I’m enjoying dinner with my beautiful family — my junior, his younger sister, and their beautiful mother. Following the period of silence that usually succeeds a meal prepped with love, I open the floor for conversation with the mundane How was everyone’s day? My son, eager to impress me, begins telling me about his triumph over the math lesson he’d completed. Not to be outdone, my daughter cuts him off and provides an example of her mathematical aptitude by solving a simple equation using nothing but her memory. Sibling rivalry results in an amateur shouting match, forcing my partner to intervene and play referee. If only they knew how unnecessary their brother-sister war over claim of my respect is — there is more than enough room on the throne for the both of them.
“Stop it! Both of you stop it right now and finish your food!” she regulates.
The warriors huff and continue to dig in.
“How about you?” I asked the mediator once the dust settled. “Anything exciting?”
As she prepares to respond, I can’t help but mentally congratulate myself. I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my lifetime, no question, but I got it right with her. She’s the perfect mate, perfect mother, perfect friend.
“Well…as motherly duties go…” she begins, a gold aura illuminating her background, shining like the treasure that she is.
My overactive imagination sometimes gets the best of me. Sometimes, it even gets me into trouble, like me having to later explain why I’m unintentionally tuning out the love of my life, for example.
“…is getting so much taller! You wouldn’t believe how…”
Her aura changes from a deep gold to an evening sunset orange. I’m not exactly sure what this is supposed to signify, but the display is pleasant, nonetheless. Out of curiosity, I turn to my children to see what their colors are. Orange. The same orange. Wait, what does this — ?
“Kye…you know I don’t like it when you…”
No, their auras aren’t unique—it’s the same light source that’s shining from behind their mother. Unlike her, there is a tint of orange on their cheeks, as they’ve now turned their attention toward the light. Wait, they can see it too? She sweeps the perimeter of our eating space with a glare of confusion and vexation.
“What is wrong with all of you?”
How can she not see this?
“Kye — “
She turns around and stops speaking. Ok, so she can see it.
That means this isn’t my imagination. Then what — ?
“Dad…what’s that?” my children ask.
I stand up to look over my wife’s head. Oh no…
“KYE!!!” she yells.
It’s an attack!
Screams of terror sound off from my clan before the massive boom and shattering take place. We can all feel the tremors below our feet. I can no longer hear them— their screams muted by sounds of destruction. I assume they can’t hear me either, so I gesture to them to get under the table. As they begin to duck down and crawl, I look toward the commotion once again. The orange is now a red as rum as murder. A flurry of shards is headed my direction. I can feel someone tugging at my leg, trying their best to pull me down to safety. Prepared to meet my maker, I close my eyes and brace myself for the gust of razor winds headed toward me…
I wake up yelling and panting.
It was just a dream.
I open my eyes, only to find that my room is shrouded in complete darkness.
I try to reach up and address the beads of sweat that have formed on my forehead, but I can’t move my arms. Same result when I try to move my legs. Am I paralyzed? I increase the effort and nearly strain myself trying to break free from what I discovered to be restraints. This isn’t my bed. This isn’t my room.
I try wriggling my way out, but whoever’s bound me to this bed is no amateur. During my struggle, memories from the day before start forming. Yes, what I had experienced was a dream, but those events had happened. Why did I have to relive them?
My heart drops.
“My family!” I whisper out loud.
Are they dead? No, they can’t be if I made it out alive. Or…am I dead?
I hear a hissing sound off in the distance. Luckily, I have control of my neck and can turn my head. I look and see a set of double doors pulling away from each other, apparently running on some type of pressure release system. A blinding light stings my ill-prepared eyes, as I make a last ditch effort to escape from this prison. It’s no use. Soon, a group of yellow beings pour into the room, the click-clacking of their footwear pounding against the hard surface of the floor. Once my eyes finally adjust, I wait until they get within my speaking radius.
“Who are you? Where am I? Where is my family?” I begin to interrogate, expecting answers as quickly as I’m rattling them off.
The expressionless yellow bodies stop moving and turn their attention toward me. Actually, expressionless may not be fair to say — I don’t see any facial features. Yellow head, yellow torso, yellow arms, yellow legs, gray hands, gray feet. I suppose the slit on their heads is a substitute for eyes. These…things are nothing like me. Am I in Hell?
“Hello! Can you not hear me?” I ask. “Where is my family? And why am I here?”
They convene and begin speaking in a language that I can’t understand. Although…I think I’ve heard it before, I just can’t remember where from. After their brief discussion, they redirect their slits from each other and focus on me again. One of them starts speaking, but I don’t see a mouth on any of them. I can only assume it’s the closest one, so that’s who I look at. Its muffled words are useless; I have no idea what it’s saying. It abruptly stops, which I assume means it’s done feeding me encrypted information.
“I…I can’t understand you,” I admit. “Who are you? What are — there’s no use…”
Just as I’m ready to give up, I hear one of them say something that I can interpret. “…3-7-1.”
“3-7-1!” I repeat. “I understand that! 3-7-1!”
If they had facial features, I assume they’d have a surprised look on their faces. One of them begins writing something down, as they and the rest of the group retreat to and out of the doors. This is all just so…odd. What does 3-7-1 mean?
As the final mostly yellow body walks through the hissing door, the dark returns and devours all light in the room. I am absolutely terrified.
I don’t know where I am or what these things are, but my family needs me. First thing’s first — I need to find a way out of this bed.