absurdity, dreams, fictional, story

The Farmer’s Dream – A Story

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It’s been a while, so I thought I’d share a little something I wrote a while back. Remember, when opportunity knocks you have the option to hide behind the sofa and pretend no one’s home.

 

The Farmer’s Dream

William was sleeping when the angel came to him.

He had been dreaming of hard labour in the field, ploughing and sowing. It was a common dream of his, one he’d often pondered the meaning of. He thought it was probably something to do with rebirth, or renewal, or fertility. More likely it was just too much cheese before bed.

In this dream, as in every previous dream of its kind, his plough would strike something hard, twist and buck in his hand. The dream would usually end there, but not tonight. Tonight the plough wrested away from his grip and sped off, leaving a deep groove in the soil behind it, merrily ploughing the rest of the field on its own.

He looked down at the ground, searching for whatever it was his plough had struck. A sharp corner poked out of the dirt. He dug away at its edges with his fingers, freeing it from the earth. He pulled it out to examine it more closely.

It was a box, about the size of his head, made of granite and marble but lighter than it should be. He was suddenly overcome by a strange feeling he hadn’t had on previous nights – he knew that this was a dream. He could feel the soft earth beneath his feet, could feel the cold rough surface of the box, but something was off; he was certain that he was actually asleep and in his own bed in the farmhouse.

“How curious,” he said to himself.

He looked around. The field was just as he remembered it from his waking hours, as far as he could tell. He wondered what would happen if he attempted to take control of the dream, perhaps to take flight or to change his surroundings. He looked at the plough retreating into the distance and willed it to come back. It didn’t.

“Perhaps I need a bit more practice,” he thought. “Let’s start with something small. Like opening this box.”

He opened the box.

A burst of bright light spilled out, blinding him. A great booming voice rang out in such rumbling tones that he could feel the soles of his feet vibrating.

WILLIAM, said the voice. HARK, WILLIAM.

William dropped the box in shock.

OW.

He nudged it gently with one toe. What was it?

WILLIAM, the voice resumed. ARE YOU HARKING?

“Um, I think you mean harkening?” William suggested.

GOOD, YOU ARE HARKING. PICK THE BOX UP, AND GAZE INTO THE LIGHT.

William did as he was told, though his hands were shaking so much he thought he would drop the box again. The strange voice rattled his back teeth.

I AM THE ANGEL OF DIVINE INTERVENTION. I AM TASKED WITH INTERVENING, DIVINELY. DO YOU COMPREHEND?

“No,” William answered honestly. The voice sighed, blowing the farmer’s hair back.

THEN I SHALL ELABORATE. I AM TO SET YOU ON AN ADVENTURE TO SEEK A GREAT FORTUNE. THE JOURNEY WILL SEND YOU FAR FROM HENCE AT GREAT PERIL, BUT IT IS OF HUGE IMPORT.

“What will I be importing?”

WHAT? NO. NO, I MEAN IT WILL BE HUGELY IMPORTANT. BECAUSE YOU WILL BE RICH.

“Well why didn’t you say that, then?”

BECAUSE… BECAUSE… BECAUSE IT JUST SOUNDS BETTER.

“Seems to me that sounding good isn’t quite as important as making sure you’re understood, don’t you think? Especially if you’re meant to be sending people on important quests.”

LOOK, DO YOU WANT TO GO OR DON’T YOU? BECAUSE WE DON’T HAVE ALL NI-

“No, thank you.”

There was a moment of stunned silence.

I BEG YOUR PARDON?

“I said no, thank you. See, I’m asleep at the moment and I don’t really know how long I’m likely to be. I can’t go on a long quest and then have to oversleep in order to finish it. Who’ll feed the pigs?”

OH, AHAHAH, I CAN SEE THE CONFUSION. NO, SEE, THE QUEST IS FOR WHEN YOU ARE AWAKE.

“Eh? How’s that work, then?”

WELL, SEE, I TELL YOU ABOUT THE TREASURE AND WHERE IT IS, AND YOU WAKE UP THINKING IT’S A DREAM ONLY I’VE LEFT A SHEAF OF WHEAT OR SOMETHING UNDER YOUR PILLOW AS A SIGN AND SO YOU GO OFF AND SEEK YOUR FORTUNE, GROWING AND MATURING ALONG THE WAY UNTIL YOU RECEIVE YOUR FINAL REWARD OF A KINGDOM AND A BEAUTIFUL WIFE AND SO ON.

“Oh, so the quest is for after I wake up?”

YES.

“I see. Well, in that case… no, thank you.”

LOOK, WILLIAM, I DON’T THINK YOU’VE GRASPED THE BASIC CONCEPT OF-

“Oh, I have, it’s just that I don’t want to do it. I simply haven’t the time.”

There was no reply; the voice seemed to be pondering this. William felt more was needed.

“Like I said, who’d feed the pigs? And the cows would need milking, and if I don’t get the field ploughed in time for sowing then I’ll be buggered. I can’t just up sticks and travel off to foreign lands seeking my fortune and battling monsters and outsmarting evil viziers. It wouldn’t be fair on the livestock, or the people who’re counting on my crops. So thank you, but if it’s all the same to you, I’ll have to decline.”

