It's a pretty cold, drab evening. As Tanner loiters outside the apartment building, the low thrum of car engines can be heard in the distance, driving up and down Elm street on their way. The sounds of a quiet Haven evening. There's something about the sounds and about the night air that seems to sap the energy in a way that a faint nicotine buzz can't really counteract. Going back to bed might start to seem like an even more appealing idea. The warmth of the his little floor mattress nest calls and coaxes.
Besides, there's another person waiting for Tanner there, isn't there, already sleeping? A presence that is a comfort, surely, amid this detached townscape.
Tanner takes a long drag from his cigarette, pulling it away from his mouth and letting out a deep and smoky sigh. His lips pucker up like he had just sucked on a lemon, instead - his brow crinkling as he looks out into the dull landscape of Blackfield across the road. Tossing the butt of his cigarette to the wind, he stuffs his hands away into his pocket, turning to re-enter the warm (yet still drab) hallways of the apartments. He draws his hand again with his key clutched in it, jabbing it into the lock and opening the door up with his shoulder as he twists the knob. "Home," he calls to nobody in particular, kicking the door shut behind him and locking it before he moves into his bedroom.
Tanner thinks; "This place sucks."
It's a little strange, the almost magnetic pull Tanner might feel towards his bed, and the heaviness of his eyelids. Lethargy trickles through him like a thick ooze, and there's something vaguely malevolent about it, if he focuses on the feeling. There's something about the sensation that seems to be decidedly external, though still so...pervasive. So hard to resist. It might not be too late to warn someone, should Tanner feel disquieted enough. The man already lying on the floor mattress is passed out already, like a dead weight, in a far deeper slumber than Tanner would be used to seeing him in. Something's not right.
Tanner groans and slumps his shoulders as he trudges onward toward his mattress, his sneakers bouncing off the barren floor as he kicks them off to pad on his socks toward the bed. "Hey, babe.." he grumbles, tripping over the bottom of the mattress and landing comfortably atop it, among the scattered blankets and pillows. He grunts again at the heavy feeling of tiredness in him, but he doesn't resist it.
Tanner thinks; "Hate these withdrawals.."
Sweet relief washes over you the moment your back hits the mattress. The gentle sagging beneath your weight, however, doesn't cause the moon-pale man to stir--not one bit. He's out like a light, and mouth-breathing at that. Is he drooling on your pillow? Well, it's hard to focus on such things. You can feel your mind sinking into blissful, welcoming sleep.
Tanner thinks; "That's cute.."
Tanner smirks at the sight of the other man drooling onto his pillow, cuddling up close to the other as he feels his mind sinking further. He doesn't fight it one bit, shutting his eyes as he prepares to drift off to dreamland.
At first, it's only darkness. You feel nothing--you are nothing. There is no sense of time or self. How long you exist in this state is unclear--perhaps it's not even a meaningful question. And then...a sudden, vibrant burst back into glorious Being. Your vision is flooded with opulence. You are in a golden banquet hall, as grand as any European cathedral you might have visited in your youth. Even someone who doesn't typically appreciate aesthetics would have to admit that it is a glory to behold, with its alabaster pillars, and a dark-painted roof that glitters with points of glowing light, a lovely starry expanse. Amid the fantastical statues of all manner of impossible creatures, there is a long, gilded wooden table at the center of the banquet hall, complete with a great number of seats. No meal has been set forth at the table, but you get the sense that you are a guest at the table, and expected to sit.
Tanner opens his eyes wide at the sight, looking around to take in the gilded glory of the full hall. It's a bit posh for his taste. He takes a tentative step forward, followed by another, and another, carrying himself uncertainly around the mysterious statues of strange creatures. "Hello?" he calls out into the expanse fo the hall, arcing his path to reach a seat at the table. He reaches out to touch the seat, rubbing his hand along the opulent construction. Then, he grips it, pulling it out and settling onto the seat.
