Posts Tagged ‘dream’

Why Is a Bird Trying to Peck Its Way into My Head?

Posted: September 5, 2014 by writingsprint in Writing
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It’s 4 AM, Chicago time. This is the second time I’ve had a nightmare about a bird trying to peck its way into my head.

The first time, I think it was a parrot. A blue parrot. (Pirates? Casablanca?)

The second time, I never actually saw the bird. I dreamed that my wife and I were on vacation and we were taking a break inside a tropical hut. I lay down, and it felt like a pencil (writing?) or a tooth was hitting the back of my head, right in my occipital bone. I can still feel it. Like a nail. Like a rat’s tooth.

It started out slowly. I called my wife’s name. Then it started to peck faster. (“Pick” or “peck”? I had Freudian slips on both of those words while I was writing this down. What’s the difference? One has a connotation of choice.) It was pissed at me laying there. Laying on top of it? Trying to get through to me. It started pecking harder and faster.

I stayed calm, sort of.

I called my wife again. Help me. Help me! She was there but in the weird way that dreams are couldn’t hear me. I called her through a veil of molasses over my head.

There wasn’t any screaming or freaking out, probably because some part of me knew that I was dreaming, but at the same time it was freaking me out, because a bird — a pissed-off wild animal — was trying to dig its way into my head. I was scared I’d make it worse, scared it would start attacking me and pick out my eyes, and at the same time I had to effing do something about it.

Was it the red wine at dinner? Was it the fancy restaurant food? (I’m out here on work.) Did the cool conversation trip something? (I work with some very cool, energetic, passionate people.) Was it one of my companions’ handlebar mustache?

I’m trying to get through to myself and I’m tired of being nice about it. I want to get my ass in gear writing. I feel like I’ve got nothing but I know it’s not true.

But then where is it? Why do I feel dried up?

It’s the fan fiction, stupid. It’s the mermaid. Just write it. Start it and write it and make it good later. I needed a break, yes, but these weeks of not writing have been killing me. I didn’t write after dinner because I didn’t think that what would come out would be any good. So what. I still wanted to write, so I should have anyway.

Man. That bird was pissed.

Thought for the Day

Posted: November 24, 2013 by writingsprint in Fun Stuff
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I found this quote by Byron while coming up with today’s post: “There is something pagan in me that I cannot shake off. I short, I deny nothing, but doubt everything.” Good for those questioning, imaginative souls.

Byron quote

Sometimes Your Answer Is Inside Your Problem

Posted: November 12, 2013 by writingsprint in Adrift
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sea stormA cloudy morning gave way to an afternoon rain storm. John tied himself to the raft with bungee cords and his belt. Waves tossed the raft in every direction, but by some miracle it never tipped over. He couldn’t imagine how. Again and again he would get thrown forward, backward, and the raft would tip upward until he was face to face with a spinning horizon. Then the raft would drop, the wave would crash on top of him, and he would see sky again.

Sheets of lightning ripped overhead. Thunder hammers pounded his eardrums. John screamed back at it. He thought his ears bled. The world split into black and white flashes, world positive and photo negative. He wanted to go home. He cried for his mother and for God.

“Do you remember?” his mother asked him.

John saw her in the sky, behind the lightning. She was holding his favorite bedtime story books. A wall of water slapped him. John gagged.

“What did I tell you?” she asked patiently.

“It isn’t real,” he shouted. The lightning tried to drown him out. He still heard the words.

She nodded. “That’s right. Count to ten. It’ll go away.”

He asked her the same thing he’d asked then: “What if it doesn’t go away?”

“Count to ten again. Only stronger.”

John started counting. Lightning blinded him. Thunder cracked the world. He got angry and counted louder.

“Good job, honey. Keep counting.”

He reached ten.

Mother Nature refused to be outdone. The raft went up on the biggest wave yet. John thought he could see his house from here. When the wave came down, the raft went flying, and so did John. The pathetic knot he tied with his belt didn’t hold. Neither did the one he tied with his tie. The bungees did, but the clips were bending.

He was too weak. Three days with almost no food and water.

“Don’t panic, honey. What did I tell you?” she asked.

He couldn’t remember. The raft was flipped over. How would he get it back up in this mess?

He started counting.

