Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Story # 1.7 Anderson

Knocking was heard at the front door.

A figure approached from the east side of the house, undid the dead bolt, and turned the knob to allow whomever was knocking in.

There stood Larry standing on the front porch, looking in.  Larry had an expression of joy on his face, to greet whomever answered.  But that expression faded quickly as he saw the appearance of the person standing before him.

Before Larry stood Jay, inside the foyer of his home.  He was disheveled, still wearing his pajamas and the sheets from the bed draped over his shoulders.  His eyes had dark circles under them and were puffy.  His nose was running and he looked as though he hadn't eaten or slept in a week.  Larry stood there, his mouth agape, processing the look of his friend and colleague.  Finally he uttered some words.

"Jay?  You look like hell, man!"

"Nice to see you too, Lar.  Care to come in?"

Jay pulled the door open more, but Larry didn't move.

"I don't know if I should.  I don't want whatever the hell you've got."

"Believe me, it's not contagious.  I'm glad it isn't."

Larry walked through the door, and once clear Jay closed it behind him.  Larry examined the main living room and it was apparent he wasn't the only one not keeping up with things lately.

"What happened in here, Jay?  Your house is usually immaculate?"

Jay sniffled and whiped his nose with the sheets.  This prompted a look of disgust from Larry as he watched the atrocious act.

"Linda hasn't been here much lately."

Larry stood there, stunned by this revelation.

"Jay, did you guys split up?"

Jay started laughing, hysterically it seemed.

"Did we split up?", Jay repeated gasping for breath to say the words through his laughter.

Larry was utterly perplexed now.  He's lost his mind!

"No, Linda has been living out in the camper behind the house for the last few weeks.  We both think it's safer there."

"What?  What are you talking about, Jay?  Safer?  What does that mean?"

"Why don't we sit down and I'll try to explain."

Larry walked into the living room, stretching his legs over obstacles strewn throughout.  Everything from sheets, to pillows, to toys were scattered throughout the room.  When Larry turned he caught a glimpse of the two front rooms and saw they were as equally in disarray.  It was as if a tornado had whipped through the house.  Larry moved some of the stuff off of a chair to find a place to sit.  Jay sat on the sofa adjacent to him.  As he sat, Jay stared at the floor for a moment, while Larry observed his friend.

Larry wasn't sure what to say or do for his friend.  He was just worried about him and worried about his wife and children.  Where are the children in all of this?  He's gotta make me understand this.

Jay came out of his daze and looked back up at Larry.

"I appreciate you coming by, Lar.  Bringing my stuff from class."

"Don't mention it.  Do you think you're any closer to coming back?"

"I don't know.  I've been hoping, praying I could, but nothing has worked out."

Larry tried to lighten the tone for a moment.

"Well, you have to come back before the Super Bowl party.  You can't miss that."

Jay laughed as he looked down again.

"Penny for your thoughts, man?"

Jay did not respond.

"Man, have you at least been to a doctor, I hope?  Have you eaten lately?  You want me to get you something and bring it back?"

"No, no, I'm not hungry and believe me I still have a good appetite.  I have too."

Larry didn't understand the last part, but went on.

"Have you slept much, any?"

Jay began to chuckle again.  As he laughed, Jay reached down into the pocket of his pajamas and pulled out a little pill bottle.  He held it up so Larry could see the label.

"Does this answer your question?"

The bottle was for caffeine pills, and it was almost empty.

"Why haven't you been sleeping, Jay?  That's not healthy."

"Neither is what I've been going through."

"What have you been going through?"

Jay looked straight down and took a deep sigh.

"Jay, if you don't tell me I will never understand.  I just wanna help, man."

Jay looked back up at Larry.

"Larry, I'm dreaming things.  Bad things.  Very bad things.  Everytime I put my head on the pillow and go to sleep the dreams just get worse."

"What kind of dreams?  Like nightmares or night terrors?"

"I only wish they were nightmares.  But they are so intense and so vivid, it's hard to even call them a dream."

"What are they about?"

"I keep seeing dead people.  People I know, people I don't know.  But they aren't lying around me in coffins, they are walking around just like you or me."

"What like the zombie thing you talked about a few weeks back?"

"Worse."

"How worse?"

Jay took a big gulp before answering.

"I at least know that kinda stuff isn't real.  But these, these things are."

"I don't understand, Jay?"

"Everytime I close my eyes to even sleep for a minute, they come for me.  All I can do is run.  There's nowhere to hide, no one to ask for help.  I'm completely on my own with them.  And when I wake up, they are gone and I'm back here."

Tears were starting to well up in Jay's eyes.  Larry could see the anguish, the fear in his friend's face.  He reached out to him and held his hands.

"Jay, you're not alone in this, man.  Ok?  We can find you some help.  You're never on your own.  I'm sure Linda is more than willing to help.  There's no reason for them to feel unsafe."

"Yes there is, Larry.  Because what I told you wasn't even the worst part."

Larry leaned back a little.

"What's the worst part?"

"Linda has told me that during the time I'm supposed to be asleep, I'm actually awake."

"What?"

"She says that when I go to sleep not long afterwards I wake back up and move about the house, the yard, heck she said once I even took the truck out for a spin.  And each time I come back, lay back down and fall back to sleep.  Then I wake up screaming, sweaty, gasping for air like I had been running for miles.  I even feel like I have been.  That's why my appetite hasn't changed.  You see, I'm losing weight because I keep having to run for my life in the dreams.  And when I get back here I can eat and replenish myself.  I've just been trying lately not to sleep, but sometimes I just can't help it and doze off.  Then it happens again.  And to top it off, Linda says I'm a completely different person during this time.  It's like I'm a whole other man."

Larry just stared at his friend, completely taken aback by this.  He really was beginning to think his friend had lost his mind.

"Stop looking at me like I'm crazy, Lar.  Crazy people don't know when they're crazy and the people around them certainly don't act like they are Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, then tell them about it rationally."

"Dude, Jay, this is maybe a bit too intense.  People don't loose weight in their dreams because they aren't really doing anything."

"And I'm trying to tell you I AM!"

Jay stood up, flabberghasted by his friend.

"Easy, Jay.  You're in a safe place."

"Don't patronize me!  I'm telling you these things are real!  I have lost 20 pounds in 3 weeks, not because of anorexia or some sickness, but because I've been running for my life from....from..."

"The undead?"

"Exactly!"

"And while you're doing this, you're a completely different person in real life?"

"That's what Linda has told me."

"Does this other person have a name?"

"She's never said.  He just brings up the word Anderson and talks about it like it's a place, not his name."

"I've never heard of anywhere named Anderson.  Has she communicated with this person much?"

"As little as possible.  She said he is hyperaggressive, mean, hateful, remorseless, violent, and looks at her like he could..."

"Like he could what?"

Jay stopped looking around the room and looked down at his friend.

"...like he could kill her."

"Ok, I just wanna say I didn't mean to patronize you, but you have to listen to me right now.  What you're saying to me is pure insanity, Jay.  Because I have alterior motives for coming here other than just checking up on you."

Jay stopped pacing now and stood there facing his friend.  He sat back down on the sofa and listened intently to what Larry had to say.

"The school wants to fire you, Jay.  They need all the help they can get right now and between this with you and Britton a few months ago, they have to have people that can work.  So they also asked me to come by and see if you're fit to come back."

