i dreamt i was in a forgotten canyon... (Dream)

Fiction By Sarah B. // 9/18/2009

Note: This story/essay is based on a very vivid dream I had this summer. I added some elements to make it more like a story, but the majority of this is exactly what I saw in my dream. It was quite possibly one of the creepiest dreams I ever had, and even just reading this account that I wrote down afterwards makes me afraid somehow, and sad - even though I tried to avoid using emotional words, which fits the "robot" theme. It almost has a feel of those towns they built in the 50's to test nuclear bombs on - like in the new Indiana Jones. That's the only place I can imagine getting this from... The ending was not in my dream - I made it up, hoping to add some meaning to these images, some sort of closure. I imagined it as a short movie, which is why the ending sounds like a scene in a movie... I don't know whether this piece is good or bad, I just know that I had to write it down.

******

I dreamt I was in a forgotten canyon – arid, narrow, deep. By the side of a little thread of water that went snaking over the floor of the canyon, I found the entrance of a cave, carved deep in the gritty, layered sandstone. Just within the shadow of the entrance, there was a low door, a round metal hatchway. I opened it, bent down, and went inside. The door closed behind me and sealed, and it was dark – pitch dark. I stumbled in the blackness, feeling the walls for a switch. The walls felt smooth, and my feet seemed to be moving across carpet.

There was a switch. The lights came on slowly and all together, until a soft light filled the place. I saw that the narrow entranceway was really a short hall. At the end of the hall, I stepped down two stairs, and was able to stand straight – though the ceiling still seemed a little lower, somehow, than I was used to. I looked around.

I was in a house. To my left was a living room, with couches and coffee tables. To the right of that stood a dining table, and behind that was the kitchen. Beyond the living room was a hall, presumably leading to the bedrooms. It was all spotlessly clean and tidy, with a décor echoing that of the 50’s.

What kind of place could this be? I wondered. Then I saw, to the right of the dining room table, there was a glass patio door, covered with a hanging blind. What could be beyond it? It could not possibly lead outdoors. I went to the door and drew back the blinds.

It was a room – a larger one than those I stood in, and slightly sphere-shaped. It was designed to look like a backyard. There was a green carpet, and grass was painted onto a few inches up the curving base of the wall. The upper part of the wall and the curving ceiling were painted blue – a perfect sky. There was even a tree, with green paper leaves.

Then there was a sound behind me, and I turned around.

That’s when I discovered that by flipping the switch, I had awoken more than just the lights. There were two machines here: a mother robot, and a father robot. They were mannequins – plastic, rigid, cold to the touch, their gentle smiles painted on. The mother wore a 50’s dress in a cheerful pattern. Her lips were painted a bright red, and her eyelashes were perfectly straight. The father had dark hair and a checked shirt.

They became my parents while I stayed. They had been expecting me. But no, not me. They had a room prepared for a boy, they had boy’s clothes. They knew I was a girl, but this was what they had, what they knew. So I dressed in boy’s clothes, I talked about boyish things, like baseball and bicycles. They knew all about these things, and they said everything a parent should say, though I knew that their words were just recorded. They moved stiffly, unable to bend their mechanical joints easily. Their faces didn’t move when they spoke, and this made me cautious for a while, but I soon grew used to it.

I grew used to everything. I called them Mother and Father. I stopped moving my mouth when I spoke; I stopped moving smoothly and with grace. Our conversations were always the same, and we spoke them often enough that I knew them by heart. The cave-house became my world. I almost forgot about outside. I played endless games of catch with Father in the fake backyard – throwing the ball gently, and then running to catch it when he didn’t, or when he couldn’t bend down to pick it up. The food was made to look real, but inside all of it was a tan mush that tasted exactly the same. Mother and Father did not eat, of course, but sat with plastic food in front of them, watching me. Mother sang the same song to me every night – tinny, recorded – yet soon I could not go to sleep without it. Neither could I go without a goodnight kiss – a brief touch of her plastic lips to my cheek.

I did not love them. They did not love me because they were machines, and I did not love them because I was almost a machine myself.

Then there was the day when Father was hurt. The stove, on which they pretended to cook my meals, shorted. Father’s back was to me, so I could not see his face, but I saw him go rigid, and then begin to shake. Suddenly he pitched forward, falling against the stove. His face was pressed against the burner. Wisps of smoke rose, and there was a faint sound of sizzling.

Mother went to him and turned off the stove. She did it without haste, and so I reacted in kind. Without showing any emotion, I turned, and left the house. I did not go out the patio door, for when Father had been shocked, I had suddenly remembered that they were not real. So neither was our backyard real. I left for two reasons. One, that Father had been hurt, and I did not want to see. But I also left because Mother had been startled, and I did not know how she would react. I had always been slightly wary of them, and now I knew why.

The sunlight looked strange – too yellow. Everything was yellow and shades of peach. I shut the door behind me and walked away from it. I came to the little brook and walked upstream. After I had gone a ways, I found why it was so small. A large dam made out of brick and rocks stood in my way, blocking off the water. The top of the dam was near the top of the canyon, and the walls were rough. I climbed to the top.

