I recently woke from a very intense dream.
What follows is a really stripped down account. My dreams tend to be as vivid as real life (including having all my cognitive functions except, usually, the ability to read) - so describing one in detail would be like describing a particularly eventful 8 hour day in detail, simply impossible. Unfortunately I've forgotten a lot of the details (including, I think, some entire "episodes") - mainly because on waking I spent almost an hour trying to get back to sleep to continue it.
If I fail to convey the atmosphere of the dream, I should point out that it was a pervasive feeling of brooding, ever-increasing significance. And on we go.
As the dream begins, I am in a small grou of three people. We appear in some kind of desolate, rocky, post-apocalyptic area at night. One of the group heads off away from us and jumps down some kind of hatch. I think something like “Oh no, this is the morality section of the game, he doesn't realise he has to perform every possible outcome in a set time (seven minutes?) - this is so boring” . . . or say something like that to my companion. My remaining companion and I understand it's all just a game, but the man who left ahead of us seems to think it's real.
After a few minutes, we follow him down the hatch, wondering if we can help complete his tasks and move on from the "morality section" to the more fun part of the game. The hatch leads down to metal corridors in a deserted underground base.
The only things in the base are aliens/monsters a bit like small versions of the Alien, or Sleazoids (from X-Men). At one point, in order to destroy them, it's necessary to jump in the air and land in a small duct opening in the wall, while using your special move – anything else and the monsters will kill you. I miss-time the jump and get stuck in the opening. Below on the wall I can see scorch marks from where other adventurers have been killed in this place.
I travel on through the duct, separated from my companions. I find myself in a small, elevator-sized “landing” with various corridors leading off, at slight angles or up stairs, so I can't see very far along them.
This is still part of the game – I know I have to convince the people I meet to help me, and much like other morality-based RPGs, can do it in a "good" or "evil" manner. To the right/front I see someone in a lab coat, who looks curiously at me. I am scared of him so go another way. I go left, and it leads to a small dingy room that I return to several times. There are some military doctors in it.
I can offer no good explanation of who I am or why I'm there, but I gain the trust of one of them.
Later, I am in another room – it looks like part of a house converted into a doctor's practice and/or a pub. There is something wrong – lack of money or political problems or lack of supplies or something along those lines is leading to general poverty and despair. Upstairs, I find a smiling man who has his own office with a perfectly working generator and lots of money. We get talking – he is sinister, like he's meant to be a bad guy, but the more I speak to him the more I realise he is okay. I ask him if he became a dentist to avoid all the money problems - dentists being paid privately so earning a lot of money (it was just a guess that he was a dentist). He says yes, and the conversation leads him to believe I am doing “right”, so he allows me to take his generator with him.
The boundary between reality and game blurs, as I take the generator back to the room with the military doctors not to play the game in the "good" way, but because I care about one of them and want to help him. the doctors are delighted to receive the generator. I wonder if I'm falling in love with that particular doctor - but somehow my surviving friend (not the one who went into the hatch first, the other one) contacts me mentally and reminds me it is all just a game.
I look out the window of the room/aid station. I'm in the capital city which I know is London, looking out over the Thames, but it actually looks more like Edinburgh. Every time I return to this room the situation outside is worse, despite me doing what I can to make things better. The last time I look, everything is burning and chaos. Buildings are burning, people are screaming, a train goes past and explodes in a fireball. It's shocking and horrifying to me, but the doctor there is unsurprised, as if this has been going on for a long time. They can't fix things or make the world better - they can only try to pick up the pieces.
This is not just “a game” to the people in it.
Somehow I make contact with a woman who knows something about aliens; gross, multi-coloured, organic rather than technologically advanced creatures that spawn from eggs. There are a great many of them around. They seem to be the predescesors of the aliens in the original underground bunker, and this time is the beginning of their invasion.
I flash away to the next "level" of the game. I'm attending a fancy benefit dinner, it seems to be before the aliens/collapse of civilisation. I see the doctor I met earlier (later for him!) but he doesn't know me and we don't speak. Everything seems on the surface to be completely normal, though there are subtle hints that something is wrong.
