Call me Ishmael.

A few days ago, my cell rang. Area code 305...hmmm, a stranger. For some reason I decided to take the call rather than letting it go to voice mail.

"This is Ishmael from the University of Miami. I'm calling about Mary ████."

"Yes?" This was a bit odd, since Mary doesn't live in Miami, Florida, but across the peninsula in Tampa.

"Her husband, James, died this morning. She can't reach anyone in her family and she's very upset. I think she needs someone to sit with her, or at least call her."

"Jim is dead? I'm in South Carolina, so for now all I can do is call. Do you have a number for her in Miami?" My brain was racing around then, worrying about Mary alone in Miami. Trying to absorb the fact that her wonderful husband was dead.

"No, she's at home; hold on, I have the number here somewhere..."

"There's no need to look for that number, I have it. But I'm a little curious about your role in all this, since you're in Miami." A little curious? Bewildered is more like it.

"I've been talking to Mrs. ████ about organ and tissue donation. Right now, I'm afraid she's too distraught to give her consent. But my reason for calling you has nothing to do with that, I just think she needs a friend right now."

So far this is just a sad tale that many of us middle-yeared people have heard far too often. Hold on, there's a little twist. Ishmael was a little confused about almost everything but Jim's death.

Mary's mother was with her when her husband was pronounced dead of a heart attack at age 64. The consent forms for organ and tissue donation were signed before she left the hospital for home. She never talked to anyone from the University of Miami about said donation, and hadn't given anyone in the hospital my cell number - and that's been confirmed by her mother. Spooky.

I'll end this by saying, "Ishmael, thanks for calling me, whoever you are." Jim always loved a good story.

RIP Jim.

I act extremely out of character in this dream and I don't think it means anything important, but hell if it wasn't memorable.

I was spending time with an old friend, one I haven't talked to in a long time who recently came out as transsexual. At the beginning of the dream, we were sitting around catching up with each other, eating instant noodles (probably the most realistic part, since I don't have a solid job at the moment). Eventually he decided that he wanted to do ecstasy and I was like, "Okay." (As I said, out of character.)

Anyway, we went down to a room in his basement, whose door was painted the same colour as the wall. The floor in this room was covered in those foam puzzle pieces you see at daycares but otherwise featureless (if you've read other writeups of mine, you might recognize the setting; otherwise be content knowing that it's a drug trip room). My friend -- let's call him Jack -- took a pill. I sat around and smoked a joint, just relaxing.

After a few minutes, it became obvious that something was wrong. Jack started looking around the room, terrified of nothing tangible, his breath quickening. I figured maybe the stuff was bad but I didn't know what to do, so I tried to move forward and tell him everything was okay.

He jerked away from me and stood up, running away like I were some kind of monster. I sat on the floor of the puzzle-piece room, dumbfounded. For whatever reason, dream logic told me that I should be doing something with my time while he was gone, so I started searching around the room, feeling the walls with my hands, trying to figure out its secrets. Maybe I was just high, I don't know.

Soon my fingertips felt a ridge that shouldn't have been there, and I started digging nails into the crease. Prying at it intently, one of my nails ripped off and I had to take a minute to suckle it. Fuck, that hurt. But I persevered and continued pulling the false wall out, inch my heavy inch. Upstairs I could hear Jack still pounding around, running through the house like a lunatic. It suddenly struck me just how ridiculous of a situation I was in. But regardless.

The other side of the wall was a small pantry, like the kind my grandma always kept stockpiled after the Great Depression. Except instead of food, the pantry was stocked with shelf after shelf of... random junk. Bits of paper, a TV remote, a slinky, and lots of other old toys, old electronics, and just... junk. Bending down to read a plaque on one of the shelves, I saw a foreboding label that read: ████████████

Whatever it was had long since been blacked out, censored, gone. I scratched my head, looking at the items on the shelves for more clues. I noticed one of the shelves, at the very top, had some pills on it; they looked like more ecstasy, but in the packaging for an oral contraceptive. I started to climb on the shelves, trying to reach where the drugs were, but my right hand was jabbed painfully by a stray Lego block that was on the edge of a shelf. I let go and fell back to the floor, gingerly rubbing my palm. An entire box of Lego blocks fell after me, knocking me over the head and drowning me in colourful plastic.

Before I could do much more than hate myself, Jack came back down the stairs and stared at me in shock. "How did you find this place?!" he asked, a quivering note of fear in his voice. I tried to lift my head to cock an eyebrow at him, but the Lego blocks were stuck in my hair and stuck in the carpet -- I couldn't move an inch. Jack stepped a bit closer to me, but stopped before he stepped in range of the pantry, as if he were afraid. "You're fucked, man," he told me.

Huh? "Just help me up!" I yelled at him.

Jack just shook his head sadly. "I can't, man," he said. "It's too late. You found my SCP collection."

What the fuck. SCP as in the SCP Foundation, collector of paranormally horrific items? That's just stellar. Why the holy fuck would you collect shit like that? But before I could ask that, Jack was gone. I don't know how he left without my seeing him. That fucker.

I was determined not to spend the rest of my life lying on the floor covered in children's toys, so I braced my legs against the bottom shelf and started to pry myself off the floor. The Lego left deep, pus-oozing sores in my skin as I ripped it off my back. As I stood up and hastily backed out of the pantry, I saw a floor covered in chunks of flesh, a cruel mockery of a drug trip I'd already forgotten.

I got the hell out of there as quickly as I could, sprinting down the streets back to my house. It was past 2 in the morning and the world was dead, the only signs of animation being homeless people who peered at me through drunken fingers as I splashed past them, running through puddles. I had to get out of there. I knew I shouldn't have gone to catch up with Jack, there was a bloody reason that I'd lost contact with him. He was fucking insane. That was it. Now just put it behind me, forget about his crazy ass and never think about this ever again. The pus gluing the shirt to my back belied this intention, but regardless, I was going to try.

It felt like centuries later when I finally slammed my front door closed behind me. Tossing off my shoes, I ran to my bedroom like a man possessed and leaped into bed. Time to forget about this, time to put it behind me, time to-- But as soon as my head hit the pillow I knew something was wrong.

Last week, I borrowed this pillow from Jack.

I started seeing stars. The room around me, so familiar and safe, transformed into a hellish mockery of itself. The wall became flesh, oozing pus, the cracks around the doorway bleeding out onto the hairy floor. I screamed and tried to move, but the pillow wouldn't let me leave. Stomach acids started dripping from dangling glands in the ceiling, dissolving me into a mush of agonizing pain I'd never thought imaginable. As the window behind me shattered, showering me in shards of glass, the door opened. An elderly clone of myself stepped into the room, his sagging skin held taut by pins threaded into his jacket. He held a battleaxe in his arms and looked at me sadly.

"You should have returned that pillow when you said you would," he said, shaking his head. He lifted the axe over his head and I had one timeless moment to stop and contemplate just how the fuck I'd gotten here before my body was split into two. Pain. Pain. Pain.

And then I woke up.

Some might call a dream like that a nightmare, but eh. I thought it was friggin' awesome. I'm not even going to attempt to decipher it, though; it's probably just a meaningless byproduct of reading the SCP Foundation website before bed.

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