyond him. It watches us even now,” I reply.
By Danny Gilhooley
“I had this dream, the summer Robbie disappeared,” I said. “That day, we took a hike through the woods. We found this old shack that we figured high school and college kids used to smoke and drink. It was a crappy little thing. Someone probably built it with some old plyboards they found at the dump.”
“I bet it was Alex,” Gavin muttered, chuckling as he took another drink. “Doesn’t his dad run that place?”
“That night, I dreamt we were back in the woods. We came across a shack, and we walked in. There was just a hallway and a small classroom space. But the thing was, it was much nicer. I felt uneasy being in there because the inside seemed so much bigger than what the outside was. But Robbie loved it. He looked over the entire thing and said that he wanted to make it his own place.
“We walked out of there and kept walking, but during the dream, we kept coming back to that shack. Same structure, same interior, but the hallway was longer. And Robbie was more interested in the place. “He stayed longer in that little classroom area. I ran right out, and he followed. But then we came back to it, and the hallway was even longer. And Robbie liked it even more. And it just kept happening over and over. Soon, I was running for over a minute just to get out of the hallway.
“The last time, Robbie said he wanted to stay and look around. I remember screaming at him we had to get out. He didn’t listen, and I ran out without him.”
I took another drink. Gavin finished his.
“Then I woke up,” I said. “The next day, Robbie was missing. No one knew where he went. And the shack from the woods got taken down the next morning.”
Gavin slouched over. “Spooky, man,” he muttered. “How’d you come up with that story?”
“Not a story,” I said. “I had that same dream again last night. And the night before. I’m wondering if I’m next.”
The Fire and the Shadow
By Papileser Eilitharl
When Aldrich entered his childhood bedroom, he drank it all in. It hadn’t changed even the slightest since he had left. Every book still lined the shelf, untouched. Every painting on the wall still hung regally. His mother sat in the corner of the room, still alive.
His shadow walked past him, its yellow eyes pierced into Aldrich’s. It spoke in a rumbling voice within his mind, “Ah, this old place again. Have you not tired yourself with it?”
Aldrich glared at the shadow, “You know why I’m here.” He started searching the room high and low, looking for anything out of place.
“This is the fifth night in a row, give it up already,” the shadow grumbled as it hovered behind him.
Aldrich said nothing and continued to search. He had to find it. He had to stop it.
Suddenly, a much younger Aldrich burst into the room, giggling with glee. His mother looked over with the warm smile that always appeared around her child. The small boy ran over to his mother and embraced her legs.
Older Aldrich could only watch sorrowfully, jealousy of himself forming. He felt a single tear rolling down his cheek. The shadow behind him drifted up to him. “You already know what happened,” its voice cackled in his mind as it appeared in front of him, “You know who killed her! You know why you are here!” The voice grew to a roaring howl as the shade laughed at him.
Aldrich screamed “Be quiet!” as he hurled a ball of fire formed in his hand. The shadow laughed maniacally as the flame tore through him. As the shadow dissipated, Aldrich could see the look of horror on his mother’s face.
Flames gripped her dress as a look of horror dominated her face. Young Aldrich leapt back, a look of horror on his face, his hands still alight. As her scream filled the room, the walls of the room burst into flame, the paintings crackled in the fire, the books fell from the shelves.
Aldrich awoke, sweating profusely.
This Dream, my self
It was a strange land I found myself in, with stranger things surrounding me. On a paved road I wandered towards an unknown goal as I watched the wonderous landscape unfolding before my gaze. Rotten trees, once ancient ruins, decided to rebuild themselves. Spiral flowers sucking each other in, glued together in a loving kiss. Honey dripping just like blood, instantly turning red. Salty rain falling from crying eyes, tearing the sky apart. And the road continued still, unwavering in front of all this strangeness.
It was a table, where it led to, to a merry tea society. I sat down too, as if I were a part of them. “And am I not”, I asked myself, “for it is my dream, they are appearing in?” The tea set was quite unusual, had spider legs and compound eyes. It was pretty amusing to watch, as it tripled and slithered in all directions to serve tea and biscuits. Though the guests were even more bizarre. Two seemed to be twins, as each of their bodies was made from a single line, constantly swirling and circling, endlessly changing their form. It was impossible to distinguish between them, though the right one did look a tad bit shadier than the other. Another one lifted himself up by holding the armrest; he missed his lower half, and his guts held his cup up as he took a sip. Next to him was someone, who drank with his eyes, since his mouth was located in his pupils. The others all hid in their shadows, all besides one, a young man at the other side of the table, wearing a macabre hat, smiling oddly.
He then stood up, took one of the eyes off the sky and polished it to be a mirror, which he handed me. And as I looked into it, I gazed into my own horrifying reflection. My face, my body was made up of hexagons, my hollow insides clearly visible. Their laughter distorted; my shock froze it all.
For I myself am but a mere dream within a dream.
Little Fish (Chronicles of The Dragon)
Jostica closed the door behind her and threw her backpack into the chair at her desk. She walked around her room, lighting incense. Then sat cross legged in the center.
Trying to meditate quickly was pretty much the opposite of what all the books said to do, but she didn’t have all day.
She closed her eyes and tried to will herself into a state obliviousness. Forcefully disconnect from the physical world.
