Chapter Twenty-Four

Frequency 10Hz, 50 microvolts…alpha rhythm. I am in pre-sleep.

I am touching both the NeverHere and the NeverAfter. My nerves are firing. The room around me is different. I do not know where I am. Am I dreaming into it, or am I dreaming out of it? I am in two places at once. There is a beam of light flowing from my eyes projecting onto the ceiling above me. It is blue, a rich azure blue waving and sighing. I reach out to touch it, my hand extends but it cannot reach it. The azure blue is above me and as calmness comes over me, the scope of the blue projection increases. It is taking over my field of vision, expanding around me, toward me and away from me. Soon the room is gone. I am suspended in blue light, warm, glowing. I feel glowing from inside and out. I am everything and nothing, I am in all space and all time. I reach out again to touch around me, I cannot. I feel as though I am in water, yet I cannot touch it. There is a closeness upon my skin, the hairs are standing up and my nerves are whispering. It feels like someone is close to every cell. The blue is a heaven and it is all around me. 

I try to close my eyes but they remain open, pinned by a vice, I try to touch them, there are needles sticking out of my eyes, I do not scream as I cannot feel any pain from them, I can only feel their ends when I touch them. They are projecting the light, perhaps. Forks, lightning rods – either guiding the blue ocean light towards me, or throwing the blue ocean light out from within me. I cannot turn, or move. I cannot swim in the pre-sleep ocean, I can only hover. I liken my calmness to the baby in the womb, to the life form unaware of the dangers of the world it is about to be born into. 

I am starting to feel an increase in my voltage, and a decrease in my frequency. The blue light is changing, it is becoming darker, slightly more charged, slightly more violent…I know what is happening. It has happened to every man, woman and child countless times, though perhaps I am the first to become aware of it. 

I am about to dream. 

As I think this, I am the point of my own observation and my waveform is collapsing. I am about to dream. A name from my past would have smiled at me for understanding the physics of the dreamer, he would have smiled…the blue ocean is growing more and more violent, on the crest of the wave flicks lightning, a net of electricity moving and breaking around me. I am a body in an electrical globe…and it is growing fiercer, but I am not afraid…I am an adventurer…here…I …rise. 

Frequency 6Hz, 100 microvolt…waveform type Theta. I am in Stage One Sleep.

The angry, violent electrical waves part like a veil and I rise and rise, but the sensation is to fall and fall. My muscles spasm. I am falling fast, I cannot see the ground but I can feel synthetic wind flowing passed me, voices, songs, great speeches, utterances all – they drift past me and I have a sense that some of the aural zephyr has bled over from the world of the woken, from those that populate Couldwell, maybe even words from whoever put me in the chair and put needles in my eyes. The projection from my mind begins to grow more and more vivid and I begin to laugh an exalted and maniacal laugh. There is an old joke that rings in my ears, a name I can’t remember belonging to a blurred face told me and the joke swirls round my ears as I fall. It says; “A man falls down an elevator shaft and screams, knowing death is approaching he says after a while, “this doesn’t hurt…, still doesn’t hurt…, still doesn’t. Ouch!” Where is the ground? I am buffeting in the freefall, maybe my experimenter is jolting me, maybe it is my muscles…I see it suddenly! The ground, fast approaching, the blue veil thins and I see a vast crater, rocky with shrubs peppered upon it. Looks like concrete. I am falling. I am preparing for detonation…brace for impact.

Frequency 13Hz, 125 microvolts…waveform type Spindle Waves…I am in Stage Two Sleep.

I do not explode on impact. I do not even impact. I stop two feet from the ground like a thrill ride, a death drop, designed to terrify, I jolt to a stop. The noise stops. Everything stops. I breathe. It is a steady breath. My heart is racing but I breathe steadily. Steady. Steady and I look at the ground. The concrete is old and there are remnants of painted lines and symbols. I see a ferris wheel with an eye in the centre. It strikes a chord. I see the grass. It is a sickly, yellowy green. It feels familiar and awful, like the memory of a crime. I am hovering over it. I inspect every blade in silence. I am projecting this, through my needle-eyes and yet it seems not from my mind at all. It doesn’t seem to be my dream. I have a sudden cold fear. This is not my dream. I reach out to touch the grass. It is wet and viscous. The pigment comes away at my touch, the blade turning to graphite powder. I begin to cry and as I do, as if on a spit, I rotate around to face the sky. I want to inspect the grass and at the same time I do not. I do not want to be reminded. I am in two places at once. And then I see the sky.

Frequency 4Hz, 150 microvolts amplitude…waveform type Spindle and Slow…I am in Stage Three Sleep.

