Letting the dreams leave

Session 8

Jak walked into the courtyard. The empty temple fascinated him. It was so empty, but he could imagine an ancient people wondering through its roofless halls. He could see the fountain where they would gather and chat. He could even imagine people writing on parchments or playing music on various stone structures resembling seats or benches. Everything was so grey, but was full of life once upon a time. The columns stood proud, even after all this time. He stared up at where the roof should be, staring at the blue sky, with wisps of cloud streaking along it.

"So you've found your peace?" inquired a familiar voice languidly. He looked to his right, finding his Light self leaning against a column. Light Jak's pure white eyes stared past him, apparently more interested in the empty fountain behind him.

Jak shrugged. "You always know how to find it. The best person to ask is you."

"So you still rely on me for your inner peace? Unwise."

He frowned at the ethereal version of himself. "Why? I thought that's what you're here for?"

Light Jak still had not moved. "My natural state is peaceful. Anger comes to you naturally, without his help. Do you have any peace in you? I'm unsure. You doubt it as well." A distant cry for help floated through the air. He turned his head, focused on some distance away. "He's helpless and needs rescuing."

Under the influence of a rush of panic, took out his jet board and sped out of the temple. He rushed through an empty city, twisting this way and that, until he reached a town square flooded in sunlight. He could see a hunched over figure, beating someone else. He recognised the white hair.

He hopped off the jet board and fired his blaster. "Leave him alone!" Dark Jak hunched over some more to absorb the shock of the hits. He turned around, grinning his sharp teeth at Jak. The blonde only got angrier. "Just get lost!" He fired several more times, forcing Dark Jak to dodge several shots and growl in frustration. Soon, the dark form fled the scene, flexing his invincible claws at Jak one last time for good measure.

Jak rushed over to the victim. He saw his fifteen-year-old self; his hospital gown wore patches of dirt on certain parts, a lot of the bandages were falling off, there was a dark bruise appearing on his face, accompanied by drizzling blood. His younger self seemed very weak and pitiful, his eyes were barely open.

The older self quickly knelt down, checking his younger, sick self for any harmful damage. "Hey, look at me." He curved his hand round his head, cradling the younger's head into a position easier for his sick self to see him. "Did he hurt you too bad? Come on, say you're okay." The boy's eyes flickered open, focussing on the older self that had rescued him. Jak noticed another bruise forming at the corner of his mouth.

"Hurts," mumbled the younger self weakly.

The stronger one looked to his side, staring at the prison door hanging wide open. "Dammit! This is why I kept you in there! I told you it was too dangerous out here. How did you get that door open anyway?" A dazed stare was all he got in response. He let out a frustrated breath, changing positions so he could pick up his smaller self.

This action set off sudden convulsions. Jak truly had no idea whether his younger self was coughing or crying. He stayed still until he finished. The boy stilled, before bringing a hand across himself to grab onto Jak's chest armour. He looked up pleadingly. "Please...don't put me back in there. I like it here, in the sun. I'll get better, and I'll live...you'll see."

Jak felt his heart break. He suddenly felt himself overcome with remorse for all those times he had placed his sick self back in his cell. He had made himself ignore those cries and pleas because he was certain the action had been the best to do. And yet, the young one always tried to get out. This time he had succeeded. So now, Jak decided to have some faith in the smaller one. He picked him up and walked forward.

He found himself in a desert oasis, but instead of water, he stared at a lake of pure, bright Light Eco. He looked down...and unexpectedly found the boy unconscious. It was also the first time he had ever seen the youngster at peace. Jak stepped into the lake. It was very shallow where he stood, so he carefully placed his young self in the lake and kept his arm behind the boy's back, keeping him seated. The feel of Light Eco surrounding him seemed enough to stir the boy. Jak ran his hand through the Light Eco, spreading it on the boy's face. He watched, amazed, as the wounds vanished at his touch. He continued this treatment, until every blemish and wound on his face and neck had completely disappeared. This restored enough of the boy's energy so that his eyes flickered open, staring at Jak in a daze, but expressing relief and gratefulness at this treatment. The older, stronger self continued his treatment of the younger, noticing how the Eco was making the bandages disappear, revealing perfect skin underneath.

He had just realised that even the hospital gown was gone, when the boy suddenly sat up and batted his arms away. Jak distanced himself, watching his younger self rubbing Light Eco all over him like an assertive teenager in a bath. He was no longer so sick, his energy was back. The younger one stopped, then stretched his arms, cracked his knuckles, rolled his head. He looked behind Jak and started.

