The real and imaginative adventures of Dennis Spielman

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Curious Dream Beginnings

A conversation with a philosophy professor about a repeating dream beginning prompts a revelation. 


For the past three months, my dreams began with waking up in my own room with a man in a white suit with pink accents on the end of my bed. He would encourage me to go through my bedroom door where I would be in some alternative reality for the rest of the dream. Regardless of what happened, I woke up refreshed. Still, with the way the dreams always started the same, it began to bother me.

I considered taking a psychological or a dream interruption class, but while doing some research I stumbled upon an online philosophy class taught by a fellow journalist, Hank Williams. In the sample lesson, he spoke with such wisdom and insight one would gain from interviewing numerous people. I was hooked.

Eventually after several classes, I got to have a one-on-one videoconference session with my professor. I started out by asking him course related questions, but the conversation drifted over to the subject of dreams and I solicited him for his thoughts on mine. He asked me questions I never considered and he seemed particularly interested in the man and the door I would go though.

“Do you recall seeing this man in your life before you started to have these dreams with him?” Hank asked.

“I don’t believe so,” I replied.

“Is this man always alone or is someone with him? A woman perhaps?”

“No, it’s just him.”

“Have you ever tried to touch this man to make sure he was there?”

“No, I never thought to do that.”

“This door you would go through, are you sure it was your door? Did the weight and movement of the door feel different from your real door?”

“I didn’t really notice anything…”

“How curious.”

Our conversation ended with him saying he would like to discuss the subject further tomorrow. He was curious if our chat would alter my dream. I didn’t think it would, but I said I would be glad to talk to him again tomorrow. 

Upon waking up in the dream, my philosophy professor sat at the end of my bed. He wore a dark brown suit under a light brown overcoat, being a stark difference between the man in the white suit who would normally sit there.

“Strange, isn’t it?” Hank commented.

I took a moment to startup my brain to process some words. “Hank?”

“Please, call me Quis.” He walked over to my door. “This isn’t really a dream and neither were those dreams you had.”

With those words, everything suddenly felt so real. It was like a fog had been lifted from my brain. My face got red with awkwardness, but Quis wasn’t paying any attention to me as he turned the door knob. On the other side was a sunny forest. He closed the door like a person who had gotten what they needed out of a fridge.

“When did you get this door replaced?” Quis asked, like he knew it was new. 

“About a few months ago, actually,” I said, shocked. 

“Then the dreams started, didn’t they?”

My jaw dropped. “Yes, they did.”

“Do you remember what the person looked like who installed it?”

“I do. I only remember her because she wore a red dress, which I thought was unusual, but I hate fashion criticisms myself.”

“Black hair, right?”

“Yes!”

“That would be Raven.” Quis gripped the door knob and yanked it out from the door. “That should put an end to their work. If you do run into my siblings, send them my regards.”

He tossed the broken pieces on the floor and left my apartment. I knew I wasn’t dreaming because I didn’t fall back asleep.


The final weekly short story for the year was inspired by the writing prompt: “You wake up from one of those dreams again. It starts in your own bed, in your real room, only outside the door is an alternate reality every time. The man you see in every dream was your Philosophy teacher this time. Who is he? ‘Strange, isn’t it?’ He says from the end of your bed.”

I thought this prompt would be a fun way to feature Quis again as I only wrote one story, Interview Spoilers, about the end-timer. I got to show a different side of him as previously he was portrayed as just a journalist, but like all the other end-timers, he does take on other roles. 

I hope you all have been enjoying the weekly stories this year! For the most part, I did keep up with my goal of releasing a new story every week with the exception being around A Killer Among the Spaceship Game Show, which took me two weeks to write part one and another week to finish it with part two.

I’ll talk more about my plans for 2021 later, but fun fact: The total word count of all my short stories this year (at the time I’m writing this) was 47,518 words. I do plan to revisit all of my stories, send them to an editor, and publish them as a book. 

If you’re on Reddit, I have a forum for my fictional universe so join the community today!

Thank you for reading!

The Cat’s Warning

While preparing for a hot date, the visiting cat warns him that his date is going to kill him.


“She’s going to kill you tonight.”

My heart sank – not because the cat spoke in a deep, ominous tone to me as I had gotten used to that, but because of what I already had planned for tonight. Before I get any further, I should back up a little bit. You see, when I signed the lease for my duplex at the beginning of the month, my landlord asked me to take care of her cat, Phineus, any time he visited. Since I felt like I was renting the place for a steal, I agreed.

From time to time, the cat would pop in and I made sure to have bowls of food and water for him. I had no clue how he would get inside, but I became accustomed to randomly seeing or hearing him.

