(1 of 1. Originally posted on June 30, 2023 for the prompt “The Collector of Dreams”)
The Dream Collector sifted through thousands of dreams, searching for the best ones. A million dreams of waiting in line, running late, public nudity, weird conversations. Boring. Zombies? Now that is interesting. He dipped into the dream.
Dozens of undead attacked blurry-faced people on a stereotypical NYC street. A dark-haired, pale-skinned, twenty-something year old man with a skull tattoo dodged and ran, searching for unlocked doors and not finding any.
The Dream Collector spread his hands out toward the chaos, a dark priest offering blessing, and spoke his command.
* * *
“Where are you taking him?” Leilany projected all the authority should could muster from her five-foot-nothing frame.
“Are you a relative, ma’am? Can you tell us anything about him?” One of the men lifting her patient from the sidewalk turned his black sunglasses toward her.
“Do I look like a relative?” She waved her Hispanic-toned hand at the pale-skinned, twenty-something, tattooed man stretched between the two suits. “I found him panicked and covered in blood, screaming that he couldn’t wake up. I gave him a heavy dose of midazolam, and I need to monitor him. Preferably in a hospital.”
The suits looked at each other, then lowered the man back onto the pavement. The one who’d spoken stepped over to Leilany. “You were with him when the threat vanished?”
“The threat?” She put her hands on her hips. She tilted her head back to look him in the eyes. Or at least, in the sunglasses. “You mean the crazy, bloody people who were attacking everyone and then just disappeared? Yeah, I was with this guy. I almost had to sit on him to get him to take the shot, then I stayed with him until he fell asleep. About the time his breathing slowed and I started wondering how I’d manage to move him somewhere safe, the screaming stopped and everyone was gone.”
The suit put a finger to his ear and tilted his head. He stood motionless for a few seconds. Then he flashed some kind of official-looking ID, too fast for her to read it. “All right. We have to take him, but you’re coming with us too. You can monitor him on the way. We have a few more questions.”
* * *
Before the first dream faded from the world, the Dream Collector had sifted through millions more. A dragon? Interesting. He dipped into the dream.
A massive scaled beast bowed its head before a skinny black girl in a dress three times her size and a ridiculous tiara.
The Dream Collector raised his hands.