Trick of the Light — A Dream


“Trick of the Light” — C.Birde, 3/17


“…the speed of light in a vacuum is a universal physical constant important in many areas of physics. Its exact value is 299,792,458 metres per second…”

Crackling and popping, the disembodied voice on the radio is disrupted. A column of light enters the house. Where the room had seconds earlier been dark, filled with humble night, it is now wide-awake, splashed with brilliance. About the size and shape of an average human, the light is roughly oblong, five and a half feet tall and two feet in diameter. It hovers at the room’s center – a rustic cabin of sorts – shedding itself over a multicolored braided rug in much the way a cat or dog would shed fur. Its presence has alerted the home’s single inhabitant, and, in awe, this young man stretches out his hand, eager to feel his skin bathed in warmth. Immediately, he is struck down…

…a sudden electrostatic discharge of immense intensity could prove fatal…”

Light laps over the young man’s prone form, floods the lifeless body from the soles of his shoes to his sagging head. Pulsing, perhaps more brightly, the column of light exits the house. It moves slowly and silently, away into the night.

“…extremely dangerous. Several have already fallen victim…”

Down quiet streets, past locked houses and shuttered windows, the light continues its grave passage. It turns off the sidewalk and floats along a brick path, glides up a quaint cottage’s three short steps and makes its way through a cluttered front porch.  Pausing just outside the home’s interior door, it waits, its very self illuminating a clutter of stacked crates and tarp-covered boxes.

“…it has been reported that with each contact and subsequent killing, the Light has stolen some defining detail from its target…”

The radio’s disembodied voice carries from within the cottage as the door opens. Dressed in a dark tuxedo, suede vest, and Stetson, Ronald Reagan stands on the threshold. He smiles at the light, greets it warmly, and remarks on the small specifics it has acquired – faint, gray-blue lines hint at a woman’s blurred facial features; a long, full-skirted gown; sneakers protrude from the dress’ hem. Reagan does not comment on what the light lacks, what it still needs – head, hair, neck. Hands.

“…repeat, stay away from the light, do not engage it, do not attempt to touch it…”

A benign smile on his face, Reagan understands intuitively what the light wants of him – his hands. Raising the index finger of his right hand, he calmly asks the light to wait while he finds it a pair of gloves. The light throbs and pulses as Reagan digs through the crates and boxes. His search uncovers not gloves, but a pair of oiled, dull black six shooters, which he slips into his tuxedo pockets. He straightens, tells the light he has found just the thing it needs and, beaming, pulls the guns from his pockets and takes aim…

…but the column of light has anticipated the deception. Instantly, it transforms. Where it had been a mass of loosely collected photos, it has become a very solid, medium-sized, black-and-brown-and-white long-haired dog. The once-light/now-dog wags its long tail and, tongue lolling, grins up at Reagan in a broad doggy smile. With a grimace, Reagan holds his fire…

6 thoughts on “Trick of the Light — A Dream

  1. Interesting. For once, I am at a loss for interpretation. But, if I had to guess, I’d chalk this up as a trip down memory lane with the light figure being a subtle metaphor for each of us being amalgamations of “photographs.”


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