Eli has dreamed about water all of his life; been fascinated by it in his everyday life but almost always vaguely scared too. He can run his hands through water in the kitchen, bathroom and even in small ponds and never will he feel fear but when his has the dreams, the ones of falling water; now that is a very different thing.
The dreams had started as a trickle from a tap; small, rhythmic, unoffensive. Then it progressed to water falling from the ceilings; flooded rooms. Over flowing basins, torrential rain, waterfalls and then, the world seeming to tip upside down on it axes and the Earth's water would pour from it like the world had been cut from end to end and was bleeding its life out into space. That is now currently Eli's worse nightmare; not because he's afraid of drowning or because he does actually drown in his dreams, that is precisely it... he never die's. Eli never drowns, or has trouble breathing, in fact, the water never touches him, as if it's afraid to come closer, is physically repelled from him or Eli is simply, out of bounds. That is what bothers him, bothers him in a primitive way that screams at him every time he wakes up. Eli is never the one who shouts out. His mind does it for him.
"Hey Eli. How's the Slazenger interview coming along?"
Eli looks up from his crowded, modest desk and winks at Janice as she passes.
"Oh you know, almost willing to sell their souls for a little publicity!"
Janice chuckles and slaps Eli on the shoulder as she passes. He has an instant to feel the urge to pinch her bum, but then thankfully, he settles with a shake of his head and continues on with his work. All too soon his mind wonders to his dream last night and he finds himself sat pensively drumming his fingers on a tower of papers on his desk.
Last night the flavor of the dream had been the second worst kind; what starts out as a beautiful, majestic waterfall set deep within the wilderness, soon turns blood red and thick, truly as if the mountainside was bleeding. Nothing ever emerges from this waterfall or the pool of water around him but it also, like always, never touches him either. He stood in this dream, amongst the water, willing it to soak his skin, into his shoes and cool his skin. For it to collect and beads in his hair, lightly sting his eyes, spatter against his face and for him to drink, what he was sure was the purest water he would ever taste. But of course, this never happened and whenever he would get angry in his dream; frustrated and sad, the water would morph into what can only be described as blood, as if the waterfall itself was bleeding. Something would always happened just before this point in his dreams, something just on the edge of his vision, something he couldn't ever really see or touch. Oh, but it was there, always there like a dark stain on beauty. This part always scared him; as if there was an impostor in his dreams, stood just within the shadows but an impostor who had more control over his own imagination than he did. This feeling lingered with Eli for hours after he woke and poked at him whenever he had a quiet moment to himself, like today; with a quiet office and despite all of his work, that feeling was still there, scratching at his soul.
Soon after lunch Eli reluctantly returned to his desk with the great intention of finishing his write up of the Slazenger campaign. They had recently recruited Eli, not the other way around, contrary to common belief, and had set Eli on a great crusade to somehow write something fantastical in order to conger up more sales. But as Eli already knew, only the great Lord himself would be able to achieve such a difficult thing; they just weren't pulling they're own weight in the world of sports wear anymore and with poorly designed merchandise, worse management and preposterously high wages to management, the company really doesn't stand a chance in hell. Eli would try anyway; it's his job but when he actually sat looking at the work in front of him, it was moments like this where he really did wonder what on Earth possessed him to accept the assignment in the first place; after all, he had had a choice... hadn't he? In moments like this he wondered if he was on a slippery slope, plunging into career self-destruct mode or whether, simply, he was losing his touch
, which was a concept nearly as unfathomable as his wonderfully frightening dreams.
Half of Eli's problem is that he hasn't ever lost. So, if you were to ask him to be truthful about his fear of the Slazenger campaign he'd have to confess that it wasn't their lack of popularity per say, or the type of company he was trying to represent in the paper or really how well the company was or wasn't doing; it was because now, more than any other time before, he knew he would lose this one. Not because of the lack of sales, lack of interest or indeed his
lack of interest but because ever since he started on this column he had had that same feeling; the feeling that will linger with him after one of his 'water' dreams. A feeling of indistinguishable unease.
On the face of things, everything was right. He had all of the interviews, facts and figures he needed. The promotion department had done a great job on the images for the article and Bob - our local genius photographer - had taken some amazing snaps of Slazenger's top management. Everything was running smoothly for Eli; heck, he was even ahead of schedule which is nearly unheard of. Everything was perfectly in place; except it wasn't; it was all devastatingly wrong.
"Night Eli, catch you tomorrow," Janice says, but Eli completely misses it. Hours had passed as he sat doing his work, on autopilot and not at all thinking of things he should be thinking of. Eli had lost another day to his own jumbled mind; later he would wonder where it had gone, absolutely unable to remember what he had done with the time but for now, he remained at his desk, typing incessantly as the shadows around him grew and the night flexed itself and swallowed the world, bringing the darkest night Eli had seen in years.
