This week: In the Real World as in DreamsEdited by: W.D.Wilcox
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“You see things; and you say, ‘Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?'”
– George Bernard Shaw
“Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today.”
– James Dean
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
– Mark Twain
“It is only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth – and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up – that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.”
– Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
“I have had dreams, and I’ve had nightmares. I overcame the nightmares because of my dreams.”
– Jonas Salk
“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
– Stephen King
“Hold fast to dreams for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”
– Langston Hughes
“I have spread my dreams beneath your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”
– William Butler Yeats
In the Real World as in Dreams
There are dreams that hide inside us like bats in a cave, dreams that know only the night and feed upon the pale glow of the moon; bad dreams, that have made a vessel of the darkness and sail across the long nights looking for someone they can inhabit. Terrifying dreams, that enter us like a cold wind and dwell there driving the dreamer to despair, madness, or even death. Most of these dreams have never been told because words are unworthy of the task.
This is one of them.
You've been warned . . . . .
John Kirby realized that Death was nothing like he imagined it at all.
In fact, he found that people went out of their way to dress it up and call it something else, something other than what it really was. Like the way a mortician dolls up the newly deceased with Cover Girl foundation and rouged cheeks, but then dresses them in their finest clothes as if they were bound for a big business meeting rather than a long season of decay amid the roots and worms. John discovered -- realized -- that Death disguises itself as nightmares, and hides within our dreams. The memory of these dreams dogs our everyday existence, and pesters us the way we tongue an aching tooth.
He found that there are three different kinds of dreams: those that begin; those that pause in the middle; and those that never end.
John was having the latter, a nightmare that waited patiently for him as he dropped into sleep like a pebble sinking to the bottom of a lake. It throbbed there like a living thing within him and its darkened landscape lay stunned to the slow beat of his heart. As it roiled inside his mind seeking a place to belong, John felt a terrible sense of loss and grief. His teeth were clenched tightly together, and his face pinched as though he were in pain. On the verge of tears, he was like a child that has been locked away in the dark. He tossed and turned, and then settled down uncomfortably into unfamiliar territory within a neglected room that was locked, hidden, and gathering a skin of dust.
Sheila was there, as she was in all his dreams since the horrible accident. He found himself sitting upon a pile of journals and loose papers within the center of the darkened room and listened to the slow ‘thump-drag, thump-drag' of her broken body as she jerked and stumbled forward like a drunk puppet.
John cringed, knowing what was to come. A hoarse, lost cry escaped his lips--the cry of someone hopelessly ensnared within a grinding nightmare. Several large crows cawed from an old, gnarled branch just above him as if startled awake by a lightning strike. Sheila hesitated, looking up at the birds with hatred, and then came closer amid their grating shrieks. John watched her from the corner of his eye, too terrified to look directly at her.
She was completely naked, her battered frame bending oddly to one side and bleeding from hundreds of open cuts and wounds where the shattered windshield had exploded in upon her. Her head hung forward as she came, and her long, auburn hair covered most of her face. A gaping hole, six-inches in diameter, sat above the swell of her bosom where she had caught the twelve-foot piece of steel railing from the trailer of the truck.
"John..." she uttered in a gagging moan, her lips drawing back from her chipped and jagged teeth; she wore a beard of fresh blood that oozed from her once perfect mouth as she spoke.
Overcome with dread and grief, John lowered his head between his knees and pulled desperately at his hair, praying he would wake-up. Not again . . . please, not again. What in God's name is happening to me?
"John?" she called. "It's me. Aren't you glad to see me?" Her voice gurgled and sounded as if she were choking on her own blood.
"No . . . no, you're dead. Go away!" A moan passed his lips as he shook his head in denial.
She stopped in front of him, wobbled, and then opened her arms. In a muddled and graveled voice, she said, "But I've missed you so much, John. Come on, give me a hug."
The thought of embracing her sickened him; there was something obscene about it, something unwholesome and unclean like an infected sore that won't heal. "No! No, please, leave me alone!"
Her eyes sparkled and her lips drew back in a narrow smile. "Aw, Johnny . . . what's the matter?" she taunted. "You look like you're gonna cry." She lifted his chin with her bloodied hand.
He shrank away from her. "It's nothing . . . nothing at all," he said, but then a single large tear spilled over from the corner of his eye and rolled down his cheek.
She bent toward him, the tendons in her neck creaking like the hinges of a rusty screen-door. He could smell the stench of her rotting flesh and see her torn breasts sagging down before him--breasts that he once cuddled and loved. It was more than he could bear, and he moaned again.
As if she could sense his thoughts, her nipples began to grow tight and harden. "Come on, John, you know you want me. It's been so long."
He heaved a sigh of defeat, his shoulders slumping forward. It was the sound of a man who realizes he has not glimpsed light at the end of the tunnel after all, or of someone who understands that nightmares never go the way you want them to.
Unable to stop himself, he rose to meet her; saw the splintered bone and tattered flesh hanging from her chest. Her dark, hollow eyes met his gaze, and, as if in a trance, he reached for her mangled form. "Oh God, Sheila, why is this happening?"
When I Wrote Down My Dream
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Thank you so much for featuring my short story The White House on the Hill - in your awesome WDC Newsletter: Christmas Ghost Stories, December 23rd, 2020. It made my day! Christina
Lazy Writer est 4/24/2008
I loved this story! "The Long Road Home" Loved it.
Your wonderful Christmas tale will remain in my heart for sure.
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