Chapter 6:

wavelengths

dreamcatcher


I wake up on the side of my bed, hugging my knees. Heavy rain beats the window as I recall my situation. That’s two dreams now, and they’ve both broken me. Even though the dread permeating my chest feels like it will cripple me at any moment, I find relief in the calm darkness of the room, and breathe easy.Bookmark here

However, I soon grow restless. The thought of seeing Mirei drives me to my feet, but it’s not only her. The words of the man I cursed in my last dream offer me a shred of hope that I might truly be in control of my fate in this world. After all, I was not defeated. I was broken, but I overcame even that. Something tells me that’s how I’ve lived my life until now.Bookmark here

The world of my dreams may yet throw more at me, but his words, along with Mirei’s light and my own strength, offer me a taste of the freedom I've sought.. Determined to indulge in that freedom, I set out. I recall Mirei’s assertion that we won't be able to reach each other in the normal dreamscape; Only the deeper dream space. In that case, I should still be able to reach JC.Bookmark here

Passing through the dark, tidy living area and stepping onto the walkway of the second floor, I withdraw my phone and dial. “Hello, Mary,” he answers in a polite tone. “I was about to call you, but what possessed you to reach out to me first?”Bookmark here

“I think you owe me some answers, JC,” I respond, my tone firm but not hostile.Bookmark here

“Certainly,” he says. “Like I said before, I do not know everything, but the dreamscape is designed so that we may regain our memories as we progress. Therefore, there are some things that I can explain to help guide you. That is part of my role here, after all.”Bookmark here

“Do you mind explaining what your role is, again?” I ask, descending the stairs until I reach the flooded ground level, where I stop and remain under the building’s cover as I watch the crushing rain up close.Bookmark here

“Yes, like I said before, I am here as a proxy of Aku, to aid you both in maneuvering this complex and layered dreamscape— with the ultimate goal being the inheritance of Aku’s own power.”Bookmark here

“What about you? What do you get out of it?” I respond, shuddering as the storm’s cold air sweeps over me.Bookmark here

“I am very committed to my role as Aku’s proxy and your guide, I can assure you that. All my life’s work has led me here. And, I did say this before, but since I am here with you, that does technically make me a participant as well.”Bookmark here

“But how exactly are you participating?”Bookmark here

“Right now, I don't know any more than that,” he says, raising his tone to match the rain’s volume. “I think that wherever we go from here is up to the structure of the dreamscape, as well as your ability to navigate wavelengths.”Bookmark here

“Wavelengths?” I ask, covering my idle ear and holding the phone close. “Like the layers you mentioned?”Bookmark here

“You catch on quick, as always," he answers. "This dreamscape is layered by different planes. You have the dreamscape that mimics the real world, and you also have the deep dream space that you’ve visited twice now.”Bookmark here

“So, wavelengths refer to those two separate planes?”Bookmark here

“The distance between them,” he says. “Whether in science or social, wavelength refers to the distance between. For example, if I approached you at a bar and offered you a drink, and you scoffed at me with that glare of yours, you might say that you and I aren’t on the same wavelength, right?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, that all sounds accurate,” I quip, staring as the rain and wind suddenly dies down, leaving a dark, clouded sky. I depart along the flooded sidewalk, ignoring the cold water soaking my boots.Bookmark here

“Same goes for you and Mirei,” JC continues. “You got along famously from the start, so it’s safe to say you two are on the same wavelength, so to speak. Following that line of thought, the two of you share a physical wavelength in this dreamscape, one that varies based on your depth in the dreamscape, and your perceptions of each other.”Bookmark here

“Depth… as in the dreamscape before I changed it, after I changed it, and the deep dream space?”Bookmark here

“Yes, the train, and the fake real world can be considered a blank slate, a threshold,” he replies. “You could say that we all shared a wavelength there, one with zero distance between. We existed on an even plane— we truly saw and felt each other’s presence.”Bookmark here

“And those… NPCs, you called them… are they on that even plane with us?” I remark, looking around the empty street.Bookmark here

“They don't seem to share our wavelength," he says. "They can physically see us, but they don't perceive us the same way we perceive them."Bookmark here

“So they can't be on our wavelength?” I ask, narrowing my gaze as I reach the depths of the city. “That’s why you were so nervous about them…”Bookmark here

“Well, I can’t be certain, but that's a fair assessment,” he says with some hesitation.Bookmark here

“Then what happened to our wavelengths when I changed the world?” I ask, turning into the park near the street that leads to the lab.Bookmark here

“The distance between us grew, and our even plane became curved. Since our perceptions changed, the three of us were no longer able to share the same wavelength— in effect, the same space.”Bookmark here

