Some dreams don't let us go even when we wake.
| Last night, I had that dream again. There was a face behind the window, looking back at me. Wax melted in the rain and locked his eyelids. It rolled down his cheeks and dripped, dripped, dripped...
Carried by the wind, a maple leaf splotches onto the windshield. I can feel the slippery thing as though it has slapped my face instead. It gets stuck under the wiper blades and leaves a dripping streak.
An invisible man was sleeping in my bed, and I was standing there. Wax clogged my throat and shut my eyes. Mine. Not his. Not his!
I know it's just a dream. Look, my hands are perfectly still; I'm cool. But it's pouring cats and dogs again. I can't see further than five feet even when squinting. If a face jumps in front of me like that, I swear, I'm not taking the blame for what happens.
I need a fag.
God, what a shitty road. I can't even hear the radio over all the bumps. Rattle, rattle, rattle... And Stevie had such a sexy voice. Ooo baby... ooo... Whatever. I can't focus over that itch. My back is drenched with the cold sweat, and the new shirt is sticking to me like a second skin. Of course, I'd recall that stare of empty eyes. I feel it on the back of my head. It stabs at the nape, and I can't even rub it to get rid of the feeling.
I really need that fag.
Parking blindly is a pain but the sweet taste of nicotine is worth it. One inhale, and my head's already clearer. I'm smoking somewhere on the route B. Hah. No one would give a shit if I was standing in the middle of this road naked. I should be enjoying this peace.
No one would care except for that one driver perhaps. It seems there's one more idiot battling the rain. The lights that try to blink some visibility in are of no use. I doubt there's any police staking out to see if you have them on. Just wrap a tie around your eyes and go on like that; it'll be the same.
Fine. When he passes, the shadows do stretch, and dark streaks fill the salon of the car. One falls on my eyes. It's moving as though a person is shifting in the back seat. That gaze on my neck feels even sharper. I shouldn't be such a puss. The back seat is empty, look--
For a second there, it did seem that there was a person sitting behind and shaking the rain off his hat. Bloody trees and their shadows. Perhaps another puff would be good. I still have one pack in the compartment...
The sound of my nail scratching the rough surface is too loud. My hand slips, and I turn again. The back seat is empty. Only the sack with some spare clothes is lying on the floor, just like it should be. It's harmless. Or seems so until it─he─raises his head, and empty dripping sockets bore into mine.
“I asked if you're nervous, Malcolm,” he repeats.
Shit. Blink, Malcolm. Blink. It's empty. Just Stevie is back with her, “Eyes... on... him... all alone...” You're a puss.
“You shouldn't smoke so much, you know,” he says, sitting in the front seat by my side. His fingers on my thigh feel like claws. They dig in, it actually--
“Ouch!” Good going, Malcolm. You managed to burn through your pants with a still simmering butt. In an empty car. Relax and get on with your life.
The hum of the engine is good after all. It drowns Stevie who somehow got stuck on her 'ooos'.
“I don't know... I prefer Eurythmic. Sweet dreams are made of these... who am I to disagree... Good stuff.”
I don't hear anything. Just Stevie and the rain. Yeah, just the thickening rain. There's no humming man in the back. There's no man leaning to breathe into my ear. There's no man asking, “Hey, Malcolm. Why do you call yourself Malcolm?”
“Oh, so you are talking to me! Why are you a Malcolm, Malcolm?”
That voice is sticky, hollow. I can't explain it. It's just like listening to a dripping candle. Even the man's skin is a shade of a sickening yellow, unnatural. I wonder if he'd melt if I took out the lighter--
“You know... Malcolm... I don't think you should be doing this.”
Few miles ahead, there should be a gas station.
“There's nothing out there, Malcolm.”
“Malcolm, won't you ask my name?”
“Ooo baby... ooo... said ooo...”
Shut up, Stevie.
“Shut up, Malcolm,” he says from the front seat. His words drip on my head and shoulders. I can't... Brakes screech, and the car slides some feet until we─until I─stop. My knuckles hurt, I have been gripping the steering wheel too hard. Stevie ooos and drowns the whisper, “My name's also Malcolm. In fact, I'm the only Malcolm around.”
“Shut up.” My voice is just a wheeze. I can't breathe.
“See, you're no Malcolm. You're just... what are you, really?”
“A puss. That's what you are. You can't even sleep without wetting your bed. So you try to be someone else. Do you want to be like me? I would be a better you.”
“Shut up. Shut up. Shut... up...”
He laughs and leans back, cigarette in his hands. “Puss.”
If only he melted the heck away.
“I dare you to do it.” He breathes out a puff of smoke, so full of himself.
I slide my hand into the pocket where I've pushed the lighter. The sleazy plastic feels like nothing, and yet when I flick it, the light is reassuring. It feels so warm when the flame touches him and the seat. It feels so light when he melts. The wax runs down and locks the hollow eyes. The flame catches up and burns the skin, the voice, the flesh. Like a cigarette, he burns...
No, not he.
When the rain stops, "Well then suddenly... There was no one... left standing in the hall... yeah yeah..." is all that lingers in the burnt air.
Word Count: 1083