Recreational Reality


    In the midst of one of those intensely dreary quarterly sales figures meetings, Will began to drift into a light slumber in the back row. Dreaming of better jobs, and the cute receptionist at the front desk . . . he found himself in his old college classroom, where there was certainly an assignment due today he forgot all about. However, something was different this time. He felt the exit door on the right beckoning him, as if it held the secret to life itself. Opening it, a wide, sunny field presented itself, with an abandoned warehouse behind him. He looked around, trying to remember something important... wait! That's right – he's late for the meeting today! He turned around, the dreamscape shifting to his office. He opened the conference room door.
    "Will?" said Larry whispering to him, "what are you doing here so late? Wait a minute - weren't you sitting over th-" Larry looked over at Will, dozing in his chair in the back of the room. "Holy crap! There's two of you!"

    Friday evening. Will reflected on the strange meeting that afternoon.  As far as he was concerned, he awoke from his daydream to some commotion, and, well, at least he was on time, as the boss had a habit of chewing out latecomers.  He never did figure out who arrived late, what with the open door when they turned on the lights.  Oh well. It was time for bed anyways.
    However, not entirely unlike the current summer TV season, his subconscious had gone into re-runs, and he was there again, standing in front of the warehouse.  This time something was different, he could feel a call for help, and shifting dreamscapes across space and time, he stood in a jewelry shop.  The details were kind of fuzzy, and while it appeared to be evening, and he probably still had his pants on - he could be certain of one thing - this shop was being robbed.
    "Who're you?" the robber said, pointing his gun at Will.
    Will looked at him, and noticing he was the only one not cowering against the wall, took the opportunity to kick the robber flat in the stomach.  He never really cared much for nightmares anyways.  The robber shook backwards and fell into a display case, shattering it.  Just as the sounds of sirens could be heard, the dreamscape shifted again, to the inside of a house owned by two of his friends.  He looked around, and saw that silly abstract dot painting they have in the entryway.  He turned it 45° to the right, and remarked to himself that it looked exactly the same.
    Saturday morning. Will awoke to sounds of birds chirping outside his window, after all, it was the start of the weekend, and most certainly meant to be taken lightly.  That party he'd been looking forward to all week was tonight, and he was hoping to get a chance - Wait!  He hadn't been checking in to Anthony and Pam's house - he'd promised to house-sit the two weeks they were away in Paris.  With no time to lose, he hurried down the I-290 and stopped off at their place.  He fed the fish, and checked to make sure everything was in order.  Odd.  That dot picture is off center... nah. It must have been that way when he last visited.  He left it tilted, and headed out.

