Day 11: Nightmare

The alarm didn't wake me. I could hear it in the back of my mind, some pop song blaring loudly. I couldn't quite place which, the melody was too distant like a half-remembered dream. It wasn't until my eyes snapped open, I realized it was supposed to be my cue to get up.

With a groan, I pulled myself into a sitting position. Sleep weighing down my eyelids as I struggled to make out the outline of my alarm clock. Fumbling in the dark, I managed to smack the off button. The song cut off and silence filled the room. Taking a few deep breaths, I noticed a fragrance hanging on the air.

Could my nose be deceiving me? Was...was that the smell of...pancakes?! Leaping out of bed, I rushed downstairs, taking them two at a time.

It was pancakes! Sitting on the granite countertop was a tall, steaming stack of fluffy round disks. I grinned widely, pouring generous helpings of syrup on top before gobbling them up in the blink of an eye.

Patting my stomach, I glanced over at the clock and felt my heart thump in my chest. Work would be starting soon.

Without stopping to think, I was running out the door already dressed and ready, briefcase in hand. The air was fresh and crisp, a fine misty fog covering the road. Birds chirped in the trees, their tweets harmonizing with the pleasant buzz of activity coming from the waking city,

My car was sitting in the driveway, shining bright blue in the early morning rays and I hopped in, starting it in one smooth motion, before pulling out of the driveway and heading down the street. The roads were surprisingly clear, the early morning traffic practically nonexistent. I counted my blessing, using the time to zip through the city at breakneck speeds.

The streets seemed cleaner than usual, the potholes that normally littered the pavement were completely smoothed over. It was like driving on butter, not a bump or dip to be felt.

Even the buildings were cleaner. The tall glass and metal structures almost glowing with an ethereal gleam, silhouetted against the pink and yellow light of the morning sky. There were even more trees lining the sidewalks, which were paved with cobblestone and moss. The leaves were bright green and full. They looked exactly like a child's drawing of a tree; straight trunk with a circular tuft of green and shining red apples placed at equidistant intervals.

Above me, birds soared through the air. Exotic birds, some larger than a lion with long, multicolored feathers that seemed to shift hues in the light. I could feel my jaw dropping, I'd never seen anything so beautiful in my entire life.

Too soon, I was pulling up to my work. A parking space was available right in front of the usually crowded office building. I got out of the car and did a double-take. The red vehicle stood out between the black cars which were parked on either end. It looked too good sitting there and I picked it up and placed it in my pocket for safekeeping.

I headed through the stained glass doors and felt my jaw drop once more. They had painted the boring silver and white hallway and replaced it with a mural of the bottom of the ocean. Coral reefs with rainbow fish lined the walkway. The fish swimming from one wall to the other. The overhead lights shifted as if they were shining through water, thin yellow beams moving with the gentle waves of the ocean.

My coworkers didn't seem to notice the new decor, still walking around like zombies and ignoring the beauty surrounding us.

Shaking myself, I tore my gaze away from a school of fish swimming around me in slow circles and headed towards the elevator. The doors dinged open and I stepped inside only to be pulled upward by what felt like a gust of wind. An excited laugh escaped my lips as I realized I was zooming through a long glass pipe, just like the one in my favorite cartoon. Laughing, I raised my hands above my head and enjoyed the ride as I swerved and dipped through the twist, turns, and loopty-loops of the tube.

This was the best day of my life.

The pipe finally came to an end at my floor and I skipped over to the office. Immediately I was greeted by the smiling face of my boss. Surrounding him were hundreds of puppies in various sizes and breeds. A message was written on the whiteboard that read "Free Puppy Day" with a smiley face.

Eagerly I began making my way through the sea of happy, tail wagging, furry beasts until I came upon one by the window. It was sitting perfectly still, staring at me with a happy smile, it's tongue hanging out of its mouth. Immediately, I knew that was the puppy for me and I scooped it into my arms, it's golden hair so soft against my skin.

"Wake up." The puppy said, its voice a deep growl.

Surprised, I held the dog out at arm's length.

"Azathoth, wake up." It said again.

Blinking, the images of the dog and office faded away and instead the red light of hellfire filled my vision. "Sabazios?" I asked, my voice rough with sleep.

"You're late! Get the fuck up!"

My breath was coming in short bursts and my heart was racing a million miles a minute. "Fuck, what time is it?" Sweat trickled down my forehead which had nothing to do with the flames swirling around me.

The snake-eyed being snorted and crossed his arms. "You tell me, 'Oh-Ruler-of-Time-and-Space'. You're supposed to be on the black throne! I'm not your errand boy. Didn't you hear your victim?"

The human soul next to my bed was screaming at the top of his lungs, red hot metal rods sticking through his feet. "I guess I didn't hear him."

"What, was your dream so amazing or something?" Sabazios asked, sarcastically.

"No," I whispered, my red skin crawling with the memory. "It was a nightmare."