Mapping the Silence of Dreams, page 1
About Mapping the Silence of Dreams
This is a short story/novella by Duane Gundrum. It runs about 22 pages in and consists of 11,000 words. This story comes from the collection Darkened Passages, which is also available in paperback and on e-reader.
Mapping the Silence of Dreams
By Duane Gundrum
Copyright 2013, 2014
Also by Duane Gundrum
INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUITY
ABSENT WITHOUT LEAVE (AWOL)
THOMPSON’S BOUNTY: A SHIP OUT OF TIME
THE TEDDY BEAR CONSPIRACY
BETWEEN A LAUGH AND A SCREAM
ALL ROADS LEAD TO PINE BUSH
MAPPING THE SILENCE OF DREAMS
THE SHADOW PEOPLE
SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS
LICENSE TO QUILL
NEO REVOLUTIONARY MESSAGES
MAPPING THE SILENCE OF DREAMS-TITLE PAGE
The character and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Text copyright © Duane Gundrum
No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express permission of the copyright holder.
MAPPING THE SILENCE OF DREAMS
The kaleidoscope of multi-colored lights whipped about him as a white tunnel opened in his path. Stars that weren't stars glittered all around him and then went silent, never to be felt again.
What do you see? said a voice that boomed from all around him, the kaleidoscope of colors changing shapes with each syllable that was spoken.
He made no attempt to answer, but continued forward, the walls of the tunnel becoming solid around him and then melting into stained lights, only to be recycled into masses of another form.
The tunnel before him opened up to reveal a small village, the first few wooden buildings presenting themselves to him as he cleared the tunnel, its entrance collapsing on itself as he stretched out to the openness of the small village.
Where are you, John? said that voice. What do you see?
"A village," he said.
What kind of village? Have you seen it before?
He stared at the village and recognized nothing. The buildings were silent, and the streets were void of any signs of life. No, he had never been here before.
John, are you all right?
"Yeah," he said. "I'm fine, but I've never been here before. I'd know it if I had."
Be careful, John. Don't take any unnecessary chances.
"The town is deserted," said John. "There are no chances to take."
John assessed the town. It was about the size of a California gold rush town, and it was about as busy as most of the abandoned ones. However, this didn't stop John from moving forward to see if there was anything interesting left "in town."
He walked down the first street. Windows were boarded up, and doors were sealed over with wood nailed in X patterns. Tumbleweeds rolled across the dirt road, crisscrossing the dirt path and then instantly changing direction when the wind chose another path around the wooden buildings blocking its way.
He walked down several streets, always finding sealed-off doors and windows. Expecting much of the same after so many similar streets, he turned the next corner and stopped dead in his tracks. "There's an open door on this street," said John.
Be careful. You don't know what's in there. Why don't you come back and we'll think this through where it's safe?
"No way," said John. "This is what you sent me here for. I'm not about to turn tail and run just when we've finally found what we might be looking for."
The voice emitted a sigh. Just be careful.
"You've got it," said John as he walked up to the doorway and entered the building.
The building he entered was an old-time western saloon, a bar on the far wall and tables placed sporadically throughout the dusty room. As John moved deeper into the saloon, he realized there was someone sitting at one of the far tables nearest the bar. The man was dressed in a black gunfighter outfit, from a 10-gallon black hat to snake-skin cowboy boots, and he was shuffling a deck of cards on the table before him. "Welcome, stranger," said the gunfighter. "What brings you to this corner of the world?"
"Where am I?" said John as a chill rushed through his spine and then disappeared as quickly as it came.
"You don't know?" he said with a smile. "So, you haven't been here before?"
John shook his head. "This is my first time."
"Then welcome," he said. "Welcome to Jackson, the outer county of the Dark Lands."
The Dark Lands? said the voice.
"Who is that?" said the gunfighter as he stood up. "Who did you bring with you?"
Get out of there, John. This isn't what we were looking for.
"Searchers?" said the gunfighter, his eyes opening wide. "Here?"
Get out, John.
John turned around to exit the saloon before he realized the door was now replaced with a solid wall. There was no longer an exit to the saloon.
"I'm trapped," said John.
Search for another exit, said the voice. Just get out of there!
John looked around the room, but all he could focus on was the glaring stare of the gunfighter. With a smile, the man sat back down and continued to shuffle his deck of cards. "There is no escape, John," he said.
Realizing the gunfighter was correct, John took a seat across the table from him. "What do you want from me?"
"Haven't you figured it out yet?" he said.
John shook his head no.
"Who sent you here, John?" said the gunfighter.
John said nothing.
The gunfighter smiled again. "Come on, John. I'm going to get this information from you one way or another. Why don't you just make it easier on yourself?"
Don't tell him, said the voice.
The gunfighter stood up and pointed his finger in the air toward the ceiling. "Don't you give orders here! If you're not brave enough to come here yourself, you have no right to order those who are." He turned back to John. "Now, friend, why don't you tell me who is on the other end of that voice?"
Get out of there, John!
The gunfighter smiled at the ceiling. "It's not going to work that way. John came here, and he's staying until I find out what I want to know." He looked at John. "Well, John?"
"I don't know anything," said John, his eyes looking for a way out, for anything that could assist him but found nothing.
"Are you going to force me to use stronger measures?" said the gunfighter.
His eyes glared into John's. "I can be quite forceful when I want to be." As he continued to stare, John began to feel heat in his own eyes, a heat that began to increase in intensity from the moment he began to feel it. In only a couple of seconds, he began to feel that his eyes were going roast out of their sockets. "Stop!" screamed John.
"Who sent you here?" said the gunfighter, maintaining the same heat, but not increasing it while he waited for a response.
"Dr. Aziz," he said. "Dr. Aziz sent me in here."
The gunfighter's eyes stopped and then went soft, then focusing on the ceiling. "Outsiders? Is that what you are?"
Let him go, said the voice. He has nothing you want.
John stared at him and looked for a place to run, but found none. "What do you want from me?"
"I just want to borrow you for a little while," said the gunfighter.
"What?" said John.
"Just stand still," said the gunfighter as he moved closer to John, moving with his prey as John backed up against the far wall. "I promise this won't hurt a single bit."
He reached a hand out to John, placing it on the man's forehead. As he did, flames exploded from his hand into the skull of the trapped man.
"It won't hurt a bit," he said as John's head exploded, cutting off his consciousness.
The gunfighter stared at the remains of John's exploded head. "Okay, a little."
Dr. Victor Aziz stared at the beta wave display pattern and couldn't believe what he was seeing. At one point, the patient in the monitoring room was experiencing REM flashbacks, but then there was nothing. The EKG monitor connected to the young man on the monitoring bed went erratic for a moment and then registered a straight line. As Dr. Aziz fiddled with the door knob to get into the laboratory's sterile environment, he heard the sound of the EKG as it kicked back into life. For the moment, he couldn't believe what had happened. People didn't die and then come right back to life as if nothing had happened.
Having spent years of research on human subjects, always monitored by representatives of the government, he knew when there was something wrong with an EKG. Each one had its own intricacies. No two were ever alike. Yet, it took him a couple of seconds to realize there was something wrong here.
John had been a perfect subject for the experiment. He fell into the guidelines of the dream research program: