Simon used to suffer from nightmares, appalling nightmares. So terrible that his mother would rush to calm him down. He would cling to her, a whimpering wreck, while she soothed his sweat-soaked hair.
In time Simon learnt to overcome his fear.
‘If I see terrible things then I’m dreaming and not in danger,’ he told himself.
‘If I appear to be in terrible danger then I’ll be dreaming,’ he told his brain, ‘and I’ll not be in danger at all.’
And it worked, … to a fashion.
The nightmares frightened him less and then became less nightmarish. Simon even got to be able to control the direction of his dreams, mostly, at least.
But the nightmares never quite went away, they always lurked in the shadows of his sleep. An ever-present threat to his slumbers. He tried to stop them from threatening to make an appearance, but they continued to do so every now and then. Simon decided that to guarantee they would stay away he would have to stop dreaming altogether. He found this an extremely difficult thing to do. No matter how he tried he always dreamed and the nightmares always skulked in the shadows. Everything he read said it was impossible not to dream.
But one night he did stop dreaming. Simon would have been delighted with his achievement, to have been able to tell the scientists that they were wrong, but he could do neither as the night he stopped dreaming was the night he fell asleep forever.