Punch Drunk Dreaming

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
A man loses his job, all of his money, and soon, he fears, his girlfriend. He'll do anything to feel useful to himself and to his girlfriend once again. when finally the opportunity arises in the form of an alien invasion.



(In the last edit I fixed some minor grammatical errors.)

Submitted: January 30, 2014

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Submitted: January 30, 2014

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Dreams are peculiar things. Like most dreams mine played upon fears that I didn’t know I had. For example my dream about the dancing piranhas. The piranhas would do a circus style dance routine complete with back flips, and a magic trick thrown in here and there. Everyone in the audience would cheer and scream and laugh and cry. We tore chunks of our flesh off and threw them on stage in appreciation. The people in the front row were covered in bits of arm, shins, and ears and blood which made them laugh even more. My dreams dictate what and when I fear something. Making sleep precious, rare, and all the more valuable to me. This and a number of other reasons is why my girlfriend kicked my door open Rambo style and ripped me from my bed. I hit the floor with a hard thud which made her chuckle. As if to say ‘yeah I hope that hurt motherfucker.’
“Good morning to you too Jen.”
We had a huge fight the night before and she wasn’t above a little physical violence to get revenge. Coffee cups were thrown and neighborhood volume levels were broken. I defended myself most days but in truth I couldn’t blame her for being angry. It was my well executed plan to quit my job like a kamikaze pilot that that started these fights. The final straw was when I received my paycheck with five hundred dollars deducted from it. With my boss’s new policy I was fined for being under quota. The citation read ‘not working hard enough.’ I couldn’t stand it anymore. I walked into his office, slapped my third quarterly reports down on his desk, and dumped a whole pot of coffee on them.
“Five hundred dollars? Are you kidding me Bob?” My voice had a newfound edge to it. Nonetheless I was nervous and he could sense it. He sensed weakness like a shark smells blood in water.
“That’s your problem, not mine.” Bob smirked.
“That can’t even be legal!”
“You know what Tuckerman,’ He relaxed back into his chair eying me up. ‘You’re right, it’s not legal. You know what else? There’s nothing you can do about it.” I had hoped this part would have gone more in my favor. I thought if I went in with guns firing he’d back down or at least be stunned. I underestimated his indomitable ego, but I wasn’t going to be defeated with such flippancy. I went on to call him a fat, bigoted, slave driver with no redeeming qualities. A line I had been working to articulate with precision for months. Things got a little blurry after that. My coworkers filled me in later saying that I was so angry they thought I was going to burst a blood vessel. All I remembered was years of pent up frustration pouring out of me until I used every last ounce to try to cut this putrid man down. I thought I had nothing to lose, so why not quit with flying colors? I walked out his office to cheering coworkers. I felt like a knight that had just slain the dragon. I stood up for the little guy in the soulless, cold, corporate world. I slammed his office door and I never looked back.

 

Although my boss was despised by his work force, CEO’s from around the country loved him, or at least had heard of him. He revolutionized new ways of being efficient in the work place saving companies across the US hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. He was a god damn hero. When I started applying for new jobs I realized I had been black listed from any other sales job in the state of Pennsylvania. My rebelliousness had cost me. Because I couldn’t get a job Jen was forced to get a second job then, to my utter dismay, a third job. At first she took it all in stride, but it started to wear her down. We stopped having sex almost all together. Our conversations dwindled down to small talk. What was worse was when it was long conversations it was about money, or about how stupid I was for quitting like that. By that time I had sent out over a hundred applications so you couldn’t blame me for a lack of trying. Half of them were never replied to and the other half were replied with generic letters of rejection. There was one, however, that I ended up framing. It was a normal rejection letter but at the bottom it was signed: ‘An overweight, intolerant, cheap labor owning, CEO.’ The message was clear; I was fucked.

Sometimes if the fights became unbearable Jen would leave with no promises of return. I wouldn’t talk when she was gone. I’d clean the house and spend hours on-line searching for jobs. I’d forget to eat or to bathe. Days would stretch out and become seamless with one another. Inaction had arrested me, leaving me stripped of my accrued skills. I felt useless, to her, to myself. I wasn’t bringing in money, love, or happiness. I worked menial minimum wage jobs, and worked for four temp agencies. I did anything I could get my hands on, and yet we were just scraping by. Nothing I did satiated that nagging, repetitive voice that whispered ‘useless’ into my ears.
I sold most of my belongings except for the essentials. I kept my bed, my car, and a wedding ring I had bought for Jen. The ring was a reminder that Jen and I were happy before all the bullshit. That there was a time where if I proposed to her I knew she would have said yes. I couldn’t bring myself to sell it. ‘Things will get better,’ I repeated to myself. ‘Things will get better.’

