Randolf, The Dream Walker
Dreams are absolute in our lives but for Randolf, they are his escape from his own life for which he has forsaken for over a decade. Since he was a young twelve year old, he found that the control of each dream was an inherent talent that shaped the world he’d fall into each evening. At first, it provided a null from the grind of daily city life where the smell of sour milk seemed to be painted on the walls and crowded living meant that you could hear and document every marital spat on the floor. Instead of dreaming of a mystical city of light and wonder, the young lad would find himself nightly in the warm embrace of an enchanted meadow where fireflies danced, the air smelled like sweet fruits and the stars all shine to maximum intensity.
Years before he found this talent, the life in the city had lost its awe and appeal. Life for Randolf had left him with less than desirable circumstances. Born into a hardworking lower middle-class household, his parents struggled to keep them in their very modest apartment in the city. In most winters there wasn’t enough to keep the natural gas lit. Leaving them to choose to use the heat only on the worst days of the season. Food was a luxury, but the lack of living conditions wasn’t where the hole in his heart came from. His twin brother, Rickson had died while they were quite young, though for their small family, his loss had left a terrible mark that left their interactions very hollow with his passing. Growing up, before he learned to dream walk, Randolph kept to himself and didn’t speak very much. It was his older twin who would be the extrovert for the pair and in turn the guardian of their relationships. With his death, Randolf found it difficult to fill those shoes and instead fell into a deep hole.
This coldness would develop over the course of two years until the night that he first would walk through his dreams. It was a frightening experience for him, who at first, only saw the ugliness of monsters spinning around him. Their hideous appearance made the boy want to vomit in terror. He went on screaming for them to all go away and disappear. With that command, he would finally find himself in an empty grain field. No monsters, only the golden rows of grain. This was shocking to him since up to that point fields of grain were only seen in books from school. Never had he walked through one, nevertheless touched live grain. It was a freeing experience. Here, it was a place that wasn’t crowded with the bodies of thousands of people in a small square mile of space. In this place, he could run, scream and jump up for joy without disturbing a single soul. For the first time he had found freedom from his life that he had no desire of living.
All wasn’t well, as lurking from a distance a black fog shaped in the form of hands crawled through the ground watching the excited child. Watching like a predator, it waited, pondering its next move and planning far into the future. For it, the trap had brought in a new victim and time would cure that child of any meaningful resistance or defense against its ultimate goal. As the years went on he would find ways to extend his nightly journeys. This took the form of the boy abusing over the counter medicines just enough to go by without notice. Randolf for years would play in this space. His dream walking allowed the changing of many aspects of the plane. Much of it due to him learning new concepts and places at school. When he first began it was a simple meadow. The meadow for a bit of time turned into an endless beach for him to walk through. The sky held a never setting sunset that he’d follow for hours while allowing the cool salty breeze to carry him which each gentle gust. The beach was his default place most nights.
Growing older, the normal interests of teenage boys had little interest for the young man. Where his male peers would search for women and relationships, he turned his nose to it all. In the dream world he had only the most beautiful women. Their color, shapes, and sizes all varied depending on both his mood and what he saw over the years that tickled his fancy. These women became as hollow as his family’s attempt at communication; a preferred creation with eyes sunken and almost featureless as to represent his value of those in the real world. The more he interacted with these creations the less interested he found himself with flesh and blood women who at times would attempt to curry his favor for courting. In his school his withdrawal and lack of speaking created an aura of mystery which a few found tantalizing, but all failed to draw his eye and would soon find others who’d pay attention to them.
By the time he turned eighteen all but one relationship had been forsaken. A friendship that would stay dormant for a few more years afterward was only slightly tolerated by Randolf. Maria had known both him and Rickson and kept that memory alive in hopes that her old friend would awaken finally and ready to live a real life. This wouldn’t come to pass, though she’d never know. The course of his life has led him to all connections with those outside of his family with even those relationships heavily strained by Randolf’s lack of interest. Most would mistaken this for cruel indifference but instead the truth was worse. The land which he’d found himself had its own sinister desire for the young man and painstakingly shaped Randolf into a shell of his former self with it’s offerings.
Over the years, Randolf would explain his actions. Seeing how the dream walking provided all of the happiness that he needed. It wasn’t cold in the winter, the world didn’t smell of exhaust and gas, and most importantly he was in control. Something he had longed for since Rickson died; that lack of control he blamed himself for not having, that caused his older brother to die. A few more years would go on until he became twenty two years old. In this stage of his life he was living alone in a tiny studio apartment with minimal furnishings working a slightly above minimum wage job. Life was entirely devoted to returning to the dream and nothing else. What little extra was done would always be tied with benefiting that sole goal.
But the night of his twenty second birthday would shatter his entire existence. Throughout the entire day, he rejected every offer to celebrate his milestone for both his parents and Maria, his sole social connection. The day had finally waned and it was time for another dream walk. Getting comfortable, he turned off all of the lights and prepared for his journey. As Randolf laid down for his nightly adventure he noticed something different. The wall to his right had grown dark, pitch black was impossible due to the light from the adjacent building. Staring at the wall, a cold chill would run down his spine, touching each disk until it found itself right on top of his tailbone and then, the darkness flew off the wall, enveloping the young man.
What seemed like hours had passed where Randolf would find himself in a space of complete darkness but for a single source of light, a candle of medieval design acted as a central beacon to this unknown place. Looking all around, he could only see a never ending void of darkness, without feature, and without sound. Never during a dream had he felt such great fear and he squatted down, placing his forearms over his head and willing the dream to accept his command and change. For the first time in a decade the dream world would not listen to its master, for Randolf wasn’t in control, nor its true master. Without a voice, he screamed as loud as he could but nothing produced a sound. The void didn’t even allow him to make a simple sound as whimpering, only leaving the candle before him to flicker in silence. Tears began to roll down his face as he slowly felt a cold sensation on his shoulder. A fog in the shape of a humanoid hand turned him around.
Without resisting he turned and bore witness to the hideousness of the creature that stood before him. Randolf, though well read and of above average intelligence was unable to understand what he was looking at as his mind fought violently to comprehend the creature and maintain his sanctity. It’s form was of unknown design and looked nothing like any man or beast he had ever seen. The truth of it’s foreignness was the source of the terror freezing Randolf in place. A slow trickle of tears turned into a flowing rush of water as Randolf screamed into silence.
Waking the next morning, the body of Randolf awoke with a new master in command. For years it had groomed the child into dream walking. Corrupting a human’s natural defense against creatures that lived in between the realms. For the creature, it found freedom. From then on, the new creature known as Randolf would reignite past relationships, mend old friendships and lived life. To Maria’s delight her advances were finally recognized and accepted. Returning to school, to the delight of unsuspecting parents, it poured a supernatural amount of energy and effort into its education, finding a new path for a life that it had stolen from an owner who had no interest in it. After marrying Maria, whispers of how Randolf had changed so much in such a short amount of time would spring up over the years. The one now occupying the form always would wordsmith the same story to show its appreciation for life had come from its new love.
As for the real Randolf, he still wonders in the void, in the space between worlds, guided only by a single candle. No matter how far he walks, no matter which direction, it’s all endless, it is all eternal with not even the sound of footsteps to keep him company.
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