|The Taylight Zone - Anthology Eight
16 - Dream Travel - Gwen
The way the snow came flying so fast into the windshield of the car was strange. Zac looked down out the window and saw white steam rising in little puffs. At first it just snaked around on the street, changing directions as the cars ran into and then over it. But then it grouped together and went up, disappearing into the freezing air.
It had to be at least freezing, if not some degrees below. Zac felt his jaw start to tremble, but it stopped automatically as a blast of heat from the vent hit him. It made his hair blow around his face, and he brushed the blond strands out of his eyes. Sighing, he let his head fall to the right and rest on the door.
Into the light.
He woke up sometime later. He looked around him, feeling below him.
The little tufts of white smoke were rising all around him. They twisted about in front of his eyes and then they vanished.
He looked up. Up to the black sky and the snow falling from it. It coated his lips and made him quiver.
Then he looked down. He looked down to the black pavement and the yellow-line pattern. When he looked down, the white haze rose directly up and into his eyes, making them water.
Where am I? I'm... I am...?
He closed his eyes hard and then opened them. Bright lights filled his vision as the yellow glare reflected on the surface of his irises.
Into the light.
The truck was going to hit him.
Just as the light would have become too much to bear, and he would have felt the impact of wheels crushing him, his eyes shot open for a second time. He was awake.
This time it was inside. There was no snow falling down on him, darkness above him, or coldness around him. He sighed, sitting up in the bed. Just a nightmare.
He thought back tot he time when he had been in the car. They had been going home; they had to be, because that was where Zac found himself now.
It was weird though. It was his room, yet it was different. It seemed almost... smaller. As he thought back again, he could clearly picture the space that had been between his and Taylor's bed. He could have walked comfortably between it. But now it was smaller; the beds were closer together. He didn't think he could have fit one leg between them, though he didn't try. Something inside him told him not to.
He shrugged it off and looked around again. It was dim, but brothers... no brothers. Zac never did like to go to bed without them there. A childish fear, perhaps, but he still held it strongly.
He wanted to get up, to go out, but something held him back. He wasn't sure if it was something inside, that his own mind was making up, or if it was an external function.
And then he saw the dresser, right in front of him, and he wondered why. Taylor's bed seemed even closer now; he wouldn't have been able to fit his hand through the space.
He closed his eyes hard and then opened them.
The beds were directly next to each other, touching. The dresser was pressed against the foot of his bed.
And then he realized it. The room was getting smaller; the walls were moving inward.
Mom Dad Isaac Taylor!
No answer. Again he tried to get up, remove himself from the bed and from the room, but he couldn't. He couldn't get up. He was tied down, not literally, but he could feel the ropes cutting through his flesh the same. He could also feel the strain that was forming in his breathing. The air in the room was lessening.
He flicked his head around quickly, in different directions, as he felt the bed tilting upwards from his left. The room had to be no more than six feet by six feet now.
And now Zac was totally aware what was happening, and that he was going to be crushed. By the furniture, by the walls, either way it would be the same.
And then he could barely breathe. Everything was gone now. He spread his arms out and let them be slowly pushed in by the firmess on both sides of him.
It wouldn't be long now.
Just as he could no longer breathe, and the walls would have become one, he woke up.
He sat up, panting hard. He put his hand to his forehead and felt the sweat on it.
"Yo, dude, you okay?"
Zac looked up into Taylor's eyes, sighing.
"Tay!" he said, relieved. He quickly leaned up and hugged him. "Am I out? Yeah... yeah, I am."
"Zac, what the hell are you talking about?"
"Oh, nothing... just a bad dream... or two."
"All right, well come on, we let you sleep long enough. We've got a show to do."
Taylor squinted his eyes in suspicion. "Duh, Zac."
Zac sat up and looked around him as Taylor exited the room. He was on a couch. There were sporadic chairs and small tables around the room, with some sort of clothing over most of them. The dressing room.
Am I supposed to change?
He looked down at himself. He was wearing jeans and a teeshirt, which appeared fine to him.
Zac stood up and started walking towards the door that Taylor had left through.
He walked back over to the largest table and threw some shirts off to the side. He smiled and picked up the drumsticks. Turning, he walked out the door. He walked down a gray hallway with navy blue carpet. He didn't exactly know where he was going; he just followed the screams.
"Zac! Get over here!"
Zac looked behind him and saw Isaac. "Oh." He turned around and walked to him.
"Where were you? They told me to come find you."
"I was... I was in the dressing room."
"The dressing room?" Isaac smiled.
Zac looked further ahead and saw Taylor and the rest of the group.
"All right guys, you ready?"
"Yeah Dad, we're ready."
"Go get 'em!"
Taylor was the first to run out onto the stage, followed by Isaac, and then Zac. Zac hesitated a moment before stepping behind his drums to look out at the crowd. This crowd was massive. It seemed like more than 50,000 people. And they were all screaming. They were screaming so loud that the blare became ingrained in his mind.
But he couldn't go back and get them now. He cupped his hands over his ears as he ran to the drums. No one seemed to notice, and the sound seemed to be blocked some by the percussion in front of him.
"Hello everyone!" Taylor's strong yell seemed to override most of the screaming.
It was time for Zac to say his line.
"Hello..." Wait, what city is this?
"Hello Milwaukee!" Isaac covered for him.
"This is a little song you might know," Taylor started. "We call it Gimme Some Lovin'!"
"One, two, three, four..." Zac said as he whacked the sticks together.
