I found myself in bed, listening to the sound of my alarm. Its incessant beeping meant hours had passed without me ever having recollection of that time. Sometimes, I would remember a fragment of a dream only to have it wisp away as I tried to hold onto it.
I opened my eyes. My alarm stopped beeping. My alarm wasn’t even there because I wasn’t in my room. I was on the floor if I could call it a floor.
“Good morning, Hank,” a voice sounded from around me.
I looked around but saw no one there.
“Ah, I apologize.”
From around me, the ground began to rise in segments, growing at tremendous speeds until a city was built around me. It wasn’t a city I recognized.
A white figure outlined in black began to walk down from the path before me. It had the shape of a human, but it lacked all the definition.
“Who are you?”
“I think you know who I am,” its voice resonated from all around me.
“No, no I don’t.”
“Oh, well.” A smile creeped across the face of the figure.
I stared at the strange figure standing in the strange world. He didn’t speak again. We stared at each other for a while or rather – I stared at him. He had no eyes – I could not tell if he was looking at me.
“So did you make me dream?” I finally asked.
“No, I had no hand in that. But I saw and heard everything. Fragments shored upon my side.”
“What do you mean?”
Text and Images © Jonathan Lee
“Well, I am everything and everything is me – to an extent.”
“Who are you?”
“An Aspect of the City.”
“How is that possible?”
“My boy, you aren’t the only thing that’s alive. I’ve been around much longer than you, but not nearly as long as some other places,” the figure smiled.
“Then, what do you want with me?”
“The same I want with everyone else – for them to live, for them to dream.”
“And what does that do for you?”
“A city is only as alive as the people in it. A city’s dreams are only as good as its people’s.”
“You’re living off my dreams?”
“And nightmares as well. And just like people have nightmares, so do I.”
“Is that what Affects are?”
“A type. Affects are many things just like everything else. It’s not how they’re made that’s important. It’s what they do.”
A strange ringing began to echo into the halls.
“Well, it seems this conversation is about over now.”
“Wait. I don’t understand!” I spoke.
“No one does.”
I awoke to a strange mixture of senses. I could smell the smoke of incense burning nearby. A dazzling blue shone before my eyes. And a strange ring called from around me. I realized what the ring was as I gained my bearings. I reached into my pocket and grabbed my phone.
“Hey! We’ve been worried about you all day. Where are you?” she shouted through the phone. I had to pull it back from my ear.
I looked around where I was. I was sitting in a wooden chair in a wooden room with a wooden table in front of me. On that wooden table lay a large warm colored cloth with coins and beads dangling from its edges. A crystal rested upon that cloth, and it looked as if it resonated a soft blue light. A woman sat opposite of me wearing flowing clothing wrapped in a shawl. I knew where I was, but I didn’t understand why I was here.
“Sorry, I’m fine. Can I call you back in a bit?”
“I’m just glad you’re safe,” she sighed.
“I wouldn’t dream of leaving.”
I looked at the woman opposite of me.
“Because there are so many parts of you hidden away, shouting to be released, but you wouldn’t listen.”
“Who put you up to this?”
“Really? Not Eason? Anna?”
“I don’t know who those people are. I saw in my own crystal that I would meet you. When you walked by, I knew what I had to do. And I watched you dream, and I dreamed with you. I walked with you when you turned away from whom I suppose is Grace. I was there when you woke in the same bed with her. And I was there when you turned from your family.”
“And when I spoke to the City?”
“What?” the woman asked.
“The fourth dream. You made me dream four dreams.”
“Dear boy, there were only three, and I made you do nothing. I may have made you dream, but those dreams were of your own choosing.”
I sat there at a loss for words.
“There was another dream?”
I didn’t answer.
“Curious. Well, off you go, Hank.”
The woman walked over and began to shoo me out of the shop. I left the store, and heard the door close behind me. Then, the lights behind me snuffed to darkness. I turned around and saw a boarded up window. I looked up, and the sign that read mystic when I first walked down the street now swung broken with faded words. On the door of the building hung a flyer.
Listen to the city and the words of another.