- AUTHOR: MulticoloredGypsy
- TITLE: Still Asleep
- CATEGORY: Drama, AU.
- RATING: PG-13
- SUMMARY: What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?
- AUTHOR’S NOTES: This piece of fan fiction argues with dreams and reality, how can you tell the difference? Is there a difference? This is also the dramatic end to my string of depressing angsty AUs. Call it my finale. Going out with a bang. And a long one, at that. I worked so hard to get this done before Reloaded.
What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?
– Morpheus, The Matrix
Where has my heart gone?
An uneven trade for the Real World.
Oh I want to go back to believing in everything and knowing nothing at all…
– Evanescence, “Field of Innocence”
Home Sweet Neb
Neo waited for Trinity to unplug him, wincing as the spike tapped against his head. The mental image was haunting – it’s impossible to see the back of your head, so Neo used his imagination to fill in the blanks. After all, it wouldn’t make anyone feel more comfortable if he came up to them and asked to see their plug.
He put his hands on the armrests to help push himself up out of the chair because he was worn and exhausted. Flying was greater than anything in the Matrix, but in the Real world it felt like he had just run the Boston Marathon.
‘A Marathon,’ Neo corrected himself. Boston didn’t exist anymore, therefore neither did the Boston Marathon. He had been living in the Matrix for so long, he had become so attached to it. It was obvious in his speech, often mentioning places and people that never even existed. Sometimes it made Trinity laugh, as they lay together, the rare treat in the form of a sound bouncing off the metal walls, ending with a tease of an echo.
Trinity…Her left hand came to rest on Neo’s shoulder, her right offering to help him up. Neo took her hand thankfully, in awe at how easily she pulled him up out of the chair. She looked so fragile, so delicate, yet she had such strength within her it was amazing.
“You alright, Neo?” She whispered softly, letting his body slump against her. She had never flown, never defied the system like Neo could, but she had been shot several times, she had been beaten, she had pushed her mind almost to the breaking point to escape from Agents, and it was exhausting once you were back in the Real world. Your body always paid a toll when it did something it wasn’t supposed to.
Neo grinned. “Yeah, I’m fine.” A pause. “I flew, you know?” Trinity nodded. Of course she saw him. Who could have missed Tank screaming ‘He’s the One! He’s the fucking One!’? They finally had something to believe in. There was finally hope for humanity.
Morpheus was there, offering to help when it was needed. A broad smile was on his face. His efforts had succeeded – he had put everyone’s lives on the line just to find Neo. They did lose many along the way, but they had found Neo. That was all that mattered now. Soon this will all end – they won’t be cold, won’t eat the same goop and won’t wear hand-me-down clothes. Instead of being on the run from sentinels, they will be living out their lives peacefully as heroes in Zion, maybe even on the surface one day.
Wake Up, Neo
He shifted in his sleep but moved nowhere. He had intentions of stretching his arm out, but he seemed un-attached from his body, like he had no control over anything but his thoughts, which were moving along slowly, like mud instead of water. He didn’t know how long he lay like this, unable to open his eyes even, wondering if Trinity was there beside him. And then he noticed a change.
The mattress beneath him was soft, not firm, the pillow was fluffy and comfortable, although the imprint of the back of his head could easily be recognized as a sign that he had been lying on it for too long. Far too long. How long? – He couldn’t tell. He had just fallen asleep, Trinity beside him, her body pressed against his, her body and his. But where was she now? It was dark, the lights weren’t on, where was Trinity?
It was impossible to keep track of time, and he did not know how long it took before his ears started to work, picking up a repetitive beeping sound, the same each time, never changing, never faltering.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
He must be in the infirmary, he thought. Something must have happened. Did they crash? Where were they? Definitely not hovering, as most hovercrafts tended to do, and he strained his ears, searching for that familiar hum of the engines, the one that soothed him to sleep when he woke up from nightmares, but it was nowhere to be found.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
There could only be one answer to where he was: Zion. Was he really that bad that they couldn’t take good enough care of him on the ship? They must have been close to Zion, lucky for him. Would he have been dead if otherwise?
Endless questions ran through his head, moving faster and faster. He tried to move again and again, but each time he failed, his hands resting heavily at his sides, and if only someone could lift the cinderblocks off his eyes so he could see where he was. His prayers were answered soon enough, but he soon found out he was not in Zion.
