Novels

Sweet Dreams Raven part 1

November 25, 2018

Noticed

         The books in Raven’s arms were heavy but she didn’t feel them because the love of her life, Randy Willet was standing inches from her, though, she was pretty sure he didn’t have a clue. She never voiced that fact to him or anyone, only adoring the ground he walked on. In truth, she was sure he didn’t know she existed. Much to her dismay, the only one he seemed to notice was Gloria Caruthers, the girl with the gorgeous blonde hair and an amazing body, the only girl in her school with significant boobs, a condition Raven did not suffer from. She watched Gloria talking at him, not letting him get a word in, strictly monologue, which didn’t matter since he enjoyed gawking her physical assets more than responding to her inane gibberish. Gloria always managed to wear something revealing, provocative, usually bordering on a violation of the school dress code, which was fairly flexible to begin with. Seemingly smart and the top of all her classes, she was the most sought after girl in school, the majority of boys not interested in her brain but her other attributes

Why does she have to set her sights on Randy, thought Raven? She’s all-wrong for him; I just know it.

In front of her school locker mirror, she sighed, the reflection an image of little girl; Raven was still embarrassingly undeveloped when compared with the many of other girls her age. How unfair was that, built like an eleven year old but years older? Raven’s pretty hair framed her pretty face, a baby face according to her mother; boys weren’t interested in babies, their ego required a girl with mature characteristics. Having been raised in England to the age of nine, her accent was a thing of ridicule by the girls in her school. Elliot, another nice looking boy, was admired for his cute, sexy Australia accent, which sounded quite similar to Raven. Where was the justice in being the flotsam on the fringes of womanhood? There were a few other girls just as young looking as she; somehow they managed to have boyfriends. Why shouldn’t she?

Randy was distracted for a minute, smiling at Raven, making her turn away. Was he smiling at her or was it gas? Babies smiled when they had gas; her baby niece smiled a lot, her aunt claiming it was nothing but gas, not joy. For an instant Raven wanted to believe Randy noticed her, even though Gloria lurked nearby. Maybe it was only a fantasy but at least it was something.

Gloria never stopped to breathe, continuing on with her bragging and boasting; she was elected by her clique to be on the cheerleading squad, several suggesting she be the squad captain. The girls weren’t ignorant to her magnetic effect on boys and utilized it by nabbing one of the cute guys tossed aside by Gloria.

The only thing left for Raven was to bathe in the presence of Randy Willet, regardless of his attentions; erase Gloria and pray he would really see Raven one day. Miracles happened and it was at that moment Randy spoke directly to her, while Gloria rambled on about some inane subject, nail polish, which was not allowed in their school.

“Your name is Raven, right?” asked Randy. “Nice name; that’s a bird, isn’t it? I think we’re in the same English class third period, aren’t we?”

“Yeah, uh.” answered Raven, at a loss of what else to say.

“See you later,” he added before leaving. He smiled; and this time Raven was sure it wasn’t gas.

        No Assignment

         “Goodnight honey,” said Raven’s father. “Sweet dreams, my sweet girl.” Her father always said that, a little on the lame side, which might have been okay when she was a little girl. Now she was thirteen and three-quarters, hardly a baby anymore. He’d done this every night since she could remember. Still, it was comforting to know her father cared enough to tuck her in at night, his love and sweet tone never altering one bit.

Fern, Raven’s mother, worked part-time in real estate and wasn’t always there like her father, though she loved Raven just as much. She was good at her job and like most mothers encouraged Raven to study and get good grades, education a key in being a fulfilled woman. Whether it was her mother’s job or Raven’s age, Raven felt constantly irritated by her mother; mother/daughter talks happened more often now, Raven rolling her eyes while listening to the facts of life, as if she didn’t already know. Like a good daughter, she endured this process with a smile or perhaps, maybe it was only gas.

Thoughts of Randy Willet stirred her feelings, disturbing her sleep. Though her father repeated the ‘sweet dreams,’ mantra often, Raven didn’t dream very much, except maybe a cute boy at school; but that was different from really dreaming. As for tonight, Randy was at the top of her dream wish list, no substitutes allowed. And more important, the dream should be about him since he had actually spoken to her this very day. She wanted to savor those words forever.

Dreaming was a strange activity where some made no sense and others meaningless; she rarely remembered them when she woke up. She hoped tonight would be different; she wanted Randy pasted firmly on the dream landscape. Little did she know her dreams were taking a stroll down an avenue she never expected.

