Chapter 1:

What is a Dream

What is a Dream


What is a dream?

For some, the answer is obvious. When you go to sleep and sometimes you briefly perceive the world in a warped reality. In another sense of the word, something you aspire for and hope to one day achieve.
Everyone dreams in life. Everyone wishes for something, regardless or not if it's obtainable. Some people find ways to force their dreams into fruition, in reality or not.

Me?
I dream about the ocean, about the sky and its clouds. I don't know why but ever since I was a child that's all I've ever seen in my dreams. My grandmother told me that sometimes dreams can have meaning that's not always clear and that it's up to me to figure it out. For me, that was the world's biggest mystery.
I would play by the beach near our house and take in the scenery for hours on end. I'd smell the salty air, look up at the usually cloudy sky and down at the rolling sea as it crashed towards the shore wondering in my small child mind: What does any of this mean? Why do I keep seeing this place in my dreams? What did Grandma mean? It's just the ocean!

As I got older, I stopped thinking so much about this and accepted it as a part of my life. Dreaming of the ocean and sky isn't that big of a deal, y'know? If anything, it's calming. I'd much perfer this over any dreams I'd hear people have. Sometimes people dreamt of being chased or being in a situation they feared about in real life and it made them want to work hard to avoid that fate. Some religious people would attest to having a god or deity visit them in a dream and telling them to do something. I even heard about people who would try lucid dreaming to make something unobtainable in the real world happen in their head. I've read about artists that would record things they saw in their dreams the moment they woke up, often yielding some very strange things to be created from the process. I find it fascinating how much dreams can influence people's actions in the real world.

But all I ever dreamt about is the ocean and sky. I wondered if there are people like me who have unexciting dreams too. That is, until one particular moment.

I drowned. I mean in a dream and not in real life. Who would be telling this story if I'd died?
In my dreams, normally I'd be floating in some space where I can see the ocean and the sky together. Maybe I was floating on the water but it's hard to tell. In this particular instance I sank below the water. I can't really remember if I panicked and tried to swim to the surface but I remember falling and watching the light from surface disappear slowly until all I could see was infinite darkness. In the darkness, I could faintly hear something. It sounded like a mix of whale songs and indiscernible speaking. In the vast nothingness of the ocean something was trying to say something to--if not at me--someone or something nearby.
That morning, it was a little hard to get out of bed.

Since that night, there were alternations between my usual dream and the dream where I drown. Sometimes if I didn't drown I'd still hear the whale songs and if I drowned I wouldn't hear them. There were even nights where the speaking became a little bit more clear but I still couldn't understand a word of it.

Sounds pretty boring I know, but during my teenage years this was something I thought about quite a bit.
While kids my age were socializing within their cliques and talking about dating or celebrities I was thinking about my dreams all by myself, going far enough to even start painting what I saw little by little with every night. I became a little known among my teachers and peers for being the girl that just drew pictures of the ocean and nothing else. I'm sure some of them might've thought I was a little psychotic but as long as nothing came of it no one really protested against me. Nothing did fortunately.

All of this would eventually lead up to another factor changing in my dreams; I could understand what was being said. It was quiet and still a little muffled but that night I swear I could hear what was being said.

"Help me," those were the words the darkness spoke. "Please, I'm so lonely."

"Who are you?" Dream me said. "Where are you, even?"

"Who said that?" said the darkness.

"Me," I said.

"Who is 'Me'? Is that your name?"

"No. My name is Kirari. What's yours?"

"Leviathan."

Dream Me didn't register the weight of that name at the time. The name Leviathan belongs to a sea serpent that appeared when the world was once flooded over by the sea. Well, at least that's what the books at my school's library said. Other records say that there's evidence of such an event as a mass flooding occurring in real life but the exact scale of it is unclear. There wasn't a lot of other things written about Leviathan unfortunately. Still, I found it weird that something I didn't really know about found its way into my dreams. As I started adding a sea snake to my drawings I would remember what my grandma said to me when I was younger. Could this dream have some sort of a meaning?



The conversations between Leviathan and me happened slowly over the course of several nights. Every so often I could feel the force of the water pushing up against me, as if something swam past me but I couldn't see what it was. I assumed it was Leviathan.

"Are you okay?" they asked.

"Yeah. I'm dreaming so I'm okay," I replied.

"What is a 'dream'?"

"When you go to sleep, sometimes you see pictures in your head."

"I've never had a dream before."

"Really?"

"No. Never. What's it like?"

"It varies from person to person, but all I've ever dreamed about is the ocean and sky. Recently, I've started to dream about drowning then I started dreaming about you."

"Are you dreaming right now?"

