by Shawn Phillips

Two - Infection (Borne of Dream)



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I'm in a box. Wooden and rotting. It crumbles away and I am in a coliseum. Marble columns loom and shadow where I stand. I follow an unseen path leading me underneath the column. As I walk, I realize that this coliseum is empty, I am the only one here within its walls. I find an ancient library of scrolls, parchments and bound books. It is incredibly dusty and dry. Then, various items begin to pass my face, opened scrolls, books, scraps of paper with words and phrases entering my mind. I do not know what they say or mean, but a feeling, an emotion is behind each one. A swirling cloud of papers surrounds me until the room implodes. My eyes open hesitantly. A word in an old dialect of Chinese appears to slip into my mouth. I am fully awake now. Reaching for my mouth, I search for a foreign object, but find nothing. As I struggle to remember my dream, it slips away into the dawn.

I notice how empty my room really is, beyond the simple decorations. How shallow this feels. Is there more to this person besides this? I fall onto my back and stretch the quilt over my face and close my eyes.

"Yes, I know she's been missing for two years. Yes, we are doing what we can. You have to realize it has been two years with no evidence. I'm sorry, there's nothing else we can do. Yes. I know. You have a good day now. Bye-bye." Seargant Douglas hung up the phone. He sighed a sigh that could be felt deeper than ever before. What's going to become of this world, he wondered into his coffee, which had lost any resemblance to hot OR fresh. He cringed at the thought of drinking the cold, stale liquid. Looking out his office window, across the hallway to the coffee machine, he saw an empty pot. The seargant sank into his chair. A glance over at the clock. He picked up the mug and gulped.

Well, that went well, Grain thinks. He sighs a sigh he knows well. Grain sits for a moment, drifting. 'There's only one thing left to do.' He begins to to gather items for travel into a pack. 'Wait a minute! his mind halts to a stop. What am I thinking? That option's a dead end.' Grain shakes his head. 'Ugh. Should get something to eat and some sleep for later. Promised Jimbo I'd go to the Ginko's show with him. Weird.'


The crowd surges with pent-up energy of listless youth. Heads bob, sway and violently roll from side to side, sometimes to the pulse of the strobe, sometimes to the wall of noise, and sometimes to neither or both.

A man holds a white guitar behind a microphone. His eyeglasses appear opaque while he screams "Oh sea-starved, hungry sea." #

Grain enters the room. He blends in but does not at the same time. He spies something not right, something aggressively moving towards the stage. Grain moves forward, into the pit. After a few minutes, the other reaches the stage. He moves into an obscure stance, crossing his arms in front of his face, mumbling incoherencies and glowing. The crowd barely begins to back away as Grain approaches. Grain grabs the man's forehead, drawing his free hand back, curling into a fist. He roars as his punch contacts with the man's chest, turning the man into pixie dust, sugar-sweet. The music stops, replaced by screams. Grain walks out, the spectacled musician staring after him in disbelief.


Grain woke with a start. Not jumping up from underneath his blanket, but his eyes opened suddenly as he instantly gained consciousness. Looking around, he saw he was in his bedroom, where he ought to be. Grain crawled out of bed, putting one foot in front of the other, gazing out the window. 'Same as yesterday.' He searched for some clothes. It was time for some food.

It was the usual place for breakfast. The same cafe/coffeehouse/coffeeshop or whatever you wanted to call it. It had what his diet craved. Grain usually walked there, since his apartment was only a couple blocks away. The air made his jacket feel crisp, old dry against his skin. The air seemed to never let him forget about his recent dreams. 'Did they mean anything?' That thought was replaced with feelings of absurdity, knowing what is reality, what is tangible. Which has no room for "dreams with special meaning."

As he entered the cafe, he noticed Jimbo at a table. Finding it odd that his friend would be here this early, he took a seat across from him and said, "You're up early."

Jimbo grinned. "Find it disturbing?"

Grain smiled back. "Very. Seriously, you usually aren't up and moving at this time of day."

"For some reason, I just woke up early. I felt too rested to stay in bed. I was definitely hungry too. And I haven't done any shopping in a while."

"I see."

"Say, were you at the Ginko's show last night?"

Grain ordered a bagel and tea. He turned back to Jimbo. "No, I was tired after working on that last studio job. Had a weird dream about it though."

Jimbo leaned towards Grain. "Well, I think either someone spiked the drinks last night or they had some special effects going on, or maybe both. Some one came up to the stage and turned this other guy into that sugar candy they put into straws. Yeah, I tasted it, that's how I know. Man, that was some weird show."

Grain, in shock, almost blurted out (though it would have been incoherent at this point) in reaction to this news. His expression apparently caught the attention of Jimbo. "You all right?"

Grain faltered. "Yeah. Yeah. That is weird." His bagel and tea arrived at the table.

Jimbo got up from his chair. "Well, gotta go. New employee at the store, and I got assigned to train him in. Later!" Jimbo trotted out, barely giving Grain a chance to return his farewell.

A few moments later, Grain realized he had the pouch on him. 'Well, too late now.' He took it out for a moment, and then put it away. A sip of his tea, and his thoughts went to what today will bring.


The air is stiffening,
Crushing my intake of life.
A series of notes call me
To another way of life.
My eyes close once again,
Dreaming of my double life.
I feel my molecules drifting,
Dividing into a multitude of life.


# W.B. Yeats


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