hey split open your dreams and stick their hands inside. They weave long nets, knotted with nightmares, and cast them wide across the sleeping houses.
They move with subtle grace, no wasted movement. They don't fidget, or
bounce their knees, or twiddle their thumbs or tap their feet. Every
thought that crosses the wide canyons of their minds is cold, almost
frozen, and travels on swift feet. But you are human, so your thoughts
run, or skip, or dance, or swim or fly.
It began when the first human dreamed his first dream. Maybe it had
gazelles or bison, and maybe the dreamer was running with them. Maybe
he saw his long-dead mother in the cave of his birth, sitting
cross-legged at the mouth, with a hide draped across her shoulders. Or
maybe it was not the dream that brought them to us; but the nightmare,
of hot-breathed lions hiding in the tall grass, or the fresh meat from
the fire turning rotten the moment it touched the lips. Whatever that
first floating thought, the first that ran instead of walked, this
brought them to us. They came here and stayed.
They made their homes in the sky and in the oceans. They see our
dreams, live their lives nestled in ours. You are connected to them
because they dream no dreams of their own. Any one of them would
gladly trade his quick mind and sterile life for just one night of
your most terrifying nightmares. Even now, they toil and struggle with
our farthest-flying fantasies for just one of their heavy-lidded
nights to bear the same fruit.
You will think of them only in passing through the edge between
sleeping and waking, when brief glimpses and sneaking suspicions are
all that remain. You may wake up the next morning and remember every
patchwork moment of your dreams, but you won't remember them. They are
too precise to allow it.
The edge between sleeping and dreaming is soft for you. They may even
overlap, as your consciousness slips softly through them. But the
barrier for them is hard, and they pass through these states as a line
drawn across a piece of paper.
Our dreams brought them here, and our dreams keep them here. They
manipulate cold calculations, quantifications, delineations, all with
one aim: to bring our dreams to them. You will be asleep when they
come. Your mind, unaware, turned inward, floating with dreams that fly
upward into the night sky. They see these motions as we see waves of
heat rise from a road, and they are drawn to them.
They pluck you gently from your bed with invisible hands that cup you
softly and pull you to their silver disk, passing through mortar,
stone and wood as though nothing were there.
They lay you on a slab of silver. The slab is cold to your skin. It is
so cold, in fact, that light sleepers shoot into wakefulness, and
catch a glimpse of their surroundings before the metal arm comes down
and drops them like a stone through the deep waters of
They come to your side and touch your skin with instruments of shining
metal, poking here, drawing fluids there. Sometimes, but very rarely,
one of them may stroke your hair with long, pearl-white fingers and
whisper a soothing word, but only when the others are not watching.
They place a silver, threaded cap on your head. Invisible wires
transmit the contents of your dreams to similar caps that they don.
They nod in unison.
For those scant few hours, the images, smells and sounds, whether
blissful dream or terrifying nightmare, are shared between all of you.
And while you may twitch, your limbs may jerk, or you may let loose
with short gasps of laughter, they stand motionless, experiencing all
that you experience but feeling nothing.
James Foreman wears t-shirts with superhero logos on them. He has no idea
what he wants to be when he grows up, but writing stories is a pretty
good start. He lives in Sewickley, Pennsylvania with four dogs, three
in-laws and a very patient woman.
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story copyright by author 2005 all rights reserved