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Lucid Dreamer

stools at an old diner

Please note: this story was provided by the author and published as is.

Hi, um… If you’re listening to this then it means I’m… dead. Sorry, I- I know I just hate it when people try to sugar coat it- I mean, I get it. Someone’s “final words”, it’s depressing and they suck- I mean they don’t “suck” they’re just sad- but this isn’t sad! I mean- Shit. Um anyway, I’m just going to rip it off like a bandaid and say it. I… died- or technically I’m going to die. Obviously, I haven’t yet. Not really looking forward to that part. Ha ha…

I just… want everyone to know that I’m sorry. This isn’t anyone’s fault but my own. No one forced me to do this and it’s not like I’m giving up hope but… I know I’m out of options now so… It’s best if you heard what I have to say.

I’m… going to sound crazy but um… I think I died in a dream. I think. Listen, I know how it sounds but things have been happening and I know that next time I fall asleep… It will probably get worse and I won’t be able to wake up. I even have proof! You should have seen a burnt VHS tape beneath this recorder. You can’t… watch it anymore- because… well… it’s burnt. I did that… But it’s real! I mean, it’s right there! So you know, I didn’t make this up.

Anyway, I know that when I go to sleep I’m going to… be trapped? I’m not sure if that’s totally how it works, -I haven’t quite figured that part out yet but because of that I haven’t slept in a few days. Obviously, I am… I’m not able to do this forever you know? So I’m going to tell you about it so no one’s left wondering.

It all basically comes down to a dream. It’s this recurring dream. I’ve had it ever since I was little and still have it at least once a month. But it’s becoming more frequent now…

It’s not a nightmare or anything- or at least it wasn’t until I…- uh let me just describe it first.

It always starts with me walking into this diner.

It’s got that old late 50’s charm to it. Kind of wide with checkered floors and cherry red seats- except they weren’t red because in the dream everything is black and white. But in my mind I knew they should have been red…

Anyway, I’m inside and there, behind the counter, is the attendant. He’s this big guy wearing all white and a little soda jerk hat. He’s got his back to me while he’s cleaning something on the back counter. There’s a little desk bell that I ring except it makes no noise- there’s no noise at all in the dream. When I was little and would wake up from the dream I used to imagine that it made the most beautiful sound in the world. Like a perfect chord.

Almost as soon as I hit the bell, I lose track of time and, suddenly, my order is right there on a plate. The guy behind the counter doesn’t turn around, even as I take the plate to my usual seat in my usual booth. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a reoccurring dream before but for me it’s almost like I’m watching a home movie for the hundredth time. I’m seeing all these things happen and it’s like I kind of know what will come next. But I’m not in control exactly. It’s more like I’m going through the motions. I know exactly where to sit because I’ve sat there a hundred times before.

When I sit down I find that I already have a fork and knife in hand. The food looks delicious. Almost too delicious, in a way you really could only dream about. It’s fuzzy, as dreams are but I think what’s on my plate is something between eggs, pancakes and a burger. I eat it. I don’t exactly remember eating it but I know that’s what happens.

When I’m done I look up to see a black cat clock with its tail swinging from side to side. The time is 2:21. A lot of people say you can’t tell time in dreams but that’s not true. It’s just uncommon for some people. I mean, I see it every time I’m in my dream so it can’t be impossible right?

Anyway, I get this feeling like… I need to be somewhere… not here. So I get up and walk. I walk through the long diner for what feels like a minute but… what couldn’t have been more than a few seconds. The counter attendant is still wiping down the back counter when I open the front door… and leave…

Then I wake up.

I’ll admit it’s a weird dream. Most people have recurring dreams about losing control of their car or not studying for a test. Not me though! I mean- I’ve had those too a couple times but my point is it’s weird.

Anyway, my dream never bothered me. I got pretty used to it. Well, there was one thing that bugged me. I could never do anything. Going through my dream is like- how do I say this… it’s like riding the world’s slowest dullest roller coaster ever. And then having to ride it again three more times. Each time I’m strapped in for the same boring old ride.

I think that was partly the reason I wanted so badly to have a lucid dream. Um- If you don’t know, a lucid dream is when you’re dreaming but you’re aware that you’re dreaming. It’s like being awake while you’re asleep… if that makes sense. Some people can even control their lucid dream, making almost anything possible! Just imagine me, instead of the boring roller coaster having an entire amusement park!

