They all sat back in the theater, waiting. Eddie hadn't made an appearance yet.
Daphne sat in her same seat. Jason sat in his old seat. David said in close proximity to his old seat. Rachel sat in a whole new seat. Four rows behind David.
After several moments of very awkward silence, (Well, almost silence-Daphne sang some weird song, something about a Miss Spider) David turned around. He looked at Rachel. The direct eye contact made her nervous, so she looked down at the floor. She noticed her feet. She had never really noticed her feet in her dreams. She was wearing shoes...shoes she didn't own in real life. She wondered if she usually wore shoes in dreams and were they always these shoes? Were these her special dream shoes?
"Rachel?" David said and turned around to look at her.
She looked up at him.
"I'm sorry," he said. "About the other night."
She wanted to burst into tears of relieve. But she knew it was extremely important that she stay composed. "I'm sorry too."
He shrugged his shoulders. "It's just the situation. You know--the invasion of privacy thing. No one wants to see their secret wishes up on stage."
"Just wait until we have to watch the nightmare," Daphne called out. "That should be a real blast."
"What does it matter to you?" David asked. "You don't even believe we exist?"
Daphne laughed. "And you do? You actually believe we're all in the same dream?"
Rachel waited for him to respond. Before he could (if he had even been planning to) Eddie finally appeared. He floated down from the ceiling, wearing a parachute.
"Welcome," he said as he landed in the center aisle.. And without any further introduction:"Roll film."
An old gray hospital room appeared. Jason, who looked even twenty years older than he was in the dream, lay in bed. Pale skin thinly covered his bones, and dried up tears covered his dirty face. His one thin tattered blanket was dirty; stained with gross things. A bucket lay in a corner, catching drips of water that fell from the ceiling. But it was obvious it hadn't been checked for awhile because the bucket overflowed. The puddle on the floor kept growing.
"Who is that?" Jason asked.
None of the other three dreamers had the nerve to answer him.
"That's you, Jason." Eddie spoke as if talking to a confused child. "That's what will happen if you lose. If you win, yesterday’s movie will come true. Remember? The one with you running?"
The Jason on screen coughed, a horrible mucus filled sound. He withered in pain.
"Gross. Are we going to have to watch him die?" Daphne asked.
"No," Eddie said. "That Jason, the one on the screen, is going to live for at least ten more years. Ten years in that great hospital."
An aide walked into the room. She walked over to Jason's bed and ripped off his blanket.
"I'm cold!" Jason murmured, his hoarse voice barely audible.
"Do I care?"
Rachel wondered why she needed to remove his blanket. To examine him? But to Rachel’s horror, she did no such thing. The aide took the blanket, threw it into a corner of the room, smirked, and then left.
"Hello?" Movie Jason cried out. "Hello? Come back!"
Jason started to cry and Eddie added narration to the film experience. "That's Jane. Her greatest pleasure in life is abusing Jason."
"And your greatest pleasure is making us watch it," Daphne said. "Are you that much different than Wanda?"
Rachel thought Daphne had a very good point.
And then David came up with an even better point. "But Eddie doesn't exist, Remember?" he taunted. "So it's you that has come up with this sick scenario."
This stumped Daphne. Ah, but only for about five seconds. "Well, that's just part of human nature. We all have a dark side. It's only dangerous when you let that dark side control your actions."
David laughed. "Sure Daphne."
"What about when you played that villain?" Daphne said. "In that movie."
“Get it Out of Me" Rachel blurted out. Shit! Now they'd all know she was a walking David Tirlson Encyclopedia.
"You needed to access your dark side to play the part." Daphne said. "And writers like Stephen King. Think about all the disgusting and evil things he writes about. We like to look at people like that and call them sick. Demented. But they're no different than us. They're just brave enough to admit they have a dark side.
"Are you done yet?" Eddie asked.
"No," Daphne said. "I'm not."
"Who is the boss here?" Eddie asked. Rachel couldn't tell if he was pretending to be annoyed, or actually was annoyed.
"I'm the boss. I'm everything here. I'm in control of--”
And then she stopped talking. But when Rachel turned back to look at her, she realized she was still talking. She just had no voice. She gave Rachel a furious look and then directed another furious look toward Eddie.
The next nightmare appeared on screen.
This one belonged to Daphne. She looked the same as she did in the dream, but like on-screen Jason, she was thinner. And looked sick.
he setting: A small dirty house. Window broken; seemed to be by a bullet. Piles of dirty laundry. A dirty diaper on the floor...not just urine, but poop too.
Daphne stood in the room sobbing.
"What happened?" David joked. "Your cleaning lady walked out on you?"
Rachel figured the key to the nightmare lay in the diaper. A woman like Daphne would never want children.
David soon met her wavelength. "Oh, I get it. The nightmare is...drum roll please. Your birth control failed!"
"Shut up," Daphne said.
