Prompt: A man has a terrifying dream in which he is being sawn in half. He wakes to find himself in the Indian Ocean; a hotel keycard is clenched in his teeth. What happens next?
I’m going to modify this prompt a bit. I think what happens next is quite obvious. The poor man is about to be eaten by a shark. Instead, I’ll focus on how he ended up in the Indian Ocean with a hotel keycard clenched in his teeth.
He’s naked too. I’m going to mention it now — oh, nevermind. I’ll get to that.
The man is paralyzed. I’d give him a name but let’s be honest — he isn’t long for this world. He came into being on a slip of paper and will go out in the belly of a shark. Only six minutes left. He’s dreaming now. Not a pleasant dream. In the dream he is paralyzed and trapped. He doesn’t feel tied down despite the distinct impression that he is in a box. Yes, he is definitely laying in a box with only his head sticking out. He was aware of only the maroon curtain to his right and the woman in the leotard and stockings. She had long dark hair, shining in the light, with just the slightest of waves to it.
She was holding a saw. She danced around the stage, running her long fingers across the black box, and holding the saw up for the audience to see. Of course, there was no audience, just blackness rolling out like waves. It was completely silent. Her feet didn’t make a sound against the stage. As if the darkness swallowed it up.
Then she put the saw against the box and started with the first noise of the dream — a long ripping sound. Saw dust begins to fall. The saw hits skin and the man panics though he doesn’t feel any pain.
He wakes up in the water now just minutes from the inevitable shark attack. His life vest is leaking, but he has plenty of time to thank his lucky stars that he still had his hotel key card clenched in his teeth. He’d need it should he eventually float back to shore — which unbeknownst to him, would not be his fate. Of course, with his life jacket slowly deflating, he had begun to consider the possibility of drowning. Which, unbeknownst to him, was nothing at all he needed to worry about. He had heard some time ago that navy men were issued water tight pants that could be inflated if necessary. The man wished he was wearing pants, or underwear, or anything at all.
The whole misadventure had started in Las Vegas some 36 hours ago with shots of Tequila and hits of ecstasy. His ex, Stacey — interestingly enough — being the woman who he was trying to forget about when he drove to Vegas. After three shots of Tequila the man had forgotten where he parked, his birthday, who he was with, and probably even his name — which would be an excellent excuse for his namelessness had you not known he was about to die.
He had attended a magic show, or what he assumed was a magic show. After that much Tequila it could have been anything, but it was clear at one point there was a woman in a leotard on stage. Her name, if he had gotten it, was Maria. She was Puerto Rican and had moved to New York with her family in ‘95. All of this isn’t really important. All you have to know is that she wasn’t a very good performer. So she made a deal with a Voodoo priestess in New Orleans. All she had to do was trade her immortal soul and she could have any one wish. She wished to be a better performer.
Which is pretty stupid when you think about it. She could have asked for real mystical powers. Then when the man volunteered she could have actually sawed him in half or made him disappear by sending him into the middle of the Indian Ocean. Of course, that isn’t how he ended up here. He ended up here after making a very sloppy and very drunk pass at what he assumed was an Indian belly-dancer but turned out to be an umbrella. He decided to take “her” first to the wedding chapel then to the airport. He made it as far as the backseat of what he assumed was a taxi but turned out to be the private vehicle of a newly 21 year-old girl heading to her best friend’s Vegas bachelorette party.
Which, since he was immediately mistaken for one of the professional “entertainers,” was going pretty well for him.
Much better than the floating in the ocean thing, that ends right now with a single, violent gulp.