Tragedy

Eric Bridges didn’t know how many times he had the same dream. It seemed to him like he had slept for a very long time and he wanted to wake up. He called it a dream, but in fact, it was his worst nightmare because it was so real and true to what had really happened.

He had taken his family on a much needed vacation to Holiday World in southern Indiana. It wasn’t Disney world or Disney land but it was what they could afford and they had been there the last six years. The week had gone by fast, like it always did, and they found themselves on the four hour trek back to east central Illinois.

Traffic was fairly light for a Sunday evening and they were able to make decent time on the highway. His wife Brenda was asleep in the passenger seat. Her long brown hair hid her youthful face from him. He glanced in the rear view mirror to see his daughters’ Tonya, six, and Sonya, four, fast asleep, snoring in unison.

He turned the radio up a hair after finding “Strutter” playing on the oldie’s station. He had always been a Kiss fan. He used to go to the concerts with his older brother when they were in St. Louis. Had his mother known where they were really going, he would still be grounded.

The hotel that they had stayed at the previous night was a big mistake. The beds were hard and they could hear everything that happened outside of the hotel room. Eric stayed awake the entire night, somehow Brenda had managed to fall asleep. The night passed slowly as he channel surfed and read a few passages of the Bible.

As he drove down the highway, he felt himself nodding off. He tried to shake off the groggy feeling that was overcoming him. He turned the music up and cracked his window. He hummed along with the music and slowly drifted off into oblivion.

He was awakened by the sound of squealing tires and car horns. Bright lights engulfed him and the kid’s screams filled his ears, deafening silence followed shortly thereafter.

His vision was blurry and he couldn’t quite make out the remaining part of his dream. It was like watching television through a snowy screen.

His dream started over at the beginning, going through the great time that they had at Holiday World. While the dream played out before his very eyes, he pleaded to wake up. It was unbearable to watch his family die over and over in a horrendous car wreck. The screams of his children and the last few seconds of consciousness as the out of control vehicle slammed into his own.

It occurred to him that he had somehow lost his mind and had snapped beneath the pressures of his daily life. He was vaguely aware of previous dreams that seemingly lasted forever, but he had always awakened from them. This dream seemed like an eternity. He had seen it so many times that he could easily act out every part.

He began to pray. He felt that if he didn’t wake up soon, he may never awaken. He would try anything to get his mind off of the dream and onto something else, anything else.

Once again, he opened his eyes and saw the headlights rushing toward him with unbelievable speed. The horn blew, the tires screeched, and his children screamed. Blackness consumed all he knew. The blurry vision of the aftermath and the dream started again.

He was a prisoner, and his prison was an outsider watching the unfolding events of a catastrophe that was every parent’s nightmare. Once would have been enough, but to watch it over and over challenged his very sanity. There was nothing to do but watch. Everywhere he looked, the vision was there. He closed his eyes and the image filled his head. The sounds were identical to the previous dreams. Everything was exact.

He sobbed uncontrollably. Nothing could have made the situation any worse. He watched the ending of the dream again, for the thousandth time. The crash, the darkness, the aftermath. This time, he could see a little more through the snowy static. He sat in a chair looking at a picture of his family. More static. The dream began again.

He cried and felt his chest tighten. His head pounded like it was being beaten with a hammer. Blood dribbled down his forehead from an unseen wound on top of his head. The kids rode their rides, Brenda ate her ice cream cone, and he whispered sweet nothings into her ear. The restless night at the hotel, the trip home. The headlights, the horn, and the screams. Darkness. He sat in a chair looking at a picture of his family, he cried, depression, and hopelessness. Something in his hand. Static.

Riding the roller coaster with the girls, they were laughing. Brenda taking pictures while eating an ice cream cone, hugging Brenda, whispering into her ear. No sleep at the hotel, watching the girls and Brenda sleep. The long drive home, Strutter, sleepy, the headlights, the horn, the screams. Darkness. Sitting on a chair, crying, looking at a picture of the family, hopelessness and depression. Holding a gun in his hand. Raising it to his head. Whispers in his ear, “suicides go to Hell.” Pulling the trigger.

It began again.

Tragedy

mattbridge4

Ashmore, United States

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tragic thriller

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