Sunday, August 18, 2013

Dream Maker

Miles was nine years old, when his grandfather gave it to him. At that point, his grandfather was already senile and suffered from dementia. His grandfather had emigrated to the United States from Germany during World War II escaping Nazi persecution.

The thing was weird looking. At the base of the interior roof or ceiling, there were dozens of dull metal tips, they looked like pencil erasers. It had copper and lead wires and a few transistors. It was a grey helmet, like the ones bicycle riders use, not solid, but with ‘breathing’ spaces or gaps. I guess to avoid your head from sweating or your brain from getting too hot. “Grey like your brains,” he said.

My friend wasn’t considered mentally insane by the rest of his family but just a little slow. They all had tried to warn me about interacting with him. “Pay no attention to him.” Her father said while tapping his index finger to his temple. I thought it was cruel. Instead, I paid no attention to the father, but to the son. 

I found interesting to communicate with a ‘different’ mind. At first, it was hard to pinpoint his abnormalities. He appeared to be an average kid, maybe just a little mixed-up, like his mind was working faster than the way he could express his thoughts. I think his mind was too fast for his communicating skills. I guess that’s why he had that tic, when his left eye started to blink a hundred times a minute.

He seemed to be happy within his loneliness. He had been home schooled; they said there was too much trouble at the regular public school and that he’d been bullied to death. There was no need for them to announce that he was a little slow. I would have noticed it anyhow. He was shy, and you could tell that her sister was his best friend. Her sister’s name was Gretchen. Gretchen was also my best friend.

For Miles the helmet was a precious treasure, he kept it with him at all times. He proudly offered it to me to inspect.The family never knew what the main purpose of it was. He never used it for protection, and he always wore it when he went to sleep. Miles seemed to like me because I treated him like a normal person. He was just a little odd, a little abnormal, but aren’t we all?
He couldn’t follow a normal conversation. He would just agree or nod to anything he wouldn’t understand. He was a great kid; we got along just fine, maybe because I wasn’t normal either. 

When I visited her house, Gretchen didn’t mind that I spent more time talking to him than to her. Gradually, Miles and I became good friends, and his family was glad we did. They knew it was a sincere friendship. Gretchen said that before me, his best friend had been his grandpa who had died when Miles was nine years old, five years before.

His dad gave him permission to keep everything his grandpa left when he died. He kept it all in perfect order. There were uniforms, boots, medals, diplomas, writings and notebooks. He had several first edition original books by Sigmund Freud, a contemporary of his grandfather. Everything written in German, but nobody in the family spoke or understood the language. Oh, and apparently grandpa had been an inventor.

When I asked Gretchen about the helmet, she said that her grandpa built it himself and gave it to Miles just days before he died. Miles wouldn’t go to sleep without it despite his dad’s early efforts and insistence for Miles not to wear it in bed. It looked uncomfortable to use for several hours at a time, especially in bed. 

Conversations with Miles were sometimes a little bit incoherent, but not when he was talking about dreams. That was his favorite subject. He appeared to have an unusual amount of wisdom in the matter. I never showed him indifference, regardless of how absurd his comments seemed. That was the reason he seldom talked to his family because they avoided any conversations with him, especially about dreams. They thought they were interminable and uneventful. They were impatient. Other than that, they were very loving and protective.

Miles had knowledge acquired through his altered and mildly defective mind. Although he had a hard time organizing his thoughts and struggled to express what he had in his mind, you could tell his brain was balancing his deficiencies with his proficiencies. Like a blind man when his other senses get acute to compensate for his lack of eyesight. 

His facial features were out of the ordinary; he was almost handsome. He had one of those faces that the more you see; the more you are convinced that he truly is handsome. His face was mild and peaceful.

Gretchen and I went to the same school, and I walked her home every day. I never asked her officially to be my girlfriend, but I knew everybody considered us boyfriend and girlfriend, even we did. We were both nineteen. 

Every day when we arrived at her house, Gretchen would always kiss Miles, as a ritual, and it was the only fleeting instant when Miles wore an unperceivable smile. After a while, Gretchen went to her room to do her homework, and I stayed with Miles. He wasn’t an expressive person; he couldn’t show his feelings openly but I could feel his contentment when we were together.

