Suatre was on a beach. The sand was very fine beneath his feet, soft, smooth, and almost white. It stretched out as far as he could see behind him, and in front a calmly lapping ocean met him where he stood. He didn't feel the sand, or the breeze coming off the water. He didn't feel the sun on him, but it was shining somewhere far above him.
He knew he was dreaming. Usually when he realized he was in a dream, he'd wake up almost immediately, before he had a chance to do something fun like fly, or have sex with a celebrity. But this was now going on and on, endless seconds where he knew he was dreaming, but nothing happened, he just stayed there, watching the ocean move hypnotically towards and then away from him. Back and forth.
In this dream that persisted, he tried to think, or move, but he couldn't. Nothing to do but wait. Just as he'd resigned himself to staring at an ocean he couldn't swim in (and breathe under water! That would be a great thing to do in a lucid dream) a shadow began to rise from the ocean's horizon. Quickly it shivered up out of the water, moving forwards as it did so, looking like an image being pulled larger by two fingers on a touch screen. The great dark shape came into focus as it stilled. It was her.
Like a terrible giant statue, carved directly out of the darkest cliff rock, she loomed above, and all her eyes were on him. They stared unblinking out from her forehead, chest, arms and hands. The blue sky and faint white streaks of cloud behind her started to...swirl into itself, slowly, in several flat circles. Like bubblebath colored water going down the drain, seen from above. The distortions were as hypnotic as the waves smoothing out upon the shore.
Her hand lifted from the water, speckled with huge eyes, not human but pinched on either side, like a sideways diamond shape. The irises were just black dots. Like a drawing of an evil eye.
As the huge hand moved in slow motion towards him, he felt a familiar panic, desire to run, but inability to force his body to escape. Quickly despair replaced the panic. It was useless to struggle. He couldn't move, he couldn't wake up. He couldn't do anything but let the hand come down around him, the light dimming to blackness as the huge fingers wrapped around his body, thankfully not eyes on the fingers to touch him with their gaze, but he was wrapped up anyway.
A deep sorrow filled his head inside the blackness inside her hand. A sudden mourning for a life he was leaving, a life he was already forgetting. Faces flashed in his inner vision. Friends and lovers! Lost! Like a page of names and beloved faces burning up into nothingness, fire devouring it from the bottom up. They were gone.
Tears in his eyes as he shouted himself awake. But his body struggled to follow his mind, feeling heavy as bags of sand. Sleep paralysis, his old foe. It's been years and years since his last bad bout with it, and that had lasted far too long. He resisted. It wasn't going to hold him, he was going to wake up, he would, he would wake up, he was AWAKE.
And he was. He gasped and shook and sat up from where he'd been sleeping, apparently, on his back, on a couch, black leather or something like it. The room was lit pleasingly by only sunlight coming in from behind the blinds. He sat up.
"Weird fuckin dream again," he muttered, wiping his eyes. He looked around for his cigarettes. There on the table where he'd left them. He shook one out and lifted it to his lips. He stopped. Filter was neon blue. Odd. Had he bought Fantasias? But no, those had gold filters. He lit the cigarette and smoked a cloud of blue smoke as he looked at the packaging. It had a cartoon angel on it. Nimbus Cigarettes. What.
He looked around the room, really looked. It was his tattoo studio. Where he worked. Tiled white floor, racks of flash art against the wall, traditional snakes and skulls and bullshit painted and framed and hung in the space behind the counter there. He was on the waiting area couch. He always napped here in the slow afternoons. Right?
Feeling decidedly strange he walked to the window and opened the blinds. A gentrified looking neighborhood stood around him, fancy apartments built above hipster shops. An organic burrito place, a shoe store, a boutique, an android and AI repair shop...That seemed weird. He wasn’t sure. Was that...a normal thing?
Reality felt weird and shifty suddenly. Was he on drugs? Was this bright blue cigarette fucking him up? The studio room held steady as he felt pitched and rolled. His mind was making a great effort to reconcile something. He was. Here. Now. Now was. Not. Before. Not even close.
This wasn’t his time. This wasn’t his life.
He was through the looking glass, man.