Lucidity

last night I had
the most wonderful dream

Carly moaned softly in her sleep, and rolled over. She dreamed and dreamed, and when she woke, she found that she still had the lingering shadow of a smile on her lips. Her body was loose with the remnants of her orgasm. She stretched, and smiled fully as her eyes slowly opened. She loved Mondays.

there was a man
so beautiful
he took the breath from my body
we were drawn to each other
as if we had magnets
in our souls

Carly walked into the dream research lab a few minutes early, but Dave was already there. His back was turned to her, but she knew his body by heart. Dave Windeman, M.D., PhD. had been Dr. Carly Andrews’ partner in research for nearly four years, but not, alas, in life. From the first day they worked together it was clear that they were the perfect pair in the lab, complementing each others’ weaknesses, feeding their strengths. They were so obviously well-suited to each other, their grad students never understood why they weren’t a couple off campus.

It was not a question they had never secretly asked themselves.
As she watched Dave lean against his desk and read a report, Carly felt an involuntary flush come to her face as she vividly remembered her dream from the previous night.

our mouths touched
and sparks flew from our parted lips

Carly sighed softly, and walked toward her partner. Dave stood, sensing her behind him and turned. He smiled, and Carly saw the corners of his eyes crinkle. “Morning, Doctor,” he said. “You slept well, I trust.” He raised one eyebrow, and Carly felt herself blushing again.

“Very nicely, thank you,” she said, forcing her voice to remain even. “And you look particularly well rested yourself, Doctor,” she answered.

“Indeed,” Dave said. “It was another impressive showing from our friends last night.” He leaned back against the lab bench, and took a sip from his coffee cup. “It was the Swedish women’s soccer team for me,” he grinned with false machismo. “Anyone interesting for you?”

into his ear
I whispered
your name

It was a Wednesday when Dave had come barging into Carly’s office, his face pale and gaunt. “You look like hell,” she’d said, smiling. Her smile faded fast when he didn’t answer back.

“Have you ever thought that sleep problems were contagious?” he asked, his voice quivering. “Like I could have picked something up from the lab?”

“Contagious?” she answered back, incredulous. “What are you talking about?”

Her partner flopped onto the couch in Carly’s office and put his head in his hands. “I took Lucidox last night,” he began, and held his hand up to stop Carly’s objections before they began. “I don’t need the after-school special, just listen, okay?” Carly nodded curtly, her lips pursed like a scolding mother. “I’ve done it before a bunch of times, so I know how it should…”

“David Edgar Windeman,” Carly said, cutting him off. “These drugs are for clinical research, not for, for…” She fought for the right word. “Not for amusing yourself with.”

Dave sighed. “I know your opinion about this sort of thing, but I didn’t come here for a lecture. Just hear me out, and then you can slap my hands, okay?” Carly snorted, but said nothing. “I know what it should be like with Lucidox. You can control everything in your dream, make anything you want to happen, happen. No surprises. Like a daydream, only more vivid. That’s how it always was before. Last night, though…” His voice trailed off.

“Start at the beginning,” Carly said, slipping into her researcher role and picking up her notebook and pen.

Dave told her about how his dream started out normally enough, but then other people who didn’t belong in the scenario kept showing up. “It was so strange,” he said. “I was completely aware that I was in a dream, and I could choose to do whatever I wanted; control my own actions, change the scenario, whatever. But there wasn’t anything I could do to control the other people in my dream. It was like they were… well, like they really were were other people.”

“What are you saying, Dave?” Carly asked, frowning.

“I’m saying that there were other people in my dream. People with their own ideas, their own plans, making their own decisions.”

Carly pursed her lips and thought. “Sounds like a typical dream to me, Dave,” she said, and when he tried to explain further, she cut him off with a lecture. “This is exactly the problem with messing around with something like Lucidox,” she said. “You think that, because you’re a professional, you know what you’re doing, but you don’t, really. And now you come in here thinking you’ve made some kind of breakthrough just because your drug-induced lucid dream wasn’t a perfect construction of your conscious mind. You should be ashamed, Dave.”

She almost convinced him that it was nothing. But over the next few weeks, their patients and research subjects began complaining of eerily similar experiences, and Carly started to believe her partner. And when she finally consented to try Lucidox herself she knew it to be true. The other people in her dreams were real.

#

They sat at the lunchroom table, Dave’s feet on the scarred plastic tabletop. “I know this seems impossible,” Carly began, “but could it be some kind of telepathy?”

“You mean people sharing the same dream?” Dave asked. “I guess it’s as good a theory as any.” They hadn’t shared their theory about other beings inhabiting dreams with their grad studens and postdocs, they simply started keeping track of additional data in their tests. But they had gotten nowhere in over two weeks, so they agreed that it was time to go public.

They posted their theories on an online service for dream researchers, and shrugged off the inevitable jeers and name calling. And after dozens of attempts, no one could match any of the dreams any better than chance, there being so many typical themes among people’s dreaming lives. They were becoming a joke in the community.

It was Dave who eventually stumbled on the truth, even though he thought at the time he was making a joke. “If it’s not other dreamers,” he said one day when they were frustrated by the lack of progress, “it must be bloody aliens.”

