We were like a tribe, united by a Discord chat. And then we started having dreams about each other.
Warning: this story contains mentions of child death, pregnancy loss, and a description of a school shooting
I believed in coincidence. I believed when it rains it pours. And I believed in having a community.
But I should start with some context. I should start by saying I’m the founder of a Discord server – an online chat room – for people who like to mod the game Dawn of Man. There aren’t many of us who do that – it’s not a very popular game. There are exactly thirty of us on the chat server, and we’re all kooks, from wherever in the world, who just so happen to enjoy playing with the game files of a fairly simple prehistoric village simulator.
Anyway, that bit’s not important. What’s important is that we became close.
Eventually… A little too close.
Get a bunch of oddballs together who start off with a common interest to talk about – an ongoing passion as an ice-breaker – and you end up with a group of friends. Our own little tribe. It started with sharing game mods and having speed-play challenges. Then we heard more and more of what was going on in each other’s lives. We got invested, helping each other with job applications, finding a new place to rent, lending an ear when needed… you know, friend things.
Toss in a pandemic, people stuck in their homes, and online friends become rather closer.
It didn’t matter that Rice is Nice was an eighteen hour plane trip away from me, that Dad-Mod was thirty years older than most of us, that King of Cheese was still in high school, or that English was PieTie’s third language. We had a common interest, and we came to care about each other.
I don’t think that was our downfall. But…
I’ll start at the beginning.
@RoniLou Any chance you got a thing for raven-haired beauties with soulful dark eyes and wicked cheekbones??? 😂😂
wouldn’t turn it down! Why??
Had this mad dream last night. You met this beauty goin for a jog and had a very socially-distanced conversation (good on ya!) that ended in her giving you her number 😁🌹
Damn, your dream life about me is sexier than my real life!
I can hope though!
Lockdown has been hard on my dating prowess.
Aw! You’ll meet someone wonderful soon! I just know it!
We all knew about Roni’s troubles in love. A while back, her girlfriend of eight years had broken up with her. Too much familiarity breeds resentment, we supposed. Being stuck together, week after week, working from home in the same one-room apartment, is an environment that does tend to fester with snarky feelings.
It wasn’t just lockdown that was the problem. That breakup, and the downhill slide of the relationship for the weeks before it, had trashed Roni’s confidence.
Which was part of why, when, five days later, Roni popped back on the Discord chat with her exciting news, we were more than stunned.
While they were both out jogging, Roni had just happened to meet a raven-haired beauty. This beauty had soulful dark eyes and wicked cheekbones.
I’m sure you can guess why else we were stunned.
King of Cheese
@Mona – any chance ya psychic?
Mona @King of Cheese
Man I hope so! I dang well need those lottery numbers! My car won’t fix itself psychic powers!
Teddy Bear Armistice @RoniLou
And she lives just one street over? 😏😁🤣🤗
Funny you’ve never seen her before!!!!
You’re definitely psychic Mona!!! 🤣❤🧡💛💚💙💜🤎
RoniLou @Teddy Bear Armistice
Honestly, it’s my first time going for a jog in ages.
Been on my lazy ass for months
So I’ll thank you for that, Mona! Needed that kick out the door!
Reckon this is the universe rewarding me for finally getting out of my Deep Pit of Despair
Rice is Nice @RoniLou
Wish my house mate would make that connection. I swear he hasn’t gone anywhere but his room and the kitchen for weeks now. And he wonders why no one will go out with him. Don’t think he even uses the bathroom most days.
Rice is Nice @RoniLou
Congrats!!! What a coincidence! Glad you’ve found someone who deserves you!
CompMeForRats @Rice is Nice
Girl, your roommate’s an incel. You’ve got to watch out for him
Also – ew
Rice is Nice @CompMeForRats
Lol! He’s not that bad!
Geralt’s Mom @Rice is Nice
You just haven’t seen the piss bottles yet
@RoniLou you better ask her out! Let us know when you’ve called her!!!
@PieTie what i’m doing is not asking. i think its a good way to go.