Jay nodded in acknowledgment of what his friend was saying.

"Now, I could go back and make up something, but if you keep not showing up they'll fire you and me for not reporting it.  But if I go back and tell them what I've seen and what I'm hearing..."

"I know, Lar.  I'm sorry you're caught in the middle of this.  But it is the truth.  I don't know how else to explain this."

"I've never heard anything like this before, Jay.  But, I'll tell you what might help?"

Jay was all ears.

"A nice shower and a shave."

Jay chuckled again as he looked down and nodded in agreement with his friend.

"Listen, why don't you jump in the shower and I'll wait here for you.  Then we'll go see the Dean and let him know how you're doing together.  Then maybe we can talk to a buddy of mine.  He's been doing alot of research lately on the human mind.  He might know something we could do or someone we could talk to about your problem.  Cause I know shrinks are head cases themselves.  They'll just make you even more crazy than you already are."

Jay laughed.

"You're right.  Just wait here and I'll go with you."

Jay got up and left the room.  Larry sat there pondering what his friend had just said to him.  That's pure insanity.  There is no way that story will fly with the Dean.  How can I convince him to say something else?  While Larry thought, Jay was in the shower.

**********************************************************************************
Jay let the warm water soak him down.  He thinks I'm crazy.  Jay tried to keep his mind as clear as possible and focus on the shower.  He didn't want to think about anything else at the moment.  A shower and a clean shave sounded spectacular.  Jay couldn't wait to trim the stubble off inch by inch.

But the sound of the shower running was suddenly disturbed by utter silence.  No water continued to come out of the shower head.  Although Jay was soaking wet, the shower itself was not.  The shower actually contained massive amounts of dust and a little debris from the dry wall surrounding.  Then Jay heard audible footsteps approaching.  Big footsteps, that were determined in their gait.  Jay began to become afraid.  He looked to his left to see the faint figure of two people having just entered the bathroom.  Their images were obscured by the semi-transparent glass of the shower door.  He then heard the sounds of rumblings coming from his right, like that of thunder.

The audible sound of a radio communication then came through with one of the figures responding to it.  The dialogue sounded very much like military talk, but Jay did not understand it.

Another rumble occurred, this time louder and caused the house to shake all around.

Then Jay heard another communication.

"E.T.A. sixty seconds.  Stand down and secure."

The soldier, at least that's what Jay thought, acknowledged the communication.  Neither of the figures had taken notice of Jay standing in the shower.

Suddenly a massive jolt rocked the entire house.  Both of the figures lurched around grabbing hold of anything nailed down.  Jay lurched backward in the shower as dust and debris rained down from above.  Jay couldn't take it anymore.  He opened the shower door.

When he stepped out the soldier on the ground took notice and aimed his weapon up at Jay.

"What the hell?", the soldier yelled.

The other soldier, holding onto the counter top, turned around and saw Jay standing there, completely nude.

"What the hell are you doing in there?", the second soldier asked.

The second soldier's voice was distinctly female.

In both cases Jay was hearing their voices through radioes connected to their gas masks they were wearing.

Jay had no idea what was happening.  He just knew that one second he was showering and the next he was standing in his bathroom with two soldiers and what sounded like a war happening outside.

Another jolt shook the whole house tossing Jay and the soldiers about again.  The soldier on the floor had to cover himself from falling debris from the ceiling as the other soldier lunged toward Jay.  Jay moved quickly passed them both and out of the bathroom, making his way around the corner into the hallway.

"WAIT!", yelled the female soldier.

Jay turned the next corner and ran into his own foyer.  What he saw was beyond belief.

The entire front side of his home had been blasted out, fire and debris strewn all around.  The gaping hole allowed Jay to see the landscape before him.  In the distance fires raged, and light flashes went off with the sounds of missiles streaking across the sky.  He heard gunfire, machine gunfire.  Jay was acustom to hunters in the area, but never machine guns going off.

It literally was a war zone right outside his home.

What is happening?  Where the hell am I?

Jay could then hear the sound of the radio again, from one of the soldiers in the other room.  He could hear it getting closer to him, but more importantly he could hear what it was saying.

"Nine...eight...seven...six..."

Jay knew it was a countdown, but he had no idea as to what the countdown would lead to.

Then Jay felt a tug on his shoulders as one of the soldiers grabbed him and yanked him backward to the now empty living room.  None of the furniture or clutter was present.  Jay was now flat on his back, the jarring collapse almost knocking the breath from his lungs.  He looked up and backward towards the back of the house.  The windows were all blasted out and holes were present in the ceiling.  Nothing looked like it had moments earlier when he was talking to Larry.

Where's Larry?

"Stay down!  Do not get up, sir!"

Jay wrestled with the man holding him down now.  As he struggle a piece of newspaper hit him squarely in the face.  Jay grabbed it and pulled the sheet away.  It was the front page of the newspaper, half torn away.  But there was enough for Jay to read the headline:


HEAVEN HELP US!
THE APOCALYPTIC ONSLAUGHT OF THE...

The ending had been torn away from the heading and no picture was present.  It also had been torn away.  One thing did remain and that was the date and city of publication.  The date was two weeks earlier and the city was Anderson, South Carolina.

A bright, blinding light shown through the decimated front of Jay's home.  Jay let go of the newspaper and covered his eyes.  He could feel his retinas burning with intense pain, having caught a glimpse of the light before covering them.  The next he heard was the roar of something approaching quickly.  He tried to look up and see what was coming, but could bearly see anything at all.  However, he did see the faint image of something completely recognizable in the distance.  He saw the image of a mushroom cloud rising into the air, just before the concussion wave hit and torn the house apart all around him.

**********************************************************************************
Jay was screaming and thrashing about.  Suddenly Jay realized he was not incinerating.  The room all around him was back to normal, normal for how it had looked when Larry arrived.  Hovering over him at the moment was Larry, trying to get him under control.

"JAY!  JAY PLEASE GET HOLD OF YOURSELF!"

Jay stopped thrashing and sat up.  He looked around the room to get his bearings and see if everything was all right.  He was breathing heavily, laying in the middle of the floor still nude and wet from having left the shower.  The shower was still running in the bathroom and there was no war going on outside.  Jay then paid attention to his friend Larry.

"Jay, what is happening?"

"I don't know.  But a nuclear bomb just went off and destroyed Anderson, South Carolina.  It all happened today, right here, right outside this house."

Larry could only stare at his friend, having seen the man run into the room, throw himself to the floor, then start thrashing as if he were on fire.  He had no way of explaining what he saw, he just knew it happened and had to finally say something to his friend.

"Jay, there's no such place as Anderson, South Carolina.  You're in Smithville, South Augustina.  South Augustina in the United States of Columbia."

"I know that.  It's not here in this world."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Story # 1.6 What's in a dream?

It was 2 AM...

All was quiet throughout the house.  Only the dim glow of the night lights strewn throughout could be seen, and the hue of the lamp in Jay and Linda's son's room shown with them.  Chad was sleeping soundly, for a change.  The six month old baby had a brush with what the doctor called "reactive airway" that had made Jay and Linda's lives a lot more interesting in recent weeks.  With the around the clock treatments needed to assist young Chad, the couple had to take turns in order to muddle through it.  Life, in general, had been very busy, both at work and at home.  Compound the issues with the Holiday Season, it was a miracle Jay and Linda even had hair anymore.

