Retold with permission (and a promise of anonymity).
“Last night,” he said, “was a weird one.” He half smiled. “It was weird because it actually had details, and they usually don’t. There were faces I recognized at the time, but I couldn’t tell you now who they were. Just some people I know, I guess. Some guys and I think one or two girls.
“This time they were attacking us in black helicopters and on foot, too. They were wearing all black uniforms, which was particularly stupid, but whatever. It was a dream. They looked like commandos or something. The ones in the choppers were flying low along the street, strafing things, blowing up buildings, and shooting up whoever was in the streets firing back at them. There were some guys, I guess civilians hunkered down behind some sandbagged positions in the middle of the street, which was pretty dumb. They got hit first, and then as the choppers moved on to shoot other guys, the commandos in black started moving on foot through the streets.
“I can’t remember what I did, but remember firing something at one of the helicopters and actually hitting it. Maybe it was an RPG [rocket propelled grenade], but the bird started smoking heavily, went into a tailspin, and then blew up as it hit a building at an intersection down the road a little ways. Then we turned around and started firing on the guys on foot.
“They didn’t use smart tactics or anything, for some reason. They just sort sent a line up both sides of the street, and a few of them sprinted towards us in the middle of the road. We took cover behind the blown up sandbags and fired back, and I think we dropped them all pretty quickly. Somewhere a little ways off, another chopper crashed, too. I don’t know who shot it, but apparently somebody did. It didn’t make much sense, but I think they were some foreign country invading us. I have no idea where they came from or anything, but they were definitely the bad guys, and we were right to shoot at them.
“But the next part was even weirder. It was like the dream had fast forwarded to the end of the war or whatever and we were at a banquet. An awards banquet of all things. A whole room full of round tables with white tablecloths, fancy food, and a podium pretty nearby, where a man was speaking about all the heroism and how everything went just great.
“But somehow, I knew they were going to give awards to the people at my table. Maybe it was because we were so close to the podium. There were five of us there. Me, two other guys, and two women. I don’t remember recognizing them, but I think they were involved in the fighting, too. That’s just a guess. When the speaker started talking about all the brave men and women who stood up to this ‘terrible aggressor,’ I figured that he’d start calling some of us up for awards any moment.
“And I remember thinking, ‘I don’t want an award. I just did was I was supposed to do, and what everybody should have done, too. And there are bunch of guys that didn’t make it, either. Aren’t we going to honor them? Honoring the living ones seems kind of dumb.’ And you know what I did next? I set down my napkin, lifted up the tablecloth, and climbed under the table to hide. I didn’t want to be recognized. I didn’t want an award. And it seemed like they were totally forgetting the ones that didn’t make it.
“You know what else bothered me? All the killing; shooting down the chopper; dropping every guy that ran at us: I was completely remorseless. They weren’t even human to me. That’s probably the worst part: it seemed natural.
“You’re the first person I’ve told this to, actually. I’m afraid to tell anybody else. They’ll either think I’m insane, or they’ll be afraid that I’m going to have some sort of psychotic episode and start killing people – since I guess I’m so good at it, at least in my dreams.
“Is this normal, dude? Do you have dreams like this?" He looked at me quizzically.
I was reluctant to answer…
Copyright © 2009, Ben Shaw
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