Part One: Homecoming
"In the end, there is rain, and the funeral is yours."
On a Monday night in the middle of winter, a man dreamt that he
was trapped in a coffin, miles under the earth. He found himself
struggling for what seemed like hours in attempt to break out,
but he had only managed to bloody his fingers and knuckles. In
total blackness, he screamed and yelled until he had difficulty
He ran his hands along the length of the coffin's sides, and to
his amazement, he felt a light switch. As bizarre as it seemed,
the man gave it no second thought, and flipped it. There was
light. But no sign of any light bulbs or lanterns. The inside
of the coffin was barren. "Weird", he thought. The man took a
In the midst of a dream, we usually never question anything that
seems strange or impossible. Usually these events never occur in
reality, yet we treat them in the dream as if they were
completely acceptable. Upon speculation in the aftermath of the
sleep, we immediately recognize (given that we can remember the
dream) the strangeness of our actions or others' actions. We ask
ourselves how we can feel complacent enough to accept these
happenings in a dream, when in reality, they should not be
accepted at all. (Heisenberg's Lucid Memory Study Section 2)
look at his deathtrap, and exhaled slowly in satisfaction. He
supposed he was ready to die. But after closing his eyes and
opening them seconds later, he found that the coffin wasn't
completely empty, as he had previously thought. He could have
sworn it was empty only a second before. Now, he was wearing a
suit with many badges and medals. In his hands, there was a
somewhat recent picture, framed, of him with his battalion, who
were stationed in Iraq during the war. All this was right so
far. He had fought during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and he was a
Then one medal caught his eye, a Purple Heart, pinned right over
his front jacket pocket. He was confused. He hadn't been
injured or killed in the war. He thought so, at least. He tried
to think. Was he injured? He recalled catching a stomach virus
while in Iraq, but other than that, he hadn't suffered anything.
So no, he wasn't injured. He also vividly remembered coming home
from the war. He remembered the nightmares and flashbacks that
followed his homecoming as well.
He was not killed in the war, so what the hell was he doing
wearing a purple heart? "Don't deserve it…" His words sounded
alien to him. He couldn't understand what he had just said. The
wooden sides of the coffin were cracking.
It was around this point when the man, whom we'll call John
Whyles, finally realized he was in the grips of a dream.
Immediately after this realization, his vision started to spin,
and he could feel himself beginning to wake up. Drawing from his
research in lucid dreaming, which he had studied with great
interest during his teenage years, he attempted to remain in the
dream. John Whyles did this by staying calm and focusing
Upon the realization that he/she is in a dream, the said person
will most likely (assuming they have no experience in lucid
dreaming), wake up, or at least change scenery in the dream.
Their vision will begin to spin, as this is the first sign that
the dreamer has become "aware". In order to prevent any changes,
and continue with the same dream scenario, the person must remain
calm. Panicking will only quicken the awakening process. Remain
calm, and think about the details of the dream, whether it be
somebody's clothes, the weather, the time, anything will do.
(Heisenberg's Lucid Memory Study Section 4)
on the details of the dream itself. He thought about the
individual wood grains in his coffin. He could trace them to the
very end, where his feet lay. The wood grain reminded him of the
spruce tops of acoustic guitars, much like the ones in the
window at the pawn shop he used to drive by. It had closed down
years ago, due to mold and rat infestation. He thought it was
funny and ironic how sometimes the most unworthy, disgusting
places can house the most beautiful things.
He contained his anxiety and kept calm. The dream stopped
shaking, and his death-trap no longer had cracks and fissures in
its sides. Yes, he had succeeded in remaining in the dream after
the initial realization that he was in one. Now, according to
the many articles he had read years ago, he could theoretically
control the dream.
The first thing he wanted to do was get out of the coffin,
because Whyles was beginning to feel the anxiety and nervousness
that accompanied claustrophobia. He imagined an opening in the
wooden side, large and jagged, without any soil entering in and
suffocating him. He waited a second, thought, and it was as if
there was a hole in the coffin all along.
"That was how these lucid thoughts worked", he thought. "You
imagine some type of change, and it's like it was there the whole
time." It was almost deceptive. Tiny details sneak their way
into the dream scenario at your very request. Of course, this
only occurred when one mastered the art of lucid sleep.
John Whyles soon found himself climbing out of his coffin,
through the jagged hole. There was no soil in his way. In fact,
his coffin happened to be above an underground cavity of sorts.
A space in which the buried can stretch their legs. A living
room for the dead.
He dropped into this room, onto a floor of dirt, surrounded by
walls of dirt. "Fucking dirt everywhere," He choked out through
deep breaths of exhaustion. This part with the dirt room, he had
not planned it or anticipated it even. It was unscripted, and he
soon felt himself losing
Maintaining control of the dream itself for an extended period of
time, including all of it's scenarios, places, and people,
requires extreme practice, experience, and arduous perseverance.
