September 14, 2011

From Dreams To Story – Part 1

I’ve been trying to wake up at 5:15 every morning for the past week, but every time my dreams (nightmares?) intervene and the result is...  Epic Fail.  I just get so caught up in them, even though some hyper-buried consciousness of me knows it’s just a dream.  But I want to know the ending, and I want the ending to be good (aka I get the hot guy and all the monsters are out), so I struggle with Mr. Sandman to get what I want… and keep on snoozing till 6:20 am.  Big sigh.

Here’s a small taste of what I dreamed last night.

Belgium, the sun’s actually up before I am.  Now that is a surprise.  But not a happy one, ‘cause it means I’m late for work.  Again.  I mean, I’ve had to skip work a bunch of times lately:  once because I claimed to be sick so I could go on a long-planned trip with some friends, and a second time because I was really sick.  There may have been a couple of other times as well, but with the memory of a rabbit, I don’t quite recall.

I rush down the stairs of my house, my footsteps as heavy as jackhammers on cement.  Which, of course, draws my dad’s attention (my dad always wakes up on time, and certainly never runs late).
            “You’re late,” he says from behind the living room door where he’s probably drinking a cup of coffee.
            Now tell me something I don’t know. 
            “They might fire you,” he adds as I make my way down to the ground floor.
            Well there you go, that’s something I didn’t know.  My guts knot up in a way they haven’t since I gave my last piano recital.  What will I do if I lose this job?  I have so many debts to pay off!  My student loans, my car loan, my credit cards, and I barely have a dime saved up at the bank on the side.  What if I can’t even make rent?
            Ok, so you probably think that, living with my parents, they probably wouldn’t kick me out.  But this is my dream, ok?  And in this dream, my parents would make me pack my bags and tell me to see if the sun shines brighter on the other side of town (though they would be more correct saying that I should check what kind of greys are on the other side).
            I scramble to put my Inspector Gadget raincoat on, don’t even bother to lace my shoes and storm outside to my beat up car.  It’s a relic that car, truly.  Grey (hey, not much color here, ok?), elongated, kind of squat.  In short, not very pretty to look at, like a fish that’s been left out for too long (a week, perhaps).
            The motor coughs to life like a rheumatic lion (sorry, it appears to me that there are just way too many animals in my story, but it’s too late to undo), and I floor the pedal.  My car lurches forward, pauses for a second, then continues on its merry way, towards work. 
          “Thank God,” I exclaim under my breath.  If this box on wheels can make it all the way, I might manage to get there on time.