After several weeks of cultivating his friendship, I knew I gained his complete trust when he mentioned to me that he wanted to show me his dreams. 

“I like my other me better than my own self,” he said to me, while tapping his chest with his right open hand. “I’m happier with my inside me,” he said.

“What do you mean Miles? Is there another person inside of you?”

“Yes, he’s always there, when I’m asleep. He is smart; his brains are good, he can think better.”

“Can you communicate with him? Does he talk to you?” I asked him.

“Are you crazy? He is me! There’s no need to talk to me, we just think, that’s all, and when I’m in there with him, we’re smart the same. I like him better than I like myself. Do you want to talk to him Randy? You can borrow my helmet tonight if you want.”

“Is he inside your helmet?” I asked.

“No dummy, he’s in my dreams, ha, ha. Inside my helmet, ha, ha. You’re a little retarded Randy. Sorry, I didn’t mean to insult you, Randy, you’re my best friend, sorry.”

“It’s alright, Miles, I don’t feel insulted, you’re also my best friend. But tell me Miles, how does your helmet work?”

“You just put it on your head before you fall ,and you start dreaming,” he said.

“But I’ve never needed a helmet to dream and I’ve dreamed all my life without one.”

“Yes, but with my helmet you can talk to me in your dreams, you can have real dreams and you can also see my dreams.”

“But, are you going to be okay without it for one night? I think Gretchen told me that you haven’t slept without it since your grandpa gave it to you. What if you change your mind and I have it at home with me.”

“It’s alright, Randy, I can still have normal boring dreams without it, sometimes I remove it in the middle of the night, sometimes I’m boring myself.”

“Before I take it, just tell me how it works, does it need a battery or a charger? Do I need to connect it to an electrical receptacle? I asked him mockingly, which I immediately regretted.

“I don’t know how it works, my grandpa never gave me any instructions. He just made it and gave it to me and said, ‘dreams are its energy, here have fun’”

After I consulted with Gretchen if it was okay for me to take Miles’ helmet with me. We went back to Miles to ask him again if it was alright, he said, and I took it home with me. 

I didn’t even know why I accepted to bring it with me, probably just to please Miles. My curiosity was minimal.

I have to admit; the little device looked very interesting, a little medieval. Like you would expect a torture device to look, like an apparatus someone would use to reanimate Frankenstein.

When I went to bed, I put the “dream maker” by the nightstand, next to my books. I usually read for an hour or two or until I get sleepy. After a while, I decided to turn the lights off and go to sleep.

As I reached for the lamp switch; I saw the helmet and grabbed it.

I put the helmet on my head in the dark. My pillow was thick and soft, so it didn’t feel bothersome. The blunt metal tips inside the helmet rested on my thick hair. The tips felt like dozens of fingers, when I moved it around my head, it felt like giving myself a massage, like when you’re applying shampoo to your hair. It didn’t feel bad at all. 

I don’t know if time is real inside my dreams, for instance, if I sleep for seven hours, I’m sure I don’t dream for seven hours. If I have several different dreams, when I wake up I only remember the last one, so that makes me think that I only had one dream. 

When I try to explain my dreams, it takes a minute or less to relate the whole dream. Does that mean my dream lasted only one minute or less? 

I’ve always been fascinated by dreams. Some experts say that they are your fears and desires, and I agree, but when they begin to talk about conscious, unconscious, subconscious, then it gets all too complicated for me. I would like to understand what happens in that instant when you cease to be awake and start to be asleep. And what about subconscious or semi-conscious, does that mean an instant before or an instant after consciousness? All that stuff is too confusing to me. 

I've always enjoyed my dreams, ordinary, surreal or bizarre. When you're sleeping your mind shows you who the real boss is. You dream about temptations, wishes and fantasies. Your good and evil sides fight and struggle for dominance. Divine and demonic forces fight for the control of your mind. Sometimes I enjoy my nightmares too.

