Like any typical night, it was my second or third time waking up. Between my own bladder and that of a geriatric beagle, a “good night’s sleep” was judged by 2-3 hour blocks, not the recommended eight. This one was on me though, as the old girl lay snoring in her bed at the foot of our own.
The room was softly lit by the reflection of my nearly antique alarm clock’s digital display reflected in the mirror on the back of the closed bedroom door. A constant source of amusement to my wife, the old clock had been next to my bed for as long as I could remember, easily thirty years. Half the buttons didn’t work anymore, but it still kept time, still had a functional alarm and if nothing else I kept it for purely nostalgic reasons.
Trudging forward, eyes closed and still mostly asleep, I was struck across the forehead by something hard and solid. I stumbled backward, and caught myself, leaning forward so as not to fall into the bed post, resulting in a matching goose egg on the back of my head. Still seeing stars, I stumbled forward, and braced for the impact and resulting blood letting when I hit the mirror.
Except somehow, instead of hitting the hardwood floor of our bedroom, I landed on the plush carpet of the hallway. I lay prone on the floor for a moment, getting my bearings. I didn’t recall opening the door. In fact, I distinctly remembered seeing the alarm clock glow in the mirror getting closer as I took a header towards it.
Still feeling the urge of Nature’s call, I slowly got to my feet, shaking my head to clear the cobwebs. I reached to turn on the hallway light but then noticed a light was on in the living room. “Strange,” I thought, and made my way down the hall to turn it off.
Entering the room, I realized I wasn’t alone. Sitting in the recliner facing the doorway was a man in his mid-thirties eating a bowl of ice cream. He was dressed in dark blue pants, a yellow stripe down the side to black leather boots. On top he wore a white, long sleeved shirt with a black vest. Spooning another bite of ice cream from the bowl he looked up at me and grinned. I went to remove my glasses to rub my eyes, certain I was hallucinating.
Because HanSolo…. Han fucking Solo, was in my living room, in my recliner, eating my ice cream.
It was then I realized I wasn’t wearing my glasses, yet I could see him clear as day from across the room.
I looked back over my shoulder, expecting to see my unconscious self laying there on the floor bleeding from an open head wound. Instead, I saw a wall.
“I must be having one hell of a dream,” I said aloud.
“Nope,” Han said, standing and holstering his iconic blaster. “You’re having a reality.”
“A ‘reality’?” I asked, confused.
“A reality,” he affirmed, coming closer. “It’s simple, really. Things you think of on your side of the mirror are ‘dreams’, things your subconscious comes up with. To you, they’re not real. But here, your subconscious and all it can imagine are possible and very real.
“Doesn’t require corrective lenses. Your eyes are failing but your mind is still sharp.”
“So what you’re saying is if my mind can visualize something, it’s therefore real.”
“Here it is,” he said with a smile. And suddenly I realized we were no longer in my living room, but surrounded by shoppers at the local mall.
“Of all the places, why are we…” I paused, distracted by a loose tooth. “What are we doing here?”
“Don’t look at me,” Han shrugged. “It’s your brain, not mine.”
That loose tooth had wiggled free and fell out. I spit it into my hand, realizing several more were loose and falling out.
“What the hell man,” I said, another falling free and onto the floor.
“That’s your subconscious at work,” he replied, a knowing grin forming. “It’s just as real here as anything. Maybe it’s because you’re standing in a crowded shopping mall in your underwear?”
“Wha- oh SHIT!! “
“Hey, relax,” Han said, putting a reassuring hand on my shoulder. “Remember what I told you, if your brain can see it, it’s there.”
“So all I have to do is-“
“Picture yourself fully dressed,” he said, as though it were all very self evident and it wasn’t sinking in. Which, I suppose it wasn’t. Because no sooner had he introduced the thought, I was fully dressed in jean, t shirt and my old hiking shoes.
“I… wait, so if I were to think of replacing you with Leia in that outfit Jabba had her wearing she’d-“
“Watch it pal,” he said, pointing a stern finger in my face.
“Okay, sorry. Let’s say I wanted one of those,” I said, pointing to his blaster. He grinned in response. Looking down, there was a DL-44, just like his holstered on my hip.
“You have good taste, I’ll give you that,” he laughed, obviously forgiving my mention of his wife ( future wife? ) scantily clad.
My mind began to reel at the possibilities before me. I could go anywhere, do anything, talk to anyone, real or fictional, so long as my brain could conceive it. Sail around the horn with Jack Aubrey, order a whiskey at The Gem and then hunt velociraptors in Jurassic Park. I could ride a tauntaun!
I must have been speaking out loud ( or he could hear my thoughts, I never knew for sure ) because interrupted me as I formed a “to do” list.
“Yeah you may wanna re-think that last one,” he warned. “The really do smell bad on the outside. Ruined countless pairs of pants riding those things. Couldn’t get the smell out.”
“Not now,” I exclaimed with a laugh. “I have no idea what they smelled like to you, but to me they don’t stink at all!”
“You catch on fast kid,” he said, even though we were now about the same age.
“How does this work time-wise? How long do I have to do all this stuff before waking up?”
“How long do you think?” he said.
I thought a moment. “My experience is even during an hour long nap, a dream can span a day or more.”
“Then there you have it,” he said, as if it were so obvious all along. “If that’s what your mind says, then sure, a day here is only an hour in your sleep.”
“How do I wake up? Shit, I do get to wake up, right?”
“Of course,” the Corellian smuggler assured me. “Just go back the way you came. Through… a…” he said slowly, waiting for me to figure it out.
“Through a mirror,” I said. He held out his arms as if to say, “there you have it”.
My sudden excitement was dampened by a fleeting thought.
“Wait, is this a one time deal or do I get to come back?”
“Now that you know how, you can come and go as you please.”
“Holy shit,” I muttered. The entire universe, real or otherwise, was now at my disposal.
“What am I doing here then?” I said. “Man, I’ve got some exploring to do!”
“I was wondering that myself,” he said.
After adjusting the holster on my hip, I shook his hand. “I’ll see ya soon,” I said. “But I think I need a drink.”
The local shopping mall faded away, and we were surrounded by late 19th century Deadwood, South Dakota.
“Hey kid,” Han said, “You may want a different weapon here.”
“You’re right,” I replied, as I grabbed the reins and climbed into the saddle atop a strawberry scented tauntaun. As I did, a lightsaber suddenly dangled from my belt. “Good thinking!” The I turned and rode off down the dusty main street into town.
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” I heard him say as I rode away.