Written by Mark Cusco Ailes
From: Catfurnado, Zombies and One Killer Doll
Trevor Winestine awoke with sweat running down his face. He had been running for several miles being chased by a large rabbit that had long fangs and the thirst for blood. Even though it had just been a dream, it seemed real. He heard a noise coming from the other side of the room, and he lifted his head to take a look. He was showered in blood and heard a high-pitched scream. The lights came on, and he saw a large man holding a machete in the corner. He stood over what appeared to be a large rabbit with its head cut off. The man turned to look at him. “Are you all right? This was the creature that has been chasing you in your dreams. You can rest easy now because the beast is now dead.”
Trevor remembered now where he was. He was at the Dream Institute in Chicago. He had paid top dollar to have the monster in his dreams destroyed once and for all. A man in a white lab coat came into the room and came over to him. “I told you, Mr. Winestine that we now have the technology to pull the evil out of your dreams and kill it. Unless you dream up some new monster to contend with, you should be able to have some restful sleep.”
He watched as a team of men in blue coveralls began to clean up the mess. He couldn’t believe that it was now over. He didn’t have to worry about falling asleep ever again. One of the men picked up one of the rabbit’s fangs that were lying on the floor and brought it over to him. “Would you like to have this for a souvenir?”
“No thank you,” Trevor said, not wanting to look at it. “I want to forget all about that rabbit.”
The man took the fang away. He shook his head and lay back down on the bed. He never wanted to see a rabbit again for the rest of his life.
Carla Johnson pushed the alarm clock off her nightstand and covered her face with her pillow. She had just had another dream about a large man wearing a wolf mask and carrying a pickaxe. He stood nearly seven feet and smelled as though he lived in the nearby garbage dump. She dreamed about this man night after night. She was about to go out of her mind, because she hadn’t had a decent night of sleep in months. She slowly got out of bed and went into the kitchen to turn her coffee maker on. She looked at a yellow piece of paper she had taped to her can of coffee. It was from the Dream Institute. It referred to some new technology that could pull monsters from dreams. One of their executioners could destroy it for you. There was a contact number for a free estimate. She was intrigued, but skeptical. She couldn’t believe that any technology could pull the boogeymen from dreams. She went back to making her coffee and dismissed the idea.
She struggled at work as she fought to keep her eyes open. She took a sip of her coffee and looked around the office. It was one of those days she didn’t feel like doing anything. She stared at her computer screen, trying to focus. Everything seemed to be swirling together in one black mass. She thought about the Dream Institute for a moment and decided to look them up on the internet to see if she could get more information on the new technology she had read about. After reading through a lot of information, she decided to give them a call and make an appointment. She was lucky. They had one appointment left for today after she got off from work.
She sat in her car in front of the Dream Institute trying to decide if she was actually going to keep her appointment. She was half expecting someone to come out to her car and tell her to go home because it was one big joke. She waited for several minutes, but no one came. She finally went inside.
The lobby was extraordinary. There was a fountain in the middle with colored water, palm trees (she guessed were fake) everywhere, taxidermy animals behind glass, and a large machine in one of the corners that had a sign above it that read “What Dreams are Made Of.”
“Welcome to the Dream Institute,” said a man in an expensive blue business suit. “You must be Mrs. Johnson. My name is Christopher Merits.”
“That’s Miss Johnson. I’m not married.”
“All right, Miss Johnson, if you follow me to my office we can begin.”
She followed him down a long hall that had several more taxidermy animals in it. She was led into a room on the right, just past a taxidermy skunk smelling a flower. The room was very large, as big as a gymnasium. There was another fountain with colored water in the middle of the room, and another couple dozen or so taxidermy animals were scattered throughout. She also noticed that some of the floor was colored yellow and led to the back of the room and disappeared down another hall. A sign hung from the ceiling that read “Follow Your Dreams.”
Mr. Merits sat behind a large desk and had her sit down in a chair in front of it. He looked at her for a moment and smiled. “Are you here because of a nightmare?”
“This is silly,” she said. “I shouldn’t be here. I’m sorry to have wasted your time.”
“It’s not a waste of my time, Miss Johnson. I promise you that it won’t be a waste of your time.”
“Looking around this place, I don’t see how you could help me.”
“That’s because what you’re looking for is behind another door. This is a place of pleasant dreams.”
