Dream the Impossible Dream

By Laura of Arolos

Harry could move any time he wanted to. He just didn't want to right now.

He wasn't sure how long he'd been asleep -- it felt like it had been forever. One of those sleeps that sometimes seemed to catch him when the week had been too long, when school had been too hard, and then he reached the weekend and never wanted to wake up. The good part though, was that he didn't have to. Weekends meant he could lie here like this, aware that he was asleep, aware that he could choose to sit up, stretch and open his eyes, and choose not to. He could just keep them closed, drift back off into dreamland, and no one would come up to yell about how late for school he was, or what chores he should be doing.

Such a good sleep.

Eventually, he knew, he would have to move. His stomach would start to rumble and he would have to seek out the kitchen, or pressure would grow on his bladder until he was forced to get up and pee, or maybe one of the others would come to drag him outside for a game of football. John was awful for that, but then John didn't seem to need more than five hours sleep a night before he was up and wanting to do stuff. Harry needed somewhat more -- even now he felt as though he could easily sleep another full night without a problem

Football sounded good actually. Maybe later there would be football. For now.. he would just sleep a little longer.

What woke him later was neither his stomach or his bladder, but his mouth. His mouth moving, shaping out words -- numbers -- and that motion was enough to startle him out of his sleep for a moment and make him realise where he was.

He was in a tank. The air was all foggy and wrong, but he was in a tank. There were people staring in -- he could just make them out through the thick mist, the shadow of their outline. He blinked, dazed and then horrified when he realised that no, no actually he couldn't move. He was attached to wires, and the wires were attached to -- to -- oh god, what was that?

He started to scream -- no, yell, because screaming was what girls did -- but already the exhaustion was sweeping over him. It was just a dream, that was all. He shut his eyes, unable to quite fight it. Only a dream. Things would be better in the morning.

Sleep quickly reclaimed him, drowning the panic in a wave of drowsiness. Soon it might be time to get up. Just doze a little longer.

The second time he woke himself, he was already screaming. His mouth was open, his body stiff as he yelled, almost shaking with the effort he put into the noise. It wasn't something he understood, or anything he could stop -- just something that his body needed to do, that it would do whether he liked it or not.

Again, the terrifying reality of the world swept over him. Not in bed, not at home at all -- how long had he been sleeping anyway? How long had he been trapped in that dream, never quite waking from it?

He recalled faintly a story he had been told once, back when his mother was still alive, about a man who slept on a hillside and woke to find a hundred years had passed by. But his hands, when he peered at them through the fog that filled the air, were still his hands. There were no wrinkles that he could see, no spots of age, so surely it couldn't have been that long?

He tried to move, and the fear swept over him again when he realised that he couldn't, that his body had long since stopped responding to his own commands. He was helpless, trapped here with the.. the thing. There was nothing he could do to escape.

Even in the brief instant he had to contemplate this, that would have been enough to bring many grown men to despair. There was one detail, though, that Harry could cling to for hope, one detail that made its way through the terror.

There had been people when he woke up before, people whose shape he had glimpsed through the fog, and the shape of them had been large enough that it seemed certain they must be adults. Adults didn't put up with things like this, adults didn't leave kids in trouble if they knew about it. If an adult knew that he was in there, it seemed certain that rescue was only a matter of time.

Already his eyelids were heavy again. Even knowing something was wrong it was difficult to fight away the urge to drift back off to sleep. His mind wanted to sleep. Even though it seemed impossible that he could be tired after this long with his body at rest, the exhaustion was overwhelming. It was over-powering, the need to stop struggling, to just release himself back into the dreams. All he had to do was let that happen, shut his eyes and rest. Just a little longer. He could sort things out later, when he woke up.

Or someone else would. The adults knew about it now. Wasn't that what they always told you to do when you were in trouble -- tell a grow-up, and let them sort it out? And somehow, they always did.

Trusting that, Harry sank back into a deep, deep sleep. It was a sleep he would not wake from, even when the 456 withdrew. He slumbered peacefully on as the pair of them were lifted back up onto the ship, transported back to the 456's own planet, back to where ten other children already resided, trapped in an unwaking dream as their essence was tapped and drawn away.