Before reading check out my first entry of this series Dreams & Disasters: Funhouse:
My dreams never make sense. Most often times my dreams are of dangerous scenarios and moments that could possibly never happen in real life, although most times they feel almost too real. This is another story where dreams and disaster intertwine and the fine line between a dream and reality are ambiguous. Where nightmares facade themselves as dreams and everything is never fully how it seems. This is the ramen bowl…
* * *
Opening my eyes, I found myself outside of my home. Standing on the porch, leaning on the white painted gates. The air was a bit chilly and the sky was bright and beautiful. It seemed like a good day to me. I could hear cars speeding from down the street. Which I'm normally used to, due to the Puerto Ricans who annoyingly rev up their car engines and drive their shitty Hondas down my street daily (I'm Puerto Rican too so I can criticize it). But I was wrong, it was my friends rolling up to the front of my house trying to race their way to meet me. Three cars lined up, Jose's baby blue Miata, Ash's black Mini-Cooper and Rich's maroon Sonata. I remember going up to them and asking them where they were headed.
"Ramen Gami, yo how you gonna make the plans and forget?" Jose asked, jokingly.
"You know Jay's clumsy as hell and forgets shit." Ash answered.
Looking at the group there were roughly around nine of us all gathered around, I walked up to Jose's car and got in. And we were off! Driving through Newark, racing towards downtown and making our way through the main streets like Bloomfield Avenue and Broad Street. But something was way off, for some reason the streets were longer and shorter than normal. And this wasn't an "Oh you've probably haven't taken these routes before-" kinda long, it was just very strange.
I felt off by the whole ride. It was almost as if Newark was just a mere piece of paper and someone was just fiddling with it. As if God took that piece of Newark, and folded it several times, playing with our route by folding and unfolding whenever they pleased. Through the folds and streets, we finally arrived. Parking across the street as normal, reaching into our pocket for change as we pay the meters. Seemed normal so far? That's what I thought too. Crossing the street, I tripped on my steps several times until I got towards the door, from the looks of it still normal. The door had a window and I was able to still see the inside of the restaurant, making observations due to my unnerving feeling. I allowed my friends to go in before me and went off after my friend Frank. And that's where it got weird, of course. Stepping into the restaurant, it wasn't a restaurant. It was a bodega… From that moment, I fully functioned the weirdness of this and realized I was dreaming, but I didn't want to leave just yet. I gave it a good ol' "let's see where this goes" mentality and that was my mistake. Looking around, I was annoyed. There were no tables, hardly anyone here and it was more crowded than functional.
"This is weird, this isn't weird to you guys?" I asked, to everyone's confusion wondering what the hell I was talking about.
"Yo, what are you talking about?" Anthony asked.
"I don't know, but I do know that Ramen Gami isn't a freakin' bodega. It's a restaurant, with the black tables and the mini-room with the wooden benches! This isn't Ramen Gami!" I yelled in confusion, however everyone just looked at me in confusion as if I were crazy.
"Jay relax dude, just walk around and clear your head and get some soup bro," Jose stated, and I took that advice.
I began to walk around the store looking through the aisles and noticing the minimal stuff there, like the smell and the overall feel of the store. Like how the foods on the shelves were only knock-offs and weirdly branded names- but like all lucid dreamers know that some little things can give off signals of a reality check. For example, the words on some of the off-brand cereals were in different order. As if they were in reverse or if I had a bit of dyslexia. I also noticed the checkered color floor tiles, black and white. As the ceiling gave away an eerie purple haze around the room.
I could hear my friends chatting and having a good time from down the aisle, muttering if I'm high or okay with the fact that I'm "acting strangely." As I look back and could see the aisle stretch in front of me. As the room expanded and felt as if it grew 13 feet longer away. I could see the ceiling purple haze get darker and almost blinding, as I become a bit more paranoid and took steps towards my friends to get away from this weird feeling.
Funny, from every step I took the white tiles began to illuminate and shine, creating a contrast in the scene from dark to light. I wanted to stand there and admire the scene but I wanted to walk away from it to escape the eerie feeling. I passed through the aisle and met up with friends.
"Are you going to order anything?" Ash asked.
"Might as well right?" I answered as I made my way to the counter.
The person who greeted me was someone I wish I didn't have to see. It was my ex-girlfriend and I really wasn't ecstatic to see her either. But again, something was off, it looked like her but if she was 15 years older. "Hi welcome, how can I help you?" she asked, I was confused and asked- "You don't remember me?"
"Not really, never see you around here? Why, should I remember you?" she responded.
I was thrown off by that response but I knew I couldn't make a scene so I figured I'd at least order something. So I order what I normally order at the REAL Ramen Gami, so I ordered a beef udon with fish cakes and marinated eggs. I waited for my order and heard the bell when my order was done. I went back to the counter and saw the bowl ready.
As I reach the counter, I looked a the bowl… And let's just say eating wasn't an option. Looking into the bowl, the soup flushed itself! The same way a toilet bowl flushes away the filth, I could see the bowl flush away the soup from the inside, completely disappearing.
"What the hell? The hell just happened to my soup?!" I asked, staring into the bowl. Looking at the woman who strangely looks at my ex-girlfriend, she laughed and pointed at the bowl. I stared back at it and watched the bowl unflush itself as if the whole thing was done in reverse. The woman offered me chopsticks and I took them apart, getting ready to dig into the food, completely ignoring whatever the hell just happened. And before I could dig in, the noodles grabbed a hold of my hand!
"Yo, what the hell is going on?!" I yelled, grabbing the attention of my friends, as they tried their best to pull me away.
The noodle was hot and slimy, trying it's hardest to pull me in. All I could hear was the woman laugh hysterically while my friends and I try our hardest to pull away. Finally, I was able to pull away and I looked at the woman in anger.
"Jay we should go," Richard said, as everyone looked at me in agreement.
"Yeah, bro, we gotta go, my dude. I don't like this shit." Yarddy stated.
I agreed and we went to the door, but there was a problem. The door wasn't there! There were no ways to escape, as we couldn't find an exit. We stared at the woman but she disappeared! We were shocked and appalled as we were faced with only fear. I scurried around to find an exit but was only able to find a window. Taking the chance, I broke my way through cutting myself through the glass. It was a dick move to not tell my friends and leave them behind but hey it's a dream, they weren't real anyway.
However, the pain from the glass shards felt quite too real. As the glass seeped into my legs, I could see the blood spew over my legs as my legs began to give up. I checked my surroundings and found myself in a forest, as the ramen shop just vanished, and I laid on the grass. I tried to crawl my way out and try to find my stance, but it was pointless, my legs were just not of use. I panicked and tried my hardest to wake up, but I just couldn't. So I laid in defeat and stared at the sky and could only attempt to wake up.
Soon the sky darkened and I smelled ash and smoke, like a midnight beach time bonfire. I felt warm and couldn't understand why. Until I looked in front of me and realized I was in the middle of a forest fire! I panicked and tried to move my body but the glass shards from the broken window kept hindering me from moving. I could only feel my breath shortening, and my eyes burning. I struggled and struggled to move but there was no use. I wanted to wake up, but it was impossible. All I could do was lay there and embrace the pain and burns, as the fire burned and melted away every inch of my skin. It was frightening seeing my body become mutilated and burned severely as I became nothing but dust. So then, I awoke. Trying to catch my breath and swim out of the morning sweat. All I can say is, I'm never eating ramen for a long time that's for sure.
Names in this story have been altered to protect the identity of those mentioned.