Search results for ‘nightmare’

A mother’s worst nightmare

trolleysPhoto copyright Janet M. Webb

“Have you seen my baby? My baby? Have you seen him? Sir? SIR!? Did you see someone take my baby? He was right here in the cart. I just bent down to get a case of soda and now he’s gone. WHERE’S MY BABY?”

“Ma’am, I’m the store manager. You’re causing quite a scene. Other customers are frightened. What seems to be the problem?”

“My baby! He’s missing! Someone’s taken my baby! Please! Help me! Ryan! RYYYANNNN!!!”

Leanne sat bolt upright in the inky pre-dawn gloom, sweaty sheets tangled around her bulging abdomen.

I’m going to be a terrible mom.



Exactly 100 words for this weeks’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt. 


Posted by on October 18, 2013 in Challenges, Fiction




100_9550Today on The Daily Post: Describe the last nightmare you remember having. What do you think it meant?

Funny you should ask that. I had a nightmare just last week, one that recurs with disturbing frequency, but with no perceivable pattern. In this nightmare, I am always on the ground, although the locations are never the same, and I look up at the sky to see a jumbo jet (sorry, I don’t know my jets well enough to say 747, 767, 777) in obvious distress. Sometimes the plane fights to gain altitude before nose-diving, and sometimes any attempt at recovery has already been abandoned and the jet is headed full speed for its disastrous rendezvous with the earth. The people (if there are any) near me on the ground when I spot the falling plane are almost always strangers and rarely do they show what I would deem an appropriate level of concern about the impending disaster; only once was my husband nearby, and on that occasion I lost him in the confusion. Only sometimes can I hear the plane’s engines as it drops out of the sky, but when I do, it is a fearful screaming noise that haunts me for days afterwards. Almost always, I have to run to escape being struck either by the plane itself or by debris hurled from the epicenter of the impact. Without fail, I wake up before seeing the wreckage; I’ve never witnessed mangled corpses or dazed survivors stumbling from a burning debris field.

In last week’s version of this nightmare, I watched from an unfamiliar porch as a large silver jet with engines howling like banshees cruised over the treetops then struggled valiantly to regain altitude. For a moment, it looked like the pilot was going to be successful, pushing the plane sharply skyward a couple thousand feet, but suddenly there was a large-scale champagne cork-type explosion about where the boarding door of the plane would be. Seconds later, I watched as shimmery silver raindrops hurtled toward earth, growing larger and larger, until I could discern that they were cans of Diet Coke travelling at terminal velocity. As I ran for cover from the shower of deadly missiles, the plane, obviously defeated by the explosion of the beverage cart, reached the crest of its climb and began to free fall. When I awoke, sweating and panting, a number of unsuspecting bystanders had been killed by the savage storm of twelve-ounce aluminum cans, but, as always, I did not know the fate of the passengers or crew of the downed jet.

I am never consciously aware of feeling particularly stressed out when this nightmare rears its ugly head (although I am definitely sapped and on edge for a few days afterward). Online dream interpretation guides suggest that visions of plane crashes, assuming they are not precognitive, signify that I have set unrealistically high goals or expectations for myself, and that I am doomed to crash and burn in my attempts to achieve them. I do have some ambitious goals (and some even more ambitious timelines for reaching them), and I always have high expectations of myself, but I don’t believe they are beyond my capabilities or I wouldn’t set them.  Maybe my subconscious believes otherwise, and is trying to get me to scale back. Then I fear I’d consciously feel like a slacker, and thereby subject myself to whatever nightmare haunts chronic underachievers.


Posted by on February 19, 2013 in On Me



Unknown toll


Photo copyright by David Stewart

The wild clanging of the heavy iron bell that normally summons the kids to dinner wakes me, a sound not indigenous to this late hour. Pulse pounding, bare feet slapping worn oak, I grapple with the shackles of a sinuous cotton gown in my mad scramble to the back door. I pull aside the curtain as lightning splits the sky, illuminating a monster that should not exist outside of nightmares. Hail begins to strafe the roof as I whirl to rouse my sleeping family, my frantic cries a whisper against the train-like roar outside. “Get to the cellar! Twister!”
One hundred words in response to David Stewart‘s photo, selected this week by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, the leader of the pack at Friday Fictioneers. You can check out other submissions by clicking the little blue guy below.