For anyone wondering, I’m Geralt’s Mom. Don’t ask why. It’s a long story.
The conversation moved on to hearing about Dad-Mod’s new house. It had been a tough journey to get it, and it had been a compromise house for financial reasons.
Needless to say, though we enjoyed the fun coincidence, we didn’t think too much of Mona’s dream. Mostly, we just used it to make psychic jokes at her expense.
But a few days later, PieTie had a dream. In it, he saw Mona’s car breaking down.
And the very next day, on the side of a highway, Mona’s car did break down.
If any charlatan wanted to pretend to be a psychic, picking on Mona’s car would be an easy catch. Mona’s car had been on the verge of breaking down for months now. The Breaking Car Saga had been a long one we’d all heard much about. It was inevitable.
That was the first stirring of discord on our… well, Discord. Call it group dynamics. Maybe argue it’s westerners turning on the foreigner. One person private messaging a group of us, querying whether PieTie had made it all up just to garner some kind of psychic points, was all it took. The suspicion started.
But it didn’t last.
Wisp of Breath
Anyone @here lose a ring? Like a gold one with a big green stone?
King of Cheese @Wisp of Breath
I wish. Sounds pricy!
why do you ask? @Wisp of Breath
Wisp of Breath
Probably nothing really. Just a weird dream I had. One of you guys finding it.
Anyway. What ya’ll been up to? Sorry I haven’t been on a while!
Probably trite to say. But working in a Covid ward’s shit
I’ll bet! You doin ok?
Nothin big! But I made a super easy version of Dawn
If ya want an easy way to design your village
Don’t think I’ll put it on Steam. Too similar to Flatlands
A day later, Yinger came online.
Yinger @Wisp of Breath
I’ve got a ring like that.
Geralt’s Mum @Yinger
Did you lose it?
Yeah I did. Ages ago. It was an heirloom from my nanna.
I thought I maybe left it at my old place
But it’s been like 12 years now
The intrigue started then. It was just too much of a coincidence. Mona’s prediction followed by PieTie’s we could put down to coincidence. But to add this one, only a week later…Now we were curious.
And we became more so when Wisp of Breath popped back on during a break in her shift.
Wisp of Breath @Yinger
Lol – well, according to my dream it’s in the bottom drawer of some shoe thing.
And if it is actually there I’m gonna… I donno. @Mona did the lottery work out?
Car still broke
a shoe thing?
What do you mean?
Wisp of Breath
Like one of those shoe cupboards. Smart storage modern things – like you can pull each drawer out and your shoes are propped in there. It was…
um… grey and like a light yellow?
I’ve got one of those
Yinger went to go look. The chat filled with half-hearted jokes about predictions as we waited for them to return. Because, I think, a good part of all of us watching this unfold thought, just maybe, there was something to these dreams.
Just to preface it: Yinger lives in Ireland. And Wisp of Breath is American. They do not know each other outside our Discord chat. They’ve never met. Wisp of Breath has never even been to Ireland.
You’re joking right?
I dunno what to tell ya guys
It was there
And they sent a picture of it. A golden ring with a large green stone. It looked old, and, according to Yinger, had been stuck down in the bottom of a low drawer of their shoe storage thingie.
That was the excitement phase of this story. I told everyone: my family, my work colleagues. All about this crazy happenstance.
We’re having predictive dreams about each other!
Everyone I told about it either spared only a second to say that was weird, or raised sceptical arguments against it.
But they weren’t in our Discord chat. They didn’t see.
It was only us, the thirty people on this chat, that knew it. It drew us closer.
Anyone had any dreams about when my partner will propose?
Or, a day later:
Yo – I lost my keys. Anyone dreamed where?
Ffin baby brain.
The messages sound mocking, but we did start developing a certain bond over it. We, the thirty, knew about these dreams. I loved to see it. I’d created this Discord chat, invited all of the people who were on it. And I got an excited thrill seeing us have something special together like this.
People were online more as a result too, wanting to be there to see it when the next dream would happen. To see what it said and whether it was about them.
They only had to wait a couple days.
You’ve got the job mate!
you dreamed it??