Raven closed her eyes, her mind a void, except perhaps the gorgeous Randy. All was well until she heard the sound of her brother, Tad playing his radio in the next room. He was supposed to be asleep, their parents unable to hear the radio on the other side of the house. She could squeal to her parents but didn’t want to be a snitch; there was an unwritten law between siblings, a useful tool for future blackmailing. Pounding on the wall, she yelled at Tad.

 

“Sorry Rave,” answered Tad, muffled by the plaster wall between them. Quickly, he turned it down, the music almost indiscernible; the only sounds coming from the house were the creaks and moans of an old building flexing with the changes in temperature.

These were familiar sounds, normal for this house in the Avenues. This area of San Francisco was close to the ocean where the temperature could drop quickly when the fog rolled in, which it did more often than not. Their particular house had been built in the twenties long before most of the homes in the area, a new addition added a few years after to accommodate father’s home office and make room for the washing machine and dryer. Otherwise, the houses in the area were almost identical except for theirs.

The noises in the house scared her as a little girl, imaginary monsters lurking about, bent on unknown acts deviltry; her imagination played with those thoughts until she grew out of it when her father explained what the noises were. Now comforted by the sound, there was still a hint of wonder what noise might be in the attic, some latent skulking demon, perhaps. On the brighter side, imagining Randy Willet kissing her and holding her hand for hours; she would listen to him breathe as they snuggled together, the bliss of a would-be boyfriend warming her heart.

Yes, she thought. Snuggling without Gloria yapping a mile a minute. Wow! And now to think Randy Willet actually spoke to me today.

Sleep slowly silenced her thoughts, Raven slipping into the abyss of nothingness, a blank canvas before her, waiting for whatever colors might be splashed on it. Dreaming of Randy was not to be; instead she boarded an imaginary slide, her speed unimaginable, her destination, not any place she could think of; there were sounds of birds beating their wings in the background adding to the confused manifestation. An abrupt stop landed her on a surface of soft and spongy material. Whatever it was, it was nothing she had ever seen before; it felt good on her bare feet. It wasn’t carpet or sand or anything she recognized. Yet the surface tended to change; she couldn’t explain how that was possible.

I’m dreaming, she mused. This is really something different; it feels so real. Weird!

The place she arrived was dark, no windows or light, yet she could see her arms and hands and felt the surface beneath her. She decided to explore this blackness, hopeful to find something visible. As she walked on, the unusual surface carried her, moving her feet, supplementing her rapid progress; surprisingly, she moved at a phenomenal speed without effort. A sliver of light could be seen slightly ahead, darkness covering everything else. Traveling to the light seemed like a logical thing to do since there was nothing else, no walls to touch or boundaries to hamper her travel, the opposite effect of being claustrophobic.

Raven reached where the light was coming from but saw no fixture or bulb, only light projected in the middle of an empty space. Inside the lit area, a curtain of black beads, the smell of exotic wood with a hint of something on the other side between the strands. Her hand slowly passed through the curtain, the beads feeling a little bit like the floor when she touched them. Pushing the rest of her body through the curtain Raven heard the sound of wind blowing through trees, yet she couldn’t see the trees or feel the wind. She walked outside or what appeared to be the outside.

“Okay,” she said out loud. “What next? I put in an order for a dream about Randy Willet, not some weird place in the dark.”

She really didn’t expect a response since this was only a dream but said it anyway.

“Mmm!” A soft humming began as soon as she stopped talking. She looked around getting her bearings, noticing the stars in the sky, which were not the same as the ones she knew of. Orion’s Belt was not there but a bunch of geometrical shapes that had to be impossible. Stars just didn’t align themselves in perfect squares, rectangles, octagons and triangles.

The humming stopped; the darkness, replaced with gradual illumination, like a stage play or the dimmer switch in a dining room. Raven began to recognize things, trees, a stream flowing with a rainbow colored water with a small bridge over the meandering course. Her side of the stream had lots of greenery and color while the other side was almost barren save a few rock outcroppings and dried sagebrush, no one visible on either side, a simple scene, almost sterile in appearance.

“Hello!” she called. “I know this is only a dream but I’d like to talk with someone about what’s this is. Anyone there?”

From behind one of the big trees on her side, a small baldheaded man waddled out dressed in dark slacks, white shirt, a candy stripped bow tie with a cardigan sweater, the kind of clothes a man might wear on a children’s’ show. His thick glasses made his eyes look enormous, his face and chin covered with prickly stubble; he hadn’t shaved in many days by the look of it. The small man shuffled up to Raven, looking up to her because he was much shorter than she, perhaps only four feet tall. Giving her the once over, disquiet etched on his face. He appeared quite distressed at her being there.

“Bad time, bad time,” he muttered, his voice lingering in the upper register. “I’m not sure what I should do.”