“But why is it that I can talk with you in this world, and not Mirei?”Bookmark here

“You changed the depth of the dreamscape when you created that storm,” he answers. “Like I mentioned, our even plane became curved, and we were—”Bookmark here

“Separated on either side?”Bookmark here

“That’s right,” he replies. “But you figured out you could reach me in this changed world. That must mean that you and I share a wavelength in this plane. If I were to draw a diagram, you and I would be two of the crests that make up the curved wave. And Mirei...”Bookmark here

“She would be the trough.”Bookmark here

“Exactly,” he confirms. “She is on the opposite side as us, and therefore does not share a wavelength with us, which is why you cannot reach her here.”Bookmark here

“And when we're both in the deep dream space, we share a wavelength while you’re the one left out,” I declare.Bookmark here

“Yes, when you two have traveled to that depth of the dreamscape, you are among its crests, and I the trough.”Bookmark here

“Wait,” I mutter, stopping in my tracks. “Then when would I be the trough? When did you and her share a wavelength long enough for you to explain things to her?”Bookmark here

“I’m not entirely sure,” he answers with a relaxed sigh. “But after your collapse at the lab, I was able to reach her and not you, even after you changed the world.”Bookmark here

“But you brought me to my apartment, didn’t you?” I ask as I follow the park trail onto a bridge with a steep incline.Bookmark here

“We did,” he replies. “But when we left you in your bed, something strange happened. Mirei and I both fell asleep, and woke up in different places.”Bookmark here

“Like how we fall asleep before entering the deep dream space...”Bookmark here

“Perhaps,” he says. “Anyway, I was able to call her twice immediately after, but the call cut off at the five-minute mark both times. Then, I couldn’t get through to her, but I was able to call you. I think that is the moment the world changed.”Bookmark here

“So, it happened just before I woke up.”Bookmark here

“Your mental and emotional state forced the dreamscape to change depths, and that’s when the world began to change,” he says. “The storm clouds brewed while Mirei and I talked from our respective locations, and when you awoke, your emotions completed the shift."Bookmark here

“Then what about our wavelengths?” I ask hurriedly. “Can we manipulate them like my mental state shifted the depth of the world? Right now, you and I are able to speak, but can’t we see each other if we shorten our wavelength?”Bookmark here

“I believe so,” he answers. “Whether it’s Aku’s power allowing you to, or your own strength, I think it’s amazing that you two could talk in the deep dream space. If you continue that despite the presumed five minute time limit, I think it’s possible to bring her to our side of the plane, shortening your wavelengths.”Bookmark here

"How can I get her on the same wavelength as me, though? Is it as simple as talking, and agreeing on what we want to do? Haven't we already…" I trail off, looking at my soaked boots.Bookmark here

"I think you've realized it, but it's probably based on your deepest wishes," JC says. "If neither of you want to disappear here, that would make shortening your wavelengths difficult."Bookmark here

"So she'd have to accept dying, and I'd have to be okay with causing her death…"Bookmark here

"Or vice versa," he says with a sigh.Bookmark here

"So that's what Aku means by defeating the other?"Bookmark here

"It's possible," he says. "Though, I'm sure there's a possibility you can shorten your wavelengths another way, but I think you two would have to figure that out. Of course, it all goes back to satisfying Aku's requirements.Bookmark here

“Overcome your dreams, defeat the other player, and prove yourself strong enough to be Aku's vessel...” I mutter, watching the dark clouds swirl malevolently. “So, how would you suppose I can meet his requirements?”Bookmark here

“Well, I don't know how Aku wants you to interpret it, but I believe the ultimate goal is to return the three of us, as well as all the depths of the dreamscape, to the even plane, the absolute threshold,” he says with conviction. “Cut the distance between wavelengths and bring everything back together. The rest is up to you and Mirei to hash outBookmark here

“And that includes you?” I ask, approaching the peak of the bridge’s incline. "Do I need you to be on the same wavelength as me?"Bookmark here

“Probably, but that ought to be easy,” he answers with a chuckle. “I am here to guide you both, so it shouldn't be hard convincing me to go along with you."Bookmark here

“Then, what would you like to see happen?” I urge him. For one of us to accept defeat, or to find another possibility to shorten our wavelengths?Bookmark here

“Well, I think it would be more romantic if you found a way to compromise, somehow," he says.Bookmark here

“We’re the same, then, aren’t we?” I declare, smiling as I reach the bridge’s peak and stick my hand out. His shocked face appears before me just on the other side. The hand holding his phone drops to his side, and he sprouts an earnest smirk.Bookmark here

“Let’s go and bring Mirei to us, shall we?” he says while our hands clasp in solidarity. Bookmark here

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