Because of the stress of the season and all that goes with it, Jay's dreaming had been slim to none.  He hadn't had a bad dream, or any dream for that matter, since the time of Britton's death.  But that was about the change.

************************************************************************************

Chad began to stir in his crib, as the sounds echoed in Jay and Linda's bedroom from the night vision monitor relaying them in.  This got Linda stirring as well.

Linda had long since loathed the monitors for their children, because they presented everything from a night vision perspective.  And just the thought that someone could potentially be looking back at you, children or not, gave her the creeps.  But, these were the best way to see what was going on with their children and not having to be in the room with them at all times.  Linda honestly didn't know how women kept track of their children before the advent of technological wonders, like the monitors.  However, she still didn't like them much.

Linda plopped her head back down on the pillow, realizing it was now time for Chad's next treatment, and most likely a feeding session combined with a diaper change.  And since Linda had done the previous treatment, it was Jay's turn.

Time to wake Jay up!, she thought.

"Jay?"

She nudged him, with no response.

"Jay?"

She nudged him again, still with no response.

"JAY!"

Jay awoke with a snort, babbling incoherently for a few seconds before finally sitting up at the side of the bed.

"It's time for Chad's treatment, can you go?"

Although Linda phrased it in the form of a question, this was actually a command, and one Jay had best adhere to.

Jay mumbled something that was, again, incoherent, scratched his thigh, then hoisted himself up out of the bed.  He made his way through the hallway, his shadow trailing behind him as he passed the night light nearby.

Linda proceeded to snuggle back into her sheets.  She laid there, half listening to the rustling going on in Chad's room as Jay assembled the necessities for the treatment.  Jay's lumbering steps, indicative of the fact he was still very much in a sleep-like state, amused Linda as a smirk lit up her face.  She could hear Chad, fully awake now, moving and lurching about as his daddy prepared to give him the treatment.  She could still hear Jay's footsteps in the room, now a little more determined, as if he were more awake now.

She was beginning to drift off to sleep again, until a sound she didn't expect grabbed her attention.

It wasn't just any sound either.  It was the sound of Jay talking as if he were addressing someone.  However, he wasn't addressing Chad, but someone else.

"So, I guess you're hiding behind that camera, aren't you?"

Linda began to wake up again, not completely sure of what Jay had just said, but listening.

"Yeah, you're in there all right.  You're in there living it up while we fight to stay alive."

Linda fully opened her eyes with that remark.  Now she was listening intently.

"What a coward.  You think you're something special, don't you?  Looking down on us, probably hoping something will just kill us off so you don't have to answer for anything anymore.  Don't you?"

Linda sat up in bed and looked directly at the monitor for Chad's room.  What she saw scared her nearly to death.

Jay was staring right back at her through the monitor, looking directly into the camera in Chad's room.  His eyes glowed a deathly gray from the black and white screen.  His face looked serious and stern, a slight grin curled around his lips.  As if Linda wasn't already taken by surprise from the image, what came next made her begin to tremble.

"You thought we'd just die off, didn't you?  Well, I've got news for you....we're still here.  And now I'm gonna come inside there and make you come out of hiding to help us, whether you like it or not."

With that statement, Jay shot off out of the line of sight of the camera.  But Linda wouldn't have to speculate on where her husband went for long.  She heard his much more pronounced and determined footsteps heading for their bedroom.

Linda just sat there, unsure what was going on.  She didn't know whether to jump out of bed and defend herself or just wait and see what Jay did.  She chose to wait when she saw Jay's shadow coming down the hall, before he finally entered the room himself.

"Jay, is everything all right, honey?"

Jay stood in the doorway, the illumination of the night light behind him.  It gave and eerie persona to Jay's stance, that looked very much like a man on a mission.  He stood there staring back at Linda, breathing deeply.

"Jay, you're scaring me!  Is everything all right?"

Jay did not respond.  Instead he turned to his left and proceeded passed the dresser, then turned to face into the bathroom.  The doors to the room were wide open, with everything inside visible, even in the dark.  Jay then began to talk to the obviously empty room, at least to Linda.

"ALL RIGHT!  YOU COME OUT OF THERE RIGHT NOW!!"

Jay was practically screaming as he spoke, loud enough to wake the dead.  Linda was petrified now.  She took turns looking at Jay's back, then looking into the empty bathroom.  There was no one in there, she could see it herself.

One thought came to Linda's mind, he must be sleep walking.  Please, God, let him be sleep walking.

"YOU GET THE HELL OUT HERE RIGHT NOW, OR I'M COMING IN AFTER YOU!"

He yelled so loud, Linda was worried the neighbors might hear him, nevermind the children she was sure he had woken completely up at this point.  She decided to say something this time.

"JAY?!  Stop yelling at nothing!  You're freaking me out!"

Jay then turned and looked back at Linda.  He had a very annoyed look on his face as he looked back at her.

"WOULD YOU SHUT THE HELL UP?!  AND WHY DO YOU KEEP CALLING ME JAY, WOMAN?"

Linda was completely freaked out now.  The look on Jay's face, to her, seemed like he was wide awake and totally aware of what he was doing.  That begged the question, Why does he not know his own name?

"YOU SIT THERE, SHUT UP, AND LET ME DO MY JOB!"

Linda didn't know whether to be mad or scared at the way he was talking to her.  But, she decided to do more than just talk to him.

As Jay turned back to look into the empty bathroom again, Linda got up and walked around the bed to approach him from behind.  As she came up on him, she was going to speak and ask him, again, what was going on.  But Linda was met with an even bigger surprise this time.

Jay wield around quickly, reached out and grabbed Linda by the neck with his left hand.  This stopped her in place as her husband stood there squeezing her throat with a death grip.

"I told you woman, get your ass back in that bed!"

Gasping a little for breaths, Linda attempted to speak, "What are you doing, Jay?  Please stop this!  It's me, Linda!"

Jay looked at her intently, "I don't know any Linda.  Who the hell are you?"

Now tears began to well up in Linda's eyes.  She looked back at his, in the dark, but could still see the truth resonating from them.  This man, the man that was supposed to be her husband standing before her, had no clue who she was at all.  She could see it in his eyes.  It was as if a completely different person were standing there before her, or someone had taken over her husband's body.

Now, Linda was scared for her life.  If Jay honestly didn't recognize her, what would he be capable of?

"Back off!  Get back in that bed, and leave me alone!"

With that last statement, Jay realized Linda's neck.  She gasped for air as she tried to right herself.  Jay, or the man formerly known as Jay, proceeded to turn around and head into the empty bathroom.

Linda clutched her throat, bending over slightly as she still tried to catch her breath.  Then she began to stand back up straight and looked into the room her husband had just walked into.

What happened next turned everything on it's head.  Jay switched on the bathroom light to reveal an empty bathroom.  He proceeded to turn on the facet.  He then leaned down, cupped some water in his hands and doused his face.  He then took a towel, dried off his face, looked at himself in the mirror for a moment, then turn the facet off.  He then turned off the light and turn to come back to the bed.  Jay stopped in his path when he walked up to find himself face-to-face with Linda.

Linda had no idea what to expect from him, but she certainly didn't expect what happened next.

