When I open my eyes, I find myself engulfed in a much different form of darkness than the regular half-light of my cell. I can no longer see the walls or the vaulted ceiling. I am still strapped to my bed but the control displays and the I.V drips around me are gone. Where am I?
Then, a red dawn reveals a scene I cannot comprehend. Two men are standing around my bed, they are naked and it seems that the head of an ox has been grafted onto their slender bodies. I am dreaming. This simple realization comes as a relief. The monsters show me their amputated arms. I mentally order them to disappear and they nod, but stay where they are.
In the background I can see the outline of a bombed out city on fire. Trenches crisscross the landscape. The sharp outlines of shattered buildings are silhouetted against the horizon on flames. Malformed creatures, taller than buildings, prowl the constant fog, made of smoke and ashes, and wreak havoc in slow motion on what little remains standing. I shake my head but nothing stops. I cannot take control of what is going on and I cannot break free from my shackles either. I realize with a start that this dream is not my dream. It is not me, it is not my identity.
Then I notice a banquet is held, where faceless guests eat some dark, bleeding meat directly from the table. The dishes and pitchers are broken, spilling black wine all over the hideous food. At the feet of the table, a handful of starving dogs fight over some unidentified leftovers. The whole scene happens in a surreal silence. At the center of the guests a man is standing very still, wearing a mask of steel, with no slits, either for the eyes or the mouth. Draped in a crimson shroud, there is about him an aura of holiness. He opens his thin arms, revealing countless marks of injection at the bend. He slowly turns toward me, leaving his guests to their disgusting feast. In three movements he puts his hands to his face and removes his mask. I am startled when I realize he has neither nose nor a mouth but nine eyes in a cluster. He starts to whisper in sibilant tones.
Dream, dream well. And be the worm in the apple, the rotten apple on the tree, the dead tree in the forest. The dream is spreading and there is no turning back, it is like a wound filling up with blood. All things must come to an end one day, everything eventually stops. For every beginning there is an end.
His words hit me like needles through my flesh. I rise from my bed and the light comes on, piercing through multiple layers of false reality. Under my skin wheels start to spin in unison. Each word is a shockwave spreading to the far reaches of the world. The whole universe seems to go on overdrive and I sink into darkness.
Know it: our world was born from the ruins of more ancient worlds. Our flesh bears the mark of ten centuries, long since gone. Beyond the endless circle of death and birth, nothing is ever forgotten…
Amidst leaden skies sits a living sun and men catch fire. They hide under the skin of the world, for fear of being sucked into the sea of emptiness above them. Through gritted teeth I let out a long moan that the creatures understand as an order. Turning toward me, they whisper my name at the same time, again and again. Suddenly I shake my head, close my eyes until it hurts and dig my nails deep in the palms of my hands.
And all of a sudden the dream starts falling apart. The monsters step back into the shadows and disappear, the night gives way to steep walls covered in white tiles. The red dawn is replaced by the familiar vault. There is nothing but static on the control displays around me.