The Dreams of Jeremy Singleton by Stephan Hesh

I fear for the life of my good friend Jeremy. I also fear for his sanity. For you see, my good friend Jeremy Singleton has recently suffered a massive nervous breakdown, brought on by a driving obsession to control his dreams.

It started about three months ago, when I had received a lengthy email from Jeremy. My old friend had moved away from our quaint hometown of Kingsport at the age of twenty-five, to pursue a career in computer programming. Until Kingsport finally joined the rest of the online world in early 2002, my only contact with him was on holidays. Though dialup service was the only available access at the time, I resolved to make the best of it and keep in touch with Jeremy more often. Soon enough, we were writing to each other regularly and discussing the current affairs of our lives, simplistic as they often where.

I am recording in this journal, in chronological order, significant email messages that I received, along with replies and commentary of my own. The message that heralded the onset of his emotional collapse arrived in late September.

To: Harris Linkletter (hpl404@kingsport.net)
From: singletonj@gulfnet.com

Hello Harry, how is life treating you up North? Cold enough for you? Thought I would write to tell you that they have finally arrived. The Dreamshine goggles I ordered online showed up this afternoon. I absolutely cannot wait to use them. I know you always felt my ideas about lucid dreams were a bit crackpot, but I swear to you, dreams are the keys to the subconscious.

The goggles work by using small sensors to determine when I enter REM sleep. That is the time when people start to dream the most intensely. The goggles sense when my eyes begin to move. After waiting about 15 seconds they flash a soft, but bright light into my eyes. Theoretically, I will see that light somewhere in my dream and it will serve as a reminder, or signal, that I am dreaming. Once I realize I am dreaming I can begin lucid dreaming. This is where the dreamer realizes he is not in the waking world and gains total control over his dream. Everyone does it now and then, usually by accident. Most forget them, though not as quickly as normal dreams.

You may not realize the possibilities inherent to this, but I do. Amazing new vistas will become open to me. Plus, each night’s dreaming will be like another waking day. A bit like doubling your lifespan, huh? Well don’t worry, I will report on how things go at the end of this week.

Your good friend,
Jeremy

This initial email did not worry me in the least. Jeremy has always been prone to spending his money on odd books, gadgets, and similar rubbish when he felt it would enrich his life in any appreciable way. I received another email the very next day stating that he had the most intense and wonderful lucid dreams the night before. I replied that I was very happy for him, but warned him not let his new hobby, as I called it, interfere with his job. He was known to call in sick or simply oversleep when caught up in the wonder of a new distraction. That this distraction was related to sleeping only made this all the more possible. The next day I received his usual response that I am too practical and worry too much in general. It wasn’t until a week later that the next correspondence arrived.

To: Harris Linkletter (hpl404@kingsport.net)
From: singletonj@gulfnet.com

Hello again. How have things been lately? I see that the weather has been fairly mild for you the last few days. It has been quite hot here down South. Makes it easy to sleep away the weekend… J

I have been having an amazing time using the goggles. Every night I re-awaken, so to speak, to marvelous new sites and sounds. They are so vivid and wondrous, it is impossible to describe them. I can actual taste and feel and smell everything in these dreams as if they were real. I have flown like a bird over exotic forests, swam in cobalt seas, and gazed into crimson skies. I have spoken with cats, trembled before titan statues, and listened to sublime music made for no Earthly ears. I have even walked on the moon and watch black ships sail ominously across its skies.

It felt so real that it’s quite disappointing to be woken up by the alarm in the morning. You really should purchase a pair yourself. They work like a charm. Out of the last six nights I have had no less than nine lucid dreams. One more I discount as nothing more than a nightmare, though it was as vivid as the others. I dreamt of crossing a vast, shadowy ocean under a darkened sky, toward an unknown land. I crossed the inky depths and flew out over an endless plain of grey rock and black dust. As I flew higher I glimpsed jagged mountains stretching out to either side of me and strange shadows moving unwholesomely between the peaks.

Then I began to hear strange noises, subtle and menacing. They sounded like whispers, but I couldn’t understand anything of what they were saying. Suddenly a shadow passed over me and I felt a sharp pain in my back. I plummeted toward the grey plateau below me, and woke up moments before hitting the surface. I woke up to find that my back was hurting quite badly. I must have pulled it, maybe while tossing and turning. My bed was in total disarray. I blame this nightmare on lack of focus allowing my lucidity to slip. When that happens you simple shift into a normal dream, or occasionally, wake up. The attack in the dream must have been my subconscious trying to reconcile the sudden pain it felt when I pulled a back muscle. I have bought a few books on meditation to see if they can help clear my mind and strengthen my focus. I also plan on using a muscle relaxant before bed, to prevent further injury. Before you write anything back, I haven’t missed a minute of work and life is progressing normally in all other areas.

Yours truly,
Jeremy

To me it seemed he was obsessing far too much over this dream nonsense. He had only been at it a week and he sounded like a newly converted disciple trying to bring me into his faith. It was weeks before I received another email, in spite of the fact that I had sent two replies within that time. It was this next message that confirmed my worries about his hobby.

To: Harris Linkletter (hpl404@kingsport.net)
From: singletonj@gulfnet.com

Hey. Sorry that I haven’t written lately. I haven’t been feeling too well the past few days. I’ve had more of the dreams with the strange whispers and each time they grow louder and more distinct. The few words I can make out, I don’t like. I have tried avoiding that dark gray plateau (the meditation books have helped on that front), but I am inexplicably drawn to it when my dreams are most vivid. Even when I manage to avoid that shadow-haunted place, the Whisperers still find me.

