This was it, Kyle thought, taking a deep breath and then holding it. He was standing in front of a cliff, and a very large cliff at that. It was like someone had taken a huge saw and cut away the land, leaving nothing but air to fill the long drop, almost a thousand feet, to the crashing water below.
Kyle looked out to sea, trying to avert his eyes from the lethal rocks that studded the water directly beneath him and the towering waves, which pounded against the cliff walls. Then in one fluid motion Kyle released his breath and jumped. He jumped straight out from the cliff, jumping before the fear that was gurgling within him could take control and make him reconsider. Kyle jumped with the power and grace of an Olympic diver, spreading his arms wide as his feet left the ground, soaring upwards. At the peak of his jump there was a momentary pause where Kyle felt as if he were suspended in time, neither moving up nor down, like he was motionless in midair. There was a second in that moment where he thought, did I do something wrong? And tried to think what, but then he was falling.
He fell past the cliff edge and continued downwards. Falling towards the heaving water, which sent sparkles of the setting sun to meet him. It felt like Kyle was passing by the cliff face slowly, as if watching from the perspective of a high-speed camera. He could make out every scratch and bulge in the surface, but he quickly began to pick up speed and those details were lost in a blur as the slow fall gave way to a plummet. The water below him was approaching rapidly now, the sharp wet rocks looming larger and larger, the waves stretching up, reaching, trying to touch him. Kyle was coming closer, closer and closer; he could now feel dampness on his face from the spray. He closed his eyes, concentrating for a brief second, and then opened them; he stretched his arms upward and soared away from the cliff. Away from the water and rocks, away from what wouldn’t actually have been his death, he was flying.
Kyle flew up to the edge of the cliff again, then past it, soaring on the evening breeze, until he landed top a small, grass covered hill a few hundred yards away. He loved lucid dreaming.
Lucid dreaming was a certain sleep technique he’d discovered a few weeks ago. Becoming lucid while dreaming meant you became aware that you were dreaming. With this knowledge and some practice you could easily take control of your dreams, doing whatever you wanted, wherever you wanted.
Kyle had only just begun to lucid dream, but already he had pretty much worked over his fear of heights. Now, he decided, he’d watch the sun explode and see what his brain would come up with, it would be sure to make for a much more interesting sun set. Kyle concentrated briefly on the thought of the sun exploding, then lay down to watch the show. And he had just gotten down when he bolted back up again, surprised and slightly angered at the stone arch that had appeared over him. What the hell was this? He hadn’t thought of it. Why’d it appear?
Curious Kyle backed up farther to get a better view. The arch was about 7 feet high and wide enough for two abreast to pass through. On it were carved a number of intricate runes, which had no meaning to him, the only thing that he could understand were two words, written large and bold at the top of the arch, Welcome Stranger.
Kyle was surprised quite often, by the strange things his brain could cook up, but this was just too weird and random, so he decided to try something. He twirled his arms and then spun around on tiptoes like a ballerina. It was a method used in lucid dreaming to change the setting of the dream. Kyle spun and thought of a pine forest, sure enough when he stopped spinning he was standing in the middle of a large grove of pines, but when he glanced around the stone arch stood, almost menacingly behind him and the words still read Welcome Stranger.
Very perplexed now, Kyle spun again, this time thinking of downtown New York. When he stopped skyscrapers towered above him and had to hold his ground against the many people swarming down the sidewalk. But there it still was, the stone arch, very out of place among the 21st century, but the people didn’t seem to notice they walked under it as though it didn’t exist. Kyle shivered involuntary, which was something he’d never done before. It was the arch, it gave him the creeps that way it kept appearing same as ever. That wasn’t supposed to happen.
What now? Kyle thought, but he already knew. He conjured up the cliff setting again, the arch appearing right where it had been runes and all. And in the gloom of the setting sun Kyle passed through the arch, passing under the words that read, Welcome Stranger.