Posted by on February 21, 2014 in Challenges, Fiction



Don’t worry, I got dinner…for the next 365 nights

apocalypse prep

Ever have one of those days when you wonder if you did, indeed, just fall off the turnip truck? When you come across something so completely foreign to you, but presented so matter-of-factly, that you wonder in paranoia if you are the only one on the planet who had never considered it?

Welcome to my Saturday morning.

I was innocently browsing the Costco “Online-Only Offers” sales flyer that came in yesterday’s mail, when I stumbled across this product:

4-Person 1-Year Food Storage
30,144 total servings of vital nutrients. Including grains, fruit, vegetables, dairy, protein, baking essentials, and drinks. Up to a 25-year shelf life. $3,499.99 delivered after $500 off.

I’m not totally naïve. We get ice storms and the occasional hurricane here in Virginia…it’s very possible we could be stuck without power for a couple days. Nor am I totally unprepared; we have some basic emergency supplies, and I even know where most of them are. But our food rations, when they haven’t been raided because I’m too lazy to go to the store, consist of a case of bottled water, a Costco-sized multi-pack of canned tuna, some sliced peaches in light syrup, a jar of Jif, and a mega-box of granola bars. Stockpiling a year’s worth of food never, ever, not once crossed my mind.

Is this for real? Do people really do this? Judging by the nine product reviews on the Costco website (seven of which actually seemed legit) people really do. Browsing the site for more info only led to more questions.

Why? Why would anyone hoard a year’s worth of food? Nuclear attack? Asteroid impact? Alien invasion? Zombie apocalypse?

What will the neighbors think when the UPS man rolls up your drive and stacks 63 boxes on the front porch? Apparently, UPS is not involved—it seems that a private shipper, in a truck much larger than the standard brown UPS van, delivers a pallet, which is discretely wrapped in black plastic to hide its contents from the prying eyes of neighbors.

prepping5Photo credit

Why the need to hide this delivery from the neighbors? A couple guesses here. One, so that they won’t be able to confirm that you are indeed the paranoid doomsday adherent they’ve always suspected you to be. Two, so that when the end does come, you won’t have to defend your stash from hordes of ravenous neighbors who know that back in 2013 you alone on the block prepared for this very scenario.

Where does one store this kind of cache? The shipment consists of 378 #10 (one gallon) cans of food. At an average of 4.5 pounds per can (dependent upon contents), that’s 1710 pounds of food that needs a home. I’ve never seen a pantry designed for that sort of storage. Shelves would buckle, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the floor wouldn’t follow suit. Even in our house, where our “safe room” is a concrete floored, windowless storage room tucked in the back corner of the lower level, stockpiling that much food would be a logistical nightmare.

How does the manufacturer ensure a 25-year shelf life (on selected products)? I slice a banana onto a scoop of vanilla ice cream to make a banana split, and the fruit is turning brown before I get downstairs and settle on the couch to eat it. What in God’s name does one do to banana slices (two cans are included) to make them last for 25 YEARS??

What should one do with all this food In the event that the end of the world as we know it does not come before the food’s expiration date? At $3499.99, I certainly can’t, in good conscience, just send it to the landfill. On the eve of their 20-year expiration, do I donate 27 pounds of fudge brownies to the local elementary school’s bake sale? Do I throw a party in year 10, and try to slip 18 pounds of canned sausage into some creative hors d’oeuvre? As for the 42 cans of hard white winter wheat, I wouldn’t have the foggiest idea where to start, short of chucking it out the back door for the birds.


Best if used before December 2038.

 Photo courtesy of Grain Inspection, Packers
and Stockyards Administration, USDA.

After a whole day of pondering these imponderables, I’m exhausted. Regardless of how irresponsible it makes me seem, I can’t see myself purchasing a year’s worth of food to be delivered on a shrink-wrapped pallet. If the world ends and we run out of tuna and peanut butter, perhaps someone better prepared than I will share a can or two of taco TVP*.