The sky is no longer electrical but the waves remain, calm and serene. They pull and break, lap and coerce each other. The sky is an ocean and I am underwater looking up at it although I am not underwater. I am not wet. I am not looking down on the surface, but looking up at the underside as if I am under a giant bowl, looking through the glass. The surface is a lullaby. I look to my side and from far off, over the brow of the ridge, I can see people approaching. I call out and point to the sky. I plead for them to behold the marvel. They do not. Are they too far to hear me? I cannot tell. I cannot even tell if sound is leaving my mouth. Still they come, from all sides now. They do not walk, but drift two feet above the ground like spectres made solid. They drift and I have no fear of the apparitions. I hold a conjoined sense of place with them all. A communicable sense of shared temporality. They drift and now they are here. They look down at me with lilting necks and they smile like a mother to her newborn. Their eyes are closed. They are Sleepwalkers. One of them lies down next to me and looks up at the sky-sea. The others follow suit. I am now one man lying amongst a million. We are all lying and looking up at the surface of the sea. How deep I have fallen! How slow my waveform! How peaceful I am.

Frequency 0.5 Hz, 150 microvolts amplitude…wave type Slow and Delta Waveforms…I am in Fourth Stage Sleep.

And I am as stone. We are all as stone, like the concrete we hover above. The sky-sea ripples and then we see the recognisable figure of a woman, swimming across the sky. She is elegant, her form perfect. I do not know if she is aware of us. Soon another comes into view, just behind and equally beautiful. I cannot look to the faces of those lying next to me, but I know they are smiling contentedly, their minds gorging on the sky-swimmers above. Three, four, now a full squadron of swimmers appear. They reach the very centre of the sky, the point where my projection needles converge at my vanishing point. A huge mass of swimmers bobbing gentle in the sprawl. There is a moment of dread followed by a moment of divine expectation and then it begins. The swimmers begin to dance in the sea-sky. They circle and weave in a choreography beyond comprehension! My mind struggles to find names for the emotions I’m experiencing. At once the Skyswimmers call forth images of mountains, of meadows, of gazebos and of couples in love. They are using the ripples created by their arms to fan out and assume the outlines of great, recognisable vistas. I see the Tropic of Bath, I see Holstenwall, that great city I once lived in, I see plains, and worlds I have once walked through…I see a face…I see a face! They have converged to make a face in the sky…the face is Lucy! 

A name and a feeling gush forth from my mind. I remember! Lucy is above me in the sky. I am happy and I begin to cry, but no tears come. Instead I begin to see beyond the swimmers. I see above them a dark cloud forming. A cyclone of angry and grey cloud. The swimmers remain and Lucy looks down at me. The clouds behind her begin to break and rain falls on the swimmers. They hold the face still but some of them drift out of position changing the formation. Lucy’s face changes into that of a horrible grotesque! A deformed Lucy! Riddled with boils and pain. A feeling of sickness and guilt rise in me. A nightmare. I look around to see the townsfolk have gone. I am alone in this and then the raindrops break through the swimmers and careen down towards me.

Frequency 30Hz, 400 microvolts amplitude…wave type Paradoxical Waves….I am in REM sleep.

My eyes are panicking. The needles are scratching the sky as my eyeballs dart around. The scratching creates a shrieking sound. My ears are bleeding the ground is rumbling. Lucy is no more, the swimmers have gone and the rain drops are falling fast. They look heavy and angry. They hit. I have a moment of relief when they touch my skin which soon gives way to pain. Intense burning pain. I can feel my skin begin to pulsate and boil. It is falling off of me, I am melting. I can see bones, I can see innards. I am melting and I cannot move. My eyeballs have gone but the needles remain, scratching around in the empty bowl-sockets.

I am standing. Reformed. I am on the crest of the ridge. All is silent. I turn to look back. I can see Couldwell. It is no longer a wooden ghost town but a sprawling city of concrete. Stern constructions of utility. Of purpose. I know the city. I once worked here. It is Pripyat. I turn back to the ridge. I am at the LHC Gateway. Below me, in the crater running the circumference at least 1000km long is a giant steel tube – an accelerator of particles – a dimension cannon. I am on the ridge looking down. In the centre, I see her! Mother Motherland is calling me! She is a giant statue 900ft high, brandishing a sword high in the air and reaching back with her other arm to call forth her people. She is powerful, alive. The tip of the sword glints red like a beacon in the fog. It glints. I look up to the sky and see two moons. Giant, bulbous moons that are joined by a thick, intertwined chain of stars. 

They look like giant eyeballs joined by an optic nerve. I have seen this all before and I am overcome with fear and dread. I am leaving REM sleep now.

I am going to wake up.

Graham Thomas