So yeah, uh- if you can’t tell, lucid dreaming kind of interests me. Well it did- not so much anymore. I guess it won’t matter what I’m interested in now- um oh that’s morbid. Uh. Anyway, everyone’s got their little hobby and- well that was mine. I read all the online forums… tried all the techniques- meditation, binaural music, YouTube hypnotism videos, weed- whatever it is, I’ve probably given it a shot. One time my friend even convinced me to try acid. Ha ha, I uh- it didn’t go so well…

It just never came naturally to me. I tried. Night after night. Month after month. But nothing worked.

In the end it was that VHS tape that did it.

It was in one of my mid-day deep dive into google search that I heard about Green-Leaf-3. I can’t remember exactly where I saw that name- It was across a dozen forums spread around a hundred other websites. And honestly, that’s not important. Green-Leaf-3 or just Green-Leaf has something of a… cult following, I guess is what you could call it. It’s kind of like a… internet conspiracy theory? Except… it’s real

On the internet, people talk about Green-Leaf like it’s some sort of collector’s item. And I often confused it with a whole list of strange titles: Green-Swordfish, Orange-Dragonfly, Purple-Mozart. From what I could figure I guess they’re all part of the same collection.

Early on, I had trouble just figuring out what Green-Leaf was.  The only time people really mentioned it was when they had a copy they wanted to trade. I did find one forum though, which seemed to be a place for people to share their experiences with it. It was there that I learned Green-Leaf was a video. No one said what it was a video of but I got the impression that watching it would lull you into a lucid-dream-state.

As you can imagine, I was pretty eager to try it out. I asked around the forum if there was some place I could download or stream it. The first response?

“l-o-l”

I must have come off as a newbie but thankfully the next response was a little more helpful. To sum it up, this other user explained that no “real” copy of Green-Leaf existed digitally and that I should be careful of scammers trying to sell “counterfeits”. They said that I could only get it on VHS and that every 3 months or so a copy usually went up for sale.

I was a bit skeptical. I couldn’t understand why I necessarily had to watch it on VHS. I thought maybe it was like vinyl. Some big music fans will insist that nothing beats the sound of an old record player. I mean, I kind of get that but I’m not looking to become a connoisseur of mystery sleep tapes. I was just looking to try it out.

I scoured the internet for Green-Leaf but quickly realized I was going down a rabbit hole. A quarter of the videos I found were practically corrupted and would never load. As for the rest of them, well, I know now that every one of them was fake. I gave about 5 of them a try but they were nothing close to the “mind-opening experience” described on the forums.

The more I read the forums the more I became convinced that if I was going to experience a lucid dream I was going to have to get my hands on a real copy of Green-Leaf… So I bought a VHS player and waited for a copy to pop up for sale. I checked the usual sites almost daily, ready to jump at the first chance I got. Only five weeks later a guy with the username “Joseph89” made a post saying he was selling his copy. I messaged him immediately and we talked about a price. Green-Leaf wasn’t cheap by any standard. I think we agreed on $370. I mean, it’s a collector’s item so of course it’s going to go for a high price.

As Joseph and I got to talking, we exchanged numbers and eventually discovered we were only some 4 hours apart. He was concerned that if he sent the tape through mail it might get lost so we arranged to meet up at a halfway point. Sure, I was nervous but he was actually the one who suggested we meet in public. He asked that I pay in cash and we agreed on a time.

When I finally met up with Joseph I was honestly expecting some shaddy, ragged guy in hoodie and sunglasses. Something sketch ya know? But… he was the exact opposite. He wore a bright blue button up shirt with nice jeans to match. I remember he had this scar on the side of his head but his blond hair was cut in a way where it was kind of attractive…

Um. So we met up. And I’m kind of surprised how professional he acted. He had this cool looking leather backpack and he reached inside and took out the VHS tape. It was in this bland white slipcase that had a green band running around the spine. On the front, pressed in black ink, was the image of a leaf. Above it, the words “Green-Leaf-3” were handwritten in marker. I think you can probably still see a little bit of the green band around the slipcase if you tried to look but the rest is probably too badly burnt to tell.

