FEVERDREAMS - Prelude 2 | Varyer


Prelude 2

Fever Dreams are moments of vivid false reality. Oftentimes bizarre, they come in our weakest and most vulnerable moments. Paired with sickness and a depleted physical state, fever dreams remain mostly unknown - yet lead to dramatic discoveries about our psyche, and the state of our mind’s well-being. Spatial distortion, moments of dramatic discovery, and deep rest are common.

Artist and photographer Kendall Hill’s publishing debut, FEVERDREAMS takes viewers on a journey of rapid self-discovery throughout one night of dreams, focusing on the flourishing and fading connections of our youth’s final frontier.

In the preludes for FEVERDREAMS, three installments set the groundwork for the 2024 release, describing how bodies of water are imbued with mystical, time-traveling powers, where we physically are in the world, the social climate, and other guideposts for the six chapters found in the book.

We begin our dive into the FD FD = feverdreams universe by learning more about Acoma, the “water city” where the entirety of the book will take place and recall memories from. The preludes pre-date the physical book by 20 years (identifiable by “Little Eon”, who is also a character in Chapter 1 and has grown up by this point).

Prelude 1: The new water & the old mesas serves as an introduction to Acoma and to understanding the larger, important plotlines of the story. We get a sense of the social climate of the city 20 years prior to the book, and immediately jump into our rising action with the disappearance of Zeeck Ferrell.

In prelude 2: Into the dreams, we will learn of the things ZF saw during his mystical water encounter over the 18 days he was missing. Somewhat a “therapy session”, Zeeck will retell what he saw in his fever dreams induced by the water. The characters of the town will hear first hand the powers of the water, as will the readers, and realize the dangers it can bring.

In prelude 3: Ripple Effect, the final prelude, the town will wrestle with what to do about the mystical waters and if they want to regulate them or allow people to use them whenever they please. Ultimately deciding to allow them to be free and open for people to use because of a compelling argument by the city’s youth.

This piece contains immersive audio that includes a reading by the author.
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Prelude 2

Into the dreams

“It wasn’t a pretty sight. There was blood rushing and seeping everywhere - you couldn’t have gotten him here quick enough type of thing, you know? Most of the roads are so bad coming up, there are bumps and potholes everywhere - that definitely didn’t make for a smooth ride, either. He banged his head up quite a bit, and he definitely wasn't doing alright to begin with, but, he’ll be alright, he’ll be alright. I want y'all’ to tell me everything you know and all you saw in the lead-up to Zeeck’s fall. Can you do that for me?

The charming hospital nurse had a semi circle of concerned adults around her. Everyone followed that ambulance truck down Millway Road, then left on 22, another sharp right, right into the parking lot of the emergency room. It was a chaotic few hours; bodies rushing everywhere up and down the hospital corridors, grandparents arguing and crying with the staff, chicken and enough pound cake to satisfy a baby whale.

Everyone of importance in Acoma seemed to be in the ER right at that moment. The firemen and policemen, the newsmen, the mayor, but none held as much importance as the psychiatrist did. On arrival, they immediately determined that Zeeck’s body was hardly bruised and only slightly depleted, with most of his vitals reporting normal for a 68 year old man. But they could hardly keep him awake, could only talk to him in five to ten minute intervals (and we are taking gibberish, yal’ - not full blown sentences), and they could not understand why his eyes continued to roll to the back of his head. Most of the staff believed he had become mentally insane being out in the forests for so long, but the town psychiatrist, DR.CHEECH, had other theories.

Cheech was a different type of guy. His full name was Dr.Luis Richardson, but he preferred Cheech because he loved the dirty connotation and it helped him connect more with the troubled youth. He was kind of a nut job, always wearing shoes and coats one and a half sizes bigger than they needed to be, curly jewish afro and gold tinted aviators type. He would hand out the best candy on Halloween and Valentines day, and genuinely loved to help others. He had been the lead psychiatrist at the hospital for the past 20 years up to this point, helping mainly with your everyday homeless person who would stroll in looking for direction and a fix, those affected by psychological abuse and other undiagnosed acronyms. He made an effort to be on the floor at 7:15 every morning, box of a dozen donuts in hand. He came into the crowded lobby and everyone in the room paused, focusing their eyes on him immediately and with intention as he began to speak.

“I’m sure you’re all concerned about Old Man Zeeck, and rightfully so. He’s still not looking too great, but after a few more nights here, hopefully his fever will wane and he will be able to go home - with the support and help of all of you here, of course,” he began.

“He’s barely been awake, and when he is, he’s often incoherent. But just an hour ago, I was able to speak with him and get some insight into what has happened to him over the past few weeks,”

The room released a collective breath, then chatter, then drew closer to Cheech. He pulled a white recorder from his white jacket and held it high.

“I have recorded it all! As I was without my scribe at such a late hour and could not afford to miss what he said. Please, let’s all get close and listen quietly,” Cheech placed a finger over his lip, and whispered a long shhsh over the room.

The recorder began with a loud static and a coat ruffle - Dr.Cheech taking the device out of his pocket we presumed.

