Bogleech.com's 2017 Horror Write-off:
The Space Between
Submitted by saint salt
You don't need to dream to get to where you're going, but most travelers do. It's not a prerequisite, tripping out on brain-juice and spitting up a nonsensical spot of cauldron-bubble from bits and pieces of your waking hours, but it certainly helps to disorient you. And disoriented you will be if you want to get there.
You do want to get there, yes?
Yes, naturally. I thought so. I never told you the name of the place, did I? It is called the Space Between.
The locals, of course, the locals. Kind folk, they are.
Before you go to sleep tonight, you must ensure that everyone in your home - every creature, human or otherwise - is also unconscious for the evening.
No, the locals don't have to be asleep. God forbid they get into your house, but if they did, they would need to be. In a normal scenario, you will only need to make sure of the slumber of those there when you plan to enter. Cats, dogs, brothers.... You understand the idea. They must be laid to rest, heads on pillows, gathering energy for the next day, for if you are seen by a waking creature while in the Space, they will be forcefully dragged in with you, and then the two of you will be well and truly stuck.
Once that is done, you will go to sleep, and you will force yourself to dream. There are a number of ways to do this. Salvia and peyote are the easiest, but even these can prove difficult to obtain or rationalize to concerned roommates. Sometimes, just doing something unique or notable the day prior - learning something new, trying something for the first time...
But an injury or a sickness is best. Injuries lead to useful troubled dreams, the glaring drawback being one's panic upon awakening. Fever dreams are fantastic for this purpose, perhaps even the most effective and consistent means. Unfortunately, as I am quite sure you're aware, flu symptoms are never particularly appealing, and being ill in the Space Between is an invitation for trouble.
What did you say you did for a living, dear? I'm afraid I've forgotten.
A lady of science, yes, I remember now. A biologist, right, right. Fascinating field. Unfortunately there's precious little to speak of it in what we're trying to accomplish here.
But I digress. Whatever your method, you should awaken afterwards in the dead of night. This is why the dreaming is recommended. How often do you simply cease to be asleep halfway through the night?
Oh, really? We have a restless sleeper here. That's even better. But in any case, even yours, it is always easier to use the mind's conjuring-time as a springboard to the Space Between than to leave your hazey awakening to chance.
Yes, it must be chance. An alarm would never work. Too much certainty, too much corporeality in an alarm. If you are startled awake by a noise or a movement, the effect dissolves instantaneously. When you rise from your sleep, you see, you must know nothing of the time. A cloudy guess is fine. But anything more than that will shatter the connection to the Space Between. Don't think too hard about it. You are, after all, between, by this point.
In the Space, barely anything is real. The world outside the door of your home is effectively a non-option. A glance outside should prove as such, but do not look too long. The moon's position in the sky will signify which hour of the night you've detached yourself from, and her glow will draw your eye sooner or later.
You are safe inside your walls, but the Space is not uninhabited. Yes, yes, the locals. That's who I meant. They're fragile things, bent twigs, really, but I've seen their chalky, cloven hands craft the finest daggers, the most exquisite cataracts, and the wildest extravaganzas of sweet, sweet amphetamines. Sometimes you can see them outside, grinding chemicals, chopping wood, letting their glassy, sinuous bodies soak in the bright glow of the eternal moon..... but don't be transfixed. You may catch a reflection of the heavens'natural timekeeper in the thick grease coating their crumpled, amaranthine skin, and then you wouldn't see the locals at all.
The hardest part of staying in the Space Between is avoiding knowledge of the time. Catching a clock out of the corner of your eye, seeing just one number on a digital watch, or trying to piece together how long you slept for will all sever the link. This is because you are outside time itself. You have osmosed into the infinite area between the physical and the dreaming. Time passes oddly in dreams. You can take a catnap for just twenty minutes, but end up in a nightmare that feels as if it lasts for hours. The Space Between is like that. Time will fail to pass as long as you are alone and remain unaware of what time it was when you woke. That is the principal reason people of all walks of life visit the Space. You can be as productive - or unproductive - as you like for an unlimited time as long as you are careful. What did you say?
What do you mean?
I'm not sure I understand.
Well, yes, of course you can technically leave. It is possible for you to exit your house and go out into the world of the Space. I wouldn't advise it - more clocks, better view of the moon, people of the waking world, and plus, man-made tools tend to offend the locals'sensibilities - but I suppose you could. You're still hung up on that?
Yes, objects stay the same too. If your tools are next to your bed in waking-time, they'll be next to your bed in the Space Between. I think what you're not grasping is that the Space isn't in your head. You still exist, on Earth, but on a different plane, in-between seconds. No, the locals don't mind. Don't pay so much attention to the locals.
My dear girl, I'm afraid you've lost me. They're lovely creatures, but there are far more interesting uses for the Space. Did you know that you can still access the Internet? Provided you don't let your eyes wander to the time in the corner, it's perfectly serviceable. It's a good idea to put some tape over the edge of the screen so that you can't....
Open that back up again. No, don't hide it. What's in the box? Are those your tools?
Do not bring scalpels to the Space Between. The locals will not take kindly that you wield items not created by their kind.
Don't let the locals see this box, my God. Scalpels and hammers and magnifying glasses. What are these bottles? Clonidine? Midazolam? Chloroform? Are you quite mad?
You're dead-set. They've done nothing to you. Why would you even consider such unnecessary violence?
Miss, I'm afraid. I don't think you are quite ready for the environment of the Space Between. It requires a respect for the surroundings, an understanding of your nature as a visitor.
No, I suppose you wouldn't care, would you?