Jak whipped around, seeing Dark Jak growl and sneer his way to the edge of the oasis. "You stay away," he warned, taking out his weapon.

His Dark self laughed. "I get much closer than this on most days!"

"It's funny that he only noticed this now." The quizzical yet calm voice made Jak look to his left, finding Light Jak hovering in the air, his ribbon-like wings flowing behind him.

"It's funny that you never react," retorted Jak snappily.

"He's not the problem!" He was confused by this voice. He turned around, staring at his young self standing up in the lake, fully clothed in the outfit he had worn the day he had left Sandover Village. The boy seemed to be at his full strength and looked quite angry.

"It's me, is that it?"

The boy clenched his fists. "You ignored me! You ignored me this whole time!"

This claim baffled Jak. "You never said anything."

This made the boy angrier, pushing Jak in his wrath. "Because you locked me away! You thought I wasn't good enough for you? And you kept me sick. By all the damage you did."

"Damage? What damage?"

Dark Jak roared out laughing.

Though still angry, tears welled in his younger self's eyes. "You don't understand. You just don't get it."

"It's possible he never will," observed Light Jak.

Jak whirled around. He didn't hide his frustration. "Then give me a clue!"

A subtle movement of the black head gave him the impression Light Jak's eyes were piercing through the core of his being. "You will never forget."


Jak felt his arm yanked. In a panic, he tried to raise his arms to fend off the attackers...except there were none. "Keira?"

His beloved looked at him out of concern. "I'm sorry. You were tossing and turning...I didn't know if you were having a nightmare, but the dream definitely upset you."

He noticed how dark it was. "It's not sunrise yet?" She shook her head. He let out a breath, suddenly realising how much he was trembling.

"Jak..." She gripped his shoulders, before using one hand to caress his cheek. "Was it a nightmare?" He shook his head.

"It wasn't the...usual nightmare. It was something else, but...I dunno. It was like, like...I was learning the answer that I really didn't like, but I don't know the question."

Keira scrutinised him for a moment, before jumping out of bed. She rummaged around for something, before jumping back into bed and holding it up. "How about, you record your dream? You just talk, say everything that happened in it, then you can think about it later."

Jak agreed. She pressed record on the device and he described the dream. When he was done, he felt ready to go back to sleep, so they resettled for the night.


The next day, Jak did all he could to convince Keira to let him stay at home. He was in no mood to go outside, but on the other hand, she could see he was a lot calmer and assertive than he had been the previous couple of days. He had even gotten up that morning with little effort, she had not needed to enter their bedroom to force him up. She was satisfied that he could take care of himself without incident, so she left the apartment that morning, leaving him in charge. But Jak was not alone that morning, as Daxter had decided to pay a surprise visit and the pair chatted idly while playing a favourite card game.

Daxter left before lunch time, as he had business to take care of at his bar. Jak had a very small lunch. The apartment was silent and he fiddled with the handheld recorder. He chewed thoughtfully as he played and replayed the recording of his stunned voice describing his most recent dream. This time, he was aware that the dream was attempting to sort out and organise his thoughts and feelings, but he had trouble matching his dream to reality, which image to which feeling. So the boy was his conscience? If that were the case, then why did Light Jak tell him he would never forget? And what was it he would never forget? His gut feeling was that he would never forget his time in prison. For that matter, Yerran had never been too clear when she had explained that the aim of their sessions was to train his mind to live with the memories. He wanted to forget, so desperately, so he had assumed that he would be able to. He would have to ask her about that.

What truly puzzled him was the boy's accusation that he had made him sick, kept him sick. How in Mar's name could he have managed that?

He was shaken out of his musings by the sound of his communicator trying to get his attention. It was Sig, as they had agreed to talk that day about his role in the ratification ceremony. Jak had wanted to announce Ashelin and Sig as his baroness and baron, respectively, both rulers of either Haven City or Spargus in his absence. They figured out the details pretty quickly and then engaged in some relaxed banter.

At one point, Sig scrutinised him through the communicator screen. "Ash said you weren't lookin' so hot." The blonde could only shake his head. "She also said you had a fight. And wrecked Torn's Firebat."

Jak sighed. "She told you about that, huh?"

"She never said any details. You know, you've never been this stupid, so what set all this off?"

