Day 6. The land in between asleep and awake.

I thought today’s challenge was a little bit boring because it seemed implausible. There is no way that I would ever wake up without remembering what I did the night before. But I managed to put an interesting spin on it. At least, I think so.

Here we go.

Day 6. You wake up with a key gripped tightly in your hand. How did you get this key? What do you do with this?

Let’s be honest. If anyone ever woke up with a key gripped tightly in hand and didn’t remember where it came from, the logical assumption would be that they just drank way too much last night. That would explain the memory loss and the key would probably be a car key that they took from someone too wasted to drive.

What would you do with that key? Go back to the bar and ask for the owner of the key or wave the key around randomly clicking and seeing if a car unlocks.

That would be the most logical assumption. That was almost my answer. But there is one flaw in the story: I never forget what happens when am drunk.

So there is no way that scenario would happen.

What did happen, you ask me?

I don’t sleep very well. I am usually up at the weirdest hours of the night/day and the same goes for being asleep.

A good amount I spend drifting in between asleep and awake. Some time I am more awake, some time I am more asleep.

And it was right there, in the middle of that twilight zone between this world and dreamland, that something crazy happened.

With all the drifting between the two worlds, a sleep paralysis happened. And when it does, a portal opens to a completely new place.

And that is where I met Gerard. He was a small fella with a long white beard and stubbly knees. I only knew about the knees because they were on eye height when I woke up on my back.

Instead of falling asleep, I had fallen into this dimension. Gerard’s dimension.

He kicked up some dust beside me and grumbled that I was laying on his land. He then swung his spade over his shoulder and hobbled inside his house.

I was of course, completely confused. I sensed I hadn’t gone to sleep, but I also knew I wasn’t awake anymore. That being said, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what was going on.

So I followed the little guy inside his house and asked him all sorts of questions, hoping to get some answers to where I ended up. He mostly grunted out one-word responses and tried to close the door multiple times in my face.

He really wasn’t that much of a friendly guy.

With a mocking tone, he told me I had gotten myself stuck in the world in between and that there was no way for me to ever leave here. I would stay so long in my sleep paralysis that they would soon call it a coma.

As I panicked and begged him to help me, he just snarled angrily in my direction, yelled it was impossible to leave and went about his gardening.

I would have left to look for someone else to help me, but it quickly became clear that this world didn’t have many inhabitants or visitors.

With nobody else close by, I kept pestering Gerard, begging him for his help.

He rejected me time and time again, not wanting anything that I offered him. Simply because I had nothing to offer him. But somehow he let it slip that the only way I could leave was by the power of Mithrilian. And he so happened to own an important Mithrilian artifact, although it was stolen from him. And as I inquired more about it, I found out that he was missing a white crest that had been in his family’s possession for generations.

As he tried to get rid of me again, I finally peeked his interest when I proposed to help him find his crest if in return he would send me back.

His coal black eyes glittered and he twirled the tip of his beard around his finger as he studied me, gauging if I was indeed capable of helping him.

After that short inspection, he gave me a curt nod and motioned me to follow him into a shed that looked like it could collapse any minute.

He threw an old overall in my direction, barked I should get changed and hobbled towards his house again.

As I inspected the murky looking overall and wondered why I should put it on, I decided to humour the old man even though I looked ridiculous. So with my new, brown outfit on I made my way to Gerard’s house.

There I found him stuffing big chunks of cheese and torn maps into a big leather backpack as he grumbled about his garden. He would yell at me for standing there uselessly and throw an old piece of moldy bread against my head.

And after a lot of yammering and complaining, we would depart on an adventure. My very first adventure in this in between world.

We traveled over rocky mountains and dark forests. We explored deep caverns and wide prairies.

And all that we found was nothing. Nothing except for trouble.

We found Hagravens, creepy birdlike witches, that almost clawed our eyes out as we crossed their territory on the Mountain of Elder and we almost got eaten in the Forest of Pers by a hungry Manticore. One of the wildest beasts that have a taste for human flesh and like to you chase you with their lion-esque body.

In the deep Cave of Jewer we encountered a sleepless Golem, a giant heap of clay that came to life and tried to pulverise our bones and we were chased by a wild herd of Crocotta, ten times more vicious than hyenas, on the Prairie of Iopia.

