Nick Gaskins


“...and in sports news the Flyers won last ni-” Click Howard’s hand found the off switch on his clock radio at 5:55 AM just like it did every morning from Monday to Friday for the past 2 years, 3 months and 18 days. And just like all the previous mornings the hand retreated back into the cavern of bedsheets and comforters that felt cozy enough to make him reflect on whether or not employment was worth deserting his warm cocoon. He would contemplate this for about 2 minutes, allowing the light filtering through his blankets to accelerate the waking process. Once he was conscious enough to roll onto his back and poke his head out of the covers he would look around his two bedroom apartment and think about all the things he could do with the next 9 hours outside of eating the same eggs he ate yesterday, showering in water that was never the right temperature, and going to his job where he would have an eight hour stretch of confinement in his cubicle; broken up only by a break to use the bathroom and to eat lunch. This period of unrealistic musing would continue until six o’clock and then his monotonous day would begin. Howard thought of many things that morning, none of them things he hadn’t thought about on one of the previous mornings. He thought of how he could have majored in something other than accounting in school, of what he would do if he had married his high school sweetheart, of the inexplicable reason why he agreed to take on the Baxter Account and the month of number crunching that came with it. Just when he was ready to stop reflecting on how much better his life could be he

turned to the clock and to his surprise it was 5:55 still, but the numbers were all backwards. Puzzled, Howard tried to turn the radio back on and to his surprise the device just stared blankly back at him as if it had never been able to receive a frequency at all. Howard sat up in bed and looked around his room. The bathroom door was ajar, allowing a sliver of light to paint a thin rectangle on the carpet. Apparently he had left the light on when he had used the bathroom the night before. He got up to turn it off, and as he stretched his lanky frame towards the ceiling and yawned he heard a fainting buzzing sound. He tried to focus on the source of the noise and he realized it was all around him, as if the walls of and floor of the apartments next to and above him were covered in bees. Frowning, Howard continued on to the bathroom and flipped the lightswitch down. Click Nothing happened. The light remained on without so much as a flicker. Howard was now wide awake, and with a reluctance that he couldn’t justify to himself he flipped it back up and attempted to turn it off again. Click Again no response. Howard stepped into the bathroom and looked at himself in the mirror. The image before him was the same tousled brown mop of hair, stubbly chin, and drawn features that greeted him every morning when he brushed his teeth but something was different. The image flickered and jumped like an old TV picture during a thunderstorm. He was once again aware of the buzzing sound coming from the walls and that was when he turned back towards the door Howard found himself facing the mirror again. This was when the realization came to him. Howard was dreaming.

Nick Gaskins Several thoughts flooded his mind at that particular moment. Howard thought back to one of the days he wasted away on the computer at work, looking at random Wikipedia articles when he should have been handling the Baxter finances. He recalled stumbling upon an article about lucid dreaming -being able to freely control your dreamsand he remembered that the first step to achieving lucidity while dreaming is to realize you are in a dream. The two best signs that you are dreaming is that light switches won’t work, and you won’t be able to tell time correctly. Lights rarely won’t turn on, but they always turn off when you flip the switch. Harold’s heart raced as he thought of all the possibilities that were open to him in this extraordinary circumstance. He could make anything happen, his high school sweetheart could be his wife, he could live in a mansion or better yet a castle. He could run the company he works at or even not work ever again and reign supreme over his kingdom with his high school queen at his side in a dynasty that would never end because he was in control of all of time and space. All that was and ever would be within the space of his mind was his to command, and he could make it all real, down to the finest detail. Then it occurred to him that he would have to maintain lucidity in order to make this last as long as possible, so he racked his brains to remember the tricks to keeping the mind lucid. He remembered the article saying something about things you can do within the dream to maintain a state of lucidity. They were mostly physical acts, he recalled, things to keep the mind from becoming too aware and wak“-and in sports news the Rangers won last ni-” Click Howard’s hand found the off switch on his clock radio at 5:55 AM just like it did every morning from Monday to Friday for the past 2 years, 3 months and 18 days. Only

this time instead of sleepily contemplating his boring life he sprang out of bed and grabbed his old high school directory and the classified section of the newspaper and began making his kingdom a reality. As he scribbled the number to his high school sweetheart’s home on a piece of paper for later reference he thought of how his work day would be spent rewriting his resume for the job hunt he would be soon engaged in, and how from then on all he would think about when he woke up every morning were four simple, but empowering words: Long Live The King.

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