Nightquest

Oh look, a rare post with the ‘writing’ tag… also, this was produced because a friend asked me to do a mini writing challenge sort of thing, with the two keywords: Slumber and Conflict. And… it’s set in Japan because I’ve been reading a lot of manga lately, which is why I haven’t been posting despite my ample amount of free time. I suck.

Incomplete because I only had half a day to do it and I’m incapable of writing short stories or drabbles – I think I’m too ambitious? Or rather I’m just lazy/unproductive. Meh.

The roar of the beast startled me; it sounded much closer than I had expected it to be, and I was quickly running out of time. But that’s the dream world for you – constantly twisting and turning around you without any rhyme or reason, until you are no longer sure of anything, not even your own identity. I looked down at my own self, curious to see what form I would take on this time. Well now… someone certainly had quite the imagination…

Decked out from head to toe in a suit of armour, I basically gleamed even under the artificial lights, like the archetype of a fairytale knight. Of course, being in a dream meant that I was hardly hindered by whatever cumbersome attire I had to wear. The dream world may be adept at messing with the laws of physics and the rules of the universe did not have to apply, but I had a few tricks of my own as well. Lowering my visor and preparing to strike at this yet unseen beast, I took a step forward —

“Kurozawa!” a displeased shout cut across the room, and the hairs at the back of my neck prickled in warning as a stick of chalk came flying towards me. I dodged it – or at least I tried – but my reflexes were still dull from the edges of sleep, and I winced as said chalk hit its mark. I sat up straight in my chair and rubbed at the centre of my forehead. I bet it would be reddening any minute now.

An irate Narumi-sensei glared at me, his hand poised to fling another piece of chalk my way if I had dared to continue sleeping through his class. “Kurozawa, this is the third time this week I’ve caught you sleeping in class! Do you want to fail this class and repeat another year?!”

The class was silent, as they watched Narumi-sensei lectured me.

“Sorry, Narumi-sensei…” I trailed off, not knowing what else to say. I wasn’t falling asleep in class on purpose, and it wasn’t as though I was sleep deprived by staying up late every night. I just had a… condition. Plus, Narumi-sensei was really a good teacher, and it was hardly my intention to disrupt the lesson with my behaviour.

Narumi-sensei sighed, and dropped the chalk back onto his desk, “Report to the health counsellor after school, hopefully Chiba-sensei will be able to talk some sense into that thick skull of yours. Alright, everyone, back to trigonometry.”

Emiko, who sat in front of me, turned around to flash me a kind smile, “Ne, Minato-kun, don’t worry too much about missing what sensei had taught, yeah? I’ll lend you my notes later.”

“Really? Thanks, Emiko-chan!” I replied, while inwardly sighing at how much work I probably needed to catch up for missing most of today’s math lesson. Narumi-sensei tended to teach pretty quickly.

*

I rapped at the infirmary’s door at 2 pm sharp, once we were all dismissed from lessons. Normally, I would head to the art room for club activities after lessons were finished, but I had an appointment with Chiba-sensei. Come to think of it, I had to miss quite a fair bit of club activities thanks to my inconvenient condition. I am pretty sure that most of the teachers and my classmates probably thought I was suffering from some form of narcolepsy.

The door slid open after a moment, “Ah, Minato-kun, i heard you fell asleep during math class again.”

I shrugged, well, there’s nothing I can really do about it.

Chiba-sensei bustled me into the infirmary, and sat me in a comfortable but worn-in armchair. She was a matronly woman in her late forties, with neatly trimmed bangs and her long dark hair pinned up in a tight bun. She looked very kind, very patient, but beneath her pleasant smile, I knew that she carried a huge sorrow within her.

For the last year or so, she had been plagued with constant nightmares after she had accidentally caused her baby’s death. The death was a regrettable accident, and she had felt immense grief and guilt over her negligence. The cold silence from her husband and parents-in-law had only added to her burden. The stress of it all had caused her to replay the ghastly memory night after night, and the dream warped everything around her, carrying over to her waking life. She was tied down by accusing words uttered by her family, burned by the memory of her beloved child, and eaten alive by her own psyche. Even a novice dream walker like me could hear the anguished screaming in her dreams even when I was awake.

*

Oh wait. I haven’t exactly explained this whole dream walking ability, have I? Well, I think I was probably about seven when this power manifested all by itself. I was asleep in my own bed, dreaming happily until I realised that my dream of scoring a goal had changed abruptly. Instead of the sun shining brightly above me, and the sharp fresh smell of grass, along with the shouts and cries of my friends, I found myself in my elder brother’s room, who was crudely fondling some girl on his bed. Annoyed, and slightly freaked out, by this extremely unsettling and unseemly interruption, I threw a book at his stupid head and told him to get out of my dreams. Of course, now that I’m a high schooler myself, I am more slightly more understanding of my brother’s vulgar nature, but at the age of seven, this was actually pretty traumatizing, and I promptly woke up so I could go kick my brother in real life.

My brother was disgruntled at being rudely awakened and he marched us both down to our parents’ bedroom to rant about said incident.

When I recounted my side of the story, my mother gasped in surprise, and exchanged a quick look with my father. “Akira, is it possible…”

My father nodded, “Yeah, we’ll need to call up my old man tomorrow.”

And that was how my training with Grandpa started.

Apparently, it was believed that our family had ties to Baku, the mythical creatures who devoured dreams, and it was our duty to aid any dreamer who had become entangled with nightmares or lost within dreams, lest their souls be tainted by darkness. I had the ability to hear dreams whenever people are having them, and strong dreamers are powerful enough to call me to them, which means that I tended to fall asleep in various places and at any given moment.

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