Anyway, Joseph pulled the tape out from it’s slipcase. The tape itself was pretty average but he pointed to a little symbol in one of the corners. It was like an O-shaped holographic sticker. He made it sound like it was “confirmation” that the tape was real. It hadn’t even crossed my mind until that point that I had no real way to know. But this guy seemed genuine so…

I was about ready to hand him the money when he asked if I had schizophrenia. It was odd but I told him “no”because I don’t and then he asked, “what about dementia”?  Again, I said no but he kept going and asked if I suffered from night terrors. I was kind of confused but more annoyed that this guy kept pressing me for all this personal stuff so told him “no” and that I didn’t feel comfortable giving him my entire medical history. He apologized and said he was just “being safe”. I gave him the money and he handed me “Green-Leaf-3”.

The first thing I did, of course, the second I got home- was watch the tape. I threw the door open and pulled out the VHS player, and got set up in a comfortable spot- I mean, the point was to sleep after all. I inserted my copy of Green-Leaf into the device and hit play.

There was… nothing for half a minute so. I slightly panicked and wondered if Joseph had scammed me when the screen lit up. Suddenly, printed in bold white lettering, was a single word… or actually… an acronym…  “O.V.A.C.”

The acronym was quickly replaced by the title of the film. “GREEN-LEAF”. What followed then was only what I could describe as “viewing instructions”. There was a list of bullet points seemingly like a tutorial for how to watch the video. Before I burned the tape for good I went back and wrote down exactly what it said. And it went something like this:

“For the viewing of this tape, the following guideline should be adhered:”

“For optimal effect, the viewing should be placed between 2 – 4  meters from video display and sound should be audible from viewer perspective but not exceeding standard levels.”

“For optimal effect, the viewer should be placed in a comfortable resting position, removed from any external distractions.”

“For optimal effect, the viewing should continue throughout the entire 1:03:53 of the film’s duration without interruption.”

“If the viewer suffers from any chronic mental conditions STOP this tape immediately.”

“If the viewer suffers from any abnormal or disruptive sleep illnesses STOP this tape immediately.”

“If the viewer has displayed any symptoms or side effects, within the last 24 hours, associated with the viewing of another O.V.A.C. tape STOP this tape immediately.”

“For further instructions and guidelines please speak to your acting supervisor.”

The instructions were… weird. None of the fake videos I saw online had anything close to this. I’m not sure what all of it means but it felt like I was reading the rubric for a college chemistry lab or something. But to be honest, I wasn’t all that worried. I mean why should I be? No one freaks out when you see an epilepsy warning- I mean, people with epilepsy might but um… Anyway my point is we read warning labels all day every day but you never think they’ll ever apply to you, right?

Well the tape continued right into the video. And out of all the things I expected to see… I wasn’t that far off. For something so clouded in weirdness I was surprised to see something pretty… normal. I mean, compared to some of the other “meditation videos” you’ll find online this was pretty par for the course.

It was a wide landscape view of a single paved road splitting through a tree-covered mountainside. There was no one around and the weather was pretty clear despite the gray stormy colors. The natural sounds of the forest had been replaced by long, evolving hypnotic tones.

I’m not sure how much of the video I watched- maybe 10 minutes? 5? All I know is I was barely into the video when I started to feel heavy. My body kind of sank into the couch as I quickly fell asleep.

And it worked.

I could tell immediately. It was different. It was like any other dream, except I knew. I was dreaming and I knew it! More than that, I could control it! I won’t bore you with all my fantasies because- well for one it would take years to go into that detail. And for another, It would be a little embarrassing. Listen, what happens in your head, stays in your head you know?

But that feeling. How can you even begin to describe something like that? A skydiver might have some clue how it feels to fly but in a dream? Not even close. How can I have someone relate to that feeling? That it’s less falling but more like moving the whole universe around you? It was… amazing! Like inventing something new or being the first to discover a continent.

When I woke up, the TV was black and Green-Leaf was over. Of course, I would watch it again. Over the next few days I think I watched Green-Leaf at least 15 times. And that feeling, like my mind was on fire with imagination, it never got old. I probably would have watched that tape a thousand more times… had I not had that dream…

It was my dream… The one I keep having about the old 50’s diner. I hadn’t had it for a while and compared to my recent steak of wild dreams… honestly…  I’d kind of forgotten that it was the reason I started this whole quest for lucid dreaming to begin with.

