What Nightmares Come


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Scene Title What Nightmares Come
Synopsis In dealing with the baggage he's picked up over the course of his Very Bad No Good Kinda Awful year, Isaac Faulkner decides to consult a professional.
Date March 22, 2021

Whatever Isaac Faulkner might have expected Dr. Madison Everleigh's office to look like, this isn't it.

It's… bright. Lots of bright, warm colors. It feels open and sunny… which is to say that Isaac isn't all that enamored of it. The migraine ache rattling around his brainpan doesn't seem too enamored of it, either.

There's a receptionist's desk, but no receptionist; just a sign saying job available, and another sign telling him to take a questionnaire. Well, whatever. He takes a clipboard and a pen and finds a seat to settle into to start working on it. He's early for his appointment, so he's got time.

The door to the office proper is slightly ajar, but it's hard to tell if someone's in there at all. There's plenty of time that passes from when he starts the questionnaire before a voice floats in from the direction of the cracked door.

"You can come on in whenever you're ready, take as much time as you need. I'll be here."

Her voice isn't chipper, but it's not downbeat either. It's a strange mix of calm with a peppering of energy thrown in. Less clinical, more friendly, but not at all unprofessional. Once she's spoken, the quiet sets in again… it seems she's more than willing to wait.

The sound of the voice from the other room makes Faulkner look up. He glances at his phone — still a bit early. He considers for a moment… but if the doctor's alright with it, so is he.

"No sense dragging things out," he responds, with a more genial tone than the words themselves might indicate. Still holding the clipboard and pen at his side, he moves to the office door and gently pushes it open, peering warily inside.

"Therapy isn't something you have to suffer through like you're a middle schooler doodling in science class," Everleigh responds in turn, a small chuckle escaping.

Inside the office, the colors are still warm, but toned down enough not to be overbearing. Bright, but relaxing. With a myriad of different seating choices ranging from a couch to an armchair to even beanbags and floor pillows, there's plenty of options. Also on offer is a set of unmatching mugs in warm colors next to an electric kettle and a pile of various single wrapped bags of tea.

"If you come in expecting to get it over with, you probably won't get much out of it. At least have an open mind?"

"Oh, I do have that; if I didn't have hopes for this, I wouldn't be here," Faulkner says dryly, with a hint of an ironic smile. "I also have… this questionnaire," he says, handing the clipboard over; after a moment's deliberation, he opts to settle into a beanbag.

"First and foremost, though: thank you for seeing me, Dr. Madison," he says smoothly, offering a nod. "And with that said… how do we begin?" he asks, dark eyes settling apprisingly on her.

Everleigh takes the clipboard, taking a moment to scan over the contents. "You're welcome to call me Everleigh if you'd like. Anything in particular you'd like to be called?" She makes her way over towards the beanbags, gracefully seating herself on one in a manner that betrays the fact that she's certainly done this more than once. One more glance at the clipboard, then she sets the questionnaire on the ground beside her.

"Well, there's a few places we could start. We could start with why you're here, if there's anything on your mind. If you can't quite find the words for it or anything to start with, I can talk about your answers on the sheet and see if we can find something you'd like to focus on. It's up to you. Everyone comes in here looking for something different."

"Isaac. Call me Isaac," Faulkner says distractedly. Then he leans forward, seeming to draw in on himself, his arms crossing; his body language seems more closed off, and it takes a moment before he begins to speak. "I've been having dreams. Bad ones. Well, I've been having those for awhile, but… recently they've gotten worse." He takes a deep breath. "I'd… like to be able to wake up and feel rested, and not like I've spent eight hours being ground down into sand while I'm unconscious." He raises a hand and pinches at the bridge of his nose.

“Dreams usually form based on what we’ve thought about recently. Barring abilities causing them, that is.” Everleigh smiles wryly at the mention. Perhaps personal experience? “The question is, what’s crossing your mind that’s causing them. How has your stress been outside of your dreams? Is there something in particular you seem to dream about frequently?”

"Fighting," Isaac says after a moment, voice quiet. "I'd end up fighting. Didn't matter where I was or what I was doing or how the dream started." He pulls himself back to the present, his gaze meeting Everleigh's. "Which isn't to say that it always happened. Just… sometimes. It was never pleasant when it did, though. It was… fragmented, like dreams are. Parts of it were memories bubbling up, I think, but it was hard to say what parts were real and what actually happened." He shrugs, looking annoyed — whether at himself or in general is harder to say.

Everleigh nods slowly as she listens. "The fact that fighting is a recurring theme seems to indicate to me that there's something about the issue that you haven't resolved in your head. Perhaps some of it is real and some isn't, but facing it head on and discovering how you feel about it may make all the difference. You said it's gotten worse? Has there been anything as of late that might have had an influence on your stress levels?"

