lmb_words_stories_Today's dreams

There was no need for any introduction. They had known each other since they were born and they would spend their time with each other until they would die - if they died at all.
Also, they both had no names. Names were as unnecessary as an introduction would have been. Everybody knew them, knew what they did and that they did it. Names had been invented to suit them but it never worked out. They were never really pleased with them. Some were too mythical and some even offensive. But to be honest, all that never really bothered them.
It would surely be an element of a good story if one could tell that they lived in a tower made from ivory, as high as the clouds with a narrow spiral staircase that led to the small little chamber at the top wich was only illuminated by candles placed all over the room. It would be nice to talk about large bookshelves, about floors full of parchment and papers and ink spots.
But reality was and is not like fiction - at least not always and not in this case.
In fact, they sat in a dark little room illuminated by candles but that was only due to the fact that electricity was far from being useful in here. The parchment and papers on the floor did not create the desired atmosphere at all and the ink spots looked as if they had not been placed by architectural perfection but by pure accident (and, which was true, an incautious pen with the apropriate writer attached).
For a swift spectator it would have looked like a horrible mess and indeed the real state of the room was not far from that. Still, no paper, no wax drip and no plate with rests of food on it was placed randomly. Everything worked with a scheme. It was complicated, no doubt, but it existed.
This room was the source of it all. The twins sat in here by day and night and even when they slept, which was not very often the case, they did it in this room. There was a curtain in one of the darker corner of the room behind which a toilet had been placed which looked, as the only object in this room, perfectly clean.
In the middle of the room there was a table. It was built like a rooftop, with the highest point in the middle and two flat surfaces flowing down to both sides in a soft angle. Besides each half of this desk, there were lots of other little tables and carts which carried various supplies, from books to pencils, from papers that had been carefully written to ones that had been crumpled and thrown away carelessly.

They sat in front of the desk, each on his own side. One half of the table showed brandings and had obviously been hit by a knife more than once, the other half was perfectly blank and clean, not as clean as the toilet, but in contrast to the rest of the room strikingly tidy.
They sat in front of the desks and wrote on their papers. They had done so since humans had first been intelligent enough to look at their world and think about it. Since then they had stayed in this room and since then they had fulfilled the task that they were given, each of them with absolute perfection:
They created dreams.
One of the twins (they actually did not really look like twins, not at all) grinned meanly while he was pouring wax onto a long letter to seal it. His large black eyebrows moved unnaturally over his forehead while he pushed the seal onto it.
"That is a good one, I tell you!" he said and merrily threw the letter into a little hole in the ground. "Something classic, snakes and spiders, but this time in combination! I thought about putting demons in but I thought that that would have been just a little over the top. What are you working on?"
"Ah, nothing special" the other twin replied. "Just the usual kind of 'meet your old girlfriend and get along with her quite fine' thing. Ah, I just can't seem to get anything new out of that. I've tried everything from warm summer rain and beautiful sunsets to cute little kittens. I know that nobody will complain but… I just feel that we're not producing quality dreams anymore. I mean, look at us. You keep on showing people the same monsters and horrible animals over and over again and I also can't think of anything new! I think we need a break."
"A break?" The other twin looked horrified. "But, but, don't you remember, there was nothing in the job description that said anything about longer breaks or holidays. You know, there's always someone who dreams and… I don't want to know what happens if we don't fill his empty thoughts with anything, good or bad."
"What about successors? Have you ever thought of retiring?" The other twin who had long white hair that reached down to his uncovered knees leaned back and crossed his arms behind his head. "I'm not sure for how long we've worked here but I'm sure that there'll be a good pension…"
"Stop it! Stop saying that! You almost make me believe you. It's not a good thing to quit, at least in this business. I won't even imagine what happens if we decide to quit and usually I'm good at imagining things, you know… at least I used to be…"
Slowly both turned to their work again and continued to write.
After a while, the white twin looked up again.
"And what about a little change? It can't be wrong - I suppose."
"What are you thinking of?" The other twin looked at him with a mixture of suspicion and anticipation. He also had felt that his life had been getting rather boring lately. There were just no new stories to tell, no new things to scare people with. Especially children were very hard to scare these days.
"What about changing positions? Just for a couple of days? I mean, you know everything about nightmares and I know everything about good dreams. There is not much of a challenge when we go on like this. Let's just swap places. I'll write your nightmares, you'll write the good dreams."