I don’t know why, but she always came back. She’d arrive late at night, crawl into bed, and cuddle up to me. I would turn to face her and we would apologize with hushed voices and teary eyes. I didn’t know how much longer it was going to last, but no matter how bad things got, she always came back.
“You have to see this!” Jen said. After giving up on trying to walk I crawled into the living room.
“What the hell is going on?” I said. Jen came back from the kitchen and gave me a swift kick to the ass.
“You will kill me if you miss this. Get up.” She ran back to tend to a boiling tea kettle. I pushed myself up onto our raggedy old couch and tried to focus on the television. It was a news report about a strange astrological sighting in India. “You got me up at four in the morning to watch the news?”
“Just listen!”
“Why do you hate me?” She came back from the kitchen and handed me a cup of tea. It woke me up enough to focus on what she was trying to show me. The news reporter was stumbling over her words trying to explain what she was seeing. The camera zoomed into the sky to show what looked like to be millions of meteors falling to earth in slow motion. Each one blinking in its own frequency. The world’s biggest fireworks show. Even on our shit television is was impressive. I was so tunnel visioned on the report I had forgotten the hot tea in my hands. The scolding heat took precedence. I almost dropped it before I could get to the sink. I was soothing my burnt hand when a strong wind, like a pulse, hit the window next to me. Outside I saw what I could only describe as a spot of black blemishing the night sky. It was about the size of a quarter if you hold it up to your face about a foot away. When it moved the stars around it would disappear and reappear in its wake. It wasn’t so much an object as it was a void. No sooner did I mutter for Jen to confirm what I was seeing did the black spot balloon in size. It doubled then tripled its size with such violence that a shock wave punched my chest knocking me down. I couldn’t hear anything except a ringing in my ears. The TV in the background, the cars, the neighbors, the wind in the trees, were all muted. The black spot then shrank back to it’s original size converging with the fresh sunlight on the horizon. Jen was already outside on our back lawn. She was far more fearless than I could ever hope to be.
“Is it safe?” I said.
“Just get out here you big pussy.”
“That’s not answering the question!” I walked outside despite my reasonable and justifiable worries. There was an unnatural calm about the outside. As though everything but the bullet like black spot had been put on pause. The black spot in a fit of speed made a b-line at my chest. It hit me like a fast ball thrown in the Major Leagues. From what I could tell the black spot was about the size of a small beach ball. Upon impact it splashed throughout the yard. Sounds started coming back to me but still sounded distant and distorted. Half of what Jen was saying was mumbled. I think she said something about her phone being dead. The quicksilver like gel was traveling from all parts of the yard to coagulate about four feet in front of us. I laid upon the ground gasping for air. The impact bruised my ribs so that my entire chest looked like it was painted purple. Jen tried pulling me back into the house, but her original zeal had dissolved into a disabling panic.
“Jen,” I said between gasps.
“Try to get up babe, I can’t carry you.”
“No. Leave me.’
“Shut up. Just shut up.” Tears marched forth from her eyes. I brought her face close to mine.
“It’s okay. Go.” We shared a kiss that was full of fear and lust. It was just what we needed. Then she left. I fought every urge in me to call her back. It was better that way.

I faced the strange beast alone. The now chrome like liquid was building upon itself, as if desperate to try to figure out what it was going to be. I expected a terrifying monster with millions of teeth and claws and a gluttonous appetite for human flesh. I was expecting the piranhas from my dream, the one with a Cheshire-cat grin complete with a top hat and a cane to say, ‘It’s time to pay your dues.’ Or something cheesy like that. What I didn’t expect was the four foot tall metallic like avatar standing in front of me. The features of the face were subtle, smoothed by its flowing liquid state, but you couldn’t mistake the features for anyone else’s but mine. The body proportion, the hair, it even wore the same clothes as me. Right then Jen charged back on to the lawn equipped with a 9mm aimed at the strange visitor. She fired off several rounds which tagged the alien on the shoulders and waist making it dissolve back into a puddle. Jen got down to my level and gave me a big pain wracked hug. Despite her pressing down on a broken rib or two I didn’t want her to let go.
“I love you Felix Tuckerman.” She then slapped me across the face. “How could you think I was just going to leave you like that?” She was eying me with my face in her hands. She was so hurt that I could even think that. We kissed again.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw the puddle buzz like a saw going through bone.
“Jen, it’s not dead. We have to go.”
“I shot it four—” Jen’s sentence was throttled to a halt. Attempts to speak led to small gasps of air as though someone was gripping her throat. She reached out for my hand and I did all I could to reach it but she soon went limp. Like a broken marionette she brought herself to standing. Her face was cold and withdrawn. Like her spirit was being suppressed leaving her body helpless in the hands of its capture. With a swift, silent command she raised the pistol to her head. I acted off instinct and I launched my broken self onto her. A splash of red burst onto Jen’s hair. It soaked my arms and was sprayed across my face. I gathered Jen’s limp body into my arms. I was at a loss for action. I shook her, screamed at her, nothing. I touched her red covered porcelain face but no longer did it retain warmth. The thought of losing her tore me apart. I felt lighter. Emaciated. Hallow. With every touch of her cold skin I melted. I pushed away all other pain to focus on those last moments.

