you can't complain now, ireshi. '+gt; it seemed to him that the day was dragging on delibe

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you can't complain now, ireshi. ;'> it seemed to him that the day was dragging on deliberately. it was intensely frustrating. realising that there was nothing better to do about it, he deliberately tempered his mood and concentrated afresh on his work, which seemed mundane compared to that which really drove him. when he stopped his mind from wandering, the work seemed to progress faster, and almost before he knew it, it was time to leave. unlike his less fortunate fellow-travellers, he didn't find commuting on the train to be a mind-numbingly boring experience; he had his visualisation exercises to occupy his mind. on the outside, he appeared as the others did, clutching a hand-strap, swaying with the train's motion, staring off into space; possibly the only visible difference was a slight smile on his lips. inside - he was imagining a puzzle-box, about eight centimetres on a side, dark red, almost black wood, ornate copper patterns inlaid on all sides. he'd seen it once, in a film; as an exercise, he'd memorised the patterns and reproduced them later for further study. comparing his sketches with the designs in the film and noting the differences, two weeks later, had been an illuminating experience. now, he mentally rotated the box, every detail fixed and solid in his mind's eye; he moved his viewpoint towards it, skimming one side like a low-flying aeroplane, copper curlicues flying past `underneath' him. the jolting of the train as it stopped brought him out of his reverie; this was his station. he got off, all the while keeping the image of the box in his mind. this habit had led many of his associates to consider him to be a bit distant; sometimes they repeated what they were saying to him, unsure if he had heard them. he was willing to accept this; he wasn't particularly concerned if they thought he was strange. he sat at home, alone in his darkened living-room, no television, radio or stereo. despite some mild hunger pangs from skipping lunch he decided to forego his evening meal; he undressed, took a shower, went to the bedroom and lay down on top of the covers, naked. he relaxed his body by degrees, all the while maintaining a mental image of a transparent toroid, taking slow, deep breaths, ignoring the occasional rumblings from his empty stomach. he could feel it; the conditions were right, and as he gradually slipped into sleep... he was underwater, drifting about aimlessly, huge towers of coral around him. small shoals of tiny grey triangular shapes drifted past, spinning like propellors. his body was moving with the graceful arching motion of a dolphin. he turned over and floated with his arms outstretched for a time, enjoying the way the light rippled on the wavy surface above him... he seemed to be sinking, the surface becoming more distant... when suddenly, something broke the surface, diving straight for him. it was a naked girl, with short copper-coloured hair. she writhed through the water, trailing bubbles, like a torpedo - she wasn't going to stop - she got closer, and he could see her brilliant green eyes glittering in the darkness of the water, her feral grin, just before she hit - he awoke with a gasp, his eyes open wide and staring into the darkness of his room. the image of the girl was burned into his awareness; if he was any sort of an artist he could have drawn or painted her exact likeness. he lay still until his pounding heart- rate had returned to normal, then he turned the light on, found his dream diary and wrote it all down. it was only half-past one in the morning, so he got into bed and eventually fell asleep, with visions of mermaids, baring their teeth at him, suffusing his mind. the next day, he was as eager as ever to get through work and return to his dreams. he visualised diligently; the ornately- designed box was one of his favourite images, but on the train home, he tried to picture the girl he had dreamt about that morning. the basis of the image came to him easily, and he filled in the details as he liked; her flashing green eyes, the wavy bronze of her hair, her slim figure which cut through the water effortlessly, the gleefully wild smile which had haunted his thoughts. he was grateful for the distraction as his stop came up; he felt the stirrings of an erection as her image became more detailed. he returned his attention to the puzzle-box as he walked home. on arriving home, he somewhat distractedly performed mundane housekeeping tasks while listening to some ambient music, then settled down in his armchair to compose himself for sleep. during the past year he had, after some experimentation, established a set of yogic exercises which could bring him to a bonelessly relaxed state within ten minutes. he performed these, luxuriating in the warmth of his home; it had started raining just as he arrived