"Linda?  What are you doing standing in the middle of the room?  What time is it?  Oh crap, is it time for Chad's treatment?  I'm sorry, I must have over slept."

Linda did not respond to Jay.  She just stared at him, completely befuddled by the series of events that had just occurred.  She switched on the lamp next to Jay's side of the bed so she could see him.  Jay looked away momentarily to let his eyes adjust, but hen looked back at her.  Linda could see in his eyes that she was standing face-to-face with her husband now.  What in God's name just happened?

"Linda, are you ok?"

Jay was confused now.  He had no recollection of the events that had just occurred.  No memory of talking like he had, or of screaming.  No idea he grabbed his own wife by the neck in a threatening gesture.  With this realization, Linda was both relieved and pissed off.  She had the most natural response any woman could have in this situation.

Linda rared back and slapped the bejesus out of Jay on the left side of his face.

With a now stunned Jay holding his hand to the side of his face now, Linda proceeded to grab the pillows from Jay's side of the bed and then uttered a proclamation.

"When you figure out who the hell you are, you can sleep with me again!"

With that, Linda walked out the bedroom down and back into the living room.  Jay watched her leave, unsure of what to do.  He could only think of one thing to say.

"What did I do?"

Friday, December 9, 2011

Story # 1.5 Why Britton?

Jay awoke in a cold sweat...

...screaming.

"Honey!  Honey, what's wrong?", asked Linda.

Linda popped up, fully awake from the horrific sound made by Jay.  It was a blood curdling scream, which Linda could only surmise to mean that Jay had a nightmare.

Jay was gasping for breath as he continued to lay sitting up in the bed, attempting to get his bearings on his surroundings in the dark.

"Jay, what's wrong?"

Jay looked at his wife.  He looked at her as if he hadn't seen her in weeks.  Linda looked back at him, their eyes locked.  She could see the fear in his eyes and wanted to know what had frightened him.  Jay, however, was not forthcoming.

He looked away from her and sprang up out of bed into the bathroom.  He switched on the light and doused his face with cold water in the sink.  Linda was still sitting up in bed, watching Jay.

Jay continued to lean over the sink, staring down into the white, porcelain bowl beneath.  He was the picture of a man deep in thought and petrified by fear.  His reaction had already unnerved Linda, now she was just plain scared.

"Jay, are you going to tell me what's going on?"

Jay finally began to lean back up and stared at himself briefly in the mirror.  After a few moments, he switched off the light and made his way back to the bed.  He crawled back in, gave Linda a kiss on the lips, and tucked himself back underneath the sheets.  Within a minute or so, he was back to sleep.

Linda just sat there, staring down at her husband, completely befuddled.  Not only did she not know what had just happened, she had no clue how she was going to go back to sleep.

*********************************************************************************

"What do you think happened, man?", asked Larry of Jay.

The two men were standing over the grave site of Britton, whom had been dead now for several weeks.  The epitaph on the tombstone read, "Our Immortal Angel, With Love Always-Mom and Dad."

The tragedy are Britton's apparent suicide had only compounded the recent revelations of further cost cutting measures taking place at Smithville University.  It was as if a black cloud were hanging permanently over the campus.  Not only there, but over the entire city, county, state, and country as a whole.

"I don't know," replied Jay.

"You think she might have been one of the cuts and she just took it badly?  I mean, I know she was one of the newest, but this just seems a little drastic to me."

Jay did not respond to Larry's theory.  He was actually still quite enamored with the dream that had woken him up earlier that morning.  Instead he just stared at the tombstone.

"I've heard they thought a boyfriend might have been involved, suspecting foul play or something.  I don't know how you could hurt a nice piece of..."

"Don't finish that, ok?", pleaded Jay.

Larry looked over at his friend, who was looking right back at him with an intensity he hadn't seen before.

"Are you ok, Jay?"

Jay looked back down at the tombstone, staring at the epitaph engraved across it.  Larry looked down at the stone, then back to Jay again.  He waited patiently for his friend to respond.

"I had another dream last night", said Jay.

"A dream?  About....her?"

"Yeah."

Larry started to smirk as he eased his posture and looked around momentarily.

"Look, man, don't worry if you had an 'inappropriate' dream about her, I guess.  It was just a dream."

"There wasn't anything inappropriate about it, Lar.  I just didn't make any sense."

"What didn't make sense about it?"

Jay took a deep sigh before he started trying to explain what he had dreamed.  He wasn't even sure he understood it.

Larry just looked on at his friend, waiting again for a response.

"In my dream, she was still alive, but wasn't at the same time.  I can't explain it very well."

"Alive and dead you mean?  What, like...what do you mean?"

"She was alive, but it was like she was dead.  Maybe I'm not explaining it right.  She was like...."

"Like a zombie?"

"Yes!  Like a zombie."

Larry started to chuckle a bit, "I think you've been watching that show too much lately."

"It wasn't like the show, Lar.  It seemed so real.  It was like I was there and she was coming after me, like the first dream where I got the bruises."

"Man, I don't know what you eat or drink at night sometimes, but it was still a dream.  So you had a nightmare about her, big deal.  It happens, man.  A tragedy like this, heck half the school has probably had nightmares about this."

"But Linda told me I woke up in the middle of the night screaming."

"Really?  Damn, it must have scared you really bad."

"That's just it.  She said I acted like I was wide awake after the screaming, she was too.  I probably woke up the kids with my screaming.  But I don't remember it.  I don't remember waking up.  I don't remember washing my face.  I don't remember going back to bed.  It was like I wasn't even really there."

"Jay, we've all had dreams like that.  Sometimes they seem real.  Sometimes you sleep walk.  That's probably all that happened.  Don't worry about it so much.  It was just a dream."

Jay was still staring down at the tombstone, taking in what his friend had just said.  He couldn't help but still focus on the dream and what he had experienced.  Especially in regards to Britton.  Jay thought to himself, if it was just a dream, then why do I remember dreaming about her having been murdered before it ever took place?

Jay humored Larry.

"Yeah, it was just a dream."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Story # 1.4 Murdering Husband

It had been two weeks since Jay's dream that woke him up from a good nights rest.  Since that time, Jay had hardly dreamed at all.  He had also hardly slept sometimes, the stress of the work day getting to him.  But also that nagging feeling of something reaching for him in what he referred to as "the dream" still persisted.  The bruises had healed completely now, no trace of anything.

But this was only the beginning...

Now, two weeks later, a bigger issue had risen, one that prompted the Chief of police in the city of Smithville to visit his long time friend, the provost of the university.

***********************************************************************************

With the work of the semester starting to grind on all the faculty and administrators of Smithville University, the provost was busily working away at his desk.  At the moment, he was looking into matters of academic integrity that had, unfortunately, fallen across his desk.  It always pained the provost to have to deal with such issues, but in lieu of recent scandals across the nation of grade tampering, the provost had to take these matters quite seriously.

A knocked wrapped on his office door, as the provost wrote endlessly on a sheet of paper before him.

"Come!", the provost yelled.

In walked his secretary, half in and outside of the doorway, holding the knob firmly.

"Dr. Ward, you have a visitor," his secretary said.

The secretary moved forward a little, and in walked a man in full police garb, donned in his hat.  As the provost looked up, he took instance notice of the man that had entered, a smile coming across his face.

"Jerry, how in the world have you been?", asked the provost.

