Word Count: 1093
Writing: 59 min
Editing: 23 min
Total Time: 1 hour 22 min
This wasn't the same place she'd gone to sleep. She could tell by the color on the inside of her eyelids. It was all wrong, not the intense black-red-orange she was used to, but instead a purple-blue-green. A cold chill ran down her spine. She thought about keeping them closed, surely what was on the other side couldn't be worth seeing. But the color made her feel like she was drowning. Slowly sinking to the bottom of a lake, watching as the light turned from green, to blue, to purple, and then nothing.
She gasped and opened her eyes.
Don't move, she told herself. This is a dream, I'm obviously having a very vivid, very scary, dream. She was sitting cross-legged on a metal floor with her back straight up against a wall. The room was empty and with blank walls the were either green, or reflected a green light, she couldn't be sure which and had no interest in looking closer. The only distinguishing characteristic of the room was a small circle across from her on the wall. It reminded her of the windows she'd seen on boats that had cabins under their decks, the portholes.
She slowly moved her gaze from the small circle and once her eyes were completely free of it, the world turned upside down. A nauseating disembodiment consumed her and instantly she felt like she was weightlessly floating in the eerie green room. Her head swam and she could feel the acid from her stomach making its way into her throat. Breathing was becoming harder and the air began to take on a very chemical aroma. Or had it been there the whole time? Do people normally smell in dreams?
Close your eyes. The room still spun. Close your damn eyes! She yelled at herself inwardly commanding the lids to touch their other halves.
The dark purple-blue-green fell over her like a splash of cold water and her skin erupted in goose bumps. Her body began to feel centered again, she used her hands and felt the wall, then the floor. She was still sitting, back straight up, butt on the floor. That meant the window was directly across from her. Open your eyes. A strong command that was immediately obeyed.
The strange porthole in the wall met her eyes and she couldn't deny the small burst of relief she felt in the depths of her belly. She desperately wanted this dream to be over and nothing more than a distant memory of a poor night's sleep.
But what if it's not a dream? She quickly ignored the question and began thinking of ways she could wake herself up. Pinching wouldn't work, she knew by the pain on the undersides of her legs, she'd been pinching them since the moment her eyes opened. Maybe if she screamed? Could she yell loud enough that her sleeping conscious body would hear and open her eyes?
I don't think this is a dream. The thought was trying to sneak its way into her mind and poison her hope like a slow moving venom. Again she ignored the idea and continued her brainstorming, trying to remember all the ways she'd read about, and seen people use in the movies to get themselves out of similar situations. Nothing came, her mind was blank.
What's outside that window? The question made her heart drop and a hollow feeling take over her gut. She didn't want to know, it was only a dream, no, a nightmare, and she had no interest in what horrors lay beyond the small glass.
You do. And she did, there was no use in trying to deny it. Her human curiosity had won before her internal argument had begun. She had to know what was outside this wall, what's the worst that could happen, it was only a dream, after all.
It's not a dream. I don't know where I am, but this isn't how dreams feel. The acceptance froze her mind, that feeling of drowning fell over her again and her body felt heavy. Her hands moved to the floor seamlessly and all of a sudden her body was raising itself to her feet. Eyes locked on the window, that small circle like a target in her sights, she barely noticed her feet rising and falling. Memories that had been locked away in the vault of her mind flooded back a million per second, like a highlight reel from the lost archives of her life. Then she was there, nose to the glass, staring through a porthole that looked out into a strange metal room. Bright lights shone down all around and the world appeared to be sideways.
She looked to the sides and the corners trying to take in every inch of the place she could see beyond the glass. Childish wonder mixed with the anxious surreality, and she thought this must have been how Alice felt when she reached the bottom of the rabbit hole. Her eyes saw what looked like a pale white foot and ankle that appeared to be undergoing some sort of surgical procedure. A strange déjâ vu flashed across her mind and the foot looked unsettlingly familiar. Hadn't she just used the same toenail polish on her own feet the night before? All of a sudden the small room felt less like a foreign place, and more familiar, like a vacation many times taken.
A flood of anxiety took her to her knees and the room began spinning again. The stomach acid rose faster this time, as if ready and waiting for it's next chance since their last nauseating bout. She lost balance and fell to her side, or maybe she was standing? Floating? There was no way of knowing, everything looked the same. Just as she could taste the burning sour on the back of her tongue, she lost consciousness.
Her face was dripping with sweat and tears rolled down the sides of her face as she opened her eyes. The dreams hadn't bothered her for months, she sat up and placed her feet on the floor. Stiff, sore and swollen, like clockwork her right ankle hurt the same way it always did after the dreams.
She moved slowly to the bathroom and turned on the faucet. The cold water refreshed her hot eyes and cheeks. She stared at herself angrily in the mirror for a moment, silently cursing the nightmares. After dabbing her face dry with a towel, she flipped off the light switch, and limped back to her bed.