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A surreal sci-fi short story by Mileva Anastasiadou

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by Mileva Anastasiadou

 

When life feels like a bad dream, you can’t help but invent new realities and jump in them.

Contact info for Mileva Anastasiadou
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It all started with a sudden, loud bang. I fell on the ground as soon as the bullet hit me. That’s supposed to be an ending, however abrupt, or unjust it may seem, yet surprisingly enough, it was the beginning. The beginning of the realization.
I heard the bang repeatedly in my ears. It sounded rhythmic and less threatening than the first time, as if the remains of life still echoed in my dying brain. Pictures of my adventures on that strange land, alternating with the image of her, my bride, passed in front of me, as if I was watching a film about to end, like it usually happens to the dying, or so they say. Ready to welcome afterlife, I opened my eyes thinking I was dead. Instead, I was awake. The deafening noise that had felt like a shot in my head was the alarm clock, inviting me into consciousness. The usual ritual was about to follow; I had to take a shower, shave, eat breakfast, wait for the bus, go to work, come home, undress, eat, go back to sleep. Another boring day awaited me, yet I immediately hit the snooze button, after checking the time. I still had two more lives until the final shot that would deliver me to the land of the ordinary.
I went back into the dream, only this time I was aware I was dreaming.
My time’s running up,” I told her. “I only have two lives left now.”
She embraced me, tears in her eyes.
Are you a cat?” she asked.
I don’t think so, cats are supposed to have seven lives. I’m only allowed to three.”
In the dream, we had spent years together, fighting evil dragons, hunting down witches, exploring the forests, enjoying our love. In the dream, I had lived a meaningful life, the kind of life all sane men long for. Dreams can last for a lifetime and fit in only one night. For time is relative, especially in mind trips. Isn’t life a mind trip after all?
Perhaps, we’ll meet again, in another dream,” she said reluctantly.
Perhaps, we’ll meet in real life,” I told her, traces of optimism running in my veins, instead of blood.
***
Like a lighting out of the blue, like a howl of a hungry wolf approaching, there comes the killing sound again. This time, it sounds like a noise coming from afar, louder by the second, until the gunshot hits me repeatedly, making sure I die for good. Time flies, even in dreams. Especially when it comes close to an end. I hit the snooze button once more. This is my last life. I’d better make the most of it.
When I close my eyes, I see yours. They appear in front of me, as if I had never left, not for a second, bright, clear, blue like the sea that spreads ahead.
It’s time for me to leave,” I say caressing your face.
Let’s run,” you suggest.
You think we can expand time by running away, or maybe even escape it. For a while, it seems like we run ahead of time, like we’re winning the battle. Instead of running into space, we run into time, beating the obstacles, defying the rules, yet deep down we both know we cannot escape fate.
Catching your breath, you ask:
What does the place you go to look like?”
You won’t see dragons or witches there. You only find people, animals and plants, yet sometimes monsters appear disguised as humans. People wake up each day, performing the same old routine, as if they were robots, expected to complete tasks and then they die. It’s dark and lonely and cold, like a bad dream.”
When life feels like a bad dream, you can’t help but invent new realities and jump in them. Only this time, it doesn’t feel like I have invented this world. I’m certain it has always existed and that I was lucky enough to discover it.
***
I’m counting down the seconds now before I leave. Before I leave it all behind. She offers me one last kiss before I go, as tender as all the other hundreds of kisses we have exchanged before, during a lifetime that fits in one single dream. This is the last shot. A plain bang that will take me into the nightmare of my everyday life, into the world I call home, yet never felt like home to me. I’m dead now, waking up into the same, old hellish land, about to drag my unwilling body into another same old day, trapped in a time loop, trapped in a place called reality, a place where dreams don’t last long, where even seeds of dreamlands are doomed to be eradicated, like my dream, my memory of it, which will soon disintegrate into oblivion.
Darkness falls on me. Here comes the night. Or is it daylight calling me back? Back to where I truly belong, back to the land of the living.
Or is it the land of the dead I’m heading to?

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