💎 Requiem for a dream? - Vice

The Desert Storm continued to rage, glaring out my eyes -- a hot flash distorting my surroundings until all that remained was a vast white plain of pain. At this point, the despair was absolute; I had come to accept my end, sure that the beast would finally consume me. The pain of my dismembering flesh had begun to subside from the shock, and the only remnant for me to acknowledge was a faint ringing in my ear. A ringing that rivaled the insufferable oscillations that follow the whip of a gun as it cracks just left of your ear... Or maybe it was closer to the incessant clap of an eagle's wing flapping against the wind? No, it's heavier than that, yet more pristine. No, this was the sound of metal slicing through the wind, reaping like Grimm scythe through scorching sands.

A concentrated dot of darkness tainted the center of the light and began to seep out, expanding. My surroundings grew clear as the tiki torches re-ignited in my eye. The grainy whirlwind was now hurled to the edges of my horizon. With every second, the once tumultuous sound above transposed into a triumphant song of salvation. I looked up to see a rope ladder suspended from the clouds above. I did what anyone would do in my position: jump and ascend to the metallic falcon veiled in the skies.

I would love to lie and say I was set on a journey into an uncharted land. Love to say that I was headed into the arms of a party whose intentions were unclear. But this is my dream world, or at least the repetitious cycle of night terrors I've had for years. This dream we were flying into was one I knew better than the back of my hand. I don't remember exactly when it started; it was around the time I began beating my stomach until my skin split, and I would heave out my inner linings. Also, around the time, vague lines of a six-pack began to emerge; basically, I was no older than 9 and had no business understanding of the meanings of this nightmare doused in the colors of a beautiful fantasy. But alas, this is the consequence of my dark, twisted reality. As I was finally reeled into the chopper, I didn't know what to feel. All I knew was I was headed home; I was on my way to the illustrious Playboy Mansion (well, the Playboy Mansion that my blighted, jovial brain manifested).

A blissful air cleansed my pains and fears the second we touched down on my island in the sky. As soon as I caught a glimpse of the sapphire embrace of agave rivers flowing behind the gracious marble stairs (cool to the feet) and running vivaciously into the meticulously manicured gardens where fragrant blooms whispered ancient tales carried on the breeze, Olive trees, guardians of history, stand proud amidst the lush greenery, their silvery leaves shimmering in the gentle caress of sunlight -- a calm set over my mind. Simply, all I could feel as I walked up to the grandiose pillars that held up the hailing balcony above was the lackadaisical essence of laissez-faire seeping through my veins. At last, I was "safe."

Once I reach the top of my personal stairway to heaven, I take a second to gaze upon a testament to timeless opulence—the post-modern Greco mansion. Its elegant facade, adorned with Doric columns and intricate friezes, pays homage to ancient Greece while seamlessly blending with contemporary design. Its pristine white walls are a canvas for the dance of shadows and light. One of the gorgeous residents greets you as she unveils a harmonious fusion of modern lines and classical elements; the architecture beckons with promises of luxury and sophistication. Glimpses of azure pools and cascading water features invite exploration, each corner revealing a new facet of indulgence. Upon entering, the grand foyer mesmerizes with its soaring ceilings adorned with intricate frescoes that tell stories of myth and conquest. A sweeping staircase, fashioned from the finest marble, curves gracefully, inviting ascent to realms of untold grandeur.

Rooms adorned in lavish furnishings and sumptuous fabrics exude an air of refined decadence. Sunlight streams through floor-to-ceiling windows, illuminating the space with a golden glow and casting enchanting patterns upon polished floors. Everywhere, a fusion of ancient motifs and modern comforts creates an alluring and comforting ambiance.

But nothing in this mansion could rival the raw beauty of its residents. I would take the time to describe their angelic presence that bore life into this fantasy, But it would be futile. I can only help you understand these seraphine personalities by instructing you to take a moment and imagine your dream partner. Not your ideal partner, not who you would settle for, but go all the way back to when you were a wee-little tyke and remember THE Dream Partner. The person you would run under the sunset with, the person who released a school of butterflies in your stomach. Imagine that person, remember those feelings, and then perfect them with your present mind, not just in figure but also in mind and character. That's what it was like, except it was a cast of 50 Beautiful, diverse, educated, esteemed, awe-inspiring women. You could tell they had all gone through different walks of life and were accustomed to vastly different cultures and upbringings. Yet, nevertheless, every time I returned to Playboy Mansion South (as I like to call it), these women were all the epitome of perfection, and I was still a little ol' me.

Genuinely, there are dozens of stories that occurred in this specific fantasy. It was one of those "choose your own adventure" dreams, and plenty of tales reflect different eras of my life. Still, the ending is essential for our story today.

At some point, no matter the context of the dream, I woke up sprawled out in bed with one of the girls. I sneak out of bed so as not to wake her from her rest and walk into the kitchen. It's right before dawn, maybe 5 or 6 when you can subtly catch a glimpse of the sun breaking into the horizon. That time of the day when the sun illuminates just the edge of the world. A slender line of warm aurora lights escaping into sight. But not enough to actually notice in the day-to-day. What I did observe was my reflection in the glass stove-top, laughing at me. Mocking at me with a heinous, scarcely yellow grin -- an off-white malicious smirk. Enraged, I wipe away the reflection with the flat of my hand, and immediately, the smell of burnt flesh erupts in my nose. I look down to see my distorted skin melting into the red-hot surface. Tiny bubbles formed, a haunting testament to the agony endured.

Each bubble, a fragile reservoir, quivered upon the reddened surface, hinting at the excruciating pain beneath. It was as if nature herself rebelled against this inflicted turmoil, attempting to shield and heal, yet the damage was etched deeply. And despite my physical form being detached from its remains, I felt every ounce of that rebellion.
Instinctively, I grabbed the excellent blade of a knife to cool the searing pain in my hand. At the same time, I caught a glimpse of my reflection, yet again mocking me in the window. I can never tell if it's the pain of the knight slicing through my tormented hand or my disdain for the man in the mirror. Still, I plunged the handle into the pane, shattering the glass as the fragments glistened into my skin and finally delivered me into solace.

I jump out the window and run.

Because that's the thing. When you're stuck on cloud 9 for too long, that constant pristine perfection becomes an insistent reflection of everything you should be. "The cracks in Mr. Perfect" begin to sheer through the diamond, expanding like a fissure corrupting with plumes of tainted sands and impurities. Dissipating the divine dream and replacing it with an infernal sandstorm melting into an infuriated gale of mirrors depicting every flaw in your being that you attempted to veil from this perfect utopia. But now, you're stuck. Running from the truth, trying to catch up to lovely angels surrounding you. Praying to be embraced again by their seraphic embrace.

But that's the thing. When the world around you is seamless. You're stuck running to cover your every stitch, the hideous patchwork tirelessly containing the rampant skeletons within. You run until the pure pressure of their diamond presence forces you to sink through the clouds, forcing you to descend to the depths you came from.

But as you fall through the clouds. There's a redeeming shimmer of red that streaks behind you. It's that tiny glisten you hold on to. Hoping this time things can be different. As you restart the ravaging cycle, yet again

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