There was a long silence in the room. The dark twin looked a little confused. Swapping places - that did not seem right to him. Were they allowed to do something like this? But another part of his brain asked: "But who could forbid it?" Finally, he made a decision and stood up.
He smiled as he shook his brother's hand.
As he sat down on the other side of the desk, he felt strangely excited. He had actually never seen the room from this point of view and immediately new ideas were flowing into his mind. He looked down onto the desk and found that his brother, who had meanwhile left to the cleanest place in the room, had already started a document.
He started to read…
"… into a beautiful lake, surrounded by huge mountains. It is early morning or late evening. The sun is just rising or setting and paints the slight waves on the sea…"
He stretched his fingers, picked up the pencil and began to write.

Meanwhile, his brother had returned and sat down facing him. He had not been that sure about this idea as he may have seemed. He just was tired of writing the same things over and over again.
But now that he sat on this side of the table, everything seemed just right. He had never noticed the huge bookshelf on the wall that he was now facing. He had always had his back turned to it, during all the years….
He looked around the table and found some drafts his brother had made. They mainly consisted of short notes including things like "pit of fire", "is eaten by a giant snake", "gets attacked by horribly looking monsters with lots of claws and even more heads" or "is visited by his mother in law". Full of excitement he picked up the pencil and began to write.

Some hours later (even back then time was quite relative, especially at this peculiar place), they both had finished roughly a dozen dreams and slipped them all into the hole in the ground.
They were both really satisfied. Everything was so much easier now, they thought. Perhaps they should have done this years ago, even before they started to lose their ingenuity. Perhaps there was no need to swap places anymore and they would be able to write dreams like this forever and ever.
So they thought and talked and laughed and ate what had, as usual, appeared at a special spot in the dark room. And today, eating took a long time, even for their usual standards.

During this time, strange things happened all around the world. Parents startled because they heard their children screaming but when they entered the children's bedroom, they found them lying on the floor laughing.
Rich bankers who destroyed people's lifes with a snap of their fingers woke up sweating in the middle of the night and felt the urge to call their mom.
Even some dogs woke up late at night and wondered what kind of strange memories was in their mind but soon again fell asleep again.

It was not that with the dreams and nightmares had swapped positions, just as the twins had. The little children had had nightmares of the monster in their cupboard and the bankers had had the dream of their biggest oponent's company being smashed by them suddenly posessing supernatural powers.
But something was wrong.
The monster that the children remembered as having snakes on their heads instead of hair, big red or yellow eyes, insects all over their body or huge amounts of tentacles, heads or mouths had transformed into ridiculous things, made from lollipops, marbles and flowers. And instead of chasing the children in narrow corridors they stood on a small stage in a little bar and told jokes about current politics (which the children didn't completely understand).
The bankers who had already started to demolish the company building their rival owned, however, experienced something else. Suddenly, all the money they had earned in not completely legal businesses began to move out of banks, safes and people's purses. It piled up to a huge heap from which arms, legs and a head extended. The monster grabbed the bankers who had suddenly seamed to have lost their powers completely. They felt like the fly that has been caught by a cat and is about to be either squashed or played with for a couple of days.
None of the children and none of the bankers (and none of the dogs, too), however, remembered their dreams. They remembered the feelings they had, long after they had woken up - some remembered those even years later - but what had exactly happened in those few hours... Nobody could tell.

When the twins had finished their lunch break (which, in fact, was a part of the contract), they returned to their desk to find a little note on each side of it. The letters on the notes were written with absolute geometric precision and the watermark was the only interruption in the otherwise perfect structure of the parchment. The note read:

"Dear employees,
we, the management, have received notes of your little experiment. It is not our intention to limit you in your artistic freedom but we all must, however, stick to the tradition and the rules this whole system is based on. Attepts like yours disturb the order and work against everything this management and all its employees stand for.
This is why we, the management, are forced to ask you to interrupt this 'test', as we may call it. There will be no negative effects for your further career if you obey without any objections and continue the otherwise excellent work you have delivered so far and will, hopefully, deliver for a long period of time."

"They didn't even sign that thing!" the white twin shouted angrily.
"That's just because everyone knows who it comes from" answered the other one sadly.
"'If you obey without any objection'… what else should we do? If changing places for a few hours gets us in trouble what will they think if we decide to quit?"
"I knew that it wasn't a good idea. I knew it right away…"

After that they fell silent for a while and after a minute or two stood up at the same time without any sign, slowly walked around the table, sat down where they had been sitting for their whole life, took out their pencils and stared at the empty parchment that they had placed there by pure habit.

"But it was a nice experiment, it really was" the white twin said. "I suppose now it's back to flowers and kittens… and back to monsters and snakes for you?"
"Hm…" the black twin wrinkled his forehead. "Has it ever really been different?"

(june 2003)