Dylan glanced around, circling cautiously to take in the whole landscape. This wasn’t real. It was not real. He was just observing, then he would go home. He tried repeating this to himself in an effort to slow his pounding heart, but it wasn’t working very well.
And yet he knew he was not in the real world. The real world put clouds above in the sky, rather than below on the ground. The real world was in color, not this stark black and white. But one thing that was real in this world was the fear he felt looking at the plantation house looming over him.
Dylan, what’s inside the house?
Attempting to discern anything in the inky blackness beyond the open doorway, Dylan tread slowly towards the plantation. With every step, the certainty of his impending doom weighed his chest further and further down. He tightened his fists to keep his hands from trembling and tried to ignore the sweat trickling down his brow. Just as the great distance between himself and the house seemed absolutely insurmountable, he found himself at the base of the porch.
Very well done Dylan. Now, can you climb up the steps to the front door?
Dylan didn’t understand how he could feel so feverishly hot when such a cold wind was cutting across his neck and stinging his eyes. Taking a deep breath, he steeled himself to take the next step. This was the furthest he’d ever gotten; he didn’t want to stop now. He gripped the handrail, lifted his foot and pulled himself up on the first step.
Without warning, the stark grays and silvers of this world were swept into blackness, and Dylan seemed to be in a complete void penetrated only by the sound of distant screams.
Dylan, it’s alright, you are safe. Dylan, wake up!
He gradually felt a pressure on his shoulders and realized someone was holding him. He then became acutely aware that the distant screaming was in fact coming out of his own mouth.
As quickly as the dream world had drained from him, the real world came flooding back in. He was in the fetal position, tear-stained face pressed against the cool hardwood floor, gasping to regain control of his breath. Dr. Gardner was gently but firmly holding him by the shoulders.
“Dylan, you’re okay. Everything is fine. You’re awake. Nothing is hurting you.”
“I got to the porch that time.” He managed a rueful smile as he shakily made his way to sitting.
“You’re definitely making progress.”
An alarm chirped by the desk, and Dr Gardner stood, smoothly adjusting her skirt, and walked across the room to sit at the desk. Flipping open a book, she looked down at Dylan.
“Shall we schedule another session at the same time next week?”