Jerry, the police chief of Smithville, acknowledged him with a smile and began moving towards the desk, as the provost jumped up and greeted him in earnest.

"Don, it's been too long, my friend," replied Jerry.

The two men shook hands, Don firmly grasping Jerry's hand with both of his.

Don gave a simple nod to his secretary who proceeded to exit the room and close the door behind her.

"I'm sorry I haven't gotten in touch with you over the last few months," said Don.

"Believe me, if you've been anywhere near as busy as I have, I completely understand."

Don laughed at Jerry's comments and offered for him to have a seat.  The two men went over to a sitting area adjacent to Don's desk.  Don offered Jerry a non-alcoholic beverage, assuming he was still on duty.  But, Jerry declined.

Don sat across from him, bringing the drink from his own desk over along the way.

"So what has been keeping you busy these days, Jerry?"

"Oh, you really want to open that can of worms, Don?"

"Indubitably."

"Ah, same ol', same ol', budget crunching, trying to maintain order and peace.  Just the old routine."

Don laughed, "I'm sure the budget crunching has been far more extensive in recent days than before?"

"You have no idea, my friend.  I actually have to cut twenty-five positions by the end of the year.  One of the hardest decisions of my life to say the least."

Don grimaced at the words, which echoed similar issues he had faced in recent weeks.

"Our cuts have been extensive as well, Jerry.  It seems like every month the state pulls more and more funding.  At this rate we'll have janitors cross training as physics professors, and gardening consultants just to keep things as they are."

"I would think that between the football and baseball teams you sport, money would be no object?"

"Oh, well, it's no object for the football and baseball teams, it just is for everyone else that works here."

Jerry laughed at the statement and removed his hat.  He looked down at the floor briefly which prompted a somewhat curious gaze from Don.  Jerry continued looking down as Don asked him a question.

"So what brings you here today, Jerry?  It's not like you to just come over unannounced?"

Jerry looked up and sat his hat in his lap.  "Well, I do have to admit, I came here on official police business as it turns out, this time."

Don's heart sank a bit, "You're not here for some issue the likes of what happened in Pennsylvania, are you?"

"Oh, goodness no, Don.  No craziness like that, but it does involve a member of your faculty."

Don gave Jerry another curious look.

"A new nursing instructor of yours, to be exact.  You're familiar with a Ms. Britton Giles, correct?"

"Oh yes, Britton, Margaret and Bernie Giles daughter!  She's a quite talented nursing instructor, and a bit of a looker from what I've over heard from several drueling coeds and faculty alike."

Jerry chuckled and looked down.  Don could see the tension on Jerry's face mounting.

"Has she broken some...law, Jerry?"

Jerry looked back up, "No, but someone did towards her."

Don just stared.

"The family had asked us to keep this quiet, which is the same thing I'm asking of you now.  They've been calling in for her for several days until they decipher a way to break the news to the public."

"What news, Jerry?"

Jerry took a deep sigh, "Britton is dead.  She was found dead in her apartment across town.  Autopsy showed she had been beaten to death."

"My God, Jerry.  I honestly had no idea."

"Oh, of course you didn't, no one does but a select few in her family and at the police department."

"I don't understand."

Jerry took another deep sigh, "It's not so much her death that is unnerving, but the circumstances of how it occurred.  You see, Don, we received a 9-1-1 call the night of her murder from Britton herself via her cell phone inside her apartment.  Police units were dispatched in accordance with the nature of the call, but what they found was puzzling."

"Are you sure you should be telling me this, Jerry?"

"I'm telling you, Don, because I need someone to help me figure this out and  you're the smartest guy I know."

Don chuckled only a bit and then implored Jerry to go on.

"When the units arrived, the apartment was locked from the inside, front door and rear.  All of the windows were shut and locked.  There was no sign of forced entry.  They literally had to breakdown the door to get in.  When they went in they found her battered, bruised, and bloodied laying across the bed, dead.  Those circumstances and the call are what makes this very bizarre."

"What happened with the call?"

"The dispatcher said that Britton was screaming that her husband was trying to kill her."

"Husband?  Britton was married?"

"I take you weren't aware of this either, Don?"

"No!  I'm sure I would have known that.  Could the dispatcher have been mistaken?  Perhaps she said boyfriend?"

"No, I listened to the call myself and three different times she said her husband was trying to kill her.  But we did a check with the county, vital records, even the HR department here at the university, and there is no evidence that Britton was ever married to anyone....anywhere."

Don sat there with a stunned look on his face, trying to take it all in.  Surely there has to be a mistake in all of this?  I can't believe Britton is dead!  How is that even possible?

"I can tell it shocks you as much as it has me.  But that's not the weirdest part."

"What's the weirdest part?"

"The officers on the scene found no evidence of anyone else being in the apartment when the wounds to Britton were inflicted upon her.  It's clear to the forensics team that a second party was involved, but there's no trace that they ever even existed in the same room with Britton when it happened.  No foot prints or anything to the physical location....except..."

Don was leaning toward Jerry now, on the edge of his seat, "Except....what?"

Jerry looked dead in Don's eyes, "Except on Britton's body.  We found hair that didn't match with her's, skin under her nails, bite marks, hand prints, even....semen.  Someone raped her, physically abused her, murdered her, but we can't even prove that another human being was in the room at the time.  No trace they ever entered the apartment, no trace they ever left.  It's as if whoever did this just disappeared into thin air."

Don sat there staring at Jerry, his eyes widened.

"Now if you can figure out how that happened, you're a smarter man than I ever will be, Don."

Don leaned back in his seat, taking in what he had just heard.  He was still beside himself about Britton being dead, but this other information was so unbelievable he could hardly comprehend the implications of such a circumstance.  He had never heard of anything like this in his life.

"I see why the family wants to keep it quiet then."

"Exactly!  Unfortunately, despite the physical evidence on the body to the contrary, we have no other choice but to call her death a suicide.  It just doesn't make any sense to any of us at all, Don.  I have never seen a situation like this in all the years I've worked in the police force, and I honestly had no idea where else to turn to for help on this.  So if there's anything you could offer, I'd be much abliged."

Don sat there for a moment pondering the words of his friend.  He had no answer, he had no way of knowing how to handle this, other than the way it had already been handled.  But he did have a remedy that might help his friend for the moment.

"How about that drink, my friend?  One with alcohol in it?"

"That's a good start."

**********************************************************************************

Jay was searching webpages on his laptop one morning, later in the semester, when he realized he had not seen Britton around the lounge lately.  He hadn't seen her since the day his buddy had embarrassed him, to some degree.  In fact, he had stirred clear of Britton purposefully because of the statements made with her in ear shot, so as to not give the wrong impression to her.

But today, Jay looked at the Smithville Gassette and happened across a story on a side bar link that grabbed his attention.  The link read "Nursing Instructor Suicide, age 28."  He clicked the link and was brought to the full length story on the webpage about the death of Britton Giles, the former nursing instructor of Smithville University.  Jay was floored by this revelation.  He knew he had not seen Britton around campus of late, but he had no idea she had been dead for weeks.

Jay eagerly read the short article about Britton, someone he had hardly known, but for one moment had made a connection with him.  A connection that ran deeper than either of them could have ever imagined.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Story # 1.3 Lecture on the Mind

"So today, we're talking about dementia."