When I wake, I force myself to remember what I just dreamed, as I’ve never done before. I dreamed that I was on the roof of a tall building. It looked as if the roof was scraping the sky. I was lying down on the roof, and I was afraid to fall. The roof was very small, about the size of my bed, (yes, my dreams are bizarre too.) I was lying down on my back, grabbing the sides of the building with my extended arms. It was windy, I don’t know how long I stayed like that but I was exhausted. Within my dream, I knew I was dreaming. I wanted to end it, but I couldn’t. I thought my anxiety would never end, when I figured I couldn't stop it. I decided to jump. I thought that was my only escape, but before doing so, I resolved that instead of jumping to my death I was going to fly and enjoy my ride. 

For an instant, I went straight down a million miles an hour, but then I relaxed myself. I took control of the situation and started to soar and turned my nightmare into a sweet, beautiful dream. I could have stayed there forever, I could see the entire city. I could see the sky, the clouds and the horizon. I could fly above the treetops and go back up to the roof of my tormenting building and go around it. Smiling because I had conquered my fears.

Then I woke up, but I didn’t open my eyes, and I didn’t move. I swear to God and all the angels that I truly felt that I was capable of flying without a doubt. I was laying on my bed, but I’m sure that if I had been on top of a building, I would have jumped and I would have been able to fly. I was certain I could do that. 

Now I'm certain that it was ridiculous.

I knew all I had to do was to conquer my fears. I just learned how to be unafraid of my fears. If I don’t let my mind control me, I could control my mind! Then I opened my eyes, and had a hard time convincing myself that I'd been dreaming the entire time, including the time when I thought I was awake, but I’m not so sure. Then I removed the helmet from my head, and I wondered if I could have had the same dream without the helmet.  

I just realized that there were two of me inside my dream! There was me, acting my dream, and then the other me watching me act. Or the physical me dreaming on my bed and my other me inside my dream and I actually liked the other me, the one with the authority to control my dream. It looked clear then, now it's very confusing.

“Did you wear it? Did you dream?"  Miles asked the next day, as I gave his helmet back.

“Yes Miles, I wore it, but honestly I wasn’t thinking about using it. I just put it on and fell asleep and had a normal dream.”

“A normal dream, was it a normal dream really?” 

“Well, yes, nothing different, it was vivid. It felt real, and I enjoyed it because I could control it.”

“Did you like the other you better?”

“Yes Miles, yes, I liked my other me better.”

“You see what I mean now, now we’re equal. I like my other me better and you like the other you better.”

“What? Wait a minute Miles, there’s only one of me. The conscious one when I’m awake and the unconscious one when I’m asleep, but we’re the same there’s no need to separate me in two. (I felt a little stupid because I just contradicted myself) When I say that I like the other one better, I mean that I want to act like him in real life. I want to be unafraid and in control, I like the fact that he is free, and he’s not afraid of the consequences of his acts.”

“You have to admit it, Randy, you are feeling envy of the other you, but it’s amazing isn’t it? Your first dream and you are already struggling with you and yourself.”

“No Miles, it wasn’t my first dream, I don’t envy me and I’m not struggling with myself. But let me tell you one thing, you are a lot smarter than most of us. And don’t believe anybody that tells you otherwise.” 

Now I’m feeling more confused now. I’m convinced that the damn thing is useless, it can’t protect your head, much less your brains. I’m glad for Miles though; the helmet is his only toy. He loves it, and I’m going to respect that. Me, I don’t have any toys, I’m not attached to any material things at the moment. If an earthquake strikes, I won’t run to get anything to save it and take it with me. I would just run with me and myself.

The following day, Miles came with an amazing and unbelievable commentary. 

“Hey Randy, I saw your dream. I’m glad you know how to fly now; you were great, from the treetops to the roof of a tall building in just a few seconds.”

“What? That’s impossible, who told you about it? Nobody knows, I never told anybody that’s not possible Miles, how can that be?”

“Randy, you shouldn’t be so surprised, it’s in my helmet. You knew that. Didn’t I tell you, that I wanted to show you my dreams?”

