A child laugh was heard in the room dull lighted. Martin startled. He put the blanket aside, rose off the soft bed and looked at the door. He saw the figure of a child who seemed to be no more than five years old. The light got brighter and brighter. Martin’s heartbeat became irregular and so strong that he instinctively took his hand to his heart.
“Josh is that you?” asked Martin and one could feel the panic in his voice.
He looked at the child but he couldn’t clearly see his face, though the child got closer and closer.
“Josh is that you? Say something. It’s me … your father.”
The child said nothing he reached over to Martin as if he had wanted to be taken in his arms. Martin was wonderstruck. Although the room was properly lighted the child’s face was completely in the dark.
“Josh?” murmured Martin.
The child took one more step reaching over to the man in front of him. Martin bent to the child with a fearful heart. He wanted to take him in his arms. Next second he grew pale and released the child who fell to the ground disintegrating himself…
“Martin, Martin, wake up!”
The familiar sound of his assistant’s voice stirred no reaction. She shook Martin’s arm.
“Martin, wake up! You will miss the performance. The room is almost full.”
The man took his hands to his eyes and began rubbing them.
“Jenna, is that you?”
“Yes, Martin, it’s me, but hurry up, you are supposed to enter the Alpha room in a few seconds.”
“Wait for me outside please! I’ll be right up”, sad Martin in a hoarse voice.
Jenna distanced herself slowly from Martin’s bed and walked to the door.
One must know that Jenna stood by Martin from the moment he had been captured on the planet Akrossya. When he was brought on Neezeria, Jenna had been appointed his assistant by Chronos, the Neezerian who had captured Martin. Her job was to take care of Martin and make sure that he felt more than comfortable. The Neezerians where solitary due to the huge distances that separated their planet from others. Although they possessed the latest technology their behavior and their lifestyle were not civilized. They were primitive. The Neezerians were tall; men reached two and half meters height. Most of them had long hair which was worn in loops. Their dark eyes were emphasized by their bony faces.
After a few moments of waiting, Jenna heard the door of Martin’s room opening. He showed up on the doorway, his eyes still retaining the traces of sleep.
“Martin, hurry up, we must begin at once. Chronos is waiting for you in the Alpha room.”
“What does he want from me?” asked Martin.
“Come and you will find out. How could I know what he wants? I don’t think he will be very happy when he finds out that you have slept.”
“I don’t care. I will sleep again anyway and he will get what he wants.”
The two passed through a large corridor, tasteless, decorated by Chronos’ housekeeper. There were rough dusty carpets on the floor and a few cockroaches were passing on unhindered. A door made of iron appeared on the left. Jenna pressed a golden button near the door and she uttered some words which Martin could not understand. The door lifted slowly and the two stepped inside. On the left wall there were two screens and other equipments that could be taken as a sort of surveillance center. In the middle of the room there was a bed and right next to it, one could see a helmet and a few colored cables. The right wall was transparent and linked that room to another where it was a huge screen whose diameter was about 15 meters. There were at least two hundred and fifty Neezerians in that room, all eager to see a performance. Chronos rubbing his hands stood on a chair next to the transparent wall. On hearing the door opening he stood up and welcomed them.
“Martin, how do you feel? It seems to me that you are sleepy, am I wrong?” asked the Neezerian in an authoritative voice.
“Good afternoon, Chronos” answered Martin bored. “I don’t feel very well and indeed I have slept. Moreover, I think that you will have nightmares tonight.”
“Damn, Martin. I’ve told you so many times not to sleep before the show.” Chronos got mad. “You know I don’t like your nightmares, but if so, pray for it to be an interesting one, otherwise you won’t see a penny this week.”
“Jenna bring me a glass of drink before I go to sleep” said Martin to his assistant.
She went out of the metallic door and less than two minutes later she returned carrying a glass in which there was a reddish drink. Martin took the glass and drank at one swallow.
“Thank you, Jenna. We can start now” said Martin.
Chronos left the room without saying a word. Martin took the helmet, put it on his head and lay on the bed in the center of the room. Jenna took the colored cables, she fixed two of them on Martin’s hand, one on his chest and the other one was connected to the helmet.
“Are you ready?” asked Jenna.
“Yes. Go to it” said Martin.
“Sweet dreams. See you after the performance”, said his assistant walking to the screen on the left.
She pressed a button on which the neezerian word narid meaning sleep was written. That very moment Martin’s eyes began to close slowly. In the room full of people the lights were switched off and a deep silence followed. About ten minutes later the image of a large room dull-lighted appeared on the huge screen. In the middle of the room there was a huge bed and a person laid on it. That person was Martin. Suddenly a child’s laugh filled the room. It was louder and louder. Martin startled. He put the blanked aside and rose slowly off the bed.
“Josh, is that you?” asked him in a low voice.
The figure of a child appeared on the door of the room. Martin had a sigh of relief.
“Josh, you’ve scared me! Come here,” said Martin to the child approaching him and taking him into his arms.
The child laughed putting his small arms around his father’s neck.
“Why did you get scarred, daddy?” asked the child.
“I had a bad dream last night, my little Josh. That’s why I was so frightened, when you entered the room.”
