Lucid Paralysis

Ellouise Bailey

Jolted awake by the weight of my head, drawn to my chest like a magnet, I swiftly sit upright in my seat. It feels like a defibrillator restarted my heart and something alien has catapulted out from my chest. The people surrounding me shoot heated sideways glances at me. My eyes dart around the carriage as I clear my throat. Seeping back down into the seat once more, I rest my chin in the scarf that blankets my neck. The soft lyrical pattern of newly discovered artists caresses my ears, the headphones blocking out the noise of the newly arriving passengers.

Soon I am back inside my head, the dreams altered by the rhythmic changes in the music, following a course provided by soft electronic beats. I spiral into a rapid mess of a dream where strange objects hover around me; I reach out to touch them before they disappear from my view. I slide into the seat of a slinking rollercoaster in the shape of a snake, slipping deliberately in and out of tunnels. Insects crawl over my body, finding their way into my mouth and nostrils. I try to grip at my legs but I am completely paralysed. Before me a familiar face appears. Strange insects gore out her eyes out and her body is slowly wrapped with bandages before it is lowered into the ground.

What seems like mere moments later, the soft sweet rhythm of a hang drum lifts me out from this nightmarish state and onto a pebbled beach. The waves crash and fall regularly as though they were a child’s swing set. I see my body move inside my mind with ease as I begin to dance along the edges of the shore, playfully dipping my toes in and out of the cool water. The beach abruptly transforms into a dry, desolate desert island.

Standing alone, fully naked. Grains of sand fall into my ears; my head, an hourglass. Opening my eyes, the ocean slips away and I am stranded. Looking around frantically I search for materials in order to make my escape. A turtle with odd-coloured emerald eyes reveals itself; it pokes its head up from underneath a newly formed rock. I use all my weight to move the boulder away, revealing a cool shallow pool. Without thinking I plummet into the cave. I cling to the turtle’s shell, hoping it can take me away from this deserted place that has spat me up. It tries to escape me, but I am faster. I latch onto its shell before we plunge beneath the surface.

At first I am afraid, I cannot breathe this far below the surface. I gasp for air before a small bubble leaves the turtles mouth and hovers over my own. I take a breath, shocked that I can breathe like I could on the surface. The creature sways with the cool currents and they wash over my bare body. My flesh looks almost translucent under a sky that is now purplish and delicately lit by the moonlight. We glide through a few more currents before finding a tunnel that leads into a new cave. Only the streams of moonlight enter into the mouth of this cave.

A man stands in the shallows a few meters in front of me. Speaking to me in an unfamiliar language, my eyebrows furrow in response. He smiles before revealing a small tail protruding from the base of his spine. It was that of a scorpion. I stare at him in amazement and he laughs again before transforming his tail into that of a dolphin’s. He suddenly reaches out to grab my left hand. I try to pull away from him but he strikes me on the head and pulls me further into the dark grotto.

When I awake we are on a little shore at the end of the cave, a body of water separating me from the exit where I can see moonlight seeping in. He is massaging my shoulders. I slink out of his embrace and dive into the water in hope to find an exit. As I slip beneath the surface, the water lights up like dancing glow-worms. As I shake my body and glide my arms through the soft current, delicate orbs of light form around me. I let out a little laugh and look back at the man in amazement.

Unable to stop myself, I break out in a roar of laughter as I cup the water in my hands and throw it to the roof of the cave. After a few moments time, the realisation dawned on me that I had been hypnotised by him, and again I try to find a path to safety. Swimming frantically through the cave, suddenly my feet land on a cold slimy staircase allowing me to pull myself out from the cave. The waves softly lap at my toes when I reach the end of the path. Sunlight blinds me from above. The city rises up from all around as I step out from the harbour.

