The Big Sleep

Reads: 264  | Likes: 11  | Shelves: 1  | Comments: 0

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
What do you dream about?

Submitted: May 04, 2020

A A A | A A A

Submitted: May 04, 2020

A A A

A A A


Eddy looked down, not daring to look up at his friend in the hospital bed.  He always felt uneasy in these places. Even when he was sick, he liked to stay at home and find any type of remedy that would help him avoid going to see a doctor. The last time he was here in this building was when his father was terminally ill. Back then, he visited the hospital more than he ever wanted to. He moved to the chair that sat next to the bed and took a seat. Eddy asked his friend what he was watching. He could only hear a faint sound come from the bed. Eddy was not really interested in what was playing, he just wanted something to distract himself from all of the electronic humming that played in the room and the urgent chatter that rose from the hall. He was trying to organize his thoughts and remember how he had gotten here. He heard the same mumbling from the bed but couldn’t seem to make out the words.

 

“Just put something that we can both watch, please”, murmured Eddy.

 

Again, he heard the same mumbling, like it was trying to get his attention. As if it was trying to tell him something before fleeing away.

 

Eddy sat with his eyes glued to the television set, not wanting to look at his friend, or whoever laid in the bed.

 

Again, the mumbling. Angrier.

 

“What is it with you? Speak up so I can hear you over the beeping!”

 

Eddy finally looked over at the bed and saw, not his friend who he thought he was visiting, but a body that laid there looking at him. He couldn’t recognize the face, but he knew he had seen it before. The face looked familiar. Yet, the face nothing more than a blur. Still, Eddy looked at it like a childhood friend.

 

“Did you hear that?”, the blur whispered.

 

Eddy was shaken awake by his girlfriend. Confused, he looked around his room and had a sigh of relief, remembering that he and his girlfriend had fallen asleep watching television.

 

“I just had the weirdest d-”

 

“Did you hear that?”, Emily impatiently asked again.

 

“No, I didn’t. I was sleeping like a baby.”

 

“You need to go down there and check”

 

Reluctantly, Eddy grabbed his gun from the safe in his nightstand and started downstairs. As he checked the rooms, he was distracted by his own thoughts.

 

Who was that in the hospital bed? Why did the room look like the one he would visit his father in? Was it his father? No, he thought. He had the nightmare of seeing his dad in the hospital before, but it didn’t look or feel like that. He thought the voice sounded familiar. It sounded like a friend. Then again, he couldn’t make anything out clearly.

 

Then, Eddy remembered what he was doing. He kept looking around and found nothing. It was probably nothing. In fact, it was nothing. Emily had heard something in her dream and woke up thinking it was real. He trudged back upstairs to put his gun away in his nightstand. He didn’t like using it. In fact, he had only ever used it once. It was when he took a class to properly learn how to handle it. But it made Emily feel safe, so he kept it for safe measure. He knelt down to put it in the safe in the bottom drawer of the nightstand and grabbed paper and markers from the top drawer. He stood up to face the bulletin board that stared right through him.

 

“Will you please just come to bed?” Emily asked sluggishly. She knew she had no chance of getting him to fall back asleep so quickly.

 

“I’ll just be a minute”, Eddy answered.

 

Emily groaned and turned the other way. She had work in the morning and thought to herself that she should have just let him sleep. But before she fell asleep, she convinced herself that he was going to wake up at this hour anyways and grab his paper and markers out of the drawer.

 

Eddy looked at the board. Sprawled all across were papers filled with doodles and writings, both simple and elaborate, as well as vibrant colors. All filled with his own thoughts across the board. The writings ranged from the random thoughts to detailed ideas and sequences that came to him while he slept. There were both good dreams and bad dreams. This wasn’t a hobby. It was a disease. He sat down at his desk and began  drawing the hospital room from his dream, as much as he could remember it. He drew the face that looked back at him, but all it really was, was a muddy blur.

 

After drawing what he could, he wrote a few thoughts down on the back of the paper of what he remembered from the dream, and more importantly, what he felt. He looked for a pushpin, thinking to himself that he should really restock since they were running low. After finding one, he looked for an open spot on the board to hang his new nightmare. Pretty soon, he would have to put the papers on top of one another if he wanted to keep them all up. He took a step back and looked at his burden.

 

He had one particular drawing that he liked to look at before he went back to sleep. It was soothing for him. But he did not dare look in the bottom right corner. He could still remember the night he drew it. He woke up in a panic and reached in the drawer for markers and paper. He had gone through his entire red marker that night drawing what has been his worst nightmare. He kept his eyes on his drawing of his good dream. He did not want to make eye contact with his nightmare in the bottom right corner.

