Chapter 2: Dream or Nightmare, Reality Check Rather Persistent

I was unconscious, not aware of anything. Boy, such a boring scene, where only my memories existed. It's not that easy though, since I didn't exactly have control over my subconsciousness. But I knew one thing for certain. I was watching "that" again…

You ask what "That" is? It's just a dream, but not only was it a dream that I would never forget for the rest of my life, but it's also a dream that changed my life forever.

"The girl continued to walk, higher, higher, into the darkness, in the wake of the night. It was dark, and cold, yet up the frozen concrete stairs she went.

One, two, a dozen steps, she kept going, dressed in nothing but a night gown, her hair draped about, rather untamed, or perhaps just after she woke up from her sleep. She had curly hair, not refined, natural, flowing ones that moved about in the wind, but long enough just to breach the shoulders.

Everything was quiet, except her soft steps, they were soft enough for it to be impossible to discern if she were wearing slippers, or walking barefoot. The floor should be cold, yet it seemed as if she was in a trance, walking on in the silence of the night.

The view shifted, through many hallways and back down even more floors at breakneck speed, only to stop in a giant bathroom in which I stood. The lights were off, yet the light of the night gave it a fluorescent glow. Somehow, it seemed that what I saw was merely something in a vision… was I hallucinating? Was it even possible to see something like a dream within a dream? I didn't know. All I knew was that I saw something important, but what was it?

Staring into the mirror in a daze, I finally noticed that around the corners of my mouth are the residues of toothpaste. I took the towel near my right hand, rinsed it in the sink, and cleaned up my face. Hmm, I need to shave again, it seems, though leaving them to grow for over two months had left my sideburns and beard quite visible, though nowhere near the cool ones some guys had.

Why would I be leaving them alone anyway? Yeah, I'd look a lot younger if I shaved, but not right now. I should be sleeping, I should really retire. With my mouth feeling clean, clad in nothing but my pajamas, I decided to leave the bathroom, only when suddenly the truth of the image hit me so hard I dropped my toothbrush and company.

A girl was climbing the stairs this late at night? What is it, like 3 am? ... She's many floors above me; and ... right, sleep walking. ... Why was I getting this image in my head? Should I trust it to seeing that delusions and hallucinations could be real? Should I even trust myself to be clinically sane? Somehow, my instincts could not deny it. I'll go check it out. Besides, that girl seemed... somehow familiar, and the surroundings seemed familiar as well… maybe she's in the same building?

Where was I living again? Ah, this... peculiar kind of dormitory that felt more like a modern prison for kids below the age of 20. The location and anything else of importance was forgotten, or I just didn't feel like thinking too hard. Right now, my gut instinct points to: UP.

Breaking into a run, I climbed the stairs, higher and higher, knowing, somehow, that the floors I've reached did not contain the girl. The first few flights were okay, the next few were not. After all, I was only human; a human so close to the age of 20 it's not even funny, why I should be trapped inside this building. That didn't bother me much, as I thought back, because another vision hit me:

The girl, she walked higher even still, this time, a voice seemed to call her, a voice that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Not a good sign. and I knew where she was going; the rooftop, which was like any other building, a plateau with a long platform for drying laundry... wait, why did I know these stuff? ... no matter.

I kept on running, up even more stairs until I lost count. How many floors up had I traveled? Did I make it in time? I can't breathe. How high up is the roof anyway?

Those were the questions that kept me going, doubt of my own accomplishment in such a simple task as climbing the stairs.

Not if you were climbing a hundred flights of stairs at once and racing against time. ...

Again, higher and higher, my legs sore from the over exhausting of my own particular stamina, I realized, I was going to run out of breath before even seeing the end of the stairs. My lungs were burning; I couldn't keep my eyes all open. Did I even notice the cold? I must have, because I was running barefoot first of all.

So, as I ran up higher and higher, my advance turning into a walk, then a crawl, then even a slower crawl.

I won't make it, I thought.

I won't -

"Oww."

