The Dream Machine
by Fiona Davis
part 1 of 2
It’s always the same. I’m a small child, standing in the huge room that served dual purposes as my parents’ bedroom and, with the help of several bookshelves that acted as a dividing wall, a reading/study area. The furniture is arranged exactly as it was back then, although it was moved around many times as I grew older.
My mother always wondered how I was able to describe that room in exacting detail, on those rare occasions when I would let my guard down for my younger siblings and tell them stories of how life was before they came along.
She was always amazed at my wonderful memory, as I often recalled things that she had long since forgotten. I don’t think she ever noticed that my uncanny recollection was strictly confined to that one room. I never told her why.
In the dream, I always start in the same place, in front of a large, round chair in one corner of the room. In front of me, in the larger part of the room, stand my father and a man I don’t know.
The unknown man is a stereotypical mad scientist type: Lab coat, radically disheveled hair that would make even Einstein cringe, crazed, humorless grin, and a maniacal glint in his eyes. He and my father are talking, but I never understand what they’re saying. I’m too young, and the words sail over my head as meaningless sounds.
Suddenly, with one deft motion, the scientist whips out a small vial of dark green liquid, and throws it on the ground in at my father’s feet. Thick, green smoke billows up from the floor, while my father throws his arms up across his face to protect his eyes.
Meanwhile, unnoticed, I slip behind the chair and huddle down so I can see what is happening without being discovered. My heart pounds, and I want to cry out for my father.
Through my panic, I find myself desperately wondering why this scientist wants to hurt my father, and what he has done to him. As if he could hear my thoughts, the scientist begins searching for me. Whatever change he effected on my father he wants to repeat, I am certain of that.
Meanwhile, my father has been completely shrouded in a veil of smoke. I can’t see him anymore. My heart still pounding, I manage to scrape up the courage to start thinking about a way to escape.
The scientist blocks the entryway into the rest of the house. There is a back door, but it’s been boarded up since we moved into the house. The windows are closed and locked, and I know that it would take me far too long to unlock them, open them, and escape. The mad scientist would surely hit me with a vial before I could get out.
The smoke around my father starts to clear, and his figure begins to take shape through the dissipating shroud of smoke. He’s still standing, and for a brief moment I am hopeful that he is okay and will be able to save me. One look at the horrifying thing he has become shows me how wrong I am.
My father is no longer the man I recognize. He’s been turned into a monster: green scales cover his body, his fingers extended into long, gnarled things that end in sharp claws, his feet similarly changed. He no longer wears any clothes, but that does not strike me as odd.
What I notice the most, what strikes fear into my heart and violently strips away any courage I have left, are his eyes. They are now yellow, glowing with hate and malicious evil intent to hurt, to destroy. As I stare into those eyes, two things hit me at once: he knows where I am, and he wants to kill me.
As he starts toward the chair I am hiding behind, I know I am no longer safe there. I bolt out from behind it, and start running across the room. The scientist still blocks my way to freedom, and now he is lobbing vials at me, each one exploding so close to me that I start to choke on the fumes, tears running down my cheeks.
I look back at the monster, who is now chasing me. “Please daddy!” I cry out. But he does not hear me. My daddy is gone.
Blinded by smoke, tears and sheer panic, I race for the only cover I can find. As I dive under my parents’ bed, I can think of nothing but trying to put as much distance as possible between the monster and myself. No coherent thoughts can penetrate the unthinking haze of my panicked state, and all I can do is crawl for all of my life up under the bed until I hit the wall under the head of their bed.
Frantically, I turn myself around so that my back is pressed against the wall and I can see towards the foot of the bed. I protectively curl myself into a fetal position, trying to keep as much of myself as far from the terror as possible.
It is pitch black, and all I can hear is my own ragged breathing. I scan the area around me as best I can, looking for any break in the total blackness, listening desperately for any sound. I neither see nor hear anything for several tense seconds.
I blink, and in that instant the glowing yellow eyes pierce the darkness. I cannot see the rest of the monster, but I know that he is grinning. He has me, and we both know it. I start to sob uncontrollably, but I cannot move, even as I sense the monster reaching up under the bed towards me.
His clawed hand moves slowly toward my foot; I can feel it even though I can’t see it. Frozen in terror, I open my mouth to scream but no sound comes out. His hand is about to close over my foot, and I know I am about to die—
Copyright © 2008 by Fiona Davis