That Place…

“Have you ever had a lucid dream,” Daniel asked.

“What’s that,” the man asked.

“It’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.”

“I’m listening.”

“A lucid dream is when you are aware that you’re dreaming,” Daniel said, settling into his chair in the cafe. It had more people than was typical for a Tuesday afternoon. The sun was high in the sky and the spring breeze cooled the skin as the temperature rose. Daniel loved talking about dreams.

“Okay… that’s it,” the man said with a shrug. Daniel had the day off and he wound up inside the local cafe and saw a familiar face. They recognized each other and Daniel immediately struck a conversation. He even brought the man coffee, but couldn’t work his courage to ask him for his name.

“Unimpressed,” Daniel asked, sipping his coffee.

“Well, it’s just… it seems to me that simply being aware that you’re dreaming doesn’t make it an unreal experience,” the man said, looking at his white ceramic mug.

“No,” Daniel protested. “It makes it a very real experience. More real than anything you’ve encountered.”

“Right, so within a lucid dream I could,” the man said, waving his hand in a rolling fashion, signaling Daniel to continue.

“All sorts of crazy things, man,” Daniel said with a chuckle. “You can fly. You can create the world around you. Reality itself can bend to your will.” 

The man blinked and shrugged again. “Eh… I don’t have dreams.”

“That you can remember,” Daniel said, pointing at the man. “You’re always dreaming, dude.” 

“I don’t see the appeal,” the man answered quickly, grabbing a napkin and cleaning the brim of his mug and drying any remnants of his drink.

“In playing god,” Daniel asked, raising his voice while leaning forward. The patrons looked at Daniel, for he became all too excited. Daniel didn’t care. 

“So. you want to play god,” the man asked. “This is about ego?”

“Calm down,” Daniel said, pushing his hands downward as if he were stuffing an imaginary blanket into an imaginary tea-cup. 

“I won’t,” the man shook his head as he placed his mug upside down on the table top.

“I don’t get it,” Daniel said, leaning back in his chair after a deep sigh. “It’s just having a little bit of fun, right?” 

“Well, think about it for a sec. Violence and mayhem can happen anywhere, right,” the man asked. Daniel nodded. “So, let’s be a little self-aware. If my mind can make up this reality: this cup, this table, the people, the weather… everything in my observable universe, I could potentially make a place where I hurt those people. If what you’re saying is true, then I’m criminally at fault.”

Daniel leaned back and rocked back on the rear legs of the wooden chair he sat in. “Don’t know about all that,” Daniel said, blowing the strands of his black hair out of his face. He rocked back and forth in thought. The word criminal replayed in his mind. That was heavy, but he couldn’t see how they might have been related. It was a ch- “Sorry,” Daniel said after a woman bumped into him. He slid the chair closer to the table so the woman could get through. “Criminal,” Daniel asked aloud after a moment of silence. “I’m not so sure about that, if I’m being honest.” 

“Is that so?”

“You have a choice, man,” Daniel said confidently, then he nodded. “You don’t have to be a tyrant. Dreaming is the question at hand.”

“Just a question, eh,” the man scoffed. “All questions have a responsibility to be answered.” The man had pressed his finger on the surface, emphasizing his point. 

“But not all questions have answers.” 

“So, they don’t get answered? That doesn’t seem fair to the question.” 

“Are you saying that questions have life,” Daniel said with a frown.

“Now, wouldn’t that be something,” the man, slamming his fist on the table with a confident smile while he leaned back. “If life was tied to a question that ultimately bound us to life itself, that would be something. Much like the ebb and flow of the oceanfront. Question and answer of life.”

“That’s deep, man” Daniel said with a nod. “I was just talking about dreams. Get you to unlock your potential.” 

“I don’t know, to be honest. I don’t think I want that much power or control in my dreams. I’m content.”

But, you can have so much more.” Daniel to a gulp of his coffee and stuck out his tongue in disgust. It tasted sour and bitter. The taste kept evolving on his taste buds.

“What’s the big deal here? Why do you keep driving this home,” the man asked.

Daniel shot up and made his way to get sugar, except there was none at the stand. None. “Hello? Hello?!” Daniel called out, but no one answered.

“You’re not answering me,” the man said. “What are the point of dreams?”

Daniel looked around, but saw the cafe was empty. “Where did everyone go?”

“Daniel,” the man said into the quiet room. “Answer my question.”

Daniel was in the center of the cafe. And the sun was setting behind the clear window panes. And fast. The shadows sprouted from the ground and the shoot climbed the walls.  

“The question. Daniel. Give it to me.”

I… stammered. I didn’t… I don’t know what to say. 

“The question, Daniel, is what are the points of dreams?”

“I don’t know how to answer that.”

“Why? You were so keen for me to dream? Why did you want me to dream?”

“To feel alive!”

Daniel blinked and he was now standing on top of his roof of his childhood home. He knew the intimate details of each of the shingles that adorned the top.

“Well, I can’t feel alive,” the man said. “Not when I’m your manifestation.”

“This is a dream. Lucid.”

“No. This your dream.”

“This is insane,” Daniel said as his heart started beating faster. “You’re a sentient being within my subconscious mind.” 

“And I’ve been a part of your dreams since as long as you’ve been alive.” 

“What do you want?”

“Mercy. I am a prisoner here. Please release me.” 

Daniel jerked out of sleep, gripping his blanket as his heart hammered in his chest. He rolled over and slumped onto his back, breathing heavily. “That was a crazy dream,” Daniel said to himself.

“I know,” the manifestation said, sitting on a chair in the corner of Daniel’s bedroom. “I wonder how many times you’ll have to ‘wake up’ in order for you to get rid of me.”

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