The stairs had come into an end, and I ran into a wall, head first. Technically, I limped into a wall, but it still hurt. Raising myself, trying to prevent the pain from breaking my back because of the added pressure and strain from this... search and rescue, I looked up.

The door to the right of me which led to the rooftop, was open ajar, and it was swerving about madly, as if forces greater than a human,, were having a tug of war on whether the door should stay open, or shut in my face.

Still tired, I raised one of my less energy-costing arms, and pry the door open. Gazing into the darkness, suddenly a chilling gale struck me, and I shivered, teeth chattering until they were about to break. Lightning flashed, and then I realized.

What the hell was a storm brewing overhead? I dared to step into the realm of cold and heavy winds, to see before me the thunderous clouds that issued swirling tempests, and realized, that this building which I live in, was in the middle of nowhere, except in the middle of a raging sea. Rather insane, that the deafening noise could not be heard at all from the inside.

In fact, I could have sworn that when I came out of the bathroom it was moonlight outside...

Didn't matter anymore, because what I was looking for in my vision was standing about thirty feet ahead, alone under the stormy clouds, the crackling lightning, the deafening thunder, and ... very close to the edge.

"Hey, stop! Wake up!" I shouted, hoping that the voice carried through the storm winds.

Yeah, what a way to greet, I thought as I ran toward her, or... walk if you will, since the winds were quite strong, yet she just stood there, the edge of her gown flipping about madly, so were her curly, shoulder-length hair, but she paid me no heed.

How could anyone sleepwalk all the way up to the roof, and still remain so calm in the middle of a storm? It's beyond normal. Heck, she's not even wavering, despite being pelted by wind and water.

However, just as I closed enough distance to almost touch her hands, a cold, cruel voice came once again, spinning in its tongue of death.

'jump, you have nothing to lose, nothing to wait, walk to the edge, and take a lovely dive...'

Creepy wasn't the word, It was terrifying, what terrified me still even more was that without hesitation, the girl continued to walk, while I couldn't even move. Did the cold induce in me a paralyzing state?!

"What are you doing?! STOP damnit!" I raised my voice even louder, trying to reach her despite how I was unable to move.

She was going to do it. Jump off the cliff, like that sinister voice said... why wasn't she waking up? Did my shouts do nothing, or was it because the storm that she couldn't hear me?

Grasping hard at my legs, demanding them to move with every ounce of urgency and will, I buckled, falling on my knees, only to realize that hitting at such an angle, with my 'condition', meant that I'd suffer the same as kicking my bare feet into concrete slabs.

"Argh... ugh..."

Trying to bite down not too hard to keep myself from screaming too much, I supported myself with the only limbs that were not paralyzed, my arms. Gasping, feeling more exhausted than ever before, I also realized for the first time, that it was raining like mad, and I did not notice how wet I was until this moment, when squinting through the rain, I saw the girl.

She turned, gazing at me; her fading emerald… or a mixture of deep blue or violet eyes were completely blank, as if whatever vestige of remaining human will has left her. No... She was going to jump. Someone was going to die before my eyes, before I could even ask for her name, because clearly, I did not know her, with zero reference. But it was to save her life, damn it. I couldn't get up, I... I refuse to give up, but it was all so futile...

Crying a little, crying at my own helplessness, crying at my inferior human body, which still refused to obey me, I could only look back at the lonely figure, pelted by rain, grazed by the hailing winds. As lightning flashed across the sky, her face lit up, and I could see her, a trace of... curiosity, and pity, as if asking me, why must I weep for someone I didn't know, why must I try so hard, just to get to her...

What next came, was all in split seconds, with the actual time slowing down. Howling in pain, gathering my senses, I pushed myself as hard as I could from the ground. The force that kept me kneeling must have been enormous, because it felt like my two legs were dead from the knee down.

Going at what seemed to be a cripple's pace; I stretched out one of my arm, bracing myself against the wind as I moved across the concrete platform. A little closer, a little closer, a little-

She jumped.

"NOOOOOOO!!!!!" I screamed.

