Alexi’s Study by Andrew Conlon (Flash Fiction)
In the interests of storytelling, I’m going to try posting short fiction here, too. I wrote this one after editing an actual English translation of a Russian textbook about lucid dreaming and dream control. My song for this one is Queensryche – Silent Lucidity. Enjoy your Sunday!
Alexi’s methods of dream control were, in my estimation, lacking. He claimed that for one to reach consciousness during REM sleep, one only needed to act consciously in the dream state, thereby transferring waking awareness into the sleeping brain cycle. For the three years I slaved as Alexi’s acolyte, this limited methodology proved sporadic in helping me achieve dream consciousness and control. Really, whenever control was reached, its occurrence was base – interaction with objects in the immediate surroundings, verbalizing simple, non-intellectual thought. I sought more. I wanted to change the dream environment, create and destroy landscapes, summon and dismiss armies, conjure and ravish a hoard of willing whores if the mood suited. I wished, unashamed, to be God.
As part of the experiments, Alexi developed a drug he named X-PS11 that caused test subjects to enter and sustain brain states conducive to REM sleep, where it’s thought the sleeper has the most vivid, sensory-rich dreams. Being Alexi’s most senior research student, I was given charge of all nighttime sleep observation sessions, so I had access to the lab, its equipment, and its X-PS11 cache whenever I managed the rotation of research assistants who recorded every sleeping volunteer’s eye movement, heartbeat, and brain blip. Alexi used the gathered data to help map the uncharted oddities of the slumbering mind, but all he’d really accomplished was a rehashing of the last sixty years of sleep study. Such slow, boring work.
In November of my senior year, the lab was handling a heavy rotation of sleep observation research. Seven days a week, the lab staff observed three to five sleepers a night, most of them students who, for twenty dollars, would submit to having their heads netted with a hood of electrodes before being drugged to sleep. The work wasn’t always boring. The occasional sleepwalker or nocturnal masturbator broke the monotony. Largely, though, watching people sleep and dream is like watching the dead rot.
One night, after administering the prescribed doses of X-PS11 to the sleepers, I rolled the medicine cart back to the pharmacy and parked it in a dark corner, where I’d be hidden in the event of any passers-by. My fingers trembled as I uncapped a syringe. I held my breath, stabbed the needle into a vial of Alexi’s experimental brain suspension potion, and pulled the plunger. Blue fluid filled the syringe. I rolled up my sleeve.
Alexi wrote the standard procedures for administering X-PS11, dosage instructions that many times admonished the reader to never, under any circumstances, administer more than half a milliliter of X-PS11, a miniscule amount. The syringe I stuck into my arm was loaded with 20 milliliters of the drug. I am sure that at least nine milliliters made it in, because the last thing I remember before falling asleep was the syringe dangling from my forearm, with the plunger stuck at the 11mL mark.
Since then, I’ve created a total of fourteen new universes, and I’m working on my fifteenth right now. Time here is irrelevant since it only exists when I decide it should, so I’m not exactly sure how long I’ve been asleep. Given the level of awareness and control I experience, when I wake I will immediately inform Alexi that X-PS11 is a scientific success of celestial proportions. He will be pleased.
In the meantime, being God isn’t so bad, except when the nightmares invade (thus having to create new existences in place of ones overrun by the night terrors). Most of the time, however, I’m alright. The dose will wear off and I’ll wake up. Soon, I hope.