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Chapter Four – Escape from the Noise
(Depressed Urban Grey)
They dream of sex and money and murder. They dream of power and influence and evil. But most of all, they dream of themselves. Over the years my ability has changed; strengthened. I can tune into dreams farther and farther away, but no matter how far I roam, the dreams are always the same.
Day and night, wherever I am, I’m chased by greed and lust and jealousy. Children don’t tend to daydream, so unless I’m near napping children, my daytimes are monopolised by adults. At school it’s the selfish dreams of my peers – teenagers whose foreign dreams make me feel too young and too old all at once.
Then there’s the bus trip to and from school. Public transport is like a zoo full of daydreams, a bubble of people wrapped up in their own bubbles. A busload of commuters escaping the reality of being sandwiched up against peoples’ armpits, by replacing it with their own selfish fantasies. Finally there’s the gym, where people disappear into dreams of vanity and success in a quest to forget the physical pain they’re putting themselves through.
I can’t escape. Everywhere I go I hear the transmission. And the more my powers develop, the more insistent the noises become.
I used to try and fight it.
I’d refuse to sit patiently at the edge of their selfish dreams, soaking up their narcissism and arrogance. I would use my skills, and tweak; more to save myself than save any of them. I mean after all, if my ability is a vocation, it’s to add confidence and happiness, not take it away, right? But sometimes it would all just get too much. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t able to be more selective – why I couldn’t chose when to step in and out of dreams, and why I wasn’t only drawn to people who needed me, instead of being thrust into people’s heads twenty-four/seven. At first it was fun, removing the red carpet from beneath their arrogant feet, or smudging the magic mirror into which they constantly stared. Spoiling their dreams. But that soon grew tiresome … almost as tiresome as the dreams themselves. And besides, karma seemed to always get me back for my meddling. I’d be so distracted playing that I would miss my own bus stop, or fall off the back of the running machine!
There had to be some way to escape the constant noise…
I went through a phase of experiments, trying to avoid other peoples’ dreams. I became nocturnal, sleeping during the day, so that when my brain was most susceptible, there were less transmissions around me. I would still drift into the odd daydream while asleep, and at night the strongest dreams still caught me, no matter how awake I was, but for the most part my navigating calmed down.
Unfortunately life itself didn’t.
Being nocturnal might work for bats, but when you’re an eighteen year-old girl, struggling to pass your A-Levels, sleeping at day, and living by night isn’t really the answer! Dad let me get away with it for three days, when I claimed I was having migraines, and then forced me back to school, on one hour’s sleep. Needless to say, over-tired and extremely susceptible, the day I returned to the daylight hours was one of the ‘noisiest’ I’ve ever experienced.
Looking for an alternative escape from the dreams … and the people dreaming them, I began to travel up to the Lake District at weekends. I would trek into quite literally the middle of nowhere, miles from the nearest village or townhouse, and revel in the physical, and mental, silence. My roaming brain might tune occasionally into the musings of a passing hiker, or the odd group of Duke of Edinburgh students, but after eighteen years in the centre of England’s most vibrant city, the desolate wilderness was like a sprawling soundproof box.
I had found my escape.
Even if it was only two days a week, and costing me a fortune in train fares. But when I discovered it, I also discovered something about myself.
I had finally managed to rid myself of the dreams, only to suddenly realise how much I needed them. The quiet was too quiet. Without the noise, my life felt suddenly empty. Who was I if I wasn’t a Dream Navigator? For six years Dream Navigating had dominated my life. It had become my life … and it was addictive.
I knew I couldn’t do without it completely, but I also needed to be able to choose the dreams into which I navigated. I either needed more power, or I needed to find a way of surrounding myself with less selfish dreams. If this thing really was to be my future as well as my childhood, then I wanted to help people, not dedicate my life to watching people’s greedy whims.
I needed to truly make Dream Navigating my vocation.
At times when I was feeling particularly low, I would entertain myself with the idea that my mother had passed this ability down to me. That she too had been a Dream Navigator, and that it wasn’t really depression that had driven her to suicide, but actually the constant voices, and the inability to choose between them.
