Editing notice: This is part of a very long, somewhat boring story that was assigned as part of the Creative Writing class. If you wish to read something more succulent, please feel free to scroll down.
Well, this is it. The final segment of our round robin story, and the last assigned post of this year. It’s been driving me crazy, you might say. But you’re here to read the story, not my thoughts on the class. So here you are–may it ooze blessing for all who read it.
Amy jerked awake from the nightmare. It had plagued her constantly, even weeks after leaving the hospital. She knew she had gone through trauma. She knew there was no murder—her mind had created it. What with being kidnapped, being knocked out, and lying in a coma for three months, the hallucinations were understandable. Laura, doctor-by-day-CIA-agent-by-night, had warned her that with trauma often came bad dreams and day-time flashbacks. But no matter how real they seemed, looked, or felt, she would always wake up in the real world.
As hard as it was for Amy, it was even harder for Zach. After coming home, she learned the murdered woman—also the agent killed in her dream—had been especially close to Zach. Jessica MacKaerning had been Zack’s fellow agent, best friend, and as of her doomsday, fiance.
Amy shook her head, berating herself. There was no murder, why did she keep forgetting? “I saw Jessica yesterday—she and Zach love each other. I’m trapped inside a dream world. It’s a furious cycle, like a prison or something where I keep “waking up” to yet another dream. I have to find a way out of this imaginary world!”
She gripped the sheets in white-knuckled, sweaty fists, trying to clear her mind. “Okay, the only time a dreaming person knows she’s dreaming is during lucid dream. In that case the person can either command the dream or wake up.” She tried to grow wings and fly out the window, but failed. “Neither is happening, so I must be awake.”
Satisfied, she breathed a sigh of relief. Before long she began to nod off again, but was wakened by a sound at her window. It had been opened from the outside, and the young immortal man from her dreams was climbing through it into her room.
Slowly, the image of the man began to transform into that of a fully-armored cybernetic penguin wielding a cavalry sword and a rocket launcher. The penguin waved at her and began speaking in what Amy thought sounded like Polish. Awake–yeah right–awake my FOOT!
Amy wrestled her mind awake, and found herself alone in her own room again, panting and breathing hard. “I need something to keep me wake… like coffee… energy drink… Monster… yeah…
She stood up and softly crept her way into the kitchen, pulled a drink from the fridge and opened it, then padded back to her silent room. But it wasn’t silent. As she thought before the dream of the penguin, (and where that came from, she had no idea) there was the immortal man, a dashing smile on his face. Amy tried to wake up like before, but couldn’t. She felt very, very awake.
As if on cue, a lizard barbarian riding a jet-ski crashed through the wall of her room, embedding his vehicle in her bed and cursing in Latin. The penguin Amy had seen previously had been riding with the barbarian, and presently slapped him with its sword, still speaking in polish. Though there was no apparent sign that the two could understand one another, both of them seemed to be bothered by the perpetual apparition known as the immortal man, prompting the penguin to fire his rocket launcher at the specter. This caused everyone in the room except the barbarian to lose their eyebrows–because the barbarian had no eyebrows, being a lizard.
Amy grabbed her hair and screamed at the top of her lunges. She fell backwards into the sofa and slipped back into reality. Jessica ran over her to her. “What happened?”
Amy turned to look at Jessica, unsure of whether or not she was real. Shrugging, she muttered in a toneless voice, “The nightmares…the visions…its all returning, again. This time it’s stronger. It’s like someone out there is in my head, trying to turn me insane.”
Jessica stared hard at her friend, before asking, “I need you to fight this Amy; let’s start with something simple–do you remember who I am?”
Amy blinked, trying to convince herself that Jessica was not dead. She was alive, standing right there.
Jessica smiled and pulled her dark brown hair out of her face, saying, “I’m your sister, at least since being engaged to your brother almost four months ago. By the way, is he staying with you and your parents for now, or did he get dragged back to the Agency?”
Amy frowned, grumbling, “I don’t know. Right now I’m not sure about anything; I’ve been through penguins, immortals, and telepathic doctors… I’m pretty sure I’m hungry though–got anything to eat?”
Jessica grabbed her by the arm and led her into the kitchen. Not unwillingly, Amy sat down at the dinner table, staring curiously at her friend.
“Zach says you’re into baking cookies,” Jessica started a little small talk while she pulled various ingredients out of the refrigerator.
Things were finally starting to get back to normal. Amy heard a small pop in the distance, just before Jessica collapsed to the ground, dead. A sniper, Amy thought, though she wasn’t sure how she knew that. Following her instincts, she thrust her arm in the direction of the noise and felt something slide down her arm like grease before flying off her fingertips–a bolt of lightning. The lightning fired in the direction of the sniper and Amy could hear a man screaming in agony in the distance.
Amy’s body moved, seemingly without her willing it too. She knelt down by the lifeless form of Jessica and placed her hand on the bullet wound. The projectile floated back out of her body, flesh healing behind it. Jessica’s eyes flashed open and she sat up unsteadily.
