Haunted Dreams 2016

Monday, 3:45 am.

I gulp for air as I break out of the nightmare, the same one for the third straight night.

I’m sweating, and breathing heavily. The cat is terrified, staring at me at the end of the bed with its head cocked to the right. “It’s ok buddy,” I say, gesturing for him to join me. He obliges, and places himself in my lap. I reach for the water on my nightstand, still lost in thought, and stare at my Ikea carpet, recollecting the dream once more.

I’m on the New York City Subway. It’s the 2 train, downtown, towards Brooklyn. I know this because of the signs, yes, but also because the stops are being repeated by the conductor rapidly, without hesitation, and while the train is motion.

We stop, but not at a station. I turn to the man to my right to bemoan yet another “train traffic” hassle, but just then the doors open, and from somewhere below the door level, men in suits climb aboard. Except they’re not quite men. They have the heads of rats.

I freak out. I feel the sudden need to get off the train. I have to. But the men keep coming. And coming. And coming. They’re filling the car rapidly. They’ve taken all the seats and are now clogging the standing areas, grabbing hold of the poles. I suddenly am struggling to breathe. I try to push my way past them, and this act of resistance is met by every single set of beady eyes turning to me. I feel all of them. They’re gnawing at me from every angle. I push and I push and I push. But I can’t get off. More of them are pouring in. I’m getting squished into nothing. The lights dimming as the men continue to stare. I’m going to pass out. My head and neck are pushed from the left and I face the rat closest to me on the right. He says something.

“Good night Donald.”

Now I can’t fall back asleep, so I might as well get the day started.

I turn the shower on, and the water hits the basin with force. I undress and jump into the warm water, hoping to calm down, but I can’t. My mind turns to the dream.

I used to take the 2 train to work in lower Manhattan, but haven’t taken it in quite some time. It’s a popular express train line that serves three boroughs: The Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn. I’m not sure why this dream happens on this subway, but perhaps since it’s the one I am most familiar with, it is the one my subconscious has chosen. I have no idea what to make of the men, dressed in suits, with rat faces for heads. Why are there so many of them? Why are they flooding onto the subway without ebb? Why did one call me Donald? That’s not even my name!

I’m washing my hair when I hear the voice. It’s so low, so faint, that I can’t make out the words, but it does seem to be repeating the same two words over and over. It continues throughout my shower, subsiding only when I shut down the water.

“What the hell is going on?” I mutter, grabbing my towel. I dry myself, and look in the mirror. In it is a black mass that quickly dissipates when I notice it. I jump and knock my head on the wall. I’m dizzy, and I stumble with my eyes closed when I see something in the black of my eyelids. Senator Ted Cruz.

Tuesday, 8am.

I wake from a restful sleep, one spared from the horror of the dream, and set my alarm for a 20 minute snooze. Hey, after the past few nights, I’ve earned it.

I relax under my covers, and fall into that not-quite-awake-but-not-quite-asleep phase that often follows the press of the snooze button. Images of Ted start to flash; he’s at the podium, then on a different stage with a microphone in hand, then taking pictures with supporters holding signs in a large auditorium.

I pop out of bed, thoroughly discomforted by the images in my head. I grab my phone, and call out of work. Something is happening here, and I need to investigate.

I call New York’s top rated demonologist, and he tells me he can do 2pm. Perfect.

I spend the morning doing more research, and it turns out that there have been similar cases across the nation, of people seeing presidential candidates in their dreams, and even hearing words being said aloud in their heads.

Lunch time approaches, and I head out for some food. At the corner of my block, two construction workers are having a lively discussion. They’re shouting expletives in front of each other’s names. One of them is named Ted.

I return to my building after lunch, and kill some time watching CNN. Ted Cruz is on the rise in many states, passing Marco Rubio and threatening Donald Trump.

The demonologist arrives.

Upon entering my apartment, his body language shifts from greeting to suspicion. “When did this start happening did you say?” He asks. “Well, the first dream was Friday night. It happened again Saturday night. Then it happened AGAIN Sunday night. I didn’t have it last night, but I’ve been seeing his face and hearing things while I’m awake.”

He nods in comprehension as he walks my apartment. Living room, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom. He joins me again in the foyer and says, “Look man, I’m not sure what’s going on here, but I’m feeling a presence in this apartment. It’s not serious yet, but it could get there. If you have the dream again, give me a call, ok?” “Ok,” I answer him skeptically, and he bids me goodbye while pulling out his phone to shoot off a text. I watch him walk down the hallway of my floor and down the stairway, with an air of familiarity. Had he been here before?