"Yeah." Isaac says, gaze slipping off somewhere. "That was something I could deal with. It wasn't… pleasant, but if it was just that I wouldn't be here. But…"

He trails off for a moment, considering. "It's… not the important part, I guess? But I was, uh. Abducted. And drugged up and forced to fight in some kind of… superpowered bum fight or whatever. I don't remember most of it on account of all the drugs, but they said it might start to come back. In dreams and such. And it has."

He shifts a bit, curling his legs up under him. "But it's not… that's not the worst part. It's gotten worse, here lately. It still goes through the fighting bit, usually, but then it… it changes. Something happens — maybe I take a hit, zig where I should've zagged. Maybe I put a foot wrong. Or maybe I'm just having a normal dream and all of a sudden the ground just breaks away under me. And then… then I'm falling. It hurts, and I can't move, and I'm falling. I can't see, can't hear… but it hurts. And I'm… less and less there, you know? It's like I'm… diminishing. Like I'm less and less there."

He laughs bitterly, his gaze coming back to Everleigh. "And yeah. Yeah it's… I've been under a lot of stress lately. I got abducted, again, no one seems to have a clue how." One hand comes up to smooth his hair back, but it's shaking a bit. "I had a goddamned stroke in November, along with half the rest of the group that got abducted with me. In January, the other half had strokes, and one of them died. I just…" he trails off for a moment, shaking his head as he tries to come up with words. In the end, he manages to find one that suitably encapsulates this whole mess.


Everleigh sits. Quietly, patiently, her attention focused as she listens. "I've heard of the strokes, there's certainly a lot of trauma that comes from something like that." She tilts her head to the side as she observes Isaac. "You sound like you need something to ground you. It's something that helps people who have panic attacks. Often times it's focusing on all the senses you have: feel something, taste something, look at something, listen for something, smell something. Take what's immediately around you and let it remind you of what's real. Once you've grounded yourself, it's a little easier to determine where the truth in things lies."

She seems thoughtful. "Does it feel like you're less there, or does it perhaps feel like you're simply changing. Something like what you've went through changes you as a person, like it or not. If you aren't sure who you are, remind yourself you're still there. Ground yourself in who you are. Find five things you can feel sure of, five things about you that can pull you back in and remind you of things."

The doctor shifts a little on the beanbag. "There's no quick fix, but there are all kinds of things you can do to attempt to make it better, in nightmares or the waking world. What is it you're hoping for by being here? It does sound like, at the very least, you need to get all of this out. Someone to listen. That's what I'm here for."

"In the dreams, it's like I'm less there. Like I'm… I don't know, eroding. Dissolving into nothing," Faulkner answers absently. If he were more focused, he'd be irritated, but as it is he's preoccupied by Everleigh's question. What exactly is it that he's hoping to accomplish here? He considers for a moment… and finds his answer.

"What I want out of this is to find a way to manage these dreams. Right now, there are… a lot of things in life that I have absolutely no control over. But I want to at least be able to control that. To make the most of whatever time I've got."

"Control can be a tricky thing," Everleigh says, her tone clearly an agreement to what he's admitting. "It certainly fits with the idea of grounding. I can't say I have any experience with dealing with things inside dreams, but I can certainly give advice to you to help you figure out how to get through it a little better. In a traditional sense, being relaxed or at least doing something that makes you feel comfortable before bed can often ward off things that might have wormed their way into your subconscious mind. It's a place to start, at least."

She takes a moment to observe him, as if the visual assessment would somehow give her more details or direction. "I feel like, in your case, some introspection might be helpful. You say that the dreams make you feel as if you're losing yourself. While the dreams might make you feel that, if they happen and you've already got a stronger sense of self, it's much more likely that they won't have the same impact. Spending some time thinking about yourself and who you consider yourself could be a good start. If you have problems with that, I'd suggest finding someone who knows you well and just asking them to describe you. Good qualities, bad qualities, anything they can and see what it is that others see when they look at you."

Isaac is silent for a moment after Everleigh finishes speaking, his face set in an expression of deep thought. Finally, though, his gaze comes back to Everleigh. "Less… losing myself, I think, and more… dying," he says; his tone, though, seems to suggest that he considers the difference to be more semantics than anything else.

"Introspection, huh…," he muses. He's not entirely convinced it's applicable, but he has little to lose by giving it a shot. And… if nothing else, he has gained something from this: he knows what he wants. He has a goal now…

…which means that he has something to work towards. Excellent. "I think… that this has given me a few things to think over, doctor," he says, nodding.

"Thinking about things is always a good thought. You're welcome to come back if you feel up to it. Even if you don't, I hope things at least sparked you in a direction you need. Honestly, it's hard to really give suggestions in situations I'm not too familiar with… but if you've gotten something, I'm pleased it worked. A little can go a long way."

Everleigh's smile is genuine and she nods in his direction.

"Agreed. Thank you, Doctor," Isaac says, rising to his feet and offering a nod. The bill will be in the mail, he's sure… but he doesn't think he'll have any regrets about paying this one.

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