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“I can't explain enough, and I won't let it last the night
I'll show you that the image is still there unseen
It's darkest before the light, if we shut our eyes to see
The things that we have lost inside the lines between”Hands Like Houses ~ Developments
I've had a dream a few nights ago. An old man had organised an intellectual competition which I had been invited to partake in; the competition consisted of seven riddles to solve, each of which would bring the competitor to find a missing piece of an abstract puzzle that would lead them to the following riddle. The first player to solve the last riddle and state the solution to the old man would win the competition. It took place in some sort of alternate reality that only I seemingly needed to “plug in” to, because everyone else lived on the same plane of existence as where the competition took place. Due to a glitch, I eventually lost my “game data” and disconnected, and when I finally managed to reconnect, I asked to be included back into the competition. However, the old man said it wasn’t possible, because one couldn’t go back on a dropout, whether accidental or not. I insisted, asking him to put me to the test and verify that I wasn’t lying about knowing most of the game already, having already gotten to the last riddle, yet not having solved it before the disconnect. He’s not completely sure, but tells me I can go ahead and start from scratch if I want to. I do so and, within a few minutes, I solve the first six riddles, remembering the solutions from my previous game. One of them was about finding a small object in a dressing room while another was about finding a small ticket of sorts in a cave. Between one and the other, various forms of adventuring would take place. I felt lucky I was able to soar, as we were in a predominantly watery habitat: in one instance, I had to take off from a beach and reach some faraway “port”, which apparently was just a very tiny island with a couple ladies tanning their skin on it; in another instance, I had to cross a man-made underground tunnel of steel, from one end to the other, and obviously chose to do so by soaring through it. However, most people decided to ride cars and other vehicles to get through, and every single one of them eventually fell in the deep water that was right below the road. I saw them dive in one by one and slowly drown, knowing they’d have died a horrible death, but I didn’t help them and just felt relieved it wasn’t me instead. Why was that? I asked that to myself in my dream. Why did I know they were dying, yet willingly didn’t save them?
In the end, many of the original competitors had either gone missing or just lost between one riddle and the other, being unable to continue the competition, and only six participants were left. The memories of my past game about the last riddle were starting to come back: a Van Gogh painting, an abstract painting, an Italian church (possibly Santa Maria Novella in Florence, but I’m not sure about the name. I spelt it fully in the dream, though). But was I remembering the question, or the answer? Which one was it? Which one was more important? Was there even a difference?
By the time I’d come back to the old man and gave him the solution to the first six riddles, he had changed the last to something else: all six players had a different one right in front of them, in written form, and had to give the man the answer; the first one to solve theirs would have won the match. My boldness finally persuades the old man to include me back into the competition. He gives me a custom-made extra riddle, making me the seventh competitor in the seventh riddle. I read it, look at the clues (pictures on the sheet), think about it awhile. Then, I reconnect my thoughts to the memories of the past seventh riddle, and a fitting word forms in my mind. At that point, I know I have found the answer; yet, I am somehow persuaded that having found it means I should understand it was what the competition was all about, that there’s no need to formally win it, and I actually should refrain from doing so, to prove the old man that I have indeed learned what he meant to teach with this game. The memories start fading away from there.
Most of my dreams are quests… I wonder, is my life also a quest? And what is it that I’m looking for?