I had a really amazing dream just now (I think you’ll agree), and I had to get up and write it out for posterity.
* * * * *
RockShowGirl and I join a game. It’s a game that you only play when you’re asleep, and it manipulates your neural pathways to control your movements in the game. She is asleep on the sofa; I am leaning on my arms on the front of an upright piano. We shudder as we feel the game move inside us, starting with the paralysis of our muscles, the same way that the brain does when we are asleep. I feel the game make its way through my arms, then my shoulders, and finally my brain. A voice says, “Extend your primary finger.”
“Which one is that?” I ask.
“The cute one,” RockShowGirl says. I raise my first finger.
We are swirled through a kind of blackness, and then we’re in.
I am in college, studying music. I’m on a break between classes, and I’m looking for a bathroom. I don’t need to use it, but I just want to know where it’s located. I walk all through the main buildings, and along the way I peek into two different teachers’ lounges, the main one upstairs and the smaller ancillary one in the basement. I am surprised to see that there are magnum-sized bottles of wine alongside the coffee and soda machines in the main lounge, and a box of wine downstairs.
After I’m done with a class, I walk down the stairway from the upper level to ground level, and a volleyball comes bouncing down the stairs from behind me. “Kick it,” a voice says. I don’t, so a red-haired guy appears on the stairs in front of me, saying, “KickitkickitkickitkickitKICKITKICKIT.” He multiplies his image many times, right before my eyes, and I realize he is a hallucination. He is the creator of the game. Careful not to speak out loud and attract attention to myself, since there are other students on the stairs as well, I think to him, “I’m not in the game right now. This is life.”
“This is the game. My game. If you don’t like it, you can make your own.” All of the images of him disappear, which leaves me and a handful of students at the bottom of the stairs. The ball has disappeared as well. I am beginning to be afraid.
I go to my next class. There are two girls who stand and talk loudly to each other, telling stories and laughing, throughout the entire class period. The professor sees them but goes on as if nothing is happening. Many of us are annoyed. After class is over, I walk with one of my friends, an attractive black woman who I’ve known from our years together in the music program. “Wow, what was all that about?” I ask her.
She laughs. “I know. Those two could have gotten away with murder in there, and the teacher wouldn’t have said a thing. She’d probably have used them as characters for her next lecture.”
We walk down the stairs, which are suddenly completely filled with multiple visages of a single person. He is taller than the red-haired man, and better-looking. He’s extremely well-dressed, wearing a dark gray suit and paisley tie. He seems to be the character that the game’s creator uses as a spokesperson. He gives us an instruction, which we ignore and continue to talk with each other. I can see by my friend’s facial expression that she has heard the voice too. The creator appears, takes control of our bodies, and walks us like marionettes up and down the stairs a couple of times, very quickly, telling us that he can make us go wherever he wants us to go, and that we are powerless to do anything about it. He smiles a Cheshire cat smile, and starts to disappear out of the top of my vision, at which point I woke up, lying on my stomach in the same position I’d been in at the piano in the beginning of the dream.
* * * * *
I was awake now, and I could see traces of the smile in the top corner of my eyes for two or three seconds after I woke up. I rolled over to get the blood flowing in my arm, which had become a bit numb from lying in that strange position, and went back to sleep.
* * * * *
I am with my friend again. We are in a music class this time, listening to Rachmaninoff’s third piano concerto in order to analyze it. The professor is talking about how it’s the most difficult piece in the piano’s repertoire, and that Rachmaninoff was the only one who was technically proficient enough to play it, and that Rachmaninoff toured Europe for the last two decades of his life in order to play that demanding and theatrical piece.
After the class is over, we are talking and walking out the door of the music department and into the hallway, at the end of which a young guy passes us in the opposite direction, playing a French horn silently. We smile to each other and comment on how serious the guy is about the French horn. “That was really weird,” she says. “Why does he even need to carry it around if he’s just going to practice fingerings?”
“Yeah, he could’ve done that in the air,” I reply.
My friend suddenly comes to an abrupt halt. “Wait a minute,” she says, looking intently at a particular point in the corner of the stairway, which I know means that she is talking to the creator. There are other students around us, and they are giving us strange looks. The thought crosses my mind that these other students may be nothing more than projections made by the creator to make us feel like we’re a little bit crazy for communicating with him directly and breaking the illusion of the game. My friend points back upstairs toward where we’d seen the guy playing the French horn. “There was music, wasn’t there? Just now. You took it away, didn’t you?” It seems that music makes the game players impervious to the demands of the creator, and my friend has realized it.
The face of the contemptuous spokesperson appears above us. He gestures at the other students. “Do you REALLY want to be one of these pathetic people all around you, who spend their time thinking about nothing but their trivial little thoughts? And songs?”
“Yes,” both of us reply, “that’s exactly what we want. We want to be ourselves. We want to be human beings. We want out of this game.”
The face of the spokesperson becomes the face of the creator. “Tell that to the millions of people who are already here. They’ve given up their lives in that world so that they can join me here in this one. We’ve all seen enough anime to know that your spirit doesn’t need a body in order to stay alive. Life is better here.”
I take my friend’s hand and lead her away, saying, “We’re happy as we are, thank you.”
This infuriates the creator, and his incarnations start to appear all around us. The wind swirls and howls, and debris from buildings is launched into the air. Parked cars slide a few inches along the pavement, and the ones that are moving are blown slightly off course by the gusts of wind.
We smile and walk obliviously, humming the melody from the Rachmaninoff piano concerto as we walk through it all, completely unaffected by the chaos. We have won the game.