I’m on the train. The conductor repeats the stops. The train comes to a halt. The men are coming in. They have rats heads. They don’t stop. They are staring at me. They are laughing at me. Why are they laughing? “Why are you laughing?” I ask. They keep laughing. Louder. Louder. Louder. The train gets smaller. Smaller. Smaller. I’m going to pass out again. I’m not going to make it off this train.

Wednesday, 5:06am.


I’m awake, but I don’t feel alone. I realize that the cat isn’t in my bed.

I sit up to call him, and that’s when I see it.

“It” is a black mass in the shape of a man at the edge of my bed. It’s saying something over and over. “Trust me.” “Trust me.” “Trust me.”

I’m horrified. I back into the corner of the wall my bed rests against. I gather my courage to ask the figure something.

“Wh — wh — what do you want from me???”

The muttering stops. The figure leans closer to me.

It speaks clearly now as it says, “Your vote.”

I jump out of bed and the figure disappears simultaneously. I grab my phone and call the demonologist. I expect to be waking him, but he answers on the first ring. Was he waiting for my call?

I’m in shock and can barely speak. I stutter, “H — he — hey. Uhh, I — I had the dream again — and — uh — um — he — was — in m — my — my room.” He tells me to wait outside of the building. He’s on his way.

15 minutes later, we shake hands and we walk into my building and subsequently into my apartment.

He stiffens up as we enter, severely this time, and takes a deep breath. He withdraws his phone from his coat pocket and places it to his ear. He doesn’t greet the recipient of the phone call, just gives him or her the address to my apartment.

He turns to me. “Do you have somewhere you can stay for the day?”

The knock on the door is surprising at this hour, but not unwelcome. The man declares confidently, “Come in.”

The assistant enters the large bedroom and addresses the man in an exasperated voice. “There’s another, Mr. Trump. We need you to get down there ASAP.”

The candles are lit and the living room is crowded with his staff. Trump looks around the apartment. “Who could live like this?” He asks rhetorically. The demonologist gets his attention. “We’re ready sir.” Trump sighs, and pulls a folded piece of paper from his back pocket.

“Ok, let’s make this quick,” he says into the air. He then turns his attention to the paper, and begins to read.

“Ted, I know you’re here Ted. Come out now Ted. I found you, ok, I found you because I have the best people and the best demonologist in New York, ok. What did you think was going to happen, Ted? Did you think you could just set up shop in my city and remain hidden? No way Ted, ok. I could maybe expect this carelessness from Baby Rubio, but from you? Frankly I’m disappointed.”

Trump’s arms, which had been wildly gesticulating, fall to his sides, and he looks to his team. “Ok everyone, time to chant.”








The last chant is interrupted by a high pitched, rat-like squeak. A black mass comes from the bedroom and into the center of the circle, where the candles are, and materializes into Ted Cruz.

Trump is elated. He has found the soul piece Ted had sent to New York. Trump addresses the figure in Trump baby speak. “Ha! I got you Ted, just like I told you I would.” The business man is handed the hat, a Make America Great Again hat, and places it on the ghostly representation of Cruz. The rodent-esque screech returns, loudly, and the figure vanishes into thin air.

Trump smiles widely.

“That was fun.”

I hang up with demonologist. He tells me the apartment is safe now, and I can return whenever I’d like. I thank my friend for her hospitality, and head to Starbucks for the beverage with the highest caffeine content they have.

I order my latte, with 6 shots of espresso, and sneak a look at the barista’s name.

It’s Ted.


Brooklynite Found Pt. 1

Jacob grabbed his phone, keys, wallet and briefcase, and quickly rushed out the door of his small, yet charming, 2 bedroom apartment in Park Slope.

“I’m late, I’m late!” cried Jacob, as he scurried down the subway station steps and raced towards the arriving Manhattan-bound train.

Please swipe again” appeared on the miniature screen above the turnstile.

Jacob obliged, swiped his MetroCard a second time, but was met with “Please swipe again.

Jacob, noticeably agitated, swiped a third time, only to come across the earth-shattering prompt that read “Insufficient fare.” He turned around and made his walk of shame to the kiosk, soaking in the death stares from commuters stuck in line behind him.

This is how Jacob normally begins his daily commute to work. No, not by being denied entry due to lack of funds (though the $2.75 fare is unworldly), but by willingly hopping aboard the claustrophobic shuttle we call the subway.

“This day could NOT get off to a worse start,” he muttered to himself. Jacob was late to a meeting at his office, and knew his boss would not be a happy camper.

