“Come to me
Just in a dream.
Come on and rescue me.”
-“Madness” by Muse
Malcolm twitched. His face scrunched, his eyebrows flicked, his hands moved of their own accord, his eyes rolled under closed lids. Beads of sweat pooled on his forehead, and he rolled over, tangling the sheets around his legs. The comforter was long gone, now curled in a heap on the floor, a rejected lover. One pillow was at the wrong end of the mattress.
Malcolm screamed; it was sudden, and loud. He bolted awake mid-scream and sat up, adrenaline knocking him in the floor. He laid, sprawled out and panting, for several moments, eyes wide open. Gradually, he relaxed his muscles and, leaning into the comforter (how had it ended up in the floor, he wondered), took a deep breath. Then another. By the tenth breath, his eyes had closed, but the panic hadn’t faded. It was lodged like a piece of deadly shrapnel in his chest, burrowing its way deeper into his flesh. The backs of his eyelids flashed with psychedelic colors, and Malcolm’s ears rang with the thrum of bass and screams, woven like a sociopath’s quilt.
There had been someone there, he knew it. Dream telepathy was supposedly impossible, but his reaction (which he now sat up and surveyed, noting the wrenched blankets and flung pillows in his usually utilitarian bedroom) pointed to some as-yet unknown form of telepathy. Or his own madness. No, Malcolm felt that telepathic itch. Dream telepathy, then. Besides, he had been so convinced that it was real.And wouldn’t the Head keep new forms of telepathy a secret? The images weren’t fading from his head, in fact they were becoming rather dizzying, as if they had been superglued into his neurons. He laid back down on the comforter. The Head discouraged curiosity, but they also discouraged reading and thinking and feeling, anything beyond complex calculations, and hadn’t that been wrong? Malcolm’s thumb bumped the illicit stack of books under his bed- 1984, Fahrenheit 451, A Brave New World. Rebellion had been a good thing thus far, hadn’t it?
No, someone needed help, and he would help them. That would be the decent thing to do- the kind of thing a character in a book would do. Help someone. Even if that person turned out to be himself. After all, if he was wrong then he was mad. Malcolm twisted up to reach inside the sleek metal bedside drawer for his notebook and a pen. Worn black leather splayed open in his hands, revealing a left hand page covered in spidery black ink written in his close hand. Sitting against the side of his bed, he uncapped the pen with his teeth and set it to the blank page, the dream pouring out in a black ink vomit, smeared by his left hand. One way or another, he would discover the truth, madness be damned. Then he would act.