“What are you talking about?” asked Raven, annoyed with his unconcealed scrutiny. “And who are you?”

“The question is, who are you?” he replied. “As for me, I’m Arthur,”

“No last name?”

“No last names here only first names,” he answered. “Of course, that depends on whether you are a real person or a dream; but I shan’t ask which you are. Very displeased, very displeased! I don’t suppose you have a name.”

“My name is Raven and I don’t understand why you are so upset.”

“You’re not on my list, no Raven, Craven, Maven of any sort like that. You will have to go back.”

“I’m afraid going back would mean waking up.”

“Oh dear!” he squealed. “Waking up will be impossible, now that you’re here. You just aren’t on my list; you’re unassigned; it’s impossible.”

“What list is that and what do you do?” she pressed. “Where is this supposed to be? I assume this is a dream.”

“What I do?” he answered, acting extremely nervous. “I keep track of things, a bookkeeper in a sense. As for where you are…well, I doubt you’d understand, too complex for little girl like yourself.”

“I’m small for my age,” protested Raven mildly irritated by his reference. “Go ahead and try me; I’ve got plenty of time before I wake up. Besides, it’ll be interesting to tell my friends about this dream once its over; I hope I can remember it.”

“Yes, yes, all you little girls say that,” he answered, fretting over a small booklet he carried in his hand. “You understand what the universe is, correct?” She nodded.

“There is another universe you don’t know about, actually several if you must know. Put out your hand so you can see your palm and don’t move,” he instructed. “That’s right, facing up please.”

“Yes, and?” she responded.

“The universe you know of is like the palm of your hand,” he began. Arthur reminded her a little of her science teacher.

“You can see it and you know it exists because of its visual representation,” he continued. “If your hand stayed like that all the time, that would be all you perceive as your universe. Now if you had eyes in your toes, you could see the other side of your hand; you would know it also exists, other side, other universe. Understand?”

“Your point?”

“The back of your hand is another universe, a separate one,” explained Arthur. “It really is quite simple when you think of it.

“But all I have to do is turn my hand to see it,” said Raven. “How could that be another universe?”

“Dear, dear,” he mumbled. “You’re not grasping the obvious. If you couldn’t see the back of your hand it would still exist. That’s what dreams are, another universe, the side you can’t see.”

“Oh, yeah like a parallel universe,” she replied. “I read a little about that in school but don’t I believe its real. So this is supposed to be a parallel universe or something?”

“No, no not exactly parallel,” corrected Arthur. “You exist differently here than in your usual universe; parallel is quite a different concept, though it also exists in forms too difficult to explain. You have one problem at the moment; you have an unauthorized check-in time but no checkout time. That’s going to be a significant problem I’m afraid. But I just record these things not control them, not really any of my concern.”

“I’m sorry Arthur; I’m not buying any of this. There’s only one universe; everyone knows that. All this other stuff is just our brain playing games with us; I read that. What’s this checkout time?”

Arthur reached over and pinched her on the arm.

“Ow! That hurt,” yelled Raven. “What you do that for?”

“Oh, for goodness sakes, haven’t you heard about being pinched in a dream and not feeling it?” he asked. “You see if this were simply a dream you’d feel nothing; we’re very meticulous in that regard. Obviously, things have gone astray here because of your unassigned status. For reason beyond my control you’re living in this universe now, a sort of, slip into the dream universe. I can’t tell you how long you’ll be here without a checkout time.”

He shuffled through his ledger, thumbing through the pages and added, “See! See! You can’t go back without a checkout time.”

“I’ll wake up, won’t I?” she asked. “Back in my regular universe?”

“I can’t answer that,” he replied. “The Dream Actuator is the one you need to talk to; he’s the one who handles these problems. When or whether you check out of here is pretty much up to him. Like I said, I only keep the books and make sure no one gets lost or misplaced. Heavens! So many get lost in here.”

“But I’m in my bed sleeping,” she protested. “I’ll wake up and be fine. Isn’t that the way it works?”

“I can’t say,” he answered scanning his ledger. “The pinch test pretty much tells me you’re going to be around for a while.”

“So where is this Dream Actuator? I’d like to have a few words with him about this. I’ve got school tomorrow and can’t afford to miss my science test. Does he have a name?”

Arthur tapped his forefinger to his temple considering the question, in no rush to answer. With misplaced dreamers, it was always wise to measure your answers, carefully.

“Silas is what some call him,” returned Arthur, making a note in his book. “He hates it when they call him the Sandman; it’s so trite, entirely too common for someone who doles out elaborate dreams. As for his location, I’m pretty sure he’s in Hawaii or some other place with warm weather. Silas likes to sit out in the sun, though he never tans. He’s done it before; for now, the world will be dreamless for a while and that’s that.”