“That’s good. Think. When nothing’s working…”

Thunder struck him again. John shook his fist at the sky and got a mouthful of water for his trouble.

“Getting angry doesn’t help,” she said firmly. “Look at me!”

He looked up. He had one hand on the handhold of capsized raft, two bungees tied around his arm that were dragging him under the waves, and clothes that were dragging him under. Behind the flashes of lightning, in between the clouds, he saw her patient face. She’d always been good that way.

He said, “Sometimes your answer is inside your problem.”

“Give it a try.”

John dove under the water. He couldn’t see. Everything was muffled. He groped around, swimming in ink, and came up inside the raft. He could only see slivers of light when the raft hopped off the water. At least now he was next to where he had tied off, and the bungees weren’t dragging him under.

He grabbed hold of one side of the raft and hopped into it. He tried to pull it under. Like before, the raft fought back and popped back up. It landed flat. John’s mother clapped her hands with the sound of softer thunder.

“Good, Johnny! Good!”

“Thanks, mom,” he mumbled.

Lightning flashed. The thunder rolled again. Softer, again. He had a long way to go, but the storm was leaving.

John held on. He drank rain water while he could. The food was gone. All the supplies. Tomorrow would be a hard day.

Tomorrow.

Waking Up

Posted: November 6, 2011 by writingsprint in Dream Girl, Fantasy, postaday2011, postaweek2011, Writing
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Emerging Ghost by Jezebel at DeviantArtBreath is Spirit. The act of breathing is living. (Author unknown)

At first nothing happened. The smoke clouded his eyes. He saw his room through sheer black veils. Black and white veils: he could see Amy, too. She hadn’t even realized what was happening. Tom felt the smoke move through his hair, brushing over his skin. The hair on his arms stood on end. He was in death’s embrace. Mr. B fell over as the tendril that was sucking his life released from around his body. He gasped for breath.

Tom started to say another one of his literary prayers when vertigo came over him. It was like the other night. He tried to breathe but there wasn’t anything there. It didn’t hurt. If anything, it felt like he was breathing backwards, that his life was leaving his body. He had nothing to hold on to, to fight against. This was quicksand, or the gentle irresistible clutch of freezing to death.

He tried to say something about walking in shadow of death and having no fear, but he had no breath, and he couldn’t remember the words. His dizziness played Boggle with them in his head. His ears were ringing.

In his semi-conscious daze, he saw the apparition of Amy flying like a rocket toward him, closer, closer, CLOSER–

Cold air forced itself into his nose, mouth, and the very pores of his skin. He breathed Amy into his body. Tom dreamed and was awake at the same time.

“You’re an idiot, you know that?” he heard her say.

He coughed. He felt like his was two persons at the same time. The white, pure cold seeped into every layer of his body. His chest convulsed. Amy helped it with a snap of his belly muscles that felt like a heimlich maneuver, and kept going. Blood rushed to his eyes. In front of his face, he saw black venom pushing out of his body. His ears popped. They bled. Piercing sound, like slow nails, pushed into his eardrums.

Amy trembled with fear. Something wrong was about to happen. Tom didn’t understand. He couldn’t help what happened next. He gasped for real, good air, and felt himself breathe part of Amy’s life into his body. He heard her groan. Spiritually speaking, it felt like she lost twenty pounds.

The good air brought Tom back to his senses, though he could still feel Amy moving inside him. The piercing sound was Mr. B, belting out the sweetest version of “Amazing Grace” he’d ever heard. The cloud’s texture broke into jagged bits with the sound. That was why it hurt so much when it came out of Tom’s ears. A tentacle of smoke tried to reach for him, but it cowered like a someone who’s afraid to touch a candle flame.

“Oh God,” Amy said. She slumped, listless. “I can’t move.”

The cloud moved on him again. Tom couldn’t think of more words. He screwed his eyes shut and held his breath, but he felt it sneaking in around the squints. It felt like black, bleeding ants were crawling inside his body. The one phrase that jumped into his head was the one from Antoine de Saint-Exupery, about how children need to teach adults to see things clearly. He didn’t understand why.

