Somnia

At the stroke of midnight, you (or a character) awaken suddenly from a strange, vivid dream. You remember that the dream involved an unusual object in a distinctive place, but you don’t know what it means.

Decide on the object and the setting, then use a dream dictionary (see options below) to look at common meanings behind those symbols. Alternatively, give the symbols your own significance. Use the meanings you find to craft a scene. 

Post your response to the prompt in 500 words or fewer in the comments below.

Example: I dreamed of trying to ride a white horse amid vast Saharan dunes. I would search for the meaning of “desert” and “horse” and write my scene based on what I found there.

Below are links to several dream dictionaries you can use to search for common interpretations. Note that these are not particularly scientific, but are good resources for creative inspiration nonetheless:


By the way: I would be thrilled to meet you in person if you can make it to the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference in NYC, coming up August 10-12. If you have yet to register, use the coupon code WDPROMPT18, good for $50 off registration.

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107 thoughts on “Somnia

  1. Christopher Allen

    Kaitlyn My Love

    My teeth grind and mesh as I’m deep into another strange dream, this has been a nightly occurrence for nearly seven nights now.

    Tonight it wasn’t the dream that awoke me, but the excruciating throb emitting from my jaw. I sit up in bed, rubbing the soreness while my eyes adjust to the pale green street light coming through the blinds. I look over at Kaitlyn, who if I couldn’t hear her breathing might as well be dead.

    Something is urging me out of bed, a gut feeling or a voice from beyond our world. I put bare feet on cold stone floor and run my palm over the familiar walls as I search in darkness for the tool.

    I hate that it’s even in the house, but Kaitlyn insisted it was her Father’s hammer and it keeps him close. She mentions it often and even subtly leaves it lying about the house as if a project were in works, just on the conscious’ periphery .

    Yet undeniably noticeable. My insides wrench with fear, jealousy and most of all anger, they well up in my soul with the sight of it. I cannot put words to these feelings, it’s almost as if the rust on the hammer did indeed carry that horrible man’s soul.

    In my dream I’m caressing the tool, almost dancing and swaying the forged steel handle over a popping and spitting fire, threatening to melt it down to a base formless liquid. But in my dream, I am aware that the fire does not burn with enough heat to get the job done, I’m shamelessly bluffing…and she knows it.

    She begins to seduce me by the fireside, both of our bodies drizzled with sweat, her robe off on one side she cups the hammer handle with her perfectly manicured hands then gives a gentle tug, and I follow obediently, still well aware of the trap being laid.

    I tell her I must leave, time is running out. My mind is screaming at me to drop the hammer and run, yet some gravitational draw will not loosen its pull on me. It’s her, she’s the all-knowing force that won’t let him die or me sleep. She’s a soul sucker and I begin to feel mine exit my body like a whirlpool at the center the deepest ocean and the waves are crashing on top of me and now I am drowning, still won’t let go of the hammer. A sea Cracken howls with piercing resonance at the crack of lighting and Kaitlyn is on top of it, directing the monster to drag me down to the seabed of the violent waters.

    The salty warm ocean water finds my lungs and now I’m looking up through the whirlpool at her, falling, drowning, crying for seven consecutive nights.

  2. yorkkato

    I awoke with a thump as my head hit the oak wood floor. I groaned and rolled over, blinking black spots from my eyes. I had been having the most vivid dream, about a leopard-spotted cow and the planet Venus. I shook myself, climbing back under my sheets. It was probably that moldy rice cake Grandma had fed me.
    As I lay half asleep, my grandmother’s words from the night before echoed in my head. “Johnathon, if you have any more strange dreams, you must tell me immediately, before you forget a single detail, even if that means waking me up. Do you understand?”
    I drifted off to sleep, the spots of the leopard-cow dancing in my mind.

    Two minutes later, I was awake. I rolled over, hugging Duffy the blue tiger to my chest. Tell me immediately . . . whispered the voice in my head.
    I growled, “Fine!” and, throwing Duffy onto my pillow, stalked down the hall to my grandmother’s room.

    I stood before the door, feeling awkward. I was seventeen years old! This was silly.
    But Grandma had seemed so earnest. Taking a deep breath, I opened the door. “Nana?”
    She was awake, sitting cross-legged on her bed, Lupa the old gray cat in her lap. “Johnathon? You had a dream?”
    “Yes, Nana.”
    “Sit,” she said, motioning to the foot of the bed. I sat.
    “Now, tell me everything.”
    I paused to collect my thoughts. “I was sitting on a leopard-spotted cow with giant horns, and it was leaping over the planet Venus. I was wearing a robe of pure red silk, and it billowed out behind me like the wings of a hawk.”
    My grandmother nodded solemnly. “Wait just one second.”
    She slid off the bed, holding Lupa under one arm, and hobbled to her bookshelf. She pulled off a book bigger than the cat, and I rushed to help her carry it. We set it on the bed.
    I turned on the bedside lamp, and Grandma teased open the leather cover. She flipped through the pages, muttering to herself, though the words were strange to me.
    Finally, she looked up, closing the book. “Johnathan, you are going to be a father. But because the cow had leopard spots, this means you cannot change this. It has already happened. You flew over Venus, though. You will not feel burdened by your responsibility; you will cherish this opportunity. And you will be well cared for and protected because you were wearing a silken cloak.”
    I wanted to shout that the old woman was mad. But her words were, for reasons I couldn’t find, completely undeniable.
    “Why me?” I whispered. “Why us?”
    My grandmother smiled kindly. “You will see, in good time. Off to bed with you.”
    I was too stunned to disobey, but I couldn’t sleep for many hours. By the time I did sleep again, I dreamed of the night I spent with Delilah. I was awakened by the light of dawn.
    “Oh, what have I done?”

  3. Bushkill

    Late entry … got stuck with some other stuff. Also, mostly a true story so a little leeway on strict adherence would be appreciated. My wife and I still laugh about it.

    “Is he here,” I asked, concerned my shadowy stalker still pursued me. I peered around the drapes into the backyard. Snow covered everything. Behind me, my wife mumbled something inarticulate. How could she be so insensitive at a time like this?

    “I’ve gotta’ go before he finds me.”

    “Go? Where? What are you talking about?”

    “Look, he’s com…” On the far side of the yard, a shadow separated from a tree. The moon, naked in the dark sky, spotlighted the apparition’s face. A half-hidden smirk and cold eyes fractured my tenuous grip on sanity. I quickly got dressed. “I’ll be back.”

