“Dear me.” Dr. Smith snapped up his ever-ready notepad, pen poised to take dictation. “Another dream? That is terrible,” he said with the grin of a Cheshire cat. “You must tell me all about it.”
But Jeremy didn’t have the energy to worry about Dr. Smith’s behaviour. In mournful tones he related the story, unable to understand the way Dr. Smith’s pen flew across the page, devouring every word that passed his lips. Jeremy shrugged—at least someone was getting a boost from his misery; though what that could be, he hadn’t the foggiest.
“Incredible … I mean, how terrible for you,” Dr. Smith said, pen not pausing for a moment. “And they didn’t interact with you at all?”
“No,” Jeremy replied. “Though I’m pretty sure Ultimo scrunched his mouth at me.”
“He did what?”
Jeremy’s head snapped up. Dr. Smith’s expression made Jeremy gulp. “Ah, he … he scrunched his mouth at me. I think. Raised it a bit on one side.”
Dr. Smith jumped up and paced.
Jeremy followed the muttering figure with his gaze. “Does it … does it mean anything?”
Dr. Smith stopped in his tracks. “Mean anything?” he said with a cry. “Why, it means everything!” He paced anew and then stopped. “Contempt, Mr Sunson. It means contempt.”
Fantastic, Jeremy reflected, now even my dreams think I’m a loser.
But Dr. Smith continued. “It means you are not acting as Ultimo expects you to. He—your dream saviour, the alpha part of your personality if you will—showed that you are not assisting him with your behaviour. He is trying to save you and you are not helping yourself. Battle, Mr Sunson! Your dreams are instructing you to battle.”
Battle? Jeremy ambled home from Dr. Smith, the word strange in his mouth. He’d never fought for anything before, let alone himself. Was that why he always felt a failure? Why he’d taken stress leave?
Battle. As he repeated the syllables in his head, he became more accustomed to them, more familiar with the concept.
Battle? Well, why not? He considered his life so far not at all successful. On any measure he merely existed. Like now: the train he boarded he treated as an inconvenience, not an adventure. A plodder, his third grade teacher labelled him, and he’d never broken out of that mould. Why not start now?
Battle. Yes—he would battle! And what better place to practice than in his dreams?
“Battle,” he said with a whisper. The old man next to him on the train glanced at him askance. “Battle.” The man moved to another seat.
The train slowed for his stop. Time for action. “Battle!” he said. “I’m going to kill you, Red!”
Women pulled their children out of his way. But Jeremy didn’t care. He strode towards battle!
Jeremy didn’t know how one went about preparing for battle in one’s dreams. He decided that physical preparation—combat training—might put him in the right frame of mind. Combat equipment not forming a traditional part of the tax return process, Jeremy didn’t have any, but he remembered adverts about Dancercise or Kickercise. And if they could do it …
Jeremy practiced for the rest of the day. He swung the baseball bat with vigour, ducked out of the way and weaved behind the furniture. Even pulled out an unused pair of sneakers after he stubbed his toe on the couch and hopped around howling in pain. Jeremy discovered that kicks were much more effective using the heel instead of the toe, and especially so when you didn’t wear slippers. He certainly taught that couch a lesson!
After his foot became stuck in the couch with a well-placed heel strike, he decided he needed something a little less expensive and more durable to use as an enemy. Jeremy propped a mattress against the wall and used it for target practice with the bat, only missing once or twice. After several hours non-stop practice when he’d swung, kicked, rolled and shouted like never before, Mrs. Abercrombie knocked on the door and asked if everything was all right.
“Fine, thank you, Mrs. Abercrombie.” Jeremy wiped his cheeks, certain the unaccustomed moisture more than just tears, though his shin still ached from where the mattress repulsed a furious attack from the bat a moment ago. “I’m just trying to prepare. You know, get in shape.”
Mrs. Abercrombie didn’t seem to know, but she nodded with that patient gleam in her eye when she talked of her late husband—who woke that last day after eighty-two years deciding he could fly. Jeremy didn’t know why she gave him that look now: he had no intention of gluing feathers to his arms and finding, after he jumped off a six storey building, that he could not in fact fly. But Mrs. Abercrombie nodded with a sad smile once more, asked him to keep the shouting to a minimum, and let him know she would be upstairs if he needed anyone to talk to.
Hidden inside the most unlikely person can be the most extraordinary hero…
Jeremy Sunson is surrounded by crazy. Mrs. Abercrombie, upstairs, is widowed because her husband glued feathers to his arms, jumped off the building and tried to fly. His neighbour, Strykland, has gone mad since his wife died in a freak car accident—his only thread to reality the doomsday machine he’s building and his daughter… and, of course, spacemen invade Jeremy’s living room.
Every night, in glorious Technicolor, there’s a battle royal between two high tech assassins who continually blast Jeremy’s apartment to shreds. Each man has one mission: Red wants to kill Jeremy, Bronze wants to save him!
Though his therapist insists he’s just having bad dreams—Jeremy knows better. It’s time to fight. He’s sick and tired of being sick, scared and tired! Armed with rare confidence and a baseball bat, this night, Jeremy fights like the crazy man he isn’t!
But how can he ever imagine when he’s won the battle, the war is only just beginning… over and over and over again?
The 12 Nights of Jeremy Sunson—ride a wave of laughter, fun and sci-fi fantasy all the way to Armageddon!
Out now on Amazon.