that evening, and this lent a special kind of snug comfort to the situation. it was about eleven before he got up, stretched and moved to the bedroom. he felt as light as a feather; he could see the posters on the walls in fine detail, even though he knew that his eyes were shut. Experimentally, he levitated into the air, slowly rotating until he was facing downward, almost as if he were lying on the ceiling. he repressed a surge of excitement... he had done it again; this was the sixth time he had been able to wake within a dream... the visualisation exercises helped immmeasurably. eager to try something radical, he drifted to an upright position a few inches off the floor, and floated to the bedroom door. he got a surprise; he had been imagining a desert of bright crimson sand under a violet sky; instead, he found a bottomless green void, marked out in places by yellow streams of luminescence. he recognised it from a book of science-fiction illustrations; at any moment, he expected the beetle-like starship that went with the picture to appear. he drifted out into the emptiness, glancing back to ensure that the door to his bedroom remained. when he turned back, it was there; a huge, concrete-grey alien spacecraft, in the hyper-detailed style of Chris Foss and Angus McKie, shaped like a giant beetle. he was amazed at the clarity of the image; he could focus on any particular detail of the ship (and there was an abundance of that - rails, hatches and spiky antennae seemed to cover every available surface), look away and when he returned his attention to the detail, it was unchanged. the ship turned to face him and began approaching. he remained calm, floating in the void; as the ship got nearer, he could see into a bay-window, lit from within. there was someone inside, sitting at a console. immediately, he concentrated on this aspect, excited with the prospect of communicating with someone else in his dream. by the time the ship got close enough for him to see clearly, the occupant had left the room. he floated right up to the window, pressing his hands against the glass (which felt unusually cold) and peering inside. it looked like a control room from any of a dozen science-fiction films he'd seen, banks of switches and screens and blinking lights. movement off to his right caught his attention, and he turned - he was momentarily stunned. what she was wearing could only be described as a rubber fetishists' space-suit; as he revelled in the look of slick, shiny black rubber stretched over her appealing form, he was reminded of something that Harry Harrison had written about `sexual dimorphism in science-fiction illustration'; while guys generally wore clunky, device-ridden space-suits, the girls tended to be clothed in skin-tight apparel that, while not being at all functional in terms of protection from the rigours of deep space, served their purpose admirably; that purpose being titillation. He began to feel slightly uneasy; altough he had been concentrating on detail recently, this was by far the most involved dream he had ever had, and he wondered about the possibility of outside interference. but from who? and how? it was a few moments before he raised his eyes to take in her bemused look; once again, he experienced a mild shock (and he knew he was dreaming now); it was the girl he had dreamed about the previous night. her short golden-copper hair framed one of the most beautiful faces he had ever seen. it was corny, but he couldn't help visualising a glint of star-light in her vividly green eyes, and as he did so, it appeared (so he maintained a modicum of control here...). her lips moved, but he couldn't hear her words; he tilted his head to one side and tried to reply, but found that whatever medium they were drifting in wouldn't carry sound (he didn't bother to try and understand why he could breathe in it if he couldn't be heard in it; that was typical dream-logic, or rather, lack of it). she frowned slightly and nodded to herself as if confirming something she had suspected. she held out her hand to him, and as he drifted closer, he noticed a name-patch over her left breast; it was written in one of those futuristic, difficult- to-read fonts that resembled the work of subway graffiti artists, but it appeared to say something like `SADK', or possibly `SADIK'. she turned and floated away, around the bulkhead of the ship, and he followed, puzzled by the fact that he'd never met anyone that she resembled. most of the people he usually encountered in his dreams were recognisable distortions of his associates, or people he'd seen on the street that day, but she was completely unfamiliar. he knew that if he'd met someone like her, he'd remember it. she bent over and dived into a small hatchway which protruded from the side of the ship like a set of puckered lips; he watched her lithe form disappear, his attention roaming the length of her rubber-encased body... suddenly, he found himself