Finally aboard the next train, Jacob could not believe how overcrowded it was. He squeezed his way in, only to be shoved further into this mosh pit by the crowd behind him. He was a sardine in a can. The train then began it’s slow, screeching crawl to the next station.

Ten minutes went by, and Jacob still wasn’t able to move an inch. “Well, it’s no use to email my boss ‘I’ll be late.’ There’s no chance I’ll get service down here.” He thought to himself. No chance indeed. For reasons unbeknownst to man, in the year 2016, there remains no cellular service in the subway tunnels of New York City (yet little Boston has service in its tunnels…)

The train screeched to a sudden halt. “Oh, what now!” gasped Jacob, as a large man braced himself onto Jacob’s hips to regain his balance.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are being held momentarily due to train traffic ahead of us. We apologize for any inconvenience,” echoed the prerecorded announcement throughout the sardine can. “They don’t mean this apology. They never mean it.” Jacob thought to himself.

All he could do was think. The train was stuck. He had no room to maneuver his hands. For some reason, the large man’s hands were still on his hips. A grueling ten minutes later, the train resumed its slow crawl, and Jacob arrived at his destination. Not even noon and thoroughly defeated, Jacob lethargically sat at his desk and read the admonishing emails from his boss.

He hated this cycle and needed a way out. Not the job, which he (somewhat) enjoyed, but the daily grind of this nightmarish commute.

There was a soft ping in his headset, and a G-chat appeared from his old college roommate Kelvin:

Kelvin: Hey man how’s it hanging?

Jacob: Not so great, pal. The MTA is draining my soul.

Kelvin: Sorry to hear that. You ever try CitiBike?

Jacob: Citibike? For sure not. That’s just for tourists. And a public relations stunt from Citigroup because of their role in the 2008 financial crisis. The last thing we need is more bikes in this city.

Kelvin: Just think about it, bud. I’ll email you my offer code for a free ride.

Jacob had always wondered how Kelvin remained so slim and fit after they graduated college. He also recalled how Kelvin had so much energy at the end of the day when they would go for happy hour drinks. “Why not, I’ll give it a shot,” he said to himself.

.   .    .

Jacob made his way to the nearest CitiBike station and entered Kelvin’s free code. Using Google Maps, Jacob pre-planned his route using all the nearest bike lanes. He hopped on the bike, strapped his bag to the pannier, and began his journey.

Feeling nervous, he proceeded with caution, stopping at every red light and slowing down at every yellow. His mother did tell him that biking was dangerous. He couldn’t help but notice the experienced bikers whizzing by him with grace and expertise. He admired how they were able to time the lights, avoid traffic, and ride on without having to slow down.

Jacob started to gain confidence. He felt energized from each pedal. “Wow, what a view!” Jacob said with a smile as he took in the magnificent city skyline.

“Out of the way, a**hole!” yelled an Uber driver as Jacob drifted towards the middle of the street. But Jacob remained unfazed and continued his trek home.

He finally reached the nearest dock to his apartment, and dismounted his shiny blue stallion.

Jacob finally felt free.

He felt liberated.

He was a sardine no more.


This story is the work of a guest contributor who preferred to remain anonymous. – PJS


“Help me man. Make sure you don’t leave any fingerprints.”

“It’s our bathroom dude. It’s going to have our fingerprints!”

“Fuck you. I’m stressing out right now. The least you can do is give me some God damn sympathy.”

“Sympathy? I’m in the shit with you now. Plus, I’m not the one who invited their friends over.”

“Whatever man. Go get some plastic garbage bags from under the sink and the cleaver from the kitchen. Get the rubber gloves too.”

“Fuck y–”

“Matt, just go get them.”

The body was on the couch now, carefully placed onto a commemorative 1999 New York Yankees World Series blanket that had been spread out by the two men.

“Where did it all go wrong?” The man muttered to himself.

He was startled by Matt’s re-entrance to the room, “Here are the bags. I couldn’t find the cleaver, but I think there’s an ax in the back shed.” The man nodded, but he wasn’t really listening. Instead, he was pondering the precision needed to correctly maneuver the situation he had put himself in. A single slip in the oncoming events could screw him and his brother for the rest of their lives.

“Ok, fine. Go get the ax. Just be quiet. We can’t wake Mom!”

The man opens one of the bags and tosses the Yankees blanket into it. The figure had fallen into a sitting position, staring at the man. His face was contorted into a grin.

The man recognizes the face. He recognizes the smile. He hears the laughter that accompanied both.