Suddenly, all forces encumbering my legs disappeared. The noise around me, the freezing rain, it all disappeared, the moment I saw her figure fall over the ledge...

I ran. I ran as hard as I could, toward the edge. Adrenaline pumping inside me, perhaps I had went insane from that moment on, but I jumped, head and arms first, over the edge, because the clearest thing to me at that moment was to save her, at any cost, even my own life...."

That was the dream. That single dream which turned my world upside down. Sure, normally I'd dismiss it as just another segment of my limitless imagination, but not this time. No, when the same dream appeared as I slept for a week in a row, and on each night I woke up with cold sweat, having once again unable to tell if I had saved the girl or not. Each night, I would gaze out the window of my college dormitory, and I would see the same full moon floating in the sky.

If this was a coincidence, it's a scary one indeed. Now that I was unconscious, I could think back as much as I want, and no time would pass by at all, simply because thought processes began and end at very fast rate.

So, just how the hell did I end up like this? God knew. All I knew was that I was just going to begin my sophomore year in college, and during the first week that I moved back into my old dorm room, I've been plagued with this dream.

It's not as if I hate it, but more like I felt too plain and too desiring a common life to be dragged into this. See, I was an average guy with average hobbies, just living a quiet and normal life in a public University trying to survive my major classes and earn my B.D. Nineteen-year-old, single, male, Asian, wore glasses and braces (the latter quite unfortunate), and had a heavy interest in the world of gaming, anime, books, and science fiction.

Sure, I might be a nerd, but I was good at what I do, and I never intend to break the cycle of studying for tests, taking classes, playing games, and commit myself to various other activities. That's all people would ever need to know about me, because in all honesty, I was nothing special, not even cream of the crop… maybe close to a tumbleweed. Yes, that plant was a fitting analogy to me.

I lived in a dormitory with a very cool roommate. He had to deal with one such as me, I said, thank you. A good thing too, that he slept heavy, so that he never knew that I woke up in the middle of the night, every night, for the past week, in cold sweat, and always started with an incomplete yell or scream.

I rather treasured my time back on Earth, living a normal life, talking with friends, meeting people in person or over online in forums. The only thing I probably desired besides doing well in University would have been getting a girlfriend… Yes, signs of being normal, socially accepted despite how plain I was comparing to the popular folks. Regardless, the point was that I was normal.

That was, until exactly one week after I woke up to that dream, the morning which came was the day right before the new school year began. When I found myself awake in cold sweat at 3:30 am, I felt like I ought to go back to sleep. When I woke up again from an uneasy sleep, I tried to shake myself of this unusual situation, so instead, I took a very early run, down many hills (My university was divided into ten 'colleges' where classrooms, faculty, administration, and dormitories were situated, and mine was at the very top of the hill).

Why I felt like running? I didn't know. I suppose I just wanted to think of something else, cooling myself down in the mind by taking a refreshing morning jog, perhaps visiting the classrooms where I'd be taking classes the very next day. There was actually construction going on near the giant library that was right alongside the path to my classroom. On that day, strangely, the construction site – which was usually blocked by an iron gate – was left completely open.

Didn't know why, but curiosity drew me, and I decided to enter. Unknown to me, that was how everything I accepted as normal broke apart. As soon as I entered the site, I felt the air cease up. It's as if something was warning me, but against the better of my judgment I continued, walking past a warning sign.

It was then that I felt something really was wrong. Normally, this site would be full of workers entering their morning shift, but it's dead quiet. I couldn't even hear the rustling of the trees, let alone any human or animal noise.

SSHHHHAA Click What? I turned around in surprise, to the noise that came suddenly from behind me. Where there shouldn't, or should... or whichever, be a gate, there was one, and it locked tight, sealing any chance of leaving this place.

"Ah crap." I muttered.

I ran to the gate, seeing that it was even replaced with a new lock. Someone was here all along, and locking me alone in this... creepy place.

"IS SOMEONE THERE??!" I shouted.

