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Lost in Dreamland
“Why can’t we just get some food or something,” I asked anxiously. But there was no way I could get Ellis to stop now. He was staring at the sign like a starving man would look at a photo of food.
“What do you think it could mean,” he said, ignoring my comment eyes glued to sign. “Rule Your Dreams,” it stated in bright gold calligraphy. I don’t know why, but something about the sign, maybe the ominous crimson tent behind it, unnerved me.
“Probably just a scam,” I said.
“Yeah, but if it’s not...” Ellis trailed off, entranced. He daydreamed enough on his own, but when posed with something even remotely interesting he practically lost consciousness. He started to walk into the tent.
“Wait–“ I began, but he was already flipping open the tent flap. I dashed in behind him. Inside, a man with a waxed mustache smoking a cigarette awaited us.
“I suspect you are here to learn the art of dreams,” he said in and odd accent. The whole tent smelt of cigarettes and I noticed the ashtray on the floor beside the man, was filled to the brim. I was wondering why the man was looking about two feet to the left of me when he spoke, then noticed the glassy look in his eyes. He must be blind, I thought.
“Tell me how,” Ellis said, and it almost scared me to see the look of sheer determination on his face. I rolled my eyes. The man couldn’t see me, and Ellis wouldn’t notice.
“I sense a nonbeliever in the room,” the blind man said, startling me. Maybe I had made up my mind to quickly. Maybe this man really could help me, what was it? Rule my dreams? I almost laughed at my stupidity. The man knew that there would be a doubter because his business was an obvious fraud.
“I cannot tell you how it works,” the man said turning to where he thought Ellis was. “But you can control your dreams if you use this ring.”
He pulled a single golden ring, engraved with leaves and flowers from a drawer beside the ashtray. Almost as soon as his hand had opened, Ellis snatched the ring.
“How much,” Ellis said, reaching clumsily for his wallet. Ellis’s parents were incredibly rich, and, since he was an only child, spoiled him like mad, not to mention, he was a sucker for anything gold. Of course he would buy the fake ring.
“Let’s see, since its genuine, hand-cut, 24 carat, gold,” Ellis twitched at each adjective, “I’ll give it to you for $1050.”
Ellis grabbed his credit card and before I could pull him aside, the ring was on his finger. I swore under my breath but my time for interference was long past. After we left the tent I tried to enjoy the rest of the carnival, but Ellis kept staring at the ring, and when I tried to talk to him he tended not to reply. When we left, sooner than we had planed because of Ellis’s obsession with the ring, Ellis didn’t even say goodbye. As we split up, I just made out him mumble “Rule your dreams.”
The next morning, I was assaulted by Ellis while walking out of my house.
“It works!” he said, almost hysterical, “It works, IT WORKS, IT WORKS!”
“What do you mean?” I asked confused. I had forgotten about the ring until I noticed it, tight around his finger. It was glowing a faint blue color.
“Th-the ring?” I stammered. “Really?”
“You have to try it!” he said, “Wear it to sleep tonight and you’ll know.” He slid the ring off his finger, and placed it on my own.
It turned out that I didn’t have to wait until nighttime to experience what Ellis had told me about. At about lunchtime that I came down with an excruciating headache. I only spent one or two minutes trying feebly to fight off the pain, before I took the path off least resistance, a few ibuprofens and some downtime in the nurse’s office. Lying on a plump cot, healing medicine coursing through my body, I felt myself drifting off.
