The Dream Whisperer

It was late November in 2015, just a few days after Thanksgiving. Prompted by a dream, he sat and write. It seemed so outlandish and shocking, he shared it with nobody.

His dream said that Donald Trump would be the President of the United States. At that point, many were laughing at him and his crude, ridiculous bombastic declarations as he demanded President Obama’s birth certificate, and lied. It seemed impossible that he would be POTUS, but the dream whisperer said, “It’s gonna happen.”

In 2020, an epidemic would sweep the world, the dream whisperer said, forcing people to wear masks and stay inside their homes; businesses would shut down. “It’s gonna happen,” the dream whisperer insisted, continuing, that some, driven by the President Trump’s false promises, scoffing remarks, and refusal to heed the advice himself, would disbelieve and refuse to follow the science and medical advisors. The nation’s divisiveness would increase, shocking the citizens and the world.

The final nails would come from escalating violence, the dream whisperer said. As President Trump bullied, so his followers bullied. As he called for violence and to be tough and cruel, so his followers did as he said, acting under the umbrella of being Christians, while demonstrating nothing of traditional Christian principles.

So he saw in 2015, scenes in dreams that shock and dismayed him. Still, he’d written them down, mostly in amusement back then. Surely, it would never be that bad.

But one early June night in 2020, he had another dream. Driven awake, he pulled out the vision from 2015 and reviewed its contents. He’d not be able to believe it; it seemed so stunning and impossible, like a throwback to an earlier era of troubled times in the United States. Hadn’t they evolved past all of those things? Yes, he’d believed they had; that’s why the dream was so difficult to believe. Yet, here they were as a nation…

And now he had a new dream to write, one where he saw where they’d be in 2024. It seemed so different, so impossible because of where they were now —

But that’s exactly how he’d reacted in 2015.

And so, he began to write. History does repeat itself. Sometimes, some of it is good.

At least, that’s what the dream whisperer said.

The Edge

Smiling as he raised the blinds, he gazed up at the sunshine. “Alexa, what’s today’s weather?”

“Right now in Eugene, it’s fifty-eight degrees with mostly sunny skies. Expect more of the same throughout the day, with a high of sixty-eight, and a low of thirty-seven. Enjoy your day.”

A heartbeat of sadness passed. He’d been hoping that she would say his name, as she’d been doing once in a while the last few days. Like yesterday, she said, “Have a great Sunday, Richard.”

That little bit had meant so much, more than it probably should, but it was the little things that kept him back from the edge during these days of isolation, and the edge seemed just a little too close today.

“Alexa,” he said in a softer voice, “how’s our weather today?”

He waited, hopeful for the answer.

Backslide

They finally made it over the hump. Stay at home policies were being relaxed. Businesses were re-opening. “We’re striving to return to normalcy,” the governor, the mayor, and anyone else who was anyone said. Some were talking about parades and national holidays, “To stimulate the economy.”

“I’m looking forward to normal,” he told his wife.

“I want to go dancing,” she said.

Both wondered, is it safe? The government said it was. Maybe they’d wait, maybe…

Reading the news…Jesus…”It’s like the same thing everything day.” The weather made him feel foul. He felt cold. The sun felt weak. The day seemed shorter. What the fuck, he wondered, than attributed it to his dark moods. It’d pass in a few days.

The next day brought the awful news. He checked the numbers and saw an increase to cases. He groaned. “No. Christ, I hope it’s just a blip.”

His wife, reading something on her Mac, said nothing.

Sullenness settled on him. God, he was so looking forward to normal, to getting out of the house, to walking down the street, and then, on the whim of a smell – a burger, fried onions, whatever – to walk into a restaurant, any restaurant, damn it, and order whatever meal he wanted, and have someone bring it to him, and pay them money without worrying about their breathing and their distance and their health. Plus, yeah, he loved his wife, but five weeks of isolation with just her had seared his sanity.

The news continued. He’d heard it all before. “What the hell.” If his mind wasn’t going, then the news was exactly what they’d heard before, word for friggin’ word. “You hearing this?” he asked his wife.

