Welcome to the next instalment of The Psychology of Dreams 101. Leah may be awake at last, but a confrontation with Al proves that things are far from simple and far from finished.
What if you got punished when you didn’t get your dreams right? That’s the dilemma our heroin, Leah, and her psychology of dreams teacher, Al. The Psychology of Dreams 101 is a romp into the sexy unconscious as Leah Kent takes a Psychology of Dreams adult education class, only to discover that the required Dream Journal leads to some seriously kinky night journeys.
Chapter 14 Reality Bites
“How the hell did you do it?” His voice rose just enough to make her pulse jump and her skin prickle. “How did you invade my dreams?”
Her hands were less than steady as she flipped through the pages of his dream journal. In fact, by the time she realizes what she was looking at, they were shaking so hard that the risk of ripping pages out was very real. There was the dream she’d written with Dr. Clyde sleeping next to her – when she thought she had finally woken up, there was the dream in Eddie’s Diner, there were the dreams of her splayed across the doctor’s desk, there was the dream of her and Al in the darkened campground on Mount Hood. They were all there and all exactly in her words, as far as she could tell — though it was definitely Al’s writing.
She threw her own journal down on his desk. “That — all of that, was in my journal before I woke up. How the fuck did it get in yours?”
He picked up her notebook as though he was afraid it might bite him and opened it very carefully, then flipped through the pages. At last he looked up at her. “Jesus! You didn’t even give me my privacy in the shower?” He stabbed the entry of the masturbation dream with an accusatory finger, and she jerked the journal away from him.
“What about you? What about what you and Dr. Clyde did to me, all the things you did to me, always telling me the only way I could get out of the goddamned dream was to take my punishment, and that punishment always involved you two controlling me, doing something filthy to me? Hmm? What about that? And what about you stealing my dreams, did you ever think of that?”
“You killed us! You fucking killed us!”
His accusation, felt like he’d punched her. She drug in a shaky breath and slumped back in her chair. “You were holding me prisoner,” she replied softly. “Besides it was just a dream. You don’t look any worse for the wear. What about Dr. Clyde, he’s okay, isn’t he? Have you talked to him?”
“He’s dead!” Al dropped into his chair and ran a hand through his already wild hair. “He’s dead.”
The room spun and Leah felt like she might pass out, but before she could ask, Al spoke, avoiding her gaze. ” He died a few months after Diana. I … I haven’t thought about him, about them in a long time.” He glanced up at her and then back down at his desk. “Neither of them came out of the coma.” He nodded to his dream journal. “What you dreamed, what we both dreamed, is true, I mean about Derrick and me being lovers, about our experiments, about us both wanting Diana. I just don’t know how the hell you knew it all, how you dreamed it all.”
“I don’t know either,” she whispered. “All I know is that I was desperate to get out of the dream, and I couldn’t wake up. Every time I thought I was awake, it was only another part of the dream, and I couldn’t get free. You both kept telling I needed to be punished, but I didn’t. I haven’t done anything to deserve punishment.”
“Of course you haven’t, you’ve done nothing. But Derrick and I, on the other hand …” His voice drifter and he rubbed his eyes.
“I can’t see that you have any reason to be punished for what happened. It wasn’t your fault,” Leah said.
“And yet you killed me.” This time he did hold her gaze.
“It was a dream. I was trapped.”
“I know, and that was petty of me to say. Still dream images have meaning to our psyches. Either you believed I deserved to die or I believed it. Maybe we both did.”
“Why the hell would I think that? I knew none of this when I went to bed expecting more dreams about begonias or dogs and Big Macs.”
He didn’t reply. For a long moment they sat in silence lost in their own thoughts. She kept her eyes on her closed dream journal, but she could feel his gaze on her. At last he rolled his shoulders in an effort to release tension, then spoke. “Our experiments, Derrick and mine, they were real, just exactly like I described to you in my … in our dream, but no one else was involved in our dream sharing experiments. They worked with us – Derrick and me. We’d not perfected our technique. We’d not actually tried what we were using on each other until Dianna, and I honestly don’t know how Derrick pulled Diana into the dream. He was the one who knew hypnosis, but still, it shouldn’t have worked. He shouldn’t have been able to get her there.”
“The obvious answer is that she wanted in, that she thought she’d find what she was looking for there.”