 

Perplexed, he laid back in bed. He did not want to go back to sleep. He had no trouble falling asleep. It was the dreams themselves that were discomforting, nightmare or not. Everything felt too real. He began to think of all the different dreams that hung on his wall. His mind raced everywhere from the big circus tent surrounded by people, to the grocery store with his dirty hands filled with cockroaches, to the big room that only held him and a war tank. Then, he thought about the red scare that hung in the bottom right corner.

 

Then, he began to count sheep. Similar to the ones that hung in the top left corner of his board. Slowly, he began to sleep. Scared at first, but then went quietly with no fuss.

 

 

••

 

Eddy sat and ate whatever was left of his meal. His friend Mike sat across the table talking about a girl that he would probably never approach. Eddy wasn’t listening. He was thinking about a dream he had the other night. It was a dream where he was at work and his supervisor had spoken to him in a made up language. It was nothing too startling, just a bit odd. Before Mike could finish his plan about how he would get this girl to fall in love with him, Eddy interjected.

 

“Why do you think we dream?”

 

Mike and Eddy met at work. They used to work in a warehouse together. That was before Mike became fed up and developed a sense of importance and quit. Now he cleans restrooms at the local sports arena. Mike had only known Eddy for less than a year, but he already knew where this was headed.

 

“No”, Mike shook his head.

 

“What do you mean no?”

 

“I mean, I’m sitting here talking to you about something very important and you’re gonna start on this again. I’m not having this conversation with you. I know how you get.”

 

“It was a simple question.”, Eddy answered, insulted.

 

Sensing his own rudeness, Mike answered.

 

“You really want my opinion on this? Look, if I watch a scary movie before bed, I have a nightmare about whatever doll I just watched. If I just finished talking to a girl, chances are I’m having a dream that I’m walking through a meadow!”

 

“Yeah, maybe for you, it’s as simple as that!”, defended Eddy.

 

“Do you want to get technical about it? Think about it like a filing cabinet. You see or hear something, that gets stored in your brain, and you forget about it! You forget about it until your mind is asleep and has nothing  else to think about.”

 

Eddy regret bringing it up. Mike didn’t understand. He was a good friend but unwilling to see where Eddy was coming from or try and empathize with him.

 

••

 

Before going to bed, Eddy paced back and forth in his room looking at his wall. Emily was staying at her own place tonight. Really, she only ever stayed when she was too tired to drive all the way home from work. Eddy didn’t seem to mind. He didn’t want to talk to anyone or have to explain to anyone what was racing through his mind.

 

“It has to mean something, right?”, he thought. “I mean, why do they feel so important? So real? Am I trying to teach myself something? Is someone trying to tell me something?”

 

He thought back to his father. How often he would see him in his dreams. Sometimes they would just sit and talk, maybe share a drink. Eddy remembered these the most. Mostly, because of how bittersweet he felt during the dream. There were nights where his father would tell him about things from the past, like what it was like watching the 1991 World Series, or how he felt when he was first laid eyes on Eddy as a baby. These were things that Eddy’s father would tell him about when he was alive. These were the good dreams. But there were also the bad ones. There were the ones where Eddy’s father would talk to him about what it was like to die. What it was like to sit in the hospital bed, knowing that your only son did not want to come into the room and see him on his deathbed. There were the conversations where Eddy’s father would tell him about the first thing he saw once he died. Eddy remembered this question so well, because it was always followed up by the same question. Eddy’s father would ask him what it was that Eddy saw first when he died.

 

How was he supposed to know? He was not there yet. Maybe it was his own insecurities, he thought. It wasn’t a real conversation anyways. Eddy snapped out of it. He had been thinking of those dark conversations at night with his dad. He had that particular conversation four times and he remembered those nights so vividly, waking up in a sweat. He never did find out what his answer to his dad was.

 

Again, he went to sleep. Scared he’ll see his father in his dreams. Truthfully, he could endure those dreams. It was the outright nightmares that lingered in his mind. It was the nightmares that made him scared to fall asleep. Scared, he would have to wake up, reach into his drawer, grab paper, and use another red marker entirely. But nonetheless, he fell asleep. Again, thinking of the sheep.

 

••

 

Eddy and Emily walked down the aisle of the store trying to remember exactly what ingredients were in her mother’s casserole. She had promised to make him his favorite dish that her mother makes. It was her attempt at trying to get him to relax and have a good night. His attempt sat in the cart in the form of a twelve pack.

 

They meandered on down the aisles and Emily remembered she wanted to bake something, just out of boredom. Eddy grabbed a bag of flour from the shelf. However, he was distracted and quickly dropped it onto the floor and erupted.

 

Giggling, the two began to try and clean up, not understanding why he couldn’t do something so simple. They both laughed. A store employee entered the aisle and impatiently dismissed him and let them know that he could clean it up. Apologizing, they tried to hold in their laughter and began on down the store.

