Four Nightmares and a Dream

Real ones, too.

Mannequin

A headless mannequin chases our car. My mother was bloodlessly bitten in half. Disembodied hands drive us to the doctor. I'm afraid of the doctor.

The mannequin closes in. I close my eyes and try to will it away, but everything is closer with every peek.

I see the problem, says the doctor. Your friend has no head!

Hamster Cage

The broken glass wasn’t the problem—the teeth were. Thousands and thousands, two by two by the trillions. They need to chew to keep them trim. I am not intended as a tooth-trimmer.

They say you don’t feel pain in dreams. They lie about pain every day, sticking needles through skin, tearing adhesive from hair. If the marks remained, I’d prove them wrong. But the marks dissolve like the teeth with the day.

Cat Claws

Three witches burst through the door. Behind them, their body guard—a burly man in a two-piece suit with the tiny head of a black housecat. I take notice of his cat-clawed fingertips.

The stoutest witch introduces her bodyguard, Mr. Cat-Head Man.

His gaze is furious. He bears his claws. Tiny scratches cover my skin.

Breakfast Cereal

All my friends party through the apocalypse while I’m stuck in the supermarket. Outside, rivers are clogged with bloated corpses and bags of cereal. The world is ending, and I’m wasting what’s left of it choosing a breakfast I’ll never have.

I feel filthy in this aisle. Evil incubator lights burn through the air and irradiate my skin. I’m nauseated by the thick smell, either of corn syrup and artificial flavors or contaminated cadavers cut into bite-sized circles. Or both. They could curl up a dehydrated body into each box. Special surprise inside.

We're so short on time.

I stick to the whole grains to avoid the plague, but the man behind me with spiral eyeballs grabs a box full of chemicals and starches. He chomps a face-full down like it’s his last meal. It is.

Blue Jeans

Don’t hold me to the particulars of motion, soft hair, and teeth. I only remember your blue jeans pressed against me, suspended in space and exquisite. An invisible splendor rests on my goose-pimpled skin.

Everything perfect disappears in the sunlight. I call out to you in my confusion, but you were never there. The nightmare of wakefulness has separated us. I want to forget it all, but skin always remembers the teeth, the claws, the burning, and the touch.

The End

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