Digging around in my archives I have unearthed all my old, strange stories. This one is called Egg. There’s no point leaving it unread in a file on my computer. Instead I will leave it unread on my website. This story was written about nine years ago. Potatoes.
Somewhere in the deep unconscious soul of every man there is a place for dreams to live out their unusual lives. In one of these worlds is a canyon. In this canyon the absent sun shone in every corner, casting shadows on shadows. The deep red sky sat above the large dark orange walls of the canyon. The Egg stood alone on the shimmering purple grass. His imaginary eyes stared fearlessly into the dark endless valley before him. The snapping of a twig made his shadow shudder. The great walls began to rumble and quake. The rocks began to edge towards the safety of the towering orange cliffs.
The Egg remained still as the rumbling grew. With a sonic boom, the air exploded. The purple grass struggled against the force of the wind. The Egg slowly began to lift and hover above the ground. The rocks and soil edged out of the grass and lifted into the air. The walls weaned and the sky got closer as the pressure in the canyon grew stronger. There was another boom and the air exploded in all directions. And then, as if nothing had happened, the canyon fell silent. The grass settled, the rocks fell to the ground, and the walls took a sigh of relief. The Egg was gone.
The Egg sat up and assessed his surroundings. He had heard of this place before but only in fairytales. The air here was cool and clear. The sky was blue and the grass was green. He was sitting on a long thin gravel path with green fields spreading out endlessly on either side of him. At the end of the long gravel path was a small house. The house was paint-less and wooden. It appeared to be held up by determination alone. Behind The Egg, at the end of the long path, was a single gate which seemed to serve no purpose as there was no fence on either side of it.
On the porch of the house was sitting a very confused 15 year-old boy who goes by the name of Adam. The Egg and the boy shared looks and both seemed to arrive at the same conclusion: it was probably best to investigate. The Egg went from sitting upright to standing. This, in the human world, means it just tilted forward slightly. At the same time, Adam stood up. This was confusing for both The Egg and the Boy as neither had any idea what the other was. They both stopped for a moment until they decided it was probably safe to continue. They edged slowly forwards until they were only a few yards away from one another. A few birds and small mammals had begun to gather in various places to watch.
Although The Egg didn’t have eyes it still seemed to look at you and, somehow, was able to move. These are some of the things Adam had established so far. The Egg was half the size of Adam, which, when it comes to eggs, is very big. Adam began to speculate as to what could be in The Egg. An elephant? A lion? A new type of fire breathing bird perhaps? The Egg began to speculate about Adam. His first thought was, ‘Does he look hungry?’ followed by, ‘Am I edible?’ and finally, ‘Is he edible?’. Both Adam and The Egg decided just to wing it. They would both be kind unless Adam or The Egg tried to kill the other. Adam spoke first.
The Egg tilted in a way that suggested it was saying hi back. Adam smiled and invited The Egg into his home.
It’s not often that dreams and reality collide in this way but it does occasionally happen. The Egg isn’t an elephant, or a fire breathing bird, nor is it a giant wasp, alien, or winged monkey. It is just an egg. A confused but intelligent egg from Adam’s dream. Adam doesn’t remember The Egg, and The Egg doesn’t yet know that it is not real. But can you really blame The Egg? All the evidence would suggest otherwise after all.
Adam and The Egg shared endless days together in Adam’s small wooden home and they soon became good friends. Adam shared stories of his childhood and reminisced about playground victories and teenage friendships. The Egg listened intently and loved hearing tales from Adam’s strange world. The Egg tried to tell of his world but found no way to express his stories clearly. Adam told The Egg about the sun and how the Earth orbited it. The Egg wanted to tell him about his sun, or more specifically, how his world didn’t really have one and that his world was made up of connections of thought and nothing more. The Egg wanted Adam to know that he isn’t always an egg, and that in his world his image was an abstract idea based on loose association and weird meaning. But most of all The Egg wanted to warn Adam that there was a chance that neither of them was in their own world.
Adam hadn’t left the house since The Egg arrived. He had no reason to, everything he needed was in his home, and his home seemed to fit him perfectly. All the food was his favourite food, the washing machine picked up his clothes and loaded itself, the oven prepared his meals unaided, and all of the films in Adams DVD collection featured him as the main character. The Egg suspected that something was amiss.
