I take a deep breath of the water. It comes to me as easily as blinking but I'm not surprised at the fact. \n\nI'm lifeguard certified, I respond knowingly. Water is my second home. \n\nHe nods with respect. \n\nI ask him, are you bitter towards me?\n\nNo, he says, it was my time I think.\n\nHe steps forward and embraces me. We stand there in the deep for a few minutes. I tell him I wish I could have done more. He lets go of me, and in my arms I am holding a toddler. The little boy is wearing a yellow bathing suit.\n\nYou saved him, right? The man asks.\n\nI walk to the surface and sit with the boy on the beach. It's dark again.\n\n[[our job is done|breathe end]]\n[[impossible, he's dead|what is this i don't even 2]]
I'm on the beach now, the lake gently lapping behind me. I look back and see the old man slowly rise out of the shallows. \n\nStay away, I shout.\n\nHe is silent and unmoving. Stiff with rigor mortis. The sand around me swells and ripples unpleasantly, like muscle, and suddenly the ground parts between my feet. It's a ten foot deep whole, and when I fall to the bottom, I go sprawling. There's algae beneath my back. I try to move but my limbs are slow, languid, uncooperative.\n\nSand begins to fall in from the sides. I try to breathe but it enters my lungs and I cough up blood, and soon I can't move at all and the panic is made all the worse because I can't even scream in protest. I know a headstone has been placed on the beach above bearing my name. Silently I beg for the sweet mercy of death and it's dark again.\n\n[[no mercy for you|burial end]]
I'm awake again, thank god. They blame me for criminal negligence in the workplace and I haven't been able to sleep well since then. It was a busy day, the waters were crowded. I was watching the kids near to me in case they went in. People were asking me questions about the lake rules. A parent was asking me the whereabouts of her child. Who could see one old man so far back, near the diving platform?\n\nEven if they don't think so, I know I did my job as best as I could. It has to be true. It has to be. I'm not the bad guy here. I was a good employee. Hell, as a great diver I was perfect for the job. Once I knew there was trouble, I found the old man's body quickly, didn't I? \n\nAt the hearing tomorrow, I'm pleading not guilty. \n\n(good morning)
The old man bursts from the shallows, wrinkled and gray. I can't stand the stench of his decay and sprint up the beach, away from the water. He's catching up but I see it – the parking lot, the rusted grills for barbequing. If I get there I am safe, I know it. It's regulation or something.\n\nMy foot touches the asphalt. I look back but it's all dark again.\n\n[[you made it|run end]]\n
I'm awake again,and it's morning.. They suspect me of criminal negligence in the workplace but I'm still sleeping solidly enough. I did everything right at my job. It was a busy day, the waters were crowded. I was watching the kids near to me in case they went in. People were asking me questions about the lake rules. A parent was asking me the whereabouts of her child, and I was making arrangements over the radio to get a search going by staff. I scanned the water for a kid in a yellow bathing suit. I was trained to be competent at multitasking. I saw the old man, far back in the water though he was.\n\nI know responsibility lies with me. But I was a good employee and remain a decent human being. The old man took water into his lungs and went under into the opaque water just as I was reaching for him.\n\nAt the hearing tomorrow, I'm pleading not guilty. \n\n(good morning)
Wait, none of this is right. None of this is comfortable. I'm not myself, am I? I've been acting like an automaton, responding to all this ridiculous stimuli without self-reflection. Is this...\n\n[[relax, relax|reject the question 2]]\n[[yeah this is stupid|eureka]]
Wait, none of this is right. None of this is comfortable. I'm not myself, am I? I've been acting like an automaton, responding to all this ridiculous stimuli without self-reflection. Is this...\n\n[[relax, relax|reject the question 3]]\n[[yeah this is stupid|eureka]]
It's dark, it's dark. Dark dark darkdarkdarkdark...\n\n[[not tonight|nothing awake]]
There it is, the feeling of the heavy fluff of the comforter draped over me. I sigh in annoyance. Blearily, I look over towards the glow of my alarm clock. It's 3:56 AM. \n\nI've never had a lucid dream before. It was an intoxicating feeling – the one time when I have had total control over, well, everything. Life is so unpleasantly unpredictable. I grab for my laptop in the dark and begin looking up techniques for increasing the likelihood of lucid dreaming. Suddenly I'm obsessed with it – other forms of experience seem so uninteresting, so common. \n\nThat one moment was miraculous. Why let my subconscious hoard it all from me?\n\n(good morning)
No, no. This is all perfectly legitimate. It's all familiar enough for me to be sure. I'm sure.\n\n[[back to the matter at hand|breathe]]
