First; I’d like to tell my subscribers to visit FlashTold to listen to the audiofeed. The email link only provides for a download. I’m not sure about making the whole shebang clikable in a subscriber email.

For the rest: let me read this circular story to you by clicking on the arrow below. I think you’ll like it…

Dennison woke with a hitching inhalation of air and peeled himself out of the corner of the door pillar and the seat. He noticed the garish combination of blood red, pale yellow and black in the flannel shirt Owen, the driver, was wearing.

Owen looked at him in the rearview mirror and said, “Welcome back sleepy head.”

The radio was playing softly, an old Dave Matthews tune titled Crash Into Me. Chris had shotgun and he shifted his body around to look back. Nodding in time with the music, he said, “Wish I could just drop off like that.”

Dennison straightened and then arched his back, all while taking in the passing scenery. Everything was green but had a look about it as though tired of growing and maybe ready for the next part of the cycle. It was mid-September. Occasional outcrops of granite could be seen, just as they had been left by passing glaciers a thousand lifetimes ago—or maybe a thousand thousand. The song on the radio started giving in to static as it so often does on road-trips though New Hampshire.

Owen said to Chris, “See if you can find something good on that thing, will ya?”

Chris nodded again, began pressing the search-up button. What he got for his effort was mostly static, with vague hints of distant radio stations mixed in. Then, clear as a new CD, one station came in with the opening riffs of an AC-DC tune, Highway To Hell. Cranking the volume, Chris said, “Awesome.”

Dennison put his hands over his ears and began rocking in place. “No, no, no, no, NO! Not again! I can’t do it again!”

Chris looked back at Dennison in alarm. He turned the volume back down some, and asked, “What’s the matter, Den? You all right there buddy?”

Owen’s eyes darted between the windshield and the rearview.

Dennison said, “It’s the same dream every time and I can’t do it again. There has to be a reason for all this.”

On the radio, Brian Johnson rasped about not needing a reason because there’s nothin’ he’d rather do.

Dennison continued, “It’s the same dream over and over. Don’t you see? There has to be a way to stop.”

Owen said, “It’s okay Den, you’re awake now.”

Dennison said, “But I’m not. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. THIS is the dream. Right now. Right here. And you guys are in it.”

Chris said, “Awe, come on Den. That doesn’t make sense. You saying I’m dreaming you too?”

“No, you only exist in my dream. I made you up. I don’t know where you came from originally, probably someone I met at the gym.”

Chris gave a furtive glance at Owen who was listening but saving his opinion for the moment.

Dennison said, “Take this car. This is the car my dad owned just about the time I hit ten. That has to be why I’m always in the back seat.”

Owen said, “Not to burst your bubble there, Den, but this ain’t your dad’s car. I just bought it a month ago. It might be used, but I’m sure it wasn’t used by your dad.”

“You’re not getting it. Everything in this dream is from parts of my life. It’s all cut and paste.”

“Look,” Owen said while Dennison lip-synced, “We’re just going up to Franconia Notch, take in the sights, check out Flume Gorge, maybe see if there’s anything left of the Old Man on the Mountain.”

Chris cut in by saying, “Gawd, how do you do that?”

Owen said, “What?”

Chris said, “He lip-synced everything you just said. Perfectly. Like it was coming out of his mouth.”

Owen gave Chris a worried look and Dennison said, “That’s just it, see, I’ve done all this before. I know what you will say, what you’ll do, and how it’ll all end.”

Chris said, “Yeah? How will it end?”

“We crash. I die—or maybe we all die. Then I wake up in this dream to start over again. So I don’t die, or— I’m caught in the middle of a dream and a nightmare.”

Chris said, “What do you mean ‘we crash.’ Crash into what?”

“A truck barrels through an intersection and rips this car in two.”

Owen said, “I think I can avoid a truck. It’s not like I’m drunk. Aye?”

Chris smiled at that.

