Peak of a Nightmare

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic


Peak of a Nightmare

By Shad Henriquez

 

Gangster

“Alright, Paulie, where’s the money you owe me from our dice game?”

Paul

“What are you talking about? We never played any dice. I don’t even know you.”

Gangster

“The snake eyes you rolled says otherwise. I’ve been very patient the last few days. Why don’t you pay up and save yourself the trouble.”

Paul

“Look, I’m not a dice player. And even if I were, I wouldn’t play for money.”

Gangster pulls a pistol out of his suit jacket pocket.

Gangster

 “You just told your last lie, Paulie.”

Paul

“Wait a minute…”

Gangster shoots Paul three times. Paul sits up in his bed and breathes heavily. His wife beside him wakes but remains on her side without much movement.

Catherine

“Bad dream, honey?”

Paul

“Mm hmm”

Catherine

“What was it this time?”

Paul

“A gambling debt on a dice game to some criminal.”

Catherine

“Let me guess, did he hold you at gunpoint and claim you rolled snake eyes?”

Paul

“How’d you know?”

Catherine

“It’s the same dream you told me about yesterday.”

Paul

“There was something different about it this time. It was much more vivid.”

Catherine

“Don’t worry about it, honey. It’s just a dream. It won’t kill you.”

Paul

“I just have a bad feeling about it. Almost like a premonition.”

Catherine

“You’re reading too much into it, honey. Just relax and get some rest.”

Paul

“Yeah, I suppose so.” Lying back down. “Good night.”

Paul and Catherine Burns are a happily married couple living an ordinary life. They are loyal and rely on one another. Paul is in his early 40’s, while Catherine is in her mid-30’s. They have no children. The two reside in a little house in Queens, New York. Paul has been having nightmares lately that seem to get worse with each passing day. Catherine believes it’s a combination of stress and Paul’s vivid imagination from working in a library. Paul has the thought that his increasingly provocative dreams might be a secret pathway into the future. A future of an eventful, uncertain death that he can’t escape.

The next morning Paul sits on a living room couch chair while reading the newspaper. Catherine approaches Paul and stands over him. As Paul lowers his paper and looks up, he sees Catherine fully dressed while holding a suitcase.

Paul

“Honey what’s going on?”

Catherine

“I’m leaving you, Paul. I’ve heard enough about your silly nightmares.”

Paul

“That’s no reason to leave me, Catherine. I’ll stop talking about them if it makes you feel better.”

Catherine

“It’s too late for that now. Besides, I’ve found someone else. A millionaire. He flies in a jet and lives on a yacht. Not to mention he’s handsome. Which means I don’t have to wake up to your ugly face anymore.”

As Paul sits speechless, the doorbell rings. Catherine quickly walks to the front door and opens it.

New Husband

“Hey, baby!” The two kiss for a few seconds as Paul remains frozen in silence. “Sorry we had to break it to you like this, Paul. Maybe you can visit the yacht one day and we can all sail for Coney Island!”

Paul drops his newspaper and collapses to the floor unconscious. As he lies there his name is called repeatedly.

Catherine

“Paul. Paul. Wake up, Paul! What are you doing on the floor?”

Paul slowly opens his eyes to see Catherine standing over him. She is now wearing a sleeveless tank top and shorts. Paul sits up in confusion.

Catherine

“What happened, Paul?”

Paul

“You changed your clothes.”

Catherine

“Changed my clothes? What are you talking about?”

Paul looks on the floor to his left and his right.

Paul

“Where’s your suitcase?”

Catherine

“My suitcase? What suitcase? Did you hit your head when you fell?”

Paul’s eyes widen and close as he sighs in relief.

Paul

“I think I had one of my dreams again.”

Catherine

“Well that explains it. What did you experience this time?”

Paul comes to his feet and explains himself.

Paul

“You were leaving me for a millionaire that lives on a yacht.”

Catherine chuckles.

Catherine

“Imagine me doing something like that. Being surrounded by all that water would have me bored out of my mind.”

Paul

“I thought you were going to say you loved me too much.”

Catherine

“Oh, Paul you know how much I love you.”

She touches his face with her hand.

Paul

“That’s good. But I still need to figure out what to do about these nightmares.”

Catherine

“Come now, Paul. When are you going to stop taking these bad dreams of yours so seriously?”

Paul

“When they finally stop. I’m telling you, honey, there’s something very unusual about them. I know they’re not real, but they feel so raw and abstract.”

Catherine

“Most dreams are like that, Paul. Especially the bad ones.”

Paul

“On occasion, yes, but not every day.” Paul takes a seat on the couch chair and sighs. “The worst part is that they aren’t even lucid. I can’t tell if I’m dreaming or not.”

Catherine takes a seat on the arm of the chair and wraps herself around Paul.

Catherine

“Do you think they have something to do with stress?”

Paul

“No, I don’t think so.”

A few moments of silence pass by before Catherine asks another question.

Catherine

“This might sound silly, Paul, but is it possible that your dreams are related to some of the books you’ve been reading?”

Paul ponders on the idea.

Paul

“It’s possible. I’m just trying to find a link between the two.”

Catherine gets up slowly.

Catherine

“While you’re thinking about that, I’ll start breakfast.”

She walks to the kitchen.

Paul spent that day going through books he had read over the past month to find if they resembled his nightmares. Later that night he was reading a book for his own pleasure. As he sat on the edge of the bed, Catherine entered their bedroom, leaving the door open behind her.

Catherine

“So, were you able to find a connection from your books?”

Still with his eyes on the page.

Paul

“Not yet.”

Catherine takes off her slippers and gets under the covers of the bed. She cuddles next to Paul, glancing at the story he’s reading.