“Amy, Amy, what’s wrong?” came a foggy, swirling voice. Amy shuddered out of the waking dream to find a perfectly normal, mortal Jessica peering into her eyes with deep concern. She held a can of coffee that apparently had made the pop noise when she opened it.
Then suddenly, through an open window came a real gunshot, and both girls immediately dropped to the ground. Amy saw a spurt of blood coming from an ugly gash on Jessica’s upper arm.
“Okay, postpone the cookies,” gasped Jessica as if she were trying to lighten the situation for Amy’s sake. “We need to get out of here… Zach!” Zach had already rushed into the room with a raging expression on his face. He tried to pinpoint the gunman’s position outside the door, holding an assault rifle ready for when he did.
Another bullet barely missed Zach before he ducked down next to Amy.
“Get in the car!” he yelled, “I’ll lay down cover fire!” Gunshots rattled through the house as Amy and Jessica ducked toward the garage. They jumped in Zach’s heavily-armored covert SUV, watching the garage door open with painful slowness. As Zach turned the key and stepped on the gas, a massive orange fireball engulfed the vehicle, but a moment later they escaped the ruins of the house.
Jessica leaned back in the passenger seat as the car rapidly bumped down the gravel road. She closed her eyes with an anxious sigh. “I’ll never get used to that kind of thing. Thank God there were no people in there!”
Amy was curled up in the back seat, clutching her head so tightly her fingernails dug into her scalp. She found herself teetering on the edge of reality again, and she struggled to reason it away. True, her parents were at a conference in the city, but then why were they sitting in the car next to her, laughing and discussing the relevance of microbiology?
“Dear? Look, this is a medicine I picked up from the hospital today. It should help you,” stammered her mom anxiously.
“Mother, am I crazy?” asked Amy, her fingers tangled in her matted, sweaty hair.
“Well…” stammered her mother, thinking back to the days and weeks of screaming dreams that bordered on hallucinations. She absently tapped the bottle of prescription medication against her palm. “No dear. You’re not crazy. But seriously, take the meds. The doctor said there’s enough sedatives in there to drop a cow for a week.”
Amy put her face in her hands and tried to shake off the sticky feeling of abnormality. “So I’m a cow now. That’s… pleasant.”
Amy’s mother tapped the rattling bottle gently against Amy’s bent head. “Take them. I know everything that’s happened has been very hard, and you’ve been bumped around to the point of almost brain-damage.
“But for own happiness and for my peace of mind, you need to be able to move away from it all, sweetie. Here,” she placed two pills next to a glass of water on the table, “Take these and then go get showered and dressed. We only have three hours left until the wedding, and I don’t you on the stage screaming that Zach and Jessica have turned into giant purple squids in medieval garb.”
Amy swallowed the pills and rose, grinning. “Mom, the image that conjures is deeply amusing. Okay, got it. Going.”
There was a twinge of regret in Amy’s mind as the sedatives started to kick in. Being insane was a high like no other, due to a sense of intense focus and clarity. “I will miss the madness,” she whispered silently to herself, “And the chaotic mental inferno that burned brightly within my mind. Who wouldn’t miss a world where anything is possible? Even now, I can only hope that I am seeing reality. There is one thing I do know–and that’s Zach’s love for Jessica. I will see them happily married if it’s the last thing I do.” With this thought, Amy fell into slumber.
It seemed suddenly that she had awoken from a deep sleep, or time-traveled a few days into the future. But there she stood, underneath the flowers and silk around a marvelously decorated balcony. Clothed in a pink satin dress, Amy looked up to see Zach gaze into Jessica’s eyes and say the words, “I do.”
Like clockwork, at the worst possible moment, her old friends Lizard and Penguin showed up, shuffling in the back door with grins on their faces. A righteous fury boiled up inside Amy, but she bit her tongue, furiously thinking, Not today–NOT IF I CAN HELP IT. Reaching out with her hand, she sent a purplish bolt of lightning at them, instantly killing the two duo—again. No one else noticed the specters besides Amy. Turning away, she caught her breath when she recognized the young immortal man from her dreams, sitting in the front row of the audience. She tensed, waiting for him to begin his attack. But he only glanced at her lazily, and gave her a knowing wink.
Is he really there? Amy wondered in her head, Could it be possible? She rose from her seat–following his lead–and met him in the middle of the aisle. On an impulse, she kissed him, her long-lost lover, and desperately prayed that she wasn’t kissing a phantom.
I’m not supposed to be doing this. Mom said something about making a scene. Oh for crying out loud, what’s the fun of being insane if you don’t make a scene? Fine, I’m crazy, no matter what anyone says! And I love it, and as long as I accept the fact that I live both in reality and a world of insanity, EVERTHING WILL BE GREAT.
Looking back, she couldn’t remember how long she’d been like this. But she no longer wanted to focus on the past, but on the future. She knew there were great things ahead of her. And so she continued to look ahead, but with one last reminisce on the past, she made one decision. She would never play around with her brother’s laptop, EVER AGAIN.