“Hello, I’m Dr. Luis Richardson recording currently from the infirmary at Carl Watkins Jr. Hospital. The date is August 17th in the year 1999. Can you please say your name, and repeat the date back to me?”

“Zacariah Robin Ferrell.

Today is August 17th, 1999.

Today August 17th, 1999…”

Zeeck drifts into a daze, and you can hear reruns of Roseanne playing over the audio.

“Very good, very good! Try and stay focused now, Zeeck.” Cheech says while waving his small flashlight in front of his face. “Now, can you tell me exactly what happened to you? Where did you go?”

There is silence for a long moment. “Now, I woke up on July 27th with a fucking shitty horrible fever. I remember that ‘cause I wanted to take a long walk to knock it out of me, to relax my noggin and ease the pain,” he began.

“I left Chewy at home because that bitch ain't wanna go with me, she was laid out on the floor all carpet-like. I left, figured I'd be maybe thirty minutes max. I took the little forest path behind my crib out to the woods, the same path I always take, and I don’t know, I ended up at this pond,”.

I ended up at this pond...I ended up at this pond...I ended up at this pond...I ended up at this pond... I ended up at this pond...I ended up at this pond...I ended up at this pond...I ended up at this pond...

I don't know...I don't know...I don't know...I don't know...I don't know...I don't know...I don't know... I don't know...I don't know...I don't know...I don't know...I don't know...I don't know...I don't know...

I ended up at this pond...I ended up at this pond...I ended up at this pond...I ended up at this pond... I ended up at this pond...I ended up at this pond...I ended up at this pond...I ended up at this pond...

“A pond? How far away was it? How big was it?,” Cheech asked in anxious curiosity.

The next part of what Old man Zeeck said was incoherent and didn’t sound like much, just gibbering and gargling over his own words. Cheech stopped him, adjusted his pillow, got him a glass of water, and reasked his questions diligently, his soft voice was eerie and inviting.

“It was one of the first ponds in Acoma, formed after the Second Shift. Called ???...I get there, and I just knew that more than I ever knew anything else. I felt a calling to the water… tried to just get close enough just to see my reflections, but the ground was muddy, so I slipped in… And shit got real weird after that,” Zeeck paused between every four words, but each word cut sharp. The room was completely silent besides the buzz from the iridescent lights above.

“...Mind you I can’t swim for shit. I fumble in, my eyes go WIDE… a pink and white light block out everything in front of me. I see my mum, my dear wife Elaine, the boy I knew down the street when I was six…

oh fucking lord, I saw a horrible death!

I saw my whole life in front of me, it was goddamn everything!

I was scared as shit!

No one in the room seemed to understand what world Zeeck was referring to, and mumbles began amongst small groups in the larger crowd. Cheech picked up his hands once again and alerted all the murmurs to wait just a few more seconds for the conversation to continue.

“It was like…I was here and I was not. I saw memories I had experienced, things I had never seen before, and I knew it was in me… you know what I’m saying? I knew it was all coming from me. And I woke up and I was still in the water! What felt like hours to me had really been days, according to my fucked up sunburn and small stomach. I could barely walk, but I did, back to the main road where y’all found me. I don’t even remember those last few steps out of the forest and into the sun. Then I wake up here with a laser in my eye and shit hospital food,” Zeeck groaned.

Everyone was still again and no one said a word. The chairs of the hospital staff croaked, snapping back to place after a few moments of shock before resuming their small tasks. Small children tugged at their parent’s shirts, worried that they had become statues floating in time.

A loud click came from Cheech’s tape recorder as he paused the audio. “Now, I know what you all are thinking: ‘What does any of this mean? Are we in danger? Are our waters safe?’ And I reassure you, we all are trying to figure that out right now. The Acoma Police and Detective forces are on it, and want us to all remain patient and safe as they begin to investigate,” Cheech said lovingly and calmly.

Though, Cheech was never much of a loud-mouthed leader. The crowd became rambunctious, with fears of clean drinking water and a legion of aquatic zombies invading the town in the rumblings between all the squabble. The group of forty or so adults all wanted answers, so much so that they tried to convince the hospital staff to let them back to Zeeck’s room so they could talk to him face to face. And when that didn’t work, they all plotted to visit the pond behind Zeeck’s home later that night, covered by the darkness of the early morning sky.

And that’s exactly what they did. At a quarter to 2:00, piles of flashlights were shining through Old Man Zeeck’s side gate. Those same piles leaped over like grasshoppers, the flashlights briefly spotlighting the owls lurking in the trees above as the bodies ascended over the black spikes one by one.

The adults searched and slashed through overgrowth for a solid fifty-two minutes before finding the hidden pond deep behind Zeeck’s home. The water was still, as it normally was, but the hasty bunch accredited its silence to the late-night air and lack of a breeze. They all stand there, backlit only by the flashlights behind them, searching for an answer hidden in their reflections. Waiting to be taken by the chill of the night and the past memories they never knew they could experience again.

Prelude 3 - coming soon