D. Paul Angel
I knew I was in a dream. Light just doesn’t behave like that in real life. And, how else did I end up in a hospital? Even with my eyes closed I couldn’t miss the distinctive smell. I looked around as best I could, but the light only really showed the floor. I could watch the checkerboard pattern of stark white and anti-septic green pass beneath my bare feet. The ceiling though was pitch black, and everything in between seemed to be a fog of darkness. Like Erebus’ smoking den. The edges of exam tables could sometimes be seen, as could gurney wheels, and bases for IVs; everything else was shrouded in wafting darkness.
The Corridor I was in ended at an abrupt T-intersection. I turned left and came to a pair of doors with wide, institutional windows, the kind with wire mesh embedded inside. I was just about to try the handle when I suddenly saw my dad in the window. It had been years since I’d dreamt about him, and even as I felt my feet stick in fear I began doing the Lucid Dreaming exercises Dr. Munroe had taught me. I closed my eyes and concentrated on taking over the dream and turning my father into a clown.
Ridiculous, after all, isn’t frightening. But it didn’t quite work. My dad wasn’t the buffoon he was supposed to be. The clown makeup only accentuated his angry sneer. The rainbows over his eyes merely highlighted their cold hatred. His suspenders were writhing, desiccated coral snakes, and the flower in his hat had a human eye for its center, moistly staring at me. The belt in his hand was supposed to be gone, but it looked as real as ever, cracked and worn; with tiny speckles of dried blood.
The door opened of its own and I turned to run in a panic. I didn’t know if he was pursuing me or not, I just sprinted the other way. I thought I was passing the main corridor but it wasn’t a T-intersection any longer. Instead the corridor continued on into the darkness. Past was another set of doors, again with windows, and, despite my silent scream; again with my father behind them. I turned back to the extension of the corridor when Dr. Munroe stepped out of the shadow-webbed fog.
“Follow me,” he said in his familiarly comforting, smoker’s voice. I followed his portly form down the hall as the fog seemed to shrink away from him. I started to tell him what was going on but he just doubled his pace and held a finger to his bearded lips silencing me. I kept my peace and just trailed along as fast as I could, letting myself focus only on his bald pate while trying to avoid the nightmare surrounding me.
We quickly came to another T-intersection, but instead of slowing down, he sped up and went through the wall. I stopped just short and banged my hand on it, feeling its solidity. I turned, putting my back to it, and saw my father slowly walking towards me in the center of all three corridors, each with a similar clown outfit, though distinctly unique as well. In a second I had made up my mind and threw myself at the wall as hard as I could.
I stumbled through and found myself alone with Dr. Munroe; floating together in an infinite expanse of the purest white above and darkest black below. As I looked at Dr. Munroe he started to change. He grew and lost his clothes to an enveloping black robe that seemed to be the darkest shade of every color ,mottled into a black darker than black itself could ever be. His clipboard morphed into a tall, well honed scythe, and the skin on his face receded to an ivory skull. His round spectacles were finally absorbed into empty eye sockets that, despite being bone, conveyed utter, knowing finality. I’d woken from Life’s lucid dream.