Living different lives

I was having a dream I’ve had before where me and my people were all trapped in our home. A derelict sprawl of a building which was dangerous in multiple ways but ours. A heavy rain was falling that mutated the animal life that got caught in it. The water itself was fine. It was something in the storm.
We were safe inside but the waters were rising and it was flooding the lower levels. And some strange infectious energy was creeping along the walls. Changing things.
I’ve had this dream before and the only way we’d devised to save ourselves was to lock ourselves away and take a pill that slowed our perception of time, and our bodies experience of it. We were gathering the survivors together when something strange(r) happened. The waters froze. They froze solid and we were able to escape.

The dream reelled forward 10 years and I was different. I was alone and had internal cybernetics. I also had a vehicle that had group of AI drones. They each specialized in a variety of energy which were known parts of this world. 2 life based, one dark based, and 2 necrotic. They had offensive and defensive capabilities and I recall having built them. They stayed in the car while I went into a high end restaurant where the owner owed me a favor and I was calling in the marker for a table and a conversation.

I was waiting for my table when my cars proximity alarm went off. I went out to see and it looked like a team of jetpack jackers had descended on the vehicles of this high end parking lot. My drones deployed. First hitting with life energy to push the attacker back while the necrotic drones erected a barrier. At first he was amused by the harmless energy attacks which are street legal if uncommon, but then the dark beam weapon hit him, shutting down all of his optical gear. The drones retreated beyond the dome and he was like WTF, when he saw it was necrotic energy which is both rare and deadly.

The owner came out to watch and said to not worry. That they were imperium protected. And my perspective shifted to the cockpit of some kind of fighter jet, though it was more like a space based plane that was only flyable in high atmosphere. It fired a missile which was headed straight for the guy looking at my shield. The missile was odd. It looked more like a container for something rather than a normal missile.

I heard the ring leader tell his people to bug out, that the imperium was here. But then he switch channels and said, “See you around, flyboys.” He had the scrambler codes for the imperium communications and he used them for something frivolous. He was a spy, a plant in the gang, from the imperium.

The missile hit my shield but nothing happened. Well, the necrotic shield flared and the missile flared with the same energy but my shield held and the missile spent its without effect.

I went to check my car and heap accolades on the AI’s but there was a man sprawled in the seat. He was disoriented and confused. The life bots were quivering with the need to protect but they are not allowed to fire in the confines of the car without permission. I got a look at the man and was shocked. I knew him. From the compound, from before.

He saw me and was relieved. I was not. The last time I saw him he had died. He was fighting imperium forces and they killed him.

He said he was happy to see me but he had to get back.

Back where, I asked.

To the Imperium, he replied. Looking at me like I was a quizling.

“Why would you go back to those monsters”, I said, my voice rising.

He looked me square in the eye and said, “they aren’t monsters. We were wrong. I’ll take you to them and you’ll find out.”

A local security guy came around and said that the restaurant would be pressing charges on all trespassers and looked pointedly at my old friend.

My bots took the opportunity to act on the perceived kidnapping threat and pushed my old friend out of the car. He got up, unperturbed and walked to a clear area. He setup a homing square for interdimensional transport. A risky method of long distance travel for any organics.

Then I woke up

Dream

I dreamed last night. In the dream, I and a few friends were walking down to this abandoned house. The outside was unfinished. Like they had been adding framework around it but the project had been abandoned. This house down in a valley that was this sprawl. Partially constructed, partially falling in. The house is in the no man’s land between the dreamscapes. I know it is not ‘near’ the city. I think it is upwards from the highway and leftwards from the school. Which makes it adjacent to the home and a shift spin from the mansion or hotel.

The house feels like it was just abandoned. Like at any moment, the owners and residents may come back. Which is frightening. Because the owners were members of a cult that was trying to break the walls of reality. Which was possible here at this place of meeting and nothingness. We break into the house, or I remember forcing our way in but not the actual breaking in part. We find ourselves in a series of rooms centered around a vast library. Books fill to the ceiling. Hardcover books by authors I’ve read but books they never wrote in our world. Some they never got to write due to their death. Some whole series that were conceived but never committed to page. Unspoken books. Hidden books. Books written by the heart but that never fell from their lips. Books everywhere. Books in modern dust jackets

One of my friends finds a book unlike the others. A handstiched leather bound book. A memoir of one of the people who lived here. A famous man. A black man who had never had a white friend or acquaintance. I don’t know why that was important but it was. He spoke of living here how they were living simple lives here but that occasionally one or more of the people would go mad and kill themselves or others. He accepted that as the price of living here. He said it was fine because his door locked. But he grew disillusioned with the work. The barrier was breaking but what was leaking through was not what they expected. It was ominous and evil. His term. One he didn’t use for the murders that took place here. As if those were small things by comparison with this thing that was breaking through.

The books weren’t here when he was here. But it slowly dawns on us. The books are a barrier. They are the price of seeing and the cost of dreaming. Of taking pieces of the dream and giving it to the world. Some dreams, some thoughts are sacrificed here. To keep the barrier strong. To hold back the tide with the ideas and thoughts, found here fully realized. We could read a book here, but could not take it. And when we read, we had to replace the book with one of our own. To keep the barrier intact. One of us stayed there. A keeper. A librarian. A safeguard so that any that came after would know the rules.

I did not wake so much as surface. Marked indelibly by the journey.