After the first week, Phineus started to warn me of danger. The first time this happened, I dropped my coffee mug. The cat told me to take another route to work. I did and later found out about a deadly multi-car pileup. I asked my landlord about her talking cat, but she laughed me off.

“Is she going to kill me like accidentally or on purpose?” I asked the cat as a I put a holiday album on my recorder player.

Phineus licked his paw. No surprise, the can’t didn’t respond. The cat never responded to any of my questions. He would occasionally repeat himself, but he only spoke to give warnings.

The doorbell rang.

“Fuck it, I’m going to roll the dice.”

As I walked to the door, the cat ran and hid behind the Christmas tree. I decorated my duplex just for her. I even went out and bought the biggest Christmas tree that would fit and that I could afford, even though I lived alone. The cat seemed to enjoy it and the smell of the tree was nice, but I only got it for her.

I opened the door. Her long, curly brown hair danced on her bare shoulders. She wore a sparkling black dress and not much else. She was more gorgeous than her photos. If her stunning looks could kill, I would be dead. I didn’t see any weapons on her, so maybe I can prevent her from accidentally killing me?

“I’m going to take your silence as a complement,” she said with a smile. “May I come in?”

Mentally, I slapped myself and stood aside. “Yes, come inside, Iris. You must be freezing.”

Iris shrugged. “The cold never really bothered me.”

As she stepped a foot inside, the Christmas tree came tumbling down at us. I grabbed Iris, spun her around, leaving us with only a slight brushing from the crashing tree. The cat stood where the tree did.

I lifted the tree back up as I scolded the cat. “Phineus, what is your deal? I’m so sorry.”

“It’s cool. Phineus is an interesting name for cat,” Iris said as she entertained herself by browsing though my vinyl collection.

“He’s technically my landlord’s cat. He just like to hang out here.”

“Ah. Well, did you know in Greek mythological, Phineus was a king and a seer?”

“No, I didn’t,” I answered.

I made a note to ask my landlord about the cat again. Once I got the tree situated, I walked over to the kitchen. I liked the open modern concept of the duplex as it was great to keep connected with guests while I was in the kitchen.

“So, what movie did you want to watch?” I asked as I poured us some wine.

“I thought we could browse together,” she said as she took a seat on my couch.

I handed her her glass. She took a sip and sat the glass aside. The moment I took a seat, she saddled up on me, kissing my neck. I looked to the side to find a safe spot to place my glass when I caught a glance of the cat looking down at me from a tiny door in the ceiling that I’d never seen. Behind Phineus, it looked like he was in a city colored with a purple sunset. Before I could say anything, the cat jumped down from the hole, landing on my head, causing me to spill my drink all over my shirt.

Iris pulled herself off me. Thankfully, the drink only landed on me. I apologized and excused myself to my bedroom. Phineus raced ahead, beating me inside. I stripped off my shirt as I walked over to my dresser. The cat jumped on the dresser and sat next to a small black box with a red button it that was placed in front of the dresser mirror. I tossed the shirt in the clothes basket and picked up the device, looking it over.

“You know, I don’t mind if you leave your shirt off,” Iris said from the doorway.

I looked up at the dresser mirror. The mirror was half the size of the wide dresser, which meant it was large enough for me to see Iris standing in the doorway, however, Iris wasn’t reflected. I turned around to check and Iris was indeed leaning against the doorway, waiting for me. I looked back at the mirror and she wasn’t there. I think Iris caught the look of confusion as when I turned around, a set of fangs protruded from her mouth.

“Push the button,” Phineus ordered.

As Iris leapt at me, I pressed the red button. The room filled with a bight, warm light that made me feel like I was on a beach during a sunny day. Iris screamed. I closed my eyes and held onto the button until she was silent. I released my grip and the warmth and light faded away. With hesitation, I walked over to where Iris stood. There was only a pile of ash and clothes.

I sat the device on the dresser and collapsed onto my bed. The cat jumped over and walked to my face. He bopped me on the nose with his front paw before giving me a warning I had heard before.

“Don’t think with your dick.”


This week’s short story was inspired by the writing prompt: “You’ve just signed a new rental lease, but the landlord makes you agree to care for the cat that lives there. You agree, but within one week that cat starts talking and giving you ominous warnings.”

Story Artwork by Janine De Guzman at Design Pickle. Get a discount off your first month of Design Pickle via this affiliate link, which full disclosure, I earn a small commission as a discount for me as well.

Missing Stars scene

Missing Stars

While driving her through the countryside to visit her parents for the holidays, Jacqui realizes there are no stars in the sky.


The lights from the car Jacqui rented barely pierced through the Britain countryside. Delays plagued her flight from the states, and she hadn’t planned on driving at midnight. Regret began to set up a room in her mind for not booking a hotel room for the night, but her parents were eager to see her for the holidays visit, and a free bed is a free bed. While she was exhausted, she knew being in the middle of nowhere shouldn’t be as dark as it was that night. She looked up at the sky.

