I scribbled everything that I could remember about my dream on the back of a telephone bill, the nearest scrap of paper I could find. I wanted very much to return to that murky world, but how?
The question bothered me for some time. I eventually realized that as soon as I entered a lucid dream—that is, as soon as my sleeping self could recognize that I was sleeping—I could control the content of what I saw, and then transport myself back to Utopia. That’s what I nicknamed the place (in the sense of “Nowhere” rather than “An Ideal World”).
I began to keep a daily journal about everything that I could remember from my previous nights’ dreams. This helped me to exercise my subconscious mind and render it more and more autonomous. I would force myself to fall asleep by counting to an absurdly high number, concentrating only on the sequence of sheep (unoriginal, I know) and forcing the chorus of the dead day’s memories to be silent. I wanted to master the ability to continue to count even in a dream, so that I could transition smoothly between Utopia and the wakeful world without losing control of my reasoning and memory. I chose a special number—10,000—that I was intent on reaching. I would invariably lose control of my conscious will before getting to that number. But when I could get there consistently, and recognize that I’d gotten there though already asleep, I began to have control over the content of my dreams almost every night. My old trick of trying to write something down and then seeing if it remained constant on the page was also a useful tool.
I’d like to say that the narrative resumed right away—that I immediately conjured up the other three horsemen and the woman and the lamb and propelled the story forward. But my sleeping will was more powerful than any urge to continue a plot, and I wasted a lot of time doing idle things like flying. I spent a lot of time flying those first few days—taking great leaps into nowhere and floating into the blackness surrounding me. I would stupidly think to myself “Remember how to do this when you’re awake!” Other shadows were flying around me too, and some better than I. But it hardly mattered, because I was having so much fun.
One night, as I reached 10,000 and prepared to leap into one bottomless pit after another, I caught sight of one of the sheep I’d just counted bleating mournfully on a rocky outcropping. I approached him hesitantly, wondering if he’d bite. He said:
The Red King, the Black King, and the Pale King are hosting a Tournament of Fire. The prize is the hand of the Whore of Babylon. Men and women from all the Seven Cities are all gathering. Will you compete, stranger?
“You’d better wear a cloak and shield your face—or else people will scream when they see a roasted lamb walking around, half carved up and scarred by fire.”
No sooner had I said this, then a cloak was draped around him, hiding his body, so that he might have been a short man rather than a monster. I noticed that I was also wearing a cloak. It was turquoise lined with a rim of fire. I complimented myself that I was better dressed.
You see me as a scalded lamb? Doctor Kimel, I presume?
July 10, 2011
Next Entry August 7, 2011 (I apologize for the delay.)