Lucid Dreams – Short Story

The first time I saw you was a lot like the last, smothered by the rank stench of fear. The air was cold and damp, firmly after sunset, not that I could explain why I was so sure. My blood ran hot, each and every vein boiled. Then, you. Your pupils were flared, and the look of absolute rage on your face, directed at me? I froze immediately. Every inch of my skin bristled with anticipation.

The faint sound of humming started, and completely engulfed me. It was the first few notes of a song I couldn’t place, but was certain I knew. 

I woke in the middle of a coughing fit, struggling to catch my breath. I reached over to haphazardly grab a mostly crushed plastic water bottle I’d left there before bed. My heart was beating heavily, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember what kind of nightmare I was having, what had happened in my dream. I took a few mouthfuls of stale water, finally managing to kill my cough, then took several haltering gasps.

Turning my head left, I wearily read the bright green numbers that declared degenerate hours. My face soured as I replaced the mostly empty bottle on my nightstand. I had work in four hours, and didn’t need the reminder being awake was. I laid back against the mattress without another second, and closed my warm eyes with a determined scowl.

The second time I noticed you, it was your eyes. More specifically, the heavy purple bags hung just under your brown eyes. My foot paused mid step; I recognized those eyes. The downturned face, the way you lingered toward the back of a busy storefront crowd like you didn’t want to be noticed by the hundreds of people milling about.

I’d seen you in a dream. My foot went through the sidewalk at the thought. The buildings and pavement coloring the gray world around me went insubstantial. Like clouds they passed through me with a chill. Before. A dream. Wind began to beat against me as I fell, faster and faster. I was in a dream.

My feet settled against the concrete once more, and the bustle continued past me without a beat of hesitation. I shook at the aborted momentum while I gasped for air, and when my eyes finally refocused, everyone on the street was looking at me. I was in the center of a massive, unending crowd, all eyes on me. Millions of crawling ants. They pierced inches into my skin, my lungs caught in fear, my chest ached with what they knew. All the hair on my body stood on end. The damp smell of fear swarmed my head in a hot and humid cloud. I couldn’t breathe, I was suffocating.

I cried out. And like swan song, a sound began to ring. Echoing and rebounding against the walls of my mind, rattling my brain in its cacophony. And like a relic of the past unearthed and shoved before me, the dream turned nightmare lullaby from 2005’sThe Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirlunfurled. Prepubescent Taylor Lautner crooned to me-

“Dream, dream, dream, dream, dream, dream…”

I lurched awake with a big gasp, and was panting immediately. Propping myself up on one arm, I focused on my breathing until I calmed down.

I hated nightmares. They reminded me too much of being too small. Of hiding under tied-up white sheets in a dark closet in the dead of night. Of counting backwards from ten, a hundred, a thousand. As long as it took to calm my racing heart. To still the images running over me. The tall figures towering over me. The shadows over every inch of me.

The fifth time I saw you, I was fairly sure something was up. I’d always been a deep sleeper, never catching more than the seconds of my dreams right before an alarm, but as I failed to turn on every light in each new room, it suddenly struck me how common an occurrence this was becoming. Then I remembered what Elijah said around last Christmas, about the things you just can’t do in dreams. And like that it hit me.

The same time you walked into the large, empty doorway just opposite of me. Shaggy brown hair, shifting eyes glazed over me as you took in the rest of the room, like I was part of the background. And I realized I was, I guess. Then I remembered I was in a dream. I hummed just to feel the vibrations in my throat, but the sensation still surprised me. But not as much as your sudden double take, the absolute look of exacerbation.


“Me?” I asked, the question didn’t help.

“Yes, you. You’re the origin of this series, obviously. And what a weird landscape.” You remark, distastefully eyeing the paneled wooden walls. For some reason, I couldn’t take the criticism.

“Why are you even here?” I shot back, turning the tips of your ears red.

“I don’t want to talk about it.” I tilted my head in confusion, but you turned away with a huff and started explaining before I could ask. “It was that songSharkboy and Lavagirlsang to send the kid to sleep.” Your cheeks glowed with embarrassment, but I continued to look at you sideways. “You know, the reason I’m in your dream right now?”


“Anyways,” a dismissive shake of your head, “I’ve been stuck in other people’s nightmares ever since.” And just the matter-of-fact way you proclaimed your future, filled with nothing but other people’s dreams. Before I could even collect myself, you were standing. “I shouldn’t have said all that, don’t worry about it.” You dusted off badly worn blue jeans with gaping holes on both knees. “Just stay out of my way.” I blinked at your dismissal, but by the time I adjusted to your attitude, you were gone. The last time I saw you, nothing special. You never said goodbye, but, to be fair, neither did you say hello.

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