Daily Prompt: Just a Dream
You’re having a nightmare, and have to choose between three doors. Pick one, and tell us about what you find on the other side.
“You must pick… You must pick… You must pick…” the low, droning, robotic voice kept repeating and repeating.
I knew it was a dream. I had just been awakened no more than five minutes ago by the dog wanting to visit outside. After his successful endeavor at the fire hydrant, I had allowed my head to hit the pillows and instantly I was back in to same dream from which I had been awakened earlier.
Just to be sure, I looked around. Yes, it was all the same. Behind me was a raised auditorium filled with show’s guests and the contestants that had not been chosen for the gameshow. Most were wearing ordinary street clothes. About a third were dressed as potential contestants for This Is Your Future.
This Is Your Future was a stupid supernatural-reality show based on the dreams of the international renowned psychic, Raul Sinclair. The premise of the show was that contestants would dress up as their secret ‘id”… and from three interview questions, the psychic, Raoul, would cull the 25 contestants for the show. I had been coerced to attend the show because of losing a wager with my best friend.
When I had made the first cut, I was astounded. I had dressed as the TV character Arthur ‘Fonzie’Fonzarelli (from Happy Days)… Only I was Fonzie with a superman cape. I had thought that it was a costume so absurd, I would never be picked as a contestant. It was a true “id”. As a child, I had loved HappyDays and Fonzie, but I had never quite let go of my dream to be Superman.
I found myself standing on the front platform facing three doors. I had made “The Finals”. Raoul was standing by my side facing the cameras giving his final monologue for the culmination event of the show. Soon my future would be revealed. Raoul had his hand placed gently on my shoulder.
I am sure this gesture was meant as a sign of warmth and encouragement, yet, I could feel the fervidness of an unsatisfied lust raging into my body from his point of contact. It was not the honest zest for success and accomplishment… the drive to be better and excel at one’s passions. It was an aching fury, a fever enveloping me to burst out of myself and overwhelm, to incapacitate all those around me to attain the goals for which I had a right to claim.
There was such an all-encompassing blackness overtaking me that my knees became weak. Raoul’s grasp on my shoulder was needed now for me to stand. That grasp only intensified the vehement enthusiasm cascading through my veins.
I knew in my head, I had to leave. These doors, my final quest, the selected irrevocable possibilities for my future, were not choices that I wanted to make.
Again, the voices all around me resounded, “You have to pick… You have to pick… You have to pick.”
The voices pulsated through my head. They were echoing in my ears. “You have to pick… You have to pick… You have to pick.”
Raoul was now gripping my arm in a firm reassuring manner. I could see us, me in my Fonzie-Superman attire and Raoul in his eclectic persona as a psychic, on the video screens strategically placed all around the auditorium.
There was a warmth, a steadfastness, radiating from Raul’s entire being. It was visible on the screen. But inside of me, the warmth was an inferno raging… I knew that if I picked a door, it would change my life forever. There would be no coming back from the price I was going to have to pay for this careless wager I had made with my best friend.
Suddenly an idiotic, maybe even foolhardy, image raced across the recesses of my mind. Just as I began to focus on it, it departed. With all that was within me, I willed the image back. It seemed to be a picture of road kill. “Road kill” flooding my mind was not a reassuring feeling, yet this image seemed to pulsate into my consciousness as the most judicious solution to my problem. I tried focusing again, I prayed for the image to slowly return and allow me to see with I was really imagining.
There is was. It was not a picture of road kill. It was an opossum curled tightly into a protective ball allowing itself to play dead along the side of a country road. I could see life in its eyes: the sparkle of intrigue and excitement was still present in its being. As soon as these monstrous, incessantly-moving, machines would desist in their bombarding invasion of lights and sounds, the possum would pick himself up, and sensibly stroll off… unharmed.
Instantaneously, miraculously, I knew the solution to my problem. The entire viewing audience had seen my knees buckle. Then they witnessed me find the strength to stand.
Immediately I buckled to my knees, and then systematically collapsed on the carpeted floor. I did a brief shudder followed by another debilitating shudder- just for good measure. I had to sell this performance as well as the opossum sells his performances. I could sense, my control of my future existence depended upon it.
Within seconds, the on-call paramedics had arrived. Three young men in light blue overalls began fawning over me. They immediately checked my pulse (which was racing) and spoke slow reassuring words to me. I pretended to focus on them, but my whole being was filled with the awareness that Raoul knew the truth. He seemed to know what I had done.
Raul was aware that I had out-maneuvered him.
This was one contestant who would not be sold the bill-of-goods Raoul was offering.
I had always been my own man, and I would continue to be. My future was not to be Raoul’s preconceived notions: whims and impulses fiddled with and then made a spectacle for the world to see. My destiny was mine- only mine- to fulfill. And I could do it without Raoul’s interference and manipulations.
As the medics placed me on the stretcher to roll me away to the awaiting emergency vehicle, Raoul grabbed my hand. Looking at me with heart-felt serenity seeping from his eyes, he awaited the panning of the cameras to catch his good wishes.
“We wish you the best,” he whispered. His words filled the room with warmth. His touch however sent a searing heat which simultaneously engulfed my hand and shot up my arm.
I maintained eye contact with Raoul as I forced my hand to release his. I felt the intensity of the flames engorging my body abruptly stop as soon as I was no longer clutching his hand.
“Thank you. You are so kind.” I too looked straight into the cameras. Two could play this game.
As the doors to the awaiting ambulance closed, I realized how close I had come to losing myself. To losing my soul.
I could sense that the war was not over- this hold that Raoul had on my existence.
I still unconsciously detect esoteric entanglements: tendrils internally wrestling and trying to embed into my being. The struggle was not over, but I had achieved an amazing victory in the first skirmish. I suspect, most of Raoul’s victims go down without even realizing there was a battle to be won.
I would live to fight another day.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Just a Dream.”