My voice was perhaps just a little too tense, and uncertain. They couldn't do that to me, not to an average college student like me. Suddenly, I felt like this was an awful prank, played by evil geniuses on an idiot like me.

In response, an echo of my own voice reached my ears. It was not possible as well, since this place never echoed. Suddenly, a pain shot up in my head. Clutching it, I had wondered why I would have such a burning and aching sensation in my skull, like it was being split apart.

Suddenly, voices flood into my head, not unlike the time in High School where I dreamt that all the neurons in my head turned into single-eyed monsters that were about to force my head to explode with unyielding pressure. Ya, that was weird, and this, I thought at the time, just couldn't get any weirder. Boy was I wrong.

"He who possesses the imagination shall wield it as his own."
"He who cannot surpass his own self shall be fated to see himself tested to the limits."
"He who fails to see for what he is shall drown hopelessly in confusion and illusion."
"He who wants to be shall be, if he wills it so."
"He who cannot save himself, cannot save others."
"He who is as plain as a blank slate, will spark an eternal flame."
"Do you accept who he is, as yourself, young one?"

A voice rang in my head. It was a chant of some sort, like a poem, or a riddle, but it was definitely clear enough that I could hear it. However, I felt it was actually more than just that, because it all pointed to a particular person. So what the hell did the damn voice mean saying whether I accept this, that he was referring all those riddle components to me?!

Still, since the headache still would not stop, and the pressure was drowning out my senses, I couldn't exactly answer, because I couldn't even think straight damn it.

"DO YOU ACCEPT, BOY!?" The voice came again, this time louder, echoing inside my brain until the pain forced me on all fours helpless.

"Wh-..Why me?" I had asked then, wondering to God just why must something like this happening to me, without it being rational or even making any sense.

Although my question had also sounded awfully stupid, I might as well try questioning this... sort of, if it indeed was clairvoyance. I really didn't have any choice per say…

"You possess all the necessary qualities, just as I had already mentioned. Your dreams, those that you had, the visions, what is within you, that which describe you. It all fits, the question is, do you accept it." It continued to issue such an order, but I couldn't even make a good response.

"First of all, you could let me go, the headache is killing me.." I gasped, feeling chilling cold while my head was closed to exploding.

Okay, I knew that 'headache' was the understatement of the century, but asking politely instead of swearing to its face would still have some uses. Suddenly, a sooth sensation went through, and I felt the pressure slowly releasing its hold.

"Now that I've done so, answer me boy. You are apparently trapped." That voice replied in a mild tone now, as if it too was glad that no unnecessary pain was required after all.

"Who are you, why should I trust you enough to answer that question?" I asked.

Slight bad idea, but I read this all the time in books, where the protagonist could somehow strike up a deal, even with the devil himself. It did sound stupid, though, now that I realized... will I die? The thought of death, or any type of punishment, struck a chord of fear inside me. This was nothing like the books, where the protagonist will always survive, somehow... had I sold my soul already?

"My name is of no importance to you. I am simply on the errand to retrieve you, or anyone that fit close enough to those words that came out of that joke of a prophet. Do not worry, what happened earlier was just so to make sure you do not step away, though that closed gate was not my doing… hmm, could it be?" The voice suddenly tensed up after mentioning this, and fear returned to me as well, twisting my head around looking for suspicious movements.

"Hello, my dear brother... or should I say, traitor? Hand over the boy." Another voice popped in my head. That surprise caused me to almost lose my balance and stumble. Holy crap I had thought, wondering if I really was going delusional.

"Accursed half-sister of a demon, I shall not do so, that was your doing was it not, to lure him in and trying to kidnap him. Thank the heavens I intervened in time." The first voice, which now really sounded distinct from the second, breathed a small sigh of relief. Still…

I think I was insane. Clearly, this family reunion was not something I wanted. Clearly, I did not fit the 'he who so and so' stuff. Well, maybe I might have, but that was the least of my concerns. I was too average to be called upon by some unseen forces. I was going to be held up and miss out in my first day of school; I didn't even eat breakfast yet!