Every source she could find said you needed to do this slowly. Let yourself drift away. But fuck that. She didn’t have years to practice. She barely had a few hours a day.
And so she ignored all the advice and warnings and tried her best to shrug her spirit free of the mortal flesh like a butterfly shedding its chrysalis.
Finally, she felt something pull, and pinch, and it almost pulled her back…and then she was free.
She sighed in relief as she drifted around her room. Then she spiraled through the house, and flew up through the roof to look around at her neighborhood. Then she closed her eyes, took a deep, though unneeded, breath and threw herself sideways.
Sideways was only a rough description of the direction. It felt more like she was turning herself inside out. And when she opened her eyes again, she was surrounded by the simple energies that flowed throughout the universe, binding everything together and creating life, by the feral Id of every living thing, and things that were never part of a mortal existence.
In some ways, it was like swimming through a reef, or exploring the deepest trenches of the ocean. In others, it was more a waking surrealist nightmare.
Using magic here was so easy as to be automatic. One’s thoughts could easily become truth, and you could study the energies as they changed reality in front of you. It was the perfect place to practice, if you could survive the dangers.
And it was just as she was getting into a rhythm that she suddenly felt an awareness touch her.
“What do we have here?”
Recurring Themes (Oneiron Universe)
By: Insania404 [Repost from Private]
I felt no impact, but the jolt was painful nonetheless, like the atoms in my body ripping apart with the flick of a switch. My eyelids slid open mechanically, controlled by something other than my mind. Deep purple ribbons of color flooded into my eyes indicating that the day had withered and night was fast approaching. I had to get home.
Slowly I stood up, peering over the edge of the river bank into the black ink flowing below. I opted to go around. My steps were slow and laborious as they fought against the incredible desire to remain motionless. Eventually, the opposing force relented, and I was free to move as I wished.
I reached the other side of the river by the time the sun had released its final breaths. I quickened my pace. I had to get home. The sky exploded with a pale radiance and I found myself transfixed by twin lights in the darkness. They moved closer to me with every second, but I had to remind myself it was only an illusion.
These lights couldn’t hurt me.
I kept my head down and forced myself to carry on. I came to a small building and opened the door. The usual terrifyingly distorted smile greeted me.
“Good evening, Andrew! I’m glad you stopped in. I was just working on yet another one of my unique contraptions. I hope you like it! It’s over there in the corner.”
It pointed one of its fifteen hands to a small machine collecting dust in the corner. As I approached, the machine whirred to life, spitting out white text on a small black display:
Oneiron Technologies Ltd.
CiRFiS v4.60 Beta
Subject: Andrew Pulchant
Vitals: Slightly Elevated
Current Heart Rate: 135bpm
Cognitive Function: High
Motor Function: N/A
Warning: SYSTEM OVERLOADED
ERROR: DREAMER INTERFACE IS CORRUPT
I felt no impact, but the jolt was painful nonetheless, like the atoms in my body ripping apart with the flick of a switch.
Perchance to Dream (A Tiefling Tale) [From Private]
C. M. Weller
Kosh wasn’t aware of when he made the mistake of falling asleep. This may remind him why it WAS such a mistake. Or he may believe he deserved the torture.
He was running. The kind of slow running that gets nowhere and drifts through the air but is still the fastest he could run. Kosh couldn’t tell where he was running towards or what he was running from. He barely had an idea of where he was running at all.
In one moment, it was the winding paths of the Dojo. Then, the halls of the castle of his childhood. In another, the winding ways of Waterdeep. In another blink, he was watching Master Bai fall from the high poles in their duel.
This time, the Master splashed in a fountain of blood.
He was standing in the court, looking up at the Earl his father on the blood throne. In the crimson glare, his father was a sneering expression in deep shadow. A breeze made itself known to him and Kosh realised he was naked. Under the gaze of the Earl, his Barons, and all their Knights.
“Turn around, devilspawn,” sneered Earl Valiant.
He turned, no matter how much he wanted to resist it.
She wore white from head to toe. No details visible under veils, lace, and fine satin.
She’s dead. He said she’s dead…
Nevertheless, his bride still had breath to scream. She ran as she always had. Satin skirts, veils, and petticoats floating around her.
“Catch her, you fool,” snarled his father, “or be alone forever!”
He ran, chasing after her through a maze of passages. Into the Plane of Torment itself.
Where his great-great-something grandfather sealed him away in chains. On the coldest peak of the mountains. Face to face with the old Warlock who started it all. Forced to make the Keep and the bargain that had doomed him.
Kosh startled awake to the greys of the night. Alone. Someone had carried him to a bed. He would have to remind the staff to ensure he meditated. He could not rest any other way.
The Endless Battles Of Peacetime (Corespace Universe)
By Calliope Rannis
The Core World of Vang hasn’t needed to activate its self-defence forces in over a century. It was once a world upon the border of humanity, the wilder unknown hanging before it like a great maw in the darkness. But in the decades upon decades since, humanity had explored much further, and now Vang was nestled comfortably within the relative centre of a vast human coalition of territories.
Still though, in the deep high-security recesses of the planet, there lay a dozen silver droneships. Each slumbered within secluded hangers, held in steel cradles that were ready to launch them straight into orbit at a moment’s notice.
One might think this a boring existence, to sit in silence and isolation, waiting for a fight that may not arrive for decades.