It was a gnawing on my finger that screamed loud enough to pull my attention. I rubbed the tears from my eyes to find my middle finger missing. A small bloody stump. I moved through Jen’s hair looking for any wounds but there wasn’t one to be found. Jen was cold, and still, but she was alive.
“HA!, I don’t know how, but I’m going to get us out of this.” I said.

Being in shock had protected me up to this point. It allowed me to move to save Jen, to ignore my hand and the rest of my body, but once shock left the venom of pain took over. I was conscious due to sheer will power. I clutched the ground summoning what little strength I had to pull Jen and my self inside, but both Jen and my body had other plans. Jen broke my grasp and stood up with the same flat gormless face as before. The gun, playing its part, was raised to her skull. I tried to scream, or to pull her off balance or to do anything. My muscles refused and disdainfully contracted forcing me into a tight fetal position. My eyes were closing, shutting down for damage control. All I could think was: ‘stop.’

Dreams are peculiar things. When I was passed out I dreamed of a skeleton running from a vicious swarm of killer bees. There was so many bees that they blocked out the sun and created a giant living eclipse. The bees mumbled to themselves arguing over the best trajectory. In a chorus of wings the bees flew at the skeleton with blazing speed. The Skeleton through dream logic acquired a flame thrower. It jumped into the air and with a quick hip shot the bees were torched. They careened off their flight path and crashed in a fiery blaze. The skeleton thinking he was victorious danced in the carnal rain. Millions of bee corpses littered the ground. Oh what joy the skeleton took in stomping on each one of them with its bony digits. To the skeleton the day was done, but the bees weren’t dead, they were waiting. As soon as the bees were confident the skeleton couldn’t get away they popped up off the ground and surrounded the skeleton in a living maelstrom. The group clamored on top of the skeletons each one trying to sting harder than the last. When the bees dispersed the grey dirty bones were gone. Instead there was a man. A living breathing, fleshed out man. He thanked the bees, and the bees thanked him. They went their separate ways happy they had met each other…

My expectations were grim. I expected Jen to be scattered across the yard. Or maybe I was going to be on some ship being dissected alive. Perhaps I wasn’t going to wake up at all. Perhaps I would dream to infinity in a weightless purgatory. Then reality could be whatever I wanted it to be. The shackles made of bones and flesh would no longer deteriorate like crumpling buildings. In this reality Jen and I wouldn’t fight. The problems we once had would melt away. Money and necessity would be a joke or a scary story told to kids. We’d live on the mountain tops in a cottage we built ourselves. Every morning we would wake up to greet the sun, and every night we would say good night and put it to bed. Then, and only when we were ready, we would die without pain. We would turn into ashes and travel the world all on the coat tails of the wind. In this reality happily ever after would mean just that.

My breath grew strong enough to sustain consciousness. My eyes focused on Jen standing statue-like, frozen in the same position. The alien’s liquid being oscillating in its possible default mode; smooth and calm. ‘What the hell happened?’ I thought. I spat blood and managed to pull myself up to a sitting position against the house. Then, like a train off in the distance, I heard a ringing. I moaned and cussed under my breath. ‘Concussion,’ I thought. I checked my ears for blood. Nothing. The ringing took an alarming spike in volume. I sat very still and focused on my breathing. ‘Meditate and this will go away.’ The sound continued to spike. A pressure twisted itself around my brain like a vice clamp. ‘Meditate.’ I was starting to crack. ‘Meditate.’ The alien waited to torment me. ‘Meditate.’ It wanted me to see my death. ‘Meditate.’ The evil liquid bastard wanted me know who killed me. Then the sound stopped. All was silent. I caught my breath and slumped down to the ground.
A thought occurred to me. It stopped because I told it to stop. The piercing sound had left me nauseous and debilitated. If it wanted to kill me why wouldn’t it have killed me? Just to torture me more? Then why did it stop? Nothing was adding up. Does that mean I can control this thing?
Maybe it was the internal bleeding, or maybe it was the sensory overload, but I thought, ‘let’s see if I do.’

“Ok. If you’re listening to me, then I command you to make Jen drop the gun.” Nothing happened. “…Please drop the gun…” I went on saying different phrases in different combinations. Still the gun held its aim. My head became too heavy to support and it lulled to a resting position. ‘Drop the gun,’ I thought. ‘That’s all I want you to do.’ My eyes closed and I drifted out of consciousness.

