It was around 14:00 when Naito closed the shutters and laid in bed. When he started doing the night shifts at work, he needed an extreme amount of coffee to keep his awareness and not fall asleep. After two years it had become his second nature to stay up at night, without being dependent on caffeine.
He covered his waist with a thin sheet and set his alarm to ring at 20.00. He changed sides, looking at the wall, and closed his eyes. He was feeling very sleepy, but couldn’t bring himself to lose consciousness. He started feeling very frustrated with himself and changed sides again. He checked the alarm clock to see how much time he had left to rest. How much time had he lost with this?
What the hell? Is this broken? Did the alarm not go off? Did I lose my night shift?
It suddenly hit him. That was it.
He was inside the dream.
It must have been the fact that he spends so much time inside his house, that his mind has no recollection of any other environments to build inside the dream. His room is very different though; the walls are purple and full of posters of ramen (?!).
He starts walking outside of the room, but it doesn't feel like it’s him, rather like he’s watching a movie with himself as the protagonist. There’s something bothering his walking, something dragging him, making his steps feel very heavy. He wants to look at the floor, but cannot give the “command” to his body to do so. The door of his bedroom opens on its own, and outside of the room there’s a cafe filled with rabbits running all over the place. He looks at the people inside the room. They have no faces. They look like humans with puppet heads without facial characteristics; just sewn fabric.
He hears a voice coming from the back of the cafe “There are spilled soft drinks on your table”. He steps into the cafe, and realises that the voice comes from the waitress. She’s Airi. Standing at the wall of the cafe, chewing her gum annoyingly, with her smartphone in her hands. She waves her head making a motion to point at the table on the back.
Does she wants me to go sit there?
The table is dirty and sticky, and soft drinks keep coming out of a hole in the middle. Airi doesn't even move from her initial position, sitting like a useless, annoying scarecrow. Naito feels so distrurbed by her presence, he feels disgusted by her existence. He doesn’t want to go even close to that disgusting table, he wants to go closer to her and..
He grabs a pipe from the floor. He goes close to her. He grabs her phone, stares intensely into her eyes with an emotionless look, and drops it on the floor. He smashes it with his foot, with his widely open eyes still locked on hers. He feels the urge to see how a horrified expression looks on her. It must suit her alright.
He feels the cold steel in his palm, and his blood boiling in his veins. He feels so powerful, but cannot control what he’s doing. Airi keeps looking at him with a stupid, annoyed look on her face.
His hand moves on its own.
He grabs the pipe with both of his hands.
He takes a position like he’s ready to hit a baseball with a bat.
He takes a deep breath and feels like he is smiling. What is happening..?
Suddenly his brain remembers the “command” he sent some minutes ago to look down at his feet.
Hundreds of rabbits have gathered around him, looking at him persistently. He feels his heart disappearing from his chest. There’s a void forming inside him, and his mind becomes black in a second.
The rabbits keep staring at him, looking very upset.
He has the urge to look at his hands for some reason. The pipe is one with his left arm, he cannot distinguish any fingers or even his own palm.
I don’t like it. Wake up. I want to wake up. No. Wake up. Wake up. Wak-.
He’s up. That’s it. For the first time, he actually did it.
He stopped the dream when he wanted. He controlled his subconscious.
After checking his clock to be sure that he wasn't dreaming anymore, he realised he had only 5 minutes before the alarm would ring. He let it ring at 20.00 to double check he was experiencing reality.
Then he grabbed the notebook next to his pillow and started writing down everything he could remember.
What about Airi? Nah, it’s not worth even thinking about her. It was just a dream, it could be anyone. It’s just that I see her so often and my mind brings up the latest images of my everyday life. Who cares?
Let it just be.
It was his day off, so he had enough time to make dinner. Although he was fully awake now, he could still feel very vivid emotions of unexplained anger, remains of his dream. He needed to put this negative energy away, so he decided to go out for a run after preparing his meal, to eat after coming back.
He wore a gray hoodie and shorts on top of his leggins, checked that the stove in the kitchen was turned off, grabbed his keys and got out of the house. It was still quite chilly and humid, and there were no stars visible in the cloudy night sky. He started running the moment he got outside of the yard. He was a man of routine, and followed the same path every time: From his house to the river side, inside the park and back from the other side of the river, back to his house. It was around 10 km, and it took about forty minutes for him to finish without stopping.
When he reached the park, it felt like everything was completely silent - no soul was around, and the only sounds he could distinguish were the rustling of leaves. Cherry blossom petals were flowing on the wind like shampoo foam, getting on his face every now and then. After getting on the path inside the park, he felt his mind getting calmer. He was sweating very much and he was aware of his muscles’ tightening up as he ran.
Five minutes inside the park and he starts hearing something other than leaves rustling. It wasn’t an animal, but the sound was very high pitched and disturbing. He kept running, trying to not pay so much attention to it, but the sound kept coming closer and closer, becoming clearer with every step he took.
It seems he was running towards the source of this spine-chilling squealing. Suddenly a louder scream made him realise it wasn’t an animal..
But a person.