So, as I loaded up Green-Leaf and drifted to sleep the same way I did so many times before, I was kinda surprised to see the black and white restaurant. Though, this time, I could tell it was different. It didn’t look different… it just felt different… it didn’t feel like I was “strapped in”.  Just like any other dream with Green-Leaf, I was in control. At least, it felt like I was. Regardless, I was filled with curiosity and ready to take this boring roller coaster off the rails.

I looked over the little dull-gray world and with a second of thought I threw some color into the scene. It felt… odd. Less like I was painting a picture, as I was used to by now, and more like pulling the corner of a veil. A splash of color sputtered to life turning the cushioned seats a… deep bruised maroon. Not exactly the vibrant cherry red I had imagined… or even been trying for. The sounds of clattering behind the counter pulled my attention to the man whose back I’d seen so many times before. And just like before, he was faced away from me. There, the simple counter bell shone in anticipation.

I beamed at the idea of hearing that beautiful chime for the first time. I rushed to the counter and sat in the seat next to the one I normally sit in- just to prove to myself that I could… I hopped up on the barstool and spun around once before ringing the bell without a moment of doubt. But what I heard…

As soon as I hit the bell I fell to the floor trying with all that I could to make that sound STOP. It was like someone was drilling through a sheet of metal RIGHT into my ears! That kind of pain wasn’t something I was used to, especially not in my dreams. After struggling to even raise my head I forced the sound to silence. When I got up, my food was waiting for me…

I… hesitated. But I wasn’t really afraid yet. I had that feeling like… I was invincible, you know? So I took the plate and I went to my usual spot this time. I sank into that sickly red seat and I focused my mind to taste the food; this food that always looked so delicious, but I’ve never once actually tasted. I took a bite… and I reeled. Like wet worms and moldy wood rolled into one writhing bite. I was gagging- the rotten paste practically squirmed down my throat as it leaked this wet pus that stuck at the roof of my mouth and WOULDN’T. GO. AWAY! And the worst part was I was STILL EATING. I tried reaching for some water but each time my glass was replaced with a handful of cancerous mush. I was now impulsively shoveling more and more of this vomit into my mouth using only my bare hands!

I had to compose myself and actively TRY to resist this COMPULSION. By the time I did the food was half gone and the suddenly, audible TIC-TICing of the cat-shaped clock made me aware that it was now 2:21. I spent no time getting up and heading straight for the door. I just wanted to get out of this dream. But… uhg! I should have taken the first hint- I should have taken the first DOZEN hints!

… I stopped myself. I was mad and curious and I still felt like I was invincible- like I was in control! Fighting against the urge to leave right then and there, I walked up to the counter.

The man kept his back to me, still wiping down the counter in the same circular motions. I turned my head to the clock, the minute hand barely approaching 2:22. I watched and waited.

I don’t know why but I wanted to see; I wanted to see that man’s face and for whatever reason I felt I needed to stay until the end- until the minute was over. I wasn’t going to let this dream scare me. I was in control.

As the time got closer the ticking sway of the black cat’s tail grew louder. Anxiously, I waited through each stressful second until finally…

It stopped. The swinging tail was still as the minute hand stood at 2:22. The thunderous ticking had gone away and everything was silent… That’s when I realized… I couldn’t hear any dishes. I turned to the man who’s hunched shoulders faced me. For the first time I saw one of his hands, clenching the edge of the back counter. Like an idiot, I stood up tall and called out to him.

And he turned around…

My confidence shattered as soon as I saw his face. It was nothing but a smooth white blob… Desperately, and almost instinctively I tried to correct it- I closed my eyes- trying to dream up some sort of face for this faceless creature. But each time I opened my eyes I’d see that I failed. A single- or a half dozen distorted eyes would spawn for a second before instantly disappearing. Gaping holes, poorly resembling mouths, bubbled and shimmered across the surface of it’s skin but never truly stuck.