lying on his bed, unable to remember the transition from the dream-state to wakefulness. instead of remaining calm and working his way back into the details of the dream, he got up and paced agitatedly, trying to force his mind to remember. as a result, all that he could come up with were a few fragmentary images. it was almost five a.m., too late to get back to sleep if he wanted to get to work on time, so he made his bed, got dressed and idly watched television until it was time to leave. all during that day, he was frequently disturbed as more fragments of his dream appeared, like wreckage surfacing after a shipping accident. he made notes in his dream diary; on the evening train, the image of the beetle-spaceship came to him, and he practically ran home from the station in his eagerness to locate the book with the image. he found it under a stack of a3-format Hans Rudi Giger softbacks, and located the picture in a moment. it was a collection of works by an association of British science-fiction illustrators who called themselves `Young Artists', and there it was - the beetle-shaped starship, identical to the one in his dream in every detail. As he gazed at it, the more deeply-buried fragments of his dream surfaced, and he experienced a dazed feeling as he remembered the suit she wore. from not being able to remember more than a few details of the dream, he found himself recalling the entire sequence in detail, up to the point where she entered the ship... and... ... he followed her in. it was dark inside; he could see enticing glints of light delineating the curves of her hips as she moved through the narrow tunnel (abruptly, he wondered if this was symbolic of anything... it seemed terribly Freudian). she emerged into sudden brightness, a large, spherical room, soft white light glowing from a hidden source. when he turned to check the entrance (a habit he had aquired in his limited experience with lucid dreaming), it had gone. when he turned back, she was drifting before him, arms limply beside her, her head quizzically to one side. they simply regarded each other for what seemed to be at least five minutes (although, by now, he was familiar with the disjointed way that time passed in dreams), and then her right hand slowly moved up to her left shoulder, pressing a contact there, with a snapping sound that he could feel. her slick black suit peeled back, a slit running down from the contact at her shoulder, between her breasts, around her waist and behind her. underneath it, her skin was - orange? no... he drifted closer, and saw that she was wearing a sheer layer of orange rubber underneath the black suit. she grasped his hand firmly, brought the palm up to her mouth; all the while keeping her eyes locked on his, she kissed his hand, her hot mouth and tongue smearing wetness over the palm and between the fingers. it was the most arousing thing he'd ever experienced, until she placed his hand over her left breast, pressing his wet skin against the nipple which strained against the thin elasticity. he felt it grow hard against the palm of his hand; he pinched it, feeling the rubber squeak under his touch. her eyes half-closed in a lustful expression of self-indulgence; she turned her face to the left, gritting her teeth, snarling in the grip of the erotic sensation. he heard a familiar buzzing sound somewhere behind him, signalling the approach of the end of this dream. he didn't fight it, knowing how futile struggling had proved in the past; instead, he admired her shapely form, which grew indistinct as the white light around them blazed brighter... he awoke, sprawled on the bedroom floor, his face resting on the open book. he rolled over and lay on his back, eyes closed, careful not to force his memory as he went back over the dream. when he felt that he had the salient points well in mind, he got up, located his dream diary and wrote it all down. he cast a bemused glance over the previous two months' entries; the average length of each entry had increased exponentially with each week. he glanced at his watch; it was almost two a.m., but he didn't feel particularly inclined to try and sleep. he needed something to keep him awake until it was time for work; he went to his dusty shelf of infrequently viewed videos, and selected one at random: `Eric The Viking.' he slotted it into the betamax and spent a frustrating five minutes getting the television tuned to whatever station the VCR was pretending to be this week before settling down in front of the screen with a large mug of warm cocoa. he wasn't really concentrating on the video; he had the volume turned down almost to the point of inaudibility. he was preoccupied with the vision of the girl in his dream. the more he thought about it, the more he was convinced that he *must* have met someone who looked like her, and impressed him enough that his subconscious had stored the image for later incorporation into his dreams. instead of