by Randolph Stuart
HE’S WALKING down a long hallway. At the end is a door. He opens it and the room is pitch black inside. He fumbles for the switch and a soft, warm hand covers his and gently guides it to the switch. He flips it on and the room is empty.

Suddenly he is wide awake and sitting upright in his bed. The dream was so real he is still shaking from it. Turning on the lamp, he sees the bedroom is empty. The alarm clock says 2:08 AM. Geez! That was some weird dream. Now I have four more hours till I have to get up and I’m wide awake, he thinks. Lying back down, he stares at the ceiling, thinking about the dream. He switches the lamp off and closes his eyes. Sleep comes slowly and the next thing he realizes the alarm is going off.

The rest of the day goes normally. After work, he meets Amy and they have dinner together. During the normal dinner chit chat, he mentions the crazy dream he had last night.

‘Oh, I’ve had dreams like that,’ she says. ‘Mine are always the ones where I’m back in high school on the day of a big test that I haven’t studied for. Or I’ve forgotten my locker combination.’

‘Me too. I’ve had ones like that. But this one is freaky. It’s so real, and I wake up right away. That’s never happened to me before.’

‘Well, this sounds corny, but I think you should sleep on it.’

‘Ha, ha. Very funny.’

He’s walking down a long hallway. At the end is a door. He opens it and the room is pitch black inside. He fumbles for the switch and a soft, warm hand covers his and gently guides it to the switch. He flips it on and the room is empty.

He bolts upright in bed, completely wide awake. Oh my God, he thinks. It’s the same dream as the night before! The alarm clock says 2:08 AM. Just like the night before. This is getting freaky!

Lying back down, he tries to collect his thoughts. It seemed so real! The feel of the hand over his, soft and warm. He felt no anxiety in the dream. Not what would happen in real life if someone touched his hand in the dark. The room looks perfectly normal the instant the light comes on, nothing strange there. He doesn’t remember entering the hallway.

He’s just there and it seems perfectly natural to him.

He goes over the dream in his mind again and again, with no clue as to what it means. Slowly he drifts off to sleep, until the alarm clock goes off and wakes him out of his slumber.

Later at work he calls Amy to tell her what happened that night.

‘Hey Amy! Guess what! I had the same dream again last night! Exactly the same! I even woke up at the same time, 2:08 in the morning!’

‘God, that’s strange. What do you think is causing it?’

‘I dunno. It’s starting to freak me out.’

‘Have you thought about sleeping pills? Nothing serious, just some over the counter stuff to help you sleep.’

‘Yeah, maybe that’ll help. Are we still on for tonight?’

‘Sure. See you then.’

Later that evening he meets Amy. The strange dream becomes the main subject of conversation over dinner.

‘Did you get the sleeping pills?’ she asks.

‘Yeah, just some OTC stuff. Guaranteed to be non-habit forming. Look, I don’t mean to be abrupt but can we end this now? I want to make it an early night.’

‘Sure, I understand.’

Later that night in his bedroom, he takes two pills as prescribed, lies down and is quickly asleep.

He’s walking down a long hallway. At the end is a door. He opens it and the room is pitch black inside. He fumbles for the switch and a soft, warm hand covers his and gently guides it to the switch. He flips it on and the room is empty.

He jerks upright in the bed, wide awake! Oh God! he thinks. Not again. He looks over at the alarm clock and it shows the same time as before, 2:08 AM. So much for the sleeping pills. They were no help. Fortunately today is Saturday. At least he can sleep in and try to catch up on lost sleep. Lying back in bed, he stares at the ceiling in the dark until finally falling asleep.

Later that morning he calls Amy. ‘Well, the sleeping pills were completely useless. I had the same dream as the last two nights and I woke up at the same time as before.’

‘This is starting to worry me. There could be a psychological or medical reason behind it. I think you should seek professional help to find the reason for these dreams.’

‘Great. I go to the shrink and tell him I keep having the same dream every night and I wake up at the same time each night. Then he’ll say I’m crazy! Which may be true.’

‘Very funny. I’m serious. Look, I have a brother in college. He’s a psych major, at least the last time I checked. He keeps changing them. Let’s talk with him.’

‘Okay. When, where and how?’

‘I’ll call him. At worst I can bribe him with dinner.’

‘Okay, let me know.’

Later that day Amy called him.

‘Okay, it’s a deal. He’ll meet us tomorrow evening at Luigi’s.’

‘Luigi’s? Pricey place. He must drive a hard bargain.’

‘Yeah. But I’m concerned about you. Seven okay with you?’

‘Sure. See you there.’

He meets them at the restaurant the next evening, Amy and her brother, Paul. Later over some very good Italian food, he describes the dream to Paul..

‘It always starts the same. I’m walking down a long hallway with a door at the end. I open the door and the room is pitch black and I reach for the light switch. A warm hand covers mine and guides me to the switch. I turn on the light and the room is empty. The next instant I’m back in my bed and wide awake. And here’s the freaky part. I always wake up at the same time. 2:08 AM. The whole time I feel no fear or anxiety, which I never would in a real world situation.’