Odd. My vision seems blurred and I can barely see two feet ahead. Everything is dark green. I blink ineffectually, and notice I am standing. I shuffle in place, feeling the heavy, gritty mud formed by the wet sand beneath me. Ah, of course. I am at the bottom of a lake, how silly of me.\n\nI get my bearings. Look there, the concrete, algae-skinned pillar of one of the diving platforms. I know this place. I worked here. I lazily gaze downwards and sure enough there is the whistle around my neck and the red shorts that served as my uniform. I take a few steps forward, feeling the resistance and pressure of thousands of gallons of water as I do. Business as usual.\n\nAhead there is a figure. Intrigued, I approach, one plodding step at a time. When I am only a dozen inches away do I see it clearly. It's the old man from two days ago. The one who drowned.\n\nI know you, he says. You were the lifeguard on the stand that day. Turns out I couldn't breathe underwater. How can you?\n\n[[oh you totally can|breathe]]\n[[pretty sure you can't|can't breathe]]\n[[wait this is ridiculous|what is this i don't even]]\n
Wait, none of this is right. None of this is comfortable. I'm not myself, am I? I've been acting like an automaton, responding to all this ridiculous stimuli without self-reflection. Is this...\n\n[[relax, relax|reject the question]]\n[[yeah this is stupid|eureka]]
Yes, it IS a dream! I know it, I have that gut feeling. I feel triumphant, resplendent, like I've beaten some pompous chess master at his own game. None of you, or it, or whatever this is, is real. None of it matters. I know unlike all of this, I exist, and the fact that I do makes me God here. \n\nCliched though it may be, I've always wanted to fly. May as well make it my inaugural action as a lucid dreamer.\n\nMy feet begin to leave the ground when suddenly, a lightness wraps its way around my forehead. No! I can't believe my body is betraying me like this. Not now, not whe-\n\n[[now|after lucid]]
\n\nI find when I can't sleep that the best way to get myself drowsy is to just start thinking about the day. My eyes close, and I recall a conversation or an act of habit. The events of this past day have given me a lot to think about. The next stage comes quickly enough. My imagination begins to leak into my eyelids, massaging them enough to change the memory ever so slightly. It's a domino effect, and before I know it I'm not picturing the day at all. The sounds from outside the window are still there, just less important now in light of these new sights. \n\nI know the shift to rapid eye movement indicates the beginning of deep sleep. There's all sorts of science behind it. It amuses me to think that what I am doing now, the imagining business, is warming up my mind and my eye sockets for all that awful effort.\n\nIt's all dark now. (but you are warmed up)\n\nWhere am I?\n\n[[there's nothing to see tonight|nothing there]]\n[[look around you it's wet|lake]]
I'm awake again, thank god. They blame me for criminal negligence in the workplace and the guilt has made sleeping torture. I should have been better at my job. It was a busy day, the waters were crowded. I was watching the kids near to me in case they went in. People were asking me questions about the lake rules. A parent was asking me the whereabouts of her child. But I was trained to be competent at multitasking. Or I was stupid enough to think I was. I should have been able to see the old man, no matter how far back in the water he was.\n\nEven if my family doesn't think so, I know I the blame lies with me. I'm the bad guy here. I was a bad employee. Finding the old man's body was simply a capstone to my awful career as a lifeguard.\n\nAt the hearing tomorrow, I'm pleading guilty. \n\n(good morning)\n
REM
Suddenly I'm coming out of wherever I was. The lights are still on in my room, and I feel a little bit foolish for wasting the electricity bill so unnecessarily if all I was going to do was lie on the bed. I sit up and wipe a small line of spittle that had crept its way out of my lips during my little nap. I try to shake that feeling of discomfort you get from sleeping in jeans, but no luck.\n\nThey say that keeping a dream journal helps you remember your dreams more vividly. I really should start one. I remember nothing from what just happened, except suddenly being aware that my eyelids were closed for longer than normal and forcing them open.\n\nI wonder what it is I've missed out on? What fucked up shit is my brain capable of improvising when I let the subconscious do its thing? It gnaws at me as I resume working on the paper I was staying up to write in the first place. \n\n(good morning)
I can't, I realize. Suddenly the panic swells in my lungs. There's nothing in me but carbon dioxide at this point. The old man looks at me, bemused, as bubbles burst forth from my mouth and I whip my head around trying to remember which way is up.\n\nMy knees bend on their own, trying to push off the mud. They simply sink. I claw at my ankles, digging ferociously. The old man sets his hands on my shoulders.\n\nIt's karma. You're staying here, he growls.\n\nMy feet are free. I punch the old man away, and kick to the surface. Air. My chest burns and I'm coughing but I manage an unprofessional doggy paddle to shore. The sand here is dry.\n\n[[get out of there|run]]\n[[you are safe now|burial]]\n[[real life isn't like this|what is this i don't even 3]]
No, no. This is all perfectly legitimate. It's all familiar enough for me to be sure. I'm sure.\n\n[[back to the matter at hand|can't breathe]]
No, no. This is all perfectly legitimate. It's all familiar enough for me to be sure. I'm sure.\n\n[[back to the matter at hand|lake]]