The Dream – Part Two
She awoke with her alarm clock blaring. The sun cast translucent shadows onto her bed. Her chest was rising and falling rapidly. The dream again. It had felt so real. Her blood rushed through her veins. She touched her forehead. It was cool and damp. She rose slowly, breathing deeply, letting the sun wash over her. Moments later the shower was running and she was relaxed, the dream all but forgotten.
The day unfolded the same way as any other. But dragged along behind her. Everything was tainted. Coffee didn’t taste as good. The conversations with her friends wasn’t as stimulating. The drinks at the bar weren’t as relaxing.
As she drove her car back up the driveway she looked at the plastic bag in the driver’s seat. No-Doze, coffee, a bottle of amphetamines she bought off a friend. Not a chance of sleep tonight. The man in the gas mask wasn’t gonna catch her.
She turned on the television and tried to watch whatever was playing late at night. But same as the night before she just couldn’t get into the canned laughter, couldn’t lose herself in the world of dated jokes and musical sell outs. Despite the coffee, despite the No-Doze, despite even the amphetamines, the Sandman found a way. Her eyes closed like lead curtains. Her breathing slowed. Her mind drifted farther and farther away from the world of poorly written sitcoms.
She awoke in the hallway with her back up against the wall. The cold, rough stone pressed against her t-shirt. There was a door at the other end, a light at the end of the tunnel. She ran for it. Salvation. Freedom from this hell. Behind her there was a popping sound. She glanced back and saw her huge enemy stepping through the wall. She ran harder, breath rushing in and out of her lungs as she drew nearer to the door, to safety. His footsteps behind her were booming like cannons. They came closer. The light came closer. She could hear him breathing, feel the light on her face. He was reaching for her. She leapt through the door.
She was standing in a barren park. Lightening flashed in the distance. The sky was the color of steel wool. Wind tore through the dead trees, making them crack and spring back and forth. A gravel path led through the park to the edge of a cliff. She stepped forward and looked behind her. Emptiness reigned. Turning in a circle showed her the park, stretching into the distance forever. Broken and splintery picnic tables littered the area. She walked, the thunder booming, gravel crunching beneath her canvas sneakers. All was silent except the howling wind, explosions of thunder, and the ocean shattering against the cliff.
A creak. She whipped around, chest heaving, sweat pouring, heart stopping. Nothing but a swing set. Rusted, dilapidated, swinging in the wind. She turned back to the path.
The horizon was gone. She could hear the muffled breathing, smell the leather. She slowly looked up and saw him towering over her. She was reflected in the lenses of his gas mask, her face and body distorted. She slowly backed up, unsure if he had seen her. Slowly, step by step. Back towards the emptiness, away from the cliff.
She stepped out into the air and tumbled. The top of the cliff sped away from her as she fell towards the ocean. He stood there, staring down at her. Something dripped onto her face. She rubbed it and looked at her fingers. Blood.
Her world became a frozen wasteland as she crashed into the waves. The air fled her lungs and she was sinking. She sank like an anvil. She tried to swim to the surface but the ocean was gelatinous. She couldn’t hold her breath. She screamed, an explosion of bubbles tearing towards the surface. There was nothing left in her lungs and they began to burn like coals. Her mind screamed for air. But there was none to be had.
She touched bottom, the sand floating up where her feet touched. She tried to swim again. But she didn’t move. She began to sink into the sand. She frantically clawed at the water, dug at the sand around her legs. The water got colder and colder. The sand churned up around her as she was pulled deeper. Her throat was crushed as the sand reached her neck. It reached up to her chin. As she looked up the man in the gas mask was standing there. He stared down at her. His black gas mask was the last thing she saw.
In the other room her alarm clock was blaring. The television was playing Good Morning America. The sunlight crept through the window and gently kissed her frozen cheek. The alarm clock beeped on unanswered.