“He wonders if the world is becoming a dream or if the dream is becoming the world.” – Bande à part (Band of Outsiders), 1964
“There’s no such thing as reality anymore,” a man says to me. He might be attractive, but right now he’s disheveled and there’s a slightly wild look to his violet eyes. “Don’t trust your memories. Don’t trust anything in front of your eyes. For that matter, don’t even trust me.”
Normally, I would just keep walking–mostly because I’m too afraid to run into the Nightwalkers–but today I’m in a good mood, so I stop and respond. “If I trust you about not trusting you, doesn’t that create a paradox?”
He doesn’t say anything to that because the clock in the town square chimes just then. It’s already elephant o’clock. Clutching my purse close, I start to hurry. I need to get home before the jellyfish moon is up. A deep blue goldfish swims through the air by me, leaving a trail of alcohol bubbles that college students follow.
“Better get home soon,” I call out to them.
One of them grins and shakes a pill bottle at me. I smile and shake my own bottle back at him before moving on. There are only two pills left, so the rattle seems particularly loud.
Once I round the corner, I get a view of the jellyfish moon floating among the singing stars. If I’d been listening, I would have realized that they are already singing their song of warning. Something is moving toward me with the slow and deliberate walk of a being that only has bone and no muscle.
My heart flips in my chest. I’ve seen the Nightwalkers far too many times to count, but it never gets any easier or any less frightening. They seem to move slowly like you have forever to escape, but the next they you know, they’re right upon you.
I whirl around, but they’re coming from that direction too. I try to climb the walls of the building next to me, but they’re made of soft and sticky Jell-o that crumbles red in my hands as I try to climb. I should take my pill. It’s the best and most reliable way to escape them, but I only have two left.
The pounding of my heart matches the march of the Nightwalkers’ bony feet on the ground. Their bodies move oddly, all angles and limbs. I can smell them now. They have the acrid scent of sulfur and ash–everything burnt and dead.
I don’t have a choice. I have to take one of the pills. It’s okay, right? I can always make an appointment with the Somnologist and get some more. With that reassurance, I unscrew the pill bottle–a Nightwalker reaches out toward me–and pop the pill in my mouth, forcing it down my throat.
And then–and then–and–
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