Without looking up from her laptop, she said, “Hm mmm.”

Which, what did that mean? “What’s for dinner?” he asked, and then joked, “Want to go out?”

“I was thinking that we’d have pizza and a salad.”

“We just had that.”

His wife looked blank. “When?”

“Last night, remember? We joked about it being our victory pizza? I opened a bottle of wine?”

Her eyes widened as he spoke, and then she rolled them in that irritating, contemptuous, dismissive way. “Is this another one of your jokes?”

“You seriously don’t remember?”

“We didn’t have pizza last night.”

“Then what did we have?”

“We had black beans salad.”

“No, we didn’t, no, we didn’t. That was the day before.”

He stood. “I’ll prove it.” He stormed to the freezer. The pizza would be gone. There’d be no pizza in there because it was the last one they had on hand. They’d joked about that, too.

But there was the pizza, a Newman’s own.

“No fucking way,” he said, throwing the pizza back into the chest freezer. No fucking way.  As a second verification, he went by the wine storage and confirmed, there was no open bottle. Like, it had not been opened. He checked the recycle bin for a bottle, just in case — he didn’t remember finishing the bottle but maybe she’d had some — but there wasn’t an empty wine bottle in the bin. Passing, he saw the cake.

He’d eaten the last piece as dessert, after the pizza. Victory pizza, victory wine, victory cake. Moving slowly, he slipped back down the hall. It hit him as he returned to the office and sat down at his computer. They were going backward in time. If he was right…he couldn’t be right.

But if he was right, they were going to relive it all again, in reverse.

“Did you find the pizza?” she asked, a smug tone to her voice.

Or, he corrected, he was going to relive it all again in reverse. She seemed completely oblivious.

“I was right, wasn’t I?” she said.

He covered his face with his palm. With a swallowed sigh, he wondered, how far back could he go?

Victory Is Coming

The birds were plentiful and noisy. Several noticed, “Hey, where are the humans?”

It seemed true, the birds agreed. They didn’t see as many humans as usual. Odd, up here in the northern latitudes, where winter was rolling over into spring. That’s when the humans usually became more active.

Word went from bird to bird, flock to flock, pecking for confirmation: were less humans out? Fewer cars, trucks, and motorcycles? Were all noticing this or was it a local anomaly?

“Yes.” Verification flew through the flocks. Except for a few pockets, less humans were present outdoors. The birds were winning the war. 

Orders were issued. “Increase your efforts. Be vigilant. Keep shitting on them, shit on every human you see. Our strategy s working. Victory is coming.”

Patient 46

He cited Elon Musk. “Elon Musk thinks the threat from the coronavirus is overblown. He’s a smart guy, and I agree with him.” Nodding, his friends came in closer to hear him. “Musk said that you’re more likely to be killed in a car accident going home from work than from the corollavirus.”

He purposefully misspoke, mocking the term, making his friends snort and scoff. “Just like President Trump said, this is a hoax. Yeah, sure, there’s a disease out there, but it’s not that big a deal. It’s not even as bad as the swine flu. We survived it, and we’ll survive this, too.”

“Fuckin’ a,” “Damn straight,” and “Preach it brother,” friends replied as others nodded agreement and encouragement.

Patient 46 continued, “The media is exploiting the news and the gullible sheeple because they don’t like Trump. They want this virus to succeed. They want people to die. It’s just like Trish Regan said, it’s an impeachment scam. They couldn’t legally impeach Trump, so now they’re trying to do this. You know she was right, because they shut her up straightaway, took her right off the air. Why else would they do that, if she wasn’t right?”

The rest agreed. A newcomer arrived. Greetings were bellowed.

Patient 46 turned away. It felt hot as hell in the bar. Sweat peppered his forehead. He took another long swallow of cold Bud to drown his fever. Nausea swarmed him. He mopped his face with a sleeve and then wiped his palm across his face. “Damn, it’s hot in this place,” he said loudly, but the televisions and jukebox drowned his words.