Catherine

“What you got there?”

Paul

“’Trial of a Theft’. Courtroom drama. This guy is arrested for stealing a bike in his neighborhood, but the person that really did it is his twin brother, who fled to another state and went into hiding.”

Catherine

“Sounds interesting. What does the jury think so far?”

Paul

“They haven’t been mentioned yet. I have a feeling they’ll say he’s guilty. Without any witnesses, everything is working against him.” Paul places a bookmark next to his page before closing the story. He yawns softly, turns off the desk lamp several feet away, and gets under the covers. “Good night, hon.”

Catherine yawns.

Catherine

“Sweet dreams, Paul.”

The two drift off into slumber. When Paul later opened his eyes, everything was dark and blurry. He didn’t know where he was or what was going on. Now sitting in a chair, all he could hear was chatter and commotion. Paul looked around to get a grasp of things, but he couldn’t see his own hands, let alone a face. Suddenly, there was a banging sound. It repeated in succession several times. When the banging finally ceased, the lights in the room turned on. Paul covered his eyes from the flash. When they started to recover and return to focus, he lowered his hand to the figure in front of him: a judge! The judge looks gleefully down at Paul from his bench.

Judge

“Nice of you to join us, Mr. Burns. I see you’re still in your pajamas!”

Paul looks down at his attire to see the same star and moon pattern pajamas he went to sleep in. The spectators in the gallery laugh at him briefly, yet loudly, causing the judge to bang down his gavel a few times.

Judge

“Come now, everyone, we shouldn’t be mocking Mr. Burns for his choice of clothing. Although, Mr. Burns it would probably be a good idea to wear more appropriate attire when appearing in court.”

Paul

“What am I on trial for?”

Judge

“Mr. Burns are you saying you sleepwalked into the courtroom and forgot why you’re here?”

Paul from across the room.

Paul

“He knows why he’s here! He’s my crooked brother that tried to get away with stealing a bike and pinning the blame on me! Look at him! Playing dumb by showing up here dressed in his loungewear!”

Paul is taken back by the splitting image of him. Everything is identical. Only his twin is dressed in a suit and tie.

Judge

“Come now, Mr. Burns, give Mr. Burns a chance to plead his case.”

Paul

“Case? What case? I didn’t do anything wrong!”

Judge

“Do you have a witness to back your claim?”

Paul

“This is ridiculous. Who even saw me do what I’m being accused of?”

Judge

“The little old lady you ran over while she was crossing the street.”

Paul

“What in the world are you talking about?! I never hit an old lady with a stolen bike!”

Judge

“Do you have a witness to support your claim?”

Paul

“I don’t need a witness for a crime I never committed.”

Paul 2

“Listen to that! Now he’s denying ever doing the whole thing!”

Judge

“Relax, Mr. Burns. It’s quite obvious that Mr. Burns holds himself above the law.”

Paul

“I’ve been following the law my whole life.”

Judge

“That’s what most criminals say before they’re found guilty.”

Paul

“Are you trying to say I’m a criminal?”

Judge

“I’m not trying to say anything, Mr. Burns. All I have to do is find you guilty and send you on your way to the electric chair!”

Paul

“It’s not in your power to determine my innocence. That’s in the hands of the…”

As Paul looks to his right expecting to see a juror’s box, he sees instead a blank wall with tall windows, through the glass is a dark night sky.

Judge

Chuckles. “Why have a jury at the trial of a guilty man?”

Paul is too mesmerized to say anything.

Judge

Slowly rising from his bench. “After all, Mr. Burns I am judge and jury… you know what comes after that!”

Paul’s eyes widened in astonishment. The judge suddenly wielded a bazooka. Paul got up from his chair and headed for the exit. The seats in the gallery were empty and Paul’s doppelganger was gone. He leaped over the separating beam, losing a slipper in the process. Running on one barefoot, Paul reached the locked exit doors. He tries pulling them open to no avail. With the bazooka shot fired, the missile flies toward him at lightning speed. Paul turns around and screams at the top of his lungs before being blown out of his pajamas. He sat up in his bed and gasped heavily. Paul takes a few seconds to catch his breath. He glances beside him to see Catherine snoring lightly. He turns back towards his front, closes his eyes and smiles. It appears Paul found the connection he was looking for.

When the morning arrived, Paul told Catherine about the dream he had overnight, and how it was linked to the ‘Trial of a Theft’ book he was reading. The couple was relieved that Paul found the cause of what’s been ailing him.

Around the afternoon, Catherine was almost prepared to go grocery shopping at the supermarket. Before she headed out the door, Paul and herself chatted briefly.

Catherine

“Do you want anything from out?”

Paul

“I already have everything I could ask for.”

He stared into his wife’s eyes and smiled.

Catherine

“Oh, Paul!” She smiled back at him, then gave Paul a hug and kiss. “See you in a little bit.”

Catherine opens and closes the door heading for her car in the garage. After getting in her car and turning it on, Catherine pulls out of the driveway and heads for the supermarket, Paul watching through a window near the front door all the time.

He releases the curtain, turns around, and starts to walk upstairs. As he nearly reaches the top, the doorbell rang. Paul turns to look in the direction of the front door. Perplexed, he goes down the stairs and opens it.

Judge

Smiling. “Are you ready to meet your maker today, Mr. Burns?”

Paul is at a loss for words. He takes a few steps back, grabs his chest, and collapses to the floor. His heart is slowly failing. Perhaps Paul’s premonition wasn’t as far fetched as it seemed… or maybe this was just another one of his nightmares?

 


Submitted: August 25, 2020

© Copyright 2022 Shad Henriquez. All rights reserved.

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