The man was dreaming. He dreamed of being an animal, and his dreams were always the same. It started as if he was already asleep, and things were always off. He noticed this strangeness first, and suddenly, an innate fear took hold of him. He could see his legs walking, could feel the grip of a gun in his hands and the weight of a mask in his face, but could not stop himself. He couldn’t even close his eyes. All he could do was feel the Animal he was, and fear what was about to happen.
And it always happened in the same way. He entered a warm room, kept clean and tidy, and, despite the mask, the smell of disinfectant filled his nostrils immediately. But it came with something else… As if the chemicals were trying their best to hide some other, darker smell, but failed to do so. After that, he always looked around to find an old man in a wheelchair. The old man had a telephone in his hands, and spoke loudly, spitting at the plastic machine. Sometimes, he could understand them, and sometimes the words were unintelligible. In the times he could, the old man was ranting: “Where are you? What is going on?”
At this part of the dream, he would feel a most empowering sensation. It was like the control he could never achieve in his daily life finally found its way to his hands, and in his hands was an instrument that signified power better than any other. The old man turned to see who the intruder was, and noticing the mask, looked down – and knew. The smoking gun on his hand told the old man everything he needed to know.
“Are you here simply to kill me? Or do you have questions first?”
The Man did have questions. Millions of them. Who was he? Where was he? What was he doing? Why was he doing it? But the Man was dreaming, and in his dreams he was an Animal. And Animals ask no questions. His expression was hidden by the mask, but had it been visible, it would be the face of a lion. No feelings. Only the kill.
“Do you want to know why we killed your girlfriend? Or is that not what you’re here for?”
It was. They had, indeed, killed the woman that lived with him, even though she was not his girlfriend. He could never do that. Not the Man, nor the Animal. The Animal had rescued her. And the Man had taken care of her. She was living in a place of filth, one of many the Animal had visited in its hunting days. She was there, like a flower in a slaughterhouse. The room was painted red with the blood of the men the Animal had killed, and you know what she had said to it? “Finish it. There’s no point anyway.”
There was a point. Even the Animal saw that. And so, he plucked the flower, and rescued her. With time, in a different place, the flower blossomed again, and lived happily. She had a point again. Other Animals had changed that. Now, the Animal was there to hunt once more.
He took a few steps. Every time he walked in the dream, the entire world rocked back and forth with him. But the Animal didn’t care. It was ready. It had been born ready. Or perhaps it had never been born: It was created, a creation the Man so desperately needed, but refused to accept it. Finally, when he did, he released the Animal, uncaged it, and let it roam free. And, in its wanderings, it had done many terrible things.
The Man knew that, of course. He knew what happened when he went to sleep, and the Animal awakened. He had no illusion of that, nor could he: the Man was the one who had to clean the blood in his clothes and hands, and maintain the gun, the knife… Clean the mask. He knew, and he chose to close his eyes. For he also knew the Animal would not fail.
The Animal was very close to the old man know, perhaps an arm’s length. It noticed the old man’s wheelchair: an expensive thing. Allowed the old man to move it by himself. But he chose not to. There was nowhere to go, nowhere to run, no one to seek for help. The old man understood that, and in his understanding, said this:
“Very well. Finish it. I’ve done some truly terrible things…”
The Animal would finish it. There was no point anymore.
After all, the Animal had done it so many times before. There was nothing new to it. The Animal was good at it, reveled in it. This disgusted the Man. It disgusted him to know he was the one to have uncaged the beast, and that, in some way, all those things it did during the night, during the Man’s dreams, were somehow his own fault. However, perhaps the Man’s disgust was not disgust at all, but envy: he longed to be as free as the Animal was, in its wanderings and roamings. He longed, but could never be free: he was trapped, caged himself, in the real world.
At this point of the dream, something very strange happened. The Animal, in its infinitely better hearing, heard the Man’s thought, and decided to do something unique. The Animal let the Man take control. Suddenly, the gun became heavy, the world became stable, and the old man’s breath became audible. The Man was terrified. Why would the Animal wake him up? He couldn’t do this. He could never do this. But the Animal assured him, in its bizarre language, that he could. That it was his time to be free.
Slowly and hesitantly, the man pointed the gun to the old man’s forehead. It nearly touched him. The old man closed his eyes, as if in a solemn occasion. The Animal whispered something, and the Man pulled the trigger.
The sound was so very real, and so was the recoil, and the smell of gunpowder. The Man looked at the old man, and felt the urge to look away, until the Animal told him there was nothing to fear, for there was nothing to see. It was over.
The Man awoke. He took off his mask, walked to the porch, a very ample and well decorated ambient, and lit a cigarrete. There was something different about that air. It felt real. New.