For years, Mike Mason has been walking through the waking world in a drowsy haze. In middle school, his parents brought him to a sleep clinic to observe and possibly cure him of chronic narcolepsy. While in college, he could go days with only a few hours of sleep. Back then, Mike thought he was making up for all the time he lost in his childhood. Now, he yearns for a restful night.
For forty-two consecutive nights, Mike suffered through a deluge of dreams both lucid and terrifying. Forty-two out of forty-two nights, he has been witness to his own death. Though he has seen himself die in forty-two different ways, it has never been the same self. In one dream, he was rich. In another, he was homeless. In some of his dreams, he was still a child in elementary school, clutching to his auburn-furred teddy bear with the sapphire eyes. Some of the dreams were set in the future, while others in the past. One dream, Mike witnessed himself acting as the caretaker to a menagerie of strange and wonderful beasts, only to become the meal of a ferocious, seven-eyed colossal centipede-like creature.
The only factor each of his dreams shared was him hovering like a ghost over a separate version of himself, inevitably witnessing his own violent death. After the climax of his demise, he would linger for only a few extra minutes in the dream realm before waking to the morning sun and his chirping alarm clock.
Forty-two nights of horror, forty-two mornings of exhaustion.
It wasn’t for a lack of sleep that left Mike exhausted. Every night, he would go to bed a few minutes earlier. Every morning he would wake up a few minutes later. Mike estimated he was getting an average of eleven hours of sleep per night; a tendency that was leaving him little time for anything other than work or sleep.
On the forty-third night, something changed. He was no longer a witness. Instead, after forty-two nights as an unwilling spectator, he was now the victim.