I was looking after my mother's cats. I can't remember the reason, and there probably wasn't one anyway. My mother has this cantankerous old black-and-white cat called Velvet, and I was carrying her into one of the upstairs bedrooms when she started to piss herself. I put her down gently and went to get a towel, but she just kept pissing, until the carpet was soaked and cat pee was trickling down the staircase. Eventually she stopped, visibly smaller than before, and with a strange and bashful expression.

I picked her up again, and she sank her claws into my hand and wrist. I tried to let go of her, but she just kept tearing at the skin until finally I got free. I looked at my hand. At first it seemed okay - just a few scratches and a few spots of blood - but every time I looked, it got worse - the gouges welled up with dark red arterial blood, which started dripping to the floor. I was trying to clean up the stains, and then I noticed that the cuts went all the way around my hand - they were so deep that I could see my muscle and bone, and it looked like I could have pulled on my fingers and pulled my whole hand off like a glove, leaving only the bones. There was no pain, but I started to panic.

Luckily my friend John is a doctor. He looked at my injuries and laughed, and for some reason this made me feel better, even though my hand was still getting worse - I wondered if I would get gangrene and it would have to be amputated. John brought out a carpenter's vise and I started to get really worried, but it turned out he was just trying to freak me out. He had this idea that people take their injuries too seriously. He looked at the wounds again and said
"This is going to be expensive."
"How much? Thousands of pounds?"
"Expensive."
I kept trying to call the hospital, dialling the numbers with my good hand, but I couldn't get through. Eventually John drove me to the hospital himself. He said he was too tired to do anything himself, but he got a friend of his to attend to me, a young doctor with blonde hair and a calm aura.

He opened up my hand along the line of the cut and extracted a long piece of metal from it. "How the hell did that get in there?" I asked, and he showed me my hand. It was a thin wooden box with metal hasps and a mirror inside. I started to laugh, saying "Oh my god, my hand is mechanical," and he laughed too and took the box away, revealing my real hand. It had just been a joke.

  • At this point I woke up, went to get a glass of water, holding my hand delicately because I was pretty much convinced that it had been badly damaged. I went back to sleep and re-entered the dream at exactly the same point.

The young doctor used glue to stick my hand back together. He was in a rush because he had so many patients to attend to, and he was only looking after me as a favour to John, but he did a pretty good job. There were a couple of places where the wound was not fully closed, or where air had been trapped underneath my skin to form a strange kind of bubble, but I was happy enough that it would heal up and I wouldn't lose it.

I am riding a bike in circles, headphones on. "Stuck in a moment" is playing through the wires. I go around and around and around in ever widening circles in the highschool parkinglot.

My partner, Peter is there. He is watching me intently through bangs that need to be trimmed. "Chris, come on. We've got to work on this project. Time is running out."

We are walking behind the school, behind the soccer fields, beating a path through the scrub layer of the woods. We wander around for a while before choosing a spot. We start digging, carefully working our way through the layers like junior archaeologists. We don't know what we're looking for but we dig anyway, jotting down notes on graph paper.

Nearby under a tree, an old man with a long white beard is snoring. He does not hear us, nor does he awaken.

Peter is now standing on the hill watching me on the playing field. I'm playing soccer. I'm wearing tight black shorts with a white number 4 on the left leg, a shirt that is half red/half white colored along the diagonal. There is a large black 4 on the back, and my maiden name. White kneesocks with a red top and little blue/red flags holding them up, flapping in the breeze. Also a red bandana, rolled up tied indian style across my forehead to catch the sweat.

A girl built like a Mack truck plows into me launching me into the air. I tuck my head before hitting the ground, easily rolling several times before getting to my feet. Grass stains are on my knees, pieces of grass in my hair.

Beth calls out "Hey, Tumbleweed! Who taught you to fall like that?"

I shrug before heading off to take the penalty kick. I have a determined look on my face as I stare down the goalie who is also me. I run up the three steps, bring my right cleated foot just to connecting with the ball, but I wake up before seeing whether or not I scored.

I enter the dream, and I am in prison, wearing baggy orange coveralls, handcuffed, and being led ... somewhere. Someone injects me with something. I'm told it's morphine, and that I am allowed only two shots of it before my electrocution. Then someone tells me I have to shave my beard, which I do (remarkable since I'm still handcuffed) with regret. However, this is apparently necessary so I can have a piece of thick plastic tape adhered just underneath my lower lip. This is essential to the process of electrocution.

When this tape has been applied, I'm overwhelmed with terror. I finally realize I have been sentenced to death and that death is imminent. Despite the soothing effect the morphine has had on me, I begin to freak out banging my head on several hard metal surfaces so much that it alarms the various authorities attending to me, who restrain me and give me another shot of morphine. At this point in the dream, I fall asleep ...

And wake up, briefly, to let the cat into my room. I immediately drift back into sleep ...

And wake up in the dream, right where I left off. I'm being strapped into the electric chair. I realize that I've been given morphine because they have lied, the process does hurt, the person being fried can feel the electricity killing them for far longer than anyone imagines. I begin to demand a lethal injection of morphine, I begin to wail, to sob, to rend my clothes and beat my breast about how unfair it all is, that I don't even know what the crime I'm being killed for actually is.

None of that matters. The switch is thrown, and I am electrocuted. My window of sight onto the world recedes into a tunnel made of black velvet ... and I die.

...and then I wake up again, this time because the cat wants to be let out of my room. Perhaps I was thrashing about in my sleep, and I disturbed him.

I go back to sleep, yet again, and again, I am alive. I am walking out of the prison I had been in from the prior dream(s?) and I'm wearing an orange shirt, similar to the coveralls, and black slacks. The prison is, apparently, in a brownstone building in downtown Los Angeles, and as I walk out, I marvel at my seemingly miraculous survival.

I then realize that I did not survive. The people populating the street are dead, as am I, but this is not the afterlife. It's just another place, another dimension, and my death in one existence has sentenced me to existence in another dimension, or universal variant or something.

And knowing that I'm alive, yet dead, I then fully realize the doom of my sentence. I've been doomed to live my life over and over and over again, experiencing it from all possible angles, experience every possible consequence I can possibly experience in this shell that is the person I am. Every death leads to a new existence wherein something as simple as the color of the socks I wore on a rainy day in 1981 makes a difference in how the following events will play out.

I run down the street in Los Angeles, screaming, screaming that this must be hell, this constant and infinite reincarnation. And as I run, I separate from my body, and, disembodied, I watch it run away until I can no longer see it ...

... and then I wake up. And vow not to go back to sleep this night.

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