“I can see that,” he replied. “That makes sense, but what doesn’t make sense is how you and I shared a dream when you had no idea.”
She ran a finger over the paisley pattern on her journal, suddenly unable to meet his gaze. “I wanted to dream. I wanted to … I wanted to please you by having interesting dreams.”
To her surprise, he chuckled softly. “Is that the reason for the masturbation dream?”
She blushed hard. “It was a dream. I can’t help what my unconscious throws at me in the middle of the night.”
“You should read the dreams I’ve had about you.”
Her pulse rate accelerated. “You dream about me, I mean other than … that.” She nodded to his journal.
“Oh yes, I dream about you, and the dreams were very pleasant until that.” He mirrored her nod to his notebook, then tugged at his collar. “Some of that was not too bad either.”
“But Dr. Clyde kept interrupting.”
To her surprise Al smiled and then shook his head. “He always was a kinky bastard, always wanting to have sex in strange places or invite someone he found attractive to join us. He would have found you attractive, Leah,” he added quickly. “He would have done exactly as he did in the dream, wormed his way right in and wanted a filthy threesome, the filthier the better.”
“Then he would have approved of the dream?”
“Except for the part where you pushed him off the rooftop.”
There was nothing she could say to that, and once again the two sat in uncomfortable silence. At last Al spoke.
“I left the dream to get help, like I said, but what was different is that while in your dream he left with me, in reality he didn’t. He wouldn’t leave Diana, and after that first time, he wouldn’t let me back in. I tried everything I knew, but he wouldn’t let me in. Maybe he couldn’t. I don’t know. I just know I couldn’t get back to them.”
“I’m sorry.” She didn’t know what else to say.
“It was … unnerving to see him alive again, to see the continuation of his life as though he’d never died.”
“Then none of that part was true, I mean of him interacting with us.”
He shook his head. “It seemed so real though.”
Again the two sat lost in their own thoughts, and it felt like that minute of silence people are always having out of respect for the dead. Maybe it was.
“What do you think it means”? Leah asked.
“I wish I knew. That you and I can dream share without any preliminary prep, without any hypnosis is astounding. It took Derrick and I nearly three years to dream together, and even then it wasn’t without lots of prep, drugs more often than not, and hypnosis, well that was our last bit of experimentation. Even with all that, we were only managing to share anything more than a few images maybe fifty percent of the time.” Al looked down at his journal then back at her. “I never continued our experiments. I’ve never wanted to, never thought I could, but now…”
“Now you think maybe you should.”
He nodded, gaze still locked on her.
“What if it turns real, like it did with Diana? What if you die there?”
“I don’t have a death wish. Do you?” he asked.
“Neither did Dr. Clyde, did he?”
“He wanted Diana.” The muscles around his left cheek tightened and twitched. “It was way more than wanting her. He was obsessed with her and Derrick always got what he wanted.” The man’s jaw looked like it was set in iron.
“That bothered you.”
“Sometimes. Sometimes it did. With Diana, well …”
“You wanted her too.”
When he didn’t answer, she asked, “if he would have let you back into the dream, would you have fought him for her?”
He shook his head. “There was no need. I knew that from the beginning.”
She shifted in her seat, an uncomfortable tightness growing in her chest. “Then how did you know about the rooftop, about her jumping if you couldn’t get back into the dream?”
“I didn’t,” he said. “I didn’t know what happened in their dream until this.” He gently stroked his journal.
Suddenly it seemed hot in the room, and it was hard to breathe. “Then you think I saw what really happened then?”
“I’m sure of it.” He pushed back his chair and came to kneel next to her. “It feels like closure I never got. It feels like answers that I never had.”
“I’m glad, that’s good. So then it’s all over, and I can go back to dreaming about begonias and dogs eating my Big Mac, right? I never thought I’d say it, but if I never have another dream more interesting than that, I’ll be a happy camper.”
When he made no effort to move from his position on his knees in front of her, she fought the urge to push her chair back away from him. “What?”
The man was staring at her like she had two heads, and the look alone was enough to clench the nerves in her belly that hadn’t fully relaxed since this whole damn dream sharing started. “Al, I can go back to my boring dreams now can’t I?”
“Leah,” he took her hands in his in a fervent motion that caused her dream journal to slide onto the floor with a loud kathunk. “Leah, I know this is not what you want to hear, and I’ll understand if you tell me no, but I need you to dream with me one last time.”