The GOOD one! The one where you get to just play computer games all day 🤣😁
It was fantastic news for Adreno. He’d been out of work for months, and he’d pinned every hope on that job. When it came true a week later we showered him in congrats.
But it was a bit underwhelming as predictions went.
The next was less of an obvious prediction.
Dude, you’ve gotta back up your computer like now
You’re gonna get a crypto-locker on it
So strong had our belief in these dreams grown that Build-a-Clown ran out right then and there to buy an external hard drive and back up his entire computer. It was a prediction that paid off: Build-a-Clown came online four days later, on his mobile, to tell us his computer was locked-up toast. He couldn’t really afford a new one, but at least all his stuff was safe.
It was only after the next dream that we thought to ask what turned out to be a pretty important question.
I had a dream about a little girl getting lost…
Geralt’s Mom @Dikki
@OpaOmega has a little girl…
@OpaOmega is your daughter blonde? Has a tinkerbell shirt?
King of Cheese
Teddy Bear Armistice
@Dikki Please tell me she finds her!!!
I’m not sure. But I can help find where – I can describe where I saw her. It was in an alley beside a shop
Oh my god!!
Tell me where!
That one worked out well. Dikki was able to describe exactly where she’d seen OpaOmega’s daughter, and when the little girl ran off in a store a couple days later, Omega was able to find her quickly.
For that one, we’d been on tenterhooks for those two days, waiting to hear that the dream had come true, and that it had ended well. And we breathed a huge sigh of relief when Omega, gushing with thanks, jumped online to tell us.
Which was when Ferd the V asked that question:
Ferd the V
So we’re seeing what each other look like too?
We knew a lot about each other’s lives. But we only knew each other by usernames and whatever weird image we’d selected for our profile pictures. None of us had seen each other in person.
Yet Mona was able to describe RoniLou as average height, rather large-chested, with a penchant for flared jeans and black boots. PieTie got Mona spot on, with curly black hair, a big grin, and a gap between her front teeth. Wisp of Breath described Yinger to a T, and RonRoundhouse had Build-a-Clown down to the shape of his glasses.
Perhaps it shouldn’t have been surprising, seeing as those who’d had the dreams were already able to describe everything else. But it sunk that extra level of what the hell is going on here? into our chests.
We weren’t just predicting things. We were able to see people we’d never met before in our dreams.
It made the whole thing much more real. Much more astounding.
And it brought us even closer. There was something insane here that meant we were supernaturally connected – that we could help each other in ways no one else was be able to. It wasn’t just answering questions about what was best to put on a resume, or looking through local schools to help OpaOmega find a good one. Not any longer.
For a while, the dreams were mostly good. Dad-Mod let FicPhysics know he was going to get a stellar grade on his latest university assignment, Build-a-Clown told Rinindal that the welder she’d been waiting on would do a great job fixing her broken vintage chair, Mart told AchuchuTrain his adoption was going to come through soon, and Colour me Faun’s dream gave Jango a way to find the owner of the lost homing pigeon they’d been looking after.
And when it wasn’t good, at least we could be forewarned. Under This was warned he’d get accused of stealing by a co-worker, and RonRoundhouse was able to fix it before his bosses noticed he’d misquoted an estimate for a customer by 1.2 million dollars. RonRoundhouse worked for a computing solutions leasing company, and their customers were banks and large companies. That was a big deal.
Back then, PieTie’s was chalked up as the worst. He was warned by Roni that his cat – a beautiful nebelung – was going to be mauled by a local dog. PieTie did all he could to keep the cat in, hoping to avoid it. But his cat was crafty. She found a way out through an attic window left open only a tiny gap. We started a pool to help PieTie afford the bills. We tried to be optimistic she’d recover. But, as hard as we hoped, we had to be there for PieTie a week later when his precious girl was put down. Honestly, I cried hearing that news. I’d put in $300 dollars, hoping to save her.
PieTie changed his username to Lingy – the name of his cat, may she rest in peace.