    Saturday night. One too many. Well, it least it was fun. Now, if there's any night to have odd recurring dreams, tonight's the night for sure.  Hopefully, it will just all up and resolve itself.  The field, the warehouse, you get the drill.  This time Will could tell he was dreaming, and yet, it still seemed surreal, not quite lucid, not quite reality.  His world shifted again, this time he could definitely feel a pull.  A city square.  In a neon sea, a tall circular building, and traffic.  He couldn't make out any of the signs, but he could see something.  4 stories of terror, a monster was marching right down the street he was standing in.
    "Oh! You're finally here!" said someone on his right.
    Looking over, next to the stopped traffic was a young woman - dark hair, pretty cute.  "Who're you?" Will said.
    "I'm Jamie, and I'm glad you're here - I don't think I'll be able to stop this one on my own, I mean, maybe if it was only two stories tall."
    "Um... nice to meet you, but you mean that monster over there?" Will said, pointing at the monster standing ten feet in front of him.
    "Now that I see you two have been acquainted, can I show you out of the city?" said a man on top of the monster.
    "What is this?" Will said.
    "Simple, I am your worst nightmare."
    "Oh yeah? Eat this!" Jaime said, firing a rocket at the monster.  It reeled backwards, as the man on top tried to balance. "Will - help out too!" she said.
    Putting aside the inherent silliness, Will thought back to one of his favorite video games, struck a pose, and unleashed a bolt of energy on the monster.
    "Gah!" said the man, as his monster vanished, "you think you've won, but all you're doing is perpetuating the cycle!  You're responsible for this chaotic mixing of dream and reality.  I'll be back," he said, vanishing.
    "Well done!" said Jaime, as a brief sound of cheering could be heard.  The dreamscape shifted again, this time to a tropical beach. "So, what do you think? Fun stuff, eh?" she said.
    Gathering his surroundings, Will said, "yeah, I suppose... but what is all this about anyways?"
    "This, is dreamwalking," said someone new.  She glowed with an almost unearthly energy, and as he reached out to shake her hand, he felt an ethereal energy emanating from it. "Nice to meet you. I am Samantha, and I have the duty to recruit dreamwalkers, like yourself.  We are working to rid the world of the nightmarists."
    "It's pretty great - fight monsters, save the world, all while you sleep!" Jaime said.
    "The nightmarists?" Will said.
    "Jeez - don't you watch the news?" Jaime said, "Beijing? Not ringing a bell?"
    "Sorry, not much lately." Will said.
    "Well, you should. See you again!" Jaime said, as Will felt the dreamscape fading into light.
    Sunday morning. Will awoke to a headache and bright sunlight.  Need coffee.  After a brief injection of some liquid energy, he sat down on the couch, and turned on the TV.  Ah, maybe some news would be useful.
    "Reports continue to fly in about the attack in the Shibuya district of Tokyo today," the news anchor said, "numerous amateur and cell-phone videos have surfaced.  The official governmental response is that an investigation is under way, but there aren't any lead on suspects yet.  We are watching this story constantly, and still have no confirmation if this was an actual attack, or simply one of the world's most expensive publicity stunts.  In addition, no word yet on if this is related to the incident in Beijing last Friday.  More on this later, but now we have news that another baby panda was born yesterday in -"
    Will thought about this for a minute, and turned the TV off.  If this is truly real - this could be huge.  He got up, analyzing the possibilities, and realized he was entirely out of lunch materials. After all, thinking about reality-warping dream powers is just not one of those things you do on an empty stomach.  He headed over to the plaza mall at once.  Getting out of his car, he noticed someone familiar-looking on the curb.  He walked over to her, as she stood and looked at him attentively.
    "Hi, um, I'm sorry, do I know you from somewhere?" he said, having a hard time remembering her name.
    "Of course, I'm Samantha," she said, shaking his hand, as he felt the same ethereal power from before.
    "Oh, obviously.  Sorry," Will said. Holy crap! This is real, he thought.
    "Don't worry, it's natural to not remember details from your dreamwalking.  I came here to answer any questions you may have, and remove any doubts you might have."
    "Yeah, I figured out some of it, although it was hard to tell what was happening from the videos they showed."
    "Dreamwalkers are inherently hard to photograph.  In that state, you are sort of like an image projected on reality, and, much like a copy of a copy, something gets lost with each representation."
    "That seems reasonable.  But - is this nightmarist invasion real?"
    "Oh, very much so, and that is why we must stop them!  Will you continue to help us?"
    "Sure, I don't see why not."
    "Excellent!  I'll let you get back to your errands," Samantha said.
    "Thanks," Will said, not entirely sure if this conversation had answered his questions, or simply brought up more.

    Sunday night. Time for some dreamwalking.  Will once again visited the warehouse, and shifted, this time to a great park.  He was joined by Jaime on his right side, and Samantha on his left.  In front were eight monsters, of varying sizes and viciousness.  Surrounding them all, was a great crowd of people.
    "So. I see you've come back for more," the same man from before said, walking out in front of the monsters, "just couldn't leave well enough alone, could you?"
    "We're here to stop you! Evil shall never prevail!" Jaime said, to a mild cheer from the audience.
    "That's right, Todd. We will counter your every effort, and soon we will have tens - or hundreds of dreamwalkers to counter your ilk," Samantha said, turning to face Will and Jaime, "but for now, you two can handle him, I'm needed elsewhere, after all," she said, vanishing into mist.
    "Totally!" Jaime said, striking the 'bring it' pose.
    "I guess so," Will said.
    "Then it shall be your confidence that leads to your downfall. Attack!" Todd said, as the monsters rushed forward.
    Jaime leapt up, and kicked one of them over, as another four rushed Will.  He backed up into a tree.  Thinking quickly, he pulled it from the ground and threw it at the first monster.  Keeling over, its companions rushed closer to surround him.  Remembering he could fly in the nick of time, he flew above them, as they grasped at his ankles.  One spit fire at him, lightly singing his jeans.  Playing dirty, eh?  Will unsheathed his trusty sword, and performed an aerial strike on the fire-breathing monster, dematerializing it.  The next punted him across the garden and into a retaining wall, shattering the stone construction. Shaking off the impact, he walked back up and faced the remaining two.  Hearing some unrecognizable chants from the audience, he rushed one, executing a double quarter-cut of it into monster mincemeat. The other took a stab at him with foot-long claws, but narrowly missed.  He swung around, and kicked it into a pond, where it too vanished.  He looked around, and saw that Jamie was alone as well, giving him the thumbs-up.

