Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

Rich’s eyes water from fatigue, the bags under his eyes are dark from weeks of not being able to sleep through the night. The sleep specialist he had finally gone to see gave him specific instructions to reset his circadian clock. He cannot take naps and he has to stay up until 12:30 A.M. for the first week, and then get up at exactly 6:30 the next day. The amount of sleep he can expect will incrementally increase an hour each week until he can hold a six- to eight-hour straight sleeping pattern. Such a possibility inspires Rich to do all he can not to succumb to a quick nap on his recliner chair, where he has dozed off so many times. Before he gets too comfortable, he decides to go outside and take a walk. At 11:30 at night he can be assured of getting that extra hour of jolt.

Zing. Dodging a bullet from a drive-by shooting, he drops down to the sidewalk. Hurriedly, he gets up to cross the street before he runs into a group of drunken young punks who sound like they’re looking for a fight. He walks to the little patch of green they call a park in the area, breathing in deeply only to inhale smoke from a bum savoring the last tip of his cigarette. Quickening his pace, he goes further down a street he doesn’t think he’s ever been through. Always learning something new, he thinks, as a howl pierces through his thoughts. Sounds too close. He looks around. A few feet down he sees two glittering red eyes sitting atop a hairy animal face. Without further curiosity, he turns and tracks back to his home like he’s never done before.

Upon reaching his place, he opens the door and immediately shuts it. As he finishes locking the last of the three deadbolts, he hears someone clearing their throat. Slowly, he turns around. A very pale man with arched eyebrows smiles, revealing two particularly sharp teeth gleaming on either side of his mouth.

“How’d you get in here?” As soon as Rich asks, he simultaneously recalls going outside and not locking up because of the screech of tires and the shooting that followed.

“When the door is unlocked, it implies an invitation,” the man replies, walking toward Rich with arms extended, as if drawing him in. “As your guest, I thought I’d give you a gift.” He gets closer to Rich, who is paralyzed and mesmerized at the same time.  Then, all becomes dark.

When Rich comes to, he finds himself sprawled on his La-Z-y Boy recliner. “Oh no, I took another nap,” he says, getting up from his chair and heading to the bathroom. He washes his face and looks at the mirror. He notices two puncture holes on the side of his neck. He shivers. Behind him is a pale man whose grin is not reflected in the mirror.

Forever Slumber (a 50-word story)

dream chase

Image: Pixabay

Evelyn goes to bed, a short-lived luxury because she has to get up in four hours to go to a third job. A relentless routine that grinds her down. She wishes to sleep for two days straight; a wish that’s granted. Endless dreams of being chased are wearing on her.

Lost in Sleep

You have restless legs, Felix recalls his doctor saying, as he finds himself walking around in his underwear in the middle of a busy street.

I have to be dreaming, Felix thinks because people seem to ignore him. He sees a woman approach him with a rictus that is supposed to pass off as a smile, but not quite successfully.

“Are you lost, dear? My husband used to fade out and wander off too. God rest his soul.” She takes his arm and guides him down the street. “Let me take you to my place; it’s just a short walk down to get you reoriented.”

Definitely a dream, Felix decides, as he plays along and allows the woman to help him. When he sees an uneven, worn looking building with missing bricks on its façade and a couple of windows with fine cracks like spider webs, he’s confident it’s all a dream. How can a lady who carries a Gucci purse and wears fine leather shoes live here?

But the woman acts like she’s right at home when she opens the door and leads him inside. The bright interior and clean spartan lines of the furniture cements his belief it’s all a dream. She leaves him thinking and reappears with a glistening cold glass of milk. “Here, you look thirsty to me.”

Felix drinks it quickly, not really tasting anything. He suddenly feels drowsy and again assures himself it’s only a dream, as he finds himself on a bed. His lids are weighing down.

He wakes, not knowing how much time has passed, and sees he’s now chained in bed, underwear removed. The same woman hovers nearby with the same thin smile. “You’re still dreaming, dear.”