Plip, plop, plip plop; ting ting ting. It was both the sound and the vibration of it hitting Eli's desk that aroused him from his work. He lifts his head, looks from one side of the room to the other, at first seeming not to understand and then, wham; Eli jumps up from his desk, begins to walk forward then spins on his heals and nearly runs in the other direction but the falling water all around stops him. He looks up at the ceiling just in time to see the cardboard tiles begin to bow and then give way, releasing a torrent of water down into the room, inches from his face. Eli jolts backwards and slips on the prickly carpet tiles as computers fizz and burst into smoke; as lights pop and shatter but most of all, he watches the water; it snakes the floor, filling the room quicker than he thought must be possible but as always the water doesn't touch him. It seems to fall directly onto his skin but when he looks, his arms, shirt and hair are bone dry. At first this had always made Eli feel God-like, as if in his dreams he was indeed invincible, untouchable but as the dreams had intensified over the years, all Eli now feels is wrong. Shunned by the water or his dream, as if all of his control has been taken away from him piece by piece, dream by little dream and when he wakes he is always a little bit weaker in mind, a little closer to an edge he has never been able to see or touch before now. What Eli hasn't been able to do is distinguish between his own dreams and reality. He still stands amongst his dreams and doesn't know what is real or not; they are just that vivid. Like now; this is his office, everything is perfectly how it should be, except for the water. Yes, that resembles his dream but what if this is real? The office could be flooding, it does happen. This doesn't help Eli much and his panic spikes. That has to be one of the most disturbing feelings, not to know reality when you see it.
He scrambles up from the floor, using every piece of available furniture to help him get to the exit. Once there he slips again and smacks his head against the solid door and slumps to the floor for a few moments holding his head in his hand. That pain feels real to him; the blood he can feel warming his icy hands, that's real? He pulls himself up and with blood smeared hands he yanks on the chrome handle; it doesn't move. He tries again and again, trying not to see his own reflection in the little slip of glass in the door; trying not to see the blood sliding down his face in long trails; the panicked, dark holes of his eyes and most of all, the glistening water behind him falling in long cascades. He kicks, thrashes and screams at the door but it doesn't so much as vibrate. He was trapped.
Eli turns back to the room, his harsh breathing nearly as loud as the rushing water now. He walks forward slowly as if hindered by all of the water around him but there really is no need, he can walk perfectly fine. The water doesn't physically part for him or move; it just simply doesn't move within the same dimension as him or that's how it feels to Eli.
He tries the windows; locked. He tries the other two doors in the large office but no, they won't open either and by the time Eli walks back into the middle of the room the water is up to his neck, then to his chin, nose, until finally it rises over his head like the ocean; blue and bright, light yet utterly suffocating. He screams within the prison of water and it's not anymore muffled than if he had indeed been stood amongst the computers and walls of his office on any regular day. He screams again, this time with frustration and rage and slams his body into the closest door, over and over again. He had to get away from it; break the surface of it; do something. Then, that's when he see's it; a flicker of solidness within the haze of the water, stood some way outside of this room, beyond the door; where Eli desperately wanted to be and then it's gone. He screams at the door again, shouting for help and then the inevitable part of his dream happens.
A red worm of water burrows down past his face, swimming as if it's a live and living, then it disperses and the water around him fuses into it. The red then spreads like veins through the body until everything in front of his face is a plume of blood. The now red water becomes heavier and starts to sink slowly to the bottom, like oil in water. Eli scrambles back, thrashing his arms through the red substance but his hands pass through, not even causing a vibration. The red blob grows at the bottom of the water, spreading over the carpet until Eli can no longer see any of the floor. Then it starts to rise, engulfing the light blue water above it; consuming it whole. Eli watches in something close to overwhelming hysteria. He can feel his lungs working furiously, hear his breath rushing out in gasping rhythm and cannot ignore the ice sliding down his back but he's utterly unable to move.
He watches the blood devour the water like an infection taking over good, healthy tissue and somehow it feels like this in his mind. These dreams, all of these weirdly terrifying dreams are slowly consuming his healthy mind. This is the moment he panics; the last of the water is consumed and all that faces him is red, everywhere red and he turns to run. He doesn't know where or what he's going to do but he just has to move. He plows through the red water; it never touches him, doesn't swirl around his body but he's past thinking of this. Then like someone stepping from the mist and clearing his world; a face appears. It protrudes out of the water and pushes into his dry space, the space he thought was only his and it slowly smiles.
Eli opens his mouth to scream and then he falls, falls away from the redness, the ghostly face and wakes screaming at his desk. He looks around the room, his breathing frantic; he takes in the dry carpet, walls, the room free of any kind of water and crashes back down to his chair, which squeals and groans under the sudden weight of impact. Strangely that sound reassures Eli and helps him calm his heart. He was back in his world; a world he could control, a world full of simple, ordinary, obvious things. Where sound continues, where water stays it's own color and where that thing, cannot reach him.