The moment you have the thought that the setting is too posh, your surroundings begin to rearrange and reshape themselves into something more modest. The hall shrinks before your eyes. The pillars become a more rustic wood, and the starry expanse above becomes a tasteful but mundane nightscape mural as it lowers. By the time you take your seat, the table has shrunk into a reasonably sized dining table, and the gilded accents vanish. Still tasteful, still lovely to behold, but not so off-puttingly luxurious. For a moment, it might be dizzying and unsettling to see your surroundings shift so dramatically at so delicate a thought, but after a few moments it becomes more difficult to remember the way the room looked just a moment ago. The dream logic of it all seeps into your mind.
When you take your seat at the now less intimidating table, there's a sound. A clear, resonating chime that seems to come from nowhere and resonates through the hall. Such a lovely, pure sound.
Then, footsteps--the neat click-click of high heels.
A woman approaches the table at which you sit alone. She's truly a sight to behold, with black curls and a red gown that hugs her ample curves. She's built like a 50's model, generously proportioned. Her round features are pleasant and pristinely painted, and when she reaches the table, she smiles at you with crimson lips and warm, dark eyes. She leans a little over the table in a way that shows off the low cut of her dress.
"I'm so glad you decided to join us," she says to you, her voice sweet and husky, but also so touched with kindness. "Are you hungry, by any chance?"
Tanner softens his skeptical expression as the golden halls of finely crafted art shrink away into a more cozy setting, propping his elbows up on the table now that it lacks the expectation of more high-class table manners. His eyelids twitch at the pleasant sound, and he scans his gaze across the room's walls, searching for the source - his mind hunting instinctively for a certain moon-pale man.
Upon hearing the footsteps, though, his head swivels to face the source of the town. His eyebrows furrow, and he stares at her - picking her appearance apart, as he had with the original setting of his dreamlike surroundings. Some old-timey American broad, huh? He still glances down at her breasts to appreciate them as she speaks, however - apparently not caring for manners in this, either.
"Could eat," the blond supposes. "Who're you?"
Tanner thinks; "Who's this slag? I prefer to eat dinner with my own slag. "
"I'm Melody," says the woman, and she too begins to change in subtle ways. The slow shift of her flesh would no doubt be deeply unsettling in waking life, but dreams have a certain way of making the uncanny seem ordinary. She searches your face as her body and dress and face vaguely alter themselves, looking for signs of approval in his features--or perhaps deeper down, in his psyche--when she hits upon something he likes. "This is my house. I'm afraid I don't get many guests anymore, sadly." She sighs in lament, pressing her hand to her bosom. Somewhere along the line, she's given herself blue eyes, which she blinks coquettishly.
Tanner watches Melody with an intent gaze, tracking her changing features - subtle signs of approval showing as his smile grows. He seems to prefer her a bit more conservatively dressed, with a wider face, and his own eyes light up at the sight of her brand new baby blues. "Why's that?" he asks. He reaches out in front of him to look for a drink, but grasps at air, a bit caught up in the dreaminess of the woman.
Tanner thinks; "Been a while since I had a decent home-cooked meal."
As your fingers close around the air in your hand, a drink manifests itself there. A whiskey glass, full of...something. It doesn't look like any ordinary drink. The honey-gold color is normal enough, as is the ice, but a slice of some odd but appealing-looking turquoise fruit floats in it. Melody beams a smile that dimples her cheeks.
There are no doors in this room, but as before, you can hear the progression of footsteps coming from...somewhere. You can hear the approach long before you see anyone. This time, it's the pad-pad of bare feet.
Tanner lifts up his glass, peering at the alien substance that lingers within. "What's that?" he wonders, before deciding to test the waters for himself. He pulls his head back and slams down the drink, trying to chomp down that mysterious fruit for himself as fast as possible. He's so busy contemplating the taste, he doesn't even seem to notice the sound of another approaching guest.
Tanner (Internally) is taking everything at face value, in this dream.