He laid the box gently on the ground.

NOW SEE HERE-

“No, I don’t think so,” William replied firmly, slapping the lid shut. The voice continued, muffled and confused.

wait, what are you doing? william?

William placed the box back into the hole and started to shovel dirt back over it.

are you serious? this is ridiculous … stop, william. william.

William didn’t stop. He filled the hole and smoothed the dirt over until the spot was indistinguishable from the rest of the field. He patted his hands clean on his trousers.

“Now then,” he thought. “Let’s give flying a try.”

And with that, William flew off into the clouds.

The next morning there was a long white feather under his pillow. He threw it away.

THE END

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fictional, phone, story

Never Answer a Ringing Phone

I wish I still had a phone like this.

The phone rings merrily away, blasting me out of a pleasant dream involving grilled cheese sandwiches, a TARDIS and the complete boxset of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller. I grunt, brushing aside cheese-encrusted dream felt. The phone chirps again.
“Gruuurgh,” says my girlfriend, nudging me with a foot.
“Mrrrrrr,” I reply, holding my pillow over my face in a bid to suffocate myself back into the world of dreams. The phone clears its throat and rings again.
A sudden snarl, a whistle of displaced air. I’m now on the floor, pillow still clutched in white-knuckled hands.
“I’ll just answer that, then, shall I?” I mumble, slinking downstairs in defeat. The phone rings mockingly.
I pause in the living room doorway, taking in my surroundings. Through the haze of sleep it’s one half magical mystery wonderland of chocolate tables and gingerbread chairs, one half nightmarish dystopia of clutter and dirty dishes. I briefly fear that I know which is the more accurate. I pull up a chair and eye it warily. I lick it. I sigh. I answer the phone.
“HI!” screams a female voice with artificial cheeriness.
“Wha?”
“You may have been involved in an accident!”
The world spins around me. What? An accident? When? I haven’t had an accident, have I? Have I? I mean, surely I’d remember that sort of thing.
“What are you-“
I’m rudely interrupted by this mystery caller with no regard for the basic tenants of human conversation.
“If you feel you were not at fault and are entitled to compensation, press 9 now and quote the following reference code…”
Wait, wait, wait, lady, slow down. I’m still reeling here. I’m certain I haven’t had an accident. I mean, there was that time when my girlfriend knocked a 2ltr bottle of coke off the counter and onto my foot and bruised it quite badly but I don’t really think that counts. Besides, I didn’t tell the police or anyone, so how would this random woman know?
Which raises a valid point, I realise with growing horror. Whatever terrible accident that has clearly befallen me is obviously serious, otherwise I wouldn’t be getting a phone call at the early hour of – I check my watch – 11.30am. But why do they know about it when I can’t remember a damend thing?
Unless I can’t remember it because … because it never happened? No, that doesn’t make sense. No, the only logical solution is that my memories have been tampered with to ensure I don’t seek compensation! Those bastards! Those hypothetical shay sinister bastards! They must have kidnapped me and wiped the relevant parts of my brain! Well, that or lured me away with the promise of a pre-release Game of Thrones boxset, that would totally have worked. But either way, I’ve clearly been mentally violated by a superior force!
Wait … if they’re that superior to me, what if it’s even worse? Rather than wiping away my memories like an annoyed teacher wipes rude doodles off a blackboard first thing in the morning, perhaps my nefarious nemeses (henceforth referred to simply as THE AGENCY or THEM or THOSE BASTARDS) are even more pervasive a threat. Perhaps, rather than go to the hassle of dealing with me on an individual basis, perhaps they rewrote the ontology of the entire world to make it so the accident had never occurred. Whole groups of people going about their every day lives, not knowing that I had suffered some horrible tragedy, thanks to them, The Agency, those bastards. This valiant woman, my phonely saviour, must be the only person in the world to resist their metaphysical rewrite. Bless you, madam. Bless you.
I briefly wonder what kind of accident it was. Was I hit by a car? Did someone drop a filing cabinet onto me off an office block? Perhaps I was hit by a ladder in a cracking bit of old-school Chuckle-Brothers-style slapstick? All I know is, it must have been pretty damned serious if I’d caused such a stink about compensation that someone felt the need to make sure it had never happened. I make up my mind. I must know more.
“What do you mean, accident?” I blurt out, but it’s too late. She’s gone. A harsh dial tone screams in my ear as panic rises in my chest. What was the number I was supposed to dial? I stab at the 9 button, press it a couple more times for good measure.
It rings.
“Hello, Emergency Services, which service do you require?”
I shriek, hang up, fling the phone across the room. Emergency Services! A codename for The Agency if ever I’ve heard one! It’s a trap! The room lurches wildly and everything dissolves into strips of primary colours and the smell of bacon. Harsh laughter rings in my ears as I sink to my knees, banging my fists on the carpet and bawling like a baby. It’s over. It’s all over.  Someone taps me on the shoulder and I stumble, roll onto my back, helpless as a tortoise in a desert. I stare up at my attacker, blinking away the tears.
It’s my girlfriend. She gives me coffee.
“You’re an idiot,” she says, lovingly. “Good morning.”
“Good morning,” I whisper into my coffee.
Perhaps … I may have overreacted.