Dream Reel

January 8, 2013
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The boy crashes down the hillside, his small bare feet sliding down the muddy slope. He lands in a heap at the bottom but does not stop for breath. Barely a second later, the only thing left lingering is a small cloud of carbon dioxide, a wisp of ironically breathless fear hanging in the cold night air.

As the boy nears the forest, he throws a quick glance behind him. He can still see them, the men in black, as they walk towards him, through the fog and mist. He wraps his arms to cover his face as the twigs and branches whip at his head and neck. They feel real, alright. The red scratches on his arms are real, and so is the blood that is starting to trickle. But the men in black are not. Men in white – white long coats, holding metal sticks with thin lipped smiles – tell him they’re not real. The boy has a disease. A disease the boy can’t spell. A disease his mother doesn't understand. A disease that make the men in white simply shake their heads with pity.

The boy is caught in a dream of reality. How can the men in white say the men in black aren’t real? They have been chasing the boy for as long as he can remember. They come closer still as he trips over a loose rock, sending him sprawling. He gropes in the dirt for but a moment before he is on his feet again, running to the other end of the dark forest, towards the silver river.

Just as he nears the edge of the forest, he feels a hand lightly touch his right shoulder. He whips around only to find that his mind is playing tricks on him – like it has been all his life. The men in black are still silently approaching, just fifty yards off. The boy bursts through the shrubbery at the end of the forest and finds himself at the banks of the silver river.

Curls of mist peel off the surface of the river, evaporating into the black sky above. The pebbles and stones along the river’s edge crunch under the boy’s feet as he slows down to a walk. The icy air smells clean and crisp but seems tainted by a smell the boy can’t quite put a name on. Suddenly, the boy hears a rustle from behind him and he turns on his heel as the men in black emerge from the forest, their vacant, vague gazes floating down towards him. He takes a step backwards. Then another, and another, until he trips and stumbles backwards. He is then on his hands and feet, crawling backwards, trying to get away from the figures that slowly advance on him. He feels his tiny heart fluttering uncontrollably, so easy for them to crush.

He jolts abruptly as he feels the frozen waters of the river reaches towards his right hand, as if trying to pull him in. He withdraws his hand and, getting to feet, turns his back to the men in black and runs alongside the silver river. As he rushes past the never-ending stretch of water, something catches his eye. He halts at the edge of the river and peers forward. And the men in black are momentarily forgotten.

Barely a foot away from the shoreline, he sees what caught his eye. Long black hair floats around her head. Her limbs are skinny and long, ghostly white. She wears a knee-length dress of pure white. Her head is the only part of her which is not submerged and faces him. The girl is young , her features frozen in the frail moonlight. Her eyes are closed, her lips are thin and blue. She is at peace.

The boy leans further forward and reaches out for her hand in the water. The water wraps around his hand and wrist like a stranger’s cold greeting. He entangles her fingers within hers and permits himself a small smile. Suddenly, he feels something clench his hand and yank at his arm. The boy lets out a scream that pierces the night. He looks around for help but even the men in black are gone. The boy lets out another scream, this time it is silent. It is as if the devil has reached the end of the reel and has simply slipped another one in, the boy’s torture his amusement. It is only as the boy is dragged in towards that ghostly face that he realises he has only left one nightmare to enter another. It is then at that moment when those dead eyes open and the girl swallows yet another troubled soul.

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