Didn’t have to work today so I went back to sleep after the alarm went off and had a much more elaborate dream than usual, that I could remember some significant amount of detail from. That sometimes makes me think, oh, should I make a story out of this? Especially when it’s a more substantial plot than getting lost in an airport. But no, I don’t think I will. The scenario was a very well-trod one for sci-fi these days, and the core theme was too macho – look at his guy, what doesn’t kill him makes him stronger, he’s so cool. Anyway,
The earlier part is harder to recall specifics but there was a giant hole in the ground kind of structure. There was architecture to it, like a real building courtyard, but no windows save the distant skyhole, suggesting it might be subterranean. Like that prison in the third Bale Batman, but it was less prison-y. The architecture was large, light-colored sunny bricks; there were decorative shrubs in ledges and cracks. I don’t recall any cells, I think people just slept in the corners in the open area. There was some element of compulsory combat. People got up every day to fight for some dubious reward.
A fancy lady had some importance, and addressed the masses from a suspended platform in the middle of the hole. She was of the people who had cast everybody down into the hole but not necessarily hated because of it. The invisible gaolers of this scenario started shooting star-shaped projectiles at her from the high walls. She was injured but not killed. The prisoners decided at that point that they liked her, and they’d avenge the outrage.
This led to a series of riots wherein everybody would just beat down every nook and cranny of the structure until they found hidden stairwells they could use to escape. In the process, all died, or were defeated and put back in the prison – along with new replacements to shore up the numbers to a similar level. By this time in the dream, that was the point. Prisoners were stoked into disastrous revolt and watched for entertainment by unseen masters. The survivors that were returned had their memories erased, the new blood were taken by unknown means for unknown reasons from somewhere more like our modern world. This aspect may have been inspired by the TV series Wayward Pines.
During one of the planned riots, a guy got far enough he reached the “overworld.” This was the reward, and his memories were restored. Or were they? He was some kind of semi-rich asshole who, along with several other similar types, were regular competitors in the game. Maybe his wealth came in part from reward money. He had fancy dinners in a clean, bright city with his fellows in victory. But something was amiss.
There were very few people in the city – much less than one would expect for the number of businesses and streets. All I ever saw were the victors. One was a lady who clued our protagonist into other details that were off. Buildings had been lazily painted, books all had blank pages, and so on. He determined that he was in yet another simulated environment with no apparent means of escape.
As the dream went on, I forgot the new location had ever been posh, and it became quite slummy. The people there were much like the prisoners in the first part of the dream, but they had some kind of light industrial jobs to do. The hero again tried to escape and was dropped back in with his memory erased over and over again. He would look for an exit, muscle his way through, and fight whatever guards lurked out there.
Among those guards was some kind of human/insect hybrid with a bad attitude. I think it was the same individual and he regenerated between fights. During one of the escape attempts, the hero was fighting this bug and they exchanged words. The bug said he only existed for math – as long as he killed three escapees before he died, he was serving his purpose, and didn’t care about anything else.
The main dude remembered bits more on each cycle. Not a full memory, but just an instinctive knowledge of what he needed to do. Part of that was making improvised body armor out of tape, cardboard, aluminum foil, whatever, but he began to run out of raw materials. He kept fighting, turning into an archetypal he-man, but as part of that instinctive knowledge, came to realize he’d never fully escape. He was trapped.
When he got to a certain point in the daily combat routine, he had defeated enough enemies to not be under constant threat, but instead of pressing on, he turned back. He went to the home of a lady prisoner who may have been the fancy lady from the hole scenario, in a new life. She and her (friends? family?) did not have his wisdom, did not know about the imprisonment. There was a storm outside, water damage creeping through her apartment, and our hero could feel the presence of the secret stairs and the menacing guards outside her thin walls.
She didn’t finish her ravioli and it was getting dry on the table, so he tossed it in the garbage for her. She was feeling ill and he wanted to just stay in and comfort her, but first he went to one of those apartment walls, parted the secret door, and told the guards to fuck off. Nobody was going to cause trouble that night.