The voice of the figure taunted the man. “Why did you do this to me? Answer me! Hehehe.” The man questioned whether he was going crazy, but knew there was no time to do anything about it. In a few hours people would start asking questions about where the figure was.

The man needed to hurry. He couldn’t bear to look at the figure much longer. He was a friend. He was part of the family. He was also a lover.


Matt returned from the shed with the ax. “Hey Kel, are you alright man? Should I call someone for help?”

“I’m fine. Let’s just get Ben into the bags.”


Kel and Ben first met back on the bus to Our Lady of Forgiveness in the 6th grade. Kel, too scrawny to protect himself from the endless onslaught of the bullies of the local public school, was sent for a Catholic education by his parents.

The first day at the bus stop was intimidating to young Kelvin. Throughout his life he had been surrounded by loving family and friends, never knowing the cold feeling of being an outsider. There was an arctic breeze that autumn morning, stinging Kel with previously unknown loneliness and pain. Children at the bus stop would recall that Kel did not say a word during that first day, ironically. They say that now they can’t get him to stop giving unwarranted hot takes. Privately, they yearn for the Kel they met on the first day.

The bus arrived 20 minutes late that morning, an ongoing theme Kel would endure for the rest of his life. Slowly walking up the steps, the boy can smell booze coming from the overweight, middle aged bus driver. He was familiar with the smell from an uncle on his mom’s side that couldn’t handle Thanksgiving dinners. “I wonder if we’re ever going to make it there,” Kel nervously thought to himself. All of a sudden, the boy hears a faint, high pitched sound from the back of the bus. At first he couldn’t recognize the words, but the sound continued to draw him closer to the back, until he was facing a smaller Indian boy singing Will Smith’s hit single, “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It.” Kel’s favorite song.

Ben was an innocent child. Well-mannered and always sitting up straight, he was the perfect young gentleman. The only issue with his behavior was the consistent backing out of obligations. From birthday parties to calling his grandmother in India, he would promise to do things, but would ultimately stand up the engagement. His parents hoped the strictness of a Catholic education would stop this behavior.

Kel the white Irish Catholic, had never before seen a darker skinned boy of his age. He was intrigued. His parents had warned him of those of a different skin tone, but he was hypnotized by the way Ben’s skin glistened in the light.

The site of Kel’s intimidated face brought Ben’s singing to a sudden halt. Mustering the courage to say something, especially to someone he was fascinated by, Kel said the only words he could think of. “Hi, I’m Kel.” Ben smiled.

Little did either of the boys know, but this was the beginning of the most important relationship of either of their lives. What started as a friendship would grow into a forbidden love. Once their parents caught wind of the romance, they chose to split the boys up. Kel’s parents were old school Catholics, and would probably make Ted Cruz blush on the topic of homosexuality. Yes, they loved their son very much, but they knew young Kel would never get through Heaven’s Golden Gates of Endless Happiness if he didn’t change his ways. To remedy the situation, they sent their son to the once prestigious High Holiness High School, a different school than Ben was going to. The school held the principles of the Catholic Church, no doubt, but also was lenient on discipline. They hoped that the right girl with just the right amount of insecurity could change the course of Kel’s future.


It wasn’t always easy, but Kel and Ben kept in contact throughout the years, even during college. They would meet up during breaks, and were able to keep their love a secret. They graduated, and both were fortunate to start working in New York City. They planned to move in together into a quaint apartment in Brooklyn in the fall of 2015, and they decided that would be the right time to reveal their love to the world.

That was at least the plan.

There’s a saying, “Tell God your plans and he laughs.” On the day Kel and Ben were planning to sign their lease after weeks of negotiations, God laughed thunderously.

It had been a week since Ben and Kel had agreed to the price with their new landlord, Gloria Goldstein. Gloria was a hardened soul, growing up and living in the Brooklyn home since she was born. Her grandfather, the original owner, had won the home in a poker game during the early 1900’s. Having being passed down from generation to generation, the house had a certain life to it. Ghosts of past family members would often creep their way through the halls. Gloria, as the home, was once a strong, peaceful woman. But as the years passed, she changed dramatically. Bills began to pile up and renovations were desperately needed. Reluctantly, Gloria with the help of a young Asian neighbor, Anthony, were able to put the “Renters Wanted” posting on the Internet.

As any landlord would, Gloria had a simple background check run on the young men. In the report, Ben was found to have no alarming incidents. Kel, on the other hand, was a different story. Five incidents were listed involving Kel while he was in college. All five involved apartment cooking fires. Two of them were due to tin foil in the microwave. Gloria had no choice but to deny Kel from leasing the apartment.