Maybe it reflects poorly on me, but even despite that, I was eager every day to get online. My mind was stuck on our little community of thirty. I’d wake up, and jump onto the Discord chat. I’d check it repeatedly through my work-from-home days. And, if ever I wasn’t on my computer, I followed the chat on my phone.
It was my chat group. In a way, I felt responsible for all this. I’d started it. And, frankly, I found it all so cool – except for Lingy.
And I wasn’t alone. The list of people online was always long during those days. We all wanted to know. We all wanted to help each other however we could. It was how the internet could be your village: all of us so deeply connected and there for each other. In a way no one outside our group understood.
But, looking back, I suppose the hints were there that it would all go sour. It started so well – mostly good news. The bad news began to drift in only slowly, but it started to outweigh the good.
And then, one day, Babruska came online with a dream. And that was when it all began to change.
Guys, someone here needs to check their basement. There’s something down there
Geralt’s Mom @Babruska
What’d you dream??
Well, the hot water tank is leaking. But…
I dunno. It was like… Like there’s something down there
in the basement
Tokkie the Dog
@Babruska what do you mean?
I can’t really tell you. It was just a sense… something was watching
I don’t know what
But something’s there
And then, five hours later:
just checked. my water tank is leaking
We knew Dad-Mod’s new house had a basement.
Though the responses poured in, telling Dad-Mod to be careful, to get out of the house, or looking for confirmation he was all right, Dad-Mod didn’t respond for another hour.
When he did, he said there was nothing down there. He seemed a little distracted. But that’s probably because he needed to deal with his hot water tank.
I found it insufficient: what was down there?! There was no way the dreams were wrong! If Babruska had seen something, then there was something there. But Dad-Mod’s brusque answers denied it.
Dad-Mod always came across as very… too-the-point in his messages, though. I was private messaged by first Dikki, then King of Cheese, wondering whether we should read into the brusqueness of Dad-Mod’s replies. I told them I didn’t think so. Dad-Mod sounded blunt, but that was just his style.
Dad-Mod didn’t get out of the house. When he did reply to the many messages checking in on him, he just said they were fine, and he was getting a plumber in. As though he hadn’t read even most of the messages asking him questions.
But Dad-Mod’s basement was only the start of it.
Dikki, I’m so sorry
This one was private messaged to Dikki, but Empire Gold had wanted me there. For moral support. I watched as the dots appeared to indicate EmpireGold was typing again.
Your partner’s got short light brown hair, right? And glasses, with green eyes? He’s pretty tall and looks like he goes to the gym?
Please don’t tell me
I won’t if you really don’t want me to
Do you really not want to know @Dikki?
In the end, Dikki did. And she just said “thank you” after EmpireGold said she’d dreamed Dikki’s partner, of five years – who she’d been waiting on a proposal from – was cheating on her. Then she went offline.
There’s something else
This was private messaged to me after Dikki went offline and we’d both left our sincerest apologies in the group message.
I swear there was something there
like a thing watching on
That’s what babruska said…
it’s like… a dark thing. That watches
no body, really. Just… a watching black mist
I didn’t really see it in the dream. Just… like I knew it was there
I had no idea what to say to that. It’s not an easy thing to respond to. So I cobbled something together, and kept an eye open for anyone else talking about a thing watching on. As the owner of the chat – as the administrator of it – I was the first point of call for most of our group, if they needed someone. And I’d probably been online the most out of all of us. They all felt comfortable with talking to me.
That, I think, is why Toto H private messaged me before announcing their dream to the rest of the group.
I don’t know how to say this.
It’s not a thing that’s going to happen. It’s just a thing watching this woman in what I think is a hotel
Thought you’d know it…
What I should do
I did know. I knew almost everything that had been said on the Discord server. I felt it was my job as owner and administrator of it.
CompMeForRats works in a hotel…
She manages it.
The woman in my dream was wearing a uniform
should I tell her?
It could just freak her out
I thought Toto should. They did, and it did freak CompMe out.
And eight days later, instead of her usual rants about entitled customers, CompMe had a chilling story about a guy who really scared her – who came down to harass her when she was alone at the desk at three in the morning. She only told me the full details, and I don’t have her permission to share such a personal experience. But it was bad. The police are involved.
