“….I never dreamed before Area X, or at least I never remembered my dreams.  My husband found this strange and told me once that maybe this meant I lived in a continuous dream from which I had never woken up.  Perhaps he meant it as a joke, perhaps not.  He had, after all, been haunted by a nightmare for years, had been shaped by it, until it had all fallen away from him, revealed as a facade.  A house and a basement and the awful crimes that had occurred there.

But I’d had an exhausting day at work and took it seriously.  Especially because it was the last week before he left on the expedition.

“We all live in a kind of continuous dream,” I told him.  “When we wake, it is because something, some event, some pinprick even, disturbs the edges of what we’ve taken as reality.”

“Am I a pinprick then, disturbing the edges of your reality, ghost bird?” he asked, and this time I caught the desperation of his mood.

“Oh, is it bait-the-ghost-bird time again?” I said, arching an eyebrow.  I didn’t feel that relaxed.  I felt sick to my stomach, but it seemed important to be normal for him.  When he came back and I saw what normal could be, I wished I’d been abnormal, that I’d shouted, that I’d done anything but be banal.

“Perhaps I’m a figment of your reality,” he said.  “Perhaps I don’t exist except to do your bidding.”

“Then you’re failing spectacularly,” I said as I made my way into the kitchen for a glass of water.  He was already on his second glass of wine.

“Or succeeding spectacularly because you want me to fail.”….”

Jeff Vandermeer, Annihilation.


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