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Sloane Solomon is a beautiful, young college student who lives in the vibrant city of L.A. She first hears about ‘lucid dreaming’ from a friend, who intrigues her with descriptions of dreams so lifelike, so vivid, so unlike any she has ever had before. And when he explains how she can achieve them, by focusing on her hands when she suspects she may be dreaming, Sloane can’t wait to give it a go.
Sure enough, her first lucid experiment does not disappoint. She finds herself in a brilliant dream realm where every color is brighter, every sound sharper and every sensation more magical than any she has experienced in the waking world.
The dream, however, quickly turns into a horrific nightmare, when she is able to peek into her neighbor’s apartment. There, she is confronted by gruesome visions of a teenager being held captive in a shadowy, secret room. Chained, blindfolded and gagged, the girl kneels naked on a cold and uncarpeted floor. Seeping from the wounds and smarting from the bruises that litter her entire body.
Sloane’s friends try to convince her to forget the experience, after all it was ‘only a dream’. But because of the intense nature of her nightmare, Sloane is unable to put the disturbing images out of her mind. More terrifying dreams follow, all centered around her neighbor, Mr. Phillips, and the wretched creature he’s hiding in his tiny torture chamber.
To make matters worse, Sloane has begun to notice some very strange behavior from her mysterious neighbor. And a search on the internet reveals that the man she once thought of as sweet and amicable may have a few skeletons lurking in his closet.
Is she letting her imagination run away with her, or is it possible that her nightmares have some element of truth behind them? In her lucid state of heightened senses and raised consciousness, has she somehow stumbled upon details of horrors that are actually taking place in the real world?
So obsessed by the idea of exposing Phillips and rescuing the battered victim who haunts her dreams, Sloane hatches an extremely risky plot to uncover the truth. But the answers that await her could turn out to be the most frightening nightmare of all.
Until suddenly, a lasting, guttural gasp resonated throughout her entire body. And, all at once, Sloane understood what lucid dreaming was.
She found herself swimming in this…other-world. This hyper-reality of her own creation. Became instantly aware, so very aware, of every particle of her being.
She could almost hear the silence. Could almost taste her own tongue.
The soles of her feet tingling with the knowledge of every fiber of the carpet below. The hairs on her forearms rising to welcome the caress of the corridor’s stuffy air.
Don’t break the spell.
With baby steps, one foot in front of the other, she began toddling gingerly down the hall. Clinging to the evanescent dreamscape which hung, fragile, like a cobweb before her.
Don’t let it slip away.
Don’t let me wake…
If she tilted her head, at just the right angle, she could see into the dreary hollow.
Could make out the windowless walls. The unadorned floor.
The denizen within.
A female. Young. In her teens, perhaps. Kneeling naked on the tile.
Her arms stretching heavenward, like the stems of a scrawny weed that was desperate to reach the light of the sun. Her wrists held fast by a large-link chain that dangled from the ceiling.
There were bruises, vivid purple, that appeared to cover almost every inch of her haggard frame. There were jagged wounds blemishing her legs, her belly. The ribs that could be counted, one by one, as they jutted through her pallid flesh.
And there was blood. So very much of it. Some clotted amid the tangled thatch on her scalp. Some dribbling over the strips of duct tape that smothered her lips and eyes.
Even her nostrils were oozing it, as they struggled to draw breath. As her miserable body drooped there, chin slumped against an unclothed chest.
She was barely moving, barely hanging on. A fragile, wretched thing. A decrepit Barbie doll some kid brother had borrowed, and played with far too roughly. Returning it to the toy box, filthy and bedraggled. Missing handfuls of its once pretty hair.