The taste is lovely, sublime, both sweet and smokey. The fruit flavor is citrusy, like a persimmon. Yet...it becomes clear at once that is is not any ordinary drink. This is a drug, and a fast-acting one. The sensation is familiar. Calming, soothing. Numbing. A dopeyness that creeps at the edges of the mind. Yet, none of the uncomfortable physical side effects that might be felt in the material plane. This is a feeling you know well, even if in an imperfect manner. This is a feeling you have chased for years...
Tanner savours the strange, pleasant flavour - but for only a brief moment, as he slams the glass back down onto the table, sensing a change in his body. The calm relaxation hits him all at once, and despite the soothing effects, he squeezes his hands into tight fists, fingers fidgeting as he relaxes them. "What the hell?" he says, looking down at the empty glass, then up again at the woman. "What was that?"
Before Melody can answer, the source of the footsteps becomes clear. Once again, the dream has manifested your desires, if in this case a bit later than the rest. It's a moon-pale man with dark hair, and he's wearing flannel pajama bottoms and a deer shirt. He is rubbing his eyes, not looking around just yet. Melody pats him on the back and ushers him into a seat across from you. Colin blinks his eyes blearily a few times before really seeming to notice who you are. He looks...happily dazed. His hair is a mess. "Oh, hey," he says, in a casual fancy-seeing-you-here sort of way. As if this were anything close to normal. As the drug continues to assault your system, the sight of him blurs, rendering his features strangely vague.
"Whiskey," says Melody. "Don't you like--ah, I'm sorry." She snaps her fingers in a belated realization. "I've had you drink on an empty stomach. I'm a terrible hostess." And then there's a meal in front of Tanner. A full English breakfast, black pudding and all. It manifests itself so suddenly that it's almost comical, but there's a sense that it belongs there.
Tanner relaxes back into his seat, seeing the moon-pale man appear in his strange dream. "There you are," he murmurs, slumping back against the back of his seat. He takes a moment to stare at Colin, not even noticing the ppearance of his meal - though he does think to thank the hostess, lifting up the glass that contained his drink and throwing it at her with an amused laugh. It is just a dream, after all. "I'm being date raped," he informs Colin, across the table. "I think this is the strangest guilt dream I've had in ages."
Tanner (Internally) is amused by all of the strange dream-happenings, but not overly placated by them. He's growing bored of his food and drink, and wasn't pleased by the mysterious drug effects of the drink.
The drug you've imbibed is fighting against your resistance. As malleable and fluid as anything else in the dream, it probes at your mind, seeking to get around your defenses. Seeking to breach your defenses and bring you pleasure and placidity. Each time it tries a different tactic, your field of vision changes. A little tunnel vision here, colorful tracers there.
Colin shakes his head. "This isn't a guilt dream," he assures you in his typical Rhode Island murmur. "You're a guest here. Let go and enjoy yourself." A smile flickers past his pinkish lips. His mannerisms are familiar, but there's something wrong about them, like an uncanny, too-perfect reconstruction. The moment you try to focus on it, however, it becomes more difficult to pin down.
Tanner is sat back, slumped in his seat, his eyes darting hyperactively between the details of Colin's face, his meal, and his own body. "Don't tell me what I can and can't do," the blond grunts back, picking up his knife from beside his plate and tossing that in the direction of dream-Colin. He might be enjoying the attempts at dream-destruction he's throwing out, but can't help but wince as he realizes he just threw something at his beloved Colin. "I'm sorry," he murmurs.
Despite his dazed appearance, Colin catches the knife in an impressive display of reflexes. He shows little reaction to the aggressive display. Placing the utensil down, he rises gracefully--as gracefully as one can manage in pajamas, and proceeds with soft footsteps towards you, until he is behind your chair. One hand slides up your back, the other wrapping around your chest. "It's okay," he murmurs into your ear. "You don't have to fight it. I'm here--you're safe." Dream-Colin smells a lot like waking-Colin, but more so. His breath is warmer. His hands are more pleasant to the touch. He's just...more.