I stumbled backwards as the faceless nightmare moved toward the front counter and leaned it’s shapeless face closer to mine. I turned to run but found my legs as heavy as iron. So I dragged them as fast as I could. Dragged them to the exit across the checkered floor which now was constantly expanding. 6 feet. Then 20. Then a 100 feet away! When I actually reached the double doors I dove through them ending the horrific dream!

Except… It didn’t end… I opened my eyes to see a whole world entirely black and white… with a hundred of those faceless things all staring at me…

That’s when I woke up screaming…

I was too terrified to ever use Green-Leaf again… but that didn’t stop the nightmares. I had hoped that maybe the dream would just reset itself but I soon learned… whatever I did got their attention. And they wouldn’t let go.. From that night on THAT dream was the only dream I could ever have. But since I stayed FAR away from that tape… I was locked in for the ride…

When I had the dream for a second time they were watching me. I was mindlessly carrying out my routine but out of the corner of my eyes I saw them. ALL of them… At every window they were looking in- looking at me. And maybe “looking” is not the  right word since they didn’t have eyes to look but they could see me… or… maybe sense me? Even the counter attendant was turned around staring at me with that blank, smooth skin as he wiped the counter methodically…

Every time I went to sleep it got worse. At first they just stared at me through the windows but then… they started coming inside. The first couple of nights there was maybe a half dozen of them and they all just… sat there in booths or stools observing…. But each night, the diner filled up with more of those things… and they got closer. They were surrounding me now and there was this new feeling that grew within me saying- I wasn’t supposed to be there.

If I wasn’t hopelessly caught in the dream I think I would have screamed as one of them leaned in and brought it’s smooth face next to mine. Still oblivious, I reached for my silverware. But just then, the thing caught my wrist. I felt stuck- unable to react as it pressed its claw-like nails into my skin. Tighter and tighter. It HURT. like it REALLY hurt… I’ve never felt pain in a dream before…

Then, it lifted my arm up, just at eye level… like it was showing me. Showing me that it had me…

Then… it let go… But I could tell. Obviously, it had no words or expression to say it but… it chose to let me go.

It was nearly 2:22 and instinctively, my body got up to leave. The entire diner was full of those faceless figures and as I lingered to the door, all of their blank faces were following me. Stalking me.

Two of them blocked the exit, trapping me inside… I stood there, frozen and comatose, unable to finish the dream. They only tilted their heads curiously- before opening the doors… and allowing me to leave…

I woke up after that…  My heart was pounding like I had just gone for a mile sprint. I tried to talk myself down like I’ve done before. I tried to convince myself that my mind was only inventing this nightmare. But this time… I noticed it… the deep bruising around my wrist… and the indents, like fingernails, pressed into my skin.

And maybe you would like to rationalize it- say I just grabbed myself while I was asleep and that’s how I could feel it in my dream. And I…

I can’t be sure… I only know what I felt… I felt that cold hand… and I felt very real fear.

I don’t know if the tape did something to my mind? Changed me? Changed my dream into that nightmare? Or was it always a nightmare? Maybe those faceless things had been there all this time… dormant… Maybe, in a way, they were dreaming too… and the tape just woke them up.

I- I don’t feel like I “escaped”. I feel… I feel like those things were… testing the dream…  Testing their limits and boundaries… just like I had done when I was a lucid dreamer…

No matter how hard I try, I can’t shake this fear that the next time I fall asleep, they won’t let me go…

So… I haven’t slept since then. It’s been about two days and I figured I would get all of this out on tape before I go crazy or something. I thought I could go a little longer but I guess I’m not as “rough and tough” as I thought.

I don’t know how to stop the dreams. I went back to the forums, asking for help… and I guess to warn others. It’s been about 56 hours and no one’s responded. Looks like they’ll have to add a new warning label to the tape huh? “Stop the video if you’ve ever had a recurring dream before”. Ha ha…

Well. There it is. That’s what happened and why my voice is on this recorder. As for Green-Leaf, I burnt it. Maybe I was destroying evidence or something and sure, now some people won’t believe me but I knew if someone was demanding proof they would want to watch the tape… and I don’t want others to get hurt.

Who knows, maybe I’m overreacting. I could go to sleep and wake up tomorrow just fine. Talk about losing sleep over nothing. Ha…

I wish I could believe that…

I’m just… ugh… I’m just tired…

I’m going to sleep now… I’m sorry…