I must have been out for another half hour or so but when I came to I saw the gun on the ground. At last I started piecing everything together. I swallowed then thought the words: ‘stop controlling Jen.’

Jen dropped to the ground like a rag-doll. ‘This can’t be real. What the hell are you?’ I thought. I laughed at the absurdity of it all which angered my deeply bruised muscles. The piercing sound came back with vengeance rocking my brain like a sledgehammer. As soon as it stopped a thought was birthed into my head. It’s my guardian angel. My next thought was can you heal me? Another explosion, another answer: Yes. ‘Do it then,’ I thought. ‘Heal me.’ The liquid alien crumbled and splashed to the ground. In a dead sprint it bolted towards me and crashed right into my face surrounding it like a plastic bag. I panicked and scratched at the being, which was like slapping water. I couldn’t breath or see. Then it found it’s way into my mouth and wormed it’s way down my throat. I felt a sudden surge of heat throughout my entire body. I went on all fours and stuck my fingers down my throat to clear the passage way, but the being had formed a barrier in my mouth. Just when I thought I was going to drown the creature exited me through every orifice my body possessed. I will not go into detail about that. That event still disturbs me.

After the alien was purged from my body it reformed and continued its slow oscillation. I waited for several more minutes circulating my breathing. The bruising in my ribs was gone. Any cuts I sustained were repaired. Even my finger was back. Standing was difficult. I felt like a newborn that had just learned what standing was. I was bent over like an old man but I was fine. I basked in the sun bathing my skin in its warmth. I took one more measured breath then thought; ‘okay, let’s get Jen inside.’

When coma victims wake up they aren’t yet conscious of their surroundings. First the eyes widen. The pupils are still dilated and unsure of what to do with light. Depending on how long the person has been in a coma the muscles might have atrophied. The breath catches and then consciousness arrives. Consciousness is always late in these kinds of cases. Questions of location and time bubble to lips without a voice to accompany them. Unable to speak or move and still in pain, the victim cries; as people often do when being born into this world.

We drank in silence. Jen kept a stiff eye on the alien that was right outside. Jen’s first question was why is it not attacking us.
“It’s not here to harm us.” I said.
“Then why did it attack us? And why the fuck does it look like you?” Hearing Jen curse, even if it was filled with bitterness and resentment, was a relief. I was worried the alien might have wiped her brain. During the hours that Jen was out I endured the screeches communicating with the alien brought to learn more.

“It attacked you because it thought you were going to hurt me. When we collided it took an impression of me and now it’s acting as my guardian angel. It calls itself a Dichlorian. It said its species replicates multiple DNA strands until it feels complete as a creature. It’s very selective since the process is limited to a few times. It will take on DNA if it feels the other creature is worthy… Or if it has been directed too… I’ve been communicating with it through thoughts. It sounds insane, I know, but that’s why you’re alive…” I paused. “Do you remember what happened?” Jen stared with a blank face into her tea.
“Not much. I remember running back onto the lawn to shoot the little fucker. I remember hitting him too. But then…’ She looked up at me with doe like eyes. ‘It was like a switch went in my head. Like I was a TV being turned off. It felt like I was the only thing to have ever existed.” We were sitting there for some time when Jen said, ‘I remember hearing your voice telling me to stop moving. Whatever the force was that the was controlling me listened to you and it stopped…” She didn’t seem to have any feelings about this. About anything.
“Do you want to know what happened after you passed out?” With some hesitation she shook her head no. I took her into my arms and we rested there with eyes closed. It was peaceful. It was a moment I regretted breaking. ‘Jen, there is one more thing I have to tell you.’ Jen remained motionless. ‘The Dichlorian was sent here. It’s here to protect us, but also to warn us. What the reporters thought to be meteors was another alien race. They’re imperialistic, callous, and dangerous. It said we could either stay and fight, or it could take us away to where we’d be safe…” I waited for Jen to say something. Instead she set her tea down and wrapped her arms around me sinking into my chest.
“You saved me didn’t you?” Jen said. My heart swelled and my arms tightened around her.
“Yeah.”
“I bet you’re proud of yourself aren’t you?”
“Yeah. I am.” We shared a laugh. Now was my time to be useful to her. I felt myself wanting to take action. I went to make a move until a thought occurred to me. This could be the last time a moment like this will happen. Stay with her for a bit longer. The thought wasn’t accompanied by the piercing noise, but I wasn’t sure the thought was my own. Either way a point had been made and I wasn’t going to spoil that moment like I did the last one. I didn’t say another word. We laid down on the couch and waited for sleep to take us.


© Copyright 2020 Jack Grayson. All rights reserved.

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