Amy cringed from the ants. She moved like a tired swimmer, trying to willing her arms and legs to move. The ants crawled on her body first. He felt them moving inside his own lungs, too. He remembered Cinderella being eaten like a cake. She was going to be devoured and he would be eaten from the inside out. If only he could breathe for her, too–

He thought it, and that quickly, he did it. It happened the way things do in dreams. “No,” she said weakly. “I won’t…” Tom breathed himself into her. Amy twisted her head, no, no, no… Tom had been a lifeguard in his teenage years, and had brought two people back to life using mouth to mouth resuscitation. Firmly, he breathed himself into her again. Breathe, he thought. Come on. I can’t do it without you.

His life took hold inside her and her need to live took over. Amy breathed in. Tom saw sparkles in front of his eyes. She breathed again, harder. He was fading fast. Tom held her hand again. It felt like they were back on the window ledge, only they were both holding each other up.

The creature had nothing to feed on. Amy grew stronger. The ants shriveled up and died against the cold of her body. Tom wanted to tell her to stop, but she couldn’t stop drawing him in. Tom’s eyes bugged open. He gasped for breath. In his dream, he slapped her. They taught you to do that in lifeguard school; a panicking swimmer can drown both of you.

Amy shook her head. That was the answer. She wasn’t breathing him in — she was breathing IT in.

Tom’s cheeks hollowed and his eyes rolled back. Like water spilling down a drain, the creature seeped into every bit of his body. Mr. B kept whistling. The creature seemed too weak to fight. Mr. B had said Tom was the bridge, and “bridge” was right. His ears, his eyes, his mouth, everything was a miniature aqueduct. He wanted to throw up at the sensation. In another dream layer, he heard it screaming. The black passed into the cold and vanished.

After what felt like a 60-second inhalation, Tom let his breath out. Amy left his body. He slumped to the floor. “It’s over,” Tom said, and Mr. B did too. He kissed his policeman’s Bible and said something in Gaelic for his mother. Aloud, to Amy, he asked, “Isn’t it?”

Gentle, soft, cold arms wrapped around him. Yes. We did it! He would have hugged her if he could, but his head was clearing, and the image of her was already starting to fade from his conscious mind. Soon she’d be gone. What if this was like that movie with Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore and he never saw her again?

“Shit. No. This isn’t fair.” He had a flash of inspiration. “Wally, knock me out.”

Mr. B looked at him like he’d just spoken Sanskrit. “What?”

“You’re a cop. Make it quick. I can only talk to her in dreams.”

Wally shrugged. “Ah hell…kids these days…”

Tom felt a short, sudden grab to his neck, then everything went black. It wasn’t comfortable, and there was going to be a bruise.

* * *

In his dream, Amy was still holding him in her arms, and laughing. “That’s the most fucked up idea of romance I’ve ever heard.”

“There’s no way I was going to let you fade away without saying goodbye.” He kissed her. Her lips were soft and cool. She smiled and kissed him back, and pulled him tightly to her. The moment lasted a while. That was the good thing about dreams.

“I have to go,” she said. She rested her forehead against his.

“Yeah, I know. Just my luck.”

“Your luck?” Amy tapped on his chest like she wanted to hit him, but in a loving way. “For about five seconds, while I was inside you, it felt like I was alive again.” She interlaced her fingers, good and tight, around his. “We were closer together than… God, I don’t have the words.” She sighed. Now it’s back to… well…” She shrugged. “Heaven’s got to be better than Limbo.”

Tom caressed her face. What was the point of saving the girl if she had to go away anyway? Amy took his fingers, kissed them, then really kissed him, one last time. She hugged him tight, and whispered in his ear, “Thank you. See you in your dreams, Tommy.”

“How can you see into my eyes like open doors?
Leading you down into my core where I’ve become so numb?
Without a soul, my spirit’s sleeping somewhere cold,
until you find it there and lead it back home.”
“Bring Me to Life,” Evanescence

* * *

Dream Girl” is the first story that I’ve been proud to say that I wrote in a very, very long time. I have to give special thanks to BeKindRewrite for Inspiration Monday, Amy Lee and Evanescence for the song “Bring Me to Life,” which inspired this story, and the Free Library of Philadelphia, for a stack of books on ghosts and things that go bump in the night. For sure there’ll be a rewrite to polish it up, but for now… this just feels really good.

