Only In Dreams

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
When Joe Everley is approached by a man offering him magical dreams he is intrigued. The man promised him a world of wonder every time he closed his eyes. What could possibly be wrong with that?

Submitted: October 13, 2016

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Submitted: October 13, 2016

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Joe Everley loved his Friday nights in the pub. There was just something special about finishing work for the weekend. He went to the bar. His friends would be in later on. For some reason they were never in the mad rush for a pint as he was. He didn’t understand it. the weekend started once you had a cold pint in your hand. He had just taken his first sip when he felt a hand on his arm.

‘Hello, young fella. Could I have a few minutes of your time?’ came an Irish accent.

He turned to see a man in his sixties, red whiskey nose, grey hair. He reminded Joe of a football manager whose name he couldn’t recall.

‘What are you selling? Or are you after me buying you a pint?’

‘You can buy me a pint if you like but I do have an offer to make you.’

‘Go on, what is it?’

‘Dreams.’ The man grinned.

‘What?’

‘That's right. I'm a peddler of dreams.’

‘This has to be a wind up.’

‘Not at all. Would you be interested?’

Maybe it was because it was a Friday night, maybe it was the relaxed surroundings, maybe it was the man’s Gaelic charm but before he knew what was happening Joe was buying the guy a pint.

‘Life is hard, isn't it?’ The Irishman went on. ‘You work all day, get stuck in traffic. You get home to all kinds of house and family problems. Imagine being able to get away from the pressures and stresses of daily life by going to sleep at night and having the most wonderful dreams. Wouldn't that be something?’

‘Yes, I suppose it would. But how?’

‘It's an old gipsy method my grandfather passed down. Is that something you would be interested in?’

‘Does it works?’

‘Of course, and if it doesn't you get a full refund and I'll throw in a bottle of whiskey, Irish of course.’

‘How does it work?’

‘I can't reveal my secrets, now can I?’

Joe had to admit it certainly sounded intriguing.

‘For just ten pounds a week you are guaranteed the most magical dreams. You will wake in the mornings feeling fantastic.’

It did sound fantastic. And ten pounds wasn’t a great deal. He spent more than that on coffee each week. If it didn’t work he’d lost ten pounds, and maybe the guy would be as good as his word and refund him and buy him a bottle of whiskey. Joe nodded. He rummaged in his coat pocket and pulled out a crumpled ten pound note.

The Irish man dangled an engraved silver pendant. He handed it to Joe.

‘Wear this around your neck when you go to sleep.’

‘That’s all I need to do?’

‘Yes, I will do the rest. Meet me in here every Friday night to pay me. And enjoy.’

Joe heard someone call his name. He turned to find his friends coming through the door. He turned back. The Irishman was gone. He pocketed the pendant. His friends would think he was crazy and would rib him mercilessly if he told them about his agreement.

 

That evening, slightly drunk, Joe went to bed. He pulled the pendant over his head. He made himself comfortable.

He closed his eyes and felt sleep lap over him like gentle waves on a midnight beach. He slept. And he dreamed. Magical, mysterious, wonderful dreams. He was reunited with his grandparents who had died when he was young. In his dreams he was chatting, laughing, in the summer sun with cherished but departed family members. At his feet the dog, the Labrador that had been his best friend growing up, pawed his leg wanting to be stroked. The next thing he knew he was watching the Stone Roses in concert with his friends. They went crazy as the band performed their hits. Joe relived the best concert he’d ever been to.

He woke  just before nine the following morning. The winter sun glowed pale through the curtains as he stretched. He sighed and smiled. His fingers went to the pendant around his neck. Wow, he said. If every night’s sleep was going to be that much fun then this would be well worth ten pounds a week.

Why had nobody thought of it before? Dreams. In dreams anything was possible. He was surprised Apple didn’t offer anything to influence and give you pleasant dreams.

