Gage had always suffered from vivid dreams that were extremely real, down to the smells and textures. Normally she would use the more risqué scenes as fodder for her novels. Her memory was excellent and none of her dreams ever escaped her, and she normally thought of this as a blessing. More recently, however, her graphic memory was becoming a curse. Not only had these new dreams been unrealistically real, they left terrifying impressions on the insides of her eyelids. The unnerving scenes played constantly when she closed her eyes, as if she had a season pass to her very own nightmares. To top everything off, she got another call from her beloved agent asking her to finish her book a month earlier than planned, and give a talk to a group of young high school writers entitled ‘Holding on to Your Dreams’. Usually she would jump at the chance to immerse herself in the words and works of aspiring writers, but at the moment she couldn’t even focus herself enough to put her shoes on the right feet, the first, second, and third time she tried (needless to say she spent many days barefoot)!
Gage wandered around the house as if she were a stranger, bumping into countertops, plants, and tables that had been in the same places since she was in high school. Each night Gage lay in bed feeling dread, wrapped in terror, wrapped in nervousness, disguised as nausea. For the first week, the dream was the same dream she experienced the night of the drum circle. The bright sunlight, the white sand, the cabana, and that dead sexy cabana boy, each dream ended the same, Dead Sexy hands her a drink, hesitates as if there was more he’d wanted to say, then he walks away. The second week, however, the dream turned into a sinister nightmares.
The beginning was always the same, Gage, sunglasses, a white beach, lying drowsy in the bright sun listening to the waves beat out a rhythm on the sparkling sandy shore. Almost escaping her notice, the scene begins to melt. The bright white light of the sun begins to crack and bleed. Light the color of dried, rotted blood pours from a full harvest moon. The warmth the sun had provided was replaced with a biting cold wind coming in off of the water, which, only moments ago had been gently lapping the shore, was now slamming wildly and angrily against the shore, threatening to pulverize anything that dared to approach. The relaxed mood of the first dream is gone, leaving frozen and terrified dread to take its place. Gage discovers that she is paralyzed, making only the tiniest of movements with her eyes. A particularly cutting blast of icy wind slaps her across the face, and her senses send her an emergency message, alerting her to the presence so encrusted with evil and despair that she could literally smell the sickly sweet scent of utter filth the figure seemed to wear proudly, as if he were a teenage boy bathing in cologne to impress a first date. Slowly, by the bloody, crusty, brown light of the moon, she sees a shadow emerge from behind her. Her skin begins to crawl as the smell of garbage fills her nose and she is unable to even hold her breath, it was as if the figure was causing her body to betray her and to recognize a new master. As the figure’s legs and torso appear, the smell takes on a new persona, as if it were not just cologne, but, as if the creature itself was the smell, a creature of rotten and degraded garbage. Still wearing her sun glasses, Gage can’t make out any details other than to notice that the figure’s skin seems to move on its own, covered with millions of tiny wriggling white maggots. She sits without moving, silently screaming. The figure leans toward her slowly reaching toward her face, and she gets the sudden realization that he (because such a terrifying creature must be male) intended to kiss her. The thought so repulses her that she begins fighting the strange paralysis, though to no avail. The figure leans closer and closer and just when Gage’s wild eyes would see his full face, the dream dissolves and she slips into a dreamless slumber.
Upon waking each morning, Gage slipped to the floor and walked directly out to the porch to watch the tide creep its way slowly up the shore. Something in watching the waves glisten in the morning sun and listening to the waves shussh and foosh, soothed the nights terrors away, even though the effect was only temporary, and the nightmare would return to play on the screen on the backside of her eyelids.