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What I Dreamed Last Night
Somewhere between the past and present, the near and the now, a controlling group of discriminators had erected doghouse-like structures. I wandered in and out of the houses, peering at all sorts of creatures, from weak and ravished old men with hands outstretched for pity to plump men dressed in velvet doublets, sipping wine. Somehow, I knew I was in no danger.
And then there she was, my friend since second grade, deeply afraid. She stood at a fence, trembling in sync with the line of souls next to her. Far down the line, brown-uniformed troops approached the victims one by one, carrying a syringe and a bowl of soapy water. I could see that my friend was terrified, so I took my own bowl of soapy water and began to wash her arm. Gently, smoothly, and out of the corner of my eye I could see the uniforms stopping at each person in line to wash their arm and thrust the needle into the clean spot.
My friend’s eyes were closed in bliss as I washed her arm.
The uniforms surrounded me and the needle struck her arm like lightning. There was no need for pause. Her arm was clean, and she was ready. She looked at me with a look of absolute terror.
I woke up.
It was like Fear Factor, only worse. The first night, we were sentenced to spend a night with the beasts. Nothing actually hurt us, just the unnamed fear that held our hearts in an iron fist the whole night long.
The second task was to shoot a deer. We were to stand at a clearing, and the deer would run into the clearing. Our arrows were to be in our bows at the ready. I was confident that this would be less terrible than the night with the beasts.
I chose a short arrow that would not be able to be shot. I did not want to shoot the deer.
He shot into the clearing faster than we thought possible. Arrows flew towards him, striking him in painful but not fatal places. He tumbled, fell, and got back up. He kept running. I ran after him, carrying my bow and useless arrow, screaming “RUN! RUN!” at him, at us, at everyone.
They brought him to bay, and suddenly he was no longer a deer, but a man. He was a man with a familiar face. They strung him up onto a gallows with ropes tied to his arms and looped around his shoulders. They shot arrows at him. I stood in the back with tears running down my face and my bow and arrow held limply in my hand.
I screamed his name. He looked up, and every motion ceased. I stumbled towards him, crying, dropping my bow and arrow. I looked up at him. “Should I stop the pain?” I asked, for his shoulders and chest were riddled with broken shafts.
He gave me his pocketknife. “Yes, please,” he murmured.
I woke up.
I stood in my church clothes, hands grasping the pew in front of me. The lector was reading the petitions. “And for all the prayers we hold deep in our hearts…” she said.
Dear God, I prayed, don’t make me kill anyone tonight.