The difference between dreams and reality

Have you ever had a dream that you loved so much that you wanted to relive it? But when you woke up you had forgotten most of the tantalizing details, but beyond all, you hoped that one day that dream would invade your senses once again on one night. If you have then you can maybe relate to my horror or know about the differences between dreams and reality. I certainly know what they are now.

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1. St Adians institute

I stared at blank white walls.

They almost mocked me but disappointment clung to them. They were just white, void of anything that could’ve hinted at the person that had lived here before me. What had possessed my parents to send me here? How did they find out my secret? The secret that had been kept and changed since I was nine years old; they never cared about me at all so why did they start now? I guess I should start at the beginning. So I ask a simple question on a simple mind, have you ever had a dream that you loved so much that you wanted to relive it? But when you woke up you had forgotten most of the tantalizing details, but beyond all, you hoped that one day that dream would invade your senses once again on one night. Most people would answer the question with a yes and nothing more but the thing with me is that I, Stephanie Long, never dreamt a dream between the ages of nine and fifteen. On my fifteenth birthday the black never ending abyss that lay behind my eyes disappeared and was replaced with a nightmare.

This nightmare was set in a long corridor only lighted by green lights and with a single door at the end. A creepy lingering fog pooled at my feet and a bitter chill froze my insides. I would reach the door and a voice would say something in my ear but it was unrecognisable, my hand would come up; swing the knocker against the door once and the door would open.  The next moments were of monsters that would emerge, of teeth, claws, screams and terror, of the colour white, growls and pain and blood. The voice would come again and I would suddenly wake up, back at home and away from the horror. That dream reoccurred ever since, night after night.

The dream stayed locked inside my head and I created walls that would prevent me from speaking to anyone about it. But that all changed a couple of days ago when I had a blackout, the abyss came back up and the nightmare was avoided from plaguing my soul. I didn’t know how long I was under that veil or what I did in the living world while I was under. But I woke up in the car with my parents explaining that we were going on a trip. We pulled up at a grey building that must’ve belonged in the 1600’s; two men in white suits awaited us at the door and then seized me when I got out of the car. I had kicked and screamed and created chaos but their grips stayed firm and a needle came up and struck my flailing wrist. My world tipped and became hazy but the words they spoke were planted forevermore in my fading mind. “Welcome to St Aidan’s Institute,”

I had then awoken again in this very cell. I looked up at the walls of my prison and wondered what the time was. There were no windows to suggest the time of day, the lack of light tricked me into believing that I wouldn’t see it again and the craziness crept up on my mind ever so slowly. I shook it madly to avoid falling into its clutches; I would not become one of the poor people who rested within these walls. Speaking of which, I could hear the screams of the insane, the bumps on the walls that held me and muffled signs of tainted human life. Never in all of my existence would I think that I would be put in a mental institution, whatever I had done in my black out stage must’ve  been identical to a madman’s actions otherwise I would be still at home. My parents had chosen such a drastic and erratic decision for a girl who they had never taken attention to in the first place. Visions of a dark forest, the howls of that dreaded creature and my hands covered in the innocent life blood of... stop it! I screamed in my head but my brain would not rest it had to create something that would distract me. It conjured images of a man in a straight jacket, an insane laugh and of a person scuttling to the edge of the room painting the walls with words that would haunt anyone. Maybe that actually happened but I would never know, however I was certain of one thing and that was that this room was capable of driving any person insane.

The door opened and a man in a white suit came through. Pale light filtered through the sliver of the realm that lay beyond this blasted room, it suggested that it was early morning. That thought was reinforced by the bowl of white lumpy substance that the man carried. He set it down in the middle of the room along with a cup of tea and sat cross legged to the left of the door. He looked harmless but I didn’t dare to move.

“It’s all right, you know? It’s not going to poison you or put you back to sleep” He calmly said, his eyes were fixed on mine. My stomach clenched with hunger and my frantic mind yelled for food. It was exhausted since I hadn’t slept at all since I had woken up from the drug induced one.  My hand hesitatingly inched forwards for the bowl and drew it closer, it looked like a grey, white porridge, and steam trails rose up from it and drew pictures in the air. My hand shook as it picked up the spoon and delved into the food. Once the mixture hit my tongue I was ravenous, I was like a creature that hadn’t fed for days or weeks but the man looked on like it was normal. Once the bowl was empty I reached for the cup of tea and began to choke down the scolding hot liquid. “I would slow down if I was you,” the man said and brought out a clip board, which he placed on the ground, then two small blue pills. I slammed the cup down and watched as small traces slipped out of the rim and onto the floor. “I know that you’re hungry,” he drew a long breath and looked at me with grey eyes “But these are just to calm you down.” He held his hand out with the two pills and held my gaze. Once I didn’t move he calmly took my hand and transferred the pills over to mine, my eyes fixed on them. They could do anything to me but this man hadn’t wanted to hurt me when he first came in. Looks could be deceiving though. I looked at him once more and then popped the capsules into my mouth and washed them down with the last swig of tea.