It just blew my mind. How can that be? To know about that dream he had to be inside my head, unless the dream was somehow recorded in the helmet, but that’s so out of this world, so science fiction. There has to be a better explanation. I need more evidence. 

It's beyond normal comprehension. If the helmet works like that, the world needs to know about it. Wait a minute, does it? 

One thing’s for certain; his grandpa was a genius. I think I’m going too far ahead on my conclusions, I need to experiment with it a little more before I open my big mouth or do something irrational.

Miles probably saw all the provocative questions in my head, because he gave me the thing back and said, “Here, Randy, try again.”

Gretchen is beautiful, normal beautiful. She’s not demanding, but she’s not submissive. She needs her own time and space. She’s happy with herself; she’d be happy with me, or without me. She’s a little overweight. What some people might consider being on the verge of obesity I consider voluptuous. I don’t know if we’re going to be together for the rest of our lives, but I would very much like it to be so. I know she’s a virgin, just like me, I think. I mean I am, and I think she is too, if she’s not, no big deal. 

I’ve decided to do a little experiment with her in my dreams. I noticed that when I do something repetitiously for hours during the day, sometimes at night I dream about it. If I swim for hours, or if I watch a movie that impressed me in any way, I would dream about that.

Tonight, Gretchen and I will be losing our virginity simultaneously in a dream. There is no need for condoms or promises, no need to take any precautions, but I want lots of foreplay.

I'll write a little story of how I want it to be. Like an erotic story, in which I include all my fantasies. I’ll make love to her for hours. I’ll take advantage of my experiment after all is just a dream. When I finish the story, I’'d read it several times until I fall asleep. I’ll concentrate only in Gretchen and me having sex. I hope that’s what I dream. I’d better not forget about my helmet, I mean our helmet, I mean, Miles’ helmet. Oh well, good night.

A couple of days after I gave the helmet back to Miles, he comes to me and says, “Randy I saw what you did with Gretchen, you dirty man! I can’t believe it. I had to turn it off.” 

I couldn’t find a proper rational reaction. I just said to him, “It was just a dream, Miles, don’t pay attention to it.”  

Regarding the amazing helmet, I don’t know what to do. Should I tell the whole world? Should I get a patent and sell it for a hundred million dollars?  No! The thing belongs only to Miles, and of course, I have nothing to do with it. But the whole thing is in my hands, it’s up to me, I could decide what the next step would be. I mean I could keep quiet, or I could expose it. 

The potential was infinitesimal. I’m not concerned about its enormous monetary value. The main thing for now is to be quiet. I shouldn’t tell anyone, not even Gretchen. I’ll keep experimenting with it. I need to find its real potential. I need to investigate its prospects and risks. 

“How you turn it off?” I asked Miles, after a long pause.

“You just tell yourself to wake up, as simple as that,” he answered.

“Please, Miles, don’t say anything to Gretchen about it, okay?”

“Why would I tell her. It was just a dream, right?

“Yes, completely unpremeditated,” I replied with a little lie.

The dream I had with Gretchen was vivid and real, it was so real, I woke up tired and with an erection. My penis was still sore in the morning. I’m sure it hadn't been a wet dream, my underwear and bed sheets were clean.

After that day, I asked Miles many questions regarding the helmet, without trying to be too fastidious. I didn’t want to lose his trust or his friendship. I asked him about his grandfather. I asked him if I could read his grandfather’s notes, writings and books. He accepted, but it was useless because everything was written in German, and I couldn’t trust anyone to translate it. Miles had been using the ‘dream maker’ every day for almost five years. He was the only expert on the matter.

“One day I’ll be with my grandpa Dieter forever. He was my best friend. In the end, my grandpa was crazy like me, but no two crazy peoples can understand each other. After he had died, he was in my dreams, and I felt safe there with him, only there. The helmet was our connection; he gave it to me to visit him in my dreams.”

Miles said that the helmet transported him to another world, not fantasies, but another real world. Better than the one we live in and that he was spending more time in his ‘dream world’. He said that sometimes he didn’t know in which world he was in. He believed that one day one world was going to cancel the other. 

