Did you ever wish, that you just wouldn’t feel anything? I did for the longest time.
I haven’t been doing well for months. My name is Katie. I am in my late twenties. That is all you need to know about my miserable existence.
Until a few month ago, I was happy. Now I don’t even know what that feeling is anymore. My father, the only family I still had left, was suddenly struck by an unexpected illness and within month he withered away and died. Soon after my boyfriend left me as well. I think something broke inside of me after those two events.
From then on my life consisted of nothing but getting up, eating, going to work and back to sleep. Nothing else. Just a cycle of constant repetition. An empty cycle into depression. It wasn’t long before I stopped even going to work. I loathed myself for it, but dad’s life insurance would last for some time.
I spent my days at home, all by myself. I only left the apartment to get food. Food that didn’t have any taste. Life wasn’t life anymore for me. Constant Sadness, depression, thoughts of suicide and the medication to keep from doing it. That was all that was for me. Almost all. There was one more thing.
It was a dream. A certain reoccurring dream that had been with me ever since this whole state of depression had come over me. Every night it came back to me. It was no nightmare. It was just a strange dream, or better, just a dream sequence.
At times I dreamt about my father, at others my boyfriend, yet at others about some event that happened in my childhood. They’d all end in the same way though.
I’d be standing in front of a figure hidden in darkness. The only thing I could make out of this figure was a ghastly white arm and hand. It would hold out an object and always ask me the same question:
“What am I holding here?”
I was never able to answer the question, for whatever reason. I’d shake my head or say I didn’t know. It wasn’t fear, I simply had no idea what it was. Then the figure would say one more thing, which too, was always the same:
“It’s a cube my dear.”
After that, I’d wake up. I was always puzzled about this dream. Why did I never know that this object was a cube? It was so strange. When I woke up and thought about it, I could never picture it as anything but a large wooden cube. It was the strangest thing, this dream.
What was it with this figure, the cube and this dream? I had asked myself countless times, but I never found an answer.
It was about a week or so ago. I was sitting at my desk, in front of the computer and my thoughts went from whatever I had been watching back to the strange dream.
I had spent some time on the internet already, reading about dreams and their meaning. There was quite a number of websites dedicated to reoccurring dreams. I had read about all kinds. From being followed by someone and teeth falling out to much weirder things.
There were people who mentioned dreams centered on certain objects, but it was usually things that had some sort of meaning for the person.
With this dream? There was nothing. I never owned a similar cube or a box resembling one. Neither had my parents or anyone else, as far as I could remember. Even after thinking about it and looking through pictures of my childhood and school years, there was nothing.
How was this weird dream connected to me? I cursed as I realized just how long I had been thinking about it again. I rubbed my temples. This thing would be driving me mad. I told myself to just let it go, to simply ignore it as yet another side-effect of my whole condition. But what was I to do about it? Wake up every morning, forcing myself to ignore it? After it had gone on for how many month now? It had become a sort of lasting mystery that kept creeping up into my consciousness at any time.
I sat there for another couple minutes, pondering about it, before I got an idea. It was ridiculous and I laughed at myself, but maybe it would be helpful. At least it was a way of spending my time and doing at least something.
I took out a piece of paper and a pencil and went from my desk to the kitchen table. For a few minutes I just looked at the empty sheet of paper in front of me. Then I started.
Simple and out of the blue: The beginning was a square. Then I added the depth. With this the rough outline of the cube was done. After that it was time for the symbols. Lots and lots of symbols were carved into the wood of the cube. They made me think of ancient nations and long lost civilizations. It was easy by now. Everything was so clear. It was as if a door in my mind had been pushed open. Like the light that fills a dark room from outside, memories filled my mind. There was no spot on the cube that I didn’t know. My hands were moving, almost flying over the paper. I added tiny things here and there. A carved snake crawling around the edge on the right, a symbol reminding me of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and so many others. I didn’t know what any of them meant or where they came from. I simply kept drawing.
I was exhausted once I was done. It was already dark outside. I realized that I must have been drawing for hours. As if I had been in a sort of trance.
The table was covered in a number of sheets, which all showed different sides of the cube or close ups of its parts. Once I had begun, I simply wasn’t able to stop. Looking at all these different drawings, I began to shiver. How had I suddenly remembered all of this? Even now I was not able to get rid of the image in my mind.
It was not even half an hour later that exhaustion took its toll on me. I went to bed and after only a few minutes I was asleep.
I don’t remember how my dreams that night started. It is all just foggy memories. The end was clear though. I saw the figure again and it was holding out the object for me, as always. When it asked me what the object was, I knew the answer. For the first time ever, it was clear to me what it was.
“It is a cube.” I answered.
“Indeed it is, my dear. And now that you realized this, it is yours.”
