We were at a fall festival, I think. It was after dark, and a full harvest moon hung over the evening. Vendors of various foodstuffs and treats lined the street. I went searching for funnel cake, I remember. It's one of my favorite fair-like goodies. Visit any circus, carnival or festival, and you're bound to find funnel cake somewhere. It's an expected staple of such frivolities.
The smell of that familiar, sugary sweetness drew me to a vendor's kitchen window down the street. I didn't see anyone inside. The door was open, so I stepped in. I looked around for assistance. I walked down a narrow corridor that led to a locked door. I knocked. No answer. Oh, well. No funnel cake tonight, I suppose.
I left to rejoin my family and friends, but when I reached the kitchen to leave, the door that I'd entered through just moments before was now locked. I tried to unlock it, but it wouldn't budge. I couldn't get out.
I again knocked on the locked door down the corridor, but again, no answer. From underneath the crack of another door on down the corridor, I could see and hear the unmistakable flicker and sound of a television. I knocked on the door, and to my surprise, it creaked open. A skinny, bearded man sat there in a recliner watching TV in the dark.
"Excuse me," I said softly. "Sorry to bother you, sir. I was looking for funnel cakes. I think I've been locked in accidentally."
He never looked at me, never turned his head. He simply said, "there are no accidents."
I can count on one hand how many times my internal alarm has gone off. That unmistakable instinct, that biological adrenaline trigger that lets you know that you'd better run. You'd better forget funnel cakes and get the hell out of there. You'd better break down that door.
I tried the lock again. As before, it wouldn't budge. That man was right — this was no accident. I began to hear a sound that chilled me to the cellular level — that strange man in the TV room began to sing… In the pines, in the pines, where the sun never shines… We shiver when the cold wind blows… I panicked. I began to search for any door down that hall that wasn't unlocked. I found one. A bedroom, I think it was. I entered and locked the door behind me. Moonlight spilled through the only window in the room, and I climbed atop a chest of drawers to see if I could open it and escape through it.
I realized soon enough that the window was locked — from the outside. That's when I heard the children's' quiet laughter. I jerked around in horror to see four small children sitting on a double bed. Moonlight through that horrible window danced on their tiny faces. They were peering at me with strange, curious eyes. I couldn't see them well in the darkness of that room, but I knew upon first glance that they weren't quite right. Their twisted mouths were too big. Their ears were offset. Their faces bore the odd asymmetry of obvious deformity. They said nothing.
I heard a key enter the locked door. With my heart in my throat, I watched the bearded man enter the room. He walked slowly over to where I sat perched upon that chest of drawers.
"I have to get out of here. My family is waiting for me," I pleaded.
"This is your family," he said sweetly, pointing to his four mutant children. "They need their mother…"
I woke up before I could scream.
My dreams are often so vivid, detailed, and Technicolor that I disturb myself. That's the last time I eat Mexican food before turning in for the night. I hope this unconscious escapade hasn't ruined my fancy for funnel cakes.
Remind me later to tell you about the time I found myself running down the street wearing a hospital gown and couldn't remember exactly who I was. It's a hoot…