    I raced through the house and grabbed the small plastic box on top of the couch. The crunch of my boot on snow sounded like a gunshot and when I heard the sound again after stopping next to my car

    I realized it was gunfire.

    I froze, my finger pushing the unlock on the car and its lights flashing in unerring uniformity. He stepped from around the side of the house, coat half zipped, gun pointed in my direction.

    “It’s a heck of a thing, killing a man. You take all…”

    “That’s not your line,” I screamed, hoping to be heard.

    He didn’t care, taking aim. I dropped like a bag of sand and crawled around to the back of my car. The lights had stopped blinking as my mind started working. I dashed across the parking lot of my apartment and down the embankment to the snow-covered main road. From there I raced two blocks down and into the plaza of the local strip mall.

    Behind me, a scream barked into the night and I could see a shadow move down onto the road. “I WANT MY TWO DOLLARS!”

    “You aren’t even in that movie, Mr. Hackman,” I mumbled to myself. I was close now and brushed snow off the box I still carried. I pressed up against the storefronts to hide, the trail of footprints mocking my attempt at subtlety.

    I could see the blue and yellow signage across freshly fallen snow. I didn’t know how long I had, Hackman was catching up. I broke cover, eschewing the shadows. I made it a third of the way before a gunshot shattered both the night and the prettily lit blue and yellow sign. I dove into the snow, rolling in a torrent of ice crystals and hope.

    A piercing drone rattled the night and images faded into mist as I opened my eyes and stared at the alarm clock. Its masochistic chime continued to sledgehammer its way into my consciousness until I reached out and shut it off.

    As I sat up and rubbed sleep and dreams from my eyes and mind, my wife commented, “Please remember to return the video to Blockbuster this morning.”

    “Yeah. Yeah sure,” I mumbled by way of return and left the room passing the couch and the beady-eyed stare of Gene Hackman on the cover of the movie we watched last night.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I loved this more than you know. People would come up to me and say, ” You look a lot like GeneHackman”
      It used to piss me off but not lately. I loved the description of diving in the snow to escape . That’s why my wife makes me watch Hallmark day and night
      I guess she’s looking for a Valentino kiss, I’m afraid to ask

    2. writer_sk

      That was a great read Bushkill! Drew me right in.

      Even though I knew the assignment, I never figured out it was a dream until the end!

      Good reveal having Gene Hackman’s face at the end.

      He played a good Lex Luther when I was a kid in the original Superman movie.

  4. writer_sk

    In her dreams she yelled. Freddie was far ahead of her in a clear blue sea. He was swimming on top of the water in an unnatural stance, his body contorted. She could hear his voice as if he was next to her but he wasn’t – he was far out of reach. He spoke to his father in Spanish peppered with short phrases in English. He wasn’t confident as he normally was. Soon he was in front of her, sinking in the water, his eyes endless pools of tears. She fought to keep him afloat. He spoke Spanish to her pleading and crying. She didn’t know what it meant and looking down into the water she saw the dead weight of Freddie’s father’s corpse that pulled him down and she felt the cold water overcome her as Freddie’s warmth escaped her grasp.
    Awake now the red numbers said it was three AM on the old alarm clock face in her and Nate’s bedroom. Cold air poured in through the crack in the window as the radiator tried to compete, compensating with snake-like hissing and clanking that would wake the dead. She threw on her robe, suddenly in need of air, thought better of it and grabbed her son’s puffy black ski parka and put that on along with a pair of boots before escaping to the street below. New York had mostly gone to sleep but the sounds of the existing traffic made Cate feel less alone. Trying to escape into a light yogic meditation her mind rattled of the logistics of her impending divorce. She became a simultaneous human calculator, life coach, daycare provider and chauffeur as she contemplated the healthiest options for her children and some way to minimize their guaranteed pain and distress. Her mind flew to their annual camping trip to Yellowstone National Park and she wanted to preserve it. She thought of her girls being sick in the middle of the night and if it was a weekend and they were at their father’s she wouldn’t be able to hold them. She thought of Nate Jr. and what she and he had been through thus far, especially looking back fondly at their time together with Hannah just previous to Nate re-entering the picture. Nate Jr. would take the news especially hard, she knew. She knew he would be worried about her and take her side if given the choice. She thought of how it was now – a mine-field to navigate three busy children’s lives between schoolwork, lessons outside of school, sports, friends, family and responsibilities. Last, she cried for herself and remembered a time where she wouldn’t hesitate to call Bridget in the middle of the night. She thought of how she was so less involved at work, letting the teaching, scheduling, payroll, class arrangement and formats mostly fall to the studio manager when these were things she was good at. She let herself look back and critique areas of her life and marriage where she had given up or given less than what would be right. She wondered if she should, after all try to salvage things while also wondering as her heart always did, where Freddie was in his life, at this moment.

    1. Witt.Stanton

      Touching and realistic story. Divorces are heartbreaking and frustrating and you handled the topic well. I like your description of the mother Cate as “human calculator, life coach, daycare provider, and chauffeur” — very accurate. Loved it and I want to see more.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I responded yesterday but it didn’t,’,t take. Having been through this myself made the story very powerful and realistic. It is a little different from a man’s point of view but it caused so much damage a psychologist in two years was to no avail

        Everyone should read this because your description are so real in so many ways
        Terrific writing here
        You have outdone yourself

  5. GrahamLewis

    THE DREAM IS OVER

    Greg jerked awake with jolt of what seemed a double-dose of adreneline. The first dose was the usual burst of panic as the car — a black Model-T — rumbled down the road, gaining speed. That had always been the waking point, just before the apparently inevitable crash.

    The second dose, followed closely on the first, was new, and fueled by the shock of unexpected familiarity. He hadn’t had the dream in what, thirty, forty, fifty years, and now it was back, clear as ever, as though there’d been no intermission.

    Just as in the childhood version, Greg (again about the age of seven) stood in the back seat of the driverless car, looking back, afraid to jump out, even though it rolled at just past walking speed. Just past. Just barely past. That point mattered because his father was walking behind the car, simply walking, even though Greg was crying and calling for help. HIs father had a look of stubborn nonchalance, suggesting he was making the required effort to help, doing all that could be reasonably expected, but couldn’t be bothered to run.

    The car reached the incline and began to pick up speed. Greg screamed for his father, who continued his steady walking, though he began fading into the distance.

    The Greg awoke, as he had always done.

