Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I was flying over what appeared to be Death Valley National Park, my arms outstretched, the wind whipping my hair. I flew north, north along Route 95, over Beatty and into Tonopah. I had driven this route hundreds of times, but seeing it from up high really brought the distance I travelled every day into perspective. I must be dreaming.

Beatty was a relatively close place to get lunch when I wanted to escape the national park where I was a ranger, but most days I just roughed it, climbed some rocks, ate my lunch and enjoyed the view. But the other day….

I had been out on patrol driving through Titus Canyon, and as I rounded a bend near Red Pass, I came upon a black Lincoln Navigator with tinted windows. The SUV was parked diagonally across the road, not allowing enough room on either side for my jeep to go around and, more importantly, not allowing me to see the other side. Grabbing the rifle I carried in case I had to deal with a mountain lion, I stepped out of my jeep, and spoke up.

“You folks need to move you car. Other people can’t get by.”

“Aww shit, Jimmy,” was the only reply I got, followed by a loud smack of something hitting the ground, and then the doors of the SUV slamming shut. The engine revved, and the Navigator jumped backwards.

I had to jump out of the way to avoid getting crushed between the incoming Navigator and my jeep, and it still managed to clip the front end of my jeep before it was slammed out of reverse and took off in a cloud of dust. It was then that I realized I heard a low sobbing sound. As the dust settled, I realized what the loud smack had been. Before me, lying on the ground in an expanding pool of blood was a young lady.

I grabbed my radio and called for an evacuation helicopter. I found out later, after they pronounced her dead of massive blunt force trauma, that her name was Jennifer, and she had been a mother of two…

I started to descend as I turned right at McCullough Avenue, following it around as it became Mizpah. A final left brought me to Desert Queen Road, where my house sat, and as I approached it, still flying, I could see that something was wrong. There was a black SUV outside, and the front door was standing wide open.

I floated in, expecting the worst, but nothing seemed out of place. My black sofa was still sitting there, facing the sixty-four inch television I was so proud of. My computer was still there as well, the light on its power button glowing orange, letting me know that even though I had forgotten to shut it off, it was going to save itself by going to sleep. Hell, even the cell phone that I just bought last night, which was the hottest thing, and I had to have it, just to show my son how cool I still am, was sitting on the counter, right where I had left it. Oh god I thought, Billy.

I went down the hallway of our ranch home, past Billy’s playroom, the door was closed, past the door to the bathroom, closed as well, and turned the corner at the end of the hall. Billy’s bedroom door was to the right about ten feet away, and mine was to the left. Both were cracked, but that was not that unusual. Billy sometimes had nightmares and the light from the doorway was comforting to him.

Gliding down the hallway, I turned right and entered Billy’s room. It was a mess, matchbox cars were everywhere, there was a pile of LEGOs in the corner, and there were dirty clothes every where but in the hamper. It looked just like it had when I had put Billy to bed. And there was Billy, lying silently on his pillow, his mousy hair tousled, but nothing appeared to be wrong with him.

I turned around, wondering what was going on, and decided to brave my bedroom. I crossed Billy’s room, amazed that I did not trip on anything, before remembering I was dreaming, and went through the doorway, crossed the hall, and opened my bedroom door.

A hand over my mouth awoke me, and it was that same voice, “This is him Jimmy,” and that’s when the nightmare began.


J. A. Platt said...

Nice. I like that the dream dovetails into the waking world with no ambiguity, though it does make me wonder if this guy has some superpowers. said...

I love how throughout the whole story I felt that this guy had either died or was dying. Only to find out it was a dream.

alphabete said...

I also thought briefly that the man had died, but this is a much more chilling outcome. Whatever was going on out there in the desert must have been bad mojo. You did a great job with building up to the end. I had relaxed when Billy was okay! The ending conveyed such a sense of foreboding. What an enjoyable story.

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