Paul listens silently to this while eating large forkfuls of linguini. He thinks for a moment and then speaks up.

‘Like you said, that is really freaky. Especially the part about waking up at the same time. If I was a Freudian psychologist, I would say the hallway represents the womb and the dark room represents the outside world. The unknown. The hand is your mother guiding you out into the world. Personally, I would say you are experiencing a latent anxiety that is manifesting itself in these dreams. Have you had a traumatic experience in the last few months?’

‘Yes. My mother had a massive heart attack a month ago. She was without oxygen to her brain for several minutes the medics said. And now she’s in a hospital in a coma, without much hope of recovery.’

‘I’m sorry for your mother,’ Paul says. ‘Losing a parent can be a pretty traumatic event, even under the best of circumstances. This could be the latent anxiety that’s causing these dreams. For the first time in your life, you are faced with the loss of your mother, your personal support system. All your life she has been there for you, and now you realize she will soon be gone forever.’

‘Yeah, it has been on my mind a lot lately. Trying to figure out what to do.’

‘Have you ever heard of interactive dreaming?’ Paul asks.

‘What’s that?’ Amy says.

‘That’s when you take control of your dream. When you say, “this is just a dream. It isn’t real”. I’ve heard of people who did it, and they stopped having anxiety driven dreams. Like falling.’

‘Can I do that to stop having my high school test dreams?’ Amy asks.

‘Sure, sis. Just say to yourself this is a dream, just a dream. As for you, if that doesn’t help, I’ve got some friends doing undergraduate sleep research. They would just love to plug you in and monitor your brainwaves.’

‘Whoa. I don’t think I’m ready to be hooked up to some machine that looks into my mind!’

‘It’s easy. Really. You just lie down in a comfortable bed and they put some electrodes on your forehead that monitor brain wave activity while you sleep. It’s no big deal.’

‘I’ll think about it.’

‘Sure, let me know and I’ll set you up. Hey, sis, could you get the waiter? I want to look at the dessert list.’

Later that night he thinks about what Paul said. Could he gain control of this dream and stop it? He gets ready for bed and takes two sleeping pills, just in case, and is quickly asleep.

He’s walking down a long hallway. At the end is a door. He opens it and the room is pitch black inside. He fumbles for the switch and a soft, warm hand covers his and gently guides it to the switch. He flips it on and the room is empty.

He jerks upright in bed, wide awake. Looking over at the alarm clock it says 2:08 AM. The same damn time! The same damn dream! He didn’t even get a chance to do the interactive dreaming thing that Paul suggested. God! What was going on? He was at wit’s end! Was he losing his mind?

This time he gets up and goes downstairs and sits in the living room, his thoughts in a turmoil. He doesn’t remember falling asleep, but the next thing he knows he sees the sunlight streaming into the living room, waking him up. He rubs his neck, sore from sleeping in the chair, and looks at the time. The clock says 9:30 AM. Man! I really slept in this time. That dream must be getting to me.

Later he calls Amy and tells her the events of last night.

‘I really think you should get those friends of Paul to look at you. If that doesn’t help any, then the next step is to talk to a psychologist. Perhaps he can prescribe some meds to help you get over this.’

‘I guess you’re right. Call your brother and tell him I’m ready to have my brain waves analysed. The sooner the better I guess.’

‘Sure. I’ll call him. Are you up for brunch or lunch?’

‘Make it lunch.’

‘Usual place? Noonish?’

‘Sure. See you then.’

The lunch is quiet. Neither of them really talk that much.

Finally Amy says what they were both thinking. ‘I called my brother and he said he would call his friends about setting up a session with you. I told him that you wanted to get this over as soon as possible and he said he’d try.’


‘Look, I know this is affecting you and I want to help. I’ll do whatever I can.’

Just then her phone rings. Looking at it she sees it is her brother. ‘Yo bro, what’s up? You set up a session? That’s great. Yeah, he’s here with me. Paul set you up with a session tomorrow night at the college,’ she says to him. ‘Come over at 7 to the Rice Building, room 10. He says okay. Okay, that’s great, I’ll bring him myself. See you there and thanks, lil’ bro.

‘Don’t worry. We’ll get this thing beat.’

‘Hope so.’

The next evening they go to the college. The undergrads explain to him what they will do and the whole thing seems silly to him. He lies down on the bed while they attach the electrodes to his forehead and his chest while Amy watches.

‘I’ll be in the next room the whole time,’ she says reassuringly.

The students turn off the lights and they leave the room. Lying in the bed, he slowly goes to sleep.

He’s walking down a long hallway. At the end is a door. He opens it and the room is pitch black inside. He fumbles for the switch and a soft, warm hand covers his and gently guides it to the switch. He flips it on and the room is empty.

He bolts upright in the lab bed, completely awake. The students rush into the room, astonished at what just happened.

‘Dude! What’s the matter? All your readings just went off the scale!’

‘I just had the dream again! Exactly as before!’

