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?"


"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.


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....


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...


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."


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."