We were on vacation in a very open beach house on a lakeshore. My brother was being an asshole. I don’t know why. I have had many dreams which involve screaming at him to no avail, but this one carried a level of desperation. I was shouting, “Why are you even doing this? Why are you being like this?” like it made no sense to me. I don’t remember what he was doing; I never really do. I think he was getting naked and locking random doors and running around, but in a way that was targeted and malicious rather than stupid and childish. Dad was there but he never interacted with us. Brendan wouldn’t respond to me. He only talked to his friends around the lake behind this beach house, who were dressed in yellow, like him. I suggested that his behavior had to do with him only talking to people in yellow, but he denied this vehemently.
Then they were all in the lake and yelling and fighting. I knew the solution to this problem. I became the well-respected and beloved pirate captain who had come back from a long absence. I had a long turquoise coat which was a wine color on the inner facing, and I had a pirate hat, which are both very cool things to have. I got up on a big platform over the lake and announced in my best pirate voice that no one would be mean to each other from now on. This seemed to satisfy them. Everyone cheered. Then Brendan came up to me with a decree I had to sign to make it official, but the layout and text on the page made it extremely ambiguous what I was signing into law and where I was even supposed to sign it. He wouldn’t let me read the rest of it or explain anything to me, so I just went away into this back entrance to some building, where I had to get through a tangle of piratey ropes.
Then I was Michael Pulanski, CEO of some New York company(?). I had a dress shirt and short, light brown hair worn with kind of feminine long bangs, and dark blue dress pants. I worked at this place that looked like a very crowded train station with big opaque glass walls and vaulted ceilings. Everybody liked me.
As I said hello to my employees, I noticed a lot of them were wearing mostly one solid color, like the people before in yellow. I realized anyone dressed like this had made a pact with one of several “color demons.” I don’t know what the demons offered to entice people initially — it seemed like they had promised to solve a problem of some kind — but once the pact was made the person’s mind was slowly taken over and their behavior would align with their respective demon’s vice. There was a demon for every color, but I only saw people wearing yellow, green, red, and black. Black was the most popular by far. Rather than a badge representing their allegiance to a demon, the colored clothing itself was what forged the pact. You had to box yourself in with the color by wearing it on your arms (like sleeves), your legs, and your head. Once you wore this “box,” even if it was on accident, the pact would be made. I was wearing my black flower headband and took it off.
The characters of the color demons were mostly undefined, except for their leader, black, who was called the Dark Lord. In the future everything was dark, and everyone had the Dark Lord’s face.
Somehow the emergence of this phenomenon was related to the fact that this was a resort company of some kind, and that after we fired our creative director hoping to save money, sales at our flagship restaurant, Good Burger, had declined because the employees no longer had any motivation or good ideas, and the food quality had become worse. The amount of human suffering this caused contributed directly to the creation and spread of color demons and their cults, though they themselves were not aware of Good Burger being the cause.
I went to talk to our former creative director, to apologize for our mistake and hire him back. He was a gregarious man with silver-gray hair and stubble. I gave him a hug because we were friends. He was at least a foot taller than me. He was excited to be re-offered the position again and said he would consider it.
Motivated by my discovery, I went outside and up the hill to Good Burger. Outside was the same sunny Florida-scape as the start of the dream, and it looked nothing like the inside of the building. I asked the ten or so Good Burger employees whether or not improvements could be made to the menu. They said they liked it as is. The menu listed pizza, spaghetti, and fried chicken in endless varieties. I met Keenan there and wanted to ask him where Kel went, thinking that having both of them there would help make Good Burger successful again, but I couldn’t remember whether those were their names or whether I had mixed them up, and didn’t want to embarrass myself. (My waking conscience can tell you I was definitely, 100% talking to Keenan Thompson.) The creative director decided he would take up the job again.
I went back into the main building. A woman gave me the card for her salon which was on 5th Avenue. She invited me to visit and buy them out for our resort thing if I thought it was a good idea.
I went down some stairs into an underground subway (basically confirming our building was a literal train station, which gets more convoluted later), where I sat in the first car on what was basically a roller coaster which went from 1st (where our building was) to 5th Avenue. Normally there was a fare every trip but now that I was a character who lived in NYC I had some sort of yearly plan that was prepaid and much cheaper. I was excited about getting to ride it every day because duh, it was a roller coaster.
Downtown there was a park with a fountain pond. I could see a large dead goldfish in one of the fountains. There was also a sick penguin. A middle-aged couple was trying to nurse it to health by feeding it some of the remaining goldfish. The penguin recovered, but I was upset about the sudden deficit in the pond’s goldfish population, which I sensed the penguin did not normally feed from.
