No-one really knows just what dreams are. There are lots of theories. Many people are reluctant to speak of their dreams to strangers, fearing ridicule. Yet dreams are a vital ingredient in the lives of us all.
They are important in that they represent a window to another world, one we become aware of through our dreams but somehow cannot quite make tangible. They are like ghostsvery real, yet not real. Yet one thing cannot be denied and that is that we are all greatly interested in the oddity of dreams, despite the ridicule.
Perhaps you have a recollection of an unaccountable dream? Why not share it? Send it in a text file or a standard e-mail to:
Meanwhile, the following story is based on an actual dream...
It wasn't the same dream. Or if it was, there was nothing familiar about each continuing episode.
It just seemed to go on without end, like ripples at the edge of a pool.
Barry couldn't remember its beginning. It had always been there, floating, waiting, beckoning. Sometimes he wished it would just go away, but the wish was only half-hearted.
The shout roused him from the comfortable, soporific wisps.
"Hey! Fargo. Wake up!"
It was Billy Tranter. Barry didn't fear Billy, who had a reputation as a mean kid but wasn't a bully. He was wary of Billy's younger identical triplet brothers who terrorised the neighbourhood together.
It was Danny, one of the triplets, who'd christened him Fargo because of his faraway look. They thought it double funny as his last name was Wells. He'd never really got to know the triplets. Their lives seemed a zillion miles from his own. He wasn't exactly frightened of them, just bothered by their rowdiness and now he cast a nervous glance around and was relieved to see no sign of them. He grinned a loppish and foolish grin at Billy.
Billy kicked at a stone and looked off into the distance. He spoke without looking back at Barry.
"When you gonna stop dreamin' Fargo." It was more a statement than a question. Barry felt sheepish.
Billy kept kicking stones, sending one bouncing off the belly of a rusting, upturned wheelbarrow long ago abandoned in the disused quarry. The ground was bleached by the hot sun.
Barry's instinct was to duck but there was reassurance in Billy's tone and instead he fielded the object. It was a wrapped piece of nougat.
He was speechless for a moment then felt embarrassed and honoured. Billy had never given him anything, never even offered him anything before.
He mumbled an uncertain thanks.
"Wake up, will ya!"
Then Billy was heading off away across the quarry, kicking at stones and clods of dried clay. Barry watched him and spent a few minutes kicking dirt himself until Billy reached the foot of the quarry cliff and began scrambling up the steep shale, picking a way to the top. He didn't look back and vanished over the lip.
Barry looked at the piece of nougat in his hand and for a moment wondered if Billy had put something else inside it before temptation got the better of him and he stuffed it into his mouth.
It was delicious and Barry took his time chewing, not wanting to finish.
He guessed he'd been in the quarry for a couple of hours. He was here often, there was an appeal about the place, spookiness and excitement, a place full of things you didn't see elsewhere.
There was also the tunnel into the cliff at the far end of the quarry. Rail tracks led into the gloom and he knew there was an old ore cart just past the entrance but he'd never ventured deeper inside. He didn't know how far the tunnel went but supposed it led to the factory that was visible beyond the quarry entrance, though he wasn't sure.
The tunnel was taboo territory. Not because he was scared to go inside, though perhaps just a little. He didn't go in because he knew workmen still occupied part of the factory even though the quarry was no longer used. They got angry when kids went into the tunnel and they had to chase them off.
Barry knew the workmen didn't seem to mind kids in the quarry as long as they didn't recognise them as kids they'd chased from the tunnel.
Besides, not going into the tunnel added a certain sense of mystery. He was not short of other mysterious places to visit, there were the deep limestone caves, the thick woods he'd often got lost in on the side of the old hill a few miles away, wondering if he'd ever get back home before nightfall, there were the many miles of canals and rivers and the other mysteries that were all part of the open countryside near his home. Anyway, he liked sitting and gazing at the tunnel, wondering what was inside its darkness and just where it really led.
The clack and slither of something landing close by caused him to turn his head in time to see a few small stones come to rest. He looked but saw no one in the quarry or on the cliffs and he pretended to pay it no mind, thinking it might flush out the culprit.
A few minutes later another stone landed, further away this time. He knew he was a fast runner and, seeing no-one close enough to bother him, he called out.
"Hullo ?" hullo hullo
The echo of his voice bounced of the quarry cliffs.
"Who's there?" there there
A figure emerged from behind a large boulder half way down the scree slope and waved. Barry peered and recognised his friend Kenwyn carrying his fishing rod and bag.
"Hey, Kenny! What you doin'?"
Kenwyn raised a thumb but lost his footing and slithered down the scree, falling onto his buttocks and sliding ungainly for several yards until he succeeded in breaking his descent. He stood up, gingerly slapping the dirt from the seat of his pants.
"Billy Tranter said you were here," he shouted down.
Barry thought about that for a moment. Two unusual events, first the nougat, then telling Ken he was in the quarry. Both were things he wouldn't have expected and he wondered what it meant.
"Oh," he called back.
"What?" yelled Kenwyn.
"Whadya say?" shouted Barry.
"I said, WHAT?" Kenwyn shouted back.
Barry lost track for a moment then shouted: "Oh. I said, oh."
"Hang on," called Kenwyn, picking his way down the scree.
Barry ambled slowly in his direction.
"What y'up to?"
"Nuthin' much." Kenwyn began dusting his pants off again.
"Been fishing?" asked Barry.
"So what you up to?"
"Told ya. Nuthin'".
They slid into silence, sharing the ease of being together without the need to talk.
"Hey, wanna do something different?"
Kenwyn was gazing at nothing in particular. Barry wondered what was on his mind and was reluctant to commit himself to anything. Kenwyn often came up with hairy ideas.
"Yeah? Like what?"
"Let's go in the tunnel."
Barry looked toward the tunnel and just as automatically scanned the area for anybody else.
"Nah," he said.
Kenwyn played his trump.
"Aw, c'mon. I got a torch..."
Barry didn't want to go in the tunnel but his mind was already there.
Kenwyn took a few steps towards the tunnel. "C'mon."
Barry found himself following.
When they were near the tunnel they heard strange sounds coming from it.
"Should we go in?" he said without too much conviction.
"You scared?" asked Kenwyn.
"Uh-uh," said Barry, but thinking it was dangerous to go in, dangerous but interesting.
Kenwyn paused at the tunnel's mouth waiting for Barry. They went in together.
It was very gloomy and damp and there were twists and turns but light fought its way in and they explored until they thought it time to go home. Then they realised they were lost.
They kept walking and spotted brighter light ahead then saw that the tunnel came out at the factory on the hill. After a while the men working there walked towards them and, thinking they were about to give chase, Barry started to run back toward the tunnel but it turned out to be a painting and he hit the wall but wasn't hurt.
That's when he fell out of bed with a thump.
Storyline : Keith Harris
concluded by Matthew Gardiner, Limerick Ireland.
The Lonely Lollipop - short story
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