But for Sigrdrifa, 5th Valkyrie of Vang, nothing could be further from the truth.
In her electric dreams, she flew from her hanger every day and night, ready to face whatever enemy her Queen had decided to test the prowess of her Drone Commanders with. Oh, and what variety there was! The ragged forces of a Pirate Conglomerate, the blunt iron bulwarks of a Shellskin Advance Troop, the crystalline sphere and vicious energy arcs of a Crystalwyrm Terraformer…even foes with no basis in known reality, such as great clouds of ravenous nanites, or tentacled monsters as large as moons. All for the sake of practice, of refinement, of victory in every possible scenario.
These battles had escalated, over time. The fights grew more intense and dangerous with every passing year, as the confidence of the Valkyries improved, and the victories continued to shine. Sacrifices were made. People, buildings, even Sigrdrifa herself, when most needed – but when the battle was over, and the simulation reset, victory was always theirs. The enemy was destroyed, and their Queen remained alive and intact within the core of their wounded world.
It was her greatest pride, to have never allowed Queen Freya to come to harm. Not even once, no matter the danger.
Sigrdrifa dreams in her silent hanger, content never to see the sky.
A Guided Dream
By Marcas José Tynan Lopez
Have you ever opened your sleeping eyes?
It feels like crying. The sudden swell of painful heat and the slow release of a tear. The piercing pinpoint of your pupil lets in just enough information to make sense of your surroundings.
Its your mind’s fault they don’t make sense in the first place.
How else can you explain that the sun is an eye? Peering at us. Its too big to notice us, but still the mile long veins twitch as we move, so its pragmatic to assume its vaguely aware of us.
I shudder to think what happens when it blinks.
We shouldn’t be able to stand. That numb cold lapping against your ankles is the ocean trying to sink you. Trying to assert its authority. But you and I, we’re skating on the sea’s skin.
Towards the islands.
A net of sharp and jagged knives, bobbing in the ocean. The closer we get the realer they become, like they’re being rendered just for us. Keep up, or you might be erased in favour of a far off vista.
Landfall is sudden and clumsy, like a first love’s kiss. You dust off the grey ashy sand from your knees. My focus is not drawn to you, but to the tower.
A clean column of concrete, decorated like a temple, in all its glory.
You fix your tie, smooth the creases of your shirt, pose for me. You look dashing. I reach out and envelop you. You’re not really there, barely the bones of the idea of you. But I appreciate you hugging back nonetheless.
You walk into the tower, I can barely see you leave.
The sun blinks, and I whisper…
“Don’t forget me.”
“Wake up, little dear. It’s already morning.”
The springtime breeze seemed to carry the smooth voice to the form of the sleeping girl. She did not move at first, instead letting the cool wind comfort her again, but after a moment, her sapphire blue eyes fluttered open.
“Yes, Mother,” she spoke softly. “I’m awake. Do you need me to–”
Two things interrupted her question. First was a rather large yawn that escaped from her chest into the world. Second was the location she found herself in once she collected her thoughts and opened her eyes again.
She raised herself up off the grass. She blinked a few more times, rubbed her eyes, pinched herself for good measure. But the scene did not change.
Before her was a narrow gravel path that widened into a larger circle, and in the middle of the enclosure lay a ring-shaped koi pond filled with multi-colored fish which outlined a massive cherry blossom tree in full bloom.
She followed the stone path to the little wooden bridge over the pond. She caught a glimpse of herself in the water’s reflection, dressed in a purple kimono, silver hair tied back and accented with a bell-flower. Her heart raced faster. She was so confused.
Her hand reached out to the tree she remembered so fondly from her childhood, the tree that had brought her solace in her loneliest days. But as her fingers brushed against the wood, it vanished. The sky instantly turned a dark velvet. The wind’s caress became a violent tearing. She stumbled in the dirt, losing her balance and falling to her knees
She looked back to where the tree had been. In its place lay three cherry blossoms and a small piece of parchment. Two of the flowers were dead with the other seemingly drenched in a thick red substance. The note only read:
“Three blossoms. One family. You did this.”
“No! No, I didn’t…”
The world warped into darkness.
Sayaka Shimizu sat up in her apartment bed, hugging her knees, tears streaking down her cheeks.
One Day At A Time
It’s a normal morning when the alarm goes off at 6:30 and I wander down the stairs. Normal breakfast. Normal walk to the bus. An everyday occurrence on the way to school. It’s when the bus stops I realize that I’m back at home… Did I really forget the whole school day?
The house is a raging party, a concert blasting loudly enough to be heard down the street. More people at the party than go to my school. Who is the singer on the stage? I can’t remember the name. I see a banner hanging – it’s my twelfth birthday. Everyone in the crowd is a familiar face but I can’t place who they are. It’s my birthday so I must know them.
My grandfather sits at the dining room table and wants to talk to me. Words of wisdom about life and who I should love that is clearly important enough to remember. I should write it down and I ask him to say it again. He’s gone. The house is quiet and I realize I’m alone. Seventeen is a lonely year and soon I’ll be an adult. Bills to pay and people to love. People to lose. How did I lose them?
An engine starts and I rush out, my co-workers usher me onto the plane. It’s minutes until takeoff and I’m not sure how I forgot about it. My mom smiles at me as we taxi to the runway. She grabs my hand and says she loves me.
