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A Subconcious Sedition
I’m delirious. Insane. Distressed. Deranged. Most of all, I’m fed up. Fed up of being tired because I’m practically dead on my own feet. It’s been two days since I have allowed any chimeras breach my thoughts. The nightmares don’t stop, so I don’t stop - staying conscious, of course.
Staying conscious. That’s my new New Year’s resolution. I decided to do this because of the horrors my eyes have beheld, and the most horrid of those things was the book. That pink quarter-bound book with black swirls littered across the cover. I never liked reading, and that book gave me all the right to loathe reading even more than I already had.
I all started when I uttered the words, “I’m looking for a book.”
I was being forced to get a book because of my parents, and when I did get a book, my life deteriorated. When I reached my house, I opened the book for the first time. I was transported into my own mind and shown what my dream about a dying young lady meant. It meant the end of my family and the end of my sanity.
I sense footsteps, so I lift myself out of bed, ready to hear my father speak.
“Hey, um, kiddo?” says my dad. “You’ve gotta get up and get ready for school. Mrs. Rinn called me and said she could be here any minute. I know it might be hard with what happened with…”
His voice weakens, and there’s a doleful silence. I makes me feel a bit - no, very - depressed, and I know it isn’t any better for my father. I’m not sure why, but I suddenly feel vexation toward my dad, thinking he’s the problem.
“I wasn’t asleep anyway, and I’m already wearing my I’m-not-asleep clothes!”
In other words, I'm not wearing pajamas.
“Okay,” he says.
He walks out of my bedroom looking like a pet after you yell at them, depressed and dispirited. I feel awful, and it’s not because of the fatigue.
I collect my jumbled thoughts and think of what to do next. Well, I know Mrs. Rinn, my awfully stodgy homeschooling teacher, will be arriving in about five minutes. Nine o’clock’s the time she’ll arrive. If you ask me, she’s way too punctual. She always comes precisely on time every Monday, Tuesday, and so on, but I guess there’s no use in complaining because she cannot be avoided.
I get out of bed, and instead of heading toward the bathroom to wash my face, I simply walk to the door, not caring what I look like at the moment. As I walk out of my house, I try as hard as I can to not peer into the kitchen because that’s where the incident involving my mother’s passing happened. I get outside, and for the first time in a few days I smell the refreshing fragrance of nature. Then, every happy thought dies when I see Bernard’s Better Books.
I want answers. I need answers.
I forget about school, Mrs. Rinn, and my everyday duties as I abscond. Ever since I got my hands on the hypnotic book, I haven’t been myself. I’m usually kindhearted and obedient, but now I’m bitter and break the rules.
The bookstore seems large from across the street, but it’s as if its size is being magnified one hundred times the regular as I approach it. I halt just as I get to the shrimpy beryl green door. The wood’s aged like the owner who has passed his prime. It squeals as I push past it.
“Mr. Bernard?” I yell. “Are you in here? I need to talk to you about that book you gave me. I brought it with me. No payment. Remember?”
The human response doesn’t come, but a supernatural force was obviously anticipating my arrival at this store. Growling noises flood my eardrums, and then I see a phantom beast. It looks like a canine except for its three heads, pink glowing eyes with black swirls, and sharp fur that, in my opinion, is blacker than the night itself. He’s standing in some sort of cage when all of a sudden, I hear a thumping sound coming from behind me. I turn around to see it there, a bear. It rushes into the cage and tussles with the three-headed beast, and I watch as the black bear slashes the black beast. One head falls, so the bear leaves looking like his job was done well. Once the bear’s out of my vision, the cage just snaps shut, trapping the canine-like creature and all its hopes of escaping. Then, it happens again, just like the first time this book showed me a dream.
I find myself engulfed in dark clouds that begin to twirl all around me. Everything’s pink. It stops, and there’s emptiness in my surroundings and in my own mind. I see the book in front of me. Once again, I flip the pages until I find the dedication page. I read it silently.
Tom, wake up.
“Tom wake up,” says the old book enthusiast, Bernard. “Why are you snoozing on the floor? Don’t you have a nice, warm, and comfortable bed at your parents’ house? Unless you’ve been up all night, a teen like you should be overflowing with energy. Now, sit up.”
I ignore him just like I ignore those annoying detergent commercials on TV. All I can think about is what had just happened and about what I’d done.
No! I fell asleep! What’s going to happen to me? I’ll probably be devoured by a bear. Yes! That’s it. I’ll be ripped to shreds.
Bernard notices my panic-stricken face, so he tries to comfort me.
“Is everything alright, Tom?”
“Yes. Yes,” I say, trying to dismiss him. “I’m doing… okay.”
