by Dena Linn

Use your dreams to spark your creativity. A painting, print or sculpture, symbols, and words, all these can stop you dead in the tracks of life, requiring that you to ponder for that second on the meaning or lack thereof. Was it a simple crazy idea someone had? Could YOU come up with some idea like that? Absolutely — just let your dreams run wild!

For me, my dreams and creativity come from stuck ideas, lyrics and places. I am currently stuck on the number four, death and questions I can never answer. Ideas on a repeating loop are messages from dreams!

Dear reader and fellow creatives, joyfully intrepid, walking between wake and dream, reality and fantasy, life and another plain somewhere out there in the crazy universe… step into my dream, and experience that crazy is possible. And for no other reason except that this sliver is a nighttime hallucination, (hypnogogic visions is the medical term),

Step into My Dream

In this dream I find myself in a bar in Oaxaca, Mexico. I’d been traveling too long. And it was my third, no, at least my fourth bar—this establishment was dank.  Which bar and how many glasses of mezcal? Just cactus liquor. It doesn’t matter—except four is an unlucky number in Chinese. It means death, if pronounced correctly—which I could do back when I graduated doctor of anatomy. I was younger, proud of my first razor. Now, dream fuzzy, looking a bit like Hemingway, I’d been wandering long roads after nothing.

Four bars? I’ll order another mezcal—a joven, young and feisty.

“Buenas noches, amigo!”  This bartender, the fourth? Brilliantly tattooed. Serpents wound around his neck reminding me of Asclepius. Each of his ears pierced by thick pieces of bone, not gifts from my Greek god of medicine but more like an ancient tribe. His chest is taut and shaven clean, wife-beater t-shirt printed ¿dónde están los hijos? Youths of Oaxaca, forty-plus of them have disappeared, another four, more death. I can’t care, not tonight, not in this dream.

How many mezcals have I had?

My vision shifts, it seems as if four fuzzy rabbit skeletons dance amongst the bottles along the bar back. “Quatro Cientos Conejos, por fa!” I slur—staring. His snakes alternately hiss from the sides of his neck. Their mouths watering, contemplating my mezcal: Named Four-hundred Rabbits, synchronized hopping on 55 proof. This small glass, I see my spine arch over the bar, it will be my penultima, the one before my last, last patient, last love, last drink.

In the bar’s antiqued mirror, a lovely red lip sticked smile is ringing horse white teeth, bunched blood-red chrysanthemums behind her ear like a florid growth. I blink, her skull is beautiful, a sheen.

My alcohol enfeebled heart is sending my blood south. I adjust my pants; those rabbits, four and now there’re hundreds! The dance of death, another bite of lime, lick of salt, a swing to empty. I stare at this Latina beauty. Her bone structure—astonishing, translucent, creamy! The sockets of her eyes are huge tar pits, still shimmering. My lips pull letting my tongue loose to lick the dried essence. My chin down, I smile. Her hair bunched atop a bony skull, is black and flows around like the bartender’s snakes and I want to dive my fingers in and caress it.

I jerk. A rifle’s cry cuts the corner of the bar’s back mirror, four jagged bolts shock its length, the rabbits scatter. The two neck serpents arch, hiss and multiply. Now becoming four rattling snakes. Was this my fourth drink? Or four hundredth, like rabbits, like coiled black hair, like a rifle’s pop.

 A set of articulated bones stand four yards from my boots. A dusty sombrero hides the crown of his skull, a greasy, curl of black hair graces his upper jawbone, the maxilla, in fact. Boney fingers grasp a long knife. His skeleton clanks and rattles. He menaces towards me and the chrysanthemum woman. Her smile evaporates into a pity that sits around absent lips and the orbits of her eyes speak fear.

Dreams are often slow, jerky and wanting, but this happens quickly. His grasping hand, made of no more than twenty-seven perfect, reticulated bones, moves swift as a sparrow, plunging the knife deep between the woman’s delicate ribs. Alas, it pierces her heart. In-between the simple curve of her frame, I see red, dripping, sliming over her spinal facets and pooling in the iliac crests of her pelvis. Her bloodied skeleton falls through my hands. The bar’s dirt floor is a stunning red.

“I’m looking for no fight, Señor!” I spit out a seed, in my dream, squaring my hips.

Behind this knife wielding muchacho, walk four loose spines, four slopping clavicles topped by four evil, sneering skulls. One limps, his femur twisted on a half shot off kneecap. Their articulated fingers wavering over packed holsters. Rattling, they drag their spurs along the floor.

They’re coming right for me! The bar, in that instant, in my dream, reeks of burnt dead cow.

Emerging from the Dream

My eyes pop open. Lying still, I let them sink closed and drill my head into my pillow. The skeleton gang is still gathering around my bed. My hands rub the bar dust away and I am now awake. Gathering pillows behind, I pick up my pen and write. Well, the bits I remember, dull shadows—mostly.

The key is to get those images, feelings or tastes down in a combination of letters that will represent what was achingly clear just a minute ago. I always add, taking from personal experiences and schooling—hell! Why not? That is your own knowledge base, yours to use, solid, irrefutable. You’ve dreamt it! Or you’ve actually lived through it.

Let your dreams run wild then write those images down and there is your story’s beginning, or maybe its end. You will have to write it to find out what happens next.

Dena Linn

Dena Linn

Dena Linn, ex-urban, thriver, commune child, never one of ‘those girls.’ She’s obsessed with humans, not-so-humans, and all others as they discover and live through love, hate, loss, rage, heartbreak, and insanity. Her recent dark fiction publications include: “Get on Home,” published by Hawkshaw Press in their anthology Hard Boiled and Full of Sin, and “Frost,” published in TheChamberMagazine. Other stories are appearing in Down in the Dirt MagazineArielChart International Literary Journal, and her First-Place winner, “The Problem Is,” appears in Prompted, by Reedsy. She is a short story judge for She has published six short stories of literary fiction in anthologies produced by Transcendent Authors.

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Autumn, An Anthology
“Hunt With Jack” Literary Fiction (Short Story)
“I’m Not Afraid ” Literary Fiction (Short Story)

Spring—The Unexpected
“Spring Rain” Literary Fiction (Short Story)
“Burning Out” Literary Fiction (Short Story)

Winter—An End and a Promise
“Traditions” Romance and Horror (Short Story)
“Chasing the Northern Lights” Literary – Woman’s Fiction (Short Story)

Transcendent Authors


Tolerance Anthology
Autumn-An Anthology
Spring-The Unexpected

Coming Soon

Summer-When Doors Open