I paused before speaking. "Y'know? I'm not really sure anymore. In dreams you don't normally feel anything but it feels like I'm awake and I'm talking to someone. But I'm not drowning, so I must be dreaming."

"What if you can breathe in water?"

"I don't know if I want to test that to make sure."

"Why not?"

"I might die."

"Oh."

There was a brief silence between the two of us before Leviathan spoke up again. "Hey. You're the first person to talk to me in a while."

"You said you were lonely didn't you? So I spoke out to you."

"Why?"

"Because being lonely sucks."

Leviathan didn't say anything for a second, then asked "Will you be my friend?"

"Yeah. I will."


The day after the specific night I agreed to be friends with Leviathan is when something weird happened. It was a weekend and I felt the urge to visit the beach nearby. I wasn't sure why, I just really wanted to. I sat at an empty picnic table with my drawing notebook and pencil case and decided to draw like I normally do. I don't do this very often because it's usually pretty windy, which meant my notebook would try to flip to pages that I wasn't drawing on. Some time passed before I heard someone's voice call out to me.

I looked around. I didn't see anyone around that was trying to get my attention so I went back to drawing.

"Hey!"

Again I looked. Nobody.

"Over here!" The voice was coming from the direction of the ocean. "Come here!"

"Come where?" I yelled in response.

"To the water!" the voice yelled back.

I was unsure what I should've done at that moment so I just compiled. I walked to the ocean until I was just at the line the tides stopped at before going back into the ocean. "Where are you?" I asked loudly.
No answer. Just the sound of the tides crashing against the shore, the wind, and seagulls cawing.

Then I saw the water just ahead of me warping to a shape moving around in the water, coming to the shore I'm at. I panicked and backed up as fast as I could. Something was trying to come up out of the water at me! A shark or a whale being beached? I didn't care to find out at that moment! When I decided to look back, I saw a large serpent creature looking right at me. I stopped and stared in awe at the creature I'd never seen before in my life.

"Kirari." The voice said my name. It was coming from the giant snake thing. "Kirari, don't be scared. It's me. We've talked before!"

My mouth was agape but I couldn't form words. Is this thing talking? I swallowed hard and tried to say something.

"You're...Leviathan?"

"Yeah!" they replied.

I wasn't sure if I should question what was happening or not. I just went with it. "So. What now?"

"Let's hang out!" Leviathan said.

"How?"

"Uhm. Well, you can breathe in water right? Hop on my back."

"No I can't."

"But you didn't drown before."

"That was a dream though."

"Then how come we've talked before? That's the only way we could've! Don't you trust me? We're friends, and I'd never do anything to hurt you. I promise!"

I hesitated at first but decided to walk towards them. Something within me decided to throw away any common sense or self-preservation instinct that would tell me to run very far away from this weird encounter. Leviathan was large and their body was far thicker than mine, I wasn't sure how I'd be able to climb onto its wet, seemingly scaly body until I tried. Attempting to climb onto their back, I grabbed onto its side and raised my foot to try climbing. My toes sunk into Leviathan's body and I stopped briefly in surprise. The sensation felt like I had my foot stuck in mud except it wasn't slippery. I stared up at them but they didn't seem to mind this so I kept climbing until I was saddled onto its back.
I would've thought a sea serpent would have scaly rough skin. However Leviathan's skin was rather smooth and oddly malleable. It was like they were made out of a thick gelatin.

Leviathan was looking back at me and said "You're gunna need to hold onto me so you don't get blown off."
So I did. My hands dug into their soft body and somehow felt secure. This is when Leviathan started to slither and swim back into the ocean slowly. They wanted to make sure I didn't fall off its back as soon they'd swam out far enough from the shore to begin plunging themselves underwater. I instinctively held my breath. I wasn't the most athletic person so I very quickly found it hard to hold my breath.

It was very scary.

I tried calling out to Leviathan but all the bubbles of air flew out of my mouth and I realized I'd no more air. I was going to suffocate. I was terrified.

They stopped very briefly and looked back at me, who was clearly struggling. "Just breathe. It's okay. You've done this before," they said in a reassuring tone. "I know it's probably really scary. I was scared to come up to the surface too. You can do it."

Mentally I counted to 3 and took in a huge whiff through my nose.

I was fine. It was like breathing normally, still a little weird feeling water enter my body like this though.

"Feel better?" Leviathan asked.

"Yeah. A lot better," I replied.

They began swimming again, a little faster this time.

"Good. I wanna show you all the cool places down here so you'd better be okay!"
If Leviathan had the capacity to smile with that large maw of theirs, I'm sure they would've been smiling when they said this.

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Riri R. Palette
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What is a Dream


ChinaD011
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