Uniforms are wrinkled and as the plane starts its descent I stir. My coworkers look grim after hours in the air. It will be a long 6 months out here. I can hear my mom’s voice echoing from my dream as my team preps for landing.
“Just take it one day at a time.”
Taylor knew this was a dream. A concrete hallway lined with oak doors stretched forever before her. Taylor looked behind her to see the same sight. Once in a while, a door dissolved, and its splash echoed through the hallway. She didn’t know what the doors or the hallway represented, but Taylor needed to wake up.
Taylor rolled up her left sleeve, searching for her birthmark. Her arm was bare. Taylor didn’t wake up. Taylor bit down on her thumb until she drew blood. It tasted like water. She felt no pain. Taylor didn’t wake up. Taylor attempted a handstand, like she did at cheer tryouts. She balanced perfectly. Taylor lifted one hand. She still didn’t fall. Taylor didn’t wake up. Ordinarily, any of these inconsistencies would be enough to jolt her subconscious, to break her trance. Taylor didn’t know who, but someone had built this for her, someone who knew how she escaped dreams.
Taylor ran down the hallway, looking for something her mind couldn’t accept. There had to be something. There always was something. The doors dissolved more quickly. They now sounded like rain. Taylor couldn’t see an order to the disappearances. Taylor tried opening a door. It was locked. She tried another. Also locked. Taylor reasoned with herself. If every door was locked, then how did she get into the hallway. Taylor didn’t wake up? The dream maker had thought of that.
Taylor stopped running and grabbed onto the doorknob of one of the remaining doors. She waited. The doors around her dissolved faster. The sound of rain blurred into a faucet. Taylor closed her eyes and waited. If the dream maker anticipated this, she didn’t know what else she could try. Finally, the doorknob in Taylor’s hand dissolved. It felt sticky, like sap or glue.
And Taylor woke up.
Astral Archeology (From The Pages of the Oneiromancer)
I hated walking the Land of Nod. It wasn’t a place of lucidity nor was it completely abstract. No, it was a place of memory. The place that makes every single prescription of rose-colored nostalgia glasses and gives the fundamental bedrock of a functioning mind in equal measure.
And yet here I was, walking through my life with no filters. Every mistake, every stumble made, stripped of all intentions. My inner perfectionist wanted to scream bloody murder.
But I needed to see the truth for myself. I couldn’t rely on my memories, especially after the holes in them from the incident with the sapiophages. But here within this dreamscape, memory is set in ontological stone.
I stumbled into the modest ranch house of my youth, the whole place glowed with old CRT scanlines. My twelveth birthday party. The day I dreamt two weeks prior that I would get the worst news of my life. Pizza bagels and sugary drinks were aplenty, my old friend Josh was trying to set a personal record for how many party hats he could put on. Foam swords and nerf guns were fired with wild abandon.
Then, the deja vu hit my younger self’s face. A few moments later, he ran out to the front yard to meet our father. In an instant he had one foot out of the door, my face was in the middle of the loudest warning ever, and something struck out from the shadows and took his life.
Yet, despite all of the trauma and guilt that still crawled up in painful knots, what I saw in that moment was the truth. It wasn’t the agreed upon irresponsibility of a drunk driver that struck him down. It was something not of this world. Something from this astral plane, one that feared what I could do.
The memory of the being came to life once again, the vorpal claws of a rampant meme lunged forward.
“Your mother cannot protect you now, oneiromancer!” It snarled.
“Don’t need her to,” I smirked, my orichalcum weapon morphed into a repeater.
Song of Storms
The thing about camping that you love, and hate, are the sounds. You’re not sure what kind of animal made that noise, and you’re unsure of how to tell if it’s something you should bother with until your shelter comes caving in, but that probably won’t happen. Probably. Right? There’s something about surrendering to your surroundings, trusting that you’ve set up in a safe place, at least, until you are ready to move again.
Your tent keeps you mercifully dry in the pattering rain. The piny breeze comes in light, cool bursts, a refreshing contrast to the warmth of your bedroll. The ground beneath you is at a slight incline, and you feel, for a moment, as though the world is pushing you along. You have an agreement with gravity; truly, you don’t stop moving, you only fall asleep.
The world behind your eyelids is similar to the one you lay soundly in. Here, there is nothing between you and your view of the stars as the treetops drip starlight daintily to their roots, which sparkle through the soil and gather in a crackling creek snaking through your campsite.
You breathe deeply, echoed by a symphony of whispering yawns. You are among many tiny forces that awaken with the rain; they stretch beyond their rest to join you in the light. Together, you lift your gaze skyward, basking as the moon coolly shines.
A whistling song starts in your ears, and you sing along as crickets keep a creaking beat. It is not a song you thought you knew, but something ancient inside you remembers, and its tones flow freely from you, the shape of the sound second-nature in your mouth. Softness meets your palms, howling a harmony on either side of you. You realize in time your song sounds better than your anxiety implied.
You sing until the pink of morning creeps through the trees. In the golden sun, you breathe, your sleep evaporating as the gathering mist. The shadows of leaves greet you through the canopy of your tent, and the early birds echo your dream.