But it didn’t make sense. This guy who’d harassed her hadn’t really been watching her. Not the way Toto had indicated. And this asshole guy couldn’t possibly have been in Dad-Mod’s basement, or with Dikki’s boyfriend in EmpireGold’s dream. They were miles apart – Dikki on a different continent.
And mentions of the watching thing didn’t end there.
Tokkie the Dog
@Teddy Bear Armistice
I saw you in a cult
Teddy Bear Armistice
thanks for that.
It’s an MLM. And I make money in it.
I do pretty well, thanks.
Mad Rug @Teddy Bear Armistice
I don’t think they mean offence, Teddy
If it’s a dream…
Tokkie the Dog
I wasn’t trying to upset you
Geralt’s Mom @Tokkie the Dog
What’d you see?
Tokkie the Dog
I just saw a branding thing
and there was this thing watching
like a dark shadow
and you had a self-improvement schedule
I don’t mean to say anything mean…
its just that these dreams have been real
It took Teddy only about a day to cool off and take it seriously. That story was another one that migrated off the general chats into private messages. Teddy had been invited to a “small group of women looking for self-improvement”. She hadn’t said how long she’d been in it, but I got the sense it was at least several weeks. I think between the dream and the fact that I kept checking in on her, we did manage to convince her to get out before any branding happened. But she wasn’t on the Discord as much after Tokkie’s dream.
More generally, that was the dream that marked my realisation the tone of our Discord server had changed. Rather than eagerly awaiting every new prediction, and ready to help or congratulate each other, people had become wary of these dreams. Once so active, with people online every single day, it was more like, now, people only went on the Discord in small bursts. No longer to chat with each other, but to just check whether any new dreams had been posted. And then they’d hop off.
As though the Discord chat – our own small tribe – had started to scare them.
I think that fear set in a bit later for me. But I saw it in the others. I kept trying to start conversations – kept trying to bring back some of that closeness we’d shared not long ago.
These dreams – something that had seemed such a great way to connect…
How quickly it had gone sour.
I’d switch windows again and again during my workdays. I’d mute my microphone, turn off my webcam, and jump over to look at the Discord.
No chat. People online, checking in. But they weren’t talking. The chat was dying fast.
The pandemic, living alone – working from home – was isolating. Our Discord server had been my way out of that. I realised how much I’d been relying on it when, time after time, I’d switched back to the chat server. And it was exactly the same as I’d left it. Silent. No one talking.
I felt lost. Left behind. My Discord chat – the thing I’d founded and built with wonderful people – was dying.
But that didn’t mean we didn’t still care about each other.
@Rice is Nice your roommate has a manifesto
I don’t mean to be funny. none of this is funny
But I saw it. That was my dream. Bottles all around his desk and him writing out his manifesto
he thinks all women have no souls. That if they did, they wouldn’t just chase after all the hot guys. That we’d see the qualities that are actually important. That we’re like robots
And you’re tall. He thinks tall women are like a malfunction. That you shouldn’t exist
He’s got so much hate
I think he’s going to hurt you
That was the message that was there, the only new one on our Discord, when I opened the app to check it after two days of nothing happening.
Before I could respond, Rinindal was typing again.
@Rice is Nice you’ve got to get out of there
just get out of ther now
@AchuchuTrain you live only one city over right?
can you go get her???
Rice is Nice didn’t have a car, and had no family anywhere nearby. That, and she was freaking out. She reported the sounds of her roommate moving around in his room in a suddenly terrified play-by-play. It made me more and more sure she needed someone there to help her.
AchuchuTrain had been getting his adopted son down for a nap. It was a tense wait, as Rice is Nice got her belongings packed before AchuchuTrain came online, and a tenser one still as he made arrangements for his son before he could make it out the door.
With him saying he’d be there in a couple hours, and Rice is Nice headed to a nearby café to meet him, we felt things were sorted. We could breathe easy. Maybe we’d overreacted. You could argue we did. But that just shows how these dreams had started to affect us.