 

“Okay Butterfingers, I need to go wash my hands first. Are you coming with or do you want to get the last things and I can meet you up front in a minute?”, asked Emily.

 

Still laughing, Eddy replied, “I should probably go wash my hands too but we’re already running a bit behind. My hands aren’t even that dirty.”

 

Then Eddy looked down at his hands, and he had an uneasy feeling. He remembered this exact moment.

 

“Okay, try not to drop anything else”, replied Emily as she walked away.

 

Eddy looked up at Emily as she walked away, almost as quickly as this memory had come and gone. He was having Déjà vu. He knew what she would reply. Well, he didn’t know until she had said it. He had been here before. As sure as he was born, he had lived this moment before. Or, had he dreamt it? His eyes began to well up. Eddy cried out.

 

“Wait, don’t go! Not yet. Where are you going? Where am I going? Does any of this seem familiar to you?”

 

Emily turned back around, puzzled. She saw Eddy in the middle of the store almost brought to his knees in confusion. He had cried out for people nearby to hear. She walked over to him and asked him if he was okay.

 

Eddy, in embarrassment, looked around and realized that he had made him and her both look foolish. He apologized to Emily and told her he was fine.

 

“Maybe, I should go wash my hands. They are kind of dirty”.

 

Eddy walked with Emily and turned back around to where he was standing. Where he had been dropped off in the middle of a dream, unsure if he was dreaming again or if that had really happened. Not really remembering how he had even arrived to the grocery store. He looked around at the people who were still staring at him. He remembered the night he had this dream. He remembered waking up in a panic because of how the dream ended. Except, in the dream, cockroaches infested his hands and multiplied. It felt real that night. It felt real now. He entered the restroom and the automatic hands flashed on. A single cockroach scurried its way into a dark corner. He paused for a second like if he had seen his ghost. He shook it off. He was sure that he was just seeing things now. He washed and dried his hands and met Emily outside. He finished half of the twelve pack that night.

 

••

 

Eddy looked at the clock. Two more hours before he can clock out and enjoy his weekend. It had been weeks since his little episode in the grocery store. Feeling embarrassed, he had spoken very little to Emily since then. She understood. Or at least she tried. Eddy knew she tried to understand what his dreams felt like. Everyone dreams, right? People have the same weird dream about teeth falling out or forgetting something important on an busy day. Or hearing someone tell a story about a dream and realizing halfway that you couldn’t remember if this was actually a dream or a real event that happened. Everyone has had a dream they wish was real. Or when the dreamer wakes up glad that it was only a dream and went on about their day. Everyone knows what it is like to have a dream feel so real yet forget the moment their head lifts from the pillow.

 

So why did Eddy put so much emphasis on it? Why wake up and feel the need to remember if it’s only going to torture him later? It wasn’t sleep paralysis that terrified Eddy. He had a nightmare like that. It did not have much importance to him. He knew whatever goblin that had appeared in his nightmare would not show up in his reality. Instead, it was the other dreams that terrified Eddy. It was the mundane ones where he was walking in the store that petrified him. It was the red terror that hung in the bottom left corner. These were the real ones. He felt as if he was seeing through a peephole that he was not allowed to look at. Eddy felt that he had figured something out that was against the law of nature. Eddy allowed his dreams to haunt and follow him. His dreams felt like reality and his reality felt like a bad dream. 

 

Eddy’s supervisor walked up and snapped him out of his thoughts. He couldn’t really remember what he had been doing the last few minutes to pass the time. The supervisor told Eddy that his friend Mike is okay but that he was involved in a car accident. Eddy did not want to go see him. He did not want to see his friend like that, but he figured he could leave work a little earlier. He didn’t want to sit in a hospital room trying to console his friend, so he got in his car and headed home.

 

Sitting at a red light, the window wipers moved back and forth like a clock, counting the seconds before Eddy could wake up from his daydream. There was no music on. Just the sound of rain hitting the roof of the car. Eddy loved that smell. It reminded him of when he was younger and lived back home with his dad. But as Eddy sat there, not really thinking, heard a car approach the light in the next lane. Not knowing why, Eddy made a right turn instead of going straight. When he heard the engine of the car, something in his mind told him to go see Mike.

 

Eddy approached room 217, the room that the lady in the lobby had told him his friend Mike was in. He took a big breath before going in. He would stop by, say hi, and be on his way. He did not want Mike to think that they were best friends now just because he came to see him. He walked in slowly and noticed Mike was watching a reality show. With his eyes glued to the television set, he heard Mike snoring. Eddy never stopped to look at his friend. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see his friend wrapped up in bandages, covered in dry blood. Eddy sat down for a second, not really knowing why, never taking his eyes off of the television set. A few seconds later, he heard Mike beginning to wake up.