Jay began his lecture for class that day. He was teaching a group of fifty women, and a couple of men, in a course called "Beginning the Practice of Nursing." The class was a Junior year course as an introductory to basic concepts in nursing, to prepare the students for what they will be experiencing during their clinicals and once they become fully licensed nurses. Jay loved the interaction with fresh open minds. Some were older, most were younger, as the trade had become a stomping ground for those that had passion in youth or were simply looking for a second career after another became trite. He could see from his students' eyes though, who the ones were that really were devoted to learning about the profession of nursing and those who were just there for various reasons. This class gave the students the nuts and bolts of how the profession works. The class was not nearly as complicated as his other class he taught, Pathophysiology. That class even irritated Jay sometimes due to it's complexity, but it was necessary for Jay's students to understand where the physicians were coming from when it came to a particular diagnoses. But with the discussion today, the diagnosis Jay was covering the basics on was anything but near impossible to understand.

"So what is dementia?"

Silence permeated the room. None of the students, that were paying attention, seemed to know if Jay was asking a real question, or if it was rhetorical. In this case, Jay was hoping for a response.

"Ok, let's try something else. How many of you have ever known anyone with dementia?"

This grabbed the entire room's attention now. Hesitantly, a few hands went up.

"Yes, Jessy," said Jay, pointing to her.

Jessy lowered her hand and began to speak, "My aunt once had dementia, I think."

Jessy was barely twenty-one, and had hardly experienced enough worldly endeavors to fully understand the concept she was discussing. But to Jay, at least she was attempting to try.

"What makes you think she had dementia?" asked Jay.

Jessy took a gulp, still unsure of herself, but answered, "Well, she would talk about things that didn't make any sense to the rest of us. She would act like, you know, people were there that had been dead for awhile. Like one time, she acted like my uncle was still alive who had been dead for years. It was like she just forgot."

Aside from the Valley Girl dialogue, Jay knew Jessy was hitting the nail on the head. He often tried to relate things to real world activities or events his students may have encountered. This was a simplistic one to address and led in to his discussion he wanted to pursue.

Jay smiled at Jessy and looked around at the other students, "That sounds like dementia to me."

Jay could already sense the tension was lessening in the room a bit. He wanted his students to feel at home, but not to control the room. Timidness was normal in a large group of people with little to no experience on a subject, but if no one ever opened the door then Jay would basically just be talking to himself.

"When you're a nurse on a unit, working with a patient that believes whole heartedly that you're trying to kill them when all you're attempting to do is give them a shot to help with their pain can be the most trying moment in your career that you'll ever have. As well as disheartening. One of the most important things a nurse has to do with a patient is develop a sense of trust with them. That's why you address your patients by their name, as mister or misses, as you would anyone you stopped to talk to on the street. As a person, the way you would want to be treated.

"So how then can you develop trust with someone that doesn't even understand who they are, much less you? Who believes something so readily that they can't let go of that belief because it's as if their mind has switched gears on them, completely against their will."

"What do you mean by switched gears?" asked a student in the front.

"Well, let's use this example, Kelly. My wife had a grandmother once that had dementia before she died. Sweetest lady you would have ever met. The prototypical grandmother. She cooked for the family all the time. She still went out and did yard work that even her family felt could be detrimental to her health at her age. But she was a fighter, strong willed, determined. There were subtle hints of dementia propogating because she would sometimes ask you the same questions repeatedly, each time she saw you. But it seemed harmless, just unfortunate."

"Until?" one of the male students spoke up, getting into the story.

Jay chuckled and looked at him, "Until she started telling us one day that she was being visited by...", Jay hesitated for a moment for effect, to get his students complete attention.

All eyes were glued to Jay right now.

"...aliens."

There was a murmur around the room now, with a few giggles and chuckles from the class.

"You heard me right. She believed a group of aliens were visiting here routinely, late at night when the family assumed she was sleeping. She described the look of the main alien she spoke with in vivid detail. Her hair. Her eyes. Her skin. Her mannerisms..."

"She called it a her?" asked another student, this time in the back of the room.

"Yes, she did Mary. She believed this conversation took place so much that she even told other people about it outside of the family. You can imagine how my wife's family felt about that."

"What did you do about it?" asked Jessy.

"Well, the only thing we knew to do was to have someone stay with her at night, to help her when she woke up and needed help during the night."

"Did anyone ever see an alien?" the other male student asked.

This got a good laugh from the class.

"No, Jake, no aliens ever showed up. Although I was hoping."

The class laughed again.

"So did you all just go along with the story, or how did you handle it?" asked a student from the middle of the classroom.

"Well, Rebecca, that's the tricky part. When someone believes something others perceive as impossible to be true, you have to handle it with kid gloves or risk your relationship with that person breaking down. So we did have to go along with it. This lead to some stories with vivid details."

"What kind of details?" asked Jake.

Jay was hesitant, he didn't want to make his grandmother-in-law look crazy, nor did he want to get enamored with an off the subject discussion at this point, but he indulged Jake on this. He could tell the class was into it now, and he thought he could spin it into the discussion he was wanting.

"She told us that they never meant her any harm. That they came here in peace and could only go to a select few people here on our planet. The reason for that was that some people might try to hurt them, so they sought out those they could trust to treat them appropriately. They also wanted to attend to those that needed help, like my wife's grandmother."

The class was enthralled now. They were talking amongst themselves as Jay attempted to redirect.

"Now, from a psychological perspective, the physicians that heard this story believed this was her way of reaching out to her family for help. That somehow her mind concocted this story because in some way she knew it would grab their attention, as it has all of you right now. She wanted help, it hadn't been forthcoming, so her mind created a way to make that help arrive. And ultimately she got the help she needed."

Kelly was shaking her head, "But why aliens? Did she like science fiction or something?"

The class, and Kelly, laughed a bit at the question.

"Well, that's a good question, and I'll touch on it then we have to get back on track. We don't know where the alien story came from. Maybe she had seen something on television or in a movie that her mind accessed and pulled back into the reality it had created due to the dementia. Or maybe it just triggered something in her psyche that mistook an earlier encounter that truly did happen, with humans of course, but compiled it in a way that became alien, at least to her. No one really knows how the mind with dementia works once it happens, they just try to treat it as best they can and encourage family and friends not to be argumentative when an episode occurs, but encouraging. When you maintain your cool, and present a person in this state with a person willing to listen, to help, even though they still may be unsure, they will develop some trust with you. But I will say I found this to be an interesting story, because I am a science fiction nut."

The class laughed at the last statement.

Jessy spoke up, "Did you want to believe her, Dr. Trent?"

Jay gave Jessy a look, as if to say, "You would go there, wouldn't you?" The class laughed a bit at Jay's reaction. He paused for a moment, and addressed the question before moving on.

"You know, Jessy, there was part of me that wanted to believe her story was true. That there is something out there beyond all of this that watches over us and maybe even guides us in some way. The part of her story that took me by surprise was how she said the aliens in the story were from another dimension, meaning something like an alternate reality. Now, that's been a recent story idea in a lot of television shows and movies that she could have seen, but she wasn't a big watcher of that kind of stuff. So why did that come into the story? What in her mind trigger that aspect of it? Why would it make that up?"

The class was glued to him now, hanging on his every word. Jay was going to have some fun with it right quick. He had moved into a position putting him behind a podium with a big dictionary inside of it. Jay put his hand on it as he began to talk again.