We were relieved, but the excitement was still there. It spurred FicPhysics, Adreno, and Mart to go looking for the manifesto online, with just part of a username remembered from the dream to search with. They didn’t find it, but they did find a similar username posting things I won’t repeat on a very misogynistic chat room.
While they were digging, I private messaged Rinindal. I didn’t want to freak people out again by saying it in the main chat. Not now we had people actually chatting there, especially.
Hey, this could sound weird, but did it feel like anything was watching in the dream?
Shit… yeah, I didn’t want to say
not when it’s already scary enough
and after how Dad Mod was when Babruska said it. Like he was annoyed by us harping on about it, you know?
But yeah. like jus t this dark background thing, watching
but it felt like… gloating maybe.
That’s what I thought, at least
I still didn’t think Dad-Mod had been annoyed. I just thought his responses had been short. I told Rinindal so, just to try to keep the harmony, before responding to the more worrying part of her message.
People in the main chat had moved on from searching up Rice is Nice’s roommate online.
Ferd the V
So we’re all going to have these dreams now?
either have them or have them be about us?
There’s a few who haven’t had either yet
Me, you, King of Cheese
And @Geralt’s Mom
King of Cheese
@Rice is Nice
don’t get in the car!!!
It’s goin to crash1
King of Cheese had only just woken up and come online. He hadn’t read back over the messages yet.
We spammed AchuchuTrain and Rice is Nice, all of us trying to reach them – hoping they’d see our messages on their phones. But if they did, it was too late.
When night came for each of us, we didn’t sleep. Part of it was waiting on tenterhooks to hear from Rice and AchuchuTrain. I think the other part was that we’d become scared of dreaming.
King of Cheese’s dream wasn’t for some future date, like we’d hoped. This time, the dream happened only an hour before it came true. We heard from AchuchuTrain the next day. He wasn’t too bad, but Rice is Nice was still in the ICU.
It felt like whatever it was – whatever was making us have these dreams about each other – had decided we couldn’t avoid the bad things anymore. It felt like the watching shadow had seen us trying to avoid Rice is Nice getting hurt, and wasn’t going to let her off easy.
For the Discord, that bout of comradery and chatter turned out to be the last hurrah. But to check in when they could work up the courage for it, the thirty members of our community stayed away. Some, like Dikki, Colour me Faun, and Lingy followed in Teddy Bear Armistice’s footsteps: they were barely online at all anymore.
For some others, they had suspicions. The first I head from SirenSong in weeks was in a private message.
I’m kinda thinking it’s us getting together and talking on the discord that’s making these dreams happen. Like, I haven’t been online much, and no one’s seen anything about me. I haven’t had a dream either.
Everyone talking the other day on here, for the first time in a while, and we had TWO dreams that day – and one came true right away
I don’t think it’s the community that’s causing it. We’ve always been here for each other
Why would the Discord be making it happen?
It’s the thing that connects us
it’s just the pattern I’m seeing. I know this group means a lot to you… but this discord is the central thing. It’s the only common link
Maybe she had a point. It did irritate me, though, that she was suggesting I just didn’t want to believe it because I loved the group. I just couldn’t see how a chat room would make us have dreams about each other.
King of Cheese contacted me a similar way a couple days later.
King of Cheese
Do you think it’s someone here who’s doing it? who’s causing the dreams?
Like, it’s not just the dreams. We’ve been having a load of bad luck recently. More than seems normal
It’s that old saying… when it rains it pours…
King of Cheese
this isn’t pouring. It’s a hurricane
And, you know, we don’t really know each other at all
like, we think we do. But what do we really know about each other? We could be anyone behind a computer
and like.. Dad mod got all cagey. And the way Teddy Bear reacted to the dream about her
I donno. people aren’t always nice
But why would anyone here want to hurt another? We’ve all helped each other out a lot
King of Cheese
Some people haven’t done much to help…
Siren song for example. And Under This. Under This was accused of stealing at work too. How do we know he didn’t?