#

They read up on tests used by SETI, the search for extra-terrestial intelligence, and though neither he nor Carly truly believed the alien theory, they had nothing else to try. So they called in Johanna.

She was a one in a million, Carly had once said. Johanna said that all her life, even as a child, she had known her dreams were dreams, and had always been able to control them perfectly. A natural lucid dreamer, she could be given instructions before falling asleep, and be able to remember and carry them out in her dream. So Dave, Carly and Johanna began a systematic program to try to contact the dream people.

It wasn’t an instant success — Johanna began by starting a conversation with the first strange person she encountered in a dream. She related the discussion when she awoke to Dave and Carly. “It was like we were speaking two different languages, though the words he used were English. I said, ‘Hello, my name is Johanna, what is your name?’ and he said, ‘Fruit are underwater, thank you sunset.’ It went on like that for a while then I just gave up.” Dave smirked and Carly frowned, and they looked for other ways to communicate.

Only when they tried mathematics did they have any success. Johanna began counting in prime numbers to the people she met in her dream. She’d had to memorize the sequence, being utterly terrible at math herself. When she awoke she was able to report the dream person’s response — perfectly continuing the mathematical sequence. Carly and Dave knew they were on to something. It wasn’t proof, not yet, but they were convinced. Convinced enough to try other tests with other dreamers, until they had pages and pages of similar data. Enough pages to make them realize that they had found something incredible. An entity, that was intelligent but not human, was living and acting inside people’s dreams.

#

“I’m sorry I didn’t believe you at first,” Carly said to Dave, one night after they’d been working late and went to a nearby pub for a quick bite before calling it a day.
“It’s okay,” he said, smiling and holding her gaze with his own. “I knew you’d be disappointed in me taking — Lucidox for fun, but who else could I tell?”

Carly smiled. She could feel the better part of the three glasses of wine she’d had with dinner on her sense of propriety. She let her hand wander over to Dave’s side of the table, and her stomach flipped pleasantly at the softness of his touch as he put his own hand ever so lightly on her arm. “So what did you want?” she asked. “What dream desire made you take Lucidox in the first place?”

She swore she felt Dave’s hand on her arm stiffen but in the dim light of the pub she couldn’t see his face flush. “You,” he thought, as his heart jackhammered in his chest. “In all my dreams it’s always only ever been you.”

Aloud, he said, “Flying.”

I looked into his eyes
his eyes which were
your eyes
his hand moved against me
it felt like your touch
so soft it is more a memory
than a caress

“Do you remember when we first started here?” Dave asked, as he filled his mug with coffee from the pot. “Could you have imagined then that we’d ever be presenting to the Royal Academy in London?”

“Of course not,” Carly laughed. “We aren’t even British.”

The grad students and postdocs had all left for the day, but Carly and Dave were still in the lab, ostensibly to finish preparing their talk before the flight across the pond the next morning. Really, they were both too nervous to be alone, and had no other excuse to be together. They both had always been most comfortable in the lab.

It was the sex dreams which had finally catapulted them into the spotlight. Even though it had taken a few weeks for it to become obvious, it was impossible to ignore that for nearly two months, in a thirty-three hour period between Sunday and Monday every single sleeping person on the planet past puberty was experiencing intense and vivid erotic dreams. The dream research community was abuzz with the revelation, and Carly and Dave’s theory about the other lifeforms populating human dreams was, amazingly, among the most credible explanations.

Once they had formalized their theory, Drs. Andrews and Windeman had teamed up with several other professors at the university. Anson Sindow, the psychologist, hypothesized that the beings were trying to communicate with humanity through pleasure. Kevita Dhaliwal, the biologist, guessed that it was some kind of mating ritual within their own species that they were reenacting with sleeping humans. The physicist, Sally Jensen, suggested that it was the random result of electrochemical stimulation. Whatever it was, it was real and worldwide and completely impossible to ignore.

“So, what do you think it is?” Carly asked Dave, as he flipped through the final draft of their presentation for the millionth time. “The Sunday night special?”

“I don’t really know,” Dave said. “It’s not exactly my field.”

“Sure,” Carly said, “But you’ve experienced it almost ten times now, and most of those times you knew it was really the other beings, not your own unconscious at work. You must have a theory.”

“Well,” Dave said, putting his feet up on the lunchroom table and leaning back in his chair. “I do have a thought or two.” He glanced at Carly, and couldn’t stop himself from remembering his most recent dream of her. He quickly looked away. “I don’t think it’s just a mistake, or some kind of translation error,” he said. “It’s too… consistent for that, you know what I mean?”

“Yeah,” Cary said, laughing. “Is it the same one for you each week, too?”

Dave nodded, his heartbeat racing in his chest.

“It’s so strange,” she said, “having this lover that you don’t even know.”

“You don’t know who it is?” Dave asked, his eyes catching Carly’s for a moment. “You don’t ever recognize anyone?”

“Oh, that,” Carly said, a flush creeping up her face. “Well, who we see is just a product of our dreaming minds,” she said. “Your Swedish soccer team, for example,” she grinned. “But who it is, really,” she said, “I wish I knew. I wonder if we’ll ever know.”

does it bother you
that this man I dream of
clothed in your body
is not you
are you jealous of him
my dream lover
who stole your name and your face
whom I loved last night
exquisitely

© M. Darusha Wehm