Emerging Ghost” by Jezebel at deviantART

Nightmare

Posted: October 28, 2011 by writingsprint in Dream Girl, Fantasy, postaday2011, postaweek2011, Writing
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Evil Skull
Night fell. Tom and Mr. B sat in Tommy’s apartment, with the lights out, waiting. Tom checked his watch. “Midnight,” he said.

“Do you want something to drink?”

“No.” Tom smacked his lips. He rubbed his eyes. “This salt vapor is killing me. I feel like I’ve got crystals forming on the inside of lungs.”

There were four vaporizers running in the room, one in each corner. They sat, humming, blowing out clouds of steam that vanished inches above the machines. Tom and Mr. B had light sheens of water on them as if they were sweating, even though the air was cool tonight.

A little bundle of four-leafed clover peeked out of Tom’s pocket. Mr. B had one just like it, plus his old policeman’s Bible. Tom closed his eyes and repeated the words to the “prayers” he planned to use against the creature.

The temperature dropped in the room. Buster jumped up onto the bed and stretched out his legs. The little mongrel purred. “Hi Amy,” Tom and Mr. B said. Tom sensed fear. Caring and fear. He brushed at a sensation like silk touching the hair on his legs. A sound like little jingling touched the edge of his imagination. Out of the corner of his eye, Tom could see the salt mist swirl in circles. Buster purred and watched them.

“I think she’s dancing.” Smiles. Yes. He watched the mist swirl some more, opened up his imagination, and could almost see her. Tom snapped his fingers. “Belly dancing! That’s where the bells came from.” He had a sharp image of Buster’s claws. “She’s ready to fight, too. It’s like wrapping a knife in a silk scarf.”

Mr. B smiled. “Atta girl. I always knew you had some Mata Hari in you.” He took a sip of water. He warmed up his whistle on the first verse of “Danny Boy.”

Time passed. Mr. B sat in his chair and kept watching the room. He told Tommy it was like any other stakeout. Tom shook his head. The dude was like bedrock, completely calm and still. Tom sometimes paced, other times picked books off the shelves and re-read the words. Nothing helped.

The city never slept, but sometimes there were nights when you knew that bad things were happening somewhere. A little at a time, that dark feeling started to creep into the room. Tom gulped when he noticed it. He checked over his shoulder. Nothing there, but it made Tom rub his arms. He wanted to feel warm, to feel better. “Can you feel it?” he asked.

Mr. B nodded. “Like watching a drug house after dark. It’s moving.” He blessed himself, closed his eyes and said a prayer.

Tom looked around the room. He opened up his heart for a moment and imagined holding Amy’s hand. Nicely, then with that never letting go ferocity that he’d felt that first night. “Just wanted to let you know,” he whispered. He felt her fingers brush his.

The lights in the hall flickered. Mr. B stood up. He pressed his hand over his heart. “My heart beat… feels like…”

“Footsteps,” Tom said. “Is your breath shallow?”

“Like there’s no air.”

Buster ran to his crate again. The three of them faced the door. The flickering hall lights framed the door. Tom imagined a hand pressing against it. A hand from a thing named Hunger. Nothing but hunger. It recoiled from the salt cloud, then felt seething, oily rage.

The air snapped like a bedsheet. Now a curtain of black, living smoke hung and twisted between them and the door. In Tom’s mind’s eye he saw a wet, living skull shape in the middle of the smoke.

“Jesus,” Tom said.

The wind that was Amy’s breath roared. It met the smoke halfway between them and the two turned into a white and black tornado. In Tom’s mind’s eye, he saw Amy dancing a sword dance. Her fingers raked out where a dancer would have been graceful. Her body twisted and wrestled where it would have moved with music. Bells beaded her dress, ankles and wrists, and they all stung the creature where it tried to touch her.

Mr. B shouted in Latin. He splashed holy water at it. Tom smelled a stench, and saw that the smoke actually got smaller. Mr. B kept throwing.

Tom took a deep breath, and uttered, with the voice of an exorcist, the words from Hamlet, “Angels, and ministers of grace, defend us! Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damn’d.” The smoke jerked inward like he’d stung it with a whip. Tom kept going. “Bring with thee airs from heaven, or blasts from hell. Be thy intents wicked or charitable. Thou com’st in such a questionable shape…” and shouting, “…that I… will… SPEAK TO THEE!” He threw a handful of salt at it.

Tom never saw what hit him. He heard a bang. It felt like he’d been punched in the face. Light flashed behind his eyes, and he had the wind knocked out of him from the back. Tom choked. He staggered back to his feet; he didn’t even know he’d been knocked down. He’d been thrown ten feet across the room.

A tentacle of smoke struck at Mr. B. There were two, one for each of them. He saw Amy’s ghost getting snapped at by the horror skull in the center of the smoke. He heard Amy cry out inside his mind. The words spilled out of his mouth: “There is real love just as there are real ghosts; every person speaks of it, few persons have seen it.” Amy seemed to grow stronger again.

Mr. B swung his Bible at the limb, still praying. The silver clasp on the outside shone bright. Tom thought it looked brighter than it normally would have in this light.

Another tendril swung at Tom again. He took the hit, and felt a puff of air ooze out of his lungs. “Bloody thou art,” he snarled, from Richard III. “Bloody will be thy end!”

The smoke tendril got inside Mr. B’s guard. It snaked around him, under his legs, over his back, inside his clothes. Mr. B cried out. He brushed at his body like sweeping off bugs. It was getting worse. More black smoke wept back into the cloud, growing from the fear.

“Mr. B! Wally! Whistle!” Tom shouted. He’d forgotten about it.

Mr. B’s glasses fell off his face. He couldn’t stop staring at it. He started to whistle, weakly, but it wasn’t enough. Tom could actually see black smoke sneaking into his nose. Tom gritted his teeth. He had to give it something else to think about. He ran forward and jumped into the cloud. “Come and get me, you son of a bitch!. I’m the one you want!”

Dream Girl was originally inspired by a prompt from Inspiration Monday at Be Kind Rewrite.

Evil Skull” is a drawing by Kate VerKuilen.

I believe in words

I believe in words

Mr. B shivered. “Did you feel that?”

Tom checked Buster. The cat didn’t look scared. In fact, he looked pretty mellow. “What was it?”

“I just felt cold around my shoulders. Like the temperature in the room dropped ten degrees.”

“I think Amy just gave you a hug.”

Mr. B looked around the room. He rubbed his sides. “Hello there, girl. It’s been a long time.” He started to laugh, then he said, “I don’t know why I did that.”

“Yeah, I know. It happens sometimes when she’s around. You can feel her feelings. It’s kind of how she talks to you, if you’re not dreaming.” Tom looked around the room, too. It was weird talking to someone and not knowing where they were. Kind of like having the CIA bugging your room, he thought. “Amy, we’re talking about how to fight the other ghost.”

Tom closed the blinds on the window, then lit candles and set out the mirror like he did last night. Mr. B looked at him like he was a nut. Tom handed him a copy of Tobin’s Guide to the Supernatural, from the library. “It’s supposed to help communicate with a ghost.”

“Does it work?”

“It did last night.”

Mr. B put it down quickly. He didn’t seem to comfortable with the idea, even if he knew who the ghost was. He said, “That’s too spooky for me. I’ll stick with one knock for yes, two knocks for no.”

Amy didn’t knock on anything, so Tom sat down in front of the mirror and tried to clear his head. In broad daylight, it didn’t work nearly as well. The light from outside sliced through the shadows behind him like blades.

“Salt helped, even if it didn’t ward it off,” Mr. B began. “I can go to Target and buy a bunch of vaporizers. We can saturate the air with salt water vapor and see how it likes that.”

Tom’s skin crawled. In the shadows of the mirror, he had an image of ants chewing on his skin. “It might hurt Amy, too. Let’s go ahead with it, but Amy won’t be able to help us as much.”

Tom flipped through where he had flagged one of the books. “There’s no way to kill a ghost. All the stories talk about driving them away, or protecting yourself against them. The main thing is religion. A cross, sign of the cross, a cross made of iron, prayers, hymns, holy water, and mold from a church yard.”

“My mother used to carry a little bottle of holy water with her. When I was a policeman I always called a little Bible blessed by Father Murray from my parish.”

“Those would probably work for you. Probably not for me. I’m an agnostic.”

“Do you have a copy of the Origin of Species?”