But we made it through. How? You tell me. It was a miracle we escaped all of them.

Surprisingly enough, with every encounter of death, Gerard became even grumpier towards me. Luckily he didn’t just become grumpier, but also more caring. Well. A little bit more. He just didn’t show it very well.

After we scoured the land with our torn clothes and new scars we ultimately made it to our destination.

We finally found the Keeper of Treasures. And as we battled the Sphinx with burning eyes and his whiplike tail, Gerard tossed me a small, yellow stone and begged me to continue on while he held off the Keeper. And so I went off on my own find the stone of lightning to paralyse the great Sphinx. I jumped over rocks and crawled through the dust until I found the rotating stone of the Lightning Bird.

The small rock Gerard had thrown me, fit perfectly inside the lock and with great force, the stone turned and the Sphinx fell into a slumber that would last another hundred years.

Gerard would catch up with me, grumble that I was way too slow and we would head on to the center of the temple where his crest awaited us.

The treasure room was decorated with golden and silver patterns over the stone walls and was filled with all sorts of stolen treasures that could have made a king of old times look poor. But the only thing Gerard had an eye for was a small, wooden chest.

He snatched the leather pouch that he had been carrying from around his neck and with trembling hands, opened the lock with a minuscule, golden key.

Tears fell from his eyes as he touched the Mithrilian crest for the first time in years and with the gentlest touch I had ever seen from him, he carefully caressed the Mithrilian piece as if to make sure it was real.

He wiped his tears away with his knobbly hands and regained his normal, grumpy attitude.

‘ It is time for you to go now.’ he spoke to me, but I could hear from his voice that he much appreciated my help.

‘ How do I go?’

He touched my arm as gently as an old gnome could and placed his family crest on the ground.

‘ I will send you back now.’ And with those words, the Mithrilian glow lit up all the gold and silver in the room, blinding us with beauty.

‘ Wait. What if I want to return?’ I suddenly said, startling him.

Gerard chuckled for the first time since I met him and he pushed the golden key into my hands.

‘ If you ever want to come back, think about the Mithrilian glow and use this key to open the portal that appears.’

‘ Is it that simple?’ I asked.

He nodded as he knocked on the crest two times and turned it 90° to the left. ‘ It is that simple. Now off you go. It is about time you got back. You have been here too long already and you are getting on my nerves.’ he said affectionately, although he tried to hide it with his rough words.

So I hugged my new friend, bid him farewell and with the key tightly clasped in my hand, I stepped into the light.

And so I would wake up with a golden key in my hands and a blank mind. The clock reads 2:00 pm and my mouth would oddly taste like sand.

But all my adventures with Gerard were long forgotten from my mind. He knew that they would be instantly erased when I traveled back to my world.

All I would have to prove that I didn’t just go to sleep was the sleek key that would be hanging around my neck from then on.

The first couple of days, I would be looking for the lock that my key fit in, but with no luck of course.

But after searching and searching and never finding any lock that fit my key, I would give up on my search and go about my life. The key would be resting on my chest as a token to say yes to the unknown and new adventures because that way, I just might find out what that key opens.

Because of that, I will lead a happy and satisfied life with many adventures in this world as well.

Sometimes, when I go to sleep, my friend from the other world would visit me to see how I am doing, although that is something he would never admit to. Every time he visits, he leaves with a smug grin on his face as he browses through my memories and sees the new adventures I have experienced.

At the end of my life cycle, as I am ready to pass over to another new world, he will appear one last time to admit that the key around my neck doesn’t open a thing. He just gave it to me so I would keep believing in mystery and adventures and as he sees the life I have lived, he knows he succeeded.

All he ever wanted, was to keep me adventurous. And with that knowledge, I venture into the new world with a peaceful mind and an open heart.

So what kind of key would you find in your hand? Leave me a comment and if you enjoyed this, like and share with your friends!

Previously: Day 5. When a cookie doesn’t cheer you up

10 bad fortunes you never want to come true.

Next up: Day 7. The best jobs in this world require a degree from university or college

Trying to make bad advice sound good..

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