By Ann W. T
It was once said that every dream was once, a memory. Something one buried deep within their minds and souls, to either protect it from being tainted and corrupted as years went by or to keep it in the dark so it would never be able to haunt and hurt again. That is the reason many dreams are so easily forgotten once a person opens their eyes- they are not supposed to be remembered. Yet if that is so, why would some remember their dreams so vividly that it would make them question their own existence and their own reality? Why some dreams could never be forgotten?
As the woman felt the cold water piercing her skin like daggers, she found that the tears that wet her face shared not only the cruelty of the lake she now faced but also reflected its loneliness. The barren trees leaned towards its dark waters not as a bow to show respect of what it had once been, but a weep drowned in sorrow for what the lake had become.
The woman fell on her knees, the water dividing briefly as if to give her space while the trees stared down at her, mourning her existence and her pitiful reality. If that was a memory she should not remember, why did it hurt so? Why would such a dream exist? The world had been reduced to nothing more but that single lake and its dried trees, the sky a sad mirror of those gelid waters that barely had the strength to move and the woman, she too felt her strength draining from her, been poured into those dark waters in a desperate attempt to make it live again, bring back to what it once was.
Yet not her tears nor her life could bring the lake back and as her body melted and became one with the darkened and cold waters, the memory of who she was got lost, trapped as well. Becoming nothing more than a dream inside the lake, bounded to be forgotten.
A memory, buried in its sad grieving waters.
Searching to Escape
By Adrian Solorio
Randy exhaled, coughed, and then he was in the world behind the curtain. He caught his breath and noticed again how time passed differently here. It seemed to slow, meld, stretch, and transform into something he could touch. In front of him, little prismatic sprites of time vibrated and danced, singing a teasing taunting song. He reached out for them: seconds, days, years, groping desperately for the past, recklessly for the present, and blindly for the future. Yet every time he touched one, it popped and vanished. If he could only take one back, his life would change. He knew it. “Think I can catch one?”
“Who knows?” Spence laughed. “Who cares?”
Then the two friends grew silent as the new world enveloped them. Hidden from sight, in the shadow of a building, they watched the street in wonder, where strange people with strange eyes, eyes blind and hollow to the world around them, wandered along the sidewalks without seeing where they went. They went with no sense, no awareness. They entered shining buildings, then came out, then entered shining vehicles whose metallic frames gleamed in the sun.
Time passed. The sky brightened, the ozone warmed, the air shimmered and ripped while Randy’s lungs tingled and pulsed. An aching hollowness. The beckoning call of home. “More,” he gasped. “Pass it on.” Pain returning, he groped for the canister Spence held out to him.
“Hey,” Spence said, “take it easy. You gotta take it slow.”
Randy inhaled, coughed, and inhaled again. The new world swallowed the old world. When he exhaled the sprites danced, teasing, once again. If he could only catch one—he could make things better—fix his mom, help his dad. Make them better.
Suddenly, a sprite lighted on his hand.
And then a door opened.
“Get the hell outta here,” a strange man yelled, “‘fore I call the cops—you goddamn, junkies!”
The man kicked the boys with sunken, empty eyes, and they stumbled away from the building. He watched from the alleyway as the boys—ragged, lost boys—wandered towards the street, and he prayed they would find peace.
by Shawyn Waddell
Bob leaned back from his monochrome monitor, and rubbed his eyes with his leporine paws. His loping ears dangled past his shoulders. His whiskers twitched as the bitter stench of burnt coffee wafted from the break room. He spun his chair and let out a groan that signaled that Bob was bored, that Bob wanted to go home.
Light streamed in from the expansive window, as though the office was the bridge of a starship overlooking a new world. Except it wasn’t a new world; it remained the office’s mundane view.
“Why can’t they automate this?” Bob asked aloud, spinning. “I reached my 3 p.m. quota, and it’s just two!”
Nancy’s steady chelonian typing did not waver. Tck-tck-tck, her keyboard clacked. Tck-tck-tck.
“We have replayed the story infinite times, and yet, you still have not learned,” she said in her measured manner. Tck-tck-tck.
Bob’s mind drifted, until the ubiquitous ding that indicated he was behind quota.
“Three o’clock, already,” Bob sighed, and began to read the fuzzy green words on his screen.
Memory from Ginny Mirabel Compton:
The sky looks strange in this realm; like you are under a rotunda of swirling colours. The kaleidoscope dome touches the ground 100 meters away (~325 feet), dropping like a veil. A maelstrom of dark clouds always occupies the centre of the dome overhead. A constant barrage of shooting stars seems to zip through the air — not just through the sky, but through the air. They don’t hurt when they pass through you. After you get accustomed to the visual of light moving through your body, you stop noticing.
Bob looked at the words on his screen, and looked out the window.
“I’d hardly call it a maelstrom,” he said under his breath. His paw hovered over the button once labeled Del on his keyboard– the letters long worn off. What would it mean if people knew their dreams kept existing in another world, he wondered.
A steam whistle. Five o’clock. Another missed quota. Bob pressed the button, and turned off his monitor.
