In response to a prompt from The Writer’s Academy Penguin, Random House
A woman starts a job in a psychiatric unit and is transported into the clients’ hallucinations. Can she get back?
SUCKED INTO A DREAM
By John Yeo
Tanya woke with a start, shaking her auburn curls, she sat up suddenly. A harsh wind rattled the television aerial on the roof of the maisonette she shared with her husband Tom. A loud snore indicated that Tom was still fast asleep on the other side of their king-sized bed. A film of perspiration covered her forehead, she vaguely remembered being frightened to death in a dream. Yet in spite of the feeling of abject fear and the lingering odour of perspiration, she could never remember what her dream had been about. ‘Happens all the time lately.’ She thought.
Tanya turned and nudged Tom who woke up suddenly with a grunt.
‘Whassermarrer?’ he grumbled, ‘I was enjoying a dream of a tropical paradise then.’
‘Good for you,’ responded Tara, ‘I can never remember what I dream about. C’mon, get up! I have to start my new job in the hospital today, and it’s important I get there on time,’
An hour later Tanya, having experienced the harassment of an uncomfortable journey to work by public transport, reported for duty on Clement Ward at the Eastchester general hospital.
Her new colleagues on the Ward were welcoming and friendly, there was one exception, an overweight young lady with a short mousy brown haircut who abruptly introduced herself as Brenda. It was later she found out she was replacing Brenda’s best friend who had left under strange circumstances.
Tanya took an instant shine to the Ward Clerk Jane, who welcomed her with an invitation to lunch in the hospital cafeteria. Jane was the same age as Tanya, also a Mum of a daughter, who was looked after by Grandma during the working day. Jane was a bubbly medium height blonde haired young lady and the two women hit it off with each other immediately.
The morning passed quickly on the busy ward for Tanya, she was introduced to the six high dependency patients, her predecessor had been responsible for looking after. The hardest patient to get any response from was Ruth, a young lady who remained asleep for most of the morning, regardless of the efforts of everyone to wake her. Yet somehow there was a flicker of interest in her eyes whenever Tanya came close to her bedside. At one point Ruth actually opened her eyes, but quickly appeared to drift back into a deep sleep.
Tanya was relieved when it came to lunchtime, and she eagerly made her way to the restaurant to keep her lunch date with Jane.
‘How are you getting on?’ Asked Jane after the two women had exchanged some warm small talk as they began to build on the instant rapport that had occurred between them.
‘Fine!’ replied Tanya. ‘I’m a bit puzzled as to why my predecessor left and why I got such a negative reaction from Nurse Brenda.’
‘Well it’s an easy question to answer as far as Brenda is concerned, they were close friends and Brenda was hoping to be recruited for the job you are doing. I heard a strange story about one of the patients who seemed to have a hold over your predecessor. Something to do with dream interpretation, I think.’
‘Oh!’ exclaimed Tanya, ‘I bet you are going to say the patient was Ruth. I’ve had some strange effects whenever I went near to her this morning.’
‘You’d better inform Sister Griffiths about those effects, I would hate to see you experiencing any untoward effects, especially now I have got to know you.’
Tanya nodded assent and shrugged off the mysterious implications of this conversation. The two women enjoyed a pleasant lunch together and arranged to meet again.
Tanya was shaken later that afternoon as she was administering medication through an intravenous drip, to Ruth who was fast asleep, A sudden flood of images filled her mind as she seemed to be transported to another dimension. Strange ethereal shapes were floating around Ruth, seeming to draw Tanya into their mysterious world. Tanya was being inculcated into a strange dream world deeper and deeper into this hallucinatory place. Tanya was aware Ruth was present and seemed to be drawing her closer laughing wildly with an invisible strong presence.
Tanya felt raw fear coursing through her brain as she began to try to shake herself free from this dream world. Tanya realised Ruth was dreaming and somehow she would have to try to wake her up. How do you wake someone when you are a part of their dream?
Tanya screamed as loudly as she could manage in this strange environment. ‘Ruth, wake up, Ruth please wake up now!’
There was no response of course just wild laughter, and Ruth began to realise this wasn’t going to be easy.
The strange shapes became clearer and suddenly an outside force seemed to be taking over.
‘Ruth please wake up!’ Yelled Tanya.
There was still no reply, just the subvocal sound of wild laughter.
‘Ruth!’ suddenly Tanya felt a shaking of everything in her consciousness, hard vigorous shaking as if a sudden earthquake had erupted in the dream world.
‘Ruth, what’s happening?’ Tanya yelled.
A strong vigorous shake shook her body as a separate voice shouted. ‘Tanya wake up, Tanya!’
As her eyes opened, Tanya met the worried gaze of Sister Griffiths who was shaking her roughly to wake her up.
‘Wake up Nurse, you seemed to have passed out, drink some of this water. What happened?’ Sister Griffiths looked kindly at Tanya as she led her into her office.
‘Would you like to tell me what happened just before you passed out Nurse?’
Sister Griffiths picked up a pen from her desk and began to fill out a form her greying hair was cut quite severely short, but in spite of this, her face radiated kindness and understanding.
Tanya proceeded to relate the events that had overtaken her since she had come on duty.
‘I must have been dreaming, but it’s funny I can remember everything, I never usually can bring dreams back into my head.’
Sister Griffiths said, ‘Don’t worry Nurse, I think this is exactly what I expected you to remember. I’m going to authorise a few days off for you and I want you to go home and rest. I will be talking to the Psychiatrist and I’m sure when you return Ruth will have been transferred to an isolation ward, where she will receive special care.’
‘Thanks, Sister Griffiths!’
Tanya left the hospital, still slightly bewildered at the unusual events of her first day at Eastchester hospital and was soon on her way home.
Copyright ©️ Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.