Dream Machine

I walked along a string, high above the savannah, paused to dance a jig, and ran for the knots at the end. A pair of nodding dogs gave me a steadying hand before I poured another champagne for the lifeguard polishing my toenails.

Increase realism index to point-eight-five.

The cobbler pushed the offered coffee aside and polished my toenails some more.

“Can’t drink on the job, mate,” he said. “Now hold still while I… damn. Sorry, mate, just cut your toe off. That’s gonna leave a mark.”

“Well glue it back on.” I sipped his coffee, but the bubbles had gone flat. “Other way up. No, come on, seriously, other way up.”

“Who’s the cobbler here, mate?”

“But the nails go on top.”

Reduce frustration coefficient to six-point-two.

“There you go, mate, just don’t wriggle them until the glue sets.” The cobbler put down his glue and tested the iron. “I’ll do the creases on your knees next, right?”

I hadn’t noticed the creases, a thick, crumpled line across both knees. “Does it have to be done?”

“Look, they bend like this along the line.” He pulled out a pencil from his ear, marked the line with an arrow, and folded my knee forwards. “And like this.” All the way backwards. “And if I keep doing it they’re going to tear along the creases and then… oops, sorry, mate. You just hold still and I’ll get some tape. You just hold your leg.”

He handed me the lower half of my leg. I could see all the clockwork inside my knee, and a pair of hamsters working hard with hand-cranks to keep everything turning. They both fell out when I held my leg upside-down by the ankle.

“Other way up,” the mechanic shouted. “Don’t let the cogs drop out.”

A rain of tiny gear wheels tumbled out and the hamsters started juggling with them.

Increase realism index to point-eight-seven.

The carpenter swept up my hamsters and dropped them in a bin. “Don’t need those, sir. Modern legs are entirely wooden. Let’s just draw a line under that.” He marked where my knee had to go with his pencil. “That looks straight. You don’t want to be walking funny. Do you prefer nails or screws? I can do wooden pegs if you prefer. Peg-legs are all the range.”

Who turned on that experimental sarcasm injector? Someone shut down those spontaneous puns.

“I’ll go with the peg and the eye-patch,” I decided. “Pieces-of-freight, pieces-of-freight. Just box me up and send me out.”

Warning, paronomasia surge detected. Boost logical consistency to point-nine.

“Here you go, sir, I’ll just screw your leg on. Couple of turns should do it. One, two…”

“Toes to the front,” I told him. “To the front.”

“Stop shaking your head, sir, it’s starting to come loose. I can’t put heads back on. Never learned how. And it always leaves a glue-line.”

“No, no, no…”

Emergency stop. Isolate short-term memory.

I reached up to make sure my head was still there, catching my knuckles on the rim of the cerebral influencer.

“Ow.” I opened my eyes as the platform eased out and checked my head again. The dream-machine was humming quietly to itself and Professor Boojum… no, Professor Bodkin hurried in from the separate control room.

“Are you all right? That got a bit out of control.”

“Yeah. Fine. Just a bit…” I sat up and pulled my shoes off. “That’s good. That’s… does that look like a line? On my toe?”

“Nothing there,” the professor said.

“But I can see it. It’s like someone cut my toe off and glued it… Am I still dreaming?”

The dream-machine hummed, not menacing, but perhaps contented. A happy purr. I’ve got you, and you’re all mine.

“You’re awake. There’s nothing to worry about.”

I rolled my trouser leg up and there was a crease-line across my knee, and something I initially mistook as a very large mole.

“Is that a knot?” I peered more closely. “Or a nail head?”

“There’s nothing there.”

I sat on the edge of the platform and swung my leg backwards and forwards a few times, but there was no sign of my knee tearing along the crease. The hamsters squeaked softly.

“Professor, I’ve got scars. Are they all in my head?”

“There’s nothing physically wrong,” he assured me. “It sounds like a few residual memories from the dream have made it into your long-term memory, but that will fade.”

I rubbed the crease across my knee and the hamsters wriggled under the skin.

“It will definitely fade?”

“Trust me, Rachael. It’s just like any other dream. You remember fragments.”

“But I’m Anthony, Professor.”

Professor Boojum frowned. “No, Anthony was in here this morning.”

I rubbed the crease on my knee again and the dream-machine hummed contentedly.

# # #

This was written in response to the #BlogBattle prompt of Scar, and a very strange dream.

Images from Pixabay.com

11 thoughts on “Dream Machine”

    1. My partner asked my why I’d written “dream machine” on the whiteboard in the kitchen, and I told her that I’d had this weird dream at 3am and needed a reminder…
      By the time I wrote the story all I could remember was the title, but my strange mind filled in a few details. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Masterfully unsettling and creepy, with lines of macabre humour slipping through. An unearthly trip into a place ‘On The Other Side of Possible’.
    This gave me the feeling that if they were still around; Ray Bradbury and Robert Sheckley could have looked at this and said ‘Damn. This was the story we should have written together’

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very dance macabre Mark. Wonderful touches with the “adjustment” markers too. My first word association went to a song I think is called Dream Police… although that sent me to Jethro Tulls Mouse Police Never Sleeps. I think I may well be inside your Dream Machine!

    It also drags in that are we really in reality or some overarching imaginary one. Sort of New Matrix film mind bender. Or perhaps Alice Through The Looking Glass.

    Nothing physically wrong is actually quite scary too…it’s actually disclaimed we’ve just totally messed up your mind. The establishment takes no responsibility for losses of mental state while using our equipment… then again, maybe Rachael will get so mind &£#ked she might actually start cutting bits to see if she is mechanical now 😱

    Liked by 1 person

      1. On my list to watch, although it’s one of those series where I keep going back to film number one and then wonder if I should stop there. I like 2&3, but they always feel like something is lacking.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. As chilling as it is comedic! Even with the dream machine presumably making adjustments like increasing realism index, the dream remains as disjointed and irrational as dreams usually are. The loss (and replacement) of body parts reminded me of the claim that dreaming your teeth are falling out is a sign of stress. I loved the reference to the machine’s contented humming: I’ve got you, and you’re all mine. Seems to be a bit of a warning to not entrust ourselves entirely to technology. Fun read!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OK, I don’t think I’ve ever dreamt about my teeth falling out. I must admit when I was writing this, I did zone out a little and just let my subconscious pick each step in the dream, so I put down trimming toes and legs to having been out pruning brambles. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.