The fingers of the hand gestured for me to come closer. I followed the invitation almost automatically.
“What is it for,” I asked while I took the first step. The figure giggled, before giving me an answer.
“You will find out when the time comes.”
I was moving closer, but I still couldn’t reach it. The cube had been right in front of me, only an arm length away from me. Dreams are always weird though, distances of only few meters can seemingly take hours, while kilometers only take moments. There are no laws of physics or logic they abide too.
“When is this time?”
This time the voice of the figure was that of an old guide. The stern voice of a man revealing an old secret or some hidden knowledge.
“When you find it in reality,” he started, “at a place that knows neither day nor night.”
After the figure had ended, I put my hands around the cube and took it. It was finally mine. Finally. With that I woke up.
When I got out of bed I was dizzy for a moment. It was a certain lack of power, accompanied by a sort of fear. This only lasted for a few moments, then I was overtaken by euphoria. The dream had changed!
Then I felt the fear raise up again.
Find it in reality.
What the hell was that?
“Calm down Katie, it was just a stupid dream.” I told myself.
“It is just some stupid part of your stupid subconsciousness that comes up once in a while.”
I told myself to stop thinking about it, but it kept coming back to my mind.
“Or was it really more?”
I shook my head.
“It wasn’t. Just a damned dream.”
Even though I told myself this, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
A place that knows neither day nor night.
“What is that even supposed to be? Stupid brain, riddling me like that.” I cursed.
I went on with my normal daily life, which consisted of nothing more than wasting day after day away almost doing nothing. There was nothing interesting or exciting going on anymore.
“Well, almost nothing.” I said to myself frowning.
There was the dream and what it meant. For some reason I couldn’t shrug it off. I just had to know what it meant. I thought about what the figure had said over and over again. What did it mean? Find it in reality. A place that knows neither day nor night. What sort of place would that even be? The thought kept coming back to me again and again.
After a while I decided it might be a good idea to leave this cramped little place for an hour or two and to get some fresh air. Maybe that would help me. Either to come up with an idea or simply to shake it off and tell myself that it was just a stupid dream.
As I stepped outside I was surprised how cold it had gotten.
I went back inside and put on some warmer cloth, before I left again.
“Guess I totally missed out on summer…” I thought to myself.
I started to feel sad because of it. While walking I could see colored leaves on the trees that were shaking by a gentle autumn breeze. Looking at them I couldn’t help but compare myself to them. Small and shriveled up, soon to be abandoned.
I forced myself to look away and fought back the tears that started to well up. I felt anger rise up, self-loathing anger.
“Stop being weak.” I told myself, but I knew I couldn’t help it. Sadness and a feeling of powerlessness was all that remained.
I just started to walk down the street near my apartment building. The fresh air felt good and it seemed to give me at least a little bit of energy. Soon I found myself walking towards the inner parts of town. I chose a route devoid of people, simply because I didn’t feel like interacting or even seeing anyone. All I wanted was to keep walking and to forget. To forget about everything and finally go on with life as it used to be.
It must have been hours since I went out. I had simply been walking, not really watching my surroundings and by now found myself in the western outskirts of town. It had once been a flourishing area, but things had went downhill in the past decade. A lot of the buildings here were now abandoned.
I didn’t even know how I had ended up here. It felt almost as if something had led me here.
Right at that moment the memory of the dream came back to my mind. It was the same as when I drew the cube, I thought. Maybe going out for a walk had once again opened a door in my mind? Was it the same and I had come here without realizing it? Was this, place that neither knew day nor night, somewhere around here?
“If not here were else?” I said to myself as I looked around.
The streets were filled with old buildings. Only a few seemed to be used anymore, the rest was run down and abandoned. As I kept walking through the streets the sun was setting and darkness began to engulf them. It gave the whole place an eerie atmosphere.
My steps led me around the area more or less consciously, until I stopped in front of a small alleyway.
Without really knowing why I took the first step inside. It was a place of shades. Night hadn’t reached it or wouldn’t because of the dim glow of an old street light right outside of it. On the other hand it must always be covered and these same shades. As I looked up I realized, that the two buildings seemed to lean closer and closer towards each other, the higher they towered above me. It must make this a place of constant gloomy darkness.
It was never touched by daylight, yet never fully engulfed by the darkness of the night. I smiled a bit. It fit the description.
As I stepped forward, I could feel the hairs on my body stand up. It felt like entering a forbidden place. I thought about going back, but only once. This was what I came for, I realized suddenly. It was this place I was told to come to. Step by step I went down further into the alleyway. I could almost feel the gloomy darkness surrounding me. It felt like a heavy mist that brushed alongside and closed behind me.
