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Waking Nightmare

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The doctors say he is suffering from depression. Some go so far as to say PTSD, after his accident in the sub. It’s not uncommon after near death experiences, he is told, again and again by well meaning people who just do not fucking understand.

Jason suspects there is no diagnosis in their textbooks that covers being ripped out of the only world where you ever truly belonged, away from the only people you ever loved. Away from the only place where you had a destiny, and your life meant something beyond just getting up and going to work every pointless day for forty pointless years before dying a pointless death.

They give him anti-depressants and tell him to give it time.

Time. Yeah, right.

His gives the anti-depressants three months. The doctors were right – they help with the mood swings, the irrational behaviour, the recurring dreams (memories, he insists), and the near constant desire to simply walk back into the ocean and see what happens. They help him to function.

The trouble is, Jason doesn’t want to function. He wants to go home

When he dreams (remembers), he dreams of Atlantis. He dreams of his friends; of Pythagoras’ smile, of Hercules’ laugh, of Medusa’s bravery, of Ariadne’s beauty. He dreams of a life where he was somebody special. Where he loved, and was loved in return. The anti-depressants take away those dreams, and that, more than anything, is why he stops taking them.

After five months he finds something better. He spends hours on the internet, and several nights in the shadiest bars and clubs imaginable (he can still picture the look of disapproval on Pythagoras’ face), and he gets a new supply of pills.

Now his dreams (memories) are more vivid than ever. He can smell the salty air. He can taste the gritty bread. He can hear the shouts of street vendors, the marching footsteps of the city guards. He can see the clear blue sky and the multitude of shades of sandstone and marble. In his dreams, Hercules is snoring and Pythagoras is shouting at him, and Medusa is laughing at the three of them.

In his dreams, Jason is special; he has a destiny. He can run faster and jump higher than anyone else. He can battle magical monsters, cure curses, save his friends. In his dreams he is a hero. In his dreams he can, and does, defy the gods.

In his dreams, he and Pythagoras can talk and laugh together until long after the sun has set. They can joke about Hercules’ latest antics. They can bounce ideas back and forth about how to cure Medusa and bring their friend back home. They can comfort each other when those plans fail, again and again.

In his dreams, he and Pythagoras can touch each other, taste each other. They can love each other.

The doctors tell him to give it time. They tell him it will get better. They tell him the dreams will pass. They don’t understand. Jason’s waking world is the real nightmare. It is only in his dreams that he feels truly alive.

More and more often, Jason counts the pills, and wonders if it might be better if he could go to sleep and never wake up.