And finally Asleep has reached its end: thank you for reading and I hope you've enjoyed the ride. Here's the only answer I can give to the question most asked: was it another reality or a dream?


Epilogue

"…Wow," Noah said finally.

The two of them sat on the edge of the concrete slope where they'd first ever hung out, what felt such a long time ago.

"Yeah," Rex said simply. He leaned back, crossing his arms behind his head and rested. "I don't know if I can ever sleep again though…I don't want to go back there ever again."

The sun thickly warmed the concrete beneath them and the air around them as they basked in the silence.

"You want a soda?" Noah asked. "I'm gonna get one."

"Sure. I'll stay here for a bit though," Rex had closed his eyes against the dazzling bright sunlight.

Noah nodded and headed off, fingering the dollar notes in his pocket. He took the route towards the nearest vending machines, by the bus station. The cans weren't cold but he didn't mind, he cracked his open as he walked, and sipped, the bubbles popping sharply against his tongue.

"Here," he raised his arm to throw the can of soda to Rex but checked himself in time as his friend didn't respond. "Rex?"

Rex didn't move.

"C'mon, Rex," Noah insisted, kneeling and grabbed his shoulders. "Wake up…" worry surged through him after his friend's story of the last few days. "Come on—"

Then Rex snored very slightly.

Noah snorted, his mouth turning up in a smirk. He shook his head at himself and sat down, sipping his soda and watching over his friend as he slept.


Rex stood in a sunlit backyard, the green grass well-tended. Its flowerbeds seethed with bright petals of all colours, a butterfly alighted from a forget-me-not and lazily drifted through the warm air, to land on soft flesh, rapidly taking off again as a child laughed in delight.

Rex regarded the child the butterfly had so delighted: it was a girl, maybe four years old with silky black hair and dressed in shorts and a yellow t-shirt, standing barefoot. She clapped her hands and called, "Mama, mama!"

A slightly older Holiday stepped out from the kitchen into the garden. "Isabelle?"

"Mama!" the child ran to her, tugging at her skirt excitedly. "I saw a butterbee!"

"A butterfly or a bumblebee?" Holiday asked intently, her eyes alight with enjoyment of her daughter's innocence.

"Butterfly!"

"Excellent…was it a peacock? Or a scarlet admiral? Or a tortoiseshell?"

"Butterfly!"

Holiday laughed and tousled her daughter's hair. "Dinner in five minutes. Maybe I'll make it look like a butterfly for you…oh." Her voice trailed off as though she sensed someone watching. Her eyes travelled over the garden.

No one was there.


Rex was quiet for a while after he woke up.

"Dream?" Noah said finally.

Rex shook his head. "I think it's another reality…Or at least, I hope so now. It looks better than when I was there."