In Your Dreams by Lunabear Fiona steps into the white void, bringing with her soft pink and muted red. Grass weaves beneath her and stretches. The hem of her navy blue gown flutters in the tempered breeze. Across the way, Drayden enters. He’s accompanied by dazzling purple and illuminating green. Cobblestones mark a path he eagerly follows. His black suit rustles lightly. They meet in their center, the world around them expanding. Her smile is inviting, only for him. His hand caresses her cheek, warmth flowing into her. Sweet contact, but far too little. He graces her knuckles with a gentle kiss, and their hearts pound in unison. “Hi,” he whispers, his emerald eyes dancing. “Hello, there,” she purrs back, her dark brown eyes shimmering. They embrace and take in each other’s scents: his being sweet blackberries with lavender, and hers a warm, untamed wind. His fingers slide through her soft, black hair while her fingers stroke the red strands at his nape. Fiona nuzzles Drayden’s collarbone and pulls back minutely. “May I have this dance?” She nods, heat suffusing her cheeks. Violin strings flirt with piano keys as Drayden’s arms encircle her waist. Fiona’s hands rest on his shoulders. They float over leaves and tree roots. Beneath heavy canopies and stone archways. Around large fountains and marble statues. Through artwork of eras and space. Drayden pulls her closer, and she places her head against his chest. He sets his chin against the crown of her head, and her eyes drift close. “Italy or Paris?” Fiona’s voice is wistful. “Hmmmm. Italy. The artwork, the music, the atmosphere, the history.” “The food.” Drayden laughs heartily. “That, too. What about you?” “Both, if possible. They’ve got personalities all their own, and they’re incredibly romantic and Romantic.” “You mean like this?” The landscape changes with his smile. Above is filled with green roses and dark blue chrysanthemums. Stones and grass flatten to paved steps. On one side of them resides the Eiffel Tower. On the other side, the Grand Canal is filled with stars. A lone boat is docked to the short stairway. Fiona looks from the scenery to Drayden. Words escape her. Drayden steps down into the boat and extends a hand. “Join me?” Trembling with excitement, Fiona takes his hand and shares the small space. The boat barely sways as Drayden shoves them away from shore with his foot. They float aimlessly through the mesmerizing luminescence. Upon settling, Fiona notices their nakedness. Drayden tips her face up to meet his before she can speak. “I’m sorry if this is sudden, Fiona, but I…would very much like us to meet. In person.” The vein at his throat throbs heavily. Her quiet whimper fills the space between them. “I’m…not sure.” She attempts to look away, but he won’t allow her. She holds his quizzical gaze. “I just don’t want you to be disappointed when reality doesn’t live up to expectations.” He cups her face and rests his forehead against hers. “We’ve laid ourselves… Read more »
Toward World’s End
People debate about what will cause the end of the earth. Many turn toward fire or ice, while some argue that it will be disease, but we were all far too ignorant. This was what Cayla thought as she stared up at the two monstrous beasts clashing in the air.
To the west, with the setting sun at its back, was a flaming phoenix. It screeched, setting the mountains ablaze. To the east, a black wyvern was silhouetted by the rising moon. It flapped its wings, creating gales that leveled the buildings below.
“Please, stop.” Cayla’s whispered words were lost in the battle, and she couldn’t help the single tear that fell down her cheek. Just five days. That was all it had taken.
She’d first found the egg nestled against a fallen log, and thinking that it was a fun rock, the young girl had taken it home. She’d slept with her prize that night, and in the morning, what she’d found on her pillow was an orange-feathered fluffball.
The phoenix cooed at her, and in that moment, her heart had melted. She’d taken Juzi everywhere with her that day, and the next, until he had become too big to casually walk the streets.
It was then that the black wyvern descended and demolished the town in a mighty tempest. Perhaps instinctively, the phoenix had known that this black demon was its enemy, and attacked it immediately. Now, here they were. At the end of the world as they knew it.
“Stop… Stop it now!” In desperation, Cayla threw herself between the two. She saw the lights of their attacks, and then, only darkness. It felt like some time later before her eyes focused again, and in her vision, Cayla found herself looking down on her own body.
“Juzi… be good okay.” Cayla wasn’t sure if he felt her final embrace or not, but his eyes bored into hers and she knew he could tell she was there. “I’ll see you again, in the next Dream.”
I’ll be Waiting
Jamie awoke with a sudden jolt. As they adjusted to their surroundings, they picked up the sounds of clattering footsteps, the clanging of wheels on tracks, and calming but meek cords of a guitar. Realizing they probably overslept, a sense of panic and dread slammed into the pit of their stomach, but the panic vanished when a familiar hand gently grasped their shoulder.
“Jamie, love, are you alright?” Henrik’s voice rang sweetly in their ears.
“Henrik? You’re still here? How long was I out?”
“I’m pretty sure I’d tell you if I was leaving.” Henrik gave a soft chuckle as he spoke, but he fell silent for a moment as his hand broke away from their shoulder. “Only five minutes. That leaves fifteen minutes before I’m off. While we have the time, do you want to get a coffee with me real quick?”
“Of course.” Jamie nodded while grabbing their cane by the side of the bench.
Quickly, the two made their way to the cafe, ordered their drinks, and returned back to the bench.
“Hey, Jamie, would you want to try some of this?” Henrik offers his cup of americano.
“No, I’ll stick with hot chocolate, but thank you.” Jamie smiled softly as they took of a sip of the sweet substance.
“No worries, love.” Henrik’s voice gave a relaxed sigh as his hand intertwined with Jamie’s.
Not much longer after they finished their drinks, the sounds of Henrik’s train rolled in, and that sense of dread returned and crawled up Jamie’s neck.
