I see around me a forest, the same one that has haunted my unconsciousness before.
No HUD, no Life Points, no sense of truly being here. I’m like a… passive observer of some kind.
The darkness around me is all-consuming. The light is so sparse and so faint that the trees in the forest seem less like plants than like fragments of some long-forgotten world.
I feel fully absorbed by this world.
No animals scurry around. No wind rustles through the leaves. No sounds of dirt against my feet while I move my body forwards. The stillness is palpable. I am unfamiliar with this feeling, and yet it is the only feeling I can think to conjure up within myself.
Sadness, fear, happiness, joy—nothing has any relationship within myself anymore. I am detached, like a part of a forest now.
Something will happen eventually, anything to change this status quo. Something to expel the darkness and show me what is here. What I expect is for this moment to end.
But what I want is to remain like this forever. Aimlessly moving forward in a dark, damp environment, passing by trees, passing through brushes, my eyes in a full rotation of 360 degrees around me, giving me a full view of everything around me.
My skin is cold. My breath, whenever I remember to breathe, soaks my lungs in an air so chilly my body starts to freeze over.
I have so many questions about where I am, how I am, why I am… even who I am. This entire existence is a mystery to me. And yet I don’t wish to have those questions answered. I would so much rather stay here in my current state of being. I would like to remain the way I am in this moment for the rest of time, just being me, just being here, just being how I am.
Emotions drain from my body. I will soon have no pleasure, no desire, no specific feelings for anything other than my status quo, my equilibrium that propels me to hover and move ever so slightly through the rest of time.
As long as I am in this dark forest in the blackest of nights, as long as my mind cannot move my body in any direct way, I will succeed at this path.
The only success I can muster is if I have no further successes or anything else. Nothing at all.
I say all of this, but for some reason, my body is moving faster than I would like. My body is floating, but it is floating at a speed that is increasing, slowly but surely.
The forest goes deep. It goes so deep there may never be an end. But, despite the emotions leaving my being faster than I can move my body, my body is still trudging on. It is still moving forwards as if I really want to reach the deepest, most central core of the entire wooded area.
My heart, or what’s left of it, races.
There is a foreboding feeling surging within me. I am being urged to cooperate with this feeling, as if I will find answers as soon as possible.
I venture further.
Even further still.
Until finally, I am so far that—
Wait a minute.
This is a dream, and I have realized it as such.
I am not conscious. I am in a world of my mind’s own making.
Shouldn’t I be waking up right about now?
Don’t people wake up once they realize they are asleep?
So… what is happening to me?
I feel a little bit more. My sensations are stronger. My body moves forward, and I can feel it moving forward a little bit more.
Maybe… Just maybe…
I try to reach out, try to move my hand forward.
And I can feel it raising, even if I cannot see it. My own arm is too shrouded in darkness to make out, it seems.
The forest thins out.
The darkness begins to fade, at least a little bit.
There is a grove, an outcropping, at the heart of darkness, the core of the forest.
I am here.
And so is someone else.
“Hello, Eryk,” the voice says.
A voice I could recognize anywhere. It’s—
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP.
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP.
What is that infernal racket?
BEEP BEEP BEEEEEEEEEP. BEEEEEEEEEEP.
Wait a minute. I sit up and groan loudly. It’s that damned alarm clock again.
Francis is still asleep in his bed. The fact that he isn’t waking up despite an alarm that loud and that annoying is going to really piss me off…
…Though, I’m already feeling a little bit angry anyway.
Why in The Goddess’s name did I have another dream like that, anyway? And why are my memories of it already so hazy? I saw a person, a voice, had so many feelings.
And it’s all vanishing from my mind faster than a beaver building a war-dam. Damn.
I get up and turn the alarm off by swiping on Francis’s phone. He takes another five minutes and a lot of prodding on my part to finally wake up himself. It turns out he had another long night of video game streaming.
But once he is ready and dressed, he is as energetic and peppy as ever. He runs into the kitchen and slides on the hardwood floor with his socks.
“Errrryyyyyk!” he shouts.
“Keep it down,” his father replies. He reads the daily newspaper while he sits at the kitchen table. Francis’s mother is here too, washing the dishes by hand.
“Eryk,” he tells me, “you better be ready for what I’ve got in store for today.”
“Oh? What’s the next step in your master plan?” I ask.
“Crashing this Destiny Point system,” he says, “with no survivors!”
“That sounds particularly dangerous,” I say.
“It may be. It may be. C’mon, let’s go meet Delta and start the plan.”
“Will you be deciding to inform me of the plan ahead of time, today?” I ask.
“Oh, yeah, sure.” Francis puts his hand to his chin in contemplation. “Well, on Earth we call it boxing. Maybe that doesn’t make sense to you now, but—”
“I know all about boxing,” I interrupt.
“Of course! It’s one of the most popular sports on Mystix, especially among the Orc peoples.”
“…Really?” Francis asks. “Are you sure you’re not talking about box throwing or something?”
“What do you mean?” I ask. “Boxing is about box throwing.”
Francis’s expression goes incredibly silly for a moment. “No, um. Boxing on Earth is a very different sport. I won’t spoil the surprise too much, but let’s just say you’ll be gaining some Destiny Points very soon.”
I feel reassured just by those final words. As long as I have my friends with me helping me, it doesn’t matter what stupid dreams I have or what dangers I may face. I’ll earn Destiny Points, have fun, and become the ultimate hero. That’s all that matters.