On one particularly sunny afternoon, and it was always sunny and it was always the afternoon in this unusual place, The Egg decided to see what was on the other side of the gate. The Egg opened the front door and led himself down the two steps and on to the path. The Egg began to move down the path but the gate didn’t get closer. He tried moving faster but the gate remained at its distance. After The Egg had been travelling for a few minutes he turned around. He hadn’t moved at all. It was then that The Egg realised something was wrong. This world of Adams’ wasn’t like his normal dreams. Normally The Egg could move freely and control his surroundings but not here. Here was something rare in The Egg’s world. Here was something different. The Egg went back inside.
Adam was sitting on the couch watching a film in which Adam was heroically saving an attractive young lady from an entire battle fleet of giant aliens. The microwave hopped off the counter in the kitchen and brought Adam a freshly popped bowl of cheese flavoured popcorn. The Egg watched suspiciously and then hopped up onto the couch and joined Adam. Adam smiled at The Egg and proffered him the bowl of popcorn. The Egg looked at the bowl and then back up at Adam suspiciously. Adam turned his attention back to the television. The Egg thought for a moment and then hopped back off the couch and went back out to the porch. The Egg looked up at the sun. The sun hung perfectly in front of the house. Rabbits and mice played together in the fields and the birds chirped and chattered happily. The Egg looked over at the gate, which, now he thought about it, seemed oddly menacing. The gate felt real, like it was watching with curios interest. The Egg turned around and went back into the house. He went over to the couch and looked up at Adam.
“What?” said Adam, with a mouth full of popcorn.
The Egg moved toward the front door and looked back at Adam urging him to follow.
“What is it? Do you want me to follow you?” said Adam.
The Egg nodded.
“But I’m watching television.”
The Egg seemed to sigh.
“Ok,” said Adam, pausing the DVD.
Adam got up and followed The Egg out of the house.
“What do you want to show me?” asked Adam.
The Egg nodded toward the gate and Adam looked at it confusedly.
“What about it?” he said.
The Egg nodded at it again trying to tell Adam to go over to it.
Adam looked at the gate again.
“You want me to leave?”
The Egg huffed silently and hopped on to the gravel path, he looked back at Adam urging him to follow and then set off toward the gate. Adam followed.
“Where are we going?” said Adam.
The Egg turned to look at Adam momentarily but didn’t stop moving. Adam plodded along, slightly unsure what they were doing but happy to find out. After a few long seconds of walking it dawned on Adam that they hadn’t moved. He turned around. He was right. The house was still only a few feet behind them. The Egg realised that Adam had stopped and turned to face him. The Egg looked up at Adam. Adam let his mouth fall open and gawped at the gate for a while. He turned and gawped at the house. He then realised he was gawping and closed his mouth.
“Egg, what’s going on?” said Adam.
The Egg went into the house and stood at the bottom of the stairs and looked up. Adam got the message and picked up The Egg. When they were at the top Adam put The Egg down and The Egg walked up to the bedroom door.
“In there?” asked Adam.
The Egg nodded.
Adam opened the bedroom door and entered. The room was dark and cobwebbed. A thin layer of dust covered everything except for the bed which, for some reason, was missing.
“Oh,” said Adam, slightly surprised, “Where’s my bed?”
In the world The Egg comes from you get from one place to another via connections in thought. So, if you find yourself standing on a pavement in a busy street and a car stops in front of you you are suddenly presented with several options. If, for example, you looked at the window of the car and noticed you could see your own reflection you might suddenly find yourself in a bathroom looking in the mirror. Or, if you get in the car, you might find yourself in a memory, and become a younger version of yourself on your way to a family holiday. Or, you might see the car, ignore it, and continue down the road to any multitude of possibilities.
