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The International Writers Magazine
: Dreamscapes: Nightmare in Iraq

Gemma Williams

I mindlessly stroll down the familiar high-street, hand in hand with the one I love, filtered sunlight warming my cheeks. My feet -held in ornate sandals- pass over homely cobbles as friendly crowds go by and smiling faces shine greetings at me…

It is midday, but abruptly the light sky overhead darkens. Sweeping inky blackness overtaking light… smiling shoppers, mothers with babies, schoolgirls with satchels on their backs, fathers getting food for a nice family dinner: turn into crazed, frantic crowds. Screaming, screaming fills my ears, and maddened swarms rush in all directions. I hear helicopter blades cutting through the murky black sky overhead, and police cars whir in the distance- though despite not being told, I am aware that no one believes they will get here in time. We are stuck, all running aimlessly, as if we have all forgotten where we live, lost any sense of belonging. We are like chickens being chased around their pens by hungry foxes- parents hold their children tightly against them as if a tight hold could save them.
Then I see The Black Vans.

At least they feel black, no lights, no windows- radiating mindless terror. I am overcome with a sense of dreadful knowing- this is My responsibility. My home, all these innocents, I have to save them all. My paisley skirt and pastel pink jumper turn to coal black combats, weapons attached awkwardly to my sides - I am overcome not with fear, nor with the sightless fright of the petrified mob, but with utter despair.

I search, I search for my family, everywhere I see them among the masses, but as soon as I get close enough to help them they fall from my view -loved faces melting into faces of strangers.

I manage to catch my sister, carry her on my back – where I am certain she will be protected, while I continue my desperate search. I know I must save everyone, but I search, selfishly, for those most special to me- with a sense that if I save them, everyone else will also be saved. I find my mother sat knitting in the quaint coffee shop we often spend hours chatting in- as I pick her up and carry her on my back she falls… and when I try to retrieve her from the ground I cannot see her. I find Thom behind the bar of our local pub, smiling, serving- he doesn’t understand my shouts of warning and with every step forwards to gather him, I am dragged a further step back and the bright colours of the bar, the beautiful blues, greens and reds of the bottles fade to a dreary grey…

I find George by the lake, cross legged and strumming her guitar, a smile playing on her lips as she sings, but she can’t see me nor hear my warning shouts, and is overcome with the colours of her surrounding as I step closer and she fades into the majestic trees and the innocent lake.

My father: despite my search I sense him nowhere, then as I approach the black vans I realise he has been there all along. For I am my father- this responsibility is his… I step close to the black vans, intent upon stopping their uncontrollable shots at the innocent masses, and I am shot in my stomach. I fall, my sister on my back falls with me, and the innocent people’s faces are no longer those of my quiet home but of unknown Iraqis, the cobbled floor a desert of sand. As my father kneels over with the dull pain of gun wound- the black van drives off and I hear my overwhelming weeping echo through the murky sky.

© Gemma Williams Dec 6th 2004

Gemma is a Creative Writing student at Portsmouth University

See also To Love and Leave

More Stories in Dreamscapes


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