This one was a wonker. I kept waking up and thinking the dream was a subconscious dramatic presentation of my story, “Auction,” but it was something totally different.
My family and friends were enjoying the pool, which of course had sprawled to massive proportions, with terraces and lighted balconies overlooking a dark and deep creek below. Lines of old, behemoth trees canopied the creek. We were having a pool party at night. Stars in incomprehensible patterns crowded the sky. Somebody asked, “Whose stars are these?”
While everyone enjoyed the pool and the wet bar which was situated in an alcove below the high-dive, I sat in an upright chair reading a paperback book containing one of my stories. A jolt of horror struck me as I saw something drifting down from the night sky and landing on the deck of the pool. I read a sentence in my story and felt a chill enter the back of my neck and slide all the way down to freeze my balls.
“Everyone stop,” I shouted. “Listen to me!”
The laughing and talking was absorbed in a shocked silence. I didn’t shout much.
“I know this ends unless we do something about it.” I pointed to a sheet of the debris on the deck. It looked like a swath of cloth. “Everyone must shred that stuff and throw little pieces in the pool. If we don’t, the beginning of the end of the world starts here tonight.”
My aunt walked over with a concerned look on her face. “What are you reading?”
“It’s one of my stories.”
“But it’s not the Bible. That stuff on the deck is mere Starshed. You don’t know what you’re talking about.” She turned and dove into the pool.
Immediately I could see that most of the faces staring at me were blank with either disbelief or fear of me. My brother and friends of his were talking in the wet bar, and they got up to investigate the debris. My brother believed in me. I threw the book down and grabbed a piece of the fiber. It had the texture of imitation crabmeat.
“Like this,” I said and ripped it into small pieces and threw them into the pool. My brother and friends frantically followed suit. While we rushed to tear up all the debris, the party resumed with drunken, careless laughter. Many of the small pieces were thrown back on the deck in irritation.
Someone shrieked. Near the darkness of the wetbar, one of the pieces that had been tossed out of the pool had shifted and ballooned. It whiplashed back and up into a thin curve like a capital C, then assumed a knotted form with a flattened head filled with too many carnivorous teeth. Its shifting happened faster than thought. While we stared on like grains of salt in oil, the thing jerked out a claw and snatched a little cousin of mine. Her arm was ripped off by the force and the world erupted in shrieks and static crackles from all over the deck from the debris not shredded or thrown out of the pool.
They crackled and shifted and I MOVED.
“Hurry! Cover them with water! WATER!”
We scrambled across the deck, kicking the forms into the pool, where they lost shape and fizzled out. I snatched a pint glass from one of my uncles and dipped it into the pool, splashing the water on the one which had grabbed my cousin. Its form retreated into shapelessness as it chewed on the arm, leaving her in a puddle of blood. Its form fizzled in a shape of a softball trying to be something else. I grabbed it, revolted by the writhing beneath my fingers, and kneeled on the deck, immersing it in the water, where the writhing slowed and stopped. I released it and watched it dissolve in the pool.
My brother and his friends had cornered the last of the ambitious fragments, sweeping all of them into the pool. The father of my cousin held his daughter and glared at me. “How did you know this was going to happen? What did you write in that book?”
More shouts. “Why didn’t you try harder to convince us to do what you said?”
My brother shouted, “Look at the stars! Oh my God, they’ve TRIPLED!”
The sky was bristling with strange pinpricks. Each pinprick dribbled a little more madness into me. A closer light arced across above, followed by a storm of lazy debris. My bowels clutched. I picked up my book and read the only sentence that made sense to me, the only thing that could possibly help us. But I didn’t know why.
“Down the creek they floated, wherein the canopied darkness strange death does not know.”
We started down to the creek, and for the first time in my life, with rancor and resistance in my heart, I was leading the way.