He doesn't sleep much anymore, and because of that he doesn't dream much either. When he does sleep, it's the sleep of the exhausted, or of the drugged -- never natural, quiet, falling asleep. It's always hard and silent and heavy, like a velvet curtain on an empty stage.

When he dreams, though, he dreams of horror.

It rarely takes an obvious face -- he dreams of innocuous things turning against him, of child's toys held in the hands of murderers, of implications rather than statements. And they are so much worse for it. Every time he dreams, he wakes up cold and hollow and a little more paranoid, just a bit. Each dream takes something new from him, chipping away at his hope and resolve and strength.

It won't be much longer now, he thinks, before someone calls in an intervention. If they care enough to notice his burgeoning insanity.

The problem is -- the problem is, it's so spotty, so sketchy, like a charcoal drawing left out in the rain. The problem is, you have to look at the whole picture; you have to know that there is a picture to be seen. If you don't, you'll just see a normal guy at the laundromat, at the bank, at the store. You see the sketch, the lines of gray; you miss the great black streaks, the smudges, the shadows where the art used to be.

The problem is, he's both too insane and not insane enough. When he's crazy, he's vastly crazy, but he's only crazy in pieces. He can hide it, so he does, in spite of knowing intimately how self-destructive it is.

He supposes that at some point, he's going to grow so tired and so afraid of dreaming that he takes a whole bottle of sleeping pills, so he won't ever have to wake up with that cold twisting in his gut again. He supposes that it won't be much longer now.

He supposes that he's all right with this.

There's something inhuman about his nightmares, something faceless and horrifying -- he dreams of nothingness, of a storm, a tornado, a tempest of pure darkness, livid emptiness -- a sky in the brightest shade of black imaginable, a sea of rolling empty, an ultraviolet lightning bolt, inverted colors. He dreams of being trapped in a world where nothing exists at all, but at the same time, that nothing suffocates him.

It's bleeding into his consciousness, bit by bit. He closes his eyes and feels the world rock and sway like a ship, like he's on the deck of a ship, and for a moment, the whole world inverts itself, a photo-negative reality, and he has to physically shake himself to make the image pass. His nightmares, shut out by the drugs and the long hours of insomnia, take their revenge by seeping into his waking moments. It's the worst terror imaginable -- being trapped in a dream he can't wake up from, because he's already awake.

And it's not what people mean when they say that they're living in a nightmare -- they don't understand what he means. They think he's somehow screwed up his life, pushed away a chance at love, broken someone's heart, murdered someone -- they don't understand that he means it in the most literal sense. He is trapped in a waking nightmare. His own consciousness is turning against him.

But then he wakes up from it, briefly. He re-enters the world of the normal, of the sane, and for a moment, he can convince himself that this is all real, that he's real -- that he's not some Vonnegut character, come unstuck in time, that he's not some character in a science-fiction novel. No, he reminds himself, there is no ancient conspiracy which his mind is trying to escape from. No, there is no author dictating his life, no director filming his story.

No, he is not special. He is simply in-sane. Anti-sane. His body is real, the world around him is real, but his mind is fracturing, a product of years of insomnia, nightmares, and disassociation. He is real, and he is living in a nightmare.

He isn't allowed to wake up, and that's the worst part. That's the part that terrifies him most.

He supposes that it won't be long now, before he drowns the nightmares for good. Won't be much longer.

He wonders if they'll ask questions -- all those pesky why did he do it and what depressed him so and how could this happen kind of questions. He wonders if they'll stop to think that maybe he did it for a damn good reason, and maybe it was the best option. He wonders if they'll consider that he'd rather have it this way than some other one -- he'd rather go out in his own bed, his own medication, his own decision, than sit in a locked room and talk to doctors asking him how he feels. He'd rather lose the game than cheat.

They won't see it that way, he doesn't think. They'll call it a tragedy. He calls it freedom.

A/N: Based off a nightmare I had once. I got to thinking, what if I was stuck in that nightmare? and then this happened. Also, I haven't written in forever, so I wanted to just play around with words some, let off a bit of steam. Also, the Vonnegut novel he references is Slaughter-House 5. (You should probably know that. If you didn't, go forth and read it!)