    But the dreams, until tonight, had ended the evening he had told his babysitter about them. Old Mrs. Davis, a rotund, gray-haired widow of a retired farmer had listened carefully, then drew him close, toward her warm smile and old-lady scents. “Oh,” she said, “I’m sure the car hit a tree and stopped safely, and you got out, and walked home with your dad.” With those assurances, the dreams had ended.

    Until tonight. And he thought he knew why. Dear old dad, the emotionally distant father who had never bothered with the finer points of parenting, like how to throw a baseball, or listening carefully, or answering uncomfortable questions, or even simply being there, that dad lay on a slab at the funeral home, being prepped for one final scene, in which he would look nicer than he’d ever been in real life, the hints of alcohol replaced by the faint scent of formaldahyde. No doubt the dream was but one of many memories stirred awake by these funereal days.

    Greg rolled over, expecting to fall back asleep, but his eyes popped open after a third dose of adrenline, stronger than the other two, fueled by the realization that now it really was over for good, that dad was gone and would never, ever, bother to run and catch him.

    Greg had been finally and fully abandoned to his fate.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        A hard story to read because I could have placed my own father in it. In all fairness, his father died when he six and his mother raised him and was she a stern strict woman. I never had the dream but I thought an awful lot about it. Either you’ve been there or if not, someone you know well, has. Brilliant writing and heartfelt.

        1. GrahamLewis

          Kerry –

          Thanks for the kind comments.

          Like most writing this story began with my experience of reality and then I embroidered it. I told my daughter it was 2/3 true — I did have the series of dreams and they have resonated in my memory for years. They did stop after I told the baby sitter. That in itself intrigues me — why did I tell her, and was her comment off-hand or seriously considered? No idea. She was kindly and I felt about her as I would a grandmother, interesting because my maternal grandmother died long before I was born and my paternal grandmother lived in another city.

          Anyway, the dream never resumed after that, and Dad was neither an alcoholic nor strict or abusive. But he was emotionally distant, and very reserved, and for most of my childhood was gone M-F on his sales route. In all fairness, as you say, my Dad’s father was seriously injured when Dad was a young teen and I suppose absent in that sense.

  6. Kerry Charlton

    THE HORSE WITHOUT A RIDER

    My eyes snapped open instantly, sweat trickled down my cheek and my body shivered from the fright of a vivid nightmare. I looked around the interior of my room yet I still felt fear. In my dream a rider less horse had reared when he saw me and prepared to trample me like a snake. My heart still pounded from the menacing hooves that barely missed me. And then the stallion ran toward a deep forest, I dared not to enter.

    The very next day, a phone rang and as I talked, the shaking returned. On the other end, a girl from high school I hadn’t seen in fifteen years invited me to spend the weekend at her horse farm in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. Her name was Laura Lamont from an old family steeped in history of the Revolutionary War. I was the one to break it off or she would have consumed me. But now, now was a different ballgame. I had my own firm on Wall Street and they called me ‘The Young Lion of finance.’

    I picked her up early Saturday morning, I was stunned, she looked smashing and that old passion returned. The drive was breathtaking in October and we arrived before lunch. The house was empty as I expected except for a large bunkhouse her foreman and hands stayed that ran the place. An hour later we had mounted horses, she wanted to show me the land she had purchased. The terrain began to slope and caused some difficulty for I wasn’t used to riding a rise.

    We came to a mountainous area and the ground sloped to an uncomfortable grade.

    “I want to show you the fabulous view,” Laura said.

    I thought of the rider less horse I dreamed of but shook it off. The pathway became narrow, a niche six feet wide with a fall on the right side of about four hundred feet almost straight down. Yet still we rode higher, even the horses found it difficult not to lose footing.

    “Almost there,” she said.

    The pathway shrank to no more than four feet wide.

    “Come up with me, the view is stunning now.”

    I did as she asked, my horse walked twelve inches away from death. For some reason, I knew my dream was to help me and I stayed steady. Suddenly Laura took her crop and whipped my horse at his neck. Then I held on for dear life as my stallion I rode, reared and flailed his hooves at Laura. She turned her crop my way and she swung at my face. I ducked and she lost her balance. At that moment the stallion reached down as Laura fell, sunk his jaw in her arm, and dragged her to the edge of the cliff and flung her off. Her scream as she fell, chilled my blood.

    It happened so quickly I just sat there and dropped the reigns, neither horse could turn so both walked back ways until the path widened enough for Laura’s to turn and walk toward the horse farm. My stallion followed in obedience to the other, as I brushed gently on the right side of his neck. He gave me a greeting and I vowed at that moment I would care for him for the rest of his life.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Writer, I have never been called. Stellar in my life. It is a wonderful compliment and don’t think I don’t appreciate it. Now on to the next. I have written between 250.and 300 responses to writerrs digest.

    1. Bushkill

      Awesome, Kerry. And in the Poconos, no less. Anywhere near the wee town of Bushkill? plenty of too-steep grade near me.
      you did a nice job of setting up the foreshadowing from the dream to reality, too.

  7. James ODae

    “IMPACT”

    The jagged surface of the asteroid was awkward to stand on. He could feel the rubber on his worn canvas sneakers struggle to hold a grip on the surface of the giant metal rock. His eyes stayed on his shoes as the asteroid rocketed around the Earth. It took all his concentration to keep balance on the speeding celestial object, to keep from slipping. Because that’s what this was, a slipping dream.

    He’d had them his entire life. Step on a banana, a skateboard, a marble, you name it, he’s stepped on it in a dream. And slipped. The unconscious impact from the fall was always the weirdest part. He’d fall right into his bed mattress. Seemingly from any height, he’d wake an inch from impact and always fell on his mattress. Impact was probably a momentary squirm as he woke, that supplied the force for the feeling of impact.

    Though, he felt if he slipped now, he wouldn’t fall back on the jagged asteroid. He’d fall off completely. Then plummet to Earth. He knew it, because his mind was making it so.

    For some reason, he was wearing a school backpack, and just realized this fact. It felt full, which couldn’t be helping his balance at all. Carefully, he slipped it off his shoulders and unzipped the main compartment. He turned the pack over and dumped the contents out. What he thought would be heavy school books, turned out to be his laptop and only copy of a manuscript he’d written.

    Idiot! He thought. He hadn’t been in school for fifteen years, how could he be so stupid? As he stooped to collect his work, he remembered he hadn’t finished his manuscript yet. As this realization entered his mind, it exited just as fast, because he lost his footing and slipped.

    His feet flew out from under him, and he screamed. His scream emitted no sound, as in most of his dreams. Though he wasn’t dwelling on this fact as he normally would. Even his subconscious knew in space there was no sound. He wasn’t having any trouble breathing the lack of air in space, but at least his mind had the sound thing right.