            But there’s lots of traffic, and just as I'm about to cross one of the main avenues, the light turns red to let a darn tram through.  I love public transportation, don’t get me wrong, but only when it doesn’t inconvenience me.
            Finally, the light turns green for me, and I speed off.  There’s a small road that cuts through a portion of the woods that abut the street I’m taking, and if I can make it, I’ll be able to pass all these other crazy drivers that are slowing me down.  The side road is made of gravel that shoots out from under my wheels like bullets from a machine gun.
            “Sorry, sorry!” I shout at some poor pedestrians taking cover, despite the fact that I know they can’t hear nor see me.
            Something explodes, and my car dies.  Just like that.  There’s no smoke, no grinding of the engine, no last whimper.  It’s like the engine's been euthanized right before me.
            Biting my lower lip, I get out of the car, pop the hood open and take a look—not that I’m a mechanical whizz or anything (in fact, I’m not a whiz in anything), but I have learned how to add more fluids to my car when needed (any fluids: oil, coolant, transmission, brake, you name it.  And yes, this isn't the first decrepit vehicle I happen to have owned).
            But there’s nothing I can do about the horror that’s staring me in the face right now.  Well, it would be staring at me if it weren’t dead already.  For there, taking up a big portion of my darling motor (everything is darling to you once lost, even if you were never really happy with it beforehand, unless it’s a severe case of diarrhea, in which case I’m more than happy to kick it to the curb--apologies if I’ve offended any sensitivities), is a giant shrimp. 
            Yes, you’ve read me right.  A giant, orange-pinkish shrimp has managed to weasel its way into my car and has eaten a crucial part of my motor (don’t ask me which or how, I don’t know).  My car still ran fine just so long as the shrimp was alive (somehow the pieces were still working from inside its digestive tract—hey, this is a dream, it doesn’t have to make sense).  But one of those gravels must have accidentally killed the monster and now I’m out of a car.
            Tears well up in my eyes—my dad was right, I’m so gonna get fired!  And then I won’t be able to pay my bills, and I’m gonna end up on the streets, and everyone’s gonna hate me!  (Hey, you try to be reasonable when you’re faced with some of your worst fears.)  I grab the shrimp still stuck inside my car, pull it out with a pop, and fling it in the bushes.
            “It’s all your fault!” I scream, outraged that such a pathetic little creature could create so much trouble for me.  “You've ruined my life!”
            I notice then the two little ladies I’d nearly killed, frowning at me with utter contempt, whispering to each other what must be a thousand curses against me, my reckless driving, and my trashing the neighborhood with sea monsters.
            Cowered, I pick up the dead crustacean.  It’s all slimy and all those paws (legs?) ick me out. What am I supposed to do with a shrimp that’s the size of my hand?  Will someone get mad if I toss it in the trash?  It is biodegradable, isn't it?  Unless...
            An idea forms in my head and I smile despite the tension that pervades my body.  I swing the shrimp before my face as if it could understand me.  “With you as evidence, there’s no way my boss won’t believe me when I explain why I couldn't make it on time.”
            “Alessa!  What are you doing here?”
            I swirl around at the rumbling voice that's called out my name.  It’s none other than DeeGee, one of the principals at my company, on his way to grab his daily coffee.  He waves hi to me with a bright smile. 
            “There’s no need for you to go to work,” he says.
            “Really?”  I can feel my eyes light up.  The huge weight of Responsibility lifts from my shoulders.  I can breathe again!  Did the office unexpectedly close?  Maybe they had a prawn infestation that's killed all of their servers.
            “Yeah, they fired you this morning,” DeeGee adds without missing a stride.
            I stare at his retreating back.  The whole weight of the world comes crashing down on me like an anvil.  I drop my shrimp for the second time that day.
            As I contemplate my remaining options—tough thing to do when brain is functioning as proficiently as my late car—DeeGee looks over his shoulder.  “You may try to plead with the Board,” he yells over the traffic din.  “Maybe if you beg well enough, they’ll let you come back.”
            A shudder runs through me.  No one’s ever seen the Board of Directors before, which has only added to their mystique.  Some say they’re these super old men who oversee the running of the city from their church spires.  I don’t know why they live there.  Perhaps they’ve always been fans of Victor Hugo.  Or perhaps, like Quasimodo, they’re so horrible to look at that they’ve decided to hide there (of course, considering their impressive age, I can imagine their ghost-white flesh sagging off their faces would gross out most of the population). 
            But if that’s the only way I can get my job back, then I don’t care.  With a renewed sense of hope, I turn to the cross street where another tram is now stopped and stare at the large, gothic church in the distance.  If I can face down a giant, metal-sucking shrimp, I sure as hell can take care of a bunch of gaga men.  Right?

Of course, this isn’t the end of my dream.  There’s more to come (and it will, in my next post, promise… unless I forget about it, I told you I had a rabbit’s memory).  But at least now you can understand why I had to stay asleep to finish my quest, right?


  1. I have to admit that writing this little piece was quite a lot of fun! I've been struggling with a short story for months now (no kidding), and was getting quite discouraged because I couldn't progress more than perhaps a paragraph or two every week (yes, quite deplorable for a writer).
    But perhaps it's all about how inspire you feel by the story? As you can tell, this dream really left a mark on me, enough so that I just had to write it down. Maybe that's why I thoroughly enjoyed writing this piece and the words just flowed out of me (perhaps too easily?).

  2. Also, I must apologize, for this piece of writing is actually a first draft. Believe me, I usually don't do this with my stories (or rather don't do it anymore). In fact, I'm known to always want to edit everything all the time. But I'm afraid that if I'd done that here, I'd never have posted this story...

  3. Hahaha! Isn't it funny? With all my comments, I make it look like this post is really popular!

    Hmm... I had something else to add, though. Something somewhat more substantial... Can't remember it. Bunny memory =:3