Tom smirked. Amy was laughing. “It’s not my Bible. I could try a copy of Fahrenheit 451, but I wouldn’t bet my breath on it.”

“What else?”

Tom flipped pages. “Bells. Church bells, bells worn by cattle, and bells worn by Morris dancers.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s folk dance. Unless either of us can do it right, I wouldn’t count on it.”

A brightening inside his head, like lighting up a room. Amy had an idea. He got embarrassed. The words that jumped into his head were a sexy, interesting idea. The shadows in the mirror swirled in circles. “Amy’s going to use… dancing. Somehow.”

“What else?”

“Bread and salt; they’re sacred. Whistling…”

Mr. B smiled. He did a quick verse of Andy Griffith show theme. Tom was about to roll his eyes and ask if he was serious when Mr. B took a breath and did a shrill version of the 1812 overture. Tom felt his bones vibrate. Amy was blown away, too. “Where the hell did you learn to do that?”

“Mens chorus on the USS Pennsylvania. I could outdo a bosun’s whistle.”

Tom felt an urge to clap his hands. Amy liked that one. “You’re our secret weapon, Wally,” he said. Tom saw how pleased the man was, and hoped this didn’t get him killed.

Tom flipped pages. “The four-leafed clover breaks fairy glamour… which this thing doesn’t seem to use anyway…”

“I don’t know about that. You never saw it. It wasn’t until you were passing out that you even knew it was there. Let’s see if we can get our hands on some.”

“Aren’t they, like, rarer than winning the lottery?”

“I know a lot of retirees who take walks off the path in Central Park. I’ll bet they can find some for us.”

Tom thought it was nuts, but wouldn’t that be the pot calling the kettle black. “Okay. Chains of daisy flowers… that’s really more for children… red verbena, red-berried trees… rowan wood, ash wood… running water.” He looked up. “I hope to God we’re looking up the right mythology. If it’s a Chinese spirit, I’m reading from the wrong damned book.”

“Stick to the basics, then. I’ll get a Bible and some odds and ends for me. Maybe I’ll get lucky with the whistling. What do you believe in?”

“Uh… words.” Mr. B stared at him. “I studied English. I love language. I don’t know how that helps me any.”

Mr B pat him on the shoulder. “We’ll think of something.”

Tom shuddered. He remembered how it felt to get the breath sucked out of his body. “I hope we think of something fast.”

Dream Girl was originally inspired by a prompt from Inspiration Monday at Be Kind Rewrite.

Death is an Evil Cloud

A cloud of death

Tom and Mr. B sat in Tom’s apartment later that morning. Mr. B switched shifts with one of the other watchmen. Tom called his boss to say he was projectile vomiting and needed another day off. Just in case, Mr. B called a doctor friend who owed him a favor from his police days, who said he’d write a note for Tom to back him up. Tom made eggs for Mr. B, and Tom himself was having a bowl of Froot Loops.

First, Mr. B asked Tom to explain what had happened the night before. Then he asked him again, highlighting areas that Tom had expected him to. What did it feel like when the thing attacked? What did it feel like just before the attack? Did he see anything? Hear anything? Smell anything? Then he asked him about things he didn’t expect. What song was he thinking about during the attack? What color was Amy’s dress? What color were her eyes? None of them made sense, but as he tried to think about strange details, it jogged his thoughts and made him think of some details that he’d missed. Mr. B smiled. “You’d be an excellent witness, Tommy,” he said.

They went down each other’s lists of what they knew so far.

“It’s not a ghost like Amy,” Tommy said. “That’s the biggest difference between them. It didn’t need permission to enter the room and it had to come under the door. Like a poison gas.”

“It sounds like an animal, and it usually feeds like an animal, attacking the weak and helpless.” He looked off into space, thinking. “To kill an animal, you either corner it and shoot it, or, you lure it someplace, then kill it. The difference is whether you’re hunting it, or it’s hunting you.”

“The latter,” Tom said. He rubbed his throat.

“Right. The bad news is, you’re the bait, Tommy. You’re also the aberration. You’re connected to Amy. I can’t see her; nobody else can. I hear it all, and no one else ever talked about ghosts or seeing people dancing on the window ledges. It’s not attacking you now because you’re sick. The first time, over a year ago, maybe, but not now. It’s attacking you to get to her.”