He said he could now erase or suppress bad memories or add good experiences to his past, or to his future. It was hard to understand him. Could it be that his defective short-circuited brain was in reality a superior brain than normal?

I couldn’t hide the excitement I felt for the current events. I tried to simulate my enthusiasm with false indifference. I said to him that I wanted to experiment a little more with it and asked him if we could alternate using the helmet. I was glad he agreed. The reason I didn’t want to look over excited was that I didn’t know how he’d react. I didn’t want to ruin or risk our ‘partnership’. I don’t want to be cut off out of this project. Above all, my attitude would never be malicious towards Miles.

Tonight I'll take a tour to hell, I’ll visit hell. It might seem a little premature, a drastic change, from Gretchen to hell. I figured that since I can control and manipulate my dreams, (I think) if I don’t like  hell, I’ll turn it into heaven. I’m still a little hesitant about this choice, but I’m stubborn and it was my first choice. After I had gathered some paintings from the masters depicting hell, I concentrated in them until I fell asleep. But not before I put on the dream maker, or the dream generator or the dream creator or the dream catcher or . . .  

In the morning, I woke up a little disappointed. No hell whatsoever, probably it doesn’t exist, and if it doesn’t exist, I couldn’t invent it in my dreams. I don’t know, maybe I didn’t concentrate enough. All I dreamed about was Miles having lots of fun with a kite, and an old man cheering him up, until Miles fell on his knees. I was there, next to the old man. I saw Miles in my dreams for the first time, but I felt a little frustrated nonetheless. I think this dream was a failure, it proved nothing.

When I went back to Gretchen’s house, I got another surprise when I saw Miles. He had some scrapes on his knees. I asked him right away what had happened to him, and he said he didn’t know. He said he woke up like that and that he probably fell from his bed, but I knew that that was very unlikely. Could it be possible that he was in my dream and somehow, no, no way. Either way, I didn’t tell him about my dream.

Next day he told me about his dream.

“Randy, you were in my dreams! My grandpa was there too. I was running and having fun with a kite, until . . .”

Then I interrupted him and finished his sentence, “. . . until you fell and scraped your knees!”

I bet we both had the same expression of incredulity and 

After a few weeks of practice and experimentation I learned a lot about my dreams and ‘my device’. I noticed how important it was to be relaxed before falling asleep. I even created a system that takes only a couple of minutes.

While lying in bed, face up, and with my eyes closed, I started to concentrate on my nerves and muscles from my head to my feet, to release tension and stress. I feel the sensation of electrical currents traveling inside my body. It feels like my soul is giving a massage to my body. Then I plant an image of the dream I want to have, in the interior dark walls of my eyelids, and then I concentrate on that image until I'm gone. 

It works for me. 

Sometimes I dream in the third person, when I see myself in my dream. Other times I dream in first person. When I’m not in my dreams, I’m just a witness, and I don’t participate. I’m there, but I don’t see myself. I like to dream when I’m just a witness, that way I don’t suffer. I can only enjoy, it feels like watching a movie.

Sometimes I dream that I can’t move or that I have some sleep paralysis and someone wants to attack or harm me and I can’t defend myself, I can’t even scream and that’s terrifying. Other times somebody is chasing me, obviously to hurt me, and I can only run in slow motion, and that’s also very scary. 

I believe one day I’ll be able to manipulate my dreams. I’ll be a  master, and everybody else would be my slave. It’ll be like being the director of a movie, but I don’t know whether that’s good or bad. It might be boring if I become a dictator or an arrogant boss, just ordering around people what to do. Although, it might be extremely funny.


One day Gretchen told me that she missed her period. Then she said that she probably just missed it, period. She said that she was curious and asked me to join her to the pharmacy to get a pregnancy test. Later, I heard her screaming from the bathroom.

“Positive? Positive! Positive?! It can’t be. Something’s wrong; somebody is playing a joke on me. No way. I’m a virgin! I have never even seen an erected penis in my life! Randy! You have to believe me. You know what, I don’t care if you don’t believe me. We need to get another pregnancy test, this was probably defective, Randy, let’s go get another one.”