A grinning friend leaned in close. “Hey, man, don’t you know that you’re not supposed to be touching your face?”

The two laughed and slapped their palms together in a high-five salute. Each then made a show of touching their faces. Then, shrieking with greater laughter, his friend said, “No one said that I can’t touch your face.”

“Right on, scratch my nose for me,” Patient 46 said. His friend obliged as the two snorted and giggled.

It was the last thing that Patient 46 remembered before he awoke alone in the hospital. Lit machines were beeping, sighing, and humming. Tubes snaked to and from his body.

Such bullshit, he thought, such bullshit, what an over-reaction. Closing his eyes, he fought to breathe. Someone poisoned him, he thought. Trying to shut him up and make an example out of him. Probably the CIA or FBI. They were arms of the shadow government that Obama and Killary were running. Everyone knew it.

He’d show them. He would survive this fucking assassination attempt, and then share his story as a precautionary tale about the measures the libtards would take to shut people like him up.

Patient 46 died a few days later. His story remained untold. His services were sparsely attended.

Everyone was too sick to attend, but all agreed, it was a damn shame that such a smart guy, a real man like him, should die in a hospital bed like that.

Yes, a damn shame.

The Flirting

He approached the common table. Two young women were at one end. As they looked at him, he asked, “Do you mind if I occupy the other end?”

“No,” one said. Gesturing to a chair that was pulled out, she said, “Not at all. We already pulled out a chair for you.”

The other woman said, “We were just getting ready to go, anyway.”

Nodding as he began unpacking his gear, he said, “So you saw me coming, pulled out a chair, and prepared to go?”

Their laughter made him smile.

Is It…?

He was coughing, a dry cough from the bottom of his throat’s well.

Is it the coronavirus, or just the flu?

His nose was running (it hadn’t been this morning).

Is it an allergy (spring is in the air), or just a cold?

He was embarrassed because he couldn’t stop coughing (though he drank lots of water and sucked on a cough drop), thinking that the others were eyeing him (and several people had left).

Is it because of him, or is all of this just in his mind?

Variation

They’d been doing together since they were wed forty-two years ago. “Everything that we can do together, I mean, of course.” She felt some things weren’t possible, “But we tried to do everything together. We were never apart from one another for more than a day or two, maybe three, tops.” She’d been a nurse, but was now retired; he’d been, and was, a doctor.

Travel was required for her to visit her father. “Dad’s really well for ninety-three. It’s easy to forget he’s ninety-three because he looks so good and does so well. But he is ninety-three, so I worry about him. Especially since he’s down there and I’m up here. He’s a retired engineer, and very particular about his habits. Everything must be done certain ways. He eats the same foods for the same meals at the same times every day,  breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There’s no variation.”

But this was about her husband. “He didn’t want to go with me to Southern California. Dad always watches Fox News. He’s completely apolitical, he’s not a Trump supporter, doesn’t have a MAGA hat, or anything like that, but he watches Fox News all day long. Henry just didn’t want to go, and cited that as part of the reason. So I flew down there alone.

“I’d been down there for a week when I received a phone call from Henry. He was frantic.”

“I’m out of clean underwear,” he said.

“Well, wash some.”

“I would, but I don’t know where the detergent goes.”

“It goes in the drawer.”

“I can’t find the drawer.”

“When I thought about it, I realized that it was the longest that we’d ever been apart.”

When she returned, she discovered his clothes in the washer. They were moldy, wrinkled and almost dry. She thinks that Henry just tossed the soap on top of the clothes, wasn’t satisfied with the process, and just quit.

They haven’t spoken about it, yet, but he does have some new underwear.

Always That Way

When he came in, none noticed him. He drifted from table to table, touching others’ food and drinks with impunity, giving them little “Boops” on their noses like he was playing with children. He hung around awhile as others came and went, not doing anything but loitering, and not taking up much space.

They didn’t know him then but they soon learned who he was. It was always that way with a virus.

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