I had my first lucid dream at age nine.
I was in a decrepit neighborhood – rotting porches, peeling paint, Spanish moss hanging off dormers, the works. Mist swirled around my ankles as I walked slowly through the streets. Like an old video game, the horizon was both unchanging and unreachable.
I wandered around, in and out of the cobwebby houses. Although the streets were empty, the houses usually had a few ghosts floating around. There were a few children, but they were mostly old people, in various stages of decay. They never hurt me, nor did they speak. They just floated. Sometimes they’d follow me, but I never felt threatened.
I didn’t think much of the dream, until I had it again a few weeks later. And again, a few weeks after that. I never did much. I’d walk around, go through the stuff in the houses looking for treasure, throw rocks, break bottles, that kind of thing.
The fourth time I had it, there was someone else wandering the streets, too.
My dream-self had just finished running down the block, rattling a stick against the fence posts of each yard, when I heard my name shouted from an adjacent cul-de-sac. I turned and saw my six-year-old brother, Ryan, running towards me, a huge grin on his face.
“Rob!” he said, stopping in front of me. “You’re here now too! Hi!”
“Now?” I said, trying to wrap my head around his presence. Then, “*You’ve* been here before?”
He seemed unperturbed by this news, in his childlike excitement. “Have you seen the lady missing part of her face? She’s usually in the brick house down there.”
And off we went.
The next morning, before speaking, Ryan and I shared uncertain glances across our shared bedroom, confirming that not only were we dreaming lucidly, but we were *sharing* dreams somehow. In our childlike minds, we never thought to tell anyone. Besides the fear that we would be written off as crazy, we were still enamored with the possibility of magic and secrets.
Over the years, Ryan and I sporadically dreamt about the misty neighborhood and its ghostly inhabitants. Sometimes I would be there alone, and sometimes Ryan would be with me. We were usually a little braver when we were together, venturing into basements and attics in search of the scariest ghosts. The ghosts seemed to stay the same each time. Over time, we came to recognize them and give them nicknames. There was Half-Face, the decomposing woman; a little boy, soaking wet, that we called the Drowned Boy; Old Man Bones, a mostly-skeleton figure, who we only knew was male because he was wearing a traditional kurta and dhoti; and the Limping Man, a ghost who glided leaning to the side of his crumpled leg.
The older we got (and, if I’m going to be honest, the more video games we played) we started to get bored in our foggy dreamland. We started hunting the ghosts, experimenting with how we could subdue them.
It became a huge game for us – a hearty round of Xbox while we slept. Sometimes we’d draw out a detailed strategy for finding weapons, setting up a base of operations, and clearing the ghosts out of certain houses so we could take over. Sometimes we’d just walk around, cutting down whoever wandered into our path. The ghosts started coming to us, screeching and wailing. They never lasted long. A few blows with a crowbar, or a plank of wood, and they would dissipate into the same strange mist that filled our dream world.
The turning point was when Ryan tried to chop up the little Drowned Boy ghost. I couldn’t explain it, but I was protective of the little floating figure. Maybe it was an older-brother thing. Maybe it was that he just looked so sad and small. But when Ryan swung up a bread knife, ready to cleave him in two, I jumped in the way. Drowned Boy floated away and disappeared into the mist. Ryan was furious, thinking I was trying to sabotage his score (I was leading by two at that point) and we got into a scuffle right there, rolling around in the street, kicking up a plume of mist, and shouting at each other.
We made up eventually, but the fight soured a pastime that was already losing its allure.
And, although I never told Ryan this and never will, the morning after I woke up with bruises on my upper arms and scuffs on my knees and shins.
When I went to college and Ryan stayed home, we’d still occasionally see each other in our dreamland. If we were talking on the phone or through Facebook messenger, one of us might drop a sardonic “See any ghosts lately?”
But, the older we got, the less frequently we had the dreams. Slowly, they started to fade from our memories.
Then, a week after my grandfather’s funeral, I had my first lucid dream in probably five years.
I haven’t told Ryan about it yet. I don’t know if I ever will.
I was so surprised to be back in the decaying neighborhood that at first all I did was circle one of the cul-de-sacs while yelling things like, “Hello?” and “I’m back!”
I became doubly surprised, however, when a lone figure emerged from the mist to approach me. Once I recognized him, I could hardly stop the words from exploding from my throat.
“*Dada!*” I cried, rushing to him. I spread my arms to embrace him before remembering that here, he wouldn’t be solid. “Dada, how are you here?”
In the quiet that followed, I bounced from foot to foot like an excited child, my chest filled with longing. All I wanted to do was hug him, but I knew it wasn’t possible.
He didn’t answer my question, but rather surveyed me in distrust, and then asked his own.
“Rob, *pota,* they tell me someone has been coming here for years, being violent and causing trouble. Is that you?”
His reaction was so unexpected that my mouth dropped open. I hang my head and suddenly I am five years old again, scolded for not finishing my dinner.
“Yes, dada, it was me. Me and Ryan both. But we were just playing a game. It’s just a dream, dada. *You’re* just a dream.”
My grandfather shook his head slowly.
“*Pota*,” he said, his voice weary with sorrow, “I don’t know by whose hand you were able to come to this place, but this is not just a dream, and they are not just imaginary ghosts. They are your [relatives.”](https://www.reddit.com/r/professionalsuccubus/)