Rebirth: Chapter v - Half Awake by Roy Neyman


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It started out as a kaleidoscope of a dream, all sharp corners and dead ends, non-sensical plots that twisted back on themselves and took him in directions that seemed to have some perfect, but illusive and unfathomable logic. He was in a familiar place, in a home that wasn't his. Still, he knew it. He realized he had to pee and kept thinking he'd find the bathroom around the next corner, but instead he'd gone through a bedroom and up a stair. Finally he'd stumbled across a closet-sized space with a half-sized toilet inside, but there was no drain to it, nowhere for his wastes to go. He couldn't pee there and leave it exposed for later discovery. Turning, unsatisfied, he poked onward through this psychic maze.

Just outside the front door he came across a small flower bed. It was staring at him with pearlescent eyes. There they sat, disembodied eyeballs side-by-side in pairs spread randomly around the bed. In that timeless way that dreams evolve, he watched as they melded into frog faces with grotesque human grimaces, then into mature adult toads that procreated, laid eggs, and died. The eggs. With some unreasonable horror, he saw the eggs were pairs of pearlescent eyeballs.

Realizing this would go on and on in increasing numbers, he shifted his attention to concentrate on escaping this dream and found that he was gliding through the air, floating close above the eaves of some Mediterranean villa. He sensed more than saw the ochre and beige stucco, the red clay tiled roof. Oddly, though, his flight was inhibited by a maze of twisting branches that were bare with the cold of fall. This was only slightly annoying until he noticed, not more than a few yards away, a tiger that stared at him with gaunt, hungry eyes. He looked old and worn, his tiger stripes almost invisible in his fading fur, but he was intent. A meal was near, obstructed only by a branch or two.

Anderson drifted in a space tangled with branches, never sure of his escape as the dream faded to wakefulness. Even so, he felt the tiger near behind as he swung his pajama-clad legs out of bed, his feet met the floor and he walked over warm carpet, then icy tile to the bathroom to find relief in an actual toilet. Humming to himself, he was just thinking how reality was so much easier, if not less entertaining, when he glanced at his reflection in the vanity mirror. He was walking past. His reflection was not. He forgot about humming.

In a comic move straight out of a Charlie Chaplin film, Anderson's shoulders and head turned slightly and paused for a double-take while his torso and legs took another half-step. Once it had figured out the new plan, his body returned to stand before the vanity, contemplating along with the rest of him the mostly normal image. Anderson reached up to touch his face, fingers brushing lightly across a day's stubble, and small ripples shimmered outward from the spot facing him in the mirror. Eyes widening, he repeated the gesture and witnessed the same result, ...almost.
Instead of the incredulity Anderson could feel on his face, his reflection wore a look of satisfaction, almost smugness. "Ah, I'm finally getting through," it said. "Listen. Just listen."

"Anderson. Anderson, honey, wake up!"

Anderson opened his eyes and found himself face to face with Marcy. She looked sleepy and annoyed, if only slightly. "You were doing that humming thing again," she said, "only really loud this time. It woke me up!"

Brushing away the shock of the transition, Anderson stepped across the fault line between sleep and wakefulness with his dream totally intact. How weird. How REALLY weird. "Sorry, Sweetie," he replied. "I was having the strangest dream." He told Marcy about it detail by detail, hoping that doing so would keep it from eroding away with the day as so many dreams did. He wanted to keep this one.

She listened through half-sleep, closing her eyes. "Hmm. Mmm hmm."

Now he really had to go, so he got up for real this time. His reflection in the mirror seemed normal, although Anderson might have caught a knowing wink as he walked past.