*TVP = textured vegetable protein

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Posted by on December 21, 2013 in Observations, On Life, True Life


This is no fun

job-ad-multitasker_300Photo credit Burcu Avsar

As I was sitting in front of the computer screen today, following ethereal job leads willy-nilly all over the internet, two things dawned on me:

  1. I have never really had to conduct a legitimate job search before.
  2. I really, really don’t know what I’m doing.

Not even counting high school babysitting jobs, where neighbors literally came knocking on my door, every single job I’ve ever had in my life came easy. From summer jobs as a teenager to certified teacher positions as a professional, the process was always the same. I looked for a position I wanted. I filled out the application. I went in for an interview. I was hired. I showed up for my first day of work. That’s it. Simple.

I’ve never used job search engines (holy crap, they are a nightmare for someone with even a whisper of ADD tendencies). I’ve never sent out résumés (I have one, but I’m pretty sure it sucks). I’ve never applied to more than one job at a time (I’m not good at saying no, so what do I do if they all call for an interview and all want to hire me?).

I’ve never not been called for an interview. Until now. It’s demoralizing. It’s confusing. It’s disheartening. It’s stressful. I’m not having fun.

It’s still early days, and my head knows that. I assume that the more time I spend searching and applying, the better my skills will become. I’ll be better at finding truly suitable positions and better at talking up my skills so that a prospective employer feels compelled to call me for an interview. I don’t need my phone to be ringing off the hook. I just need one call. Please.

Then I’m working at that job till I retire.


Posted by on October 30, 2013 in On Me, True Life, What's She On About?


The not so friendly skies

Day 3: Things that make you uncomfortable

Several scenarios, both trivial and substantial, that routinely make me uneasy crossed my mind when I first pondered this prompt: walking into a crowded room, talking on the phone, hearing racially/culturally insensitive remarks, passing a homeless person on the street…

But today I went to the Battle Proms (a summer concert series) at Highclere Castle (where they film the BBC/PBS drama Downton Abbey) and found myself in a previously undiscovered disturbing situation.

Air shows make me EXTREMELY uncomfortable!

The Blades Aerobatic Display Team, comprised of four highly experienced former RAF pilots, spent 15 minutes rolling, spinning, climbing, diving, twisting, tumbling, racing headlong at each other, stalling, and free-falling DIRECTLY ABOVE a crowd of 9000 vulnerable, oohing, ahhing, champagne-impaired Brits. If the worst had happened, there would have been carnage. It was absolutely the stuff of my nightmares.

No, really. I have recurring nightmares of watching helplessly from the ground as a plane falls out of the sky toward me. Now there were four of my enemy overhead, threatening to turn my dreams into reality. Nauseous and shaking, I didn’t know whether to keep my eye on the sky or run for cover.

Watching the video of the display from my husband’s iPhone this morning, I could fully appreciate the skill and talent of the pilots, the technical capabilities of the aircraft, and the beauty of their maneuvers without any of the paralyzing anxiety I experienced yesterday. I think I am meant to take in air shows from the safety and comfort of my sofa, not directly underneath the action!




Skin-crawling discomfort, brought to you by Jenni’s blog-every-day challenge at Story of My Life.

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Posted by on August 3, 2013 in Challenges, On Me, True Life



In the eye of the beholder

cloudsPhoto copyright Douglas M. MacIlroy

After only the briefest glance, Deena slammed the book shut and stuffed it with shaking hands back into the box the UPS driver had just delivered to her door.

Jake had spent the last ten years schlepping his assortment of Nikons from country to country, capturing unique views of the world’s most stunning vistas. Now that his efforts had finally drawn the attention of a publisher, her brother had every right to be proud.

She was touched that he’d sent her a copy from the first printing.

But the book was the stuff of nightmares for a severe agoraphobic.


friday-fictioneersThe muse has been on strike for the past couple of weeks so I’ve opted out of participating with Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ crew of writers at Friday Fictioneers. The muse and I have reached a tentative labor agreement, so here’s my 100-word attempt for this week’s photo prompt.


Posted by on July 26, 2013 in Challenges, Fiction