Maybe I am overdoing it. I think I will take a few days off from using the goggles and maybe a throw in a sick day from work as well. I wouldn’t worry about me, it is probably just the flu or some bug floating around the office. A light fever would explain the oddness of these dreams.

Jeremy

My reply went as follows:

To: Jeremy Singleton (singletonj@gulfnet.com)
From: hpl404@kingsport.net

I am sorry Jerry, but worrying is in my nature. Are you sure everything is okay? If I were you I wouldn’t use those goggle things again for a long time. If you DO try them again and feel sick afterward, throw them away, or sell them on Ebay. Maybe it’s not healthy to have lucid dreams all of the time. Regular dreams are there for a purpose. If your not allowing yourself to have them, your problem may be as simple as putting the goggles away.

Enough with the dream crap for awhile, ok? It is starting to get real cold here already. We have a heavy storm predicted for the weekend. Is it still warm down there, or is it finally starting to cool off? I would love to get out of shoveling the driveway for a whole winter. J

Hope to hear from you soon,
Harry

It was about a week later that I found a message from him in my inbox.

To: Harris Linkletter (hpl404@kingsport.net)
From: singletonj@gulfnet.com

Harry, something odd has happened to me. The Whisperers have invaded my regular dreams now. I cannot escape them. They are more clear than ever, though I understand little of what they say. I do know that they are angry with me for invading their domain. I trespassed into domains I was not meant to go.

This must sound quite insane, but bear with me. I believe the Whisperers represent a deep seated fear buried in my subconscious. A fear that I am loathe to confront, so my dreams create obstacles and horrors to dissuade me. Oh, and horrors they are. I think I caught my first glimpses of the Whisperers last night. They are like nothing I have seen, or have even dreamed of. Nightmarish abominations native to only the most deranged imaginations.

I have resolved to use the goggles again. The only way to exorcize myself of these demons is to confront that deep-rooted fear head on. The optimal path is to directly seek those fears while in a lucid state. Wish me luck.

Jeremy

I had immediately replied to relay my shock and disagreement of using the goggles. I felt that he should seek the professional help of a therapist of some sort. The goggles were the most likely source of his nightmares, not the cure. Days went by with no reply. I assumed he ignored my advice and was currently attempting his self designed remedy. More than two weeks went by before a response finally arrived. It was this message that turned my worries into a palpable fear for his wellbeing. It was now obvious to me that Jeremy had become delusional and quite possibly on the verge of a mental breakdown.

To: Harris Linkletter (hpl404@kingsport.net)
From: singletonj@gulfnet.com

I was wrong Harry. Oh so wrong. The Whisperers do not like to be confronted. I have the marks to prove it. They are something much more sinister than my own fears. They know me too well now. They can smell me, even when I am not inside the dream. I have angered them with my presumption of dominance. I quit my job yesterday. They can find me, even there. Solitude is my only safe recourse.

Jeremy

I immediately tried to reach him by phone, filling his voicemail in a vain attempt at contact. I called his parents to express my concern and learned his entire family had lost touch with him for weeks. They have tried to call him as well, with similar results to mine. Two days later his final message arrived. It was peppered with insanity and delirium. I was at a loss for what to do.

To: Harris Linkletter (hpl404@kingsport.net)
From: singletonj@gulfnet.com

I am surrounded by the agents of madness, Harry. I no longer need the goggles to enter the true lands of Dream. They were afraid of this development, and it is why They tried to discourage me so earnestly. I have tread in dark places were I had no license. The Whisperers, who dwell in the shadows of dreams, serve those from Outside. My slumbering transgressions have marked me for retribution. I have looked for help, both in the land of Dream and the waking world, but I am without merit. They have hinted that deep sleepers can be made into their agents and the physical threat that poses me is undeniable.

They cannot kill me in the dream, though if I faltered and entered too deep I fear that may be possible. What they can do is delight in how much pain I can endure before waking. I have tried to plead before them that I would not offend again, but They only laugh, if the sound they make could be called laughing. Their intent is clear. Soon they will take me from the waking world, from a place where the colors are the thinnest. I fear their sleeping agents will find me and drag me to such a place. I can only hope to stay moving, and use the strongest available drugs to produce a mercifully dreamless sleep. If I had not decided to bring my laptop, I would have no way of warning you. For this final message is a warning. The Whisperers live in the shadows of your dreams, they live in all dreams. Pray that you never offend Them.

That was the last correspondence I ever received from Jeremy. Weeks went by with no word of him from any source. I learned that he moved out of his apartment and never bothered to pick up his final paycheck. I fear that he may have done something even more drastic and irrational. I hope the authorities can locate him, to bring peace to his family at the very least. I myself have been quite upset over the entire matter. It has affected me in the most disturbing ways. Only last night I had a nightmare filled with shadows and demons, accompanied by the most unpleasant sounds. Behind it all, as if far in the distance, I could hear the screams and frantic protests of my friend Jeremy Singleton.


4 Responses to “The Dreams of Jeremy Singleton by Stephan Hesh”

  1. JJ Burke Wrote:

    nice story! thanks for contributing

  2. Ihnathi Wrote:

    In a traditional way of writing His stories, this was really good. Thanks a lot!

  3. cyranthus Wrote:

    i enjoyed this story very much.

  4. Jeremy Wrote:

    Too bad this story uses my actual name. When my friends google my name this comes up and they begin to worry. Great story.

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