After a little while I noticed a light to my right. There was a shop window there and a few meters ahead, a door. I couldn’t tell if it had been there the whole time, or if it had just appeared out of nowhere. I suddenly felt very cold again. This was too weird.
“What kind of place did you end up at Katie?” I asked myself.
I quickly looked behind me but there was nothing there. By now there was only thick gloomy darkness behind and in front of me. It seemed as if I, the window and the door were the only things left in existence.
It felt as if I was at an entirely different place now. My thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a sound. A scream escaped my mouth as I saw the door to the old store open up in front of me.
I waited for someone to leave, or to see who had opened it. I hoped to see another person at this place, who could prove that everything was normal. There was no one else around though.
I just stood there, but it wasn’t long before curiosity overtook me. I approached the door and soon found myself in an old, dirty room. It was filled with broken furniture and a single candle holder illuminated the place. There was another door at the opposite wall of the room.
As I walked towards it I noticed that a certain symbol, a cube was carved into it. It hit me right away. It was the very same cube, no mistaking it. This was the place.
What exactly was this place? How could something like this even exist? The sheer abnormality of the situation became clear to me for a moment. How had I even found my way here? Was it by myself or had I been lured? What was I even doing here? Why hadn’t I left yet? All of it seemed like a surreal dream, a crazy hallucination. I was close to freaking out.
Quick steps led me back to the entrance door. I had to get out of here, get back home and forget all about this.
It was just before I stepped outside again, that I heard a voice behind me.
“Didn’t you come here to get it?”
It was a voice that I knew very well. For month I had heard it in every one of my dreams. It was the voice of the figure who had shown me the cube. I stopped in my track, but was too afraid to turn around.
This was insane. It couldn’t be real. I didn’t understand how any of what was happening was possible.
“If you want it, then follow me. There is no need to be afraid my dear.”
The tone of the voice was reassuring, even friendly. I slowly turned around, afraid of what I’d see. There was nothing. The figure was gone already. The only difference was that the door with the cube symbol on it was now open.
“Run!” screamed every part of my body.
“This is wrong! This whole place is completely and absolutely wrong!” A voice in my head rebelled.
I went towards the door. Closer and closer. My insides were screaming at me to go back and to leave, but I simply continued on, one step after another.
It was small room covered in darkness. There was a strange smell coming from inside of it. The only way I can describe it is as something that is different from anything else. It wasn’t repulsive or disgusting, neither sweet nor sour, just different. A smell that gave me the feeling of another place or realm. The figure was sitting in a hunched position in the middle of the room.
Same as in the dream, it was shrouded in darkness. The only thing I was able to make out was the ghastly arm and hand. The cube rested on the palm of the hand.
It looked exactly like the one I had drawn. I hesitated.
“What am I even doing here?” I asked myself.
“Run away. Don’t take it.” The voice in my head screamed at me again.
“This is what you came for, right?” The figure asked and motioned to get closer and to take it.
“What is this cube?”
The figure giggled and then answered: “It is your cube.”
I was pulled forward by the strangest desire. I wanted to own it. I can’t say where those thoughts came from, but being this close to the object made me almost jump forward and rip it from the hand it was resting on. I took a deep breath to calm myself down. I forced myself to walk over. I stretched out my hand and my fingers swept over it for a moment, before I took it.
I clung on to it, like to a long lost treasure, studying the symbols and carvings on it.
“What is it for?” the euphoria in my voice surprising even me.
“The figure now started to giggle even more. For a split second the darkness surrounding it seemed to vanish and I could make out an abnormal form.
It seemed to defy reality itself. A formless, twisted thing. I saw tentacles and claws. Eyes on places where they didn’t belong. I saw the strange, white flesh that seemed ready to bust open any moment. Everything about it was wrong.
Then it was over as quickly as it began. I didn’t know if it had just been my imagination. A trick played by the darkness and my state of mind.
“You will find out when the time comes.”
I wanted to know more and find out about the origin of the cube, but I suddenly knew it would be wrong. The cube had been delivered and that was all this place was for. What had to be done was done.
I turned towards the door and began to walk out. When I heard the giggling behind me again, I turned around once more.
This time it was real. What I had seen before was only part of the horrendous, abomination. I screamed and ran from the room and the store. Behind me the giggling turned into loud laughter that seemed to originate from multiple mouths at the same time.
I ran and ran, driven by primal fear. When I couldn’t breathe anymore and I finally was able to think clearly again, I found myself in a more central part of town again. Night had fallen already.
For a second the image of what I had just seen came back to me and I hastily looked around. I was waiting to see something behind me, but there was nothing, just an empty street.
I could see a few people walking on the sidewalk and the street itself was illuminated by bright lights.
“Had it all just been a dream?” I asked myself.
“Had I been hallucinating?”
