She was lying on something uncomfortable. Without opening her eyes, she reached beneath her and pulled out a large stick. She’d never been any good at waking up. It took a long time for the neurons to fire properly. Like a classic pickup truck in winter, you had to let her idle for a while before putting her in drive.
The sleepy neurons fired just enough to trickle a lazy question into her consciousness–why was there a stick in her bed?
She opened her eyes and saw a canopy of trees and a billion stars. She quickly closed them again since that’s not at all what her bedroom ceiling should look like.
Just what is going on here?
The thought was interrupted by the sound of footsteps off to the right. Her heart beat faster. They were some fifteen feet away and getting closer. The sound went past her and continued on to the left. When it was far enough away, she quietly got out of bed. She would have fallen if she wasn’t on the ground already.
Instinctively, without all those neurons working, she followed the sound as quietly as she could, which wasn’t all that quietly since forest floors tend to have annoyingly loud things to step on like dry sticks. She tried her best to be a ninja.
She arrived at a clearing with a little house in the middle. It was instantly recognizable as her family’s cottage in northern Michigan. Her brain could make no sense of this. How did she go to sleep in southern California and wake up in northern Michigan without knowing?
There was a murky figure at one of the windows. It must have been the source of the footsteps. The shape was trying to remove the window screen. She knew that all it would take was undoing a few eye hooks from the outside. Security was not exactly tight at the cottage in the clearing.
She knew who the shape was and who was behind that window; it was her. Well, a child version of her at any rate, not the adult version impossibly standing in the woods of her past looking at a pedophile while holding a stick. She wondered if the little version of herself was awake and terrified yet or still asleep.
It must be a dream. I don’t like this dream, but since I seem to be a little more awake than usual, let’s do something about this.
With her heart pumping so much adrenaline that she could probably lift that whole house, she ninja’d her way through the clearing. The pedophile was focused on removing the window screen and making a fair bit of noise doing it, so she was able to sneak right up behind him.
She raised the stick over her head and brought it down on his. He went down, but he was not out.
Damn, I should have grabbed a bigger stick.
She hit him again. She hit him until the stick broke. She hit him with the stump. She stopped. Breathing hard, she stepped back into the clearing. He didn’t move. She ran from the clearing to the edge of the woods. He didn’t move. She crouched down, but he didn’t move.
She took off running into the woods. She was crying. She ran barefoot over rough ground. She stumbled and fell, but she kept running. Raging. Disgusted. Scared.
When she opened her eyes, she saw a familiar ceiling fan clinging to a familiar ceiling.
It was a dream. I hope I never have that dream again.
The carpet cradled her tired feet on the way to the bathroom.
What is this?
She unclenched her fist to find the bloody stump of a stick.