Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon or any other form of published fiction.
Our revels now are ended. These our actors, / As I foretold you, were all spirits, and / Are melted into air, into thin air: / And like the baseless fabric of this vision, / The cloud-capp'd tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces, / The solemn temples, the great globe itself, / Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, / And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, / Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff / As dreams are made on; and our little life / Is rounded with sleep.
—The Tempest, Act 4, Scene 1, 148-158. William Shakespeare.
There is a moment betwixt and between the moments of waking and sleeping that is…ineffable. A timeless singularity, an empty ocean, an airless breath, from which a silent voice calls out, saying…
…but I can never remember that part.
The overwhelming depth of it is there, I know. The perfect clarity of perception. The supernal purpose.
But the very center of that infinite plane eludes me in memory.
Well, the moment's passed now. Alas, how little I knew thee…
Even now, I can't decide if bridging that chasm of consciousness is a step forward or a step back—an escape from the abyss or a retreat from Mimir's well. Still, there's nothing to be done about it now, so I move on with just a tinge of regret.
It's with an intentionally deep breath that I rouse myself from submerged awareness. It settles my mind and leaves it peaceful for a time: just long enough to get a grip on the world and pull myself up by it.
Swinging my legs over the edge of the bed, I dangle my feet idly before hopping down. Upon landing without a noise, I strike a fancifully thoughtful pose; yes, a gray hoodie and dark jeans will suit my whims.
It takes only a moment to imagine the proper fit and texture. Draping myself in these thoughts, the garments suddenly are. The transition between sleeping- and street-clothes is seamless, nigh instantaneous. While nodding in satisfaction, I can't help but glance over my shoulder.
As ever, I sort of regret it. Seeing myself still slumbering in bed—pajamas, mussed hair, closed eyes and all—continues to be disconcerting, despite the growing frequency with which this happens.
The sight also threatens to drag my lucidity back to its usual residence. That is, somewhere actually inside my physical head.
Turning away and walking to the window makes everything much easier. The lights streaming in from the city provide a measure of focus, as well, and I grin. Taking a moment to snap the world into a crisp focus, I savor the brilliant and surreal flood of color and scent that my senses obediently provide. Reveling in it all—that richness and vibrancy of reality readily embracing me as I reach out to it—I arrive at a simple resolution.
It's a fine night to walk the waking world through dreams.
On a whim, I will myself away in a curtain of beady light. Being but a dream, I'm the only one to see this showy display as my form coalesces on the sidewalk downtown, but that's immaterial to the matter at hand.
Hm. A pun. Well, I could sink lower.
In any case, that is what you get with such a gift as this. An inability to stay in touch—literally so—with these so solid bodies. Forever a roaming shade, a wanderer, a seafarer among the schools of pedestrians dressed in suits and skirts and jeans.
Personally, I somewhat enjoy this aspect of dreamwalking, to coin a phrase. Escaping the daytime's constant jostling and jockeying is worth it all on its own.
But there's still so much more to it than merely that…
Catching meaningless snatches of conversations from every side, I let my eyes drift from triviality to spectacle. It being Tokyo, there's plenty of each in a single glance. For efficiency's sake—and, I'll admit, just for kicks—I push my vision back, and view the world from above and behind. For a while, I weave amongst the clustered masses of people, trying to keep track of my brown hair bobbing in and out of the lively crowd. It's another meta-experience, but the third-person perspective is strangely more comfortable, and even entertaining, than glimpsing my insensate material body at home.
Confusing? Incredible? Perhaps. Welcome to my life, waking or sleeping.
The whimsical adjustment to my sight pays off, though. At one point, over my own shoulder and off to the side, I spy an advertisement for a new series of cards. Hm. Something to look into tomorrow when I walk in the flesh…
Eventually letting my senses drift back into their proper place, I wander for a little while longer, enjoying the motion and the nightlife. They tickle my fancy: the overflowing karaoke bars, the flashing television screens hanging above the street, and the hundreds of self-absorbed city-dwellers packing the sidewalks. To be sure, there's a certain amusement to be had in watching the world breathe and sigh when you're on the other side of the veil.
But when at last the people all start to look vaguely the same, and I lose interest in the hustle and bustle, I lift a foot…and set it down again in the park.
Some say that you can't smell in a dream. Well, they're wrong. Perhaps my experiences are the exception to the rule, for obvious reasons, but the park is no less wondrous to me now. Although I'm little more than a ghost in the real world, the flowers here remain fragrant and the air hangs heavy with spring rainclouds. The city air taints the heady mixture, but I'm used to that. Living in Tokyo all my life is a blessing as mixed as the scent.
In any case, the park is still one of my favorite places to visit in the middle of the night. Where there are lampposts, the warm glow casts a golden haze in the air. Where the light doesn't touch, the trees rustle and sway soothingly in the breeze.
I toy with my perceptions, finding the happiest medium between impossible clarity of vision and familiar limitations. When I can just trace the outline of a leaf a stone's throw away in what would be pitch-blackness to my waking eyes, I cease fiddling. Transcending the body is fun and all, but it wouldn't do to indulge too much; after all, I do have a life to live outside the sleeping hours. I already catch myself daydreaming about this on a regular basis.
No need to push back the point of diminishing returns.
I roam. Meandering without purpose, drinking in the setting. Stepping from gentle shadow to pool of light, and back again. It's a poetic motion, and so natural even in this ethereal form. I ponder that idly as I come to the foot of a hill.
…well, philosophy aside, it's time for another kind of step.
One small step for me, one giant leap for dreamers everywhere. As per usual.
Even after bounding up the stairs two at a time, I can't help but pause for an instant at the door to that old concrete hut. It's just instinct, though, and passing through the iron bars like a breath of wind is effortless when I wish it.