“What does that make me?”

“I sat here and listened to you talking to that poor girl, while you were unconscious and you were dreaming.”

Tom just went with it. “Either I have one foot in the afterlife, in the grave, or she’s really not dead.”

Mr. B folded his arms and nodded at him. “Exactly.”

Tommy suddenly remembered something from one of the library books stacked on his desk, next to Mr. B’s elbow. There were legends of people taken away by the faerie. A body was left in their place so people wouldn’t know they were gone. What if she really wasn’t dead? Or did it matter?

“You’re the bridge, Tommy,” Mr. B said. He poked him in the chest. “You love her.”

“I…” Shit. Tom suddenly felt like he was standing in front of a room full of people in his underwear. Mr. B saw right through him. Tom was glad he had never faced Mr. B in a police interrogation room. “Well, I mean, we only just met…” Mr. B was laughing and nodding his head. “What sense does that make? I only talked to her once. We only met, what, two days ago?”

“Tommy, if there’s anything I’ve learned in all my years, it’s that some things are timeless, and some things happen in a place where time has no meaning. Haven’t you ever met somebody and felt like you knew them your whole life?”

Tom just nodded. He was fighting for his life and Amy’s against something he thought only children were afraid of. He kept going with it.

Dream Girl was originally inspired by a prompt from Inspiration Monday at Be Kind Rewrite.

“Don’t tempt me.” Emotions flickered across her face. He felt sad; it was coming from her. “I… sometimes I can’t help it. I don’t want to be like that thing.” She missed being alive. He could tell.

Ghost

I could hear you dreaming

“All right. All right.” There were only two things he wanted to know, other than “What are you doing Friday night?” With the bluntness that comes in dreams, Tom asked, “How can I help you? What is that thing?”

“I don’t know, and I don’t know. It steals breath. Ever since I… changed… I’ve watched it feed on people all over this building. Three of them died. It sucked the life out of a woman my mom’s age who smoked, an old man on a oxygen tank, and a poor little boy who had allergies.” Her voice broke.

Tom gulped. People sometimes said this was an old, “sick” building. The health department couldn’t prove anything. He remembered getting a chest infection a year ago, for no good reason. He thought it was a spring cold. He’d had no energy and he felt like he couldn’t sleep for weeks. She nodded. “I know what you’re thinking. Last year. That’s when it took a taste of you.”

“Jesus Christ. You watched it?”

“I was outside.” She tilted her head, thinking. Long strands of her hair brushed over her face. Tom felt himself breathing, and started to feel the breeze from the window. He was afraid he would wake up soon. “You changed over this past year. I don’t know what it is, but when I walked past your room the other night, I could hear you dreaming. It sounded like music.”

“Weird. I saw you dancing on the ledge.”

She half smiled and shook her head. “Dancing? No. Maybe we dreamed about each other.”

Something occurred to Tom. It made no sense, except in a dream. “Then it showed up, and that’s when you slipped.”

“And you held on, and wouldn’t let go.” He nodded. She did too. “Yup. That’s what I remember, too.”

He felt himself wanting to yawn. He was waking up. “What happens now?” he asked, slurring his words. In the fog of his sleep, her reply was muffled.

His eyes opened. He had salt in his hair and burning in his eyes. The room was quiet, except for the usual sounds from the street down below his window. The spot on his bed where Amy had been sitting looked strangely empty now.

He felt something in his gut, and in the way that things come together after a dream, he knew what she’d said: it was after both of them. Tom put his hand where she’d been sitting, and dug his fingers into the covers. “We’ll get this thing, Amy,” he said.

Dream Girl originally started based on a prompt from Inspiration Monday at Be Kind Rewrite.

Meet Amy

Posted: September 16, 2011 by writingsprint in Dream Girl, postaday2011, postaweek2011, Writing
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Tom breathed. He opened his eyes. The air felt frosty, making his skin feel like sandpaper. Amy sat on the end of his bed. The room looked whiter, like he’d adjusted the colors that he usually used to look at the world. Amy looked just like she had in his dream. The same hair, dress, and eyes.

“Amy?” His voice sounded muffled.

“Yes.”

“What’s… am I dead?”

