Tony is a miserable guy. He hates his job, he hates his apartment, and if he had a girlfriend, he’d probably hate her too. He earns just enough to pay the bills, and when he saves up enough to do something special, there’s a new surcharge, or his car breaks down, or his pushbike needs a new tyre, or his boss cuts his hours…
Tony can’t even get any relief in sleep. He hates his life so much that he can’t stand going to bed. It makes the next day come sooner, and the next day always brings bad news.
Of course, the next day doesn’t really come sooner. It’s just a trick of the mind. When you have no external stimuli, there’s no real sense of time passing. Tony feels like he wakes up as soon as he falls asleep whether he sleeps for one hour or ten.
During one of Tony’s long, tedious nights spent procrastinating, he catches the end of a peculiar documentary about sleep. It talks about lucid dreaming and the way the mind interprets time through causal relations. It’s the sequence of events that gives the impression of time passing, and not the time passing itself. Time is only an illusion after all. The trick would be to trigger a lucid dream, then to consciously inject as many events into his dream as he could. He could theoretically slow time enough that it stopped altogether. All he needed was a trigger.
Repetitive motions tend to signal a dream state. A ball bouncing, or a carousel spinning; a ballerina performing a pirouette – these tend to mark the fact that you’re in a dream. For Tony, it was applause. It’s not the mere presence of these repetitive motions that marks a dream state though, it’s the fact that the motion can’t be stopped.
Tony lays his head down early for once. He’s going to have a long night. At some point during the night, he begins to dream. A man is holding him up at gunpoint. “Gimme your money!” It’s so cliche. Tony’s embarrassed that his subconscious can’t do better. He nearly misses his chance to take the reins. He nearly gets shot, which would bring around the morning and another day of work. In his dream he takes a bow. The gunman drops his weapon and starts to applaud. Stunned, the robber can’t stop clapping. Tony cups his hands and claps them over the assailant’s ears. The robber drops to the ground dead, but his hands are still clapping.
A pretty female onlooker sees how Tony saved the day. She starts to clap. She can’t stop. There’s terror in her eyes. Now in complete control Tony approaches her and with a single, swift karate chop aimed at her wrists, her hands drop off. Still clapping, her dismembered limbs flail about, manoeuvring down the street. He turns back to the woman and her hands have grown back. She’s wearing mittens now. Tony did that. With mittens on she won’t be able to clap. It suddenly becomes the middle of winter and Tony is standing on an icy lake.
The woman waves thankfully at Tony, as if she can’t speak. He jumps into the air with such force that the thick ice beneath him splinters. He propels himself just above the cloud layer and he looks down at a parched landscape.
Tony has to fill his dream with as many events as possible so that the morning won’t come. What will he invoke next? A demolition blast levels a nearby mountain. Tony flies towards it to investigate the many events that are bound to unfold.
Tony never wakes up again. He’s somewhere in a dimension where time stands still, where no one awakes the following morning, and the world around him has ceased to be. Tony found what he was looking for.