"Torn...you know, I know I suck at this whole...ruling thing, but Torn didn't have to rub it in. And I was already low."

"Torn said he was just offerin' advice. He is a leader with a lot of experience."

"You talked to him too?" Jak suddenly felt very suspicious.

"Only a little, he's still pissed off about his Firebat to talk about you too much. What do you think? Was he right? Will you use some of his tips?"

"I don't know, Sig! I...I just don't care. I just want to be left alone."

"Left alone? That doesn't sound like the hero I know. You remember Jak? The kid who tried anything and took down any enemy?"

The young monarch smiled ruefully. "Yeah, I miss being him."

"The reason why Damas could lead like he did was because he had a goal. Same reason you took on those Metal Heads, Darkmakers... Praxis. You both knew what you wanted and were determined to do it. You did it because you cared about others. He did it because of the family legacy. If you actually read his journal, you'd understand him better."

Jak felt his insecurity spike. "Sig..."

"You'd even understand yourself." Sig cocked his head while considering Jak. "He even wrote a list of notes especially for you. He told you about that, right? I'll bring over the dynasty log too, a good introduction to your ancestors."


Keira was surprised when she came home that evening. Jak was very calm, although somber. He was cooking a simple meal for the pair of them. He didn't say much to her during the evening, but she found him watching her, mouth slightly ajar as if to say something. He would then lose his nerve and look away. He did this quite often. Sometimes he just looked at her guiltily. When he was not looking at her, he would gaze in a random direction, distracted by private thoughts.

When Yerran and Pern arrived, Jak took the offered notes and read them through. He had hoped that their writings would provide a clue, giving him a helpful hint for overcoming his challenge. However, their notes only observed him, his admission of feeling trapped and powerless, how shaken and frustrated he had been after attempting the challenge for the first time. Once finished with these notes, he asked that they listen to the recorded account of his dream from the previous night.

Yerran posed the first question after listening to the recording. "You have listened to this at least once," she stated. He nodded. "Do you have any conclusions?"

The blonde shrugged. "A few...I still don't understand most of it. The kid, I guess, is trapped by the memories of prison time. But then he told me I kept him sick. I don't get that. I mean, how is that possible? I don't want to make myself feel so bad and have nightmares."

"Did the boy say anything else? Something to relate to that point?"

"Jak mentioned the boy said he'd ignored him," contributed Pern quietly.

Yerran's eyes widened slightly, as if she had solved a puzzle. "The boy said you had ignored him, while the other two versions of you were nearby," she clarified.

He nodded. "Yeah."

"So it is possible you rely too much on the extremes of your personality in order to make any decisions." ...

Jak fidgeted, uncertain how to answer. "If I listened to him, then what would I be doing in reality?"

The elder lady shrugged. "It depends on what it is he is representing. Your conscience. Your past. Your free spirit. The boy could represent all three or something completely different."

He let out a huff. He was learning the hard way that dreams are not easy to interpret. "There is something else I wanted to ask, sort of in relation. When I'm cured - I mean, when I'm not getting nightmares and flashbacks any more, will I be able to just forget my prison time?"

"Jak, I had explained to you quite clearly that you will never forget those memories. The trouble is that your mind focuses on them too much, instead of treating them like any of your other memories."

"Are you serious?!" He seemed deeply rattled. "I'm supposed to just think about my time in prison like I'd think about a funeral or my worst day!?!"

Yerran nodded. "That is exactly how your mind needs to regard these memories." ...


Jak sat there, head cocked to the side, considering her words.


"You're not the first person to react with such surprise," began the elder. "From your position, you cannot imagine simply living with the memories."

The young king sighed. "Let's just get this challenge over with."


Keira sat some distance away, watching tensely as Jak lay on their bed and Yerran led him into hypnosis. In his mind, he followed her instructions without hesitation. Soon, he found himself surrounded by white light. Upon her final command, the light cleared away and he found himself restrained, under the Eco Injector. He struggled to calm himself and control the panic rushing through him. He tried to think. What options did he have? He had none. Giving up, he started pulling his arms up, intent on freeing them from their restraints. But they were tough...too tough.

