Task Four [Male Entries]

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Richard Lore

I haven't been able to sleep of my own in a month; typically I rely on sleeping pills to knock me out, but I never would've expected to be stuck here, so I didn't bother to bring them. But as soon as I see the figure before me, I know I must be either dreaming or drinker than I've ever been - which, come to think about it, would be really impressive. I wouldn't be surprised if what got me was a mixture of fatigue and booze, and I'm passed out in my shop once more. If that's the case, it's entirely likely I die in my sleep. Nobody will be able to save me if something were to happen.

"Richard, dear. I am so proud of you. Never doubt that."

Before me stands my grandmother, her face holding a warm smile like I haven't seen since I was a child and nothing I could do was wrong. She's reaching out for me and when I give her my hand, she wraps her thin fingers around it. I can just barely feel her finger move on the top of my hand, drawing letters into it like she used to.

"So you don't hate me?"

The pain on her face is almost enough to break my heart, but there's no surprise in any of her traits. My grandmother knows I have every reason to assume her disgust for me; the last time I spoke to her, it was very much alive. In fact, it was burning brighter than ever now that she'd met Zach. But I guess that, somewhere within the carnival, she changed. Maybe she saw the pain she was causing me - or maybe the pain caused to her brought something out of her.

"Of course not, Ricky -" I shudder a little upon hearing the nickname that she'd always forbidden - "how could I? You're my darling grandson. My only one. I'd never hate you over something that trivial -"

And then a scream echoed throughout the air and it escaped her very lips. Before me stands a toy train, though it seems to have grown to the size a regular one should be. A demonic sort of laughter echoes through the inside of my head, and I look up to see one of the freaks from the carnival driving the train. It heads towards my grandmother at full speed, the man's laughter growing in volume as it approaches. I shout a warning, but she doesn't move. She's surrounded in a cloud of smoke that clearly left the train.


I don't actually see it happen. When I hear the noise, my eyes are shut as tightly as I can manage. I don't see the terror on her face, nor do I see the pain. I don't see those vast amounts of blood or her head literally being crushed by a speeding train. What I do see, however, is the aftermath: my grandmother lying dead before me, completely flattened by the events she endured. And that's all I need to see to know I'm doomed. After all, if my grandmother, the toughest and most resilient person I know, couldn't make it through these cruelties, what shot do I have?

This is a nightmare. I know it is. None of these events could possibly have happened in front of me, and this is exactly the sort of thing that awaits me every time I close my eyes. But I don't want to wake up; stranded here in my loneliness, nothing can happen to me. But when I wake up, things far worse than being forced to watch my grandmother's corpse will befall me. So I reach for the bottle of tequila by my side, turning toward it for an escape as always. But there's nothing there.

Can someone please wake me up from my life?

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