 

The next evening he felt a certain excitement as the evening wore on. Would tonight’s slumber be a similar blissful trip? Was this what he had to look forward to every evening? Grinning to himself about the dreams to come he climbed into bed and pulled the duvet up to his chin. He slept. And he dreamed.

And again he had the most fantastic adventures in his sleep. It was amazing. He had one fantastic vision after another. He woke in the morning with a feeling of satisfied relaxation. It was like he’d just landed back from the holiday of his life. He felt ready for anything.

 

In the nights that followed the delightful dreams continued. In this dream world he rekindled lost loves from his younger days. The woman in his sixth form French class who had refused to go on a date now accompanied him to dinner. He would often be transported on amazing journeys. One night he goes on a treasure hunting expedition through deep thick jungle. On another occasion he was sailing down a river in Thailand with a dark haired beauty.

 

On the Friday night he went to the pub to pay the Irishman. He found him sitting on a stool at the bar.

‘Here he is!’ beamed the dream seller.

Joe handed him a ten pound note.

‘How are you finding it?’

‘It really is fantastic.’

‘There you are now. Didn’t I tell you?’

Joe thanked him and after agreeing to see him the following week he left.

 

The days that went by were completely overshadowed by the dreams he was experiencing at night. One night he is scoring the winning try for Salford Red Devils in the Grand Final. In another dream he is on a psychedelic coach with the Beatles. In some dreams he simply walked along a beach at sunset, the waves lapping at his ankles.

 

The weeks passed and he settled into a routine. He would go home, have some tea, then after a few hours watching crap television he would go to bed. The days went by and he would go to bed earlier and earlier. The dream world he went to each night was just impossible to resist. The highlight of each day was when his head hit the pillow and he closed his eyes.

The only time his routine was interrupted was when he went to the pub each Friday night. He would find the dream seller seated on a stool at the bar. After handing over a ten pound note he would hurry back home.

 

The weeks turned to months. He would dine on microwave meals so his evening meal was ready in a matter of minutes. Once he had wolfed down his food from the carton he would rush up the stairs. His days became focused entirely on the moment he went to bed.

 

Eventually after several months he would miss his evening meal so he could go straight to sleep. It was all he could think about. While he was at work his mind wandered and he would start imagining where his slumber would take him that evening.

He would spend all weekend in bed getting up only when he had to. At first when his friends called asking him to go out he would say he was ill or couldn’t afford it. The weeks passed and his friends stopped calling. He noticed the lack of communication but he was glad that they left him in peace to get on with his dreams.

 

One morning as he got ready for work he caught sight of his reflection in the mirror. He stared in the stark bathroom light. He looked awful. He was pale, gaunt and had a kind of haunted yet ghostly appearance. He knew he’d gone too far. Things had got out of control. His obsession had become unhealthy. Real life was unbearable. His waking hours just could not compete with the wonder of his sleep. The mundane drudgery of daily life was torture compared to the bliss that waited for him each evening.

He knew he had to end this. He had known for a while that it was getting out of hand. He had to get back to something resembling a normal life.

That night he went to the pub. He found the Irishman sitting on the usual stool.

 

‘How’s it going young man?’ said the Irishman.

‘I want to stop this.’

‘You can’t stop it. It’s irreversible. You can’t stop, son. Besides, why would you want to? Isn’t it just bliss going to sleep every night?’

‘That’s just the point. All I want to do is sleep.’

‘There you are then.’

‘No. Just no. I want it to stop. It has to stop.’

‘Did you read the small print on the contract?’

‘What small print? There was no contract.’

‘Precisely. I’m sorry but you can’t just walk away from this. You will continue to pay me and you’ll carry on having the dreams of your life.’

‘I will not. I can’t go on like this. This stops now. Do you understand?

‘Son, this is just the beginning.’

‘Get lost, you clown.’ He shoved the old man off his stool. He hit the floor with a thud. Joe stormed out of the pub.

As he walked away he yanked the pendant off his neck and tossed it into the street.

