Carl Dreams a Terrible Dream

Carl's Dream

In my upcoming sci-fi / dystopian novel, Interpretation, dreams play a significant role.  People are controlled by an entity without their knowledge, often being fed dreams at night.  When Carl is free of their control, he is also free to dream on his own.

In chapter 11 we learn that Carl is having a recurring dream about his son, Liam.  Unfortunately for Carl, it’s a dream that foreshadows his upcoming struggles.


“Hello!?” Carl yelled into dense fog.  Emptiness caught hold of the word, bouncing his voice all around.  The Doppler Effect forced the pitch lower and lower.  A strange echo shot every semi-tone back at him.  The cacophony of o, so loud and heavy, forced Carl to place his hands ineffectively over his ears.  Down to one knee, the sound rattled his lungs.   Pressure overwhelmed Carl to the point where he thought that his insides might shake loose.  Consumed by only one thought, for the noise to stop, it did.  Silence.  An absolute vacuum.

Carl stayed down for a moment, afraid that the din would return.  When it didn’t, he opened his eyes.  Not that he could see anything through the thick fog which swirled around him like cream in coffee.  The street ahead was nothing more than an abandoned sketch.

Gaining confidence that the rush of sound was gone, Carl took a blind step forward.  His foot sank into a crack.  Stumbling sideways, he caught himself before falling to the ground.  Careful to remain mute, he stood still to gather himself and examine the land as best he could.  But gazing into the muddied air proved useless.  Instead, he continued to remain stationary, wishing for the fog to disappear.

The haze gathered itself in a twister, spinning down the street, out of sight, revealing a street with more cracks and potholes than level surface.  Buildings, crumbled to their foundations, lined the road’s edge; the ruins of an ancient civilization.  Carl stared down the lonely street looking for someone, anyone, to emerge from the horizon.  Instead, a cackling vulture flew overhead, circling around Carl before flying north.  Not sure where else to go, Carl followed the bird which swooped back at his intruder before continuing its path.  Carl ignored the warning and continued to follow it for several blocks.

Finally, the bird spiraled downward, shouting three distinctive caws.  Nothing more than a speck against the bland sky, Carl watched it land.  He ran towards the place where the bird perched itself.

It stood on a pile of rubble, waiting for its intruder to join.  Carl slowed to a crawl with an uneasiness that girdled against his ribs, stifling his breath.  Each step revealed a little more detail.  A body laid on top of the pile.  The vulture pecked at its face.  Carl edged his way closer to the corpse, his head swirling.  He needed to know whose body it was; through, he found anything more than a quick glance caused vomit to push into his throat.  Another step closer, the vulture stopped pecking to spy on Carl with an eye hanging out the side of its beak.  The bird hissed.  Carl launched a rock at its head.  He wanted to shout at it but was too afraid to trigger the noise that shook him earlier.  The vulture laughed at Carl while the stone whizzed by its head.  Hopping backwards a few times, the bird took flight, continuing its northbound path.

As he inched his way closer, Carl could see that it was a child laying on the pile.  One arm hung over the top while the other pointed down.  The child’s leg, broken at the knee, formed an awkward V.  With blood smeared across his face, the trail of life’s liquid led down to his neck where a wide gash across the boy’s throat was covered by flies and maggots.  A golden bowl filled with the sanguine fluid was placed next to his head, which spilled out the side and stained the rocks.

Tears streamed down Carl’s face.  Even with the blood smeared down the boy’s face and an eye removed by the vulture, Carl knew who it was.  He knew the moment that he saw the body, though he didn’t want to admit it.  Carl fell to his knees, sobbing.  The boy was his son.

From out of nowhere, the vulture dove at Carl.  Its talons clawed at his scalp and pulled his hair.  A terrible wail escaped Carl, triggering the Doppler Echo.  Carl couldn’t stop crying.  Not from the vulture but from the torment of seeing his son on display after some kind of horrific sacrifice.  The sounds continued to get louder, more semitones piled on to the cacophony.  It pushed Carl down into a fetal ball on the street.  The vulture circled again, still laughing.  Swooping down at Carl, it clawed at him a second time.

Carl woke by ramming his fist into a wall.  Trace amounts of blood splattered against the concrete.  His arm recoiled from pain, cursing this new recurring dream.  It was the same dream for the past three nights.  He wicked away the moisture from his face; a combination of sweat and tears left a salty residue on his skin.

Dylan Callens

About the Author...

Dylan Callens is a writer and educator living in Sudbury, Ontario. 

His debut novel, Operation Cosmic Teapot, was a resounding success. Since then, Dylan has written a number of other books, including the upcoming series, The Haber Effect