When I woke up (I must have woke up, I couldn’t be dreaming, it was all so clear) I was in the middle of a dusty street in some town I didn’t think I had ever seen before. I had a sudden urge to see the place, to experience it from a bird’s eye view. And then, just like that, I was far above the town with nothing supporting me. I looked at the ring on my finger. It was glowing a much brighter blue than when I had seen Ellis using it. So he was right. This is a dream. I must admit it wasn’t all that great to be flying around since every time I looked at the ground I felt faint, and had to overcome the urge of screaming my lungs out. After all, my real body must be safe in bed and the nurse would be unnerved by my shouts. Or maybe what I did here didn’t transfer into the real world. I couldn’t really reason it for myself since, despite the dream feeling real to almost the last detail, I couldn’t quite get my thoughts to flow as smoothly as they would when I’m awake. One thought did catch my attention though. I could fly. And if I could do that, just imagine what else I could do. I made an awkward descent, and, upon landing bounced 20 feet in the air and did 6 flips before hitting the ground for a second time. I spent the next few hours, talking to famous athletes, or long dead kings and generals I studied in my history books. The fun in that soon ebbed though, when I realized that I was the one making them speak and they weren’t real at all. But it didn’t matter, after all there was so much else to do here. Everyone, everything, bends to my will. I could build anything in seconds without putting my hand on any sort of tool. The town turned to a city than a farm with a lake. I was hitting golf balls into the lake, and watching them soar for miles before landing when, all of a sudden, the ground underneath me began to ripple. The lake bent and stretched before spinning into a strange whirlpool. I turned to my left to see a huge wave of turf bearing down on me. I dived for the lake, the water soaking my clothes, dragging me into the whirlpool. The wave of turf covered the lake, a deadly dome. As I struggled hopelessly to hold my breath, one thought slowly reached my sedated brain. I had to wake up…
The nurse’s wrinkled face stared down at me. She looked shocked and was eyeing me as though I might jump off the cot and bite her. I must have been screaming. I couldn’t quite remember if I had yelled out during the time when the dream began to break down.
“Nice piece of jewelry you’ve got,” she said, examining Ellis’s ring. “I still can’t see why it’s glowing like that
“Give it back,” I said probably to angrily. My heart was still pounding and my head burnt worse than before. I couldn’t believe it had all been a dream. Or had it been? Maybe it had all been real, what I’m living right now is the real dream. Either way, I didn’t want to go through what I had just experienced again, even if I wouldn’t really die.
I met Ellis in the school parking lot, and explained my story.
“You’ve got to give it back or something,” I finished. “At least not wear it to sleep again.”
He snatched the ring off my unprepared finger. “You really think I would give it back? Because you were stupid enough to let the nurse take it,” he said trying to get the ring on his finger with his hands shaking in anger, his voice bordering on shouting.
“I was asleep! What would you do? You can’t deny that while you’re off ruling your imaginary world, you’re helpless to anyone in real life, whether they want to hurt you or not!” I was yelling now. Screaming my head off in front of the entire school. They would think I’m insane, like I thought the man in the tent was insane, but I didn’t care. I pushed Ellis to the ground and the ring, still not successfully on his finger, flew a few feet behind him. I snatched it off the ground and made a run for the carnival, which was only a few blocks from the school. I would return the ring to the ring maker, give Ellis the money, and he would return to normal. I could always sprint faster than Ellis, and reached the crimson tent before Ellis had gotten through the gates. I dived for the zipper but found, in shock, that it was shut tight with a thick, 3-digit code, lock. That was when I noticed the sign, scrawled in neat cursive on a piece of lined paper. The Ring Maker Will Be Back In 10 Minutes. I swallowed, and Ellis, who had squirmed his way through the crowd, grasped the scuff of my neck.
“Give me it,” he breathed, and shoved me to the ground, the ring slipping off my fingers into a clump of grass a few yards to my left. He was ready to jump on me, when I noticed some of the tents disappearing as though they had been ordered by some mysterious power. Ellis noticed too and, in a moment of truce, we both stared at the vanishing tents, until we were alone in the park. That was when the ground began to quiver, sending a familiar sensation of dread through my spine. A giant wave of soil began from behind Ellis, and neither of us had the power to move our limbs. I stared, petrified as the wave came closer, closer. I braced myself for the impact…
I awoke with a start from a bad dream, my head instinctively turning to the clock radio on my dresser. D*mn, it was 11:00 already. I was going to the carnival with Ellis at 11:15. I rolled out of bed and ate a quick breakfast. That had been a strange dream last night. Ellis was in it, and I could recall him yelling at me. Odd, I thought. Ellis never yells. I rushed out the door to meet him, and we walked to the fair in silence. I was trying to get a hold of the dream, and Ellis, of course was lost in his own world. The carnival turned out to be pretty fun, though I lost $10.00 playing a rigged game, where you had to knock 3 blocks off a platform in one throw. Ellis noticed it first. A sign that brought all the memories of my dream, down to the smallest detail, back to life. First, a large ad over a crimson tent stated that the man inside could teach you to “Rule Your Dreams.” Then below that, written in cursive on a scrap of lined paper was a notice.
“The Ring Maker Will Be Back In 10 Minutes.”