Maura Daniels


I heard the groan before I knew it was coming from me. I could almost hear my dad lecturing me about the importance of sleep, like he was there, hovering over me. I smiled as I sat up and rubbed my face. So long as I got the blood flow going I would be good to go.

“That’s no way to get out of here.”

The gruff voice almost had me chuckling a, “yeah, I know, dad.” What stopped me was the little voice inside my head that told me something wasn’t right. For one, I was in another state. There was no way he’d hop in his car to come find me at the library and reprimand me about sleep deprivation. For another, he sounded far too harsh. He may be a stern man but he never spoke to me so abrasive.

“Hello? Short, stupid, and clueless, you hear me? You’re in the way and wasting time.”

I opened my eyes only to close them and try again, slowly. It was a squint but it was enough to see what started out as a blurred shadowy outline of a guy that looked six feet. Maybe seven. Anything and everything looked tall from where I was sitting so maybe he was five something instead and my imagination was having fun.

As the blur cleared and the light stopped blinding me, I looked around. My imagination definitely was having fun. What should have been a carpeted floor was some sort of prickly green thing. It looked like grass, felt like a cousin of grass, but I wasn’t sure. But it wasn’t just the fake grass, everything looked like it was plastic. The oddly colored green and brown trees, the all too blue water, the purple-pink-blue sky combo, were all way too weird.

“Uhm, what am I in the way of?” I asked, still staring up at the painted sky. I mean, it had to be painted, I had to be dreaming. I was reading and then I fell asleep. The next logical step was to dream. It was one very vivid and realistic feeling dream though. The guy’s foot felt real too.

“You’re on the puzzle.” He used his foot to push my leg again earning him a glare.

“Would you stop that?” I asked, getting to my feet. “I’m not a dog.”

“You sure? You sound like one.”

He spoke in a very bored, flat tone and shoved me aside to inspect the spot I vacated. That left me time to look him over. He wasn’t as tall as I thought. Five eight the most with a shaved head and some chin stubble along with a five-o-clock shadow going. Not my type at all. Looked more punk than athletic and he was a complete ass. If somehow I hit my head and became attracted to everything else, I could never be enthralled with an ass type personality enough to build a dream around it.

“What are you doing?” He was hunched over that stupid spot for a while doing what looked like dirt drawing.

He glanced up to roll his eyes. “Trying to do the opposite of what you did.”

“Which is?” I pushed.

“Getting out.” He replied dismissively.

Closing my mouth, I swallowed the initial response of you can’t get out of my dream. Focus, I told myself. The book had an introduction that mentioned taking control. I think. Ugh, why didn’t I read instead of skim? But it was okay. All I had to do was establish the rules.

“This is my dream, I say what we do, and I say we should explore.” Yeah. Take that mister ass. Except he didn’t and my ego began taking blows.

“Not your dream, shorty. I don’t follow orders, stupid. And if you explore you’ll never wake up, clueless.” As he went on with his argument and digs, he got up and stared down at me. He may have been five eight but I was all of five two, made him tall in comparison and the stare much more annoying.

“You’re one hell of a dream guy.” With crossed arms and sarcasm falling from my lips, I doubt he’d miss my resentment.

“And you’re going to die here.” He smiled a tight-lipped smile. “But if Luke finds out I left a dreamer out here he’d have my head for the tenth time.”

Tenth? As I watched him groan, turn, and rub his head in thought, I wondered if that was literal or metaphorical. My dreams traveled a blurred line between normal and Dr. Seuss. The green eggs and ham ones were why I went on a dream book hunt in the first place.

“Okay, okay, I know what we’ll do.”

Looking up, I repeated one word. “We?”

He nodded. I noticed he was also wiping something away with his foot. “You come with me, meet the others, and if you check out then you don’t die.”

“Oh, yeah, of course,” not, I added mentally.

This ranked as the weirdest experience I’ve ever had to live through. Then again, if I was the outcast, then I’d be dead. Great future there. Mister ass led the way. We never went into the plastic forest but we did walk along its edge. Never close enough to touch and the one time I tried, he caught me reaching for a leaf. After that, I had to walk ahead of him and listen for his whispered grunt of left, right, watch out for, and don’t touch. By the time we reached the camp, I dubbed him sir ass. With the way he was acting, a more royal title seemed necessary.

The camp also deserved something. What I saw was no normal camp. It looked like a normal home enough. It had two stories, possibly three if the attic was livable, a screened porch, and barred windows. Only one thing struck me odder than the iron bars; there was no door which made the porch an extremely stupid addition and the house for that matter.

My negativity dimmed when I saw sir ass pulled away a leafy moss pile and unveiled a door in the ground. “Guess there is a way in,” I mumbled.

“Still clueless,” he grumbled back. “Let me do the talking and when asked if you’re the dreamer, say no.”

“What? Why?” He had to be kidding. I was in charge of the dream. It was my dream. “And I’m not clueless.” Not completely. Dreams were meant to be explored.

“Because the dreamer has to die.”

His flat tone was back. Between that and possibly dying, I kept my mouth shut and simply followed him. I tried the pinching trick countless times before, never worked then, and it failed me yet again. If I was going to explore this dream and wake up without screaming, I’d have to play it out and trust the ass. Then all I’d have to do is find out why I’d dream of a lord of the flies scenario. Piece of deadly cake.



inspired by The Never Ending Dream prompt

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