We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
With opened eyes came panic, and then a wave of exhaustion. It was such an effort to keep his eyes open, why was he so tired? His eyes darted around the room, his vision blurring in and out of focus like a home movie done by a small child who kept letting the camera slip – he let his eyelids fall again. In an attempt to fight the sudden nausea coming over him, he now had the ability to move his hands, and he reached out and grabbed at something – a railing? – it was cool metal and he could do nothing but hold on, hoping the fit would pass.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
He licked his lips, dry as the desert and painfully chapped. He opened his mouth to speak but no words came out, just air. Then suddenly the steady beeps sped up, became more erratic and varied. His anchor was overcome by waves beating down on him, tossing him like a feather, hid mind reeling.
Then he heard a creak, maybe a door, and the sound of footsteps pounded against his skull, threatening to crack it. He tossed his head to the side, trying to escape the loud noise, wishing he could go back to the quiet, humming of the Neb.
He felt a hand touch his neck, searching for his pulse, the other resting on his hand, which lay dead at his side. He knew merely from the touch that it was a woman. Unless he was dreaming, it could have only been Trinity. He could tell she was speaking, he heard something, but he couldn’t make out one word from the next, her sentences strung together, un-comprehendible except for the sense of alarm and surprise.
The hand on his neck moved to his face, gently thumbing back his eyelid to see if he was conscious at all. At this action, he jerked his head to the side, sending a pulse of energy down his spine and made him gasp, his eyes flying open as if it hurt to keep them closed any longer.
At once he caught Trinity’s eyes with his own, straining to stay focused on the one thing he needed to see the most, but her eyes were different somehow. They were no longer the eyes of his lover, but it was as if they belonged to someone else. Before he lost all his sight to exhaustion that threatened to take him at any moment, he forced out one word.
When he woke again, the sun was shining harsh against his closed lids, but he no longer felt quite as exhausted as he had before. Carefully, he opened his eyelids to a different room than he had been in before. Taking one look around he could tell it was a hospital. Everything was white, the floors, the ceilings, the blankets, and when he breathed the air tasted sterile with a hint of medicine. Then he heard the beeping, same as before.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
He inhaled deeply, letting the air out in a sigh. He lifted his hand and looked at it – it was shaking – and he brought it to his face. He felt hair – he had a beard? His eyes then drifted to the window next to the door. He could see two people in a heated discussion, one man and one woman. The woman was making dramatic hand gestures while the man stood still, nodding every moment or so. Then the woman turned the door handle and came inside. He relaxed when he saw who it was.
“Trinity,” He struggled to project his voice. Why did he sound so weak? “Trinity, what’s going on?”
Trinity did not show any signs of recognition on her face, it was as if she had never seen him before. He reached out for her hand, and she took it, seeing the fear on his face, hoping to ease whatever troubled him.
She held back from asking who Trinity was. She knew she should do her best to keep from confusing him any further. Who knew what went on inside of his head over all this time? He had been gone for such a long period there was hardly any hope that he would ever return.
It was obvious that the man was severely confused, so she knew she should try to ease him into the land of the living slowly.
“Does anything hurt?” She kept her grip on his hand. “Can I get you anything?”
He scanned her face once more and swallowed the lump in his throat, pushing aside the fear that someone had done something to Trinity, someone had led her to forget him.
“Like the Lotus Eaters…”
He muttered to himself, drawing Trinity’s attention away from the beeping machines. “What did you say?” He shrugged, pulling his hand free from her grasp. At once it dropped to the bed, but Trinity went on, not concerned nor hurt by him pulling away.
“Trinity, what’s going on? Where are we? What happened?”
She let out the breath she had been holding like a deflating balloon. “We’re in the Chicago Memorial Hospital, and you’re just waking up from three years of sleep.”
At once he went rigid, his eyes filling with even more worry. He tried to pull himself up into a sitting position, but a hand on his shoulder kept him in place. “Why are we here? What about the Neb? We should be in Zion – what happened to me?”
All the talking left him drained, and he relaxed a little, unwilling of course. Trinity raised an eyebrow, her lips pursed, her mind trying to plan what to say to the man that knew nothing about what was going on and was talking about un-known places. Maybe he was schizophrenic? No, they would have found out in his records. She planned her next words carefully, sifting through the files on the bedside table.
“You’re here because three years ago you were on the city bus when it swerved away from a car,” She read, “It crashed into the side of a building, and you have been in a coma ever since. I don’t know what Zion or the Neb are, but all I can tell you is you’re safe here.”
But he didn’t put much confidence in those words as he struggled even further, his eyes darting here and there, trying to orient himself with what was going on. “No, The Matrix, why am I still here? Have to get out.” It was then he noticed he could really see the world, not in code. He was The One, and there being no code was a terrifying thought. What was happening?
