Had this dream last night. There was a new disease around, called ESSD I think, dunno why it would take the form of a four-letter abbreviation.... It was 100% fatal within a week but had a ridiculously long incubation time of, like, months or years to be discovered during. It wasn't apparently communicable, though the verdict was still out and nobody really knew why or how people got it. I had it though. And my time was almost up.
Somewhere during the course of ESSD's discovery by modern medicine, they'd decided that letting nature take care of the 100% fatality rate was too jarring and random for the victim, his family, and friends. So they developed a 'treatment' for it which involved, essentially, dropping a suicide pill once everything was in order. The pill could only be prescribed once the disease proper had kicked in, so the person's time was up anyway. It guaranteed death within twenty-four hours' time, peacefully, the first time the taker went to sleep within that period -- if you try to stay awake, it would eventually put you to sleep on its own, into the restful arms of time-release barbiturate and zolipdem.
For whatever reason, my mom hadn't told me when the routine test results came back positive during the incubation period. Best not to interrupt my life, make me go crazy and start jacking heroin or humping Jesus. Something like that I'm sure. So when the symptoms showed up, I figured it was a crazy-ass version of the flu, until she told me otherwise. Wasn't angry, wouldn't have wanted to know anyway, etcetera and so forth.
At -36 hours, when I had the pill in my possession but hadn't chosen to take it yet, I find myself at this party with seemingly randomly chosen people from all the phases of my life, toddler to school to HS graduation to college to now. It was tense instead of being fun, though, because they all knew. Because they knew they were themselves tense, scared. Scared a little of ESSD itself, still with so many unknown variables this long after its discovery, frightened for their own wellness despite the doctors' assurances. Scared more, I'm guessing, by the grim spectre of death (!) hovering invisible in the room, reality's veiled threat, implicit but perfectly clear when any peer dies. So instead of being any fun, it was tense and nightmare lonely, a scattered series of impersonal explanations of what was happening to me and why, a press conference where no reporter will meet your eye when spoken to, but all will glance and stare when not.
After that I was driving on a highway, past one of those beautiful industrial-sized bridges, battleship grey and rust. I remembered something then, about the last time this happened to me. It was deja-vu in dreamland. It was waking up a third-grader who remembered most of what he had learned at University during the last cycle. It was doing very well on tests without much trying and even less feeling of any achievements. It was a moment's strange glimpse of the afterlife. And then it was a lifetime of forgetting until suddenly everything was remembered.
Recursive dreams are bad for your head.
When I arrived it was -24 hours, and I dry-swallowed the big white horse pill in my car to keep anybody from doing something stupid. Christina had somehow had even more problems sleeping than I after the news came down. She hadn't had a wink for two or three days, and was maintaining only with difficulty.
We almost immediately lay down off in a bedroom and talked and cried. When I had the realization in the car, along with it came the knowledge that this is what had happened before, being taken away from the girl I loved and put back as somebody else, somewhere else. It was (still is) infinitely sad, a hopeless situation for all involved. Soon Christina was asleep in my arms, but I was nowhere near tired yet, besides wanting not at all for her to wake up next to something dead. I went off to the kitchen to cook something for us both to eat -- she doesn't eat much when she's down, you see -- but her mom intercepted me after I was finished making it. Told me to leave. Not healthy to make her go through more. Let her finally sleep and when she wakes up it will be over.
It seemed plausible enough, so I kissed her on the forehead and left. Still had to see my mom and try to make anything better I could, as distressingly futile as that would be. Still had to get home to my apartment and delete my porn stash, maybe microwave a few CDs of warez. Had to write a list of anything my friends might want and how to reach them and why. When I got out to my car it was -18 hours, and I realized I would have to take a little bit of that time to get gas; it was running on reserve when I stopped. I was pissed.
Woke up right then. And Christina was there next to me at her place. Curled up in rest. And I was so relieved. She must have heard my breathing change or something because she spoke first. I couldn't speak right myself though, I was drained and emotional. Told her all of this as well as I could remember it, wanted to crystallize it in place because it seemed important at the time. For a few moments though it was a great feeling, just that everything had turned out alright in the end. Want to feel that some more some day. It was nice.