“Dreaming. Like last night.” She paused. Amy spoke slowly, and her eyes had little fire. It didn’t suit her. “It’s gone for now. You’re safe.”

“You saved my life. Thanks.”

“How did you know you had to invite me in?”

He gestured at the stack of books from the library. “Light reading. They say it helps the ghost to connect to reality.” She laughed, then winced. The effort hurt her. The world became foggy. “No… no!” Tom reached for her hand.

Her voice sounded like a whisper. “It’s all right. I’m tired. Fighting it off took a lot out of me.”

“Can I help? Can you…” He gulped. This really didn’t sound like a good idea, but there were stories of psychic vampires, ghosts that fed on the life energy of the living. “Can you use me? Like a transfusion?”

“Think about me.”

He thought about her dancing on the ledge. He liked her smile, and now that they could talk, he liked her voice. The fog cleared and she came into focus, bright and sharp. She seemed satisfied. Happy to see him clearly again. Then her face turned black and she slapped him so hard across the face that it made his teeth clack. “Don’t you ever, ever, ever ask me that again! Do you hear me?”

He held his face. It stung like being hit by a snowball. “Fine. Blame a guy for asking.”

“Don’t tempt me.” Emotions flickered across her face. He felt sad; it was coming from her. “I… sometimes I can’t help it. I don’t want to be like that thing.” She missed being alive. He could tell.

To be continued

Her Name Was Amy

Posted: August 29, 2011 by writingsprint in Dream Girl, postaday2011, postaweek2011
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After breakfast, Tom went to see Mr. Biederman, the security man during the day shift. His friends called him Wally. Tom called him ‘Mr. B’ because he hated following the crowd, which Wally thought was funny. Wally’s face was buried in a paperback detective novel as Tom came off the elevator. He didn’t look up. It was six in the morning, about two hours ahead of Tom’s usual walk out the door, but around the time when people started making their way off to work. Wally reminded Tom of Spencer Tracy’s character in It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, if captain Culpepper had ever retired from the police.

Wally started to look up when Tom blocked the light for reading his book, then he jumped when he saw who it was. “Tommy! A little early for you, isn’t it?” Tom tried to find the words. The bags under his eyes couldn’t have helped. “Hey, what’s wrong?”

“Mr. B, have you ever seen this girl before?” He handed him the drawing he’d made earlier, smoothed out as much as he could.

“Jesus, Mary, Joseph.” Mr. B made a sign of the cross. “Why did you draw this?”

Tom woke up. In the past three years, Mr. B had never sworn once. Tom’s heart pounded in his ears. “I had a dream. Who is she?”

“Are you kidding me?”

Not meaning to, Tom grabbed Mr. B’s jacket by the lapel and got into his face. “Tell me who she is!” he snapped.

Also not meaning to, Mr. B acted like any good retired New York police officer and gave the pressure points at the base of Tom’s thumb a pinch with the force of a pair of pliers in the hands of an angry carpenter. Tom’s legs buckled. He could almost see white arcs of pain fly up his forearm. His vision went blurry.

“Sorry, kid. Are you all right?” Tom coughed. He shook his arm out. From the elbow down, it was all pins and needles. Mr. B looked at him like a kindly uncle. He held up the crumpled paper. “As I live and breathe, this girl is Amy Elster. She was about your age… died in her sleep, it must have been ten years ago.”

Tom felt like he had just picked up a plain-covered journal in a used book store, flipped open the cover, and read the words ‘L.H. Oswald 1962’ scribbled on the inside cover. A lead weight dropped into his stomach. “Died in her sleep? From what?”

Mr. B dabbed at the corners of his eyes with a handkerchief. He must have liked her. “They never knew. They blamed it on sleep apnea — said she suffocated — but the autopsy showed no signs of the condition. Such a sweet kid.”

The elevator came down again. The two of them jumped. They tried to act natural as one of the residents walked by, and probably looked more foolish than anything else. Tom told Mr. B about his dream, and Mr. B pressed the drawing back into Tom’s hands. His own were trembling. “I don’t know what this means, Tommy. If I were you, I’d get some religion. Now.”

The crumpled paper drawing is from Eye-Og-Raphy.

Dream Girl originally started based on a prompt from Inspiration Monday at Be Kind Rewrite.