Melody glances up and away, as if not wishing to intrude on the display of affection.
Tanner squirms in his seat and slaps a palm against the table weakly, evidently frustrated by the lack of impact - despite his prior apology. He shuts his eyes tight, and then opens them suddenly - the process repeating a few times before he reaches up to try and grab Dream-Colin's hand and pry it off of his chest. "I'm not fighting anything," he growls, trying to squirm up to his feet. "Could you leave me alone?"
Dream-Colin may be superior to waking-Colin in most objectively physical ways, but he still isn't apparently very strong, nor does he put up a fight when his hand is pried away. He releases you with a soft nod. "Okay," he says, his voice tinged with quiet disappointment. He glances down at his feet in that demure way of his.
Meanwhile...it's Melody who looks truly upset. As she turns her head to fully face you, her eyes glint for a moment, like those of a cat whose eyes were struck by light at just the right angle. For a moment, they shine red, and then it's gone. "You don't like him anymore?" she probes, sadness pervading her voice. "I can bring you someone else."
Tanner doesn't seem to particularly care about dream-Colin's feelings at the moment - being, of course, just a part of the dream. "Go away," he says, giving him a dismissive wave of his hand. "I don't want you in here."
Hard to please, the blond is, apparently. The drugged drink still has him lazy, and he doesn't seem too outwardly upset - just curious, as he strolls closer to Melody. "I want another knife. I'd like to kill you," he explains.
And just like that, like a bad special effect, Dream-Colin is gone. There's no puff of smoke, no sparkle, no shimmer in the air. He's just gone.
Melody curves her painted lips into a smile. "Gladly," she says, and she reaches into the air to grasp at nothing. Except it's not nothing. It's a glinting butcher knife, at least seven inches long and deadly sharp. She lays it out on both fair palms to offer it forward towards you in an almost ceremonial gesture.
Tanner lifts a hand to give poor Melody a slap across the face, taking the knife in his other hand as it is offered. "You're a bore of a host, you know that?" he asks, staring at her expectantly.
Tanner (Internally) is just as much of a petty trant as he appears. He doesn't want to dream about dinner with a loved one, he wants to kill the strange, attractive dreamgirl. But this is a bit too clear-cut for his satisfaction.
You feel the drug in your system start to shift its effects, learning from your impulses. It startsto play at your aggression, trying to tease more out of you.
Melody's face is pushed aside easily with the slap. A pink mark appears on her pale flesh right away--too quick and too lurid to be normal. She draws in a short gasp. Your surroundings begin to darken, to twist. To become more sinister in some intangible way. The statues' carven eyes seem to peel wide open, and their gaze is locked on you. The very air seems to vibrate with the hostility of this place.
Tanner seems to be working through some deep-rooted issues in his fantasy dream, pulling his hand away to look at it as he recognizes the mark on Melody's face. He looks between his fingers and spies the hostile stare of the statues looking right through him. "Shut the fuck up!" he cries, although there's nobody speaking but him - despite his apparent desire for the aggressive violence, he's starting to regret it immediately. Maybe he's unsure what he really wants to happen here. "Stop that!" He points the knife in accusation toward Melody. "Make it stop!"
You start speaking in french.
Melody's face contorts and changes, as well as her body and dress. Standing in front of you now is your grandfather, and every moment you look at him, he seems to become more real and accurate. Just like you remember him at his worst. "Do it, Tanner," he demands, taunting. The air sings with that same hostility, egging you on to become part of it, to embrace it. "Or do you not have it in you?"
"Do it, Etienne," repeats your grandfather, seeming to seize onto the name from somewhere in your psyche.
You start speaking in english.
Being at least partially a product of your own mind, the words resonate within you, easily understood. Do it, Tanner. Or do you not have it in you? Do it, Etienne.