‘You weren’t dreaming! You had no REM activity. You were deep into the dreamless part of sleep when you just shot upright and all our monitors went crazy!’

‘What do you mean? You say I wasn’t dreaming! But I had the same damn dream I’ve been having for the past week! What time is it?’

One of them looks at his phone. ‘It’s 2:08 AM.’

‘Just like all the others.’

Later, they show him the graph with his sleep pattern until he wakes up. Nothing seems out of the ordinary. No REM activity. Just a normal deep sleep pattern.

‘We’ve never seen anything like this before. Could you come back tomorrow night to try it again? This could be big!’ one student says.

‘I don’t know. I’ll let you know. Amy, let’s go home.’


The ride home is quiet. Both are stunned by what had happened in the lab. When they get to his apartment, Amy asks to come in with him, but he says he needs time by himself.

Sitting alone in his living room, the events of that night keep going through his mind. Is a psychologist the next step? Somehow he felt that wasn’t going to help. The day passes slowly. He calls in to work, saying he needs the day off. Amy calls several times, but he doesn’t answer her. All day he is dreading the night and going to sleep. But the urge to sleep becomes too much and he finally lies down in bed.

He’s walking down a long hallway. At the end is a door. He opens it and the room is pitch black inside. He fumbles for the switch and a soft, warm hand covers his and gently guides it to the switch. He flips it on and the room is empty.

He sits upright in his bed. Wide awake! The same dream as before! Looking at the alarm clock it said 2:08 AM.

But something is different this time. He smells smoke!

Getting up, he runs to the door and grabs the doorknob. He cries out and jerks his hand back in pain. It’s hot! Suddenly he realizes his apartment is on fire. He looks at the window, but escaping that way isn’t an option. Over two storeys straight down. The fall will probably kill him.

Wrapping a blanket around him, he carefully opens the bedroom door. A blast of heat from the hall sears his face and exposed hands. He has only one chance. Dashing down the flaming hall and stumbling down the stairs, he manages to make it to the living room, while the heat burns his skin and face. Grabbing the front door knob, he desperately tries to open it.

It was locked! Goddamn dead bolt! Key? Keys on the dresser! Goddamn! No chance of getting them now. What to do? Window! Grabbing an end table, he throws it through the living room window, smashing the glass. Frantically, he climbs through, the broken glass cutting his hands and feet.

The rest is a blur. Somehow he makes it to the ground floor. He runs across the parking lot with his blanket on fire. Someone tackles him and tries to beat the flames out. A fireman rushes over and extinguishes the fire. Together they carry him to an ambulance and put him on a stretcher where an EMT starts administering first aid. Semi-conscious, all he sees is the inside of the ambulance. Then the doctors and nurses at the hospital. Then it goes dark.

The next thing he knows Amy is leaning over him, calling his name.

‘John! John! Can you hear me?’

‘Amy,’ he mutters.

‘John! You’re in a hospital. There was a bad fire, but you’ll be alright now.’

‘A hospital? Fire?’

‘Yes. Sacred Heart. Your apartment burned down this morning and they brought you here.’

Sacred Heart. Somehow that name meant something to him. ‘How long?’

‘They brought you here about 3 in the morning. I tried calling you this morning when I woke up, but it said your phone was out of service. I drove over and saw the fire trucks. Your whole apartment block burned down! The firemen said survivors were taken to local hospitals. I went to each one until a nurse recognized your face and I’ve been here ever since.’

‘What time is it?’

‘It’s almost noon. I’ve been here almost four hours. They sedated you and put tubes in you. This is the first time you’ve been conscious.’

Just then a doctor walks over and glances at the chart on the bed. ‘Glad to see you awake, Mr. Jones. I’m Dr. Cohen. You came in here with severe burns and smoke inhalation from the fire. It was touch and go for a while but you’re going to be okay. We’ll keep you here for a few days just to make sure you don’t develop any secondary infections. You’re very lucky to be alive. Others in that fire weren’t so lucky. Just one question, do you have any next of kin or someone else you want us to notify?’

‘My mother. But, she’s in the hospital. This one I think.’

‘What’s her name?’

‘Lisa Jones.’

‘Excuse me,’ and the doctor leaves.

John just lies there, trying to make sense of what happened while Amy comforts him. After a while the doctor returns with another.

‘Mr. Jones? This is Dr. Goldman.’

‘Hello, Mr. Jones. Dr. Cohen has been filling me in on your case. You’re a very lucky man. I’m the doctor in charge of your mother. I realize this isn’t the best time to tell you but I’m afraid I have some bad news. As you know your mother suffered a massive heart attack and was brought here in a comatose state a month ago.

‘This morning she suffered another heart attack. They tried to revive her, but were unsuccessful. The attending called the time of death at 2:08 AM. I’m sorry. When you feel better we need you to sign some paperwork. You understand.’ And then the doctors walk away.

He looks over at Amy, a stunned expression on her face.

‘2:08 AM, 2:08 AM,’ he mutters.

Modify Website

© 2000 - 2023 powered by
Doteasy Web Hosting