Monday, July 4, 2011

SHORT FICTION: 'The Dream' by Galileo

Sydney writer Galileo has just finished his latest short story. As with the last one we published, Galileo's protagonist gets lost in an alienating dream before finding himself again - if a little scathed.

Tapped the backspace key. Stared, tired-eyed at the screen. It was like everything original had already been said, anything of value stolen by the every-man poets before him. Difficult to be witty and original, when being witty and original was already someone else’s bit.

It was a hot night. The ceiling fan clicked as it pushed warm air around the room. Lazily, he turned his head, his computer screen lighting up the kitchen. He liked these nights. Hot, sticky summer nights. Nice weather for brooding. There was a guilty pleasure in the feeling, some dark satisfaction he couldn’t explain. Picking himself up, he arched his back, sighed. His feet scuffed across the floor to the fridge.

Eyes glazed, he watched a sad little TV dinner turn inside the microwave.

The routine after dinner cigarette tasted better than usual. He didn’t appreciate the hiss it gave, brought his worries a little closer. He blew a smoke ring, watched it drift until it disappeared.

Someone knocked. He flicked his cigarette over the balcony and walked to the door. Through the eyehole he saw a bullet in the chamber. He blinked. Boom.

He looked around. Lying face-up on the tarmac in an empty car park, he couldn’t see the end. The panic caught up. He touched his face, but felt nothing. He looked at his hands. They shook. An exhaust rumbled behind him, and he turned to see headlights approaching in the dark. He stood and faced them, scared, defiant. The car kept coming. The ground crumbled, he fell. Fell through the dark, his mind blank. He blinked.

He sat in the back seat of a car. He saw the silhouette of the driver in the headlights of a car passing. “What is this?” he asked. “What’s happening to me?” The only reply was a drawn out sigh. The driver opened his door, stepped out, and slammed it closed. Looking through the window, he saw nothing but the blur of streetlights passing. He scrambled for the wheel as the car drifted across the road. Flung through the windshield, time slowed as he flew through the air. He blinked.

He opened his eyes to the sun. “Fore!” Something skipped past his face. He didn’t flinch. Blurry figures approached. He focused, saw tweed and golf shoes. Their wearers stopped, smiled, and continued. He spread out his arm and moved his hand over the grass. Tilted his head to the side and closed one eye. He watched them putting, the slow deliberate strokes edging the ball closer to the hole. He stood, and picked a cigarette from his packet. Lit it, and took a drag. He didn’t feel like asking where he was, who they were, what was happening. With the sunshine warm on his back, he began to walk. He blinked.

It was a dark street, in a dark neighbourhood. He watched a television through someone’s window. Took the last puff and flicked the butt to their lawn. He saw a girl walking down the road towards him. As they met, she asked him for a smoke. He obliged. They sat, and they talked. Talked about nothing, about things, about the wind, about the weather. He wondered where she came from, if she was like him. He didn’t wonder enough to ask. She invited him to her room. Yes, he said. He would like that. She brought her hands before his face, and clapped. He blinked.

They lay on her bed, side by side, watching the TV. He didn’t know what was on. In his hand, he held hers. His eyelids began to droop. His breathing slowed. Her grip tightened. He turned to her, saw her smile. He blinked, once more.

As he made a coffee, he thought about what he had seen. The longing faded, the frustration blurred. He stirred the cup, took a sip. The details began slipping as he tried to remember again what he had done. He didn’t mind.

He knew it was only ever meant to last a while.

Get in contact with Galileo here and see more Acid Midget short fiction here.

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