    The long fall to Earth started as a slow, weightless gentle float. It progressively picked up speed as gravity did its job. The small blue planet became all he could see. He reached orbit and had to duck his head as a satellite whipped by him. Then he broke out into a sweat, as he broke through the atmosphere, in a ball of fire.

    He realized he was still clutching his empty backpack. With his velocity, it was a matter of seconds until impact. He ripped the backpack open and tried to use it as a parachute, to slow his fall. His body righted itself, his feet dangled below as he hung from the backpack, it started to work. Then the straps broke and he was left with nothing in his hands.

    He fell backward, unable to right his body. He could feel the impact coming. It would be any second now.

    His body hit the mattress with such force that the box spring shattered.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I agree with all the others. Very vivid writing, detailing his thought at every moment..Good thing the mattress was sturdy or you might broken through the wood floor. Remember,
        Things could always be worse.

    1. GrahamLewis

      Articulate re-telling of a dream. I saw (I think) what the dreamer saw. The last sentence was unexpected, and makes the whole thing shine with a different light.

  8. Witt.Stanton

    The goat blinked his rectangular eyes against the harsh light of the sun filtering down onto the city street. “The world is a hurtful place,” he bleated.

    The footsteps of high-heeled stilettos and polished Oxfords pounded on the sidewalk cement like a train’s engines picking up speed. They sounded off-beat with his small, scuffed hooves hitting the pavement. “It’s too loud,” the goat said as he began to run. “I cannot live in this cacophony.”

    The sky sank into a deeper shade of fiery orange, glaring at the goat through the skyscrapers as he hurried down the street. “Help me.” The pounding footsteps and blinding sunlight abused his senses. He darted into the shadow of a building and froze in place, chest heaving.

    A car blared its horn and tires squealed. The goat closed his eyes. “Make it stop. Please.” The noise grew louder. “Stop.” He dashed out into the traffic, the pavement searing tar into his hooves.

    Sirens in the distance. Glass smashed, metal groaned, the crowd murmured. “I don’t want to be here,” the goat whimpered softly. “This is not where I belong.” He picked himself up with unsteady legs and toppled forwards. Laying on the hot road, the sun dimmed and the noise quieted.

    The goat opened his eyes. The dusty hay was piled around him. He stood up, shaking the bits of straw off his back, and warily checked his surroundings. The faded walls of his red barn, the chickens clucking outside the door, the horse snuffling in its sleep. Home.

    He pushed open the door with his nose and happily stamped in the puddle of mud outside his barn. The rooster crowed and the goat turned his head in time to watch the first rays of dawn stretch across the open pastures and rest across his farm.

    Shaking the nightmare from his head, the goat walked up to the fence lining his pen and breathed in the breeze and let it clear away the suffocating smell of tar that permeated his dream. Walking along the perimeter of his pen, he squinted his eyes in happiness. Freedom was wonderful.

  9. typewriter

    BLACK HOLE

    Harvey Taft was sitting on the edge of the bed, sweaty, and pondering what had become of the dream. A strange and vivid one. It was nineteenth time he dreamed it. There was a black hole in it—inexplicable to what it meant.
    “It’s happening again,” he murmurs. He couldn’t get the image out of his mind. It was some kind of fruition.

    He stands up, gropes in the dark for a pair of jeans and t-shirt in the drawer. After he dresses, he shambles downstairs.

    In the kitchen, he turns the burner on. The digital clock reads 6:17.
    Harvey puts the kettle of water on the stove. He wanted hot cocoa and macadamia nut cookies for breakfast. He reaches for the blue ceramic jar on top of the refrigerator. Removes the lid and grapples four cookies and lays them on a Dixie plate.
    The tea kettle whistles. Ssss. Harvey get the Nesquik hot chocolate packets, brings the hot water at the table, combines them in a Christmas mug. He sips to taste the deliciousness. Sweet and refreshing. He adds marshmallows. It just what he needs, a smoothing, chocolate drink in the morning.
    Harvey eats cookies, dripping them in the hot cocoa. When he’s finish, remain of crumbs are left on the paper plate.
    Harvey sees it.

    He looks down at the plate, the crumbs in a formation in a circle. Like the black hole in his dream. It was disconcerting.

    Harvey fires up the Dell laptop, opens Firefox. When the web browser boots up, Google pops up. In the search bar, he types: Dream dictionary.
    He clicks the blue link and is taken to the page—DreamDictionary.org. Harvey is prompt with: WHAT IS YOUR DREAM INTERPRETATION? He types: black hole and hits the interpret button.

    He glances, eyes glued to the computer screen.
    Black Hole
    To see a black hole in your dream indicates that there is no turning back on a decision that you have made. You may be feeling stuck in a situation. Alternatively, the hole symbolizes the subconscious and the unknown.

    Harvey shuffles blindly in the desk drawer for green-tint Steno paper and a ballpoint pen.
    He jots down what was on the screen on the paper, folds it and tucks it in his pocket.

    “Only mistake I’ve made, when I ran over a twelve-year-old boy riding his bicycle. I was heading home drunk. I’ve been driving fast, over the speed limit. I didn’t see him, honest to God. It was an accident.

    “…nobody knew. I dumped the body, bike too, down an old well in the woods. I should have turn myself in to the police. That was a six weeks ago. I still can do it now.”
    Harvey begins to sobs, the water works are on. Tears were heavy, like his eyes were draped with wax paper. He had a blurry vision.

    His eyes clearing now that he wasn’t sobbing anymore. But the guilt from the incident stayed.
    There came a rap on the front door. A soft rat-a-tat-tat.

    Harvey unhooks the chain, unlatches the lock. The door opens to a welcoming Saturday morning.

    A boy stood on the porch, green and bloated. Dressed in a blue Cleveland Indians t-shirt with Chief Wahoo embroidered on it, and jean shorts. His sneakers, greasy with black muck. Blonde hair, dampened and matted with the same dark stuff that on his shoes. He had no eyes. A colony of worms wiggling out of the sockets, plopping on the porch. Hundreds, maybe thousands of them at the boy’s feet, squirming. Behind him, on the sidewalk, was a mangled bicycle.

    The boy was grinning.

    1. GrahamLewis

      I agree with the other comments, vivid imagery and a nice twist at the end, one that seems natural once I look back on the story.

      I thought the knock on the door would be the police, to arrest him and thereby offer him release from guilt. Your ending is better.

