Aden had been having this recurring nightmare for weeks now. In it he wandered, friendless and lonely across vibrant landscapes that could change at the blink of an eye. He knew not where he was going, or why he was going there, but he wandered on. The dream lasted until he came across another being and was able to distinguish them as themselves.
If he didn't, however, he would be trapped in that place until he did. Once he had slept through his alarm clock even though it had been beeping for well over an hour. Aden was certain that this meant nothing, although the dream felt like more than that.
It felt like the combined dreams and thoughts of many people, for every time he entered this realm of the night there was more added onto it. It was diverse and yet everything was the same and nothing stood out.
On this particular morning, Aden got out of bed and turned off his alarm before it even had the chance to go off. The dream had awoken him ten minutes before it was set, so he felt obligated to get up anyway, even though he could have stayed in bed for a little while longer.
Aden went down to the bathroom and turned on the shower. The water hissed as it came out in frigid streams. It gradually heated up until it became the optimal temperature for a comfortable shower.
He stripped down to his skin and entered the shower. The water felt so good on Aden's skin that he sat down on the wet tile and just let the water wash the sweat from the nightmare away.
He must have dozed off, because there he was again in that world. The human figures were more pronounced this time, but they wouldn't let him close enough to see them. He continued wandering the world and viewing its harsh features. He came across a pool and bent down to drink. As his lips touched the water his whole body was pulled in by a force that felt as if the world itself had flipped.
Aden was drowning.
He looked upward and saw the light from the outside of the pool filtering in. A face, clear as day watched him. It was disgusting and wretched, with eyes swollen oozing. Its skin was sloughing off in large chunks and one could see a wispy smoke in places where there was no skin at all.
Aden saw the features clearly and awoke.
He was in the bottom of the shower, the water had long since gone cold. He must have been in there for hours. Shaking the cramps out of his muscles, Aden stood up and cut off the shower.
I can't sleep again.
Whatever had been going on as he slept was no dream and he was determined not to land in its clutches again.