The house was small, wooden, rickety, and floating in the vast red sky above me. Without really meaning to--half walking, half floating—I slowly made my way towards it. I don’t think there was any other direction I could move.
“Hello?” I whispered, “Is there—Is there anyone there?”
No one answered, but I felt invited in just the same. A door knob where there had been none before appeared the instant my hand grazed the door, and when I turned it, the door swung open easily.
“Hello?” I said again. Peering into the darkness, I could see nothing. I stepped in and the door to the outside world closed behind me.
“Been waiting for you,” said a deep voice, “Thank you for heeding our call.”
I swallowed nervously. “C-call? Heeding?”
I moved further into the darkness, letting it envelope me until I could almost believe I didn’t exist outside of it. Was that other life even my own? Had I imagined it? The darkness swallowed me, who I thought I was, who I wanted to be, and left something foreign in its place. I grasped at the abstract thought, but even that seemed to be devoured by the darkness around me. I was bereft of myself, clothed only in the absence of light.There was a rustling noise and then light suddenly flooded the small house. I winced and covered my eyes.
“Oh, sorry,” said a small man, “Didn’t mean to make you question your very existence.”
“Oh, don’t worry about it,” he said in that voice that seemed too large for him. “Happens all the time. Well, not all the time, precisely. But it is quite common in the dark. Especially this dark.”
He grinned knowingly at me, as my sense of self gradually returned.
“Why am I here?” I asked, lowering myself into the chair he gestured to.
He laughed. “Do you even know where ‘here’ is?”
I thought back. Before the floating house, the last thing I remembered was going to bed early (because it was a school night and I had a presentation the next day).
“This is a dream?”
“Ah, you’re a quick one,” said the man, “You’re close. ‘Here’ is in a dream, but it is not the dream itself. But it’s not important. The important thing, of course, is that you are here, no matter where‘here’ is."
I looked at him blankly, waiting for him to continue. He nodded encouragingly, waiting for me to say something. I gave in.
“So here’s everything you need. The box, the list, the checking-things-off marker. Off you go.”
He thrust a large box into my hands, and started to leave.
“Wait! What am I supposed to do with all this? I think you’ve got the wrong girl...” I jumped up and tried to return it to him. The man pushed it back towards me.He laughed, deep and boomingly.
“No, no, you heeded the call. You’ve been dreaming of this house for some time, yes?”
I tried to cross my arms but the box got in the way. Sighing, I shrugged instead.
“Lots of people have recurring dreams. I’m sure I’m not the only one.There’s that guy that had that theory and...”
“Oh, of course, we sent the call to a number of people, but you’re the only one who heeded it. As I mentioned.”
“So...what would I have to do?” I asked.
He smiled. “Make dreams come true. There’s an instruction manual somewhere in there. It passes from one person to another--it’s a floating job, see? In a floating house. I know, I know. Dreams are quite literal. It something we’re working on.”
“That sounds nice,” I admitted, “Making dreams come true..."
“Oh yes,” he said, nodding. He patted me on the shoulder and walked out of the house. I could see him waving through the closing space until the last moment when door clicked shut. A second later it swung open again.
“Almost forgot! You have to follow the instructions, to the letter.And never, ever speak of this to anyone. Or dreams will become undone.Even the ones already dreamt. Remember—to the letter! Okay, have fun, kid!”
And with that he left again. I put the box on the table, taking out all the items. I counted, and re-counted them. Something was definitely missing. Heart pounding, I ran to the door.
“Wait!” I yelled, “You forgot the instructions! Sir? Sir! I don’t know how to make dreams come true! There aren’t any instructions!”
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