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stargate, DanielJackson

Week 8, Title: Chiaroscuro Dreaming

Posted on 2016.02.05 at 21:26
Tags: ,
She’s running. Running. Running. Lungs burn. Gunpowder scent surrounds. Ears ring. Eyes see only greys. It’s too dark. More gunshots. Running. Running. Running. Mud squelches underfoot. Hands brace against a perpetual fall, battering away branches. Running. Running. Running.

Impact. Pain shines. Radiates. Engulfs. She falls.


She wakes to a soft light streaming through the window, covers held warmly to her, turns to see the love of her life by her side. She smiles a crooked smile. Just a bad dream, that’s all. It’s a Saturday and they walk in the park. It’s bright, almost ethereal. She breathes in the scent of freshly mown grass. They have a picnic with overly jammed sandwiches and lie down to look at the clouds. She thinks one looks like a dragon. She closes her eyes.


She wakes to copper. Blood. Sticking, spreading. Pain and dark. She moves her limbs until she can lift her body from the ground. Screams. A cold floor and heavy latches. She bangs her hands against the metal walls until exhaustion lays her down.   


She wakes to the fluorescents flickering above her. The light of her life chuckles and she jovially pretends she never fell asleep. They wind their arms around each other as they walk home. The moon bathes them in its muted glow. The air smells fresh, clean, alive.


She’s sitting across from a shrink. Doctorates hang high on the walls, the furniture is soft and comfortable, and a woman with thin lips and wire-rim glasses sits across from her like a pastiche of psychiatry personified.

“You’re having trouble sleeping.”

She stares stonily and doesn’t say, ‘I’m having trouble waking’.    

No one says anything for a while. She supposes this in itself is a ploy but she’s becoming too tired to care.

“I dream and I wake up. I don’t know which is real. One world or the other. Whenever I’m in one it seems real.”

“Are there no hints? No feelings you have as to which is reality?”

“The good one is a dream I think. The good one is always a dream.”

“That’s an interesting outlook. If the ‘bad version’ is the real one, how did you get from there to here? Do you remember?”

She smirks. “I’m not here for some therapy for PTSD that’s for sure.”

“Why do you think you’re here?”

“I think this is an interrogation.”

The woman frowns, a tiny crease forms at the ridge of her brow, and says, “We cannot help you until you let us.”


She wakes to light. She wakes to darkness.

She sits on the psychiatrist’s couch, and chair, and window seat. She floats around the room. She’s lost count of how many sessions she’s had. She’s bored.

“Maybe neither one is real.”

The woman’s eyes brighten for the tiniest of moments before shuttering into their previous form, gazing at notes.

“What makes you think that?”

“I can’t tell them apart.”

The woman smiles, “This is good. This is progress. What do you remember of reality?”

She’s confused by this question, by the muted, kind, enthusiasm. And more so by her own answer, “I don’t know.”


“The test subject now believes all of her previous memories are false. She is now ready for memory implantation.”


She stares coldly.

“Have you changed your mind?”

“No. I just don’t know what’s real.”

“Do you think this isn’t real?”

She smiles viciously, “Would that scare you? The idea that none of this is real? There’s that theory that you can’t be sure of anything being real other than yourself. It’s a scary thought. But it shies away from a scarier thought; what if you yourself weren’t real and you didn’t know.”


“The test subject continues to resist. Different methodologies will be attempted.”


She takes a trip, to meet people she’s supposed to know. The psychiatrist woman smiles kindly and shakes the hands of her would be friends. They ply her with their sympathetic smiles. They hope she will get better soon.

The soft brightness reminds her of lazy mornings in bed.  


There are shadows under the door. She crawls backwards through this cocoon of reality. The psychiatrist woman smiles at her.

She holds the gun in front of her, points.

The woman’s smile drops, “Where did you get that?”

“Like I said, this isn’t real.” She fires.


She wakes.

She’s wearing a hospital gown. There are needles stuck in her. Nodes and electrodes cover her all over. She pulls them off. There are people coming in the room, all calm and smiley. She bats them away. Her arms are too weak. Someone injects her. As her world fades to darkness, she hears,

“The test subject is aware.”


Teo Says
eternal_ot at 2016-02-06 14:34 (UTC) (Link)
Wow! What a Riot of words and phrases! (I mean it as a compliment) too many good phrases but i loved this - 'She crawls backwards through this cocoon of reality.'
Superb atmosphere..very gripping. It kept me engaged till the end..:) Good Job!
swirlsofblue at 2016-02-06 14:38 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, so glad you liked the phrases and that you found it gripping :).
bleodswean at 2016-02-06 15:54 (UTC) (Link)
This is so good, so fast-paced, so claustrophobic. The frenetic energy you bring to it serves the purpose perfectly! I love how you combined dreaming with another, more sinister world! You did a great job on the snappy dialogue, too.

Form and style and substance, J!
swirlsofblue at 2016-02-06 16:01 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much, so glad you liked the pace and dialogue and style :).
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors
halfshellvenus at 2016-02-06 19:27 (UTC) (Link)
I love the chilling idea behind all of this, the cascading of so many things that could be real or not, and then the creeping in of the truth -- that none of it is real, not as the main character knows it. The reality is far more sinister than she imagined.
swirlsofblue at 2016-02-06 19:32 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked it :).
alycewilson at 2016-02-07 02:40 (UTC) (Link)
What a complex twisting of reality; well done.
swirlsofblue at 2016-02-07 07:46 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked it :).
rayaso at 2016-02-07 15:29 (UTC) (Link)
Very, very good! I loved the interplay, and the phrase "she wakes to copper." Excellent.
swirlsofblue at 2016-02-08 18:09 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked the interplay :).
inteus_mika at 2016-02-07 17:32 (UTC) (Link)
This would be a special kind of nightmare. Seems she's not totally out of the "reality" portion of it, but I don't think they can take her mind anymore, at this point. Good for her. Some bits sort of reminds me a bit of the original Total Recall. Love how the dark and light worlds fit the theme.
swirlsofblue at 2016-02-08 18:13 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked the way I did dark and light :).

They may not be able to manipulate her any further, but what happens when they realise this is another matter ;).
whipchick at 2016-02-08 11:47 (UTC) (Link)
So creepy, and so seductive - the repeated waking up was a great structure, and I love how you created so many questions for the reader about what was real and what wasn't and how that mirrored the protagonist's experience. Nice job!
swirlsofblue at 2016-02-08 18:21 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, so glad you liked the repeated waking structure and the questions of what was real, the idea of what was real was why I wanted to write this piece in the first place :).
leni_ba at 2016-02-08 15:55 (UTC) (Link)
oooooh. OOOOOOH.

I just love this.

(and don't you just hate those dreams you can't quite wake yourself up from? Eerie nasty things)
swirlsofblue at 2016-02-08 18:23 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, so glad you liked it :).

dee_aar2 at 2016-02-08 20:05 (UTC) (Link)
It is a scary thought that sometimes we think so much of what is, could be, might have been .. that we lose track of reality as it is . Sometimes in our lives we hardly know real from not real and that is so lyrically brought forth in this .... Well Done
swirlsofblue at 2016-02-08 20:47 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you :).
misfitmanor at 2016-02-09 00:00 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, goodness... how frightening. It's too bad being sedated so long made her atrophied, instead of that chemical pumping her full of enough hulk like rage to break out.

swirlsofblue at 2016-02-09 18:17 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you :).
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