A theoretical physicist inquires into the nature of the waking dreams that have been afflicting him.
Photo by Ashwini Chaudhary on Unsplash
“…And have you still been having those… odd…dreams?”
“The ‘pulses’? No. Not recently.”
“…And how long would you say it hasssss been?”
I don’t know what it was about this particular therapist that unsettled me. Maybe it was the unnatural cadence and sharp breathiness of his speech, or his stiff mannerisms and strange facial ticks, or perhaps his oddly textured skin.
“Probably a month.”
“…And would you say that…the lo-cation of said dreams has rrremained?”
“Location? Oh…yeah. It’s always the same.”
“…And would you be willing to speak this session on your spe-cu-la-tions of its ssssignificance”
“You mean in my life or…”
“Whatever you believe is most aaappropriate. You-are “The Company’s” most brilliant mind when it comes to theo-re-tical physics…It might behoove you to look beyond the literal and dig a lit-tle more deep.”
“Are you suggesting that there’s something more? I’ve told you I’ve never been to that boardinghouse...”
“Aaaall I am suggesting is that it might help to think less literal…getting to the source of such…uhm…un-usual occurrences.
He peered at me with his usual blank stare. Unable to maintain such painfully awkward eye contact, I averted my gaze to the floor.
“Well I used to think of them as dreams, but there was always a strange familiarity to the boardinghouse despite me never having been there. They were like extremely vivid déjà vus. That’s when I began to think of them differently. Indulge me for a moment. I believe they’re actual physical places. If you look at the universe, at its lowest level, all the way past the atomic, past quarks and leptons, there is—how do I say this—a fountainhead of vibrational states of a universal field. At this level, infinitely small universes bubble up and pop out of existence much like the bubbles of soda pop. Invariably, some of these bubbles will inflate and expand exponentially. I believe these ‘pulses’ I have experienced are tiny self-contained universes. I believe they’re psychic phenomena—a human being manifesting their own reality. A sort of self made simulation if you’d like.”
“…And what do you believe drives the creation of these simulations?” A rather sinister smirk appeared across his usually blank face.
“…And what would you say that is for you?”
Staring down at the floor I uttered the word “shame”.
“If you have nothing more to say Dr. Funes, I would like to initiate the next phase of our ex-periment today.”
It was at that moment where that unusual familiarity began to seep back in again. The corners of the room began to fold in on themselves exposing the nothingness they were always intended to hide. The distance stretched between me and that almost alien, analyst, therapist—whatever he was—as he shrunk into the horizon. His voice began to fade away.
“ ‘The Company’ once again requires me to remind you that your participation in this experiment was completely of your own free will and that the aaagency is not liable for what happens to you. Enjoy your si-mu-la-tion. Dr. Funes. I hope you are able this time to face your demon.”
I suddenly found myself in that same boardinghouse corridor. It was rotating as if it were attached to some invisible gyre. The physical integrity of this particular pulse appeared to be more unstable than usual. The doors to the rooms in the corridor popped out of existence almost the moment they would appear. Gravity lessened as the decorative plants and photographs on the walls began to float.
I made my way to the one door that remained stable at the end of the hallway, moving past the debris of broken household decorations. As I opened the door the entire room was sucked in as if it were exposed to the vacuum of space. I closed my eyes in terror.
Familiarity once again began to seep in, but this time a familiar smell.
I flung my eyes open. I found myself in a room in which its two halves were mirror images of one another. As I looked around, I noticed my mirror-self brazenly scanning the room as if searching for something, or someone. Suddenly it locked eyes with me. In this moment I couldn’t avert my gaze as if some force were compelling me. I felt as a ghost possessing in my own body.
As it opened its mouth to speak and I opened mine in unison. I didn’t hear my own voice but rather that of another. I could feel her contempt piercing through my heart.
“You really have nothing to say after all, do you?
Unable to break eye contact and unable to bring myself to speak, I stood there silently, waiting for this nightmare to end.
“You know what? You’re a fucking coward. You’ve been waiting this whole time for a reason to file for divorce, but never once thought to speak me—speak to me about anything! You practically drove me into his arms!”
Her voice began to tremble as my body began to shake.
“When things got tough you cut yourself off from reality and now you’re just going to check out in the middle of the night like you always have. You know what? You never once thought of me as part of your life. I was always an accessory. I tried to build you a home and yet you only ever treated it as a dormitory to eat and sleep in while you pursued your only true love— working in that lab! You spend all your time obsessing over the how the universe works that you neglected to actually live in it your-self!”
Just as before I couldn’t bear to face her anymore.
I shrunk into the corner morphing into the sobbing child I always was, seated in shame wearing a dunce cap. Condemned to live this out yet another time, all I could do was weep, waiting for this nightmare to end.