“I’ll see you when I get back from work, love.” Henrik kissed their cheek and joined the clamber of footsteps heading onto the
“Henrik, don’t go.” Jamie’s voice fell on deaf ears.
Jamie jolted awake and met with a chilling quiet. Quickly reaching their hand to the other side of the bed, only a cold abandoned surface met their fingertips. Sinking back into the covers, they held their hands to their face and wept.
Are you my brother? (As told by Keely)
By Tamela Redfin
I needed to get work on this project right away. But I knew the danger I could get myself into. But I could trust my boss to help me. After all, he hated his sister. There was also her sister Mercury Helen and Feldspar Augen’s children. This all felt so unreal.
Gilbert, Feldspar’s son, waved. “Guden mort, Chlorine Keely. How are you this fine morning?”
I cut the chit chat. “I need your help, where’s your sister, Ada?”
“I will get her.” I held my breath until he returned.
“What do you need?” Ada asked.
“You know programming, right? How would you program a new arm?”
Ada squinted her eyes. “That’s a tall order. Who’s this for? I bet it’s an illegal order since you asked a twelve year old for help.”
“Look, I made a deal and it’s to help my brother.” I showed them a picture of Cameron.
“Wait, he dimension travels?” Gilbert asked.
“No, what do you mean?” I replied.
“The necklace. The Tiger’s Eye. It allows the wearer to travel through dreams.” Ada explained.
“Wait, that’s not my brother!?” I shouted in horror.
“It is, he just morphed with an alternate version of himself.” Ada smiled.
“Will he be okay?”
Ada nodded, “Phosphorus Cameron is still Cameron. Gilbert, she’s turning pale, what do I do?”
“Let her rest. It will take a bit for the shock to wash over her. But who’s the arm for I wonder.”
“Radon. Cecilia.” I coughed.
“The cypha? But why does she need a replacement arm?” Ada gasped.
“It was a deal. She protects Phrosporus Cameron and I give her the arm she lost after your father ordered it was cut off. But should I now that I know that might not be my brother?”
Gilbert and Ada sighed.
“He still remembers you, Chlorine Keely. That’s why he reached out to you.” Gilbert reminded me. “Now let’s work on that arm.”
Before Waking Up (Helsing: Vampire)
By Connor A.
Quinn carefully stuck the sticker on their guitar and silently marveled at it. It was fairly simple— a dark purple cloud with a cross made out of lightning bolts serving as the background for the word “Dreamscape” in stylized lettering— but it would also be the art for their debut album.
And all they needed were three more songs. That, unfortunately, was easier said than done. All the songs so far had a mind motif, but no other ideas came to mind.
At that moment their phone went off. Without checking the caller ID they took the call and said, “My biology homework is on your desk.”
“Not even a hello?” Helsing’s voice came through with exaggerated pain. “You wound me, young Harker. Also, you left sheet music labeled ‘Biology notes,’ not the assignment.”
Quinn reached for a folder and flipped through the papers in it. Sure enough, the actual homework was in there.
“Shit,” they said before setting their guitar aside, grabbing the proper papers, and heading for the front door. “Sorry about that.”
“I must admit that this is an interesting way to write notes.”
Quinn slipped a jacket on as they continued, “Easier to remember a song than plain words. Are you still in your office?”
“You can bring it in tomorrow.”
“It’s no trouble.”
“I will not take away points if you turn it in late.”
There was an urgency to Helsing’s voice that made Quinn hesitate at the door for a moment. But they opened it regardless and stepped out.
“I’m only fifteen minutes away on foot and I have a pocket knife on me. I’ll be fine. See you then.”
They hung up before Helsing could add anything, then made their way over to the main campus.
Quinn did not notice the tall figure in the shadows, staring at them with bright red eyes as they followed close behind.
By Constellasphere (repost from private)
December 21st, 2097
Once again, the experiment has failed, and while a possible investor was present as well. This one had so much promise, but alas, Ainava regained consciousness after remaining in sleep for 10 years, 8 weeks, and 3 days.
It’s been a week since he woke, and we’re still investigating what went wrong. No wires attached to the test subject were loose, and all of our machinery was running in pristine condition. After the first three failures, we would never make the mistake of overlooking maintenance again.
And yet, we still cannot find a proper answer. Every experiment before was straightforward; we found the cause and would repair it. Everything from power outages to the subject’s health failing, they were things that we could learn from and then avoid.
Ainava is a male in his early twenties. He is as generic as they come: brown hair, blue eyes, and even if he was on the thinner side when he was first brought here, he has no prior health conditions. His life has nothing notable within it either. Loving parents, an above average social status.
A colleague of mine brought up the hypothesis that a flaw within the dream simulation triggered a memory, and in turn lead to a downward spiral in Ainava’s mentality. Unfortunately, we overlooked that possibility. We could have erased his memories, but then the problem of the dream being too artificial arises, as we have to manufacture it before putting the test subject within it. Surely it would lead to the exact same outcome.
Maybe I am being too sympathetic by allowing them to dream. I hoped by giving them that pleasure, it would allow the length of a subject’s sleep to go on further. If they have no clue they are dreaming, there is no reason to wake.
Presently, I am debating what to do with Ainava. For lack of better words, he is a mess. The shock of being taken out of sleep has left him frantic and broken.
