Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fiction :: Nightmares

When I was a child, I had trouble sleeping because I had very vivid nightmares. They dissipated as I got older, but occasionally I still get impressive and terrifying dreams. I thought it would be fun to write one of my most vivid dreams into a short story. I have attempted this several times over the last few months, but stumbled as I realized how richly emotional my dreams often are. What follows is my best attempt to blend the story, the landscape and the emotions of my nightmare into words.

What I remember most was the silence. As I steered the car through the ink-stained night, there was no hum of engine, no thunkety-thunk of tires rolling over asphalt, not even a whisper of a heartbeat inside my chest. The midnight air seemed to smother all sounds and colors from the landscape.

I was rolling slowly down a desolate industrial road. Warehouses, which would pulse with activity during the heat of day, stood silently strong in their sleep. They, like the men who sweated inside them while working, seemed to feel the urgent need for rest. No animals slunk through these alleys. Oil-stained roads and oil-stained sidewalks melded into the black soot of the aging buildings I passed.

Quietly some shadows took shape ahead of me. As I drove closer, the shadows transformed into the outline of several men standing in the road, facing each other. Silence continued to suffocate the scenery as I rolled past them. As I passed, I glanced over to see the eyes of one man pierce through me. I felt like I’d be stabbed by the hatred and dark menace behind them.

As I continued rolling on toward some train tracks, I glanced somewhat anxiously in my rear view mirror. The man with menacing eyes slowly raised his arm, as if pointing toward another of the men. The silence cracked wide open as a single gunshot filled my ears. The other man wilted down like a drop of water that is suddenly freed from a faucet and melted into the pavement.

My eyes were locked on the scene behind me as the evil eyes turned away from their victim and stared directly into the reflection of mine in the rear view mirror. I had seen him. He had seen that I had seen him. No emotion passed over his face, nor did he blink as he slowly turned to walk my direction. As the echo of the gunshot faded in my mind, the beating of my heart quietly and rhythmically awoke.

Colors, too, were suddenly awakened as a red light began flashing ahead of me. I peeled my eyes away from the murder I had just witnessed to see a train bearing down on me from the right. Red lights flashed at me angrily as I slammed on my brakes, barely avoiding the monstrous diesel engine that was now filling the space inches away from my front fender.

Behind me, I knew, was the determined aim of a madman seeking a target. I looked left and right for an alley to drive down but there was nothing but shallow parking lots open to the sight of the road. My only chance was to turn around and race past the group of malevolent men, knocking them aside if necessary, but another set of red lights suddenly blinked alive. Within seconds, I was in a virtual prison between the roaring life of two set of train tracks.

Forgetting escape plans, I looked back at the killer. He was slowly walking toward me, patiently aware that I had no chance. His eyes continued to stare at mine, unblinking and almost inhuman in their animal passion for blood. His skin was white, his hair chopped short and his mouth was barely visible as it was drawn into a tight grimace. Our eyes locked and I stared at him, hypnotized and helpless. His pace continued toward me unbroken as he slowly, slowly lifted his arm from his side. The blackness of his gun slowly took aim.


  1. So we really need to have a neighborhood writers group. I have my online friends, but it is not the same. You sound ready to join!!! Cool Story, sorry it was a nightmare.

  2. Have you ever participated in NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month)? You write 1700 words a day for 30 days straight and end up with a 50,000-word novel. It has been one of the coolest things I have ever done and I am looking forward to participating again this November. It would be fun to have some writing compadres!