Janvier remembered vividly her life in Paris. She had lived there for more than forty years. She had a day job, a family, and an apartment in the city. Her life was stable, safe and relatively good. In fact, she thanked her lucky stars each and every day when she took the tram through the suburbs, filled with immigrants who had nothing.
She had no problem remembering the faces of her children, the embrace of her husband, or what she ate for breakfast the day before. She was firmly anchored in her life back home.
That is what made her lucid nights all the sweeter. While her life was good, her dreams were her raison d’etre. She was free, and unshackled by the choices she had made that led her to her seemingly immutable state of existence. When she dreamt, she was free to explore and reinvent; to shape her very existence.
Janvier was somewhat late to lucidity. She had always had very vivid dreams, and even through her early adulthood this led her to have bouts of insomnia. She was afraid. Her dreams seemed too real, and much more vibrant than her waking hours. It wasn’t until she described her situation to a friend in her parenting group that she learned who she was and what she was capable of. In the seven years since that chance conversation, she has embraced her dreams.
It is no wonder that Janvier’s personal realm resembled an endless sea. It was calming, yet always shifting. It was boundless, yet mutable. If she wanted to visit a desert island, she need only set the sails on her sailboat, and imagine herself in the direction of one. If she tired of the sea, she dreamed of port town to sail to.
Of course, the excessively malleable nature of her realm made it treacherous for others to visit. They did not have the control here that she did, and the sea could be an unforgiving place for the unprepared. It was very rare that she received visitors, and almost never did they come uninvited. Janvier wasn’t established enough to attract attention, and the expansiveness and loneliness of her realm made it out of the way for most Striders to stumble upon.
Thusly, Janvier enjoyed her nights alone, swaying gently on the ocean waves, eating coconuts, writing poems, and walking along freshly imagined beaches.
All of this meant that this particular night’s events were completely unsettling…
Janvier sat quietly, reading a book while lounging at the front of her small sailboat. The book was A Treatise on Human Nature by David Hume. Not a title she would normally have found herself interested in, to be honest, but she found it surprisingly compelling given her brother’s recent decision to join the clergy. Somewhere in the midst of Hume’s argument for the treatment of religious and spiritual inquiries to be similar to those of the physical sciences, Janvier felt her vessel begin to sway more rapidly.
This was more than a little worrying for Janvier. She sat upright, dropped her book, which suddenly changed to an antique, leather-bound copy of Moby Dick as it hit the deck, and looked over the side of her boat.
Nothing portside. Nothing starboard. Then she looked aft and saw the source of the rough waters. There was something massive surfacing about 100 yards behind her tiny sailboat. In the moonlight all she saw a black shape hearing the surface, long and narrow.
With a brief moment of concentration, Janvier willed the sun to rise. In cartoonish fashion, the sun bolt up over the eastern horizon, causing a ripple on the edge of her realm as she distorted the fabric of this reality. For the briefest of moments she saw beyond her horizon, into the “infinite night,” as her mentor had called it. Then, she brought her attention immediately back to the surfacing shape.
Not sure how to prepare for what might be coming, she willed herself to the top of the small boat’s mast, gripping the rigging. Now she was prepared…
Just then, the top of an enormous submarine, reminiscent of the one from The Hunt for Red October, came above the waves. It was huge, and completely unexpected. “I have visitors,” she questioned aloud?
As the vessel continued to fully surface, her excitement turned to fright. Around the submarine the water grew dark, and the waves filled with grey froth. Soon, the froth turned into dark waves emanating outward.
This isn’t a visitation, Janvier thought, this is an invasion. If Janvier was anything, it was decisive. So without much thought she did what she had long ago trained herself to do. Harkening back to those years as a child, when her dreams became too frightening, or too strange, she made her escape to the safety of the waking world.
With the ease of one strongly anchored and so practiced in running from her own imagined horrors, she leapt off of the mast, toward the deck of the boat. She closed her eyes and felt the ocean air rush up at her, knowing that before she hit the wooden ship, she would awaken.
She would fall awake…