What Nightmares Are Made Of
You’re having a nightmare, and have to choose between three doors. Pick one, and tell us about what you find on the other side.
The smell of spring was in the air. Everything was in bloom all at once. Tulips. Azaleas. Cherry Blossoms. Dogwoods. Since it was such a beautiful warm spring day, I decided to walk the mile home and hopefully decompress enough to fall straight off to sleep. It’s never easy to get to sleep after an 18-hour non-stop adrenalin-pumping shift in the ER. It was perhaps the busiest night we’ve had in the past eight months. Two heart attacks, a stroke, a child who swallowed some common house hold cleaner, a car crash victim, a man who walked in with a screwdriver sticking out of his head. That was a first for me and I really thought it was a bad and early Halloween prank. But to my astonishment it was not.
There’s this café about four blocks from my apartment and I decided to stop and have a cup of chai tea to help me unwind. The events of the ER were still bounding around in my head and I knew I wouldn’t be able to get to sleep. I was sitting outside when all of a sudden there was the sound of tires squealing and gasps. I turned around to see what all the commotion was and noticed a man lying on the ground. I rushed over to help. He had a few minor cuts and scrapes and complained his ankle hurt; however, when the ambulance arrived he declined to go have it looked at further.
The ambulance and the police left, the crowd disbursed, the injured man hobbled off down the street, the driver drove away, and I went back to my table and tea. Once again having to calm down from an adrenalin rush. I sat quietly and drank my tea, read my book and looked up periodically to people watch.
Finally, I began to feel a bit sleepy and decided it was time to head home. As I walked I found myself becoming more and more sleepy and my body felt like it weighed a ton. I could barely put one foot in front of the other. At one point I sat down to try to collect myself. Someone stopped and asked if everything was all right and it took whatever energy I had left to lift head. Not sure I said anything or if it was even audible. My vision was blurry and before I knew it everything had gone black.
When I awoke it felt like my head was in a vice and someone kept tightening the grip. I opened my eyes and couldn’t see anything. The room was pitch black at least so I thought. My mouth was dry and I was cold to the bone. I couldn’t feel my toes or legs or fingers, hands, or arms. I started to panic and began rocking back and forth and side to side. I was tied to a chair and as I rocked back and forth and side to side it fell over. The floor was ice-cold. There was a hood over my head and when I hit the floor it came partly off. I was able to get the it off enough to see, but the only thing I could see were a few small dim lights. I tried to scream for help, but couldn’t. I was gagged.
“Calm down.” I thought to myself. I was able to spin around on the floor to survey the room and as I was spinning I heard a voice say, “There are three doors, which one will you choose?”
I tried to speak, but what came was a muffled “What?”
Someone came in and righted my chair and untied me. At that moment I realized the reason I was so cold was because I was naked. After being untied, I was left alone again. I took off the gag and discovered a bottle of water had been left, which I quickly consumed.
“You have 10 minutes to make your decision. Choose wisely,” the voice said.
The lights came up in the room and there were three doors with a 1, 2, and 3 painted on it. I walked over to door #2 and noticed it had been freshly painted. The same was true of the other doors.
“I don’t understand. What is going on?’
I sat back down in the chair with my head in my hands pondering, which door.
“Which door do you choose?”
“I don’t, don’t know.”
“Which door do you choose?” the voice bellows back.
“1. No, no 2. I think.”
“Which door do you choose?” the voice bellows again even more menacing than before.
“Door number 2,” I say.
The lights go down on doors 1 and 3 and there is a click and door number 2 opens. There is a blinding bright light.
“Proceed” I hear.
I walk towards the door and stop at the threshold.
I walk through and it’s a beautiful warm spring day. The flowers and trees are blooming and the smell of spring is in the air. I look down and I’m clothed in white. “Oh Shit. Did I die and go to heaven?” I think.
I see the café. Take a seat and take in the scenery. As I look around at the people, I can’t help notice everyone is dressed the same. Like me. White pants and white tunic that comes down to the calf. I look closely and there is a slight difference and that is some people have a green trim around their tunic cuff, others red, and others blue.
“What does this mean?” I wonder?
The server comes and brings me a chai tea with a little foam. As I’m people watching I also notice that everyone has the same hair cut and seem gender neutral. I notice there are no distinguishing features. The server brings back my tea and I ask him/her what do the trim colors mean and as I am asking the server turns and walks away. I take a sip of the tea and it’s better than what the café usually serves.
The sever returns with a refill and I take a long look and feel as though there is something wrong. I can’t figure it out, but I know there is something wrong. Something missing. I continue people watching and notice the people at the café aren’t drinking anything. I’m the only one. I get up from the table and stumble a little over the chair, but quickly regain my balance. I walk over to one table and see that one person does not have a mouth and the other person doesn’t have any eyes. I stumble back and fall into another table and see that someone is missing a nose.
“What the hell is going on here?” I scream.
The server comes rushing over and escorts me back to my table and I realize what’s missing is his/her mouth. I soon realize that the color trim on the tunic sleeve indicates which feature is missing. Red = Eyes. Green = Mouth. Blue = Nose. I look down at my sleeve to see which feature I would be deprived of, but none of those colors were there. I had a black trim. I looked around to see if there were any others with black trim, but didn’t see anyone. The server brought me some more tea and I drank it scalding my mouth.
I got up and walked the four-blocks to my apartment. All the while saying, “this is a dream.” I kept pinching myself in hope of waking up from this nightmare. I got to my apartment shut the blinds and crawled into bed. I just need sleep. After all I did work an 18-hour shift, so I’m probably seeing things.
When I woke up I felt well rested and noticed I still had my eyes, nose, and mouth and all other body parts and that my tunic still had a black trim. I walk the 30 minutes to the hospital, but as I walked there was no one on the street — no cars, delivery trucks, people. Nothing. No one. I get to the hospital and it seems as though the entire town is there. I’m surrounded and I hear over a loud-speaker, ” Choose: eyes, nose, or mouth.”
It’s the same booming voice as before.
“I refuse to choose,” I yell back.
Suddenly I’m surrounded and I’m carried off into the hospital on the shoulders of these mouth less, nose less, eyeless people. I’m taken to a room. Not an operating room, or recovery room, or admitting room. It’s a room with a single chair and dim lighting. I’m strapped into the chair and mask is placed over my face. My face goes numb and after what seems an eternity and when the mask comes off it makes a suction cup type noice. The restraints are removed and I reach up to feel my face to determine what they took – eyes, nose, or mouth. I discovered my eyes were gone, my nose, and my mouth were gone. They were all gone. I tried to scream, but nothing.
“This has to be a dream,” I keep thinking. “But if it’s a dream why won’t I wake up?”
I hear barking and feel something licking my hand. I reach up and it’s hairy. I scream and fall on the cold floor and feel the licking on my face. Slowly, I open my eyes and see Bear, my dog. I stumble to the bathroom and I have my eyes, my nose and my mouth. I rush to the window and there are people on the street not dressed alike in white pants and tunics. They all have their eyes, nose, and mouth.
“It was just a dream,” I say. “But is was so vivid. So real.”
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