"Because the thing you might have to ask yourselves, as I did, is this. Do you believe that this elderly woman's mind concocted a story to grab someone else's attention for help in the hopes that someone would respond? Or...", Jay leaned over on the podium, as the class was looking straight at him, completely unaware of him lifting the the dictionary up and pulling it out of the podium stand.

"...was this elderly lady being visted by a group of aliens who truly meant no harm? The story was so vivid, it's hard to imagine it not being real. Like a dream you have one night that seems so real that you almost don't believe you are awake when you finally do wake up. Was it real, or wasn't it? Maybe there really was an alien across the street from my house, visiting my wife's grandmother. She's since passed away, so here are the next questions. If they were visiting, will they ever come back? And if they do come back, what are they coming for?"

At that moment, with the class completely on edge, Jay released the dictionary suspended in air in his hand, and let it fall to the floor, slamming with a pop that echoed through the room. The entire class jumped back in their seats, with a collective screach.

They all began to regroup, laughing, sighing, taking deep breaths as Jay smiled right back at them and began to chuckle.

"Gosh, you almost gave me a heart attack!" yelled Jake.

"All right, so now that we're back to reality, open your books to page 357, and let's learn a little more about dementia."  Jay led the class through the lecture.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Story # 1.2 The Water Cooler

"So did you see the message this morning?"

Jay was taking a swig of his diet cola as he half heard the question being asked.

"What message?" asked Jay.

The question was being asked by his coworker Larry.  Jay and Larry worked as instructors at Smithville University.  Larry taught human sciences, while Jay taught nursing.  Larry was always blunt and to the point, which Jay wished he could blame on his upbringing, but knew was just Larry being Larry.  But one thing he could never accuse Larry of being was dishonest.  Larry was honest to a fault sometimes, but quick on his feet when he had to be.

"The message about potential layoffs?", asked Larry.

"Oh, that message?  I was trying to forget it," Jay replied before taking another swig.

Larry watched Jay drinking his diet drink as if it were about to go out of style.  Larry thought Jay seemed nervous, anxious.  It was as if something were bothering him.

"Are you all right, man?", asked Larry.

"I'm fine, Lar."

"You seem...edgy?"

"I'm fine, it's just been a stressful week, that's all."

Larry looked around the room a second, then back to Jay before he replied, "It's Monday morning, man.  The week just started."

Jay sipped his drink again, "Well, yeah, typical Monday."

Jay started to sip his drink one more time, and Larry grabbed his arm to stop him.  Jay looked over at Larry as they were now making eye contact with one another.

"Are you all right?", asked Larry again.

Jay took a deep sigh as he looked away from Larry.  Then he looked back at him.  "I just had a strange dream that kinda unnerved me a little, that's all."

Larry looked at Jay until Jay turned his head back to face him.  Then a smile started coming across Larry's face.

"You were dreaming about her again, weren't you?"

"What are you talking about, Lar?"

"You know?  Your new nursing instructor?"

"Oh for Pete's sakes!  I should have never told you about that dream...", Jay took a swig again of his drink and gulped it down to finish it, looking away from Larry.

Larry was wooing and cackling, just to rile Jay up, "Yeah, I've seen the way you look at her.  I know this because I've been lookin too."

"Would you please stop!"

Jay threw his empty bottle into the nearby trash can and started gathering his belongings to proceed to class.

Larry was relentless, "You had a dream about her, and all her 'assets'..."

Jay glared at Larry, as Larry began to chuckle some as he spoke.

"...and you liked it!  Now you just don't know how to break the news to Linda.  Am I right?"

Jay stopped his progression of gathering his things and looked at Larry, "You couldn't be more wrong, Lar."

"That's a bunch of bull, and you know it!"

Other professors leaving the area walked by the two having their conversation.  This particular lounge was all encompassing, allowing members of the entire college to interact readily.  The other professors weren't even paying attention to Jay and Larry, but that didn't stop Jay from worrying about what they thought.

"Keep your voice down, what if she walked in here?", said Jay.

Just then something caught Larry's eye, as he began looking passed Jay.  This prompted Jay to turn around and look briefly.  In walked the woman they had been talking about, the new nursing instructor.  She was twenty-three years old, with long, dark brown hair, crystal blue eyes, and the face of an angel.  And it only got better as you peered down.  She was gorgeous and was a woman any man would dream of, hence Larry's statements to Jay.  Larry knew Jay was a little sweet on the young woman, despite his marriage and Larry's for that matter.  But as Larry had often said, "It's all right to look at the menu as long as you don't order from it."

Jay gave the nursing instructor a friend grin and nod.  She gave him a sweet smile back, then looked away proceeding to the counter with the coffee maker.  Jay immediately turned to look back at Larry.  Larry was shaking his head up and down, his mouth partly open and tongue slightly wagging as he was giving a look to Jay that implied, "I told you so."

"I didn't dream about her, Lar."

"Yeah, right!"

"I didn't, you wanna see what I dreamed about?"

Larry found this statement confusing and a little disturbing.  What's he about to do?, thought Larry.

"Dude, don't go whipping anything out now", Larry motioned with his hands for Jay to stop.

"Don't flatter yourself.  This is what I dreamed about."

Jay pulled back the sleeve of his left arm to reveal the marks on his forearm.  Larry looked down at it, his eyes slightly wider than before.  He felt across Jay's arm over the marks.  Then he began to chuckle again.

Jay thought, What's he going to say now?

"She got rough in that dream, didn't she?"

"I knew you couldn't take it seriously, Lar.  Believe me, it freaks me out a little, especially because of what I was dreaming."

Larry got serious for a moment, as much as he could stand without laughing, "Ok, ok, what did you see?"

"It was creepy.  I felt like I was in a fog and someone started chasing me.  Right before I woke up, something reached for me.  Then after I woke up, these marks were on my arm."

Larry just stared at Jay.  Larry's face began to contort, however, as his attempts to hold back laughter were futile.

Jay, exasperated with his friend, started rolling up his sleeve.

Larry was laughing a bit, as he glanced over at the nursing instructor filling her coffee mug, her backside to both of them.  Larry looked back at Jay, thoroughly delighted with what he had just glanced at.

"You're a dirty, dirty man.  You think Linda bought that?"  Larry picked up his stuff and started to exit the lounge, his laughter becoming more pronounced.

Jay sighed and turned to exit behind his friend, "At least I don't dream about my students like you."

Larry laughed even louder as he went through the doorway.  This made the nursing instructor turn around and take notice.  She took only a glance at the backsides of both Larry and Jay as they exited, then turned back to her coffee.

She ran her arm along the right sleeve of her blouse, as the door shut behind Jay and Larry.  She rolled the sleeve back slightly to reveal a much more pronounced hand mark across her right arm.  It had the definitive shape of a hand, fingers and all, but in her case a small bandage covered the fingertip areas of the mark.  Whatever had grabbed her had dug into the skin and ripped it slightly.

She rolled the sleeve back down, picked up her coffee and other belongings, then proceeded to exit the lounge.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Story # 1.1 The First Night

An ethereal hue shown over everything, like a fog. There was no sky, there was no ground, just a shade of gray. It was murky, cold, endless in its presence. The grayness was thick, just like fog, but wasn't. It was just....

....different.