I felt the suspicion in King’s message. Felt it like one of multiple jagged cracks running through our group, splitting something that had once been beautiful apart.
It made me want to work out what was going on here. Look for a way to fix it.
But I didn’t find anything in time to stop Mad Rug having a dream that SirenSong’s baby would stop moving. That it’d be a late-term stillbirth.
She rushed to the hospital, but she only went online to see if there’d been any dreams about her when her baby had already stopped moving.
Then Ferd the V had a dream Wisp of Breath was going to get really sick with Covid. She stayed home the next day, after she saw his message in the general chat. But she’d already caught it.
The days stretched with no word from Wisp of Breath. And the last update from AchuchuTrain had been three days ago.
When I heard again from SirenSong, her sending me a private message, it wasn’t good news. And she was understandably upset after losing the baby.
You’re on here more than any of the rest of us
why havent you had any dreams yet
maybe it’s you who’s doing it!
I just said I was so sorry about her baby. That made her angrier. And it made me cry at my computer.
The main Discord chat was empty of any new messages. My eyes screened by tears, I clicked through the channels, looking at the past messages. Seeing how close we’d been, not long ago. Then I closed the app.
Maybe it was just feeling like shit. Or maybe it was partly what Siren Song had said that made me, in a twisted way, want a dream. But I didn’t fight sleep that night.
And I did dream. I dreamed, and it was worse than I could have ever imagined.
You usually have a preternatural sense of what’s going on in your dreams. I didn’t for this one. Not at first.
It was like I’d just landed in the middle of unfathomable chaos. Bodies shoving, people yelling, running – pushing between each other. It was like I’d been dumped in the midst of an insane panic, and I didn’t even know which way was up.
A girl banged up against the side of a locker. Above her head there was some kind of banner celebrating a sports team. Next to that were posters.
Someone was shoved aside – stumbled –
Was this some kind of high school fight?
I thought that for another second. Then I heard the gunshots.
It was like it suddenly all made sense. And I was rushing – as though racing behind a panicked teenager I knew, somehow, was King of Cheese. He sprinted, pushing between those that stumbled or hesitated, and squeezed into a classroom.
The teacher, frantic, ushered other students on towards different classrooms. Then she swung the door shut.
The door looked a flimsy barrier against the gunfire outside. Against the screaming and the fists that pounded on it to open up.
A barricade of desks looked no better a shelter. But King hid behind them with the others. He stared towards the door. And so did I.
Because beside the door. In the shadows of a classroom with its lights off, was something darker. I felt its presence. And felt its joy in this – like it loved the chaos. Like every student who banged on the door, wanting to be let into the classroom, was another little bit of joy.
And I felt the thing turn. Look away from the gunshots coming nearer and nearer – from the screams and pleading – and stare straight at me.
I woke up shrieking at the top of my lungs. Sat bolt upright in bed.
And then I flew off it and sprinted to my computer – switched it on, pulled up a private message with King of Cheese, and wrote:
There’s going to be a shcool shooting!
King didn’t answer for seconds, and then minutes. Terrified, I checked the time in his time zone.
I sighed out what felt like half my panic. And then just sat there for a long moment, not knowing what to do.
It left space for my brain to kick into gear. For it to start thinking of something other than terror.
No one else had said anything about the watching presence looking straight at them. Maybe it had, and they just hadn’t said so. I wasn’t sure.
But now I thought of it, I wasn’t even sure why I thought it had looked at me. It hadn’t seemed like it had eyes. Or a face. Or any features at all. It was just… dark.
Yet maybe someone else had mentioned it looking at them, and I’d just missed it?
I started clicking through messages, first looking at private messages, then on to the general chat channels… I scrolled right back to find Babruska’s post: the first one that had mentioned the watching shadow.
None of them mentioned feeling like the thing was looking at them. Wondering whether to ask, my eyes drifted through messages.
Dad-Mod’s replies did seem short. Abrupt. I could see why the others thought he’d been irritated.
The last one he’d sent – what I was pretty sure was the last message he’d posted – was edited.