About to demand more questions of Trinity, he noticed a flaw, an imperfection, something Trinity would never do. She was wearing white – Trinity never wore white. Nor did she ever wear that expression of doubt and confusion, and looking into her eyes, he knew something was wrong. He saw Trinity shift from left foot to right, then back again, and she asked him a standard question she asked all of her patients.
“What’s your name?”
Of course, he was confused enough, calling her ‘Trinity’ and bringing up strange words and places, but she still felt somewhat disappointed when he answered with “Neo.” Studies proved that many people in comas don’t even dream at all, and wake up thinking no time had passed at all. The rest dreamed, and although the majority of these peoples dreams were absurd and fictional, some believed their dreams were their reality, and felt torn, when woken, between what to believe.
“Trinity.” He said desperately, reaching out for her. “What’s going on? Why is this happening to me?”
She looked on the verge of tears, roughly jerking her arm out of his reach, backing away to the door. “Please, don’t call me that. My name is Laura Bates, PhD. No one named Trinity works here.” And she left, only to return minutes later with a second doctor, but Thomas was fast asleep.
“It’s possible that his dreams had become his reality. It might have picked up right where his real life left off, reality passing the baton to imagination, even possibly insanity. It‘s too soon to know for sure.”
The voice rang familiar in Neo’s ears, and he struggled to name the man who dragged out his words when he spoke. He opened his eyes, relieved to find it was less of an effort than it had been before. Once his vision became clearer, he saw a man standing in the doorway, talking to someone in the hallway.
He licked his dry lips, clearing his throat, coughing once. The man at the doorway took notice of this action and turned around, grinning. “Look who’s decided to wake up again. Funny, how after three years asleep all you seem to need right now is sleep.”
Neo’s eyes grew wide, and his hand gripped the railing as if it could somehow save him, because there stood Agent Smith looking quite amused as he approached Neo in the bed. “Smith.” Neo said through clenched teeth, and the man looked quite surprised.
“How did you know? Dr. Bates must have mentioned me.” He took notice of Neo’s unchanged expression of fear, confusion and anger. “Trinity to you.” He added, a humorous tone in his voice. He walked closer to the bed; Neo’s expression of fear turned to terror as he struggled to get away from Smith. “Get away from me!” He shouted hoarsely.
“Mr. Anderson, there’s nothing to worry about.” His words were no comfort to Neo, who clenched his hand into a fist and, mustering all his strength, and sent it sailing into Smith’s cheek. Smith stumbled back, stunned by the blow, although it wasn’t at all that powerful. Neo’s hand fell to his side, pain coursing up his arm.
“Stay the fuck away from me.”
Smith cleared his throat, a hand coming up to his cheek, bright red. “Mr. Anderson, I am a doctor. I don’t know why you think I’m going to harm you.”
Neo knew something was going on. “You’re an Agent, that’s why.”
Smith chuckled to himself, bringing his hand down from his face. “I am a doctor, like I just said. Not an agent. Leave that for the C.I.A.” Neo showed no signs of understanding or forgiveness, and if he hadn’t been lying in a hospital bed he would have looked almost dangerous. Dr. Smith took the hint and left, and the next time a doctor came back inside, it was neither Trinity nor Smith, but a short, muscular woman with a large mole on her cheek. Each day Neo asked for Trinity, but she never came back.
Neo had lost track of time. Now he was able to walk on his own to the bathroom, and he assumed the Agents were planning something against him. An attack, possibly? They were always quiet, never revealing their intentions until it was too late to stop them.
One afternoon when he was brought his lunch, he slipped the knife beneath his blankets when the doctor wasn’t looking. He spent the rest of the day quiet, he spent the rest of the week quiet, doing so much thinking than anything else, and he was fine with that.
It had all been so real.
The Mind Makes It Real.
But what if his mind had been wrong?
Thomas Anderson stood at the edge of the hospital roof, watching cars drive by below. He knew any minute a guard or doctor or someone would be coming to bring him back to his room, so now was the time to act. His hands were covered in blood, but it was not his own.
It was the blood of Dr. A. Smith, who now lay dead in the room Thomas had been staying in, killed by the hands of a man who had fallen asleep and dreamed of things that had never happened. Well, they had happened in his mind, but not for real. His mind was his paradise where the Devil was the president, twisting the truth to something horrible, something like one giant mindfuck.
Humans were not slaves to machines, there was no programmed reality, no Zion.
Neo took a few steps back from the edge; He wished he could convince himself that there was still The Matrix, but deep in a corner of his mind, he knew he would never make it to the other building, and as he ran to the edge he knew the road would not catch him as it had done in the jump program.