You didn't seem to walk through it as much as you glided, as if your feet were not touching the ground. If you even had feet. You couldn't see them, even if they were there.

All you had was vision, limited by the surrounding grayness. There was no up or down, no horizontal or vertical, no behind or front. You could spin around and not even be sure if you actually completed a circle.

This had to be a dream, didn't it? Where else would you experience an out of body experience without being out of your body?

But what does this mean? Are you just empty? Are you really blind, believing you can see? Are you lost? Or are you...

Wait...

What is that?

What is that over there?

There's a faint object in the distance. It seems to be approaching you. It's taking more shape. You can see shoulders. You can see the shape of a head. Arms even. Still no legs or feet, but for some reason you just know they are there.

Whatever it is, it's picking up it's pace. You can hear what sound like footsteps approaching. Faster, and faster, and faster. It's practically running toward you now.

You try to turn away, in the other direction, but where is the other direction? Everywhere you turn, it's still coming toward you...faster, and faster, and faster.

It's right on top of you!

You feel something reach out and....

*************************************************************************************

Jay awoke calmly, quietly in his bed. His wife was laying beside him, sleeping away with a slight snore with each breath. Jay blinked his eyes and finally wiped them with his fingers. The "sleep" in the corners of his eyes had accumulated for several hours now, piling up in a manner that, at least to Jay, seemed as large as a peanut.

Relative imagery, even in real life, can be skewed.

Speaking of imagery, thought Jay, what was with that dream?

This was the first dream Jay could remember in a long time. He didn't dreamed much lately, and not because his dreams had been dashed. He had a good career, a wife that loved him, that he loved in return. He had two beautiful children, a lovely home to call his own, and his health. He wouldn't have had it any other way, life was a dream for him.

But this dream stood out, for some reason. Jay lurched himself up to the side of the bed, sitting there for a second or two to get his bearings. He hoisted himself up and began hobbling over to the bathroom. Jay was only in his mid-thirties, but his knees felt like jello. Early morning jaunts to the bathroom were anything but routine anymore. Especially this early.

Jay peered across the room at the alarm clock on the night stand next to his wife's side of the bed. It was four o'clock in the morning.

Jay thought, Ah yes! two more good hours of sleep...so long as the kids don't wake up.

After relieving himself in the bathroom, Jay came back to the sink at the counter and washed his hands. Still half awake, he didn't pay much attention to his surroundings, just that the lights were quite bright. With the bathroom being white as well, that only increased the illumination in the room, prompting his wife to roll over on her side away from the brightly lit bathroom.

Jay looked at himself in the mirror. He had tired eyes. Work had been harder of late. Life with a one and a two-year-old didn't make it any easier. Even the dogs were cumbersome to deal with these days.

These days.

These were hard days, for everyone. Only a few years ago it seemed like the world nearly hit rock bottom, with the collapse of the stock market. But since that time, it's been a slow, trickling death. It could be felt in every aspect of life now. No matter the happiness or jubilation, there was always a numb feeling in the back of everyones' minds. As if they were collectively thinking, What's going to happen next?

Maybe that's what the dream was about?, thought Jay.

That made sense to him. The color gray is very dull, and life in general since the world was turned on it's head on those October days had seemed dull.

There was just one thing Jay didn't understand. Who was the person chasing me? And why did they reach out for me?

That thought gave Jay chills a bit, as a horror movie was playing on the television that had been on all night. Not exactly what you want to see or think about at four o'clock when no one else is awake.

Jay flipped off the bathroom light and strolled back to the bed, his knees not quite so achy now.

He layed down, pulled the sheets back up, changed the channel to an infomercial, turned over on his stomach, and got cozy in the bed once again.

This time he hoped he might dream of something more interesting. After all, aren't dreams supposed to be fun?

*************************************************************************************

The next morning, Jay and his wife were awake with their daughter. Jay and his wife were standing in the kitchen as Jay continued to get dressed and Linda took a moment for herself.

"So did something wake you up last night?", asked Jay's wife.

"What?", he replied.

"You popped up out of bed and made straight for the bathroom."

"First of all, I don't pop up. Second of all, I was savoring my extra sleep I was about to get. I love it when that happens."

Jay downed his vitamins with some water, while a smirk came across his wife's face.

"Yeah, what was I thinking about that pop up thing?"

Linda was as sarcastic as they come. That's what made her even more interesting to Jay. He loved her sense of humor, her passion, her beauty, and her love. He couldn't get enough of it. For ten years, it was the greatest gift he had ever received.

"I don't know what you're implying, but...", Jay said as he leaned down towards her standing at the kitchen sink, "I don't like it."

Linda laughed a little as they gave each other a warm kiss on the lips. That slight moment of love, perhaps passion, was interrupted by the piercing shriek of their daughter Allison who was expecting more attention.

"Ah, Allie's still here", Jay said.

"Don't worry, I've got it", replied Linda.

Jay glared at Linda as she progressed toward the living room to tend to their screaming daughter.  He came walking around the corner into the room behind her and Allie.

"I did have a dream though", said Jay.

"You and Martin Luther King, Jr.", replied Linda.

"Cute. No, it was weird. It was like I was nowhere and somewhere all at once. Just surrounded by grayness, dullness. You ever had something like that happen to you?"

Linda looked up at him from their daughter, smiling, "Only every day."

Jay faked laughed at her.

"But then something really weird happened. I thought I saw a person in my dream..."

Linda listened while tending to Allie. She was a good multitasker, although she expected any minute Jay would want her undivided attention about his "weird" dream.

"...they started chasing me and I couldn't get away. No matter where I turned, they were just there. It was weird."

Linda put Allie down from the high chair she had just destroyed with bananas, and let her run free through the house now. She acknowledged Jay's story saying, "Yeah, that's something."

"Ah, you don't care."

Linda turned around and looked at him thinking, Of course, undivided attention time.

"I do care."

"Well, that wasn't even the strangest part."

"What was the strangest part?"

"Whoever that person was, they reached for me right before I woke up. I think they touched me."

"They touched you? Inappropriately?"

Jay looked up at her from finishing buttoning his shirt, an annoyed look on his face.

"No! They grabbed my arm."

Jay rolled up the sleeve on his right arm right quick to adjust it. Linda took notice of this. The sleeve was already up on his left arm.

"Wait, Jay."

"I know how to roll it up, you don't have to do it, I'm not one you know?"

"Which arm did that person touch in your dream?"

"What?" Jay stopped with his cuff rolling and looked at Linda.

"Which arm?", Linda asked again.

"My left arm, I think. Yeah, it was my left."

Linda approached him and ran her fingers along the lateral surface of Jay's left forearm, displacing some of the hair.

"What? What are you doing?", asked Jay.

Linda looked up at him from looking at his arm.

"Jay, you have finger prints on your left arm."

"What?"

Jay looked at his left arm and Linda was right. Midway up his left forearm were four bruises as if the fingertips of another person's hand had dug into those spots. The skin wasn't broken, just bruised. As if someone had left their mark on Jay.

"Well that's weird", said Jay.

Linda curled up her lip and felt the spot again on Jay's arm.

"Maybe I grabbed you in the middle of the night and forgot?", asked Linda.

"Or maybe it was the monster in my dream," Jay said, bulging out his eyes and wiggling his fingers with his hands up.

"Watch out for karma, buddy. It might be a bite next time."