On the way to the pharmacy, she kept going at it. At some point, I thought she was mad at me, for not believing or for believing. I don’t know which. I never said a word. Gretchen, the always composed and undisturbed Gretchen, was mad at me, at God, at the entire world. The second test was positive again. Then she took a different approach, a different attitude.

“The Divine Providence, Randy, that’s it, a divine mandate! God chose me!" she said with a sarcastic smile. “What are we going to do, Randy?  Well, not you, obviously it’s not your fault. What am I going to do? I can’t tell my dad, it can’t be possible, help me Randy!”

“Well, if you are pregnant, and that is beyond farfetched, would you have it? Would you keep it? Would you have an abortion?” I asked her, considering the remote possibility that I was the culprit and maybe the only accusable prospect. I was thinking about my dream, our dream, my wet dream or dry dream.

Then I thought about Miles’ scraped knees, did that happen in my dream or his dream? Was it possible for things to be materialized from a dream to real life with the helmet?

“I don’t know, Randy, why would I need an abortion if nobody has impregnated me? It's impossible, first, I need to make sure what’s going on. I need some time to figure out what’s happening, but I need you to believe me. If I ever get pregnant it would be only by you.”

“Yes, Gretchen, I believe you. But if you want, we can make it real.”

“Oh, Randy, don’t joke about it, not now.”

“Sorry, sorry. I tell you what Gretchen, let’s wait a week, and then we’ll do the test again. Once confirmed, we’ll decide what to do, and of course, if it’s negative we’ll do nothing, or we can celebrate and, oh, never mind.”

I already have an alternate plan. Let’s say that I impregnated her in my dreams, (I can’t believe I’m saying this) if I did it in my dreams, perhaps I can undo it in my dreams too. It sounds so absurd, but I won’t lose anything by trying. 

After I gathered all information, I need to provoke the required dream, a picture of the local hospital, a picture of a doctor and even one of Gretchen. Then I put on my helmet, and I do my ritual and fall asleep. In my dreams, abortions are legal.


Dreams are a connection to the human subconscious, during the day the soul receives images, and during the night, it produces images. Sometimes images that you see during the day rush to the front entrance of your dreams because your subconscious mind is trying to find material for the next dream. It all happens in a fraction of a second before you fall into unconsciousness, or fall asleep. When you have recurring dreams, your mind is telling you that you are neglecting a specific subject, and it demands your attention. Dreams help you erase or deepen ideas or impressions not fully developed during the day. Dreams help you clean or delete ‘junk’, they also establish or reaffirm good impressions that you enjoyed during the day. 

Like I said, I am fascinated by dreams, and this is part of my laconic knowledge on the subject, these are my personal accumulated experiences on the topic.

(I can erase the previous paragraph, or I can leave it, wait a second, I’ll flip a coin . . .  It stays.)

A week passed already, and Gretchen and I are on our way to the pharmacy. They’ll think that we are very sexually active because this is the third pregnancy test we buy in a week. When Gretchen comes back from the bathroom with a sigh of relief, she says, “false alarm”.

The accuracy on these home tests are 99%, but this test can be somewhat misleading. It could be less accurate if it’s done within the first days of a missed period. The pharmaceutical companies always exaggerate for their benefit. I’m glad Gretchen is not pregnant. I’m glad for both of us. But now I’ll never know if I got her pregnant in my dreams and that the abortion in my dream was a success, or if it was all just a fluke and nothing ever happened at all.

I might try later to impregnate her again in my dreams. Or I’ll just marry her instead.

A few weeks later, a very sad event happened.

Miles disappeared into thin air, and nobody ever saw him again. His dad filed a police report, and they looked everywhere. The city offered a large reward, and they are still looking for him. 

A day after his disappearance I saw him in my dreams. He finally decided not to come back. He said he was happier there, with his grandpa.

It was hard to convince Gretchen about what happened to Miles. She would not believe me. Until I taught her how to use the helmet. 

The following day she grabbed a hammer and broke the helmet in a million fragments. 

Edmundo Barraza 

Visalia, Ca. Aug-22-2011
#Dreams #DreamTraveler #ShortStory 

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