Hello there. My name is Charlie.
I’ve lived in this part of England for as long as I can remember. I’ve never been particularly existential until recently, when I started to realise that… this doesn’t make sense.
For one, every now and then someone makes an assassination attempt. And not in a very sophisticated way either; they just try and stick a knife in me while I’m walking down the road like any common thug. Why you ask? I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps they are jealous of my bald patch.
And occasionally, I see things that I don’t think I should be able to. I can make things move without touching them. I can make animals do what I want them to do, without training them. I can make bad things happen to people who annoy me. I can make them hurt if I want to. I am sometimes able to float. The laws of physics are defied and I can walk on walls. I walk down never-ending stairs to the bottom of my house and then mutter under my breath as I realise I forgot my glasses.
But for some reason, I never questioned this until recently, when someone asked me for my birth certificate and I realised that I didn’t have one. I don’t even remember being born. Well… no I suppose that’s normal. And I don’t particularly want to remember being born… but I have no childhood memories. I just remember being plopped into university, getting a degree, and that’s pretty much where I was born.
Then things started to get a little crazy.
The next day started as usual. I got out of bed and accidently set the cat on fire with my mind. But he didn’t really mind. That’s another thing – cats are friendly in my part of England. I’ve never met a mean cat. Somehow, I understand in the back of my mind that this is impossible, that cats are never friendly – but that was just another quirk of life.
I walked outside and got my newspaper. I brought it inside and read the front page.
PURPLE AND YELLOW SPOTTED PLOOPY SCANDAL SHAKES THE WORLD.
IN A BREAKING NEWS EXCLUSIVE, a study has revealed that in several large-scale supermarkets, such as Fresco, what was advertised as horse-meat was actually ‘purple and yellow spotted ploopy’ meat. While the scandal is sorted out, customers have been advised to resort to a vegetarian diet, consisting entirely of baked beans and broccoli.
Then the thought occurred to me. I should buy baked beans. I haven’t had them in years.
And then I woke up.
I was sitting in a plane as Ariadne shook me awake.
“Did you just perform inception on yourself?!”
I took a moment to recollect myself. Where was I?
“Oops.” I said, sheepishly. I think I may have blushed.
“What? You did, didn’t you? But why?”
Here’s what happened. On the plane journey back, after we had done inception of Fischer, I felt a little peckish for baked beans. Being the terribly forgetful person I am, I knew I wouldn’t remember to buy any when the plane journey ended – so I thought I would, you know, implant the idea into my subconscious by using the complicated art of inception which could and did leave me trapped in a dream state for what seemed like years. Just like normal people do.
But I think, somewhere along the line, I got lost in the dream. I never really got the message into my subconscious until I read that article – coupled with the shake from Ariadne, it was enough to wake me up.
It also explained why all those people had tried to kill me. My subconscious had realised this had been going on for far too long, and henceforth, tried to wake me up by killing me in the dream. And all those impossible things… well, it had been a dream.
But there was still one thing that didn’t make sense…
“Wait a minute… I had a cat in the dream world. It looked just like my real life cat.” I said. “And it was friendly. I mean that just doesn’t make sense, even by dream standards.”
“That must have been your totem.” Ariadne said. “Something small that’s always with you, but behaves differently in the dream world. I suppose in the real world it’s hard to handle? You never did tell us your totem, did you?”
“No, I didn’t…” I muttered. The last few memories were still falling into place.
“Well you’re safe now. That’s what matters I guess.” she said. “Just… go to sleep.”
She walked away. I felt a sudden craving for broccoli.
This was done in response to the What If? Writing Challenge. I know it’s a late submission, but I didn’t have any time before. Sorry!
Apologies if you found this post complicated to handle; it’s meant to emulate one of the primary emotions of the movie ‘Inception’ (i.e. confusion). ;)