It was the others’ suspicions getting to me, but I wondered why he’d edited that message. Dad-Mod didn’t usually edit his messages. He might send a second message with a correction instead, or just leave the typo there.
On my Discord server, there was only one channel I had muted. It was the mod-bot-log channel, where the welcome bot and the one that, among other things, kept track of edited and deleted messages posted. It’d muted the channel ages ago, to stop it notifying me every time someone just fixed a typo in their message. I hadn’t had any reason to check it in months.
I took note of the date Dad-Mod had edited his message, and clicked into the mod-bot-log.
I’d find all Dad-Mod had done was edit his post to include the words “thank you” at the end. But the moment I saw the bot-log, that no longer mattered.
It was only me who could access the bot-log. I was the only one with administrator powers on my Discord. And I’d only added two bots to the server.
But posting alongside the welcome bot and Xero-bot, was a third one I’d never even heard of. I’d never seen it on the Discord. And I’d never put it there.
“Dream game bot” it was called, and I saw post after post from it as I scrolled through.
Dream game bot
Geralt’s Mom dreams King of Cheese experiences a school shooter event
I stared at that message. And then I stared at the date the bot had posted it:
Exactly one week ago.
I scrolled up through the bot log, further and further back in time, cross checking every post from the Dream game bot with the dreams the thirty members of my chat community had posted up on the Discord.
Every single dream had happened exactly one week after the Dream game bot had posted it. And every single one was accurate.
Every one, except for King of Cheese’s dream about Rice is Nice and AchuchuTrain getting in that car accident. That one had been posted one hour before King of Cheese had had the dream.
It was like a running log of the dreams. Were it not for the fact that the predictive dreams… had been predicted a week before they’d been had.
Or were they caused by the bot?
I’d found the bot’s first post, sent nearly three months ago in the log.
Dream game bot
Mona dreams RoniLou meets her new girlfriend while jogging
The blunt descriptions of it… particularly with the far more horrifying events that had happened, put me on edge.
But none of it answered my question: where had this bot come from?
And how did it do what it did?!
The bot didn’t have an avatar or profile picture. It was just a dark blank space where one should be. I found it hard to look at. Like it was some kind of black void.
But the worst part of it were the most recent of the bot’s posts.
Dream game bot
Jango dreams OpaOmega’s daughter falls out of 12th floor apartment window
That one was from three hours ago. And, six hours before it:
Dream game bot
FicPhysics dreams Adreno dies in office building collapse
And the one before that one, from twelve hours ago:
Dream game bot
Yinger dreams Teddy Bear Armistice dies by exposure when tied outside in snow
The next post before that was from a week ago. My breathing was already coming quick and shallow. My body covered in prickles.
Dream game bot
CompMeForRats dreams Me standing behind Geralt’s Mom
I didn’t know what to make of it. Was the bot going to be killing me? Was that what it meant? Or was… it to just make everyone turn against me?
While the rest of them died.
My eyes unfocused as I stared at the post. And as they did, it was like I could sense eyes staring out at me from that black circle where the profile picture should be. Like it was watching me. And it knew I’d seen it.
I nearly jumped out of my skin when the bot log page jumped, a new post popping up.
Dream game bot
Under This dreams King of Cheese dies in a house fire
In that moment, my DMs pinged with King of Cheese responding to me. And the general chat pinged with someone tagging me. I shot King a message to go to a park and stay there. Then checked the general chat.
@Geralt’s Mom… I donno what the dream meant, but I think you’re in trouble…
My DM with King of Cheese pinged again. Rather than check it, I clicked back into the mod-bot-log.
Dream game bot
Mona dreams King of Cheese dies when a plane crash-lands on a park
This story, like Rising Stars, was written for the Odd October anthology. You can read the entire anthology on the Odd Directions subreddit, linked in the sidebar.
I’m part of an online writing group that has it’s own Discord server. You can join it, if you want. Just go to the Odd Directions website, linked in the sidebar menu, and find the Discord icon on the home page.
I will warn, you, however, that a little while ago… a few of us admins of the server started having dreams about each other.
In one, I died by being shoved out the window while wearing a scuba helmet.