Well, I had said that, but I really wanted to say, “No! Nothing’s alright. I just want to go and hide for the rest of my life before I become a bear’s best meal. Oh, and just so you know, I hate books. I despise them.”
It turns out I was thinking outloud. I see Bernard’s curious facial expression, and I think - I know - something’s amiss.
“What?” I say. “Was it what I said?”
Bernard takes a moment to think but then says, “It’s not just that. It’s also what you did to your mother, and what you’re about to do to me.
Another wave of fatigue comes over me. I barely heard him, so I’m a bit confused about what he said.
What did he mean by what I did to my mother? How could he know what I’d dreamed had come to pass?
Then, my thoughts start to quiet down. It doesn’t feel like natural sleep, but I let myself hit the sack anyway.
There they are. Those pink and loving eyes being choked by the thick dark swirls of wickedness and death. The devilish creature’s eyes. My eyes. My innocence.
I’m in a dark, eerie, dusty, and crusty room that’s illuminated only by a small yet radiant candle. I can see my own body in front of me. We’re standing face to face. I notice how our hands and feet are entangled by a web of strings, and I try to get out of the thin but durable shackles.
I’m about to break free from the scrawny rope when I find myself screaming at a man standing behind my other self.
“Bernard! What the heck are you doing?”
His golden eyes, spangled with grey curled lines, are fixated on me. He remains silent.
I get the idea that since there are two Toms, there are two Bernards. I assume must be looking in a mirror, and my suspicions are confirmed when I turn around to see another pair of golden-gray eyes. It only gets worse from there. Behind the elderly man that I’m instantaneously learning how to loathe are my parents. My mother’s ensanguined and sitting in crimson chair which I suppose wasn’t that color when she first sat down. I know she passed away when I look at the personage sitting next to her. My father’s grieving, and there’s nothing I can do to repair his crippled soul. Both of my parents with their dark hair, tan skin, and brown eyes are trapped along with me, their son, who has inherited all of their features. I know that they’re not really there, but everything here implies reality. The people. The place. The pain.
“Ow,” I say, hoping the soreness of my wrists would cease.
Bernard’s tightening the ropes to an unhealthy extent, and I can’t handle the affliction coming upon my lean wrists. I try to remember how to make it stop, but I can’t seem to control my own thoughts. All I can suddenly think about is a thin pink and black book.
Where’s that wretched book?
I inspect the room, but I can’t seem to locate the bothersome book. Then, it hits me. I finally connect the dots.
The demonic creature with its gleaming eyes. The cage and the bear. Bernard. My mother’s death and my father’s depression. The loss of my steadiness. The ropes. And most of all, the book which is the most important dot, so to speak. Instantly, I know what all of it means.
Metaphorically, I am my dreams, so I’m the book.
There’s some sort of connection between me and that book. It’s a link that I can’t throw any light upon, but I don’t care. I’m guess I’m starting to like all of this mystification.
I close my eyes, hoping that what I’m doing is right. Then, I go through the departure ritual. My eyes are filled with pink sights and my mind with pink thoughts. A dark veil blankets me. Darkness penetrates everything. All I can see is the book, again. Unlike the first time this happened, I confidently grasp the book laying on the floor. I shift to the book’s dedication page. It’s the second page and the only page that has anything inscribed on it. I read the words with tenacity.
“Wake up, Tom!”
I finally knew what these words meant. I have to wake up and see the light. The truth.
My physical senses return to me, and can feel firm floor below my body. A voice I now detest can be heard coming from a wrinkled face.
“Okay, good,” Bernard says sounding too sympathetic to be true. “You’re awake, so now, I can ask. Did you have a nice dr-”
“No!” I shout defiantly while interrupting him. “I didn’t have a nice dream, and do you know why? Of course you do. It’s because of you. Well, let me tell you something. I know how to dream now, so I know how to use that book…”
I stop talking as I look around, alarmed. I had the book when I came into the shop, right?
“Where is it?” I yell as I stand up. “Don’t think I don’t know you took it!”
All Bernard does is stride to the payment counter. He scoops up a book that was on top of it. He walks back to me looking amused, and when I look at what he’s holding, I’m not surprised. It’s my book.
“You know how to dream, huh?” Bernard says. “Prove it.”
He flips open the book and turns the pages until he’s on the dedication page. He begins to scribble something on the page with the pen that was hidden in the small pocket of his blue-gray jeans. He looks pleased with his work, so he tosses me the book. Unquestionably, I read to myself. I make sure I’m reading the words correctly by repeating them in my head.
This book is dedicated to Tom Tawn and Bernard Booker.
Before I know it, I’m in dream, or at least I think I am. Everything’s the same. I’m still here, in the book emporium with a psychopath who’s surprisingly heartless for someone that looks so old, frail, and gentle. I can’t put my finger on it, but I know something’s undeniably wrong. I’m not sure what it is until I begin to get a searing sensation situated on the apexes of my once tan colored, now blood-red, fingers. It’s not a dream. It’s a nightmare.
