Not to sound too much like Donald Trump, but I have the best dreams. They’re fantastic, really. No one has dreams like me. Absolutely no one. Sad, really.
The problem is, I can rarely remember them when I wake up. I wake up knowing that I just had a fantastic dream, no idea what it was about.
However, there is one dream that I have had over and over again. For decades. It is one of the defining features of my life, although almost no one knows about it. Until now, of course. You are really privileged, dear reader. I just hope you realize that.
It’s more of a location than a specific dream, but I keep coming back to it and referencing it in dreams so often that it’s as real to me as, say, New York City. Actually, I’ve been to this place more often than I’ve been to New York City.
It’s a large warehouse or industrial complex, up on a hill with trees around it and reached by a long winding road. Sometimes it’s abandoned, sometimes not, but there are almost never any people there.
I first dreamed of this place when I was a teenager, I think. It was abandoned then, and I sneaked in and started digging in the floor. What I found was a large open space and then more space under that. There were man-made tunnels going out in all directions and further down and further down, it went, maybe forever.
Every dream is slightly different, but it’s always the same kind of place with empty tunnels and dark spaces going down and down out of knowledge. Just a few weeks ago, I dreamed that I was camping with my family and we drove past that place. I saw it up on the hill and knew it was the same place I’d been dreaming about for half my life. I wanted to bring them all up to show them the place, but we didn’t because dreams frustrate you just as much as they enthrall you.
Anyone who has read my (still unpublished) novels will be able to see this love of vast, dark spaces pretty easily. It is a theme that excites and fascinates me and make me feel that heartache longing, redolent of nostalgia and homesickness for a home I’ve never seen. I’m not sure why, but that’s me.
It’s why I love the work of H.P. Lovecraft or House of Leaves or Empire of the Ants. It’s why one of my favorite parts of Lord of the Rings is when they are in the mines of Moria. I am at home in huge, dark spaces. It’s what I dream about when my conscious mind takes a break and I let my subconscious out of its box, to play and plot. To dream.
Let me tell you the account of trying to bring light to a Friday Fictioneers story this week. I had an idea I liked and wrote the story this evening. It came out to 119 words and I couldn’t reduce it without sacrificing vital parts of the story. So I wrote another one, which I liked even better. That one came out at 128 words and again, I didn’t want to sacrifice any of it. So I wrote a third story, which luckily came out to 100 words. That’s the one below, but if you want to read the other two, I’m going to post them on my blog tomorrow and Saturday. This week’s picture is thanks to Claire Fuller, the author of the award-winning novel, Our Endless Numbered Days.
copyright Claire Fuller
The Submariner’s Dream
I dream the alarms sounded. I ran to battle stations, shoving past fear-sweating men in claustrophobic hallways.
I dream they waited for me at the missile room door. I had the keys. Buttons were pushed, codes entered, access granted: all perfect protocol.
I dream the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” lilted around us as we shot our world-ending payload out into the frosty Arctic night, leaving us empty, spent.
I am intrigued with story tone, how just a few words can make all the difference to a story. So, for this story, I’m going to let you choose the tone. This story has four endings, all written in white font. Click the text with your left mouse button and drag to block the hidden text and reveal the ending of your choice. Then vote for your favorite.
copyright Ted Strutz
Lighting the Way Home
There is a switch in the basement unconnected to any circuit. I always leave it on, hoping that somewhere, it is connected to a light that will lead Brad back to me from beyond.
I am sitting in bed, the silver moon fluorescing the room through the window, when the door opens.
“You came back.” I can barely breathe from joy.
“I saw your light,” Brad said. He kisses me, but his lips are cold and I taste decay.
I looked down into the pool and saw myself looking back. I stared, astonished, as that other self waved at me and then walked away. He climbed the trees and read quietly by the edge of the water.
I turned away and when I looked back, I was looking back at myself. Again though, that other me vanished and soon I saw the trees in the reflection ablaze. Then the other me appeared, holding a bloody sword, and sneered at me with wicked contempt. I jerked my eyes away.
The next time I looked, I watched my reflection build a castle of crystal and alabaster around the pool, its spires soaring up to Heaven. I could not tear away and watched as that other me built an empire of perfection greater than any human accomplishment. The majesty of it brought tears to my eyes.
I felt my strength fading but I could not look away and my final thought, before darkness overcame me, was how beautiful were the works of that other self, and how wonderful, how marvelous, my potential was.
Mark had a baby brother—for four whole days. As a three-year-old, he didn’t understand the small box at the front of the church, not big enough for him to fit in, but almost. It wasn’t until he was five that his parents explained who Jared was, his tiny brother he had never even seen.
That night, he dreamed about him. Jared would have been two, if he’d lived, but in the dream, he was running across a meadow of purple flowers, chasing Mark. Mark stopped and tackled the smaller boy in a bear hug and they fell, laughing among the flowers. He had his little brother back. Then Mark woke up.
Every night that Mark thought about Jared, he dreamed about him and as the years passed, Jared grew with him. The night before he went to college, he and Jared rode black motorcycles across a barren plain, while an impossibly large moon rose in front of them behind iron-tipped mountains. The night before his wedding, Mark dreamed about sitting in front of the church, rubbing the anticipation sweat from his palms onto his tuxedo pants. Jared sat next to him, silently.
Three years later, Mark thought about Jared right before sleep, but in the dream, he was alone, standing on a wild beach, the sea breeze blowing in his hair. Jared was gone and for the first time in a dream, Mark felt a crushing loneliness come over him, as if Jared had died again; had died for real this time. Somehow, he knew that he would never see Jared again.
Mark woke up with the morning sun glowing on the bedspread. The bathroom door opened and his wife came out. There seemed to be a glow about her too as she sat down next to him and gave him a hug. “I’m pregnant,” she whispered.
He nodded, too surprised to say anything. “It’s a boy,” he said finally.
Her eyebrows went up, along with the corners of her mouth. “Oh really? You’re sure?”
“I’ve got a feeling,” he said, smiling. “Let’s name him Jared.”
I thought the Friday Fictioneers community might be interesting in knowing that one of my previous Fictioneers stories, Enough to Go Around, was recently accepted to be part of the upcoming Leodegraunce flash fiction anthology. I’m not sure when it’s coming out, but I’ll let you know when I know.
As for this current story, I have nothing to say except that it is not an allegory, just a story.
copyright Adam Ickes
The feel of verdant, dew-covered blades anointing his toes: rapture.
Gamboling barefoot through a meadow: epiphany.
The pungent, whispering squish of a cow pie under his heel: heavenly.
Feet baptized in a cool, sun-flecked brook: pure adoration.
Denouncing shoes forever for the wild, free ecstasy that only the holy unshod can know: heresy.
“Reebok! Reebok Puma III, are you listening to me?” The iron voice crushed his fantasies under its cruel heel and brought him back to an equally hard reality of tight shoes pinching his feet. He nodded glumly and raising the Sacred Shoehorn, he repeated the catechism again.