“You have Hawaii in this universe?” she questioned.

“No not really. Like I said this is not a parallel universe so we don’t have the same places as you do. I believe he actually did go to Hawaii in your universe. The weather there is quite hot and sticky, not sure I’d like that; it might fog up my glasses. I really don’t know why he would bother since there a lot of nice places here and he knows it. You must have slipped in just before he left, which would account for your check-in and checkout time not being recorded.”

“What should I do then, wait for him to come back?”

“I have no idea, Raven. Crossing over from one universe to another can take time if you are not properly prepared. For now I would advise you stay on this side of the bridge; you don’t want to cross over.”

“What’s on the other side?”

“Nothing you’d care for, I’m sure,” he answered. “That’s Morti Mog’s Realm, not a good place for dreams. Better to stay here, on Silas’ side, even though there really isn’t any dream assigned to you at the moment.”

Waiting

Distracted by being there, Raven suddenly noticed what she was wearing. Barefoot, she sensed the strange surface beneath her feet, yet did not feel heat or cold. She was still wearing her oversized T-shirt with Hello Kitty logo printed on the front. Her mom and dad brought it for her last Christmas instead of the sexy nightie she requested. Perhaps it was better since the material of the T-shirt was soft and comfortable. Still, a girl needs to feel sexy and it might have been nice to have the other lacy gown.

“Your name?” questioned Arthur. “Curious, unusual, how did you get it?”

“I used to think it was some hippie name; tons of kids had weird names like rainbow and tree; but I found out my mom loved reading Edgar Allan Poe. She knew the Raven by heart and performed it often with friends in her literary club, a bunch of snobs if you ask me. Poe is a little on the dark side but she liked him. Mom is a real reader, a little like me; she reads everything she can.”

“Interesting, though I’ve never read Poe,” returned Arthur. “My existence has been solely for keeping records, so I don’t get to read at all, you understand.”

“So is there a way I can find this Dream Actuator, Silas? I’m all for dreaming but hardly want to spend more than a night.”

“Oh, Silas may pop in now and then; he likes to check up on things. You’ll have to catch him when he drops by, though he seemed pretty keen on enjoying his holiday. The last holiday he had took place in 1200BC, I believe, the Trojans and Greeks. He claimed they made such a fuss over a little marriage and didn’t want to be part of it. Of course, that didn’t happen when Silas was on holiday.”

“How long was he gone?” asked Raven shaking her head in disbelief. None of this could be true; she was sure of it. Her imagination was making it all up while she slept.

“I’m not sure but I know the gods commanded him to return to managing dreams,” added Arthur. “Thor was adamant and Zeus threw such a fit we feared he would eliminate Silas as Dream Actuator. The gods dream like mortals, you know but in a separate place set aside in this dream universe for gods and mythical creatures; they would never submit to partaking the commonness of mortal dreams. Nonetheless, the gods were quite unhappy with their dreamless nights back then.”

“What do gods dream about?” asked Raven. “Other mythical creatures? If they’re all mythical, they’re not even supposed to exist.”

“Frankly I don’t know what the gods dream of,” reported Arthur. “I only keep the dream records, dear. Basically, I get a title for a dream but never actually know what it is about. Terribly dull but it is my duty. You’d have to ask Silas; he could give you more details, assuming he would share that information; there is a clause in the dream contract which stipulates a degree of privacy.”

“Can I ask you a question?” asked Raven.

The little man smiled and nodded anticipating what she might ask. With his master gone there was little to do and Arthur rarely spoke to anyone, dreaming or not.

“If I’m not assigned a dream, then how can I be here?” she challenged. “Shouldn’t I be asleep, dreamless?”

“True, true you were asleep but drifted over before Silas could assign your dream and its termination time; that’s vital in this case,” he replied.

“I wanted to dream; I had something in mind, though it would only be a dream, not real.”

“I believe you have a reoccurring desire to dream about some young boy in your school, an ordinary dream for girls like you. I don’t know all the details, you see; I only record those coming in and going out, nothing more, though I fail to see the fascination girls have with boys or the other way around.”

“So what am I supposed to do now, twiddle my thumbs and wait for this Silas person? Is this some kind of Alice in Wonderland, where a white rabbit with a watch is going to be running around?”

“By no means. Alice and the white rabbit are on hold at the moment,” reported Arthur. “The Queen of Hearts can be quite nasty if provoked and was not pleased with Alice’s behavior.”

“You don’t really expect me to believe those characters from a book are here? They’re only a part of a story, Arthur.”

