I Must Be Dreaming
Based on Three True Stories
I must be dreaming. My covers barely shield the crisp draft in the room. There is a frog near the window, and the crickets are chirping. Then, something I cannot make out, a whinnying, or maybe just the wind.
Someone is in the room with me. I sense it immediately, and the feeling tightens my breathing into methodical gasps. I cower a bit but move toward the switch near my head. Pausing, I realize the reach would require stretching into the darkness. I am too afraid.
My arms quiver, and I draw back inside the sheet that has fallen partway down the bedside. I tug it back in place pulling it in one direction and the comforter in the other. I can only see silhouettes held in my place by the steady glow of the moon pushing through the mini-blinds.
I feel a chill in my nerves that accentuates the rapid dripping of the raindrops falling from the edge of one part of the roof to the corner of another. It causes me to second guess every flicker and creak. I tense the muscles in my shoulders, pulling myself into a fetal position and gazing with fear into the deepest black I can create, pulling the comforter just over my forehead and then a bit further, holding it there, carefully keeping my fingers within its cover.
My heart is beating to the rhythm of the water droplets. They are incessant. They’re speeding up. I shiver and get a dull head rush just above my eyes. Slowly, I lower the cover and glance around the edges of the bed and imagine something in the shadows. I take care to survey every nook and even the ceiling. I stop breathing.
Something has taken hold of my throat and clasped its weight against my chest.
As I try desperately to flail my knees to gain control, I realize that I am not able to move my arms, my fingers, my legs or my neck. Motion is paralyzed, but I feel every tinge of fear and anxiety coursing through my veins. Then as I struggle against the darkness, the figure of a gray wolf pierces through the pitch figure over me and lunges into my ribs.
I feel strange, and my heart begins to beat faster. My gaze is fixed before me, and I begin to give in. I begin to fade.
Something startles me, and I see land emerging through a twilight. Suddenly I feel the crisp air, and I realize the covers are not pulled over me. A quick draft causes me to cough, and then the ground below me begins to give way. As soon as I feel the cool spray, I begin to make out the railing, and I realize I’m on a ship.
My left leg is tingling, and my right leg slips on slick metal. My head bangs against the edge of the railing, and I catch myself by grabbing for a cable. The ship is tossing around in the night, and I begin to be nauseous.
I find a stairwell and descend three levels into a cavernous hold, weave around several bulkheads, and quickly move into the center of the floor and lay there, breathing through my nose, praying that I won’t throw up.
My spine crinkles against the cold hard concrete. I am in the deep swarthy confines of a crypt, and I see only small fractions of incident light bouncing off dark furtive forms crouching and swaying over and around me. The figures blink and hum, and I hear more dripping, creaking, and a whip of air through iron passageways.
Shadows dance against the steely interior. There are large Caterpillar tractors and a line of semi-trucks. The flickering light fixtures, crudely protected by small wire cages, project my fears like a cabalistic ritual around the dim enclosures.
I slip into a trance, and my muscles begin to relax. I begin to breathe more deeply. I cough into my hands. They are clammy and gritty from the pool of oil beneath me. I smell a strange odor, and it becomes clear that I am somehow tied down.
The shadows dance with the rhythm of the undulating swells as the ocean pounds the hull. The waves roll into thunder cracks against the bow, and there I lay, motionless, forearms pressed against grimy pavement deep in the belly of cargo freighter falling headlong into some riddled incubus, one hundred fathoms from the unknown.
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Blake G Edwards
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