 

“Have you come to laugh at me because I don’t know how to drive? It wasn’t even my fault. They hit me! But to be fair, I was distracted because I saw a cute girl on the sidewalk. Don’t tell anyone I told you that.”

 

“Do you always watch bad television or just when you’re in hospitals? Change it, will you?”, Eddy answered, ignoring Mike's attempt at making conversation.

 

“No, this is my show and when you get hit in a car, you get to watch whatever you want. Now, this is my time so let me enjoy it”

 

“Fine. I only came to make sure you were alive anyways. And you are, so I’m leaving”

 

Eddy got up, but this time he looked at Mike. He barely even recognized his friend. It wasn’t too bad, but it looked like it hurt. Eddy froze in terror.

 

“Aw, come on man, it can’t be that bad.”, laughed Mike nervously

 

Mike began to look worried. He continued looking at Eddy, hoping that Eddy would say something to reassure him. He did not. But, Mike did not understand that Eddy looked at him terrified, not because of his injuries, but because Eddy was having Déjà vu. Eddy looked around. He looked at the room, as if he was trying to find something. He heard everything. The beeping, the murmurs coming from the hallway. Soon, even Mike's questions just sounded like mumbling to Eddy.

 

“Are you messing with me here? Did someone put you up to this? I didn’t tell you about this dream so how do you know? Were you even in an accident? You have to tell me! This isn’t funny anymore! Get up from the bed if you are lying to me!”

 

Eddy cried out to Mike but even he knew he wasn’t really talking to the person in the bed. A nurse walked in when she heard the commotion, but Eddy was already leaving. He grabbed his stuff and ran out.

 

••

 

Eddy headed home. His mind was racing faster than he was. He ran two red lights. Between the rain, and the déjà vu he had just experienced, Eddy couldn’t clear his mind enough to drive.

 

“How did I know?”, he thought. “I had been there before. In that exact room and that damn TV! I had the dream weeks ago and now here it is!”

 

Eddy could not clear his thoughts. Had he dreamt the future? Did his mind put him in that room before his body did?

 

Red. Another red light. This time he stopped. The wipers moved almost as quickly as his heart beat.

 

Red. It was all he could see through the soaked windshield and the wipers.

 

“How could I have had déjà vu about something I dreamed about? It doesn’t work like that, does it? Why did the dream feel even more real than fifteen minutes ago when I sat in that room? Have I just been dreaming about that future? Is that what I’m seeing? Is that what déjà vu is?”

 

Eddy shook at the red light. He noticed the cars passing. Like they were always meant to. As if he had dreamt this drive before. He had been living in a set timeline and his dreams were lenses into the future.

 

Green light. He continued driving. He could barely see the road. His eyes began to tear up and the wipers were not moving fast enough. Everything felt foggy like in a dream. Why had reality felt so artificial and his dreams felt so alive?

 

He marched up to his bedroom and looked at the nightmares that laid across the wall, taunting him. There they were. All of the ones he remembered enough to document. All of them feeling more real than the last one. And the realest one? For once, it was not the red paper that spread across the bottom corner. It was not the one that kept him up at night, scared to fall asleep. Scared, that he would, like the rest of his déjà vu’s, live through them. No, it was not that dream. Instead, it was the one he was living right now. It was the one where he had driven through the rain. It was the dream where he marched up the stairs and looked at the nightmares that was spread across the wall. How did he even get here? Where was he before this? Everything felt foggy. Like in a dream.

 

“If I’m dreaming now, I’d like to wake up. Forever this time”, he thought.

 

He did not want to live out these dreams anymore. Had they all been dreams? The grocery store? The hospital? His supervisor talking to him? His conversations with his father? Or were they reality? Was he dreaming now? And which dream was next to come to life? Finally, he stared at his drawing in the bottom right corner. He glared at it, drenched in red. That dream could not be next. But how would he know? He could never remember how he arrived. He wouldn’t let come to fruition. Then he knew. He knew he was dreaming now. He must have been. No man can see his future. Not even his own. A person could only determine their own future. So, he chose to.

 

He reached into the bottom drawer in his nightstand and took out the only thing that could wake him up. He saw his usual stationary. He sat down, away from the wall, not wanting to look at his own artwork mocking him. It must have been a dream. And when in the future would this be? Might as well be now. He felt his finger on the trigger. He was scared at first, but then, he went quietly with no fuss.

 

Sprawled all across were papers filled with doodles and writings, both simple and elaborate, as well as vibrant colors. All filled with his own thoughts across the board.

 

 


© Copyright 2020 Jorge Flores. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

More Fantasy Short Stories