Many of us have suffered stress nightmares. If you're a waitress, you're tossing and turning as tables pile up, every customer with an impossible order or a complaint. If you're a student, you wake in a sweat, unable to shake the feeling you didn't study for a test or forgot to write a paper, until you remember it's Spring Break.
If you're a manager, you're re-writing a never ending work schedule, your employees switching, quitting and taking vacations all at the same time. If you're a teacher, your class won't quiet and you have no power to calm their riots.
I've played some of these roles and intimately understand the anxiety dreams that come with them, but I've never, until this week, had a writer's stress dream. So, for the amusement of all the fellow stress dream survivors, I captured a re-enacted representation of what my very low action horror dream looked like, I call it "1,500 that's! Are You F'n Kidding me!" (above). And for you're further amusement, I wrote a macro horror story entitled "Highlighting Hell." Enjoy.
The little red house was a cloaked in darkness, every square inch put to rest. Except the Writer's desk. It's fake Ikea shabby chic green was bathed in light from the open monitor humming on it's surface. The fan from the computer whirred noisily, echoing against the slumbering walls of the still house. The Writer hit its keys with ferocity in her fingers, each tap a nail on the coffin of her dirge. Okay, she was writing a contemporary fantasy, not a dirge, but she had every reason to lament, having stayed up with her manuscript until the midnight hour. Ctrl F: "that," she typed into the word search function of her writing program. This was it, the last word search she was to run, to edit to perfection, before sending the manuscript back to her editor, a champion of concise.
But her monitor had the nasty habit of highlighting the words she searched for. Oh, it was handy, sure, but the results were truly terrifying. It was not a rainy night, nor was the wind particularly riled. It was all utter stillness and silence.
Her only companion, her only light was her faithful, lagging lap top. Or was it? She tapped the enter key, certain her line editing would soon be at an end, when she gasped. Her monitor was crissed and crossed by urine yellow highlighting. Her word search ticker taunted her, painting her "that"s up like brazen whores. Suddenly, it came to it's final resting place at 2,000. The Writer screamed in terror, her dreams of finishing the edits before the weekend trashed by word search ticker.
Lights flickered on, the little red house came awake. When the sleepers found the writer, her head lay on the keypad of her faithful laptop, surrounded by a sticky pool. She'd fallen asleep and was known to drool. Her neglected spouse was haunted by the words on her screen. Or, more accurately, by the highlighted word on her screen. Her entire year's work was, he backed away in horror, twenty thousand times
H.M Jones is the author of B.R.A.G Medallion Honor and NIEA finalist book Monochrome, its prequel Fade to Blue, the Adela Darken Graphic Novellas, Al Ravien's Night, The Immortals series, and several short stories.