La Habitacion Blanca

Todo esto paso hace un tiempo, por lo que me disculpo por adelantado si estoy un poco confuso en los detalles. Yo era una persona muy diferente en ese entonces, por lo que es difícil desenterrarlo todo de esta manera.

Mirando hacia atrás, probablemente estaba deprimido de alguna manera. A primera vista, todo parecía ir bien en mi vida: tenía una esposa hermosa, un gran trabajo y una pequeña hija. Todos siempre me decían que tenía tanta suerte. Pero no estaba realmente feliz: en lo más profundo de mi ser, siempre había una sensación molesta de que algo no estaba bien, de que mi vida solo estaba sucediendo a mi alrededor mientras lo recorría en piloto automático. Era como si estuviera sobre raíles y simplemente pasaba por los movimientos todos los días, haciendo lo que se esperaba de mí y nunca siendo realmente yo mismo.

Por supuesto, es difícil cuando tienes una niña pequeña. De repente, nunca tienes un momento para ti mismo, y tu vida no es la tuya. No me malinterpretes, la amaba con todo mi corazón, pero a veces, en mis momentos más oscuros, me preguntaba qué habría sido de mi vida si hubiera tomado decisiones diferentes. Incluso pensaría en huir, aunque sabía que en realidad nunca lo haría. Era solo una noción que me entretenía de vez en cuando.

Llegué a esa etapa de la vida en la que todos tus amigos se están estableciendo y tienen hijos, y parece que tienes que reservar la hora con semanas de antelación solo para un par de copas o algo así. Como dije, tenía un buen trabajo, pero apenas estaba empezando a darme cuenta de que probablemente iba a ser mi carrera por el resto de mi vida laboral, y si realmente quisiera aprovechar al máximo eso tendría dejar de marcar el tiempo y comenzar a hacer un esfuerzo concertado, aunque mi corazón realmente no estaba en eso.

Así que supongo que estaba buscando algún tipo de refugio, un espacio en mi vida que fuera solo mío y propio, donde no tenía que fingir y que nadie dependiera en mí. Aunque creo que encontré una forma bastante extraña de hacerlo: Empecé a soñar lúcidamente.

Siempre me habían fascinado los sueños, desde que era un niño. Mis sueños siempre fueron increíblemente vívidos y parecían mucho más coherentes que los de la mayoría de las personas - parecían tener más sustancia de ellos, más realidad. Tal vez más de lo que mi vida real tenía en ese momento. Todavía puedo recordar mi primer sueño lúcido. Desearía poder describir adecuadamente lo que se sentía, esa repentina comprensión de que todo a mi alrededor era una ilusión y una ilusión que estaba totalmente bajo mi control. Literalmente fue como convertirse en un dios.

Después de esa primera vez, comencé a usar cada momento libre que tenía para leer sobre el tema. Métodos y técnicas para lograr sueños lúcidos, relatos de otras personas sobre sus propias aventuras en su mente subconsciente. Devoré todo lo que pude encontrar y rápidamente me convertí en un experto. Construí reinos enteros para mí mismo mientras dormía, y me retiraba allí cada noche, encontrando allí la libertad y la emoción que no existían en mi mundo despierto.

Fui el arquitecto de mi propia imaginación, y viajé a través de los confines del espacio y las profundidades más profundas del océano con la misma facilidad. Dirigí ejércitos, luché batallas épicas contra monstruos temibles y fundé naciones que me aclamaron como su rey. Comencé a vivir solo por las horas de oscuridad, en el momento en que mi cabeza golpeó mi almohada y pude dejar atrás mi vida cotidiana y entrar en una existencia que me sentía más verdaderamente mía. Ya no me importaba mi trabajo, me estaba yendo mejor con mi esposa y mi hija una vez más era la niña de mis ojos. Las cosas estaban bien. O eso parecía.

Poco a poco, sin embargo, un intruso comenzó a impactar en mi pequeño mundo perfecto. Al principio lo sentí más que verlo - una figura siempre en los bordes de las cosas, una presencia que me inquietaba y me intrigaba en igual medida. Al cabo de un rato comencé a vislumbrarlo. Lo vería por un segundo a través de un panel de la ventana sucia, o acelerando en un automóvil, solo por un momento, pero siempre me miraba directamente, y siempre sonreía con una sonrisa maníaca.