He started thinking about the younger version of himself, that he saw in his recent dream. He even thought about the older dream, in which he was the boy. What was it about this boy? He was weak, had no strength at all. But he was patient. Jak lay there, pondering this realisation. His next question was why the boy was patient. Was he waiting to be saved? Such a scenario could not help him in his current situation. What about knowing he had no strength? This seemed closer to the truth. The boy had been so sick, he should not have been able to move. But he had crawled anyway and had done so at his own pace. This still doesn't help me!

Jak pulled at his restraints again. He stared at the unmoving, deactivated, threatening Eco Injector. He pulled and wrenched his arms against the restraints again, hoping they would budge. The restraints refused to move. He let out a yell, before giving up. What else can I do? He considered unleashing his anger, but his anger would be no good without his Dark Eco powers to accompany it. "
Anger comes to you naturally, without his help." He gritted his teeth at the memory; Light Jak was perfectly correct in his dream, but it did not seem to refer to anything. He heard the familiar footsteps...

He yelled and screamed at the top of his lungs! He pulled and pulled and pulled! He could see his Dark self, grinning with his sharp teeth, playing tantalisingly with his claws, on the verge of mocking laughter.
"I get much closer than this on most days!" He stopped, his heart racing. This is what he always did. It never worked. He thought about how angry he had looked, within the dream that he was the sickly boy. The boy had then turned around saying Jak had kept him sick. He had always locked him up. But Jak wanted to leave...this memory... "You will never forget."

It's true. Yerran says I'll never forget. I'll always remember. With this realisation, he gave up. He allowed himself to completely slacken. He could hear the machine above him being activated, saw it initialise. He also saw his younger self crying...and joined him. This is hopeless. He felt truly miserable, weak, humiliated, but he just didn't care anymore. He let his tears fall, waiting for the inevitable pain. He brushed the tears away with a hand.

With a hand...

He stared at his left hand, hovering in front of his face. This hand had been restrained! If it's that easy then... He gently lifted his other hand, holding it in front of his face, reaching upward. He stared at his arms, stretched out in front of him. He felt this was not real. His restraints are still there, around his ankles. But his hands were in front of him. He could hear Keira shouting to sit up. Dazed, he did precisely that, then blinked as the lighting changed. It was brighter, and the restraints were no longer around his ankles. He was on his bed. Keira wrapped her arms around him, tightly. He looked at her as a thundering elation overwhelmed him. He had to laugh as she bounced up and down, constantly repeating "You did it! You did it!"

Jak laughed, truly laughed. His melancholy mood was swept away, completely forgotten, he just laughed, relieved, happy, shocked, amazed. Jak held Keira tightly and laughed.


"It really is that simple," insisted Jak a little later that evening. "I just gave in to all the feelings from back then and realised I'd never forget. I just didn't care any more."

The four of them had moved to the kitchen, where they were enjoying mugs of fruit tea. Pern had already written Jak's explanation but continued to look at him disbelievingly.

"I believe you," grinned Yerran. Addressing her granddaughter, she explained. "My dear, if the wound in his mind had been caused by the humiliation and loss of dignity he had experienced, then losing his self-consciousness that resulted was the key to his recovery. He had to allow himself to feel exposed again and no longer fear such feelings. In other words, he had to be honest with himself." She beamed at the blonde proudly, making him produce a shy smile in gratefulness.

Keira lay a hand on top of his. "I know it's still early, but you're already more relaxed. I'm glad." She smiled lovingly.

Jak suddenly yawned. "Sorry. I'm just so exhausted."

The elder kept her smile. "You have experienced a lot in the last week, your mental well-being really does take a toll on your physical one. We all need to rest. Shall we return in 1 week?"

The mechanic was surprised by this. "A week? I thought Jak was cured?"

"If the mind was that easy to heal, all this stuff woulda been figured out centuries ago," Pern patronised. At Yerran's look she rolled her eyes. "Sorry grammy, but I am trying to make a point!"

The disgruntled elder faced the couple. "Yes, I had explained to Jak earlier that the trauma from his time in the prison has had some other consequences, issues that are a lot more complex but...not endangering I would say."

"How about I visit you where you are?" The young monarch surprised her with his question. "Well, Daxter told me this morning that a lot of people feel a little...judged when they go to your offices? I need help, I'm not ashamed to show it. People know you're seeing me, so...seeing me going to you can help boost their confidence. I hope."

"I think it will," encouraged Keira.

Yerran was beaming again. "Alright, you can see me in my office."

Previous<<    Home    Story Main    >>Next

Written by Ruth Hüneke 2013

© Naughty Dog and Sony