"Uh, listen, great to meet you all, voices-in-my-head, but I want to leave, and I don't really want to be in any of this… whatever." I pleaded. Really, a normal person like me really didn't want to be thrown into a mental institution with these crazy voices going through my head.

"Ah, dear vermin brother, look how the boy shudders in fear, his thoughts so riddled with doubt, and look, what confidence he had. I give, I cannot believe that prophet would be speaking of this boy. A weakling, no doubt, lower than pond scum that grew in the swamp. Give my best regards to her, brother, and tell her that you've chosen a complete human failure. Ahhhahahaha"

The second voice left my head, in a trail of cajoling and condescending laughter. Not that... she was completely off the margin either.

"Get a hold of yourself boy. The words may have been unfitting to begin with, but I sensed a greater potential in you. You might be able to save 'her' after all." The first voice breathed, attempting to calm me down.

"What are you-" I returned surprised.

What? Wait... that sounded familiar... who could it be possibly referring to? The only 'her' in my mind now needed to be saved… was that 'her'? The dream I had earlier... wasn't it showing exactly as how I dove across the edge to... no, I still believed that dreams were never real back then, not even nightmares. They did not exist in the spectrum of reality! No matter how much I dream, I could still discern what was fantasy and what was reality.

"I sense your doubt, but you do not have a choice. Though that wretched half-sister of mine left, she will be coming back to destroy you, if not just me. We don't have time boy! Now answer me, willingly, do you Accept?" It asked again, frantically.

What else was I about to say? This day's been complete hell, and I was still standing in the middle of a construction site, in school. I was only supposed to check things out, then go eat some breakfast, and enjoy the last day of freedom before school began once again. Nothing in my schedule said anything about this.

I was way too normal to be dragged off to... I shudder at the thought. I seriously did not want to go, and to leave everything behind.

"Do I have to?" I couldn't help but ask.

"What? Yes, of course, you will have to trust me, for I am only carrying out my orders, nothing else matters as long as you accept and we will be off." It showed a little hope.

"I... what if I said no?" I continued.

"Your life is already in danger, so I am afraid you do not have any choice, as for your regular life... we'll have to say goodbye to that, won't we?" It made a sarcastic laugh, if that were possible. However, given the situation, this voice in my head was probably the lesser of the two evils, and I also want answers, after all…

"... I accept." I made my decision.

God, why do I have to be so helpless, why do I have to decide, when I was too weak of a will to decide on anything except to continue to lead a normal life. It's too late now though, because I've made my decision without any choice in the matter. I didn't know what I was in for, but if this was a dream, then it won't be as bad… but if it were real… then, I… wonder if I made the right choice sacrificing what I have now.

Before I could think anymore, though, a black mist swirled about me, and I could tell that I was losing feeling fast, as if my body was slowly disintegrating below me, as if I really was dying. So this was what it felt like to sell my soul to the demons... except, one voice spoke, in a clear voice.

"You will not live to regret it." It had said back then, before whisking me off to this accursed world where I dove several miles from the sky, escaped from many guards, some speaking English and the rest in guttural distinct noises. Finally, I ended up unconscious after drinking some crazy old man's fungal tea, and now I was here floating in my own subliminal consciousness. Perhaps every now and then I would experience this sort of thing, rearranging my thoughts and reflect upon the past, wondering just where the hell I went wrong. Well… too late.

Whatever deep shit I was in, there's no telling. Even now I was already drifting into a complete sleep. Would I wake up, or die? I wondered about that, and about the ridiculous beginning of this hell, before entering the darkness once again.

Author's Notes: This dream was actually the one single motivation that drove me to begin this story. I know, everyone's probably had crazier dreams than this one, but I just felt like if I didn't do anything about it, I would regret it for the rest of my life. So there it goes, from a single realistic dream, came an unrealistic world, and an unrealistic story of a college student who because of this very dream, broke off completely from his normal life, entering a new one of nothing but danger and absurdity. Hope you enjoy the next chapters!