And then the music started. All was fine for a time; Taylor kept the harmony going on the keyboards, Isaac fingered the guitar strings perfectly, the backup musicians did their parts, and Zac kept beat on the drums.
But somewhere into the third song, consequently Man From Milwaukee, the screaming started to get to Zac again. He tried extremely hard to block it out, and just concentrate on the drumming, but he couldn't. The shrieking was too much to bear.
I can stand it, just a little longer...
People in the first few rows started to notice Zac's preoccupation with the exit sign. He wasn't looking to them anymore. He wasn't smiling either.
The drum beat stopped as the sticks fell to the ground. Next came Zac.
The music stopped and Isaac, Taylor, the backup musicians, and the front security guards instantaneously ran to him. From behind the curtain came Walker, Jason the bodyguard, and other technicians.
Without anyone to block them, the fans automatically started crowding up onto the stage. Some went straight to Zac; others ran to Taylor's keyboards, and some went to other instruments, water bottles, and towels.
Zac opened his eyes partly and saw everyone over him.
The screaming was louder.
Zac felt hands all over him. Zac saw girls all around him. Zac tasted pills being shoved into his mouth, as well as his own salty sweat and tears mixing together. Zac smelled every kind of cologne imaginable. Zac heard screaming until he couldn't hear anything anymore. Zac sensed death.
Just as he knew he couldn't have taken anymore, and he would have been completely crushed by the girls, he woke up.
Zac opened his eyes and saw white. He was hot. He could feel his own legs, bear. He breathed in and smelled cleanliness. The bed was raised a bit where his head was. The cloth he wore was thin, evidently some kind of light cotton. He raised his hand and looked at the bracelet it wore.
The hospital? Why... am I dreaming? No, I can't be...
The door opened and broke his thoughts. It was a nurse. Zac knew he wouldn't like her because she was carrying a needle.
"Well hello there, honey. You woke up! Your parents will be glad to hear that."
"My parents... are they here? Can I see them?"
"Shhh, not now honey. Now you need to rest."
"But I'm not tired. I- I don't want to go to sleep! Please don't make me sleep!"
"Calm down, sweetie. Now just relax. This won't hurt a bit."
Only the nurse didn't raise the needle gently like one would think. She brought it up in line with her ear.
"What? What are you-"
Down came the arm, down came the needle. Just as it would have broken deeply into his chest, as the metal would have cut through him, a flash.
His eyes opened sharply. Awake again.
Zac's eyes fluttered some before they opened fully. He felt the leather material under him. It had indents and button-like decals that fancy furniture has.
This room was small. Zac looked to his right and saw a man at a desk.
"Where am I?"
"Oh, welcome, Zac!"
"Who are you?"
"I'm a doctor, Zac. Everything's going to be okay now."
"But it's not! How- Are you for real? I want to go home, please!"
"Zac, it's all right. Everything's going to be okay. I know about your dreams, Zac. I'm here to help you."
"Are you really? How do I know that you're not a dream?"
"Because you're in reality now, Zac. You have to trust me."
"Oh yeah, well I just met a psycho killer Pamela Anderson nurse and she wanted me to trust her too."
Psychologist smiled. "How can I prove it to you, Zac?"
"I don't know... the concert, was that a dream?"
"It was all dreams, Zac. Everything up until now. They had to be, didn't they, Zac? If they weren't then you would be dead... multiple times."
"I guess that makes sense."
"Yes, Zac, because it's reality. Reality makes sense."
Zac squinted. "Not always."
"So tell me something, Zac. Tell me about your dreams."
"Why should I? You seem to already know. That's what freaks me out."
Psychologist smiled again. "Don't let me freak you out, Zac. If I scare you, then I can't help you, and that's what I'm here to do."
"I just really wanna see my family."
"They went out, Zac. After the session is over they'll be here to pick you up."
"How long is the session?"
"An hour. But if you talk more it'll go faster."
"Fine, what do you want me to tell you? About my nine lives? About my multiple personalities? No... how about I start with my last trace of the real world. I was in a car, and it was snowing. That's the last thing I saw before I fell asleep, the snow. This white shit was coming off the ground... it reminded me of the smoke we use for our set sometimes. Except that stuff disappeared. Anyway, all the heat from those vents was making me woozy... or drowsy, whatever, and I fell asleep."
"How do you know that wasn't a dream?"
"Um... because I wasn't about to die. In all my dreams I seem to get killed somehow. It's usually by some form of crushing... but not in the last one. That one was a needle, you know."
"Yes, I see. So how many dreams have you had?"
"Well... there was the one with the lights, the one with the walls, the one with the screaming, and the one with the needle."
"You seem to be interpreting these dreams by one main thing that stands out to you, rather than the overall situation. That's odd."
"Yeah, well, the whole thing is pretty wild if you ask me. It's weird, because they're all connected, simultaneously, you know. But anyway, I guess that made four so far."
"Four dreams, four near death experiences. Four... I never did like that number. Wouldn't you like to make it five?"
Psychologist smiled and opened his desk drawer. He pulled something out and stood up. What he pulled out he held up. It was a gun.
"No! I thought I was back! It can't be! You can't be!"
Zac heard the fire. Zac saw the bullet. Zac woke up.
His eyes open. He sees white. He looks down. Something holds him, for real. He is tied down to the bed. He looks around at the padded room. This is where he stays now, forever. No flashing out. No leaving.
What?! I'm not crazy! I just wanna WAKE UP!!