You have had this dream before—the long dark hallway, the high ceilings, the columns along the walls. There is an ominous yet wondrous tone to the dream. It always ends when you get to the end of the hallway and find a closed door. Tonight the door is open. What will you find there and what does it mean?
In 250 words or less, tell me a story incorporating the elements in the picture. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.
Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until 5:00 PM Mountain Standard Time on Tuesday, February 28th, 2012.
On Wednesday morning, we will open voting to the public with an online poll for the best writing entry accompanying the photo. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.
On Friday morning, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Best of luck to you all in your writing!
Entries only in the comment section. Other comments will be deleted.
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Photograph by K.S. Brooks, used here with the photographer’s permission. Copying or reproduction of any kind without express consent is prohibited. All rights reserved.
For a more detailed explanation of the contest & its workings, please see the post called “Writing Exercises Return with a Twist” from 12/24/11.
By participating in this exercise the contestants agree to the rules of the contest and waive any and all further considerations or permissions otherwise required for any winning entries to be published by Indies Unlimited as an e-book, showcasing all the photos and with the winning expositions credited appropriately and accordingly.
9 thoughts on “W. E. Competition Week 9: The Dream”
It's the day we've all been waiting for. The accelerator was on line and particles were speeding along miles of tunnels, the target primed. The goal was to unravel the secrets of the universe. The god particle would finally be seen and prove my theory. An explosion. Suddenly I am transported to what I can only describe as another world. Another dimension. Nothing is familiar. Nothing seems real. There is a long tunnel stretching before me. It's like a recurring dream with the same marble columns and there is a Deja Vu like feeling which pervades my senses, raising the skin on my forearms, like goose flesh. A palpable thumping sound permeates the air. It thumps like a heartbeat but the tone is melodious from instruments I've never heard. The temperature is ambient and suddenly realize I'm naked. I am alone. The tunnel has a bright light ahead and I begin to walk toward it, unafraid. Am I dead? I think to myself and shiver. Will I ever see my family again? My daughter needs her mother. I touch the nobs on the doors as I pass. All locked. They are all the same. I reach the end of the tunnel and there is a door which is larger than all the rest. It is open and I push it open further. Stars. Constellations I have never seen before. Two sun's occupy this galaxy I seem to be in. I step forward drifting away. I see the face of God.
Here I stood again, at the end of that familiar passage, dimly lit by overhead lights caked with dust. Doors, under shadowed framed, lined both walls. Locked, I knew. How did I know that? And how did I know I had been here many times before? How did I know that another dark, locked door awaited me at the end, and that I had no choice but to go there? I didn’t want to. No one was with me to force me. Why did I feel such foreboding? In the ominous silence I felt myself put one foot in front of the other, propelled forward, growing more fearful with each step. Why did my shoes make no sound? Something prevented me from looking at my feet, my eyes glued to the darkness that represented the end of the passageway, my will frozen.
There! Knew it would be there. The door at the end. But this time a faint light showed. It must be open. I fought harder to turn and run. No use. My forward movement kept its steady pace.
I saw dozens of tiny flickering flames clustered in the middle of that open space. The final steps. I stood in the doorway. Sudden, bright light assaulted my eyes. All my friends and family stood behind a long table, a cake covered with burning candles on it. One word from a chorus of voices. “Surprise!”
I wonder what my therapist would make of this one?
I always hated this corridor. Trying to make the cold, sterile place seem more inviting, tall columns reaching up to the sky, but all they hit are the metal struts above. The door at the very end of the corridor is open, though it is not inviting. Nothing in there would ever be inviting. There is no choice and I drag my feet, one at the time towards the darkness within.
Dread fills my soul; I have to do this, if only for him. Cold shadows twist and turn around my heart. I can almost hear his voice in the dead silence, calling me on. I know he won’t be there, it’s too late for him but maybe I can find something, someone who will help me leave this hell.
As I move closer the room sucks any warmth that might still remain. Like a black hole swallowing everything in its path. I stop a few feet away from the entrance and take a choking breath. Air thick with tension I feel I could cut through it with a knife. Well, there’ll be plenty of knives to choose from in the room. Unfortunately I had firsthand knowledge of that.
My hand trembles as I reach out and push the door wider. Forcing myself on, I take an unsteady step into the dark room.
“Glad you could make it.” The all too familiar voice whispers in my ear as the door closes behind me.
Was there anything more surreal? As I passed through the airlock that protected the tunnel from temperature extremes I couldn’t help but embrace the endless variety of columns supporting my journey. I had little choice but to continue, though expecting the dream to crash any second and crumble. Masked faces stared from regular intervals as I slid one trembling foot ahead of another. Long skirts brushed the oily tunnel floor. I picked them up and went fearfully forward, feeling my way by tracing the wall to avoid other doors and the middle, where tiny energizer trucks menaced me with jabbing forklifts. I searched everywhere. Where was the door that slammed shut in my dreams? Find it I must.
For, I am the dream sculptor. I am the explorer charged with discovering the magical wonderland. It remained to acknowledge that were I not here braving this tunnel, its dream world inside would still be going strong. Madness raced through my mind, overwhelming me with irrational questions. Would my children live if I disappeared? Would our marriage exist if I returned? What if I became a tunnel rat, a helpless aristocrat? Somewhere above, a summons sounded. “Hurry, don’t be late. Awake.”