My fingers are ablaze, and so is the book in my hand. I can smell the pages burning as the fire spreads across the entire book. In a matter of seconds, the book vanishes. I’ll probably never see it again unless I somehow miraculously leave this imaginary world. That fact takes me aback, but it doesn’t engross me enough to drown out my misery.
“Wha-,” I say, choking on my words. “What are you doing to me?”
A smirk crawls onto Bernards face, and he says, “I’m proving you wrong, you skimpy gremlin.”
“That’s it,” I whisper. “I’m done.”
Nothing in the world could save me, and even if something could, it probably wouldn’t want to. I’m just a woebegone minor who’s punch-drunk and as mad as a hatter. I might even be a gremlin. Now, I’m just hoping the flames can do away with me quickly, so I won’t have to suffer.
I wait there for a while, standing with my eyes shut as tight as I can get them. I continue to undergo sharp pains, and then it gets worse when I hear the crabby voice that always emanates from Bernard’s ancient throat.
“Dream for me, boy! Dream of me living extravagant life. Dream something for me. Do it now!”
“Are you insane!” I scream, not knowing Bernards true intentions. “You already slayed my soul. I could never dream, and now, I never will.”
“I command you to dream for me!” Bernard squawks. “The immense power of the book can only be used on others, not on the user. I’ve been researching it for years. That’s why I can explain how you weren’t harmed even after the meanings your recurring nightmares were revealed to you. Didn’t you notice that absolutely nothing injurious happened to you in your nightmares? Your nightmares affect the world around you physically, but your nightmares only lacerate your entity psychologically. Now, dream for me! Make me rich, famous, or anything interesting. Surprise me. Just don’t think about saying no. My thoughts are as strong as a bear.”
I stay silent, but it doesn’t help change my circumstances. As a matter of fact, staying tongue-tied is making everything worse if that’s even possible at this point in my life.
The blaze advances. My whole hand’s consumed in a matter of seconds. I throw myself onto the ground, but even I know that stopping, dropping, and rolling can’t help me now.
I’m on the floor, overwhelmed by the reddish fire that my body’s being forced to fuel. I want to be free from all of this suffering, and something inside of me is telling me that I can. I try to think, but it’s a bit difficult when you’re practically dead. I can feel my body writhing and convulsing on the hardwood floor that was painted green to match the spirit of nature that timber embraces.
The forest. That’s where the wild ones live, and Bernard’s most certainly an animal. He’s like a bear, and I’ve messed with his cub which I believe is his soon-to-be money maker, the book. He wants to hurt me to the point where I have to give into his demands without questioning them, and I’m okay with that. If he wants to be Bernard the Bear, I’ll let him experience what a bear’s really like. He would appreciate that, right? Maybe I should ask him.
I lift myself up, and Bernard gawks at me while the flames shrivel up. I’m finally ready to speak.
“If I can think, I can dream, so if you can torture me, I can torment you. Be a bear because I don’t care, but you have to watch out. Someone might want your head planted on their wall if you know what I mean.”
I finished speaking, and without warning, I was face to snout with a snarling monstrosity that I’d purposely dreamt up. I dreamt something. I, Tom Tawn, the teenage boy who lives on Reader’s Street, actually dreamt.
Bernard - Bearnard, if I may - metamorphosed as quickly as I blinked. Each of his features changed with every second that passed. From gray to brown eyes. From insignificantly old to immensely forceful and vigorous. From smooth skinned to hirsute. From hominal to inhumane. From Bernard to a bear.
Then, it just stops. Everything stops. Well, everything pauses but my thoughts.
What’s happening? Why has everything ceased to move?
The growl of a bear stirs me. I notice that I’m no longer trapped in a nightmare Bernard made with his irrational mind, but instead, I’m finding myself lying on the floor and glad that the horror is gone. The bear growls again, trying to get my attention. It’s a black bear, and I only know that because in school we learned about bears that are native to our forest areas. Most people fear them, but for some reason, I don’t, and I don’t know why. It’s close to me, decides to lie next to me, and warms me, so I stroke its fur. The fur’s silky, smooth, and cozy.
I finally found something that can comfort me, and I discover why when I look to my left. He’s dead. Bernard’s bloodless, and I can clearly tell by the blood on the bear’s teeth that the last few moments of his life were a nightmare. The bear that I had dreamed, the bear that vanquished Bernard, is what I rest my head on as I hibernate with the bear.
Before I fall asleep, I just say to myself, “Sweet dreams, Tom.”
That’s all that I ever wanted and all that I suddenly have.