One goal may be to control certain events, but to control all
events is a feat that is nearly impossible to most people. The
dreamer's subconscious is so complex and unpredictable, that they
will involuntarily plaster the perimeter of the dream with their
memories, thoughts, and grey matter. That being said, in order
to control every aspect of the dream, one must first conquer the
subconscious. (Heisenberg's Lucid Memory Study Section 5)
control of the dream. He looked up, and to his amazement, he saw
four skeletons sitting around a wooden table, playing cards and
smoking cigars. He felt he knew them, and he probably did,
considering how they all greeted him with hand waves and head
John Whyles wondered how the hell they could see their cards
without any eyes. Also, how could they wave their hands and nod
their heads, just as they did to me, without any muscles? But
the eyes, that's what got him most of all. Four sets of empty
sockets, no expression; the ultimate poker faces.
He waved back to them slowly, still laying on the ground, like he
had lost his ability to move. His legs felt heavy and he
suddenly felt thinner and weaker, but he greeted his four
cigar-smoking and card playing friends, nevertheless. After all,
they had welcomed him into their underground room.
Silence. John strained his eyes to see what kind of card game
they were playing. Whatever it was, he wasn't familiar with it.
Maybe some weird version of poker or blackjack. He could see a
couple piles of cards, a box of high-quality cigars (he could
tell by the bands on them), and a green ashtray in the center of
He felt like pulling up a chair and playing cards with them, so
he attempted to get up from the dirt floor. Only he couldn't.
Now he felt like he had no muscles in any part of his legs, and
upon closer investigation, he found that he was right. In fact,
his lower half was all skeleton, without any organs or muscles.
The only thing that remained on him was his tie and his Purple
Heart medal (which he still believed he hadn't earned), attached
to the upper part of his ribs, right over where his left lung
used to reside. Everything else was just bone and marrow.
The four sitting at the table were also skeletons, but they were
able to move. Why couldn't he?
"Why can't I?" He asked.
Then one of the four spoke up. He curled the seven cards in his
hand towards his chest, so the others couldn't see them, tapped
ash off of his cigar into the green ceramic ashtray, and turned
"The gift of mobility after death must be granted to you."
Was this some kind of sick joke? He knew he was dreaming, so why
couldn't he control the situation and just
In the event that the dreamer cannot control a certain event
after his/her initial realization that they are dreaming, or
"unconscious awakening" as it is often termed, the dreamer should
realize that he/she is under the control of a higher power, that
is, something other than their subconscious. This gray area of
lucid study is widely unexplored and open to interpretation.
Proof that some events under certain circumstances are
unchangeable is still lacking. However, I would urge every
dreamer not to fight this event that is seemingly unchangeable,
because if it is, then we may be meddling with higher powers.
What these powers are, I cannot say, but if they are truly
unchangeable, then the dreamer is dealing with something more
powerful and dominant than the human mind. It would almost be
like meddling with fate, or death itself. This would only
succeed in disrupting our focus and calmness, which could either
wake us up or continue the dream without having any control or
even maintaining the subconscious awakening. (Heisenberg's Lucid
Memory Study Section 7)
move himself? He tried to focus, drawing back from his lucid
dreaming research. Just think about what you want the change to
be, and focus on the details of that change. He imagined picking
himself off the ground, without the need for muscles. It didn't
work. He must have missed one of the lucid dreaming articles, or
something. He couldn't even twitch. It surprised him that he
could even talk.
"Granted? How long will I have to wait to be granted?"
"I don't know." The skeleton replied to him, removing the cigar
from his jaw. The smoke that had collected in his mouth crawled
down inside his chest cavity, and filled in the open space where
organs used to be, until it crept around his ribcage. Whyles
glanced at the others, and the same effect was happening to them.
The four of them just sat there and continued on with their
strange game of cards, inhaling their cigars periodically,
filling and coloring in their bodies with sweet smoke.
John Whyles stayed there for an indeterminable period of time, on
the dirt floor of the underground cavity-room, whatever it was,
and watched his four friends play cards. There was no clear
winner as far as he could tell. They had been playing for what
seemed like hours, but John knew that what seemed like hours in
dreams, could be minutes in reality.
"Or is it the other way around?" He thought. He couldn't
remember. He couldn't remember much of anything, actually. At
this point in the dream, Whyles didn't even know his own name.
All he knew was that he couldn't move, and that he wanted to play
cards. He lay there motionless, completely silent, waiting for
something to grant him his mobility back. He hoped it would come
soon, but inside he knew the truth.
"What truth?" He thought. Then he realized that his destiny was
to lay there throughout eternity, paralyzed by an unknown entity,
watching the smoke envelope the four skeletons' bones, marbling
over like a strange flesh that comes only after death. Soon he
forgot this too, and his vision began to blur. He felt like a
fumbling child, unable to take care of himself or hold any
responsibility. His eyes slowly rolled back, but before he lost
sight, he saw the smoke clear away from one of the skeletons.
The bones of its upper body revealed themselves, unclouded, for
the first time. Before he goes under, Whyles spots a gleaming
purple medal, just like the one on himself, attached to the
skeleton's rib. The dream cuts.