3: Fool's Dream‎ > ‎

00: Prelude

I'm just your typical abnormal person. I have my interests, my duties, my hobbies, and stuff I randomly do for no real reason. I have a name, but it doesn't seem relevant here, where I can readily assume an arbitrary identity without anyone so much as pausing to notice the change.

There are others here, and they have names, but it makes no difference if I just make up things to call them by. Although some seem to have powers beyond mine, on the whole the others are rather simple and have little to no special ability or even free will. It's like they're just following vague scripts.

My powers seem arbitrary, but convenient. I can fly around the world in matter of seconds. I can fly high up over the world and telekinetically rotate it so I land in the desired spot. I can phase through solid objects. I can turn invisible, or maybe that power just makes the others ignore me. I can even narrate that near-arbitrary events happen, and they will, as if my narration was the word of God.

Despite my seemingly god-like powers, I have some severe limits. I can sculpt nearly any aspect of this world to match my every whim, but I cannot change its nature; a moment of distraction and my changes revert to chaos. I can make rules and this world will follow them, but only until I forget. My powers require immense concentration; a moment's lapse of focus and my power stops. I'm invincible, but any would-be death immobilizes me for a while.

My biggest limitation, however, is that I cannot break context. Not only can't I travel through time or teleport, but I can't even do such mundane things as talking about the nature of this world. This line of thought might break context. Best to abandon it and go explore a bit.

As I fly around, the geography and architecture sometimes have vague similarities to what I remember, but even then practically all the details are exaggerated, flat out wrong, or just plain missing. I find "home" and phase through the wall to enter my room. It's just as I remember it, but this memory is just a jumbled mess of several other memories. The familiarity is just enough to remind me, or perhaps make me forget.

I can't remember my room in my real home, but this sure isn't it. I could take a nap on the replica of my bed and start over the next day, but I haven't yet mastered that method of context switching. Instead, I phase back through the wall, making sure to remember the other side strongly enough that it still exists. It does still exist and now I'm flying further on, seeing what new scenery awaits.

I remember that this scenery would be considered breath-taking, but it lost that effect when I realized that this is just a random jumble of my recycled memories. The only thing original is the exact combination of memories that this scene draws from. Still, there has to be something here that I haven't seen before, so I keep flying.

I've flown several miles, keeping mental note in the back of my mind of where I've been. Although I remember it in the corner of my mind, I'm not actively concentrating on where I've been. This pseudo-awareness is a great technique for experiencing the nature of this place. I turn around and everything has changed from when I flew over it; it's a completely different landscape. The memory of the flight here is rapidly being displaced by what I see before me, but the lesson is remembered just a little bit more strongly than before; this world's form is sustained by my mind.

To the extent that this world requires me, I control it. But control is meaningless when it doesn't last. There has been lasting influence in me; I've gained significant skill in using my powers and I've learned much of the nature of this place. However, the influence on myself doesn't seem to matter to anyone else, in this world or any other; I've been completely unable to teach them what I've learned.

If I can't teach anyone in this place, perhaps there's another meaning. Perhaps there's somewhere in this world where existence doesn't depend on my mind's constant effort. Or perhaps there's someone else here, someone who isn't just another recycled jumble of my memories. If there is such a place or such a person here, I must keep searching.

Then I remember that I'm flying in the wrong direction. I've flown all over the world, but I've rarely flown up. Last time, I went through a bank of clouds and came out through a lake in the backyard of a grandmotherly oracle known as the Lady with the Lake. I asked her something about not breaking this world's context and she replied correctly, but in riddle. I solved the riddle after returning to the other world, and I've been meaning to visit her again, but thus far I haven't been able to maintain context while trying to reach someone who can explain how to change context.

It's time to try again.

I fly up into the clouds, but it's brighter than last time. The sun must be rising; even when I turn around the brightness is the same, and in the same region in my field of vision. This sun can rise at any time; it follows a different world's schedule. I don't have much time, so I risk breaking context and skip the rest of the whole flying-through-clouds thing and immediately emerge in the lake by the cabin, where I see her, the Lady with the Lake. I crawl out from the lake and start run up the slope to ask if there are others here like me, but I'm too late. The sun has used its power and drawn me back into its world.

As I enter the sun's world, I remember what my real room looks like, and this is it. This world is stable, while the other isn't. I need to refresh my memory of my trip to the other world before it finishes dissolving away.

I remember almost getting to ask the Lady with the Lake a question, whatever the question was. I was flying around a lot before then, and I think I visited one of my fake homes. The memory has faded. I am not in that world anymore. I have woken up.