racking his brains and trying to remember, he opted for what he called the `Bill Lee' method (from an early chapter in Burroughs' `Naked Lunch'); he let his mind wander casually from one topic to another in the hope that his subconscious (which he had lately come to regard as more efficient and reliable than his regular consciousness) would make some connection. he sat there, idly sipping cocoa and half-watching the figures on the screen; he finished the drink and set the cup aside, precariously balanced on the chair's arm. his head tipped back, and soon, he had slipped into another dream. he was leaning on a tree, at the broad mouth of a river, staring out to sea. a viking longship was drawing towards him. the rigging was burning, and the patterned sails flamed fiercely, yet somehow remained unconsumed. the oars at the side were idle; there were no crew frantically scurrying about, suppressing the blaze. it came closer, and just as it beached itself in the shallows, he noticed a single figure clinging to the snarling upright figurehead, dressed in Viking battle-gear, complete down to the horned helmet. the hull pushed up on the bank far enough so that he could see the flaming sails reflected in her helmet. it was her. in one hand, she carried a club with serrated ivory horns embedded along the leading edge; she wore a neat, knee-length green tunic, with black furs slung over her shoulders, others encasing her feet. a broad shield was strapped over her back; she unslung it and tossed it to the ground before him. she approached him with the same feral grin he remembered from his first dream, a wild glint in her eyes. he regarded this as too fantastic to be accepted even for a moment, and so he merely leaned against the tree until she stepped up to him, hooked the end of the club through his belt and tugged him forward to fall on his knees before her. she stripped a doeskin mitten from one hand, grabbed a handful of his hair and dragged his head back to meet her gaze. her smile faded when she saw that he wasn't the least bit afraid; a knife appeared in her other hand, the point resting at the side of his throat. she prodded him with it, drawing a slow trickle of blood, then holding his head securely with one hand, she undid the ties of her tunic with the other, shrugging the furs off, stripping her clothes from her slim form and tossing them to the ground. she twisted the handful of his hair in her grip and dragged him closer, pushing his face towards the light patch of silken fur at her crotch. repeated promptings with the knife soon brought him to an understanding of her desires, and he began half-heartedly stroking at her exposed labia with his tongue and lips, inspired to more vigourous efforts by the feeling of the knife-point underneath his left ear. by the time she had been stimulated to the point of dropping the knife, he was too involved with the process to want to escape, his arms wrapped around her thighs, hands cupping her buttocks, pressing her to him. both of her hands were now buried in his hair, fingers writhing as his tongue teased the slippery folds, darting around the pink nub nestled within, drawing gasps of pleasure from her. as he slowly brought her towards orgasm, he could feel her legs trembling with the effort to remain upright; her scent was almost overpowering, making him dizzy (this had to be the most detailed dream he had ever had!). suddenly, she cried out and clutched his head, digging her fingers painfully into his scalp, pressing his face to her, one leg over his shoulder, gripping him tightly. they rocked in an unsteady fashion for a moment, and then, slowly, he fell over backwards, his knees splaying out painfully as he fell on his back with a jarring thud, she kneeling over him awkwardly. with a shock, he found himself awake, in his lounge-room. the chair had toppled over backwards, but what surprised him the most was that she was there, still sprawled over him, her knees hooked over his shoulders, her pubes pressed to his face. she drew back slightly; their eyes met, and her expression was every bit as surprised as his. he scrambled backwards from underneath her, backing up against the bookshelf, unable to avert his gaze. she kneeled there for a moment, smiled slyly at him and then _faded_, exactly like a special effect. within moments she had been reduced to a faint vapour-like shadow, the view of the far wall rippling slightly as she vanished. he scrambled to his knees and lunged forward, only to clutch at empty air. he spent the next half an hour feeling his head for signs of concussion and wondering if he was going insane. he had felt her thighs pressing against his cheeks; she was real. he was sure of it. and yet... it was almost three in the morning, and despite the fact that he'd already taken two short cat-naps, he felt exhausted; he managed to crawl to his bed and fall into a deep, dreamless sleep.

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