Your head is throbbing dully, your vision is cloudy and blurred… you had been dreaming, but this doesn’t feel like a dream. And yet, it doesn’t feel like you’re fully awake either. A moan passes your lips as you slowly try to rouse yourself from your… wait, where’s your bed?
Your arms flail in the air as you try to push yourself up from a surface you’re not actually on. You feel oddly weightless: like you’re both falling through the air and being suspended from a rope at the same time. It takes you a while to realize that you’ve been sitting up this entire time, probably longer than it should’ve took you, to be frank. Groggily, you begin to suspect that maybe you’re not at home right now.
Your vision starts to clear, and the first thing you can think of is blue. Blue walls, blue floor, probably a blue ceiling too. Everything is blue. It’s almost too much. You groan and close your eyes, silently willing your brain to start making sense any minute now. You can feel dreamlike fog in your head lifting. You’re still not sure if you’re still dreaming, although you certainly hope you are. You tentatively open your eyes again and readily confirm that everything is still blue.
Closer inspection reveals that you’re in some kind of lounge. Every bit of furniture in the room is a finely crafted piece of black wood and blue velvet, your chair included. But the most important, eye-catching thing is your host.
The man sitting across from you is… unique, to say the least. The first thing you notice about him is his comically long nose, jutting out in the air for what must be a foot. His jutting forehead and bulbous, bloodshot eyes were just as disturbing and outrageous, and he bore a massive, cheshire cat grin that would make just about anyone feel uncomfortable. However, when he spoke, his voice was calm, smooth and gentle. “Ah, it seems that our next guest has arrived. And what an interesting guest at that.”
You open your mouth to speak, but nothing comes out. Any words that you try to form die in your throat. “Welcome,” the man continued speaking, utterly unconcerned. “To the Velvet Room. This room exists between dream and reality, mind and matter. Do not be alarmed, you are safe and asleep in your own world.” A pale blue glow suddenly emanated from the table between you and the stranger. “My name is Igor, and you have been selected to be our next guest. This room is available only to those who have signed a contract.” The blue light began to fade, revealing a sheet of paper and a royal blue fountain pen. “By signing this contract, you are merely promising that you shall walk a path that will lead you to true happiness, and that you will accept the responsibility of your actions as you do.”
Curiously, you lean forward and take a look at the contract before you.
I, the undersigned, hereby vow to act of my own will, to adhere to my own values and creed, and to accept the responsibility of my choices and actions in the pursuit of true happiness.
Before you can even think to quip at how deliciously vague this “contract” is, your hand starts to move for the pen to sign your name. You never agreed to this, and it feels like a violation of common sense to just sign any contract that passes your way, but something in the back of your mind is making the decision for you.
The scritch-scratching of the pen is the only sound now, Igor has gone silent. At the very least, it gives you time to think. What does true happiness even mean? It feels like an awfully subjective thing. If at all possible, maybe you should decide what it means to you while you sign your name.
True happiness is…
- To be able to be true to myself and be who I truly am.
- To enjoy the happiness and company of those important to me.
- To share my craft and feelings with the world.
- To crush my enemies, see them driven before me and hear the lamentations of the women.
And more importantly… what is your name?