The city streets are full of life. The gentle hum of cars invades my ears; just as their exhaust fumes extend into my nostrils. Robotic machines fill the streets, however on closer inspection, their expressions are extremely humanlike. Observing them more closely, I am unsure of whether they are robots or indeed human just as I am. The small metal bolts holding their heads to their necks reveal them to be machines. Suddenly one looks at me, eyes ablaze. Another walks past and clutches my hand, followed by a small childlike drone which stops and clings to my leg. I shake them off in angst and begin to run towards the metro station. They chase after me with urgency as they begin muttering in an incomprehensible language. A high-pitched noise rings out loudly all around me and I can hear the fuzz of a faulting machine. I turn around swiftly on my heels and almost run into a man. He stands right in front of me with a blank look on his face. It is my father. I wave my hand in front of his face, before taking it in my hands. A smile forms on his crimson coloured lips, but he looks straight past me. Turning around, I witness a girl running towards me. I duck as she sidesteps me. I cover my head with my hands before I feel a hand on my right shoulder. The girl looks down at me, her hazel eyes oddly familiar. For a moment I am lost in them before I realise they are my own. I an not utter a single word; completely trapped in her gaze. Her lips move into a dazzling smile before she lowers her chin towards her right shoulder and whispered, “You’re late”.

I sense the scene evaporating around me as the mirror image of myself reveals my skin to be flaking away from my body. Suddenly I find myself in a grimy alleyway full of roughly glued up posters. The grimy posters celebrate once-glamorous men and women smiling wide-toothed grins back at one another. I take a closer look at the finely written script on the poster but it transforms into miscellaneous shapes dancing upon the walls. My eyes begin to kaleidoscope as the shapes and colours turn in on themselves. I realise that I’m standing in a small patch of red and white mushrooms. On closer inspection I see that the plants are sprouting from underneath my skin and feeding on the bones in my feet. I take two steps back before learning that my arms are chained to the wall. The figures in the posters above me have changed into gruesome faces and bodies with flayed skin. Their voices surround me as they shouted my name over and over again. I try to cover my ears but my hands are pulled closer to the wall in front of me. Now my whole body is stuck on the wall and I am being yanked up by my hair. I try to scream but no words came. The world around me begins to shrink and suddenly I am levitating above it, legs crossed. My mind swims as I feel the full force of the world on top of me. The energy that had hauled me up the wall gently replaces me back on my feet.

I come out from the dark alley way and into a lit up suburban street. The people are all motionless; their eyes avoid me as I try to catch someone’s attention. A man in a grey suit is stood by a magazine stand reading the newspaper. I lean over his wide arms and saw the title of the newspaper, it read: “Youre Dreaming, its Time”.

Suddenly my eyes fly open as my laptop almost slips out of my hands. I look around the carriage dozily. I check the time, and to my surprise the clock face reads 12:00pm. When I had boarded this train it was in the very early hours of the morning. Time is jumping ahead of me with each passing second. The hours around me change and transform, reflected by the shifting light of the sky. Soon I am in total darkness. I look at other devices around me, checking to see if they are also skipping whole hours. I see a laptop upon a woman’s lap. 12:01pm.

I follow the other passengers up the stairs to the exit as the sunlight allows my eyes to adjust into focus. The air around me begins to pricks at my skin like small bursts of powerful electricity. I momentarily stare at my arm and caress it. When I remove my hand, my fingers are covered in blood. A strange wave crosses over me and I begin to shiver uncontrollably. I wrap my scarf around my body, trying to escape the sudden onslaught. Everything feels strange as my eyes strained to properly adjust.

My body is then swept up into a huge gust of wind before it suddenly stops again. I scratch away at my encrusted eyes and again see my father’s face. This time he is looking at me, but his expression has changed. He looks alarmed as he reaches out to grab at my wrist. The blood I had wiped from my forearm was his. A puppet standing above his struggling form smiles wickedly at me. It had sliced his throat. I scream before the puppet came to stand over me. I struggle to keep its hands at bay while right behind its head a solar eclipse was forming. It’s as though I am looking down a tunnel into the very fabric of space and time itself. At the end of the tunnel, a small child at the end of it demands that I wake up.

A woman is standing beside me, tapping my shoulder. I manage to mutter a quick apology and frantically gather my things together. She laughs about not knowing how to wake me up as I mutter an unintelligible sentence and quickly left the train. My head is full of nonsense as I try to decipher what just happened. I make my way out of the station and feel the cool breeze touch then leave my skin. The other commuters sidestep me as I slowly make my way out and onto the bustling street. On the way to the crossing, a small man catches my attention; he is exuberantly dressed in florescent material pulled tight over his body and brilliant sequins catching the light of the sun. He dances and sings to some iconic nineties pop song. A shiny hat sits upon his bald head and an open vest reveals a plethora of blondish hairs covering his chest. He looks my way and moved his hands down his thighs in a sexual manner. Then he winks at me before pointing to a sign that reads, “Dream On!