Zhenya opened his eyes to darkness. The feel of his mattress beneath him pushed at the nerve endings down his back and legs, but it lessened with every heartbeat. He turned his head, and his pillow failed to rustle. The oddness caused him to reach up in search of the lost pillow, but when he raised his hands above and around his head, he felt nothing, not even the bed he thought he was lying on. He was floating, lost in a great empty space; the air rushing past him made him feel as if he were traveling great distances.
He closed his eyes, and the sensations ceased.
When he felt brave enough to open them again, he was standing on a carpet of mist, in the front yard of the house his grandmother lived in when Zhenya was six years old. He reeled with disorientation and an unexpected, gut-wrenchingly urgent sense of loss; his grandmother had been gone for nearly thirty years now.
He spared a quick glance over his shoulder; this mist stretched as far as he could see, and nothing but trees and the house rose above it. He decided to walk towards the house, carefully testing every step before he put his full weight on it, as he couldn’t see the ground. He counted the steps under his breath as he walked, to lend some aura of predictability to this waking dream.
He was at the door. He wiped his feet on the faded mat that had welcomed his family to so many holiday gatherings, and rested his palm on the doorknob. The cold brass felt more real than anything he’d experienced since first opening his eyes, minutes or years ago.
He took a deep breath, and lifted his face to take in the starlight beaming down upon him before turning the knob.