At this point I flash back to “reality” - I'm sitting downstairs when I find/am given a video, a copy of the “last episode” of the show I believed I was part of. I find out it was not the last episode, merely the last episode of season three, which became famous for “explaining” what the mysteries of the show were about. It's handed to me wrapped in a blanket, which also contains several wire coat hangers and some underwear.
I play the video.
The main character/me is in an underground base, a typical underground lair, and the owner is obviously evil. He is a serial killer who has a man tied up, rack-style, and is about to kill him. He is somehow connected to the (later) arrival of aliens and the destruction of civilisation. He is going mad because years ago, a serial killer had killed his only child.
I realise what my “mission” is, and the point of the morality games. My job is to remove all evil from the world, by travelling back through time, and solving “current” evils that will prevent “future” evils. If I stop this killer now, that will save the world from the aliens – and if I then go back in time to save his child, that will prevent him from going mad and killing other people. Ultimately, like this, I can remove all the evil in the world.
At that point I hear the voice of an old man yell “They're USING YOU!” . . . I do not see him. I confront the serial killer with this information - that he is not inherantly evil, that I can redeem him, and that I can save his child. Somehow I am shown that if I save his child, he will just kill the child himself. This is destiny, there is no way to avoid it.
My consciousness flashes between three states – I am simultaneously watching a video, playing a VR computer game, and actually being the protagonist. I learn that the “show” ran for many more seasons and as I didn't see them on TV or video I am lost as to what will happen next.
I hear that the aliens have been cancelled/written out/destroyed and this somehow seems terribly wrong to me; it is important that they stay. My mind continues to flash through the different scenes in different times: the rocky post-apocalyptic world, the underground bunker, the medic station in London/Edinburgh, the doctors' office, the gala benefit, the underground lair, and “real life”.
I ask people around me in “real life” if they know how the story ends, but they never watched any episodes. Then, the post arrives – simultaneously it is delivered to me by the real life postman and by characters in the other levels of reality.
It is a message from a woman who I do not remember, but who says she knows me. She says that “the powers that be” demanded she removed all the aliens as they were no longer interesting, and she was forced to obey them. Another message arrives from her, seemingly from another time. It includes two toy packs, containing alien ships/transporters (about the same scale as a regular action figure). Each ship should have 8 alien toys, but they aren't there. I pick them up and a long, hand written, folded up letter falls from each. I realise the woman could only have given me these letters like this had she made the toy boxes, and I somehow realise she is responsible for the aliens: the true reality is that as a “writer” in one reality, she created another. I realise that the aliens missing aren't toy ones - they are real ones that somehow got loose on some level of reality. They will live on.
I wonder, in a panic, what this means. The game/TV show seems even more real than the observing reality, and the people I met in it seem like memories of real friends I can't quite identify. I wonder if my mission was truly to rid evil from the world one step at a time, or were my actions somehow creating the alien invasion that led to the end of everything - or if the aliens are even the enemy at all. I can sense some kind of vast conspiracy, some secret, like the answer to a brainteaser I can't quite put my finger on. Without the stories that should have happened after season three, when "the powers that be" interfered with the overall plotline, there seems no way to get to the truth.
A sudden montage of people and places from the dream flashes in front of my eyes. The doctor looks at me with recognition, as if he understands where I am from. Everywhere else I am just a visitor. The old man's voice yells, again and again, louder and more insistent each time, “They're using you!”
I wake up, two hours before my alarm clock goes off.
Recalling what I can of the dream in my mind, forgetting much of it, I am able to identify the source of most images – M*A*S*H, some articles on video games I read last night, possible trips to London and Edinburgh. Most notably is a train of thought in my post-hockey shower about Macbeth and the nature of evil: the fundamental difference between Macbeth and the other male leads (Macduff, Duncan, and especially Banquo) is that the others have children, while Macbeth's' only child had died. Even the voice shouting “They're using you!” is from Babylon 5 . . . though an episode of Babylon 5 I have not seen in some considerable time.
It's one of those dreams where, though I can easily piece together many of the ingredients, the end puzzle seems to have a significance that I can't quite identify. I'm left with interesting questions about how we experience reality, the nature of morality, unintended consequences, and the meaning – or lack thereof – of relationships with other people.
Ubi Dubium, Ibi Libertas
Quote:"I have suffered from being misunderstood, but I would have suffered a hell of a lot more if I had been understood."