The world around us is one built from our own perceptions. There are two versions of this world (If you don’t include other dimensions of it). One is the perceived world of the conscious. It has a linear timeline and you have to physically move about it in a slightly more sensible manner than the one in which dreams inhabit. It is made of physical experiences and sensory perceptions. For example, if you are at home and want to go to the shops you have to physically get up and walk there. Whereas in the dream world, firstly you wouldn’t need to go to the shops, and secondly trying to find the right mental connections to get there might become quite confusing: this is the perceived world of the subconscious, the world of dreams. It is as real as the one we see when we are awake, and it is entirely possible to get stuck there.
The reason Adam can’t see a bed in his bedroom is because he is currently lying on top of it. The door of the bedroom suddenly slammed shut and The Egg took on a more sinister air. The Egg realised that he and Adam were the same, they had to be, this is Adam’s dream after all. This thought made The Egg feel considerably uncomfortable. If Adam wakes up then The Egg ceases to be. But The Egg now knows that this is his world, and thoughts were beginning to connect in his mind. One body; two lives. This was a very clear thought considering the thing thinking it was essentially a figment of Adam’s imagination. The Egg could feel that his life was short, and possibly only existed in this particular dream, but somehow, he thought, there was a way for him to be real. Adam stared at The Egg and edged back against the wall.
“Where am I!?” he said, suddenly afraid. He had suspected for a while that something was odd about his home but questions like these soon get shelved when life is so sweet.
The Egg stopped and looked up at Adam. I’m in your body thought The Egg, and in your body we are both essentially fictional. The Egg began to darken. Adam backed harder against the wall.
“Stop!” shouted Adam.
But The Egg wanted to experience reality. The Egg began to bulge and a crack appeared at its tip. The thin crack crept its way down the front of The Egg and forked across its sides. Adam was silent. His heart was on pause. His breathing had halted. The cracks stopped spreading and everything was still. Adam stared at it and swallowed. He swallowed again as if to eat his own fear. Remembering the importance of oxygen he took a gasp of breath. He closed his eyes. Adam calmed his breathing and composed himself as best he could. He opened his eyes. The Egg was still there, cracked and still. Adam inched up to it. The Egg didn’t move. Adam reached his arm out and stretched his hand slowly closer to The Egg’s broken shell. The Egg remained unmoved. Adam’s fingers were now a hair-breadth away. He composed himself and let his fingers brush against the broken Egg and as he did the shell fell and collapsed like a house of cards. Adam jumped back and stumbled. He slammed against the wall and gasped for breath. The pieces of shell covered the entire floor and there, in place of the Egg, was Adam’s bed. It seemed out of place and eerie.
Adam ran for the door and bolted down the staircase to the safety of his lounge. The DVD was still on pause and his bowl of popcorn was sitting comfortably on the couch. Adam paced around his lounge trying to figure out what was happening. He knew he must be dreaming, but how? He remembers living here for years. Now he thinks about it he has always been the same age but has never questioned it before. He sat down and racked his memory. How did he get here? When did he get here? Why is he living alone? He remembers his first day here. He was standing on the gravel path and he had his keys in his hand. The house looked newer then and cleaner. He remembers walking up to the front door and opening it for the first time. He remembers the walls being bare and the TV being an old small one from his childhood. The next few months flash before him and he remembers wanting a big flat-screen TV. The next thing he remembers is watching films on a flat-screen TV, films he had already seen and then new films with him as the main character. He remembers not wanting to cook or clean and suddenly these things tended to themselves. Adam snapped out of it and looked around his lounge. Everything seemed strange now. The TV looked out of sorts. It began to flicker and the image of him on the screen vanished. He went in to the kitchen in time to see the washing machine die. Its mechanical arms lay outstretched and lifeless in front of it.
Panic began to grip him as he tried to remember how he got here in the first place. Dark images began to pounce around his mind; the sound of rain pelting a car windscreen, his dad’s favourite song crackling out of the old car stereo, the stars through the rain on a dark evening. He remembers hearing the screeching of tires and the smell of burning rubber. And then headlights. And then nothing. The next thing he remembers is the gate at the end of a long gravel path to his new home.
Adam ran outside and looked out at the gate. Everything beyond the gate was now dark and the gate itself looked old and decayed. Adam slowly walked backwards into his house. His world was falling apart.
