Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Lock (03/06/06)
TITLE: Always Dress for Dreams
By Joe Moreland
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Oddly, I cannot remember another single thing that happened that night. Whether it was a school night, I watched T.V., or what I ate for dinner. I don’t remember if mom tucked me in, or if she had one of her evenings of drinking and passing out on the couch.
The dream starts out with me running. Nothing unusual there – I was ten years old and ran all the time. Slowly, however, a feeling of terror begins to creep in, and I start to get the sense that something is chasing me. I want to look over my shoulder and see what it is, but the fear is too great. I might stumble and fall, or run into a wall while I’m not looking and it will catch me. A wall? Only moments before when the dream had begun, there hadn’t been any walls. As I focus back in on my surroundings, I now realize I am running down a long hallway. At the far end I can see a door with a light spilling from under the crack at the bottom. That door now becomes my whole world. I have to reach it, somehow, before the thing runs me down. I can feel it closing in, and I know that if I don’t make the door, I may never wake up.
Yes, I am aware, the entire time, that it is a dream, which is another oddity that would eventually emerge to be the only commonality I was ever able perceive in all the subsequent dreams over the next six years.
Suddenly the door is before me, and I hesitate for only a moment, half afraid that it won’t open. Could it be locked? Do I push or pull? I don’t know, but the presence of terror behind me is growing and the urgency of getting through the door now is pressing me, making it hard to breathe. With a dread in my gut, and absolute horror traveling up and down my spine, I reach out a hand and grasp the handle of the door.
The door swings towards me and, in a split second, I am through. I pull it shut behind me and the fear shuts off like a light. Relief washes over me and I sink to the floor with my back leaning against the door, my knees drawn up to my chest.
It was this position I found myself in as I awoke. For a moment I had no idea where I was, but as my eyes began to focus, and clarity returned, I realized that I was sitting outside our apartment door in the hallway of our building. Another closely followed that realization: Other than a pair of Fruit of the Looms, I was not wearing any clothes.
Frantically I jumped up and, finding it locked, began pounding on the door, hoping to wake my mom. It was no use, though, as she never heard a thing. Finally, afraid that I might wake one of our neighbors and be seen in my present state of undress, I made the horribly embarrassing decision that I would have to go down to our super’s apartment and wake her up so she could let me back in.
The super had a doorbell, and answered it's ring very quickly. I hid around the corner as I explained my situation; she seemed far too amused for my comfort. Following her back up to my apartment, keys dangling from her hand, I remained carefully behind. To her credit she peeked back only once or twice.
As she turned the key in the door and pushed it open before me, I detected a very faint smile pulling at the corners of her mouth. A smile she was trying very hard not to smile. Slipping past her into the warm safety of the dark rooms beyond, I couldn’t help but think to myself that I would have been better off had I just let the thing in the dream catch me.
Walking in my sleep stopped, as sudden as it started, when I was sixteen. To this day, however, I always wear at least shorts to bed.
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