Echo-1: Part 3
Red blinking lights on machines keeping me alive were the first things I saw before the pain came rushing in and blurred my vision. I reached to pull the tube out of my mouth only to find my arms tethered to the sides of the bed. Things beeped. Alarms buzzed. My legs were suspended above me in cages of wire, bandages and blood spots. A woman came into the room. I could smell her. She injected something into one of the many tubes running in and out of my body.
“This will help.”
I was crying. I could feel the water dripping down my face and it was one of the few things I could actually feel. I tugged on the straps and bit down on the breathing tube mouthpiece until the sedatives took hold.
It had been a long time since I’d been back in New York. I found myself standing in the middle of Sixth Avenue. I’d guess somewhere in the upper teens on the edge of Chelsea. All the traffic was stopped at the light and I was mid-block. A retirement aged UPS driver was loading his double-parked truck.
“You better be careful.”
The traffic light changed from red to green and solid line of cars raced forward. The wall of oncoming chrome should’ve been enough to get me moving, but my legs didn’t work. They were rubbery and worthless. I pulled on them, only to fall down in the street. The cars were right on top of me. I could see the drivers of each one and they were all me. Somehow I was also the UPS man and I watched myself get run down repeatedly until I was a crushed flat bloody smear on the street.
Four months later I was still in the hospital with my legs in braces. Two-thirds of my life was one drug filled nightmare after another. The other third was a forgotten cripple painfully trying to walk again.
“How are you sleeping?” My doctor was a nice enough kid, fresh out of med school and entirely optimistic.
“Rough, real rough.”
She pulled on my braces until I screamed and then told me to man up.
“And how is the walking coming?”
I told her only slightly better than the sleeping. She reached into her oversized lab coat pocket and tossed me a small paperback called Taking Charge of Your Dreams.
“That’s the book I was telling you about. You know, to help with your nightmares. Keep up the good work, you’ll be leaving soon.”
After two months no one came to visit me anymore. My young doctor and my old lady physical therapist were the only two people left in my shrinking nightmare filled world.
Stairs haunted me.
I found myself at the bottom of a grand staircase in an old southern mansion. There was someone at the door. Someone after me. I ran up the stairs two at a time. Then the next flight. Then the next. As I climbed the stairwell got smaller and smaller. The walls closed in. I heard noises in the attic above. I was trapped on an endless staircase that was now almost crushing me. I put both my hands against the wall. I wanted to pass through it. I did pass through it. I fell right through the wall and found myself on a large outdoor terrace in midtown Manhattan.
It was nighttime and slightly raining. The party going on inside seemed to take no notice of the man now out on the balcony. My pursuers were gone. I was taken by the strange feeling that this was a dream. I could tell by the way the neon lights around me seemed too out of place even for New York and I couldn’t read any of the billboards. I decided to try and fly. I leaned forward and stretched out my arms like superman. Then I lifted my legs off the floor. I was floating hovering off the ground. I tried to move forward but just floated there hovering.
It was my first attempt at dream flight.
I woke up in my tiny one-room apartment. Two canes propped up next to the bed. Books on neurology, trauma, PTSD and lucid dreaming littered the floor. I had downsized, was replaced at work, and was living a meaningless isolated life on disability. I’d never walk perfectly again, but I was getting around with my canes.
I’d read every book in the library on dreams and dream control. I was facing my waking demons head-on in the dream world. Western medicine had failed to cure my nightmares so I turned to the East. I decided to find the Tibetan masters of dreams and sleep I’d read about. My dream life had become my obsession. It was on an international flight that I realized I had mastered flying.