by Fred H. Schuetz

Dreams are what you see when reason is off tripping, and no finer way for such elementary exercise than to loll in the hay beneath the dome of starry darkness, breathing the sweet fragrance of a warm summer night.

Someone is sawing wood nearby but who cares.

The creech-ptah, creech-ptah of the saw changes to rattle, then nothing – until the absence of noise is relieved by the tom, tom, tom of the war drum, faint at first and hardly noticeable, but persistent and insinuating itself on your awareness, attenuating and swelling in volume, until it pushes aside all other impressions and reflections and fills your mind with its terrible whump, Whump, WHUMP ...

It raises visions of tumultuous fighting, fists flying, weapons flashing, bodies thrashing; it generates echoes of gunfire and of explosions mixing with yells of rage, of triumph, of despair – and screams of pain and of terror.

Gasping in terror you flee to escape mayhem. You run hither and you run thither but wherever you turn you are met with conflict raging. The world is on fire and the conflagration paints the sky red; nowhere is there a safe place. You cower, overwhelmed by terror and too numbed to flee.

A timeless eternity of clamor, clangor, crunching, and over it all the terrible thumping of the war drum, the battlefield filling with torn limbs, mangled bodies, rivers of gore. Scavengers caw as they hop about, gorging themselves on the Grim Reaper’s harvest, fighting each other for choice morsels, never sated.

You lie prostrate, spent and too exhausted for despair, and at last: Peace. Serenity descending like a heavy smothering cloak. As far as you can see, stretching to the horizon and beyond, a field, an endless sea, row upon orderly row of white crosses.

An air playing among the crosses, unable to bend that which is not made to give, carries the sound of wailing, the memory of mothers’ weeping, the echoes of children’s sobbing, a memento of utter sorrow.

A ray of light tickles your shuddering lid and you turn you face. As you stretch to unlimber limbs become sluggish in sleep, your mind fights upwards through layer after cottony layer of unconsciousness and you waken. You open your eyes to behold the sun rising to the glory of a new summer day.

Rise and thank the Creator for the gift of life; rejoice at the continuation of all that is as it phases from yesterday to tomorrow, and sing your praise that everything is not yet at an