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A Dream of Burning Hands (Draft, Unreviewed)[]

I’ve been having this weird dream lately. This has been going on for a week or so, I can’t remember exactly. The thing about this dream is that certain details change every night, but the basic scenario remains the same. Here’s what will happen:

I’ll be sitting in a booth in a 1950s style diner. I’ll be looking at a menu. There’d be no words on the menu, only lines of punctuation. What the punctuation is changes every night. One night it will be a bunch of commas; on another, it will be a string of question marks.

“You know, I think I’ll have the ??????? How about you?” I’d say. I can’t remember how, exactly, I pronounced a long string of punctuation; I just know that I did. Dreams are like that.

Anyway, at that point, I’d put down my menu and look at whomever I was dining with. This person changes from night to night. One night it was an ex-girlfriend. Another it was my mother. Still another night it was the rotting corpse of the Queen of England, her eyeballs falling out of her skeletal face. Regardless of who it is on the other side of the table, their response is always the same:

“Oh, I’m much too full to eat. I need to make some room.” After that, they’ll start coughing up this black, tar-like substance. Specks of it will fall on the table, eating away at the resin tabletop with a hiss. Then, black hands covered in that substance will reach out of my companion’s mouth, dragging long, spindly arms behind them. And then…

I wake up, usually in a sweat.

That’s how it went, anyway. Tonight was a bit different though.

The dream started out the same. I was at the same diner, perusing the menu. This time the punctuation was exclamation points.

“You know, I think I’ll have the !!!!!!!! How about you?” I said. I put down my menu, and saw myself sitting across from me. I (the other I, I mean) had this wild, terrified look in my eyes. The other me whimpered, completely forgoing the usual line before the coughing fit started. Like the other dreams, specks of a black, tar-like substance fell on the table, eating away at the resin tabletop with a hiss. The same black hands covered in that substance came out of the other me’s mouth, dragging long, spindly arms behind them. And then…

Both arms came out of my doppelganger’s mouth, grabbing onto his shoulders and pushing itself out. The tar melted off the creature’s hands and burned my double’s shoulders as he let out a muffled scream. Out came a head, with a face as white as porcelain, looking almost like a mask. It had no eyes but instead a wide, gaping mouth oozing that tar, located where the eyes would be. After that came the torso. The creature looked almost emaciated. Behind the tar that covered its body, I could see ribs poking out. Soon enough, the creature’s entire body exited my double’s mouth. My double slumped over, the tar pouring out of his mouth and eating through his body.

Meanwhile, the creature crawled on the table towards me. The table seemed to grow longer and longer as the creature got closer and closer. The tar on its spiked spine glistened in the diner’s lighting. Once it got close enough, it forced my mouth open, and started to crawl inside. The last thing I saw was that gaping maw of a face.

And that’s when I woke up.

Now, if that’s where it ended, that wouldn’t be too big a deal. Just a more intense nightmare than I’m used to. It happens to everyone. But here’s the weird part: when I woke up, I had a coughing fit. I put my face into my elbow to cover my mouth, but quickly brought it away when I felt a burning sensation. I looked at where I coughed, and saw a black, tar-like substance eating through the flesh of my arm. As my mouth hung open in shock, two black hands forced their way out of it.

Just a little story I wrote. I feel it might be missing something, and I worry the ending falls a bit flat.

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Grammar & Punctuation[]

There are some strange grammatical idiosyncrasies and punctuation issues that I think you should correct:

  • I've have been having
  • going on for a week or so,; I can’t remember exactly.
  • I would say, "You know, I think I’ll have the ??????? How about you?" I'd say
  • etc.

You should also normalize your text using standard ASCII characters (i.e. " over ”).

Hypirey (talk) 22:30, 18 October 2023 (UTC)

Response to Hypirey 22:37, 18 October 2023 (UTC)[]

Thanks for pointing those out, Hypirey. Out of curiosity, could you clarify what you mean by, "You should also normalize your text using standard ASCII characters (i.e. " over ”)." I genuinely have no idea what you're trying to get across there. Thank you!

When you are writing in something like Microsoft Word (boo) or Open Office (yay) it will use smart punctuation to make the document look nice, like smart quotes. Perhaps putting them in monospaced code blocks will make the difference more apparent:
Hypirey (talk) 22:50, 18 October 2023 (UTC)