The Technicolor Dream



Scene Title The Technicolor Dream
Synopsis Joseph tries it the hard way for a while. It's a lot like drowning.
Date May 29, 2009

Greenwich Village — Joseph's Apartment

After Abby took the dog out that morning, Joseph went back to bed.

He'd cleared the table of notepads full of dictation and sketches, the sound recorder, the textbook Bible with its well-worn edges, curled corners and streaking yellow highlight marks. Gathered it into his arms, took it into the bedroom with its too small desk and too neat bed, shut the curtains and the door, and as Abby had suggested—

Let it come.

It's not like sleep. Hallucinating isn't the same as dreaming, not when he can feel the room around him, even as he doesn't see it and hear it. Takes a breath, stares up at the ceiling for the last time and…

Water spills over his face, felt only in the imagination as his eyes struggle to see past it. There's a blue sky beyond the shimmering surface, and he manages not to start breathing to draw in air that's there, plentiful. He's seen this before, over and over, is frankly sick of it. Yes, drowning, baptism, it's not as though he walk on water so what else

He breaks the surface, comes to stand on the broken riverbed floor. His clothing is white, a familiar robe over plain clothes, waterlogged and heavy. The lake is as high as his waist and stretches forever, and she's there too, approaching him slowly. Blonde hair bound back tightly, a summery dress, the floral kind, and she keeps a distance despite the smile she affords him.

"You should try a different direction."

In the quiet of his bedroom, Joseph presses a hand against his bed, forces himself to sit, unseeing in the darkness. He's seen it before, the way people in a vision might try to talk, to interact, and he knows from the accounts of others that it doesn't work, never works. He murmurs anyway, "I don't know what that means. Claira…?"

"Remember to get your bearings first, or you won't know what's up or down." Claira, or the figment that looks so much like her, extends a long, pale arm to point, and the dream entity he rides with turns obediently, even though he doesn't want to. There's oil in the water in the distance, and fire dances on it.

The scenery changes without ceremony, running overtime, and the stretch of highway is a familiar sight, reminiscent of his journey to New York. There are differences, though. For instance, a New York signpost and streetlamp jut from the ground just beside the road, illuminating the already bleached out landscape. Including the car that rests in the middle of it, the pale blue of his Daihatsu. His movement towards it is smooth, without steps, the front door approached until— his hand is taken by Claira's, still dressed the way he remembers, steering him away as though he were an errant child.

"You're going the wrong way."

There's a man on the road, sprawled like a discarded doll, sticky with blood that's as black as tar. Claira disappears in favour of him coming into focus, Joseph forced to kneel down and look into a face that has gone blue and mottled with suffocation, a dead fish mouth breathing nothing and tongue black. Eyes stare sightless, so very dead in all ways that count, and yet the sound of struggling breathing fills his ears. A hand grips the corpse's shoulder and rolls him over, and there's another face on the back of his head, bleeding scarlet life and gasping a plea.

The bedroom comes back into being, and Joseph can see the opposite blank wall, and his hand outstretched, retracted back against him. He takes a second to breathe, trying to think, trying to figure out what was relevant, what was affectation, what possible meanings—

Only to discover it hadn't really ended, around the same time he realises he can feel himself lying down, rather than sitting up in bed as what his eyes suggest.

The carpeted ground of the bedroom suddenly breaks apart with a roar of water, rushing up through the impossible crevices that have run through there, the bed dipping and plummeting and dragging him with. Waking dreams are the worst, and his heart races as reality and illusion join hands to drill some point home.

It's unfortunate he doesn't know what it is, curling on his side and uttering an unheard prayer that dissolves quickly into a repeated mantra. "Stop, just stop, stop it…"

The water is climbing, fiercely dark, now, and he realises that the burning oil is over his head, that to surface would be painful to reach. Burning or drowning? What the hell kind of future is that? He sees himself reach a hand up, and quite unexpectedly, a hand descends down to meet him halfway, male and cracked with experience and age, bony knuckles showing white as fingers wrap forcibly around Joseph's hand and drag him up.

He staggers over the rocky surface of the shore he's been longing to get to, baptismal robe snagging on the rock. Claira is seated calmly on the sand. "The other ferrymen will try to drown you if you let them," she advises, and tilts her head, forcing him to acknowledge the white-painted building on the top of the hill. "Just go around. You already know."

He endures it a little longer. A plague of locusts blacks out the sun. The man covered in blood that's as black as tar, with a Janus face, has nothing more to say, turns out. Claira's fleeting words of navigational guidance. She was wearing the dress she left the house in for the last time and reeks too much of the past to be the future. And of course, the water: in equal parts coaxing, terrible, cleansing and mysterious.

The first time the bedroom comes back into being, Joseph lies still and waits for it to shift, his memory dancing madly over what he's seen, trying to hold onto it as one would a dream. Perhaps he slept after all, although the sting in his eyes of utter exhaustion says otherwise. Once he's convinced all is real, he's quick to get changed, scrawl a note for the benefit of Abby and Raquelle, and leave.

He tried. Maybe they'll even think he succeeded.

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