  10. RafTriesToWrite

    I had a dream, him and I were floating in mid air, carelessly zooming across dozens and dozens of clouds as the rays of the sun gently touched our skins, I look at you as we fly away, away to nowhere and anywhere. The laws of physics did not matter as we fly together with planes, people looking at us as if we’re freaks, or heroes, I couldn’t be bothered which one they think for as long as I have you by my side, I am eternally happy.

    You gave me a smile, a carefree genuine gesture that makes my heart warm up as we pass oceans, valleys and mountains, I felt we could do anything, I felt… free. We flew through monuments, got above stormy seas, explored Mt. Everest, even had a race with some jets, we were having so much fun, then I had to look down and realized that I was terribly afraid of heights, I fell, I thought that this was it. My heart was breaking as the wind kept crashing on my body while I just fall. Fall to my mere demise, the ground, but as I hit the ground, I fell off of my bed.

    It was just a dream. I cried. Dreams are nothing but a mere just. Dreams remind me that there are just some things that are impossible to have.

    I thought: there was only one impossible thing in my dream that I could never have. It’s not flying, that’s what planes are for. It’s not touching the clouds and falling off of the sky, you have skydiving for that. And it’s definitely not the places that I’ve visited because they’re all real and still standing up to this day.

    The impossible thing was him, the love of my life, the source of my happiness, the ender of my sorrows, the one that I could never have. No matter how hard I try, no matter how hard I wish it, no matter how much I want it, no matter how many times I dream of him, it will only be just that. A dream.

    Nothing but a mere concoction of my consciousness and my heart’s desires whenever I go to sleep. Dreams are never enough.

    I want to know how it feels in real life, the joy, the happiness that he can give me. His touch, his voice, his warmth, I want to feel it. His strengths and weaknesses I want to know it.

    His… Name.

    I want to know his name. I don’t want him to be a nameless face forever. But, even if I try to pull myself to him, even just inches from him, the universe always finds a way to keep us miles apart.

    But I could never let it go, even if it’s just in my dreams. Because it’s the only thing I have and probably the only thing that will be.

    1. writer_sk

      Raf, sad, wistful and heartfelt. Very dreamy. Good word choices.

      You’re breaking my heart, though. I hope u find him or someone like him.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        It was quite a ride.to read this. I have have had an experience similar. The ache, the pain is irreversible. So I grooved into the story. I know this about love
        It will come to you when you least expect it
        It has always worked that way. So relax. Live you life and be patient. Beautifully written

  11. Jennifer Park

    9. The Dream

    [Picking things back up in Barbara’s youth. Follows “8. The Invitation”, posted under “Lucky Day”, where Barbara started dating Sandi, a leader of the very rich and powerful gang of kids at the elite school. You can see a listing of the Darth Barbara saga chapters—all of which are posted under WD prompts—by clicking on my name above.]

    “So, I had this dream about beef sticks…”

    “Beestix? What are beestixes?”

    “No. Beef. Sticks. You know what they are?”

    Barbara shook her head. There were so many things that she did not know about the ways of the society’s rendered fat, not having really grown up with them.

    “‘Beef’ is an old name for cattle meat. And…”

    “Cattle meat?” Barbara frowned. Cattle meat was toxic and inedible. A genetic experiment gone terrible wrong had created a super virus that had quickly infected the world’s cattle stock. The cattle were fine, but their flesh had become toxic to all other mammals. Now, herds of these inedible beasts roamed the plains of North America, rendering the land uncultivable.

    The alligators could still eat them, so they were happy about this. So were some of the few privileged that had managed to keep a small supply of uninfected stock. “Yeah! It’s really good. I’ll bring you some,” Sandi promised. She made many such promises. “Anyway, my dream…”

    Barbara dreamily flung her arm over Sandi and held her tightly. She really did love her.

    “I had to trek across the whole galaxy with nothing but these two beef sticks. I had to swing them around to wade through the vacuum, you see.”

    Barbara dreamily giggled.

    That made Sandi smile. “And I knew that I could make it by the weekend if I kept it up. But, then, there was this doubt. A part of me was quickly calculating how dense the vacuum was, and how much momentum I was gaining with these beef sticks. And I had to really suppress this doubt, because the doubt canceled out the momentum. So, if I could just… Hey… stop it…”

    Barbara did not.

    “So… Ummm… He… Yeah… just if I kept relaxing, I would pick up speed, swatting at all these hydrogen atoms that… that…”

    Barbara finally stopped. They had to get ready for class.

    “Just happily paddling and paddling and paddling with my beef sticks.”

    “So, did you make it?”

    “To the end of the galaxy? No. It wasn’t the weekend, yet,” said Sandi with a straight face, then a goofy smile. She never smiled like that in public.

    Barbara smiled back dreamily. “That’s too bad.”

    “But, I was really happy. I didn’t have to get there. If I could just… relax, then I could be happy. And also move faster.”

    “…”

    “I think it’s a prophecy.”

    “A what?”

    “You know, a vision… a message…”

    Barbara frowned. “From whom?”

    “From myself, of course. Or maybe some divine being.”

    Barbara scoffed.

    “I should just relax and keep moving forward. Don’t worry about how fast I’m going.”

    Barbara almost scoffed; that was the most ridiculous thing she had ever heard. But, then, there was something about… “Beef sticks.”

    “Hmmm?”

    “Why sticks made of poison?”

    Sandi started to get up.

    “Why sticks of death?”

    “Beef isn’t death if you can eat them.”

    Barbara wasn’t so sure. If it was, indeed, prophecy, Sandi was focusing on the wrong bits.

    1. RafTriesToWrite

      True, beef indeed isn’t death if you can eat them. I did try some beef jerky once, but I didn’t liked them. I’ve yet to try beef sticks though.
      I hardly think that beef sticks are some messages from a divine being, but I could be wrong.

      I liked the dream, I wish Sandi did made it to the end of the galaxy. Oh the wonders and secrets it holds. There’s still so much we don’t know.

      Lovely, Jennifer! I enjoyed that.

    2. writer_sk

      Ha. This was a very smart and sassy exchange of dialogue, Jen. Well done choosing the unusual beef sticks. I liked the explanation of beef use in their world.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        You poor people having to fight over beef sticks
        In Texas we use them as tooth picks. The description of meat is and I quote
        … a two rib prime for each person rare swimming in a small puddle or. an eighteen.ounce T bone steak medium rare. Just kidding. Sorry I was reading the children,s menu. Enjoyed the meat out of this. 33,000.000 Texans can,t be wrong.

