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Red Sky at Morning

The Dream that Never Ends

By Mary K BrackettPublished about a month ago 4 min read
Runner-up in 3:00 AM Challenge
"Red Sky at Morning" - Edited photo of Las Vegas taken March 10, 2024 by M.K. Brackett

Three a.m. and I’m wide awake again, staring out the window at a starless, moonless night and waiting for the sun to rise. It’s hard to tell the color against the black blanket of night and thanks to the dream that woke me, I won’t be able to sleep again until I’ve made sure the sky is still blue.

Far off in the distance a muted rumble begins, and I grab my coffee cup from the windowsill, only marginally aware that I’m gripping it tight enough to shatter the painted porcelain. The image on it is of a bright, blue-skyed day at the beach with a colorful Ferris wheel turning above the Santa Monica pier behind seven-year-old me and my mother. The rumble grows closer until finally the blinking lights of an airplane come into view. I exhale and breathe in the warm, bittersweet scent of the coffee, relaxing just a little.

A moment later an ambulance passes by, siren blaring, and somewhere closer a nightbird calls, easing my tension further. “I’m not alone,” my thoughts sigh and I take up the mantra as I close my eyes.

Immediately, the barren, burnt landscape of my recurring dream explodes onto the back of my aching, sleep-deprived eyelids. The deep crimson sun beats down with a scorching heat against a blood-red, cloudless sky, but I’m no longer standing alone amid the skeleton remnants of trees and dried grass. Slowly, I fill in the scene with more hopeful things – the plane, the ambulance, and birds singing greetings to the new dawn. Then, as I breathe in the peaceful scent of the coffee, I let the people in.

Everyday people. People like those in the family photo painted on my cup. Smiling and enjoying a beautiful day spent with family. Children playing in the sand, teasing the ocean waves. Not the parched, sunburnt and ragged survivors I sometimes find in my dreams, more likely to turn and run than to greet you with open, joyful arms.

And children?

I’ve not seen children in my dreams since they started.

When I was one.

I open my eyes and gaze down at the photo in the candlelight as a lump forms in my throat. That was the very day it had all started. I’d woke everyone in the beach house that next morning, three a.m., screaming and inconsolable. I was stranded, stuck at the top of the Ferris wheel, the car rocking back and forth in a hot, dusty wind that smelled like bad breath and felt like an oven. The scarlet sky held a dark, ruby sun much larger than I’d ever seen and I knew with a child’s intuitive certainty that no one would be coming to save me.

I’d had to climb down.

With that hot sun beating down, by the time I made the bottom I was painfully sunburnt and parched to the point I could no longer muster a single tear. When I woke up, I could still feel that pain. Could still feel the skin on my arms and legs cracking and peeling even though my parents assured me that I was fine, not even burned in the slightest. It took hours for them to calm me only to find me panic-stricken all over again at the mere mention of going to the park to ride the Ferris wheel.

That night, the dream returned. Then the next night. And the next.

For 35 years, my dream was a constant companion, a nightmarish vision etched into my psyche so deeply that even today I can see it superimposed over reality. A constant, red-tinged pair of eyeglasses through which I’ve viewed the world for most of my life, diagnosed at the age of eight as simply “night terrors”.

They’re more than that though.

Because they’re not just my dreams.

There are five of us, strewn across the United States, one in the UK, and another in Australia, who’ve all shared the same dream. More or less. Identical details of familiar places plunged into what feels like an apocalyptic landscape devoid of hope and the life we once knew, all painted over with an angry, red light by a too-big, scarlet sun.

We found each other by accident, drawn to a website during our twenties that had nothing to do with our shared experience, but which eventually brought us together in a conversation about dreams. Someone, I don’t remember who, brought up the question, “have you ever had a recurring dream?”

Minutes had ticked by without anyone responding and yet the list continued to show that we all were still there. Finally, someone said, “not a recurring dream. Exactly.” Then he recounted what he’d been experiencing since the night he’d turned seven – what we ALL had been experiencing since the age of seven.

Since then, only a handful of others have joined our close-knit group and over the years they’ve all gone again. One couldn’t take the realization that the dream is shared and that might mean it is something more than a mere dream. We found an obituary not long after losing contact with her. Another became a recluse, built himself a bomb shelter and cabin up in the mountains as far away from the rest of us as he could get. At least two simply disappeared.

We’ve limited contact since, avoided the internet, gone off the grid as much as possible, and bought burn phones for emergencies. Just in case those that disappeared didn’t do so on their own. It’s been a full ten years since anyone has had the dream and made a phone call to alert the others.

I pick up the burner from the windowsill and drink down the last of the coffee before turning it on to make sure the battery is good and that there is a signal.

The others need to know what I saw tonight, and I can only hope that as the sun rises over the horizon, painting the mountains in the distance in a glorious crimson light, that I’m not too late.


About the Creator

Mary K Brackett

Mary Brackett is a novelist, poet, & award-winning short story author. She has authored and co-authored articles for magazines with her husband and is currently writing a series of novels with her talented daughters.

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Comments (7)

  • D.K. Shepard19 days ago

    Well done! This has such an intense plot line with mysterious intrigue dripping from each scene! Congrats!

  • Congratulations on an excellent thriller & your win!🤩… glad I didn’t read it late at night 😳.

  • JBaz20 days ago

    Very interesting concept, Ilike how it was vague at the beginning then the reveal. Congratulations

  • Wooohooooo congratulations on your win! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • Christy Munson21 days ago

    Intriguing to say the least! You've chosen a fascinating perspective and story to tell. Congratulations on placing in this challenge! 🥳

  • Mary K Brackett (Author)about a month ago

    Thank you!

  • Andrea Corwin about a month ago

    Wow this is a fantastic story with a great twist! All the others… creepy!

Mary K BrackettWritten by Mary K Brackett

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