“On the contrary, they are very real in this universe. As for passing the time, it’s hard to say; you might run into a few things you didn’t think of; things aren’t as you might expect them to be. Of course, their interaction is frozen to you; don’t expect to be entertained. If I were you, I’d wait; twiddle your thumbs; I’ve always found that entertaining, though I’ve hardly had time to do so. Find something to entertain yourself; look about in the meantime. As for me, I have to tally up my numbers; it’s so hard to keep up at times, so many dreams, trillions of them.”

Scanning about, she had to agree with Arthur’s assessment; things were different. The tree Arthur emerged from had strange colored bark, a bright green instead of normal bark.

“That tree looks a lot like a redwood tree, only green,” she offered. “We have those near my house, huge redwood trees only with reddish brown bark.”

“Oh, those trees over there are ordinary,” he said. “Greenwood trees, quite commonplace here. You don’t have those in your universe, much the pity. They have an aroma similar to mint and can taste like chocolate during the pollination process; I rather fancy them myself, though rarely have the time to sample them. You’ll find many things like that, colors, smell and even things you touch will feel strange; Silas insists on flexibility in the world of dreams, mortals real life dreams mundane in comparison.”

She glanced over at the trees, again getting a faint whiff of mint and evergreen; they smelled a little like spearmint to be exact. While marveling at the smell and appearance, Arthur vanished in an instance, no trace that he had even been there. She called out to him several times without any response, her voice swallowed, no echo to be heard.

“Figures!” she said out loud. “The only person who can help me is gone, disappeared into thin air.”

She sat down on the strange spongy surface, neither hot nor cold just right. Visions of the Three Bears popped into her head with food, chairs and beds the themes, everything being just right in the end. This was not the fairy tale of the Three Bears; this was something all together different. Finding Silas was her only option in getting back to the proper universe, a universe, which still sounded more imagination than reality. Perhaps this was only a dream and her worry was for nothing; dreams can be pretty realistic, though she’d never had one like this before. She remembered Arthur’s pinch test, shocking and painful. This couldn’t be a dream.

Not dressed for traveling, she had no idea what she might encounter along the way. The place felt more like one of those sound stages in Hollywood; she’d been given a tour several years ago, surprised at the high ceilings and the vastness of it.

Does it rain here? Will I get chilled or too hot, she wondered?

A Hello Kitty T-shirt and bare feet did not bode well for the unknown conditions she might encounter. Suddenly without warning, a man’s voice whispered in her ears.

Look all around, not on the ground, to see what goodies can be found. Your wish of wishes can come true, just spin around and they’ll come to you.”

There was no way of telling where the voice was coming. She pushed herself up to investigate; another person might emerge from behind a tree or bush; it happened when she first met Arthur. For now, he was nowhere in sight, no other soul to be seen, yet when she spun around to examine her surroundings she saw a clothesline filled with clothes; it wasn’t there a minute ago. Stepping forward she touch the clothes to see if they were real or some cruel joke. Thankfully, they were real and very nice, the labels inside from very fashionable stores. Best of all, the clothes were exactly her size, neither too small nor too large.

“Fine!” she said to no one in particular. “I can borrow these clothes and return them later but the ground feels icky on my feet; I need shoes too.”

A laundry basket sat next to the clothesline, a towel lying on top with something underneath. Brushing the towel aside, she found two pairs of shoes exactly her size. One pair was a set of two-inch, sherry red high heels with rhinestones across the front with an ankle strap around the back. She loved them, delicious to look at, the sort of shoes she would never have but always wanted. Her mother would definitely not approve.

“Wait! I’ve seen these before,” she muttered. “Yeah, I remember, Outback Boutique at the mall. These were the ones in the window that everyone wanted.”

Raven couldn’t stop herself from strapping on the shoes and admiring how they looked on her tiny feet. They fit perfectly and made her look so adult until she took a couple steps and almost fell; walking in high heels was something new and perhaps needed getting used to.

This has to a dream, she thought. This stuff showing up like this isn’t possible.

She wobbled around for a few minutes finding it impossible to keep her balance on the squishy ground beneath. If she planned to walk any distance, it might be better to find shoes a bit more sensible. Then she heard the voice again.

“Oh dear, my dear, walking is quite tactical; look again and seek something more practical.”

“Wait, don’t tell,” she muttered. “Is there another pair of shoes in the basket?”

A bright colored napkin covered the bottom but something underneath made it irregular. Sure enough, a pair of bright red tennis shoes were neatly tucked under the high heels with rhinestones decorating the toes. Again, a perfect fit, including a pair of kitty cat print socks stuffed inside of them, the socks a perfect match for the shoes. Somebody or something was guiding her, but to where?

 

 

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