Era un hombre alto y desgarbado, siempre vestido de blanco, con ojos salvajes llenos de intenciones oscuras y un mechón de cabello negro que hacía que su rostro pálido, con grandes pómulos más intenso. Me inquietó profundamente. Cada vez que lo encontraba, arruinaba cualquier fantasía que estaba pensando, sin embargo, nunca podía acercarme a él ni confrontarlo directamente - a pesar de mis poderes ilimitados en el mundo de los sueños, siempre se me escapaba, y este hecho solo arruinaba cada sueño en que aparecía. Se convirtió en un recordatorio constante de la irrealidad de mi mundo de sueños, y me hizo consciente del hecho de que todo esto era simplemente una fantasía, una fantasía estúpida y sin sentido.

Y luego empecé a encontrarme con la Sala Blanca. Estaba en medio de un sueño fantástico, corriendo por una puerta en un antiguo castillo medieval o buceando por una escotilla en una nave espacial del tamaño de una ciudad, cuando de repente me encontré sumergiéndome en una habitación completamente blanca, sin rasgos distintivos, sin Puertas, sin ventanas y sin salida a donde yo había estado.

Y él estaría allí. El hombre desgarbado. Sonriéndome con su sonrisa torcida, antinatural, fijándose en mi rápidamente con sus ojos locos y malvados.

He didn’t speak at first. He’d just watch me as I pounded on the walls and explored every inch of the room looking for some means of escape. All my powers were gone – usually I would have just blasted my way out with the power of my mind, or created a trapdoor that would have got me out of there, but somehow no matter how hard I tried, there was nothing I could do. There was just me, and him. Standing there in the White Room for what seemed like hours at a time, until eventually morning would come round and I’d wake up, pale and shaking and bathed in a sheen of cold, clammy sweat.

This went on for months. Now, as soon as I fell asleep I was there, in the White Room, and I stayed there all night. I began to dread sleep as much as I had once loved it. I scoured through all the books and articles I had collected on lucid dreaming to see if anyone else had experienced something similar, but couldn’t find anything. It seemed I was totally alone. Just me and the gangly man, night after night, until I was afraid even to look at him.

Eventually, he began to talk to me. He’d wait until I’d given up in my dream and curled into a ball on the floor, then he’d slowly approach, crouch over me and begin to whisper in my ear in a low, calm voice. A slow, even whisper without tone or inflection. A whisper that would crawl into my ear like a snake and take up residence in my brain no matter how hard I tried to shut it out.

I won’t repeat the things he said. They were truly unspeakable. Terrible, evil things: what he was going to do to my wife, to my infant child. The agonies he would put them through, every tiny detail of the tortures he would inflict on them. All in that same careful, measured whisper, that same quiet tone that betrayed no emotion whatsoever. Hour after hour of this from the moment I fell asleep until the moment I woke up.

It sickened me: sickened my very soul. And it was all the worse because I knew this was part of my dream – on some level it was me thinking those awful, horrible things. His voice was my voice, and his whisper was really mine. It was like a cancer inside my head, eating away at me from the inside out like a worm in an apple. I could no longer look my wife in the eye, and I took no joy in seeing my daughter even though I loved her more than ever. Always the echoes of that terrible whisper would come back to me, and I would hear his voice silently in my ear throughout my entire waking life.

By this time I was at my wit’s end. I felt like a hollow shell of a man poised on the brink of insanity. I decided to take sleeping pills before bed, hoping to enter a deep and dreamless sleep with no sign of the gangly man and no more of his horrific whispering.

My plan backfired. I awoke unexpectedly in the middle of the night, my eyes blinking open and my mind instantly alert and totally awake. I sighed inwardly, lay there for a moment, and then decided to get myself a glass of water.

Except I couldn’t move. In reading about lucid dreaming, I’d heard of sleep paralysis before, but never experienced it. The reality was far worse than I’d ever imagined. I was trapped in my body, lying on my back and staring up at the ceiling, unable to move so much as a muscle no matter how hard I tried. I felt both strangely disconnected from my body because I was no longer in control of it, and utterly rooted to it in a way I never had before. I could feel every inch of my skin, each fibre of the bedclothes tangled around me, yet even if a spider were to slowly crawl across my eyeball there would be absolutely nothing I could do about it.

