Dreams full of shadows

A very specific dream keeps coming back to me. In this one I am sitting in school again. Surrounded by students. In front of a teacher. Different people, different subjects, different years. After all, dreams don’t care about anything.

As different as the situations may be in detail, two things are always the same: 1) A class test is being written. 2) I am incredibly tired.

Class tests were always quite stressful back then, of course. But as a rule, I knew I had learned enough to get a C. Even then, I was a big believer in satisfying activities, but that shouldn’t be elaborated on here. After all, the fatigue is much, much worse.

Most of the time I am so tired that I can’t keep my eyes open. But I have to concentrate on the class work. I can’t read the questions. I look at the notes, but I can’t see anything. My eyes refuse. I am so tired. No, I have to defeat the sleep. I have to shake off the tiredness. I must drive away the shadows.

The Shadow People is also about fatigue. It’s broadly about the time of the exam period. The way to school. The way home. An accident. The uncertainty of being awake or not. As in the school of my dreams, I find it increasingly difficult to get a clear thought in The Shadow People. At first, you get a little annoyed with the outdated adventure game controls with an inventory and a bunch of verbs that you have to somehow combine correctly. But this sluggishness is exactly what I feel in my dreams as well. What do I have to do? I can’t read sentences anymore. Only snatches of sentences. Push. Pull. Look. Open. I want to sleep. But I can’t sleep. The shadows. They are everywhere. I want to open my notebook. But where is “open”? What is “open”? I want to sleep. But I mustn’t. Maybe I should sit down. But I’m already sitting. And I’m too tired to get up.

The longer you play The Shadow People, the less you understand reality. The reality of dreams. Of the school. The game world. The shadows. You solve puzzles that are initially anchored in reality, combine keys with locks, pliers with chains, and suddenly smash mirrors behind which are doors to other planets. All of a sudden, everything is black. Then you see shadows in the darkness. Are they moving? Should I be moving? Is the light flickering or can I not keep my eyes open for long? Who are the shadows? What do they want from me? Do they want anything at all? Do I want something? Yes, I want to wake up. But it goes on and on. Deeper and deeper. The shadows get bigger. The corridors longer. Once I drew a map on a little piece of paper. But then I crashed. How many legs does the elephant have? Is that even an elephant? The shadows. In the end, they got me. End three out of five. One more time? No. I don’t want to. But I don’t want to go back to school either. Still, I end up going back there over and over again. So why not? Four more endings. Four dreams. Four rounds. Four hours. But clearly more than four shadows. Those damn shadows.

I am so tired.

The Shadow People is an adventure game with Gameboy graphics. The game is available at itch.io.

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