"You're already dead!" Tanner shouts, jabbing a finger into the man's chest. "Shut the fuck up!" He screams at the top of his lungs, the soothing effect of the drink lost as his throat fills with a dry burning from all his yelling. "I don't have to do shit for you anymore!" He raises that butcher knife high in the air, menacing his grandfather with it, before bringing it down hard into his own leg, ripping through his pants with it. Apparently he's still redirecting his desires, his desire for outward harm now turning inward.
The knife jabs into your flesh, but you feel no pain, and there's no blood, just the sickening sensation of soft flesh giving way to cold steel.
The perfect image of your grandfather screams in frustration, and it's no human scream, his jaw unhinging too wide, his eyes glowing vermilion red. "I gave you everything!" he shrieks in a horrifically distorted version of Melody's voice. "This could have been paradise, you little twit!"
There's a jolt that accompanies the wound, a physical shock. Briefly, this shock renders you dimly aware of your true surroundings. You can feel the mattress beneath you, and the wadded clothes and other miscellany.
"You're a liar! You're a fucking -liar-," Tanner screams, his voice cracking as he wears himself out from yelling, losing strength. He pulls the knife free from the painless wound, awaiting blood, and letting out another frustrated cry as he sees none. "You made me- you made me do it! You made me do it!" It's unclear what he's referring to, but he doesn't even seem to take note of his grandfather's monstrous appearance as he does, swinging his blade wildly in the direction of his image. "Give me back Colin! Go away!"
"I gave him to you!" your grandfather screams in a shrill voice that is very much not like you remember. He advances a threatening step forward, his eyes flaring a dangerous red. "I gave him to you and YOU threw him out! You ruined that like you ruin everything. You were my GUEST! I showed you my HOSPITALITY!" He glares at the knife in your hand. "Drop that." He grits out the words.
Instead of pain, the wound tingles, and with every tingle comes another faint impression of your physical body as it lies there on the floor mattress in your apartment.
Tanner shakes his tingling leg, his toes twitching at the strange feeling of his dingy mattress at the back of his foot. "You're lying!" he screeches again, stepping back with a limp as he's advanced upon. "It's mine!" he jeers, clutching the knife close to his chest in both hands. "You gave it to me!" He echoes the apparition's words back to it, bringing the knife down into his other thigh as he braces himself for a pain that isn't likely to come.
No pain. No blood. But for a moment, you're awake. Your eyes open to see your room. The sleeping, probably drooling man beside you. His glasses on the floor. Many other things wadded up beside you. Then you're returned to the dream, pulled back into the dream, into the twisted dining hall. It's a weak pull, and your surroundings are somehow dimmer now. The edges of things quiver. Your grandfather's very visage shivers and jerks like a glitched video game sprite.
"Stop that!" your grandfather shrieks, and he lunges out, his own fingers extending to become long blades, but he loses his footing, or...even more so, he loses his solidity for a moment, stumbling and somehow fizzling in the air. Flashes of your room shine through him.
Tanner jolts halfway to upright in his moment of wakefulness, a hand jerking outward toward Colin before he's pulled backinto his terrible dream. "No!" he shouts, turning to run away - as best he can, with those 'injured' legs of his. He thrusts his knife out forward, turning it to face hi min a panic. With a defiant swing inward, he brings the knife down into the dead centre of his forehead.
The dream is gone. The hostile vibrations in the air are gone. The feeling of the amorphous drug in your system is gone. You're there on your mattress, with your boyfriend sleeping peacefully--maybe?--beside you. There's a faint sensation of being pulled back, but soon it dwindles and dies feebly. You are awake.
You feel vaguely queasy and weak, your life force slightly drained by the experience--and no doubt by the entity that called itself Melody. You'll likely recover soon. It could have been much worse.
Tanner wakes up and shoots straight up, sitting down on the mattress and panting as he tries to catch his breath. He reaches down and feels his thighs, reaching up after to grab his face, trying to feel for any wounds that amy have crept over from the other side. Seeing himself in once piece, he sighs with relief, letting out a quiet whine as he settles down to rest in a bit more peace - though he won't let himself fall back asleep.