I don’t know what I was expecting. But it was not the way my body suddenly relaxed and my mind fell into calmness. “I know that being in here can make you feel uncomfortable and a bit insane,” He said and I looked at him with curiosity. I could metaphorically see the clockwork cogs whirling inside his head underneath the greying hair. “My name is Dr Grayson and I’ve worked here for many years. In all of my time here I have dealt with people whose mind is not partially their own, but your case is something that I have never seen.” I was taken aback by his words and felt that I had to retaliate.

“You have to understand me,” I croaked with the lack of speech, “I have no idea why I am here. I have kept a secret for quite a long time and then I black out and apparently they know what it is and then I’m here.”  Once the words were out of my mouth the doctor withdrew a pen from his pocket and began to write on the clip board.

“And what is the secret that you have kept?”

“At first it was that I didn’t dream when I was nine until I was fifteen. On my birthday I had a nightmare that reoccurred for the rest of my life,” He nodded once then his pager went off, he stood and answered it before turning back around to face me.

“You are expected with a counsellor, well there’s no time to waste. The quicker you talk to them the more chance is that you’ll be out of here in no time.”

I felt a slight spike of hope.

He led me out of the door and I was transfixed by the difference between the gloom and doom of the cell and the brightness of the building beyond it. His lips were sealed shut as he held an iron grip on my arm and led me down a set of stairs. In my head I mentally count the stairs, 110, 111, 112...136....157... 181. It went on and on and the natural light was slowly banished and replaced with the bright synthetic light that electricity created. I guessed we were in the basement of the main building and where the interrogation cells were placed. The corridor he lead me down was bathed in bright light with 13 doors, 6 on the right, 6 on the left and one at the end. He knocked on the 13th one and waited when a stocky man appeared through the crack of the door. He unlatched something and swung it the rest open. “Thank you for your assistance Dr Grayson. I suspect that your break is coming up rather shortly, why don’t you take it now and I’ll take it from here.” His voice was scratchy and unpleasant but nevertheless the grip didn’t lessen on me.

“I’ll have you know William that I’ve worked here for a lot longer than you and I’ll permit when I take my breaks and this is my patient thank you very much,” Dr Grayson retorted, wow it looked that there was bad blood between them. Dr Grayson steered me around and whispered, “That man, William Dark, is not the best of my colleagues but he is further up in the field than me. Do not trust him with anything he gives you and the councillor should arrive shortly or should already be in there. Prepare yourself and good luck and I just wanted to say that I don’t think that you’re insane nor do you belong here.” With a cough of annoyance from Mr Dark, he sighed and let go of my arm. He turned and walked steadily down the corridor and up the stairs out of sight. Once he was gone I was pushed into the room.

It was like I imagined. Bright like the rest of the basement with a steel table and chairs where a fair haired woman sat who must have been the councillor. One wall was plain but marked with dents and the opposite wall was just plain glass. Behind it was stood my mother and father, whose faces were saddened but indifferent, and my sister Susan and her boyfriend. I hadn’t seen my sister since the accident because she moved to America.

“Sit,” the gruff voice of Mr Dark sounded and he pushed me into a steel chair. He sat opposite to me and the woman stayed as motionless as a statue. “Now why did you stab your own father?” I opened my mouth and then closed it as he consulted a clip board as well as the sheet of paper that Dr Grayson had given him. “Why did you run around the street, chase a dog and believe that it talked to you? Why did you shout in your mothers face about your dream problem after you said that the dog had told you it was all a dream?”

“I didn’t – “I started but he didn’t let me finish,

“Don’t you dare lie to me you insolent brat; you did all that and if it wasn’t for the kind heart of your mother you would in a proper prison.” He shouted, spit met my cheek and I recoiled in disgust. I was about to shout back when the woman beat me to it.

“William why don’t you see to Mrs Long she looks like she’s about to faint.”

I didn’t know if it was because her second child did all that and was in an asylum or my ragged, tired appearance from staying in that cell. He glowered but left the room.

“Now, my name is Meredith Wilson but please just call me Meredith. I’m a dream therapist and I just want to know about your dream and hopefully make you better.” She came across to me as too sickly sweet but I wouldn’t get out of here if I was stubborn. So I told her everything. “Now I have in my notes that you witnessed your little brother mauled to death by a wolf when you were 8. Could that be the cause of this dream?”

I swallowed, never in my life did I want to relive that day. “No – I mean a wolf never featured in my dreams. Stephen dying was horrible but I would never feel the excessive pain that a wolf could inflict just see the blood. ” She nodded and then sat straighter.

“I’m going to try an exercise where you close your eyes and subconsciously relive your dream, by doing this it tricks your brain into thinking that you’re actually sleeping and dreaming. I want you to describe everything to me and if you feel unsafe you can wake up and open your eyes okay.” I nodded once and closed my eyes. I faintly heard her say ‘when you’re ready’ before I began to rack my brain for the finer details of the nightmare.

“I’m in a long corridor, its dark and cold...” What worried me was when I felt my feet planted on the cold floor and I knew that my brain hadn’t been fooled and the dream was real.

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