The machine lets me go deeper, more lucid than I have ever been even in waking life. I am aware of every blade of grass waving in a breeze that exists only in my subconscious mind, every pebble in the worn concrete beneath my feet that was lovingly imported from the darkest of my elementary school days.

Everything seems strange because I am at a child’s height, yet seeing with adult eyes. When it was long ago, there were no thick blades of grass hungrily pushing between asphalt cracks; the city was not yet so decrepit. We had aged together.

An eternal twilight burns overhead, and I feel giddy. It is what I once felt at that height, the joy of a world bursting at its seams with possibilities, stories under every stone. Yet it is also a mix of adult giddiness, of the feeling of time slipping through outstretching fingers like hourglass sand, the looking back at what may never have been through the rosy lens of what might have, if only.

And in, among all that, the machine shows me what I long suspected: a dark hollow, always hovering at the edge of even my dream-tinged perceptions. That darkness has a depth I scarce suspected, and waiting at its bottom…things my lucid mind saw fit to banish to realms of abstraction. A confrontation with the negative essence of myself: that which made my by being rejected, minimized, despised.

The door was open, the machine held it wide, and every halcyon dream-path had as its corollary a path down that ill-winded road, should I choose to take it.

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