Dennison looked dreamily out the side window and said, “There’s no stop sign to see because a tree limb hangs in front of it. We’re doing, like fifty-five, sixty. The truck is really screwing along—more like eighty. I look up just in time to see the driver’s face and we almost make it through the intersection. Time slows, stretches, and niblets of glass fly at my face. At the very moment the cool chrome grill touches the skin on my face, I wake up here, in the back seat again.”

 “Jeez,” Owen said. “Sounds like you’ve done this before.”

Dennison laughs a little maniacal laugh. “Yeah,” he says, drawing it out to a whisper while nodding. “Last time, the trucker was my eighth grade English teacher. Little things like that change.”

Dennison’s eyes get big as saucer plates. “This is it. STOP. Not again, please?”

Chris and Owen look at each other as they pass through the intersection and miss the stop sign just as a truck smashes into the car. Dennison notices the driver is the local pastor. The back of the car crumples, glass flies, and just as the chrome grill touches his face—

Dennison woke with a hitching inhalation of air and peeled himself out of the corner of the door pillar and the seat. He noticed the garish combination of blood red, pale yellow and black in the flannel shirt Owen, the driver, was wearing.

Owen looked at him in the rearview mirror and said, “Welcome back sleepy head.”

The radio was playing softly, an old Dave Matthews tune titled Crash Into Me…


That’s the story. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think; and thanks for stopping by!


16 thoughts on “Convolution

  1. Helen

    Wow a sort of groundhog day only in a dream – very spooky had me sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to see if it just turned out the same again!

    Very well done – enjoyed it!

  2. John Wiswell

    Your voice is already coming along. The depth lends you a certain authority as a narrator. The inflections will hopefully naturalize over time. You’re already naturalizing the shifts into dialogue, getting distinctly different tones for speech which is a big hitch for many narrators. One thing I’d check is 1:32; your voice gets almost too loud for the sound threshold you set in the story. He should get dramatically loud, but too loud and I come out of a story.


  3. Deanna Schrayer

    Ah, a Twilight Zone episode, or so it sounds to me. This is EXCELLENT Donald, both the story and your reading. I have difficulty listening to stories because…well, I’m not sure why, I just usually read better than I listen. But you have knocked that out of me, for this story at least. I love the creepy, dark atmosphere!

    One thing I believe might help is to eliminate some of the “Chris said”, “Owen said” ‘s. I believe it would read smoother that way, and it’s easy to tell who’s talking in most areas.

    Thanks for the great entertainment!

  4. Donald Conrad

    Well, I’m glad you all enjoyed it!

    Helen: Isn’t it amazing that we can say Groundhog Day and be understood. That movie changed us all!

    John: Without even going back I know of what you speak. That part in which Dennison flips out at the beginning was difficult for me to get and I used the best of five takes. Your comments are great for their critical nature and I’d like to thank you and thanks again!

    Sonia: Star Trek did have a time loop episode, didn’t it. Now I want to watch that series again…

    Deanna: I’m glad you liked it and it was awful nice of you to compare me to Twilight Zone. I guess Rod Serling and the rest had a great impact on me.

    Dane: Nice comments all. But the greatest compliment is that you passed it on to others. Thankee kindly, sir.

  5. Icy Sedgwick

    It made me think a little of Groundhog Day, as if eventually he’ll hit on the right thing to do to get out of the cycle, but then it reminded me of 1408, with the cyclical nature of the nightmare. Either way, it’s bloody fantastic and I really enjoyed it.

  6. Donald Conrad

    Icy: “Bloody fantastic” are kind words indeed and thanks.

    David: Yeah, that grill touching is like the kiss of undeath. Glad you liked it.

    Tim: Your comment made me smile. Lol that.

  7. Stephen

    A cool story, Donald. A bad case of Deja Vu, if I ever read one. Something tells me this is Hell for Dennison–to cycle through his last moments, ad infinitum. I also liked the way you used the music to help tell the story, though I’m a bigger fan of Bon Scott AC/DC than Brian Johnson AC/DC.


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