a Message in a Bottle, Found on the
Dark Sands of the Seas of Morpheus

It began, simply enough, decades ago - the late ‘60‘s to be more precise.  We were finding a new literature: Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings; Frank Herbert’s Dune; Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land; and then, Lovecraft - H. P. Lovecraft.  He was darker, older, and dead.  The style was strange, and being strange, - tempting.

My favorite was called: The Dream-quest of Unknown Kadath.  A man, on getting ready to go to sleep, imagines descending a set of stairs into the underworld of the Earth, and has some startling adventures.  But matters didn’t, for me at any rate, end there.  In the late ‘70‘s the movie Alien came out, and a new kind of horror film genre emerged.  At its core was the alien creature itself, the product of the art and mind of the Swiss painter H. R. Geiger. 

Then my brother got a book of Geiger’s artworks.  It was large format, perhaps 30 inches by 14 inches.  The paintings were in full color and amazing.  Called the Necronomicon, after Lovecraft, the collection contained biographical material on Geiger, including the story of how he had, inspired by “Dream- quest”, himself practiced descending those stairs on lying down to go to sleep.  That journey, Geiger reported, is where he found the source of the images of the bio-mechanical creatures that became the center of his paintings, and as well, the basis for the alien creature that spawned eight movies in all (Alien; Aliens; Aliens 3; Alien Resurrection; Prometheus; and the three Alien-Predator movies.

Meanwhile, I had been exploring ideas and teachings about the Underworld, sometimes called the Land of Faerie, using other sources, but within fiction my favorite was Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.  By what impulse I do not clearly understand, I decided to try the method outlined by Lovecraft above, and see what happened.  It turned out I was not adequately prepared for this at all.

I’ll skip over the laborious details, and just say that after a half-years off and on practice, I found myself walking into a gallery at the end of a descent down a long long set of stairs.  The gallery was this huge open space, with many upright columns of various heights, some of which had fallen down, and while the path forward was clear, to the left and the right there were high arched windows, looking out onto a dense and foreboding tangle of forest.   The ceiling of the gallery was not flat, but itself everywhere arched, and in some of the shadows a hint of sculpted forms.  At least, I hoped they were stone.

In the beginning, I had had to add details with my imagination, but once in the gallery that was no longer necessary.  There was a dankness to the smell of the air, little wind, and a rustling of piles of dead leaves that had drifted in over the years through the windows and lay everywhere around.  What light there was was soft and diffuse, bright enough for details, but had no source at all.  There were also shadows, but these went every which way, an abnormal situation that a genuine source of light would not have tolerated.   

The stone walls and floors and columns had cracks, and many broken pieces lay all about.  Here and there there was a broken opening in the ceiling, and through which I could see a vast dense world of stars.  I am an amateur astronomer, and none of those constellations did I recognize.  I began to feel fear for the first time.  Then came the sounds not yet heard.  Whispers certainly.  Hardly sensed screams, perhaps.  Animal growls as well, but so low that one had to stretch out one’s ears to try to perceive from where they came.  Sadly I would tire and eventually fall asleep, even in the gallery, and in the morning find myself once more in bed in my apartment. 

The fifth time I came to this gallery, I decided to cease my explorations, because ... well, it went on and on and on, and the sounds grew different.  They vibrated inside of me - as if my bones were grinding together, and the flesh inside my body was tearing away from its supports.  Except ... that was when I first saw her.  Fey of face, and wearing only a wisp of a gown, which revealed and hid simultaneously a lithe, frail, exotic, and erotic body of what seemed to be real flesh.  She was no ghost, of that I was certain.

Therein lay the trap.  I now returned night after night, following her deeper into the gallery.  I seemed to be getting closer, but still she evaded me with dancing steps and twirling movements in and around the columns.  On occasion, her feet stirred up drifts of leaves that were unusually slow to fall back to the gallery floor.  Time stretched out, and I seemed to spend hours, even days, exploring and seeking, but not yet finding - still falling asleep in spite of all my efforts otherwise.  My daytime life began to suffer.  At work they wondered if I was depressed.  My eyes got deep dark rings.  My concentration began to fail, for all I could think of was the next night and the next night and the next night.  A friend confronted me, and while that did wake me up in a way, I knew then I was too far gone - too addicted.  The world of dreams and faerie had me, and I was ready to give my all.  To not go to sleep and remain ... hopefully with her.

So I write this here on reddit, - a message in a bottle in the sub-reddit of NoSleep.  I’ll try to leave another message, if I can - if I don’t succumb to despair, or worse, are refused.  I know there ought not to be serial stories, so I’ll have to write some other kind of tale if I survive tonight, or the next.  Yet, my heart says soon.  She was so close last night we almost touched.  I can sense the secret now - that to join that world one must surrender all. 

If you don’t hear from me, wish me well.  I really want to go there to stay, whatever the cost.  Perhaps, I’ll be missed at work.  Worried then, maybe they will come by and find me in a coma on my bed, and only my soul and/or spirit gone walkabout from this world.  Maybe my flesh will rest for years in some old hospital ward, fed through tubes.  I don’t really care at all, for I know with all my heart that when the time comes she will receive me and I will finally have found my true home.