Ben saw the apartment as too good of a deal to let go. After 2-years of commuting to New York City on the LIRR, he could not take it anymore. So he went on Craigslist and created a “Roommate Wanted” post. “Young Indian millennial looking for roommate that enjoys hiding the pickle.” Unknown to Ben, hiding the pickle has a sexual innuendo. When he was growing up, Ben and his family would make their own pickles. After they were done, his parents would hide the pickles all over the house for him and his siblings to find. Needless to say, Ben loved the game.

Alex Dabber was an interesting fellow. The man had always had a self-entitled and totalitarian attitude. This was evidenced by him being upset when excluded from weekend plans and complaining about not being invited to sporting events, which he didn’t actually enjoy (he just wanted to go to give his opinion). Ben originally met Dabber at a high school party with Kel. Although no one knew of their partnership, Alex was able to see past the ruse. He sensed their love and was jealous of it. So pure and unadulterated, if he was unable to have it, no one could. Seeing a chance to finally disrupt their love, Alex quickly sent Ben a text. “I want in on the apartment!”


For the first 2 months, everything was working out great between Alex and Ben. They rode the subway together to and from work, and ate together during the nights. On Wednesday nights they would head to the bar down the street and play Roc n Roll Bingo. On weekends, Kel came to visit, and all three men would go out together. They even went to a Knicks game, where Alex was on his phone the whole time. Even so, Ben couldn’t have enjoyed living the city more.

Although Ben had always been faithful to Kel, Kel was suspicious. Alex was always around when he was over and was a little too comfortable with Ben for his liking. His Instagram was filled pictures of Ben, and one night, he thought for sure he saw Alex make a pass at him. Though he feared the worst, Kel thought he was being jealous and should keep these thoughts to himself. He came up with a plan, which was to invite Ben and their larger group friends over the next weekend. They would play some poker, drink some beers, and everything would be great.


That Friday, Kel and Ben met at Penn Station after work to catch the train back to Long Island.  Like the bus that fateful first day of 6th grade, the train was late by 20 minutes. This wasn’t actually too bad for the Long Island Railroad, and Kel thought this was the first sign of a good weekend to come.

They returned to Kel’s parents’ home, and Ben got his things for the evening ready. As he was getting his things out of his bag, his phone beeped. Taking a look to see what it was, he laughed.

“Hehehe, that Alex,” he said to himself. Ben picked up his things and continued to the bathroom for a shower.

Kel had overheard Ben. “Fuck Alex!” Kel exclaimed. Ben’s phone continued to get notifications, again and again and again.

“This guy, I should tell him to get the fuck out of my face.” Kel walked over to Ben’s phone. He then saw something he could not unsee. Several naked photos of Alex appeared on his phone. Kel shivered in pain, but that quickly grew into uncontrollable anger. He proceeded to grab a towel, wrap it around his hands, and he headed to the bathroom. He quietly opened the door and scowled at the figure in the shower. He positioned himself so he would be behind the figure. He firmly grasped both ends of the towel, took a deep breath, and with catlike reflex pulled back the curtain and wrapped the towel around Ben’s neck, taking him out of the shower and down to the cold bathroom tile.

Ben struggled, but Kel was able to get on top and establish leverage. Kel’s weight was too much for Ben to get himself free. He stared at Kel and smiled before he took his final breath.

Realizing that the deed was done, Kel got off Ben. Hearing the struggle, Kel’s brother, Matt, walked into the bathroom.


“Matt, grab his legs, we got work to do,” Kel promptly told his brother.


Glaring through the window, having seen the whole evening’s events, a dark figure stood in the shadows. The only areas on him that were visible were his hands, one holding a freshly lit cigarette, and the other a new iPhone 6S.

“Yes officer, they’re leaving now. You need to hurry,” said the voice in a composed tone as he hung up the phone.

A devilish grin appeared on the man’s face. He took another drag of his cigarette as Kel and his brother started to pick up the trash bags. Snow, which had started over an hour ago, began to get heavier, covering his beanie. Sounds of sirens blared in the distance, drawing closer to his location. He watched Kel grab the final bag and turn off the light.

Now, Alex could only see himself and his reflection in the glass of the window. He was cold and alone in the dark. He continued staring at a face that he did not recognize anymore. A face that had deceived and manipulated. The satisfaction he was feeling seconds ago was replaced with depression and despair. He cried out to the sky, but only the devil answered because God wasn’t there.

Alex grabbed the revolver from his pocket and raised it to his head. The devil stared and smiled at him through the reflection of the window.


– The end-