[On the border of Sleep and Death]

On the roof, the man tosses and turns, every muscle, every bone of his being aching. He drifts in and out of consciousness, only to see it is still night and trying to catch sleep again. His stolen blanket offers little comfort, and in distaste it is eventually cast aside. But even light of the coming dawn offers no solace for the bandaged figure huddling on cold concrete, for it only reminds him of how deeply tired he is, and paves way for a new cycle of sleep paralysis and nightmares.

Such a horrible feeling, to think for the tenth time that you have moved your hand, only to realize it has not budged an inch. To hear the sounds of the traffic below creep up the walls and surround you in a haunting cacophony, to hear the footsteps of foreign and hostile people circle you even when they are nowhere in sight.

But most frustrating through all the distorted noises, is the song. The song sung by nobody, echoing from nothingness and never ending. Many times, the man wishes to silence its voice, only to be reminded it does not exist in this world. He can not reach it from this side of the border.

Until he does.

On one of his futile attempts to find the source of the music, he tears a wound in the air. It must've been his twelfth, at least, but who is counting? Surprised, his spirits soars from his body, and is engulfed by darkness.

Once more, the man finds himself on the long road to nowhere. Dazed, he starts walking on the shining path again, the stones forming from nothing before him, and collapsing back nothing behind him.

He feels strangely light. Like nothing but pure consciousness, unweighed by matter either earthly or not. Just a passing thought that could easily get lost in the music.

But as he forgets himself while listening to dissonant whispers of the spheres, his foothold begins slipping. The pathway crumbles below him, and he starts falling. His heart freezes as panic settles in. Will he be just another soul lost on this arching pathway? Will he just eternally fall, fall, fall, untill only his scream exists to join this cacophony echoing through this ageless darkness?

On his lips, the answer forms itself: No.

He recalls the feel of lightness, the feel of soaring throught the skies. The feel of dreaming, of being in control of your body in a way you can not feel awake. And like that, his descent halts. The shining path forms under his feet again. And the song ceases to be a cacophony, becoming a beautiful tune guiding his steps towards the heaven.

But to take steps, one must have feet. So the man discards his weightlessness, to fashion a new body from the streams of dust roiling through the void. For it is not just empty - is is full of energy, sparking from nothing and collapsing back to nothing. But for a moment, the stream can be halted and made into something concrete. The man feels exalted by the currents of energy as they pass through him and give his naked soul a form once more.

In the distance, at the end of the arching pathway, he can see a glint of light, like Polaris shining high in the night sky. Gleaming molten-hot, for he has just been forged, the man sets his sights on it and begins walking.

---

Mikael blinks. Before him opens a scene, of valleys and forests and small villages, somehow familiar yet not. As if he'd been here once, long ago, as a child. Running fingers through his hair, he stares at this scenery in befuddlement while walking down the slope of a small, rocky hill.

Something is off. There is an ethereal quality to the world around. The sky is too blue, the sun too bright, the grass too green. It is all somehow unreal. Or maybe it is him who is unreal? It is hard to tell.

After some time of walking (How long?), Mikael stumbles upon a pond of rainwater. He looks down at his own reflection, puzzled at what he sees. There is no sign of his bandages. His uniform is likewise gone. Instead there is a young, sleepy man in black leather jacket, jeans and a blue shirt, like he maybe was a week or two ago. Mikael raises his hands to touch his face, surprised to feel the touch of his own skin.

He must be dreaming. There is no other way to explain any of this. His imagination is simply playing tricks on him again. Soon, he will return to his disheveled and miserable state on Earth, but why not enjoy it while it lasts? Delighted by his sense of freedom, he flies to the top of a nearby fir and looks around. Are there any other people in this strange dream-land, or is he alone? He lifts his hands to the sides of his mouth and shouts: "Hey! I'm here!"