I was terrified. Sleep – even if it meant another visit to the dreaded White Room – would have been infinitely preferable to this. I don’t know how long I lay there, my mind whirling like a maelstrom while my body remained as immobile as stone. I was a prisoner in my own skin, as helpless and vulnerable as my own newborn baby. Eventually, slowly and deliberately, a shape loomed out of the darkness into my vision, creeping inexorably into my line of sight, a familiar shape: a shock of jet black hair framing a deathly white face, eyes wide and lurid mouth grinning…

The next thing I knew I woke up screaming, lashing out with my arms and legs and yelling at the top of my lungs. It took me a few moments to come back to myself and realize that I could move freely again, but by that time the damage had been done. My wife was standing by the side of the bed, clutching the bedclothes around her with a look of utter terror on her face. An ugly red welt was spreading across her cheek, and her eye was already swelling and closing up. She looked desperately scared and vulnerable. All I wanted to do to was hold her in my arms and protect her, but she flinched and backed away as I moved towards her.

I hadn’t meant to do it, but I’d caught her hard across the side of the face with my hand as I’d woken up. The last thing I ever wanted to do was to hurt her, but within an hour or so a black, brooding bruise had formed across her face and her eye was swollen shut. I felt more scared and guilty than ever.

We both took the day off work and talked about what had happened. She’d noticed that I’d been growing more distant over the last few months, but she’d put it down to the stress of the new baby. I wanted to tell her the truth, but how could I? Mentioning the White Room and the gangly man would just make me sound like a lunatic, and I couldn’t repeat to her any of the things that were whispered to me in my dreams.

I persuaded her that I’d just had a bad reaction to the sleeping pills, that I’d been having a hard time at work recently and hadn’t been getting enough rest. We spent the rest of the day just watching movies and playing with the kid – it was good to take a bit of a break and just do nothing for a change – but that night she insisted that I sleep in the spare room. I assured her I wasn’t going to take the sleeping meds again, but she was obviously still wary of me, and, given the angry-looking bruise on her cheek, I couldn’t say I blamed her.

That night as I lay there, alone in that empty, darkened room waiting for sleep to come, I thought through the events of the previous night. It must have been just a dream. Had to be. The alternative was just too outlandish to contemplate. I put it down to the sleeping pills. The gangly man had been on my mind, so when the sleep paralysis caused by the pills kicked in, it’s natural that if I was going to hallucinate, it would be him that I’d see. There was nothing more to it than that.

At least that’s what I told myself.

I don’t know when I finally drifted off to sleep. Part of me was dreading it, but I was mentally and physically exhausted, so it was inevitable that I’d eventually succumb.

My eyes flicked open again what felt like only seconds later, but I knew I must have been asleep for some time. I was almost expecting to see the stark, empty walls of the White Room around me, but instead the spare room was filled with the bleary half-light of an early morning, in the hours before dawn, before the day has properly begun.

Once again I was completely wide awake, as if a switch had suddenly been flipped in my brain. But this time my eyes roamed round the room seemingly at random, taking in every detail. To my huge relief, there was no sign of the gangly man anywhere.

I tried to get up, but to my dismay I found that I couldn’t. I willed myself to move, but nothing happened. The fear rose inside me again, the fear of being rooted to the spot for hours and hours once more.

Then my hand moved.

I felt it slide up from under the covers, then slowly push them back. Only it wasn’t me that was moving it. I tried to stop it, tried with every fibre of my being to put my hand back down, or force it out to the side – anything but let it continue what it was doing against my will.

But there was nothing I could do to influence it. Despite the fact I had directed the full force of my will against it, my muscles were not even tense – the hand moved easily, smoothly, and completely out of my control.

I sat up. Again, I played no part in the movement. I tried to scream, but nothing came out. My legs swung over the side of the bed onto the floor. If I had been a prisoner in my body before, now I was simply a passenger. I stood up. I felt my mouth twist into a grin, a wide, demonic grin that felt like it would split my face in two. I felt my tongue touch my teeth, the roof of my mouth, my lips – I could hear myself whispering, whispering in a low, hushed monotone. I recognized the voice immediately.

Despite the blind panic within me, I could do nothing as I walked calmly and quietly out of the room and down the hall, towards where my wife and daughter lay innocently sleeping.

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