“I don’t remember what a pleasant dream is. It’s been a long time since I’ve had one.”
He looked at her for a moment and then pulled out an odd looking set of keys out of one of the desk drawers. “Follow me, Miss Johnson.”
He led her down the hall in the back of the room until they came to a metal door which he opened. Inside were computers on several tables, a large bed, and a large machine that stood in the center of the room. Near the machine was another desk. He led her over to it and had her sit. “This is where you want to be, Miss Johnson. This is where we turn your nightmares into pleasant dreams.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You don’t need to understand, Miss Johnson. All you need is assurance that I can destroy your nightmares. I have never encountered a boogeyman that I couldn’t destroy.”
“How could you possibly give me that assurance? You don’t even know who or what is in my nightmares.”
“But we will. I suggest the sooner the better. From the circles under your eyes, I can tell you haven’t slept in a while.”
Carla looked at the machine. “Does that machine have something to do with it?”
“It has everything to do with it. That machine can bring the boogeyman out of your dreams into our world. Once he’s here, we have an executioner destroy him for you.”
“That sounds like science fiction,” she said. “How can a machine do such a thing?”
“The details would just bore you. Trust me, Miss Johnson, the machine really does work. All you have to do is go to sleep and we’ll do the rest. But first, we have to discuss my fee. This technology doesn’t pay for itself.”
“How much will it cost me?”
“Trust me, Miss Johnson, you’ll find that our fee for such technology is priceless.”
Carla glared at him sternly. “That doesn’t answer my question.”
“It will cost you ten thousand dollars, Miss Johnson. We take all forms of payment except personal checks.”
“Ten thousand dollars! I hope an after dinner snack comes with that!”
“How about a goodnight’s rest, Miss Johnson? Surely ten thousand dollars is worth that much.”
“I suppose it is, but that is about all I have in savings. What happens if this doesn’t work? What kind of guarantees do I have?”
He smiled. “I will kindly give you a full refund if our process doesn’t work.”
“Can I get that in writing?”
“When can we start?”
“We can start tonight if you like. All you have to do is bring me the money.”
“What about right now?” she asked. “Do you take debit?”
“Yes, we take debit, Miss Johnson. We’ll need one hour to get everything prepared. I will have an associate take you to our dining facility. You will be provided with a small meal while we set everything up for you.”
An hour later, Miss Johnson was brought back to the room and was told to get into bed. An orderly was busy fastening electrodes to her body while Mr. Merits was busy talking to the executioner in the room. Once the orderly was finished, Mr. Merits came over to the bed. “Don’t be nervous, Miss Johnson. All you have to do is concentrate on sleeping. Once the machine brings your boogeyman out, the executioner will simply execute him or her. We’ll now turn the lights down for you, and I must warn you that the machine makes a soft humming noise.”
Once he left, the lights went dim, and the machine began to hum as she was warned. At first, she had trouble falling asleep, but soon found herself back in the world with the man with the wolf mask. She was walking down a darkened alley. She could hear the sounds of scraping metal on the pavement somewhere behind her. She knew that the masked man was close, but she couldn’t see him. She wanted to run, but she could see that the alley led to a brick wall. The only way out was in the direction of the sounds. She looked around frantically. All she saw was a dumpster, several bags of garbage and an old tire. Nothing looked useful to her. The scraping sounds were coming closer, and she thought she heard heavy breathing. She felt her heart racing, but she was frozen in place. She tried to turn but it was too late. The man in the wolf mask was standing next to her, raising his pickaxe. Then he disappeared from her sight.
She woke up to the sight of blood everywhere. The executioner was lying on the ground with a pickaxe through his head. The orderly and Mr. Merits were both lying on the ground with their necks broken. The man in the wolf mask was nowhere to be found, and the metal door to the room was wide open. Her boogeyman had escaped. Her nightmare had now become the world’s nightmare. Carla had a sickening thought; tomorrow was Halloween. Nobody will see him coming. She began pulling off the electrodes. She needed to find a weapon and stop him before he had a chance to leave the Dream Institute. As she got out of the bed, a knife was thrown into the room and penetrated her brain. She slumped to the ground as the man wearing the wolf mask entered the room. He looked around and went back through the door and kept going until he found the exit leading into the real world–Happy Halloween.