“What did you dream, daddy? Can you tell me? Come on, please tell me. Please!” persisted the child.
“No, Josh. These kinds of things are not to be told to the children. I had a bad dream, I’ve told you. I dreamed monsters, that’s it and I know you don’t like monsters. Do you want to dream monsters tonight?”
“No, daddy, I don’t want to dream monsters” answered the child disappointed that he hadn’t got the answer he had wanted. That very moment, Martin saw the figure of a woman on the doorway. Her long, curly, fair hair touched her shoulders. She had been standing there for some minutes gazing at the two.
“Mom, daddy had a bad dream,” said the child to the woman.
“You little traitor,” said Martin, laughing, releasing him from his arms.
Josh ran outside, happy maybe, that he would dream no monsters, now that his father hadn’t told him his dream. Martin came near his wife and took her in his arms kissing her gently on the forehead.
“I had such a strange dream, Diane,” he told her while they were approaching the bed. Martin flopped on it and Diane set near him taking one of his arms in hers.
“Tell me, what have you dreamed? I want to judge for myself how strange your dream was”.
“Strange enough, Diane, believe me. I’ve dreamed that I was kidnapped by an interplanetary spaceship”, began Martin. “There were unusual beings. They looked like the people on Meethos, but they were smaller. One of them took me at his place. I couldn’t understand what was happening to me. One of their women was appointed my assistant. She was supposed to survey me, although it was unnecessary as I had no place to run. I remember that I was sleeping and I began talking in my sleep. I was immediately woken up by the woman beside me. She asked what had happened. I answered calmly that nothing had happened. I had dreamed. I noticed the wonder in her eyes. I felt the same when she asked me: ‘What do you mean by dreaming?’ I told her that I had a dream and asked her whether they had dreams. And she, even more wondered, answered me that she didn’t know what a dream was. I explained to her that it is something that happens when one sleeps and that one imagines all sorts of things, some of the have something to do with reality, others are purely imaginary. She answered that they felt nothing of that sort when they slept. Because she was curious she asked me to tell her my dream. The following day the man who had hosted me, took me in sort of laboratory and they did all kinds of tests on me. I understood then that the woman had told the owner of the house were I was a prisoner about my dream. After a while I woke up on a table, a helmet was put on my head and all sorts of cables on my hands. That moment I mysteriously fell asleep. Two hours later I woke up. The woman who was surveying me told me to watch attentively some screens. She pressed a button. I was shocked. I could see on the screen in front of me exactly what I had dreamed during the two hours. Everything was so real; the people in my dream were talking. I looked real. It was like I was acting in a movie. You know that one never remembers every detail of a dream. Well, I could see there every little detail of my dream. I got scarred a little, till I understood what was going on. It was obvious that they had tested me to see what dreaming meant. Short while they invented a machine which could transpose what I was dreaming on the screen. The following day I woke up being taken in a room next to a performance room. The room was full of people who were murmuring words I could not hear because of the wall which isolated the room I was in. Do you realize what I have become? I was a sort of puppet for those beings, a puppet. I was supposed to fall asleep and dream and the crowd watched on a huge screen what I was dreaming. Well, isn’t the dream strange?”
“Yes, it’s strange, extremely strange” answered Diane. “But I am interested in a certain aspect of the dream. You’ve told me about that woman, who stood close to you when you were dreaming. How close was she?” Diane smiled. She stood up pulling Martin up too.
“What do you mean?” he answered smiling back. “She was close. That’s all. Close enough.”
A strange noise was heard outside. The two looked at the door. Josh entered but hardly had he took two steps when a green light made his little, fragile body disintegrate. Diane screamed and rushed to what had left of Josh. Martin was shocked. He had no reaction. He watched Diane rush to what was left of Josh, screaming. A portly figure showed up holding a weapon pointed to Diane. A green light flashed again. A second later the woman’s body was lifeless next to Josh. The figure pointed the weapon to Martin. He lost his conscience falling to the ground.
The performance ended. The image on the screen disappeared. The murmur of the crowd was a sign that it hadn’t been enough. Martin woke up in a sweat. He took of his helmet while he rose off the bed.
“Damn it, Jenna. The same nightmare all over again! Chronos will be extremely mad”, Martin said to his assistant, who was next to the two screens on the left.
“He will get over it, Martin. Calm down” answered the woman gently. “Now you have to forget this nightmare, let’s go out for a walk in the garden, so that Chronos could not put us out of humour.
Martin was lucky having a person like Jenna beside him. She had loved him very much and she felt petty in a way for his situation, that of being Chronos’ puppet. She had wanted to help him escape from Neezeria but few ships or spaceships got on and took off the planet, and the chances that Martin would ever be free were extremely low. Because she couldn’t help him escape from the planet, Jenna tried to make his life easier in Chronos’ house. They went off the Alpha room arm in arm heading to the exit, which lead to the garden.
“Wait a second”, said Martin to his assistant, standing in front of the door of his room. “I’ll get in to take a coat, it might be cold outside.”
He opened the door of his room and got close to the closet. Hardly had he taken out a shirt when he saw something near the window. He stepped forward and grew pale. He could clearly hear a child laugh getting louder and louder…
Written by Adrian Cadar
Translated by Adina Marc