The land above the canyon was flat and bare. Ahead of me, a long ways away, stood a range of worn-down mountains. Everything seemed brown and gray, even the sky. I began walking towards the mountains. I came to a road – little more than two tracks running across the land towards the hills. I followed it – walking, just walking.

A truck came up behind me. I moved to the side, and it pulled up beside me. As it stopped, the person in the passenger seat rocked forward and then thumped back against the seat, showing a face that was ruined and mangled, a face that smiled at me with melted lips.

“Father!” I gasped, showing I was still human.

The driver leaned forward with what seemed unnatural speed. It was a man, a real man, and he smiled at me. I shuddered as his lips split open when he said, “Oh, so it’s you. Howdy!”, showing that I was still a little bit machine, after all.

“Climb on in back,” he said. I did not want to sit behind Father when he was like this, though he appeared to be shut down, but I climbed into the back of the pickup truck and curled up on the floor as we hurtled towards the mountains.

We went into a facility, and the gates closed behind us. I was shown into a building and greeted by people who apparently knew everything about me. It was only when they showed me replicas of the rooms that I been living in that I understood.

It was an experiment, all of it. They even showed me the little boy robot that they had been planning to add. But when I had showed up, they had decided to allow the experiment to continue as it was going, observing all the time. After they fixed Father, they would add the boy robot and start the experiment up again. They invited me to watch. They even showed me the tree house they were planning on putting in the back yard.

When they started the house back up, Father and Mother went up to the boy robot just as they had gone up to me. But I was ignored now, as was everyone else. When the others left, I stayed and watched. As I watched them care for him as they had me, I felt jealous. These were my parents, this was my home. I wandered out of the house, feeling lost and alone.

I did not belong with them, that was for certain. But neither did I belong with humans anymore. I was nobody, a being without an identity, or even a species.

I reached the dam. As I looked up at it, slowly I realized what I must do. Bit by bit, I began pulling rocks from the dam, weakening it, breaking it down. Water began to seep through the cracks, making my hands wet and slippery as I continued pulling the rocks out. When I knew the time was right, I stepped away from the dam, went back to the house, and opened the door. Then I stepped across the stream and went up the side canyon across from the door. I waited. There was a murmur, then a rushing, then a roaring as the dam broke.

I stood there in the canyon, my heart pounding as I waited for the water to come. They did not deserve to exist, this experiment must be stopped, that was for certain. And it was the only way I could be free of them. But what about me? If I stayed here, I would surely die as well. But did I deserve to live? The frantic racing of my heart told me that yes, I was alive. But I had no identity. Did I have any worth?

A wall of water emerged from around the corner. It rushed into the door, and for a moment, its progress was halted, all its energy invested into filling every corner of that confining house.

Then it was full, and a fountain of water sprang from the door. It leapt at me with a roar, and for a moment I was so terrified that I couldn’t move. My heart stopped – and I realized that I didn’t want it to. I could move, and I did. The canyon wall to my left was ragged enough to scramble up, and I did. The wave hit me, soaking me through, but it did not tear me away. I clambered up, and then up the next slope, until I stood once more on the flatland, facing the sun. I was panting for breath, and I was alive.

I was me.

 

***

 

The girl, dressed in boy’s clothes, stood panting and dripping wet on the flatland. She blinked as she faced the setting sun. Then she took a deep breath, and began walking towards it, limping a little as she went, leaving a trail of damp footprints behind her. She did not look back.

Below, in the canyon, the rushing water had settled. Objects went floating by in the river – a baseball bat, a teddy bear, a lampshade.  They floated down the river and were gone. But underneath, half buried in the sand, lay what seemed to be a mask, ragged at the edge as though it had been broken off of something. Its bright red lips were curved in a smile that was somehow sad, and its painted-on eyelashes were perfectly straight.

 

 

Comments

Ack!

Reading this gave me the shivers! It read like some old sci-fi story. You DREAMED this? Wow. Creepy!

Heather | Sun, 09/27/2009

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

*shiver*

Creepy!!! It almost makes me want to write about some of the creepy dreams I've had, but I think they would sound silly if someone else read them, as they involve Yoda, and tiny blue mice, and other such things that make no sense. But yours is so... coherent! And I see what you mean about it being somehow sad... Good job. :)

Hannah W. | Thu, 10/01/2009

Whoa!

That was... creepy! How did you ever have a dream like that? What did you eat before bed?!?!?!:) Wow...

 

PS My sister (OFG) said to tell you that it reminded her of something by George Orwell. She would comment, but she's running out of comments! :P

Kendra | Thu, 10/01/2009

<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\
"Are you sure this water is sanitary? It looks questionable to me! But what about bacteria?"--Tantor the elephant from Tarzan.

 Gaack! Where on earth do you

 Gaack! Where on earth do you get these dreams?! That was weird! Really well written, understandable, and it keeps your attention, but weird! And kinda creepy. 

You're sure it was just watching the new Indiana Jones? Because I don't recall robots being in it.

Joanna-J | Mon, 10/26/2009