I found the salon, but the walls outside surrounding the display window were painted black, so I couldn’t go inside because I didn’t want to risk boxing myself. I didn’t know how the rules worked, man! Instead I went into a magic shop next door, which was painted white, to find out more about the color demons. The man inside recognized right away that I was actually trans. I think he referred to my deadname (I don’t remember what it was), and I said something like “that woman is no longer listed.” I was MICHAEL PULANSKI, GODDAMNIT, AND YOU WILL TREAT ME WITH RESPECT.
I saw into the past, when the demons were being formed. I only knew the vices of the ones I had seen: red was anger and bloodlust, green was envy, and yellow was cowardice at first but I thought that was too cliche and changed it to lust instead. Black was malice, i.e. that the Dark Lord’s followers would harm others for harm’s sake rather than as the effect of something else. tbh I’m not sure how this is different than red. I also saw that the Dark Lord was this quiet kid with a long black ponytail who was at our company and whom I was friends with. This realization was also presented as a BIG TWIST but I don’t think this character had actually ever been introduced. I decided I would try to go back and change whatever made him want to become a demon in the first place.
Suddenly I was me again! I had infiltrated a Red initiation ceremony and was trying to gather information on their practices. The ritual involved all the members getting on a large raft which would float around a pond all night until sunrise. They had a coach guiding the raft along randomly and watching their progress. The surface of the raft was divided into lots of awkwardly-sized spaces by these random lines from which, every three seconds, deadly buzzsaws would emerge. There was also somehow another large buzzsaw on the ceiling(!) which required passengers to duck. The 70-odd initiates had to dodge the buzzsaws for 12 hours straight. Unfortunately, the safe spaces were so small and awkwardly shaped that they all required some levels of contortion to fit on. It was basically a deadly version of Twister without turns. Whoever survived the night became a fully fledged Red.
I spent some time on the spaces and then eventually hung out on the sides, which were made of rainbow sand, until the sand started to crumble because other people doing the same fell off. I think I got to retry or rewrite this section a couple of times. Ultimately I was found out pretty early into the trial because I was a.) not wearing the required red sash and b.) not actually doing it. They didn’t like filthy reporters or whatever snitching on them so they said I had to leave.
By this point the trial was still dodge-the-buzzsaws but also 100 fingers had to be sacrificed from participants in order to pass. The kid who said to kick me off had given up all five fingers on his right hand, but none on his left. His right-handed was his dominant. For some reason he thought this made him smart.
They sent me off on a tiny, one-person raft that was actually just a floating black metal grate. I wanted to go back to the small strip of shore so I could escape, but there was a large, white spider there to guard it. Instead I had to disembark on this stationary raft which had a bunch of bugs and small animals. They had a campfire going and were singing and playing instruments. The island was surrounded by forgotten plastic things which had washed up. There were two wolves who would howl without making a sound, so I sang for them whenever they opened their mouths. This made the other bugs and animals laugh. As the sun rose they all faded away, except for the one big ladybug(?) who had first welcomed me onto the raft island. I got the impression that most intruders sent from the red trial to this island were expected to be trapped there forever, but the ladybug liked me so he guided my little raft back to shore, where the spider was now gone, and then he disappeared too.
I was so tired I collapsed in the sand, face first. I was surrounded by lots of makeup and toiletries that had washed up with me. Still lying in the sand, I rummaged through them and tried to pick out which were mine and which were identical duplicates with GERMS on them, because for some reason I thought it would be really great to be able to brush my teeth. Ellie ran past me into the water, saying something like she was busy and had to swim so she couldn’t help me. Then Jhin came, and he was a doctor, and he took me with him because he wanted to kidnap me, a very exciting prospect.
I was unconscious in a chair in his office, which was dark. He was touching and admiring my face, and kissed my eyelids. I knew this was happening because I had a precognition of it. Then I woke up and left his office. Somehow it was late at night again. I was in the doctor’s office hallway part of the company building. The stairs to the left of Jhin’s office went down to the beach I had just left. To the right there was a huge box of files. I had never been allowed back here despite my best efforts because this mean lady wouldn’t let me past. To make it seem like I had any non-Jhin-fucking business being back there, I grabbed the box and strolled casually out. She didn’t notice me until another guy leaning in his doorway pointed out I was carrying the big box of files. He said he was glad they got the clearance to get rid of that box. The lady realized however that I wasn’t supposed to be taking them or even around after office curfew and called after me. I dropped the box and ran.