        1. GrahamLewis

          Kerry — I grew up in Nebraska, sometimes known as “The Beef State,” which was the ending of many cattle drives up from Texas. We were visiting with a family from a Texas cattle ranch family, who had moved up to the North-Central state where I live now, and the topic of beef came up. They told me they sold most of their beef to the East Coast, and for personal eating ate Nebraska beef. Omaha Steaks is for real.

          1. Kerry Charlton

            I have been to Omaha, let me see., Fifty three years. I still remember the T Bone I ate there

  12. jwismann

    Definitions from Dream Moods

    Spaghetti
    To see or eat spaghetti in your dream symbolizes longevity, nourishment and abundance. Alternatively, eating spaghetti indicates that you find yourself entangled in some messy relationship or uncomfortable position. Perhaps you are not sure how to end a relationship or situation

    Roller Skates
    To dream that you are on roller skates implies that you are progressing toward your goals at a steady and leisurely pace. If you are wobbly on roller skates, then it means that you are unsure of your direction in life.
    ****
    Ahhhhhh! I screamed waking from a dream where I was ungracefully rolling skating toward a pot of spaghetti that had somehow tipped over and was coming at me like so many worms from a pile of worm-laden manure.

    Then I screamed again throwing my sleep apnea mask on the ground and kicked it away as if it were a pile of spaghetti teeming in my mouth. I breathe in and out heavily; heaving and heaving but not seeming to capture air into my lungs. I stumble to the bathroom and lean over the sink dry-heaving as I splash water in my face. UhHuh! UhHuh! UHUHACK!

    As I was recovering from my sudden dry throat attack I hear something at the door and instinctively look at the bed for my wife who should be sleeping in the spot just next to where I awoke not moments ago. She is not there. I walk out the door and look down the hall to where the front door is in plain sight.

    The door opened suddenly and my wife stumbles into the door embraced in the arms of her best friend; their tongues embraced in something more than friendship typically allows. I scream again Ahhhhhh! and begin the hacking escapade all over again.

    On my stumble back to bedroom I slip over the wooden ship model I have been working on in my laid off state and fall head first into the video game system that occupies the small time I have free from gluing small wooden planks together. As I lie there wrapped in the spaghetti wires of the video game system and the wooden planks, I see my wife and her over -loving friend roller skate in their derby outfits past me and enjoy the romp I should be having in my bed.

    Oh, well. I guess I will spend another night fantasizing about the fun I should be having in there. Maybe I should….nah, this is really pretty nice. Ahhhhhhhhh….

    1. writer_sk

      Cool and weird – which is exactly how dreams often are. Great how you brought back the spaghetti in the wires and the skates as actual skates. You covered a lot in a short piece. I look forward to hearing more from you

      1. Kerry Charlton

        This poor man needs help immediately. Three or four Playboy Playmates ought to solve the problem.than he can tell the two ladies to go climb a tree full of.monkeys
        Interesting to say the least and enjoyed your style.

  13. JRSimmang

    AREN’T WE ALL, Cont’d

    Once I speculated that death was a void, a bleak blackness spread before us eternally. But, the assumption there is that we remain conscious in death in order to perceive of the blackness. Then, I presumed that consciousness itself must also die, but if that was the case, it must also have a beginning, and that beginning must be born from blackness, from nothingness. However, I wound up travelling down this rabbit hole that took me to understanding that, since energy and matter can neither be created nor destroyed, consciousness must be constantly a part of our existence, collectively or otherwise.

    That is why I am no longer an atheist.

    However, I do not believe in God.

    “You seem to be recovering, Dr Amos.”

    I reclined in my hospital gown, staring at the voice of my caretaker, Demi Housieaux. My bandages had slipped across my eyes, and the most comfortable position I could be in required that I lay semiretired on my back. The pressure behind my eyes felt enough to make them burst.

    “I am recovering, Demi.”

    “From death…” she whispered.

    “Yes. Demi. From death.” Death isn’t an affliction. It’s terminal.

    “A lot has changed, Dr Amos.”

    “I am aware.”

    “Since the ’50s.”

    “I understand that.”

    “We have things called-”

    “Please, allow me to stop you there. After your goodwill gesture of trying to educate me on all things a la mode, I will need to politely decline your vain attempts at being the first person to retrain someone who has visited the ‘other side’ of the veil.”

    “I am just trying to-”

    “Help. Yes. I understand. Now, if you’d be so kind, I would like to continue listening to the radio.”

    I could hear Demi’s footsteps fade out of my room, and I dialed up the radio, letting it fade into the background.

    One thing I couldn’t get past was the pocketwatch and the llama. The setting I understood completely. My grandfather’s childhood home wasn’t one that I would readily forget. Astounding that I was able to recall it so completely. The ticking sounds of what I could only assume was the pounding of the instruments. My respirator. My haemoglobin substrate and pressure pump. The pocketwatch, I can only guess, was my conscious recollection of a similar sound, something familiar.

    There were so many rooms in that house, and I memorized them all. Rooms, I believed, were there for storing things. Lots of things. My grandfather was the realization of this. Collections upon collections. Shelves lines with aging contact paper in order to protect both the shelf and the tchotchkes. It was a place of comfort. A place of constant conversation and collaboration. It was his heart and soul.

    His soul.

    It escaped my lips unintentionally.

    How long had I been in that house?

    I raised my hand to my bandages and felt where my skull had been pried open. I could feel the staples through the wrappings. If I had been braindead, then is my consciousness stored elsewhere?

    I worry too much.

    I wondered if Elena Milsap is still alive. She and I had gone to prom together, and, even then, I knew I carried too many things.

    JEH, I suddenly remembered was on the llama’s tag. I worked the letters over in my mind, trying to snatch at the vapor, the sfumato, but it eluded me. Just. Enjoy. Heaven.

    Hm, I laughed at myself.

    If God were real, wouldn’t he have a sense of humor?

    -JR Simmang

    1. writer_sk

      JR – interesting and philosophical. I would enjoy hearing more about his backstory and his doctor.

      Well done, as usual.

      The eerie or sterile vibe of MC’s bed and surroundings complimented the forlorn feeling of the grandfather’s house.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Ive read the first paragraph several times, lots to think about there. The scene is very powerful, description of grandfather’s house reminded me of, “in my father’s house. . . “ I need to reread last week’s story.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Missed last week’s story also. Going back to read so i can understand more realistically..i.also.wonderr about death but when I see nature in full dress. My.doubt escapes me. A good thonkable story.

