Dream surfing. The very term evokes interesting and mostly relaxing imagery on its own, doesn’t it? Waves, be they water for the physical, or something other, oneirical. That’s what Carlos thought as well. He’d been turned on to this subculture, this underground world of dream-jammers, dream-hackers, what have you, back in college. He had been doing it for a good long time, nearly ten years to the day, and he had found the dreamscapes to be the stuff of wonders.
In the early days of his surfing he had found it hard to let go, to not so much to discern between a regular dream, a basic Alpha wave pattern, and a proper Alpha wave, a dream that taps into the subconscious fabric of the universe, but to release his natural abnegations to diving into the astral stream.
Carlos wasn’t sure about it being the actual, factual subconscious of the universe, but it was all fine with him. It was all very enjoyable, regardless. So he became a regular and eventually his persistence made up for his initial apprehensions. He became proficient, adept at astral travel, to the point where he found that others who had been veterans before he even came into the scene had started to consult with him on issues that inevitably arose every so often. The astral sea, after all, was a place of wonders, comely and otherwise.
He had found little untoward in his travels, and he knew himself to be lucky in having had such great fortune, but his exploits had yielded rather bizarre encounters. He often wondered if they were real or if they were only manifestations of his own subconscious. Perhaps he would never really know.
What mattered to him was the dive, the plunge, the sojourn into the recesses of the astral depths. He had found dragons, or beings – manifestations, perhaps – that claimed to be such creatures, long living in the astral plane where humanity could no longer hunt them. He had found creatures one might equate to angelic beings, but they were more often than not aloof and reserved, stoically watching, observing without showing emotion or intention. Stranger things, nonsensical beings, he had encountered all manner of visual configurations that made him wonder about the health of his own psyche… and he loved every second of it.
This night, however, proved different. He had gone in for the usual dive, his nights spend thusly for so long, and found a new vagary, a gossamer vein shimmering, calling out to him in a strange way, a magnetism he could not describe. He took the detour into this new, hither-to unexplored variation of the oneirical pattern, and found himself in a palace of wonders.
His astral eyes could scarcely believe what he beheld; unicorns, valleys of plants which fruit bore cherubs, bizarre little humanoid beings that carried said newborns into caves with busy grins, lakes of molten glass that flared with such ferocity he could feel his brain ache at the visual stimuli… it was too much to hold inside one simple, mortal perspective.
As he floated, drifting ever-so-noticeably in the astral stream, mouth agog at the majesty of it all, a being approached him from behind and spoke, its voice smooth as silk, sweet as honey, and thick as milk.
“Hello, Carlos. It is good that you have finally come. We have been reaching out to you for some time.”
He had been addressed by his given name before – one of the reasons why he thought the entire dream surfing experience might be an extension of his own subconscious – so he didn’t hesitate to answer back.
“Hello… whom might you be?”
“Io, that is what I have been often called,” the being said. It was fair-skinned and hairless, eyes solid white, vaguely human looking. “It is pleasing that you have finally arrived.”
“Um, what exactly is this place?” Carlos asked, knowing there was no need for overt etiquette.
“It is a place of wonder, forgotten of old by your people and long since been better for it.”
Carlos wasn’t sure but he thought he had detected a sense of threat from this Io when he had said that last bit, but he thought it might be apprehension on his part at the newness of his surroundings.
Io did not wait before speaking, “would you care to come with me? It is most important that you do.” He did not wait for Carlos and went ahead, propulsed through the stream. Carlos followed as best as he could.
After a short time they arrived at a marbled hall of some king, clouds surrounding it above and to the sides, seamless columns dotting the sides of the hall, which led to a large pair of doors of the same type of stone, fit for colossi to walk through.
As Io approached them they opened inward and he drifted right through, Carlos followed suit and stopped only as Io did.
After looking at Io’s visage, Carlos had come to recognize him. HE had heard descriptions of this being from other dream surfers throughout the years. He had often advised not to engage with this being in the various times when those asking for advised had mentioned a sense of both urgency and consternation. It was Carlos’ experience that the dream should only be relaxing and joyful, pleasant.
“You know who I am, do you not?” Io said, turning to regard Carlos with a wan smile. “You understand what I am? No, I see you don’t.”
A dawning sense of danger, of menace, overcame Carlos and he turned to head back to the enormous doors, only to find himself mired, his dream-limbs heavy and leaden, he was moving in slow motion and even the slightest of movements took a herculean effort to perform. His head felt the way limbs feel when they have gone numb and are only coming back into full awareness, an electrical current building up and keeping him static, useless. He looked in horror at Io.
“You will be staying, of course. What point is there in your return? You so like the dream, don’t you? Why ever go back?” the words were high pitched and mocking, the delivery a sentence of death. “You will find yourself useful in time. Until then, well, you can be whatever you want to be. You just won’t ever be back, the silver thread has been severed.”
With a smile Io moved on and Carlos remained static, glued to that spot, left to contemplate the reality that was now his. Was he now lost in a dream?
Was he now lost in a dream?
Was he now lost in a dream…