Upstairs in Adam’s bedroom the bed sat quietly waiting for Adam to inevitably return, the consciousness of The Egg hidden within its form. The Egg was now in control. Decaying the walls of the house and destroying the things that Adam had created for himself. Soon Adam would be alone in a charred and baron home, the only comfort being the bed from his childhood.
Adam sat on his sofa. What happened to the egg? Adam had no idea what had happened upstairs. Had The Egg realised it was in a dream and suddenly stopped existing? Had he somehow killed it? Is The Egg now the bed? Adam didn’t know, he and The Egg were friends and that’s all he knew for sure. Maybe The Egg knew it was a dream and somehow gave itself up so he would have a bed to go to. Maybe to wake up from a dream one must go to sleep?
The Egg waited silently in its disguise. One of them would wake up and The Egg knew that if it were to be him it would mean killing Adam’s conscious so the subconscious could take its place. But that’s not real murder, thought The Egg. His body will still be alive and if I have consciousness and individual thought then Adam and I are technically one and the same – only I am the sleeping Adam and he is the conscious Adam. It is my turn to experience experiences! This thought convinced The Egg and its mind was set. Now it waited.
The darkness from outside began to effect the house and the wallpaper peeled from the walls. The lights dimmed and turned off and the furniture began to age and decay. Adam stood up and looked around hoping for a solution to present itself. Nothing did. Adam looked up the stairs. His bed beckoned.
From his bedroom door Adam stared at the bed. The corner of the duvet was turned up, willing Adam to gently slip in and go for a long awaited sleep. Adam turned and looked back down the hall. The darkness and decay was creeping up the stairs and closing in on the bedroom. Soon there will be nowhere left to go, thought Adam, as he approached the bed. Stay here, or go to sleep. He pulled the duvet back and looked at the pillow. It looked so comfortable. Adam’s eyes got heavy. He couldn’t remember the last time he slept. Weeks? Months? Years ago?
The darkness closed in and The Egg prepared itself for real life. He wondered what it would be like. The Egg’s excitement grew. It was inevitable now. Adam had nowhere else to go.
Adam sat on the bed and made up his mind. He tucked his legs under the duvet and lied down. The comfort grabbed him with warmth and he felt the heaviness of sleep that he hadn’t felt in a lifetime. His eyes closed.
Just before Adam fell asleep the mattress collapsed and fell through the base of the bed like prey falling into a pit and Adam was startled awake. The mattress disappeared and Adam fell into an endless tunnel of darkness. Air rushed past him and his clothes bellowed as he fell faster and faster. A deep resonating voice echoed around Adam’s falling body
“I’M SORRY ADAM. I DON’T KNOW WHAT WILL BECOME OF YOU. I DO NOT KNOW WHAT HAPPENS TO A MIND THAT DIES WITHIN ITSELF,” said the deep voice of The Egg
“What?!” shouted Adam, “What do you mean?”
Before the egg could answer Adam hit a solid floor, with a pelting thump.
Two eyelids blinked open and focused on a rectangular light in a white ceiling. It worked, thought The Egg, I’m real! The Egg tried to move his new arms but couldn’t. He tried to move his legs but they remained still. He tried to talk but there was no sound. He tried to shout but only breathed. The Egg had no choice but to lay there, finally conscious, finally experiencing real life, finally experiencing nothing.
Adam was finally at peace but The Egg was trapped in a broken body. Time began to drift by. Weeks became months. Nurses occasionally checked in on him. Sometimes people he didn’t recognise would come and sit with him. But most of all he just stared at the rectangular light in the white ceiling unable to turn away or go to sleep. He learned, over the years, from people sitting with him and talking to him, that he may never awake from his com, that the accident was too severe. He learned that his parents died in the car accident and that he did not.
Eventually he learned that the decision had been made to turn off the machine that had been sitting next to him for all these years, beeping every three seconds and keeping him alive. The Egg had been living in a comatose body for so long now that this news was something of an excitement. The Egg hadn’t had a visitor for a few weeks and had run out of things to think about. The Egg had just been lying there looking at the ceiling without a single thought passing through his mind. A few days after the decision had been made the machine was turned off. The Egg had no last words or final thoughts, he just looked up at the ceiling and its rectangular light, and let the world go dark. The Egg was gone.