"Poor kids," David said.
From the broken window, they could see a dark car pulling out of the driveway. Daphne, on screen, cried in terror and desperation as she looked out the window. "No, no! Bring them back. Please!"
"Bring what back?" David asked.
"None of your business," Daphne snapped. Rachel could tell Daphne had been at least a little bit unnerved by the scene.
And then came her turn to be tortured. Daphne's scene faded away and Rachel's family’s kitchen appeared. A morbibly obese woman entered.
Rachel wanted to run out of the theater. Better yet, maybe she could just disappear. Wake up? She whispered to herself: "Awaken."
No such luck.
Her mom and dad appeared on the screen.
"Rachel," her dad said. "What are you doing tonight?"
The Rachel on screen, grabbed a brownie from the counter, and started eating it.
"Rachel?" her dad said again.
"Nothing," Rachel said with her mouth full. As she ate, she went into the pantry and took out some microwave popcorn. She tore off the plastic, stuck the bag into the microwave, and while that cooked, grabbed a second brownie.
"Wow," David said. What an appetite. Although he seemed more amazed than disgusted, Rachel still felt completely humiliated. Worse, she had actually done such things in real life....Three brownies, a bag of microwave popcorn, and a burrito consumed in less than an hour. Of course, she had also run two miles afterwards and went on a major diet the next day. But still.
"You need to clean your room," her mom said. "It's filthy."
"Mom, I'm an adult," on-screen Rachel whined. "Don't tell me what to do. My God! I'm thirty. Not thirteen."
Daphne burst out laughing.
"Thirty?" Rachel's mom demanded. "Then why do you act like you're twelve? You're still living at home. You've never gone on a date yet. Have you? Are you ever going to get married? Give us grandchildren. You can't stay here forever. You're going to be the oldest living virgin. Why don't you just become a nun?"
"Mom," the Rachel on-screen whined. "Stop. You're hurting my feelings." The microwave beeped. Popcorn done! Rachel opened up the microwave and took out the popcorn. Then she began to eat.
"Yikes," Eddie said. "That's a bit embarrassing. Sorry."
His words made Rachel feel ten times worse. And she couldn't help but believe that this was his intent.
"You can say that again." Daphne laughed.
And then Jason laughed. Jason! He turned around to Rachel. "You got fat!"
Rachel had no idea what to do; how to end her humiliation. Could it ever end? This happening in front of any human beings would be horrible, but in front of her long-time dream idol? What had she done in life to deserve such punishment?
David faced the screen. And since she couldn't see his face from where she sat, she couldn’t see his reaction. Was he cringing? Trying hard not to laugh? He was silent, but she wasn't sure if that was a good thing. Actually, there was no way it could be good. This was not a good or bad kind of thing. This was a choice between bad and really really bad.
And then mercy intervened and Rachel's scene faded from screen.
Next a dark road appeared on screen. A car drove by. A man and child sat inside.
"Don’t worry," the man slurred. "I can get you home."
"I'm fine," the man slurred. "I'm not drunk. I promise you."
"No," David said. "Stop." He spoke quietly, but with force.
"Sorry," Eddie said. "You must take your turn."
"Please," David pleaded and somehow hearing the desperation in his voice was worse than the trauma she had been through just previously. Rachel wondered how that was even possible.
"You didn't protest when we were watching everyone else's nightmares," Eddie said.
The car on screen began to swerve. It sped up, hit a tree, and then exploded. Body parts flew out of the car and Rachel soon wished she had closed her eyes.
No one spoke. Even Daphne was silent. No sarcastic remarks. But then Rachel remembered her voice had been taken away.
And then David started crying. He covered his face in his hands and sobbed. Rachel felt so helpless. She waited for someone to go up and comfort him. She couldn't do it. She was too shy. And what could she say?
But then she realized no one was going to do it. Not Jason. Definitely not Daphne. Not Eddie.
She had to do it. She climbed out of her seat and went over and sat next to him. She thought of putting her arm around him to comfort him. But a part of her felt guilty, as if she would be benefiting from this opportunity...using it to finally touch the man she had always wished to touch.
But then she came to her senses and snapped out of her foolishness. She didn't put her arm around him, but gently put her hand on his shoulder. "I'm sorry."
David just continued to sob.
Instead of adding words of comfort, Eddie said, "Little Billy is enjoying his eternal rest". If you lose, Billy's peace will end. He will experience his accident over and over.
"We won't let you lose," Rachel said quietly.
David looked up at her, tears streaming down his face. He seemed to have no shame and Rachel completely admired him for that.
Then he took her hand. Rachel knew she shouldn't enjoy that. Not at a moment like this, but she just couldn't help it. He held her hand tight. And although she had felt like she had loved him in the past, those feelings seemed childish and shallow. This now felt like so much more.
And then he said. "I have to go. I hear my alarm clock."