  14. ShamelessHack

    “Eddie, wait up!”
    “Oh, hi Hack, what’s happening, man? What are you doing here?”
    “Listen, Eddie. Last night…I had a dream.”
    “A dream?”
    “Yeah, a dream. In the dream I was five years old again. I lived with my five brothers in a building on Fifth Street. We lived on the fifth floor. We ate five square meals a day, but since our Mormon dad had five wives, money was scarce. I wanted a pet, but my five moms all said, “save up five dollars so you can buy your own pet.” I worked five days a week for five weeks and finally saved up five dollars. I went to the local stables and used the five dollars as a deposit on a horse.”
    “And…”
    “And then I woke up! I got dressed as fast as I could and caught a cab to bring me here, to the track.”
    “Wait, let me guess. You bet on a horse, right?”
    “Yes. I put $5,000 on a horse named Penta. He was running in the fifth race, and pulling five-to-one-odds. So guess what!”
    “You won $25,000, Hack?”
    “No. He came in fifth.”

    (Confucius say: When prompt too silly, wise man resort to very old joke to save dignity.)

    1. RafTriesToWrite

      Fabulously fantastic, Hack!

      I find it very fair to have finally seen “f” to be used in its full potential. I was fascinated by your work that I must have read it at least five times. This is easily one of my favorites.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Baby what a punch
        I’ll.givr you a high five for the story. You sucked half the county with this story go drink five fifths of five crows and see of you can still stand.

  15. craigallenheath

    Last I saw him, my brother didn’t have four arms. But there he sat, cross-legged, two arms raised above his shoulders, two down near his hips, each hand in a different mudra pose like a god of India. He was his normal color, not blue, and in his usual work pants and tee shirt, not the silk trousers and stole of Vishnu.

    He beamed a familiar smile and sang the opening line from Captain Spaulding. “Hello, I must be going. I cannot stay, I came to say I must be going.”

    I sat upright in bed, eyes wide, panting. In the darkness I could feel the cool breeze from the ceiling fan and closed my eyes again, grateful that I had been dreaming, and more grateful I was awake. The big German Shepherd snored peacefully in her crate, my wife competing in volume and tone in the bed next to me. I turned to the bedside clock and watched the digital display tick over to 12:01.

    I caught my breath, but my skin tingled, and I knew I wouldn’t fall asleep again soon. I slid from the covers and padded quietly to the tiny second bedroom I call my office. The midsummer day still had not clocked out, so I didn’t bother with slippers or a robe. I sat at my desk and unplugged my tablet from the charger, thinking I would read awhile to settle my nerves enough to sleep. The cool of the wood floor under my bare feet helped me quiet my mind as if I needed solid ground to stand on.

    I don’t set store in dream symbols. I figure each person is so different no single meaning can account for what we see or hear or experience in sleep. This explains why I opened a browser window and searched for dream interpretations. Turns out, there are many sites to choose from. I picked one at random, clicked and typed “arms” into the search box.

    I wasn’t surprised to see at least a dozen options. Seeing arms can be about nurturance and care for others. Or it can mean struggles, as in “arming yourself.” Losing an arm means this, ripping off someone else’s arm means that.

    Then I read, “Dreaming that someone has more than two arms symbolizes acceptance, receptiveness or being open-minded.” I didn’t know who was being accepting and open-minded, me or my brother.

    The search on “goodbye” was more satisfying. “Dreaming about saying goodbye is generally only a sign that something in your life is going away.” Well, duh.

    My cell phone rang from its charging stand. I hadn’t muted the sound. The dog set to barking, scratching at the closed crate door. I rolled my chair to the other side of the desk. My wife called out, “Honey? You okay?” The dog moved from barks to low growls.

    I picked up the phone and swiped the screen to unlock it. My sister-in-law’s name appeared over the flashing answer button.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Realistic writing to a T. Funny so many responses have nothing to do with each.other, dreams fascinate me and so does yours with four arms a posin’. Crosp writing and good flow on the story.

    1. writer_sk

      Best paragraph starts w: “I sat upright” = very well-written.

      I liked the whole thing – top to bottom. Interesting- left me wondering if the brother is trying to contact him from the afterlife through a dream.

  16. ReathaThomasOakley

    The Girl is Back
    Quote is from The Royal Book Of Dreams From An Ancient And Curious Manuscript by Raphael

    “Granny?” First three times hadn’t done no good, she was still snoring like it was nighttime, and the sun’d been up a right long time. I picked up the cup on the floor next to the rocker, put it up under my nose. Mama’d said when she come to bed Mr. Parker from one place over been to see Granny. Musta left her a jug for pay. Granny’d sleep on if I let her, but I couldn’t.

    “Granny!”

    “What? What?” She sat right up like she didn’t know where she was. “Girl?” She wiped her chin with her hand. “Is the house afire?” Me, I’m the Girl

    “No, mam,” I handed her the RC Cola bottle what she uses for spit. “I been havin’ that dream agin. Mama said I was takin’ on in my sleep. She didn’t hardly get no rest and a bus load of Northern tourists is in today, she can’t be draggin’.”

    “Lord, Lord, Girl, couldn’t you wait? You had to. . . Where’s my teeth?” She felt around ‘til she found ‘em in her apron.

    “Granny, I was afeared if I waited that dream’d just fly on outta my brain like a pound cake recipe or nine times seven.”

    “Most likely that’s true,” Granny said. “Let me get woke up, wash my face. Coffee still hot?”

    “Yes, mam.”

    “Well, you get me my book from under the Bible and pour me a cup.”

    At the table, after she’d drunk most all her coffee, Granny said, “Now, what’s got you all riled up?”

    “Granny,” I stopped, what scared me in the dark, seemed right foolish in the light. “It ain’t the, the, story of the dream, it’s that it’s ‘most ever night, same thing. I’m in a big buildin’, bigger’n the bank on Dixie Highway—“

    “Don’t you never say the name of that bank in this house,” Granny hit the table with her balled up fist. Man what used to own the bank was why we lived here when we shoulda been in town.

    “Oh, Granny, I forgot. I was just tryin’ to. . . “

    “I know, I know, now in this dream, what you doin’?”

    “There’s these tall, steep stair steps, and I gotta go up, but, when I start, they just get taller and taller and I know I ain’t gonna never get to the top. Sometimes, I just sit down and start cryin’. That’s when Mama wakes up and wakes me up. I done thought and thought, but I keep on dreamIn’ same thing.”

