Kang Gi Beom, bored of his uneventful life, receives a book that allows individuals to lucid dream. However, things go awry when he ventures too far and nightmares slowly shift into reality.
The melancholy chime of the rusted-off doorbell whistled in the chilled air, the knocker swinging back and forth wildly against the rim of the copper. The door opened - just a sliver, enough to allow a patch of light in - and a head popped out, his frosted blue-gray pupils darting nervously, lips pulled back in a taut smile. Finally, they landed on an object at his feet - a box, strapped tightly with a bristled rope, giving the impression of something stashed so crudely the edges were all worn out from the friction.
In a deliberate puddle of scribbles and loops, he made out the words:
“Kang Gi Beom, 12941 Hillsbury Ave.” Greasy fingers reached forward and took the box up by the rope, knuckles white from gripping too hard. The door creaked open a bit wider, swallowing the package whole as he shut himself from the world once again.
The man known as Gi Beom sat himself down, pinching the skin between his nose with frustration and cursing under his breath. The room was shrouded in utter darkness, save for the broken blind by the window that allowed warm light to slowly filter through. It was home to several discarded boxes of pizza, empty shot glasses and Johnny Walkers, and the occasional cockroach. A photograph - edges wrinkled and browned, the glass of the frame shattered - lay on the ground, the faces roughly scribbled over with thick black marker.
He yanked the rope off and tossed it to the side, frowning slightly. With two hands deeply covered in blisters and laced with scarlet, Gi Beom pried open the box and paused. Inside the package, there is a single, dust-ridden book, “Radi-L: The Average Man’s Guide to Lucid Dreaming in 2053” written in grim black letters on the front cover. He jerked it out of the box, flung the cardboard to the floor dismissively and blew the dust off of it with one puff.
Gi Beom flipped open the front cover and was greeted by a neat script on a small card.
Open me and you shall find
The answers you seek before you die
But beware of the darkness, and stay on your feet
Or forevermore, you shall never sleep.
He blinked, rubbing his eyes with the back of his wrists. “Lucid dreaming… Minji was always telling me to try it. Said it’d help me sleep more soundly.” Yu Minji - a close childhood friend and Gi Beom’s therapist - constantly wore his ears off by advising him to try and relax, meditate and soothe himself before bed. This was something she’d always suggest at the
end of every session.
And that night, something magical happened.
Gi Beom opened his eyes slowly, unbeknownst to the new world around him. He was upright, able to move all of his bones and fingers, but he was suspended in midair, floating about in darkness, losing all sense of control and simply giving in to the consuming pleasure that surrounded him.
Suddenly, something began to fly through the air.
In the cool breeze, they were simply blurs of gold and silver, their wings sparkling as they reflected the warm glow of the moonlight. Gi Beom smiled and reached out his hand. At first, it quivered, but then he forced himself to relax as a pixie made its way onto his fingers, its delicate hands wrapping around the edge of his thumb. He thought he heard it giggle for a moment before whizzing back into the air to join the rest of its friends. The air was pungent and warm - not the scorching summer heat nor the kind of weather that would leave you sweating buckets. It was clearly night, he realized, but the atmosphere didn’t feel that way. It
smelled of something pleasant - apricots, perhaps - and it felt like he could stay like this for an eternity, simply resting in the warmth of the so-called “pixie dust” and playing with fairies. And as he continued to enjoy himself, he heard something. There was a sound in the distance - so far away that it was almost unrecognizable and impossible to make out - of a piano. 4 or 5 notes were all, but something about it made his skin crawl and his breath shorten. “That sound… where have I heard it before?” He had no idea what it was or where it was coming from, but there was something inside him, but something inside him did. Gi Beom shut his eyes again, trying to concentrate on the pixies happily dancing in front of him in a tightly-knit, golden circle. “Alright, I’m going to try and do this. On the count of one… two… THREE.”
A seagull’s caw echoed through the air, and the waves crashed against the shore, lapping up the sand as it went along. Gi Beom opened his eyes and his eyes lit up. He was there on the coast alone, but for some reason, no fear coursed through his veins. He looked down at his hands, clean and smooth, free from any lesions, cuts, or calluses. Cupping his mouth and nose, he closed his eyes and waited for the moment.
Standing back, he marveled at the sight. “I can breathe with my mouth and nose closed. This is - this is beyond belief. I can’t believe I’ve made it.” With that, he leaped upwards and began to float - higher and higher - and closed his eyes in relief. He flew through clouds and soared in the air, being able to control his movements with a simple flick of the wrist. He finally did it. He learned to control his dreams, and could imagine anything - and it would happen the same way it played out in his head. But he began to get lost in his dreams - stuck between the golden clouds and summer skies and the peaceful sounds of the night - and the lines between dreams and reality were beginning to blur away, until one day…
He passed the point of no return.