    Monday morning.  Work.  At the water cooler, it seemed all talk was of the nightmare battles.  Will, of course, feigned ignorance, but was intrigued by all this publicity.  I mean, everyone talked about this like it was some new movie 'coming soon to a theater near you', but in reality, reality-altering is serious stuff.  Maybe something that monster-controlling man, Todd, had said was still rattling around in his mind, but whatever it was, he wasn't fully convinced about this dreamwalking.  It just seemed a tad too - artificial.
    That evening, he sat in his apartment, thinking.  Where is this all going to lead?  Where did these dreamwalkers and Samantha come from?  Why are we even doing this?  He decided to take a leap of faith.  After all, if he has superpowers in a dream, maybe he could do the same now.  Nope, can't fly.  But still.  He looked at his cell phone, and covering his eyes, dialed 10 random digits.
    "Hello?" a woman's voice said.
    "Yes, uh, is this Jaime?" Will said.
    "Yes. Wait. Will?" Jaime said.
    "How did you get this number?"
    "I just had a feeling.  Anyways, about this dreamwalking, doesn't seem a bit... odd?"
    "Well, sure, but I've just been having fun with it."
    "Wait, what time is it over there?"
    "Um, 7:52?"
    "It's 7:52 here too. Where are you?"
    "At home?"
    "No, what city."
    "That's funny, me too.  Wait - you don't suppose... are you doing anything tonight?"
    "Are you... asking me out?"
    "Uh, well, not really.  I was thinking we should meet to talk.  With Todd."
    "Oh," Jaime said, "do you have his number?"
    "Not yet," Will said.

    Monday night.  Will and Jaime walked together, with Todd approaching them from the opposite direction.  They walked towards one place - the warehouse.  It was located on the outskirts of town, far from most civilization.  They approached each other, and exchanged uneasy glances.
    "Alright, I've called us all together, so we can talk this over," said Will, "and find out the truth behind these events."
    "Really.  I have on good authority that the likes of you two are simply here to warp reality as you see fit with this 'dreamwalking' power." said Todd.
    "That is awfully similar to what we've heard," Jaime said.
    "Now what do we have here?" Samantha said, stepping out of the shadows near the warehouse with another figure.
    "Samantha!" Will said.
    "Nathaniel? What are you doing here - with her?" Todd said to the other figure.
    "What's going on here?" Jaime said.
    "I want answers," Todd said, "there are too many coincidences here for this to be chance.  We both dreamwalk from the same place, and now you two - together?  This doesn't add up."
    "But isn't this natural," Nathaniel said, "that characters would have a common origin?"
    "They arise from the unifying force that binds all stories together, conflict," Samantha said.
    "Huh?" Will said, "what does that have to with us?"
    "Why, you are the leaders in this play," Nathaniel said, "that of life, and existence."
    "But our dreams aren't actually real, are they?" Jaime said.
    "They will be more real than reality," Samantha said, "after all, isn't that what you want - for the tales of great heroes and villains to be true?"
    "Wait - that's not what I signed up for," Todd said, "why should we play along with this script?"
    "But is this not an expression of your innermost desires - isn't that why you write stories, or watch movies?" Nathaniel said.
    "I'm not so sure about this..." Jaime said.
    "But I am," Todd said, "I can see now - you two are nothing but controlling scum - and I'll have none of it."
    "I'm afraid the decision is not yours to make," Samantha said, as she and Nathaniel moved closer to the group.
    "Yeah, well screw you," said Todd.
    "Bah. What can you possibly do to us?" said Nathaniel.
    "First - I can tell that you don't have any power without us, otherwise you would have used it by now. And second, the warehouse is your power source.  I can feel it," Todd said, walking towards the warehouse's front door.
    "No! Stop!" Samantha said, as she and Nathaniel moved to hold Todd back.
    "Hold them!" Will said, grabbing and holding back Nathaniel, as Jaime held Samantha.
    "No, you don't understand, you can't put our power inside itself!" Nathaniel said, struggling to get free.
    "Watch me."

    The warehouse bent inwards, as if it was a drawing on crumpled paper, as a sound could be heard much like an orchestra calmly taking a deep breath, then blowing a hundred out-of-tune brass instruments in your face, as the space in front of them fractured and exploded like a bubblegum-firework in slow motion.
    A moment later. Will and Jaime sat down on the street, looking at an empty lot where the warehouse once stood, the night calm, and earth unblemished as if nothing had ever occurred.  Parked beside the vacant lot, were two cars.
    "He really did it," Jaime said.
    "Though it looks like no one will know," Will said.
    "At least it's over."
    Will took a breath during the moment of silence, as they both stood up and walked together. "We'll remember him . . . at least it's a nice night," he said, looking up at the stars.
    "Yes. It is nice," Jaime said, "and real."
    "And I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep . . ."

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Published on Recreational Reality by Metafictional Press. First Version 2011 July 3, Latest Version 2012 June 10.