    Granny sat with her eyes shut, like she was studying on it, then opened her book to ‘bout midways and said, “Genesis is full up of all that. Here’s what this old one wrote, ‘. . .in the fifteenth chapter, God appeared unto Abraham, and acquainted him with the captivity and deliverance of his posterity.
    ‘In the twentieth chapter, king of Gerar, had a dream, wherein God made known unto him that Sarah was the wife of Abraham. In the twenty-eighth chapter is recorded a very remarkable mysterious dream that Jacob had of a ladder, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon it.’

    “Girl, iffen Jacob had a dream ‘bout a ladder with angels, maybe the Lord is givin’ you a vision of heaven.” She shut her book. “Now you ponder that out in the garden, beans need pickin’ and I need my rocker a while longer.”

    Later on I done what Granny said, but didn’t get no peace. My dream ain’t about heaven.

    1. B.D. Blanco

      Nice use of the vernacular! I picture them as share croppers in the 1960s. If she’s not dreaming about heaven. I wonder if she’s dreaming about social mobility.

    2. ShamelessHack

      Lord, Reatha, yor stories jes keep gettin better and better. I’d be right teched in the haid to let on that I maself am from the North, so I’ll jes keep my mouth shut. Works for me. I flat out love yor work.

      Hack

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Well, I can,t talk the talk too well.but I understand the language, this one.is a little different, granny seems stronger than usual
        I can see the house, the furniture and of course old Dixie Highway . It ran though the center of Coral Gables two blocks from.my.house
        Oh where oh where are the pines we had? Sigh.

        1. ReathaThomasOakley

          Kerry, because three Grannies show up from time to time, I struggle to make them each different. As a child I lived right on Dixie Highway in an older house that was haunted. My room was upstairs with magnolia trees next to two windows. I would open the screens, pick the blossoms, and put them in food coloring water. I can almost smell them now. I loved that house, ghost and all.

      2. ReathaThomasOakley

        Raf, my first time here, February, 2016, I wrote about the Girl. I’ve neglected her, and her family, for a while. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    3. writer_sk

      Beautifully done. The characters are rich and real. Great how she searches for her teeth. You captured a Totally human reaction of the feeling when someone wakes you suddenly.

      My favorite part was when the “Girl” decided her dream wasn’t about heaven.

  17. jhowe

    It was my job to convince the people it was just a dream. Once they realized it wasn’t real, they were so relieved, they’d give you practically anything. We didn’t require much, just wiring instructions and a routing number. And the people had to be rich, of course. We tried to acquire at least six figures, preferably more. It wasn’t a cheap scam to pull off.

    The others took care of the gory little details: A lot of research, a visit from their greatest fear, a few close calls and a shot of a quick acting barbiturate. They always woke up sweating and trembling. It was really quite pathetic.

    Enter the psychiatrist. I would be there when they woke up. They were so scared and confused; they didn’t even wonder why I was there. A few reassurances, a well-placed hypnotic session and the process would start again. After a dozen or so episodes, they would be ready to crack. The reveal that it was just a dream was so powerful, they practically handed their money right to me.

    After the latest session, I sat in my office and sipped a glass of Johnny Walker Black on ice. I placed a call to my agent and finalized the sale of a vacation home in Saint Croix. It was time to start enjoying my newfound wealth.

    My eyes began to grow heavy. I shook my head and felt the water around my feet. I jumped up and was up to my knees in churning water. It rose so quickly, I couldn’t reach the door. My screams pierced the air and I tried to grab the floating objects from my office, but they kept scooting away. Soon my head hit the ceiling but the water continued to rise. My head grew hot, knowing I was going to drown. I took a big breath as the water enveloped me. I watched as childhood scenes drifted through my mind and then it was black.

    I shielded my eyes with my hand. The light was blinding and my head ached. A woman sat before me, a notepad in here hand. She told me it was okay, that I’d had a terrible dream.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Great take on the prompt, but a bit too realistic. I often wonder if I am in a dream, I’ve experienced that trembling on awaking.

    2. writer_sk

      Wow, interesting. I liked the setup at the beginning – an intricate scheme. would love if this whole piece were longer.

      Am I correct that the guy posing as psychiatrist and masterminding the plans to scam people has his own nightmare? Well done either way.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        John .now I won’t sleep tonight. Your dream was terrifying to read. I have been in the water until my lungs nearly burst and so have you obviously or you write so well and so believable. Great sceme and then his head is so full of non reality it happens to him.

  18. B.D. Blanco

    THE BEAST

    When I was young, I used to dream that I could fly. All I needed was a little faith and a good running start. I would soar through the skies like one of the Lost Boys. I miss those dreams. There is nothing like racing along above the countryside, your shadow chasing you from below. I once flew right through the clouds. They smelled of fresh rain. I rose so high that the sky turned black, and the stars shown so bright they hurt my eyes. One tiny star shot across the heavens, leaving a trail for me to follow but much too fast to catch. It was beautiful. I will always remember that flight. It came the night my sister died.

    There were the other dreams though, dark ones where the beast chased me. I lived in terror of those dreams. Every night, I would lie awake and pray. Sometimes it worked…

    When the beast came, those dreams would always start the same way. I would be at a party with wonderful games and prizes and cake, but it was getting late. The sky was growing dark, and I had to get home. I tried to warn everyone about the danger. I tried to tell them about the beast, that it was coming, that it would soon be here, but they all laughed at me and called me a liar.

    Slowly, I came to realize that everyone had left me. Then, I heard the beast. I looked out, and I could just see it in the distance, relentlessly stalking me across a field of dead grass, drawing closer. I searched the house for anyone who could help, but there was no one. I was alone and far from home.

    The beast paused to sniff the air. It was near now. I had waited too long. I had to flee before it found me, and it would find me. It always found me.

    Out the back door, I ran until my little legs ached, and my lungs burns. I made it to a tall chain-linked fence. I collapsed there with just enough breath left in me to cry.

    The beast sprang from the bushes on the other side of the fence. It leaped at the chained-links snarling unable to climb. It crouched on its haunches. It smelled my scent and it cast about, pawing at the grass.

    The beast leaned forward and chewed at the fence. I smelled its stench, and my breath caught. It swiveled its red eyes on me, but there was no recognition. It looked through me. It could sense I was near, but it could not see me. Unbelievably, the flimsy fence hid me.

    The beast’s hollow belly rumbled, but its prey evaded it. It shook the fence in frustration. Abruptly, it cocked an ear at some distant sound and bounded off across a meadow. That was the night I survived the beast. The next morning, the cops came.

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