I think the time has come for me to be a merciful human being.
With 150 years, the elf Azira tried a bit of everything in her life. With the advent of technology and internet invention, the world was hers to explore. And when she found online about “lucid dreams”, where one could do anything, she started to train her mind to always have those dreams. So much more to explore without leaving the bed!
But on that dream, everything was different. The beautiful pink and lilac fog, the untouched mirrored lake where she floated above. Everything felt threatening. Why such a gorgeous place made her worry so much?
Then she saw it approaching.
She saw documentaries about the so-called “astronauts”. Cosmic horrors in humanoid shape, wearing a full body garment. Strange symbols on the shoulders. A reflective sphere covering its head. Always seemed nonsense from crazy people. It was part of the dream, certainly!
But why couldn’t she move?
The being got closer, floating as if the air was water. Approaching until it was in front of her. All she could see was her own terrified reflection. Herself and more… three copies of herself? Just like her, but their faces… what was wrong with their faces? Those things were really behind her? Azira didn’t dare look.
– You know what I am – the astronaut spoke, its voice sounding like a crystal cup ressonance. – You know how it works. A favor for me, a reward for you. Twenty liters of dragon blood, left under your bed. I shall get them in ten days. Don’t let me down. Kisses!
Azira finally woke up, sweat and tears soaking her face. Was it just a dream? Was it real? If it was, how would she find so much dragon blood? The documentaries said that horrible things happened with those who failed an astronaut.
Maybe it was a dream after all, a prank from her mind. Craziness, simply that. Like the music on her mind. Just craziness. Louder and louder.
– There’s a starman waiting in the sky. He’d like to come and meet us, but he thinks he’d blow our minds…
A Horse is a Horse. Of course, Of course.
Matt had grown cautious of his dreams ever since he’d been almost killed in one. He preferred it when dreams were just his mind sorting through pointless things in his head as he slept. It was simpler.
As he approached the horse, it felt anything but simple. A feeling of dread overcame him. And yet he couldn’t look away. The horse was a very beautiful shade of light beige with a pitch-black mane. It stood in stark contrast as did her legs, which started black as the mane at the bottom while gradually getting lighter as they met her body. She looked… badass. Even still, his dread remained. Yes, there were dark parts to her, but…
She was undoubtedly a PALE horse.
“Such a gorgeous creature.” A familiar voice purred from behind.
Matt turned back to see Death approaching the other side of the horse to pet her as well. As always, Death’s expressions were hard to read. “Greetings, my beloved.”
Matt flashed Death a smirk. “This a social visit or did I actually get killed in my sleep this time?”
“I already told you, that will never happen again. I made sure of it.” Death replied with no amusement as the horse let out a grunt. “She is happy to see you, but is growing impatient. I can empathize.”
Matt shook his head with a chuckle. “So you ARE still mad at me…”
Death gave him a look, which he refused to acknowledge, choosing instead to focus entirely on the horse.
“Beloved… you realize that whenever someone recognizes you as my horseman and you respond with-”
“I do not acknowledge that title.” Matt finished for her.
Death paused for a moment. “Every time you say that, you reject me.”
“Death…” Matt sighed in exasperation, “You seem really nice, but ending the entirety of existence simply because I’m told ‘it’s time to’ is just… wrong.”
“Beings such as us do not get to exist within the realms of conventional morality, my love.”
Then Death was gone. Matt sighed, continuing to pet his horse. Dreams used to be so much simpler…
The Crack (Darkspell Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)
“Well?” Valerie asked. “What do you think?”
She grinned expectantly at Daniel.
“I’m not… sure…” Daniel said. “Is this… what it normally looks like?”
“You mean carmine moon in the sky? No, not usually. But this place changes with every visit. Especially, when someone new comes along.”
Daniel tried to focus on the frozen lake beneath them. She rubbed the back of her neck. She’d hoped not to have to deal with any carmine today. She’d taken Daniel to this little journey into his dreams for fun. To take his mind off things. Not to shove his family’s colors at him, like a Damocles Sword.
Still, she figured. He seemed happy. Which made it worth it.
At least until she heard a creaking noise from under her. A jagged line was opening under the ice.
“Daniel…,” she mumbled, horrified. “Off the ice.”
“What?” he sounded confused.
“Get off the ice!”
She grabbed his wrist, as the ice shattered beneath his feet. Before he even had time to scream, he fell into a vast darkness. Below, the jagged line was shimmering. A rasping noise rang out, like a vicious perversion of laughter.
Daniel’s falling body wrenched her downwards, her face slamming into the ice. She felt his wrist flip from her hand, his magenta eyes widened in shock, as he was dragged into the maw.
She grabbed hold of the edge of the hole and launched herself into the darkness after him, grasping him tightly. She willed their fall to stop, wanting to save both their lives, sanity or whatever the Dreameater devoured.
The maw grew wider, as it closed in. Daniel turned his face and looked directly at the Dreameater. The eyes of Armitage gleamed with the vengeance of an infinity of victims.
Valerie woke with a start, Daniel lying next to her.
“Daniel, are you… okay?” she panted.
He just stared ahead.
“I’m so sorry, I didn’t expect the Dreameater to… Normally he doesn’t… Daniel… You did something in there. With your mother’s… power?”
“I just reacted…”
“You did more than that. You just made the Dreameater blink.”