My heart twisted when I saw the chosen stairway and crawled upward through its mysterious black vortex. Finally I stood before an open door bearing the sign: “Smile onstage.” A wheelchair spun in greeting. “Welcome,” beamed a luminous angel with outstretched arms, “you’ve transcended the handicap at Cinderella Castle.”
An open door again? I liked it better closed. When it was closed, the day was full of possibility because I dreamed what was behind it. Earlier, when I was a girl, there was a game at the school fair. We held a little fishing pole and pushed it over behind a sheet, hanging between there…mysterious, just like an unopened door. You know, when I pulled the pole up and found a little charm or piece of candy, I was always disappointed because my imagination was more powerful than reality.
All is revealed now. I see a closet full of shoes that need organizing; some clothes that don't fit me–and others that do, but somehow the wrong message now that I am about to be a year older. Mind: Must focus now on getting things done. Heart: You draw me into the unknown, before the door is open to the light.
248 words including title
The Artist’s Wife Dreams her Garden
How can I get back to sleep this warm April night? He woke me to complain he cannot sleep at all. In fact he’s been snorting and snuffling all night like a boar after truffles.
I was dreaming in gray, black and white of a long corridor, endless before I could reach the garden. How it must want new flowers…Patches of color—gold, magenta and purple– flow into the back of my eyes…On high walls I see hanging baskets of morning glories… From high rafters, Angels’ Trumpets dangle, lovely and deadly. Dragons—
Awake, I recall: no money for plants till he sells a painting. His oils are all wet.
Tumbled back into dream, I crawl toward a distant door, through cracks in the wall look into the night. Full moon shows patches his dog dug bare while he was stretching his costly toiles and daubing paint on his models.
My apron pockets hide seeds, bulbs sprout in my drawers. I plant larkspur, peonies, hollyhocks, zinnias, marigolds for their ruffled suns.
At eight he awakes. “Look out there, my dear! While we slept, magical blossoms leapt from my palette onto the untilled yard. But where is my café-au-lait? And we cannot eat posies for supper.”
I slip out the door, into the garden, invite poison ivy—
To survive through next winter, between the unexpected flowers I plant rutabagas, potatoes and leeks, scrub mud from my fingers, prepare to sprinkle nightshade on his vichyssoise.
I have noticed when I use Melatonin as a sleep-aid my dreams can really be wild and as an example I have had this continuing dream which is driving me crazy. I am walking down this long dark hallway which has a glowing high ceiling and strange columns that seem to start this glowing process as they reach toward the ceiling. At the end of the hallway is a closed door and as I reach to open it, I wake up.
Tonight I am going to attempt to try something different if this same dream repeats itself. I am going to attempt to leave this dream world by grabbing the door quickly and actually running inside whatever is there. I have been told by a dreamologist that there is a danger of breaking the barrier between the two worlds – the real world and the dream world – by changing our sleep pattern. He said that by consciously changing a dreams outcome you may not be able to return to the real world.
I took my normal 3mg tablet of Melatonin and settled down for a night of dreams, consciously thinking of what I will do if my “Hallway Dream” re-occurs. I am in the same hallway and instead of walking along as I had been doing in previous dreams I am running toward the door at the end of the hall. I grab the handle, quickly open the door leading to a glowing room – I step in and zap I’m gone……….
Wispy apparitions darted behind the columns lining the hallway as Jackie walked, making her shiver. How many times had she walked this path, only to run screaming in terror to the end, blocked by an impenetrable door? How many times had she awakened, drenched in sweat?
“It’s only a dream,” she whispered, breathing out slowly, determined to stay calm. “They can’t hurt me.”
Each step sent her deeper into the swirling shadows and she felt her legs tremble as the mists danced around her. Only feet from the door an angry shriek rent the air and Jackie knew if she turned she’d see the ghostly face that made it.
Jackie squeezed her eyes tight, willing her heart to stop racing. “It’s not real.”
When she opened them again the door stood open. Pure light streamed around her, dispelling any sign of shadows. Jackie gazed at the splendor that soothed her soul.
“You’ve made it at last,” said a woman in flowing white robes. “I’ve been expecting you.”
“Who are you?”
“Names are unimportant,” she said, handing Jackie a ring with a bright green stone. “Take this to help you recognize the others.”
“What others? I don’t understand.”
Jackie blinked at the computer screen, momentarily disoriented. Code was flying across it, code she didn’t remember accessing. Had she fallen asleep at her desk? A cold shiver ran down her spine as she glanced at the keyboard. On her finger rested a slender gold ring with a green gem.
The hallway beckoned me forward, coaxing me toward my destination. The door had always been closed, yet here it stood open. Mist snaked out along the floor from the portal, wisps weaving their way around the columns that lined the hallway. I knew at that moment I would travel through the doorway whether I wanted to or not. This wasn't a choice. This was Destiny with a capital D. Might as well embrace it, I thought.
Four large strides, nearly leaps it seemed, brought me to the precipice of the entry. Or was it an exit? Or something else entirely? No use pondering what was on the other side, the only thing of importance was that it was in my grasp now. I stepped through into the darkness… and awoke, panting as the images from the edge of my consciousness flashed across my vision, like a thousand paintings never painted and a thousand photos never taken. I bounded out of bed and into my writing chair, frantically scribbling the torrent of ideas, characters and themes into my notebook. The doorway was open and the knowledge flooded out. All I had to do was let it be written.
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