Dr. Werthem's Dream

I woke at about 4am with my left eye itching horribly. I wasn’t really surprised by waking up so early, as a project at work had thrown my sleep schedule all out of whack. So I crawled out of bed and staggered to the bathroom to look and see what was wrong.

Each footstep sent sent stilettos of agony through my eye socket. My knees started to get weak and I slammed my shoulder into the door frame entering the bathroom. I turned on the light and leaned in close to the mirror to see the problem, but it was pretty obvious. A reddish-brown stick about half an inch long was protruding from the left corner of my left eye. I was wracking my brain trying to figure out what the hell it could be when another shockwave of pain roared through my head, buckling my knees. I grabbed the sink and dragged myself back up, almost afraid to look in the mirror.

A second stick was now visible, in the right corner of my eye, and both were moving. Tears were streaming down my cheeks, and as I watched more sticks appeared. They were clearly crab-like legs, and through the slowly dulling pain I could tell they were coming from behind my (now slightly bulging) eye. I panicked—could I drive myself to the emergency room, when I could barely walk? What the hell was it in there?

I opened the medicine cabinet and took out an old stretch bandage and started wrapping it around my head, covering the afflicted eye. On the third time around, the original itching sensation started to build, and I felt movement under the wrappings. I clasped my hands over the eye, and felt something squirming, pushing against the cloth. I was startled and jerked by hand back, letting the bandage fall away. I felt searing pain, and my brain reeled from the distortion of my vision. My knees finally collapsed, slamming my head against the tile wall.

I don’t think I blacked out completely; I was just stunned for a moment. My vision was completely blurred, but I saw movement on the floor near me. It only took a moment to realize that the small creature skittering away from me, chitinous legs scrabbling across the hard wood floor, was my left eye. I immediately panicked, knowing that if the cat saw this thing, it would be ruined forever.

And then I woke up, my pillows drenched with sweat. It was about 4am, and there was this terrible pain behind my left eye. I haven’t been able to shake it all day.


I am standing on the veranda behind my grandfather’s house in Kentucky; it is huge, like a plantation house. There are rocking chairs scattered about, and small tables beside them. A short series of wooden steps lead to the yard. Everything is clean and uncluttered.

In the yard the sun is shining brightly over the acres of dark grass. There are only a few solitary trees, ancient oaks standing watch, their leaves rustling gently. There are large black stones in several places, flat and wide, rising slightly over the close-cropped grass. I am puzzled, as I don’t remember seeing them before.

There are women on the veranda now, of varying ages, all dressed in simple white cotton dresses. They are sitting and reading, talking quietly among themselves, smiling, walking slowly and gracefully down the steps to the yard. I recognize them now – they are women I have known, past lovers, once-close friends, some I know from this life now. They seem to know me as well, though none speak to me.

I go to the yard and walk among them. They acknowledge my presence, but do not speak to me, just smile and then look away. I do not touch anyone, nor do I speak. As I near one of the flat stones, I see that it isn’t a stone at all, but a huge, fat lizard of some kind, with pebbled skin like tiny onyx beads. Sometimes two of three are twined together, basking in the bright sunlight. I look across the yard – there are dozens of small clusters scattered about.

I realize the women are in danger, but I cannot speak. I bend to pick up a lizard; as I do, it turns to me and opens its red, red mouth in a silent hiss, blank eyes staring. I grasp it quickly and stand, holding it close to my chest, then stoop to take another. I walk to the shadow of a tree and drop them; they climb quickly into the branches. I look up, and there are hundreds more, all gazing into me.

When I walk back into the light, many of the women have vanished. As I watch, a girl I loved when I was five bends to examine a pool of blackness on the lawn. There is a flash of obsidian, the girl staggers back, then fades slowly from view. I scan the yard, and I see another woman dissolve into memory.

Motionless in the unbearably bright sun, despair fills my heart.