Now, by no means is it necessary for me to leave this world via the fledgling Gate. Really, I'm not using it at all. But, it remains a comfort to me that this foundation of a bridge is here at all; and maybe (oh, I hope) choosing this place as a point of embarkation will strengthen it—make it grow faster.
Bracing myself, placing my mind in the proper state, I crawl into the wavering light.
I can almost imagine that it tickles.
It's all about intent. I haven't a clue where I would appear were it my physical body skipping across dimensions, but my dream-self arrives exactly where it needs to be.
Unhappily, it seems that I'm still bound by that coy mistress, Time. Coupled with that is the rarity of these extraordinary expeditions in the bright, bustling, and distracting day. For these reasons, it should come as no surprise that, as good as it is to catch a glimpse of distant and dearly beloved friends on a regular basis—to have that confirmation of their health and safety—the result is not the kind of reunion I used to expect.
So here I am again, tasting that bittersweet morsel, silently watching a pile of Digimon sprawled across some cave as they snore to high heaven.
Unheard and unseen. Untouchable and unmemorable. Less than a whisper on the wind. That's me: just a dream passing in the night.
The real loneliness of this wonder usually hits about now.
It's a far-cry from personal contact, for sure. And it's nigh-impossible to tell how they're really getting along…
…but I guess there's nothing legitimate to complain about.
It's more than I could have hoped for beyond an actual homecoming.
And so I walk in their midst, studying their expressions as they slumber. They look happy enough; they are still together, after all, so they have something concrete to hang onto. Their accommodations tonight—a dimly-lit grotto above a dense forest—are less than homey, but such is the semi-nomadic life in this world. Or as near as I can figure it, given my observations.
In any case, I spy a few faint smiles surfacing from the depths of my friends' own dreams. It's encouraging, seeing Terriermon's smirk and MarineAngemon's innocent joy, even obscured by a blanket of sleep.
Guardromon, off to the side, stands as still as stone, like an armored sentry. Even powered down for the night, he strikes an imposing figure. I miss the hilarity of him in action, though; the memory of it doesn't resonate without the grinding of gears and hissing of pistons.
But I have to say, the sight of Calumon and Lopmon snuggled up on either side of Cyberdramon makes the moment. You'd never take the big guy as a willing pillow if he had the awareness to snarl at you for even thinking it.
By the smoldering embers in the center of the cave is Impmon. I can only guess that he was tending their fire most of the night, and fell asleep sitting over it. He looks…dutiful.
And content, too, if I read his composed face aright. That's good.
My eyes slide from the soft red glow of their makeshift hearth to the mouth of the den. As expected, there's the barest sheen of golden fur in the shadows. I usually catch Renamon standing vigil, but rarely giving a sign of whether she sleeps or merely waits. For courtesy's sake—I'm a riot, yes?—I amble over to say a vain hello.
Unexpectedly, as I stop nearby, she cracks one startlingly blue eye. As I blink, gazing into that serene pool of color, a dim awareness fills the space between us. And, although she's staring right through me, the kitsune's neutral expression softens.
With what might be the hint of a nod, she relaxes and slips back into whatever meditative state I first found her in.
…incidents like this really make me question what exactly it is that I'm doing, and how I'm doing it. Because the weirdness factor always jumps when I least expect it.
But this in particular reminds me of a rainy night, once upon a time and a world away…
It's fitting, then, that I turn to my best friend.
He's curled up peacefully in a pile of dry leaves, snoring more gently than I expected. No matter the occasion, my breath always catches at the sight, and it's just a few moments until my eyes begin to prickle. I don't think anyone can blame me: Guilmon, my partner and closest companion, within arm's length…and just out of reach.
If only. If only there were more to it than just this phantasmal tease.
For old time's sake, I pass my hand over his muzzle. Admittedly, there's a shade of a hope in the motion…
He sniffs, nostrils flaring by a fraction. Ears twitching, he rumbles deep in his throat as his eyes flitter beneath their lids. The tip of his tail lightly slaps the ground, sending tremors through his muscles.
And he settles back down again, smiling drowsily.
Disappointment wars with delight for an indeterminable spell, but the latter eventually wins out. When it does, I can't hold back a small grin of my own. After all, I'm a patient guy. I can take this in small steps.
Whatever this may be.
The sandman's done his duty here.
And so have I. Nothing else left to it, I suppose.
I leave the way I came, but taking special care to shower glimmering particles of light around myself and my slumbering friend as I fade away. A silly flourish, but it's the little things in life, right?
I can almost imagine that it makes Guilmon sneeze.
It's in that gap between worlds that I pause.
Where it's silent. Where it's dark. Where I allow my own thoughts to fade away and leave only naked perception. Reception. Inception.
How like that moment betwixt and between moments.
Without a concrete existence clouding my sight—without matter or data bellowing at me through all my oh-so-sharp senses—in the quiescent void…
A wall? A gate? A boundary?
Lying over and under and through all I've ever known…this secret frontier?
How could I have never realized this was here?
I feel that I know it intimately. As though I cross it every night. As though I should be on the other side even now.
Well, what's life without adventure, anyway?
Down the rabbit's hole, Alice. To Wonderland, we go…
A/N: This peculiar little story's been tumbling around in my head for a while. Although it could probably be left as a one-shot with an irritating turn at the end, I do plan to finish it at some point, but no guarantee as to the date…nor the manner in which you may expect. Some of you may see what's going on soon after that point, and better appreciate it. If not, then I hope it will suffice by its own merit, both now and then. We'll see.
Thoughts and comments, as ever, go with the review button.