 

He went to bed that night, relieved that this was all over. He would be having dreams like everyone else. Or even no dreams at all. Waking recalling no dreams seemed like such a refreshing change. He sighed. He closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep. And he dreamed.

He was being chased across a ruined, post-apocalyptic landscape by hunched creatures dressed in rags. Hundreds of these beings snarled and growled, fangs bared, red eyes glowing as they chased him. He lost his footing on the rubble. He fell. He hit the ground hard. The creatures descended on him. He felt their fangs tearing at his flesh. He screamed.

He was now standing in a long hotel corridor. The décor was deep red and had a distinctly 1970s feel. A man appeared in front of him. He had a murderous glint in his eye and held an axe.

‘Welcome home, Joey!’ the man laughed as he swung the axe.

Joe turned to run. His feet wouldn’t move on the blood red carpet. It felt like he was moving underwater. He pushed hard but gained little ground. He glanced over his shoulder. The axe man was right behind him. He heard the swoosh of the blade cutting through the air. The blade cut deep and painful into his back. He roared agony.

He woke screaming, his whole body drenched in sweat. He tried to catch his breath and calm himself down.

 

During the following day he tried to forget about the strange nightmares. Perhaps the terrible visions were brought on by him being spooked by everything with the dream seller. The fact that things had ended so badly was still very much on his mind. Surely that must be behind the nightmares.

He put the dreams to the back of his mind. Hopefully that would be the end of it. It had to all blow over now. The dreams couldn’t continue in their sinister tone, could they?

That evening he switched the radio on before climbing into bed. He drifted off to sleep listening to a local radio phone in. The opinionated DJ was arguing with a slightly drunk caller about immigrants. 

In his dream he heard his own voice call out ‘You clown!’. A second later he was running through a shopping centre. What was he running from? He looked back. Behind him, wielding a machete, was a clown. His make up seemed sinister and twisted. The thing resembled something from a horror film rather than a children’s entertainer. The teeth were more like grinning fangs. Organ music like something from a merry-go-round played at a slower distorted speed. The clown charged towards him as fast as his bright red massive shoes could carry him.

Joe raced down the mall. The clown stepped out in front of him from behind an ornate fountain. He gave a cackling screeching laugh and lunged forward with the knife. Joe felt the blade pierce his stomach.

He woke clutching his side and gasping for air.

 

All the next day he had a gnawing, sick feeling in his stomach. By six o’clock that evening, with the thoughts of the impending night’s sleep foremost in his mind, he decided he couldn’t take this any more. He knew that he would be suffering as he slept that night. He had to end this somehow. He would have to speak to the Irishman. Still wearing his filthy tracksuit trousers he’d been sleeping in for weeks he rushed out of the front door and headed to the pub.

He charged through the doors and into the pub. A few of the drinkers glanced over at the dishevelled man in the doorway. He ignored the stares and went to the bar. He swore as he spotted the empty stool.

He waved to the barmaid.

‘Excuse me, the old Irish feller, always sits at this stool. Is he in tonight?’

‘He’s not been in since his fall the other day. He fell over right there.’

‘Do you know where he lives? I really need to speak to him.’

She mumbled No, sorry, before turning to serve a couple further down the bar.

Joe leaned on the bar to stop himself from falling. He knew the dreams would continue. It would be made worse by the terror and dread he felt about it all. His fear would fuel the awful visions. Strange bizarre dark dreams would haunt him for a long time. He really didn’t want to go to sleep ever again but what could he do?

He left the pub. He stumbled and staggered aimlessly along the street. Evening grew into night. He walked the streets. He did not want to go home. He could not go to sleep. He simply couldn’t take another night of horrific visions. The hopeless dread hung heavy on his chest as he trudged through the night. He plodded along the main road. He couldn’t do this. He couldn’t carry on. A heavy goods vehicle approached. That was it. That was the only solution. The only way out he had.

He stepped off the kerb and out in front of the truck. There was a loud bang and everything went black.

 

He woke up with a start. He looked around. He was in his own bed.

 


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