Last night I had this dream that, when I woke, was all kind of still there, present in my mind. I have absolutely no idea what this is all about, but I have this distinct feeling that it’s not the first time I’ve had a dream about this. It’s strange, though, because this was the final episode in the dream.
Episode? Yes, episode. Because the dream is a British television series. I don’t know how or why I dreamt a British television series, but in any case, I did. The series was about a man. The man wasn’t anyone special, not a scientist or a magician, nobody who had the powers to do what he ends up doing in the series. He was just a shipping clerk in some shop like Mark’s & Spencer’s (as my old man says, Mark’s and Spark’s) or something. And yet, in the first episode, I was acutely aware, the man had somehow, of his own volition, created an alternate universe into which he traveled. He could orchestrate events of his own choosing, though of course the alternate world threw some surprises at him. He could meet people by accident, by simply willing it. He could walk anywhere, even to another continent, within the space of a ten minute stroll. He was about as in-control of his universe as he could be, the god of his own little virtual domain.
(As I describe it, I realize that it sounds a fair bit like the world that people escape into when they eat Chew-Z drug described in Philip K. Dick’s The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritchexcept of course sans the everpresent Eldritch himself. The virtual world also sounds somewhat like Greg Egan’s VR characters in so many of his novels and short stories. And yet there was no tech in any of this, only this shipping clerk stepping into this imaginary world of his own design for the length of a TV-series.)
Anyway, as we all may imagine, the man tired of controlling the world he was living in. For a while it had been wonderful, exciting, but eventually (about halfway through the series) the man wanted out. That was when he began to meet people in the virtual world whom he didn’t know in real life, who behaved as more than simple automatons. It wasn’t just grocery bag-boys or bus drivers, then… he’d meet old men who would give him advice not to go back to the real world, or who would argue that this world was the real one and what he longed for was an illusion, or a failing memory of a world just like this one.
Well, the clerk pressed on, convinced (if sometimes momentarily hesitant) to return to the “real” world. Finally, last night, I saw the last episode, and it was disappointingly like the ending of the film Abre Los Ojos (or the Hollywood remake, Vanilla Sky). In the end, the fellow realized his simple choice was to leap out of the virtual world into life. He went to a cliffside, and sat by a tree for a day, all not-Buddha-like though of course the sitting-beneath-a-tree reference was clearly made in his posture and the framing of the shot. His friends in the world visited him one by one, and he wished them the kindest and fondest farewells, kissing old lovers and tightly hugging old buddies of hishis “mates”, as he called themand finally, when everyone from his imaginary life had come and gone, he sat and waited, until he realized that sitting and waiting would get him nowhere. Then, he turned, looked at the tree, and at the cliff behind it. Below was water crashing onto rocks on a beach. He leapt down into that. The POV of the camera followed him down toward the rocks, and then everything went silent and dark.
Darkness and silence continued for a few seconds, and then, slowly, the sound of the shipping office grew louder and louder; typing, phones ringing, stamps being stamped onto invoices. And I heard a slight, but familiar, chuckle from, yes, the man, I was certain of it. Then the credits ran with some very striking soundtrackish music, and I felt as if I’d seen a whole TV series.
And then I woke. What a dream! I’m not even sure it would make a good TV show, but as far as dreams go, it was very entertaining. It’s too bad I don’t remember my dreams more than once a months, because I think they would be pretty interesting.