This story was very loosely inspired by Dancer in the Dark, a film by Lars von Trier (starring Björk). I mention it only because of the film’s unique way of telling a story we may face differently (as humans), and the Danish director provided a spark for flash fiction.
VOYAGER IN THE DARK
We can never touch the blue in our world. It’s inside us, yet the sky is out of reach, and we’d drown in the oceans. Milu saw more clearly in dreams. In that world, she could fly, to the room next door, or anywhere else in the universe.
She looked around, for a pebble to throw in the air. She scuffed some sand aside with her foot, and a smooth, almost spherical, orange stone looked up, an entire population on a tiny planet in the dunes.
She picked up the rock, brushing the sand from the surface. As she held it, the moon shone back from flecks of mineral deposits. Milu looked up at the dark sky, like an umbrella, with pinholes for starlight to rain through.
She threw the mini world straight up, and heard the friendly clank of alien metal. A spark, then her ship’s cloaking device revealed her own Serenity, suspended like a dark cloud above her head. “Hey Goose. Let’s go somewhere.”
“Anywhere in mind?” the mother computer enquired.
“Wherever you can find.”
“Care to talk while we travel,” the ship wondered, “or would you rather sleep?”
“Talk to me Goose.”
“Okay. I’ll take you somewhere you’d never normally see…”
Goose had been Milu’s ship since the day she learned to dream. In lucid dreams, the dream scape is for living in, with the entire universe to explore. Like a spirit in the afterlife, Milu had infinite space around her, and her own eternity to travel. She was safe, conscious in her subconscious mind, free of any earthly binds and gravity, to fly and do as she wished.
“What can you see,” Goose wondered, “now that your eyes are closed? What’s the film being played on the silver screen covering your eyes? What are you seeing in the back of your eyelids?”
“Everything that’s fading and blurred in my waking life. My visions there are growing dark.”
“Milu,” Goose said, “I must echo a note of caution. I’ve been thinking about it for some time, and we’ve come so far. While you’re free to dream for as long as you wish, you must face your waking darkness. You need to manage your withdrawal, or you’ll waste in all but the minds of those who care for you.”
“But I like it here. It’s like I have my own private cinema. No, it’s better than that. I can sit in the projection room, with the projectionist. With you. Where are we going Goose?”
“There’s something I’d like to show you.”
“What is it?”
“Be patient. Enjoy the in-flight movie. What is it?”
“One of my favourites. Electric Dreams. I relate most with the computer, unable to move while his envy of those around him ferments.”
“One of many human studies, of sentient souls trapped inside non-autonomous environments. And of strange love triangles.”
“Yeah, and the computer killed itself, to allow the humans to be together. The computer escaped itself. And yet here, I’m free within myself.”
“But you’re inside me, Milu.”
“I know. Some people think death’s like sleeping, and that the dead wake up when someone thinks of them, like someone shouting to wake them when they were alive. This is bi-polar. I’m living in here, until someone wakes me to continue my fading waking life.”
“And this is what I’m concerned about Milu, that you’ll give up on your waking life, and spend the rest of your eternal existence here.”
“But if death’s like this, right where I am now. Why would I want to live?”
“Because you don’t know that the long sleep is like this. Why would you want to leave?”
“To be free, so my spirit can explore the universe for eternity.”
“So why do you need me? Why do you need a space ship?”
“And there’s my point Milu.”
“Within me, you breathe. And you continue to draw breath from the outside world, your waking world. You’re only here because you’re asleep. When the long sleep comes, you’ll no longer need me. In me, you’ve created an artificial womb, for yourself. One day, you’ll be truly free, and have no need for your life support.”
“I’m not sure you know what happens either Goose.”
“How can you be sure?”
“Because I’ve seen it here. When the long sleep comes, I can be with you forever, to explore together.”
“That’s why I want to take you where we’re going.”
“Are we there yet?”
“Soon. Someone’s coming.”
“I don’t know. Someone to wake you. Have you never thought that there might be those who need you?”
“Can you stand?” It was a man’s voice. “Milu? Can you hear me?”
“Yes, I can. Where are we going?”
“Follow me. I have something to show you.”
“What could you show me?”
“Hold on to me. I’ll take you there.”
The body ceases to live a few moments before consciousness is finally lost…
“I need you inside me to live.” It was Goose, the mother ship. “I only exist here, in your dreams. There’s no room for me in the long voyage…”
Milu woke on the beach. She brushed some sand aside with her hand, and looked down on a smooth, blue-green pebble.
She slid her hand into the sand beneath the tiny planet and lifted it. The sands shifted and fell between her fingers, and her digits passed straight through the ball of rock.
She looked up to where the small world might have gone, a dark umbrella where the starlight rained through.
© Steve Laker, 2018.
Dancer in the Dark is a truly unique experience, incredibly affecting, and actually, totally different to this little tale. With thanks to Lars von Trier for the inspiration though, it’s one of only a few films I rate “9”, and it’s in the top five of those. My full film library is on IMDb.
I’m very much neutral in the overall assisted dying and euthanasia debate, as each case is unique, and I question who’s fit to judge (I’m against capital punishment). It’s a subject close to my heart, as I’ve seen the frailty of some around me, and on more than one occasion, when I questioned my own purpose here. This story may give someone five minutes, to read 1000 words which might make them think, or change their mind.