I guess I just didn’t want to be alone in this. An irony, I know, because my mind is always so full of other peoples’ thoughts and fears. But the Navigation was lonely. There’s a big difference between knowing what someone is dreaming about, and having them actively tell you their dreams and worries.
The two people who knew my secret couldn’t help. Dad would never talk to me about Navigation, and Dom was away at university. Somehow assuming Mum might have shared my ability comforted me. I didn’t want to be alone any more. I needed there to have been other Dream Navigators. I needed there to be other Dream Navigators.
I needed to find others. But the more I trawled the dreams of Londoners, the more convinced I was that I was simply an anomaly.
I had been navigating for years. I had seen inside the minds of hundreds of other people, but not once had I noticed so much of a suggestion that someone even knew about the things I could do, let alone could actually do them himself.
When I was sixteen, I went through a phase where I fantasised about bumping into another Navigator inside someone’s dream. I would either enter a dream shouting at the top of my lungs, and hoping to hear an actual response, or I’d sneak into it like a sleuth, sniffing out the corners of the dreamer’s mind in the hope of finding a person there who could actually see me. A twisted game of Hide and Seek. But no matter my method, I was always alone.
Even if I couldn’t find others, I needed to at least find some form of validation. I was barely scraping by at school, all hopes of following Dom to university were out of the question, and I had no friends and a non-existent home life. Dream Navigating had quite literally become my life, and I needed someone to confirm that what I could do really existed.
I needed help.
Finally I decided that maybe my search wasn’t wide enough. If my ability was as rare as I imagined, then perhaps the reason I hadn’t found any others, wasn’t because there weren’t any, but because there weren’t any near where I lived. And so I turned to the worldwide web.
I can remember sitting there, staring at the computer screen, trying to find the right combination of words to Google. In the end I settled for ‘people who can see other people’s dreams’. The results were endless. Thousands of pages vaguely linked to the seven words I had entered. And then I found a place called the ‘Rumbellow Foundation.’
I knew I was on the right track when their website described ‘Dream Moulding’.
Only someone who had experienced it could know that the workings of a dream can be physically moulded. I poured over the contents of the site, reading about the phenomenon of Dream Moulding. Apparently it was believed that the brain emits radio waves of a certain frequency when a person dreams, and that those capable of dream moulding are not only aware of this frequency, but possess the ability to alter it.
The Rumbellow Foundation was a private neurological clinic, which was conducting research into the phenomenon. I dwelled briefly on the contacts page, wondering if the clinic could really hold the answers to my complicated life. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised how much at stake. It was one thing to find out others shared my gift, or even that it had a real, recognised name. But it was a very different thing to walk into a neurological laboratory and admit that my brain is wired differently to everyone else’s!
I was about to close the webpage when a random advert flashed up at the bottom of the screen, obviously selected because of the prominence of the word ‘dream’. ‘Live the Dream!’ it suggested brightly. ‘If only you knew!’ I thought ironically, but then the caption changed to something I hadn’t expected …
‘Work at the Vancouver Winter Olympics!’
Looking back on that moment I guess the advert was the ticket I needed out of my life as I knew it. I wasn’t a normal teenager. I was bitter and twisted and jaded. I needed an escape, and that simple suggestion was offering one. A gap year. A socially acceptable means of running away. An escape from all the noise, that didn’t involve camping in a desolate field for the rest of my life! And the Olympics seemed like the perfect retreat. It was an event, which I associated with hope and unity, and positive dreams. An international forum of good intent. A haven away from the selfish dreams of the real world. The Olympics wouldn’t be silent, but hopefully the noise would be of a far more promising calibre than the dreams of central London!
I looked into moving to Vancouver, but the Olympic host city seemed too sprawling, and too much like home. Too many people with too many selfish problems.
If anything was going to change I needed a complete change of scenery.
That was when I considered Whistler, the host mountain resort for the Games. A small mountain village with a population of just fifteen thousand, Whistler would host the alpine, cross-country and bobsleigh events. It would still be home to aspiring athletes and to the Games, but was two hours away from the bustling metropolis.
The perfect escape.
© C-C Lester 2011