It was then that I noticed what I was holding in my hand. The cube. Out of shock I almost dropped the precious object, then I pressed it close to my chest.
“Finally you are mine.” I said out loud, only for a second wondering where the happiness about it came from. Maybe the dreams would stop once and for all now.
The one thing I didn’t know was what it was for.
You find out when the time comes.
The memory of the abomination I had seen brought yet another surge of primal fear and I almost vomited right in the middle of the street. My whole body felt powerless and I was shaking for what must have been a whole minute.
A woman passed by me and turned around, a worried look on her face. When the shaking left me, I realized just how weak I was. This whole thing had been too much for me. I found the nearest bus station and took the bus home. I ignored the gazes the people gave me when they saw me clinging to the object in my hands.
When I arrived in my apartment I carefully placed the cube on my desk, before falling into my bed.
The next day started as every other day. I woke up in bed, contemplating to simply stay there, not moving ever again. Then I noticed that something was different. For the first time in month I couldn’t recall my dreams. There was no memory of either the figure or the cube.
I remembered right away what had happened, jumped out of bed and rushed over to my desk. My precious cube was still there. It was astonishing, beautiful and for a while I couldn’t do anything but look at it. Then I reached out for it. At first I only touched it a few times, sliding my fingers around the edges. Then I picked it up.
I looked at all the carvings and symbols on it. It was absolutely mesmerizing. I just sat there, turning it around and looking at each side of it over and over again. When I was able to rip my attention away from it, nearly an hour had passed.
I went to the kitchen and made myself some coffee. Standing there I remembered the drawings. When I compared them to the real cube, I realized that they were identical. It was crazy, but what I had drawn back then, was the exact image of the real cube that I now had resting on my desk.
It was unreal. However you turned it or thought about it, everything was wrong. I knew I should throw the damn thing away.
It was just that every time I looked it I was unable to do so. I felt drawn to it. I treasured it.
Every fiber of my body trembled in fear when I touched it, yet I had to. There was more to this cube, much more. I felt it. There was a connection.
When the time comes you will know.* * I kept hearing these words over and over in my head, whenever I looked at the cube. It was what the thing had said. I wanted to know the secrets this object held, its purpose. How was it created and what for? The thoughts stayed with me all day.
I wasn’t able to do anything. Hour after hour I spent with the cube, looking at it from all directions. I scanned the carvings on it over and over again for any sort of hint. I found nothing.
I carefully put it back on the desk. Only then did I realize that it was already early evening. As I turned my eyes away from the cube for the first time in hours, I realized how tired and drained I felt. I looked at it one last time, before I went to lay down in bed. Even there, I had to fight the urge to go back and pick it up again.
The dreams that night were more vivid than ever. I dreamt about all the sad things that had happened to me.
From the my first pet that died when I was only six years old, to the death of my parents, the break-up with my boyfriend and all sorts of other things.
I woke up crying in bed after I had only been asleep for a mere three hours. It was barely even midnight. I was devastated. Where had this all come from? Why all of it now? The tears that were streaming down my cheeks just wouldn’t stop. I could do nothing more than lay in bed and cry.
All of a sudden I felt something. It was a feeling that cannot be described or put anywhere. It made the crying stop. After a while I set up and left bed. My steps led me through the room and I knew right away where I was going. To the cube.
With the strange feeling also came knowledge. It seemed as if the right time had come. I knew exactly what it was I had to do. I went to the kitchen and gathered all the tools I needed.
Then I put them to rest on the desk, right next to the cube. The procedure wouldn’t be easy, but due to the cube I’d be able to do it.
There was no going back now.
With that I picked up the first of the many tools and started to cut.
It was nearly morning when I was finished. I picked up the now pulsating cube and carefully put it on a pillow in a drawer. It was a place where it would be save and no one would be able to find it, at least for the time being. Then I went to clean up and put away all the tools. When I was done, I sat down on the couch to take a rest.
I wasn’t sad anymore. There were no feelings. All the sadness and helplessness I had felt were gone. There was nothing. I was empty and devoid of all emotions. An emotionless expression showed on my face. Something that might once have been a smile.
While I was sitting there, I noticed that the sun was rising. I watched as night changed to day and how the darkness was slowly pushed back by light. The scenery outside the windows was supposed to be beautiful. At least that is what my memories told me, yet I didn’t feel a thing.
I watched as the golden morning light engulfed the outside world. There was nothing about it. I saw, but I didn’t feel. Even as the tears ran down my cheeks, I felt nothing.
It was as if my body was reacting to something it still remembered, but that was now missing. Something that was part of every human being. The ability to feel.
And it was at that point that I realized what I had done. What I had just lost. Ad as the tears kept flowing, I knew it was lost forever.