There were no stars.

The sky was pitch black like someone covered it up. Not even the moon was visible.

“This is some crazy Doctor Who level weirdness,” Jacqui commented.

Jacqui was no stranger to the British sci-fi time-traveling series. Her social media account would reveal photos of her cosplaying as characters from the TV show, usually as Martha Jones, as she bore a similar resemblance. However, she never remotely considered an out of this world experience happening to her.

She reached for her phone stationed in the central dashboard to make sure she didn’t take a wrong turn when a voice from the backseat whispered. “Did you realize the stars are gone, too?”

Jacqui slammed on the breaks. She snapped her head to the backseat where a ghostly being with a human skull shrouded in a crystalline, black-draped hoodie. It waved their four skeletal hands hello. Jacqui screamed and reached for the car door handle.

“Oh, the stars are missing, but I’m what freaks you out?” the being snarked. 

Jacqui was halfway out of the car when the snakiness of the being’s tone made her mind say, “hold up…” She decided to reply. “Okay, then, who are you, and what are you doing here?”

“My name is Slayer, and after visiting a parade, I decided to visit a time and place on this planet randomly,” they casually explained as they floated through the car and outside. Slayer looked up at the sky. “From what I know about Earth, there should most definitely be stars here.”

Jacqui stepped out of the car and studied the sky alongside the floating, leg-less being in sympathetic concern. “Yeah, there should be stars here.”

“The stars still exist, though,” Slayer added. “I popped off this planet and checked, but in this time, at this place, they are not visible.”

Jacqui reflected on her sci-fi knowledge. “Could there be some sort of device blocking them from our view?”

“That is a possibility,” Slayed reaffirmed in a monotone. With one hand, they reached through their chest and pulled out a black tablet device through their robe. Slayer tapped around on the screen. “I’m showing a device not from this planet nearby.”

Jacqui grabbed her phone and keys from inside the car. “Let’s go check it out then.”

Slayer took the lead, with Jacqui following behind using her phone’s flashlight. They walked up a short hill before stopping in front of a straw scarecrow dressed in jeans and a button-up red flannel shirt.

“This is it,” Slayer softly spoke.

“That’s a scarecrow,” Jacqui quipped.

Using all four of his arms, Slayer stripped off the shirt and straw from the scarecrow’s chest. Inside was a silver metal box with three black switches and a maxed-out gauge.

“What is that?” Jacqui asked.

“I’m not quite sure,” Slayer mumbled as he reached for the switches. “Let’s kill this machine.”

Slayer flicked all three switches down. The gauge spun down, and the stars and moon flickered back to life, illuminating the countryside. 

Jacqui cheered. “And let there be light!”

From further up the hill, an exclamation of pain screeched through the night. With the sky back, Jacqui was able to see a destroyed house further up the hill. The ground rumbled, and the cry got closer, revealing a black six-legged spider the size of a pickup truck with the head of a bison. Steam sizzled off its body like the light was burning it. It grabbed the device inside the scarecrow with one of its two harry tentacle arms while knocking Jacqui away with the other. The arm passed through Slayer, who was unfazed by the attack.

The creature flipped the switches, causing the stars to fade out. The beast was nearly invisible with the lack of light, making the device it held appear as if it was floating. The creature hissed and scurried away.

Slayer floated over to Jacqui and helped her up.

“What was that?” Jacqui forced herself not to scream.

“I do not know,” Slayer answered with a hint of excitement. “We should kill it.”

“Or stop it at least. It looks like any sort of light hurts it. You think a car’s headlights will work?”

“It would stand to reason.”

“Then let’s go.”

Jacqui ran down the hill, with Slayer floating beside her. Jacqui jumped in the driver’s seat while Slayer slipped through the back. The car roared to life with the lights on their brightest setting. Slayer directed Jacqui where to drive, using the tablet to track the extraterrestrial device.

A minute later, down a gravel road, the lights illuminated another demolished house. The creature emerged from the wreckage, hissing at the car. It flung a corpse at the vehicle, which Jacqui narrowly avoided. She spun the car back at the creature, aiming the lights at it. The lights melted away its body, and it retreated down the hill.

“It’s working,” Slayer praised.

“Yeah, but it went off the road, and I can’t get to it.”

“I can fix that.”

Slayer pulled out a shimmering purple box the size of a tennis ball from their chest and attached it to the car’s ceiling. Dozens of veins of purple light wires erupted from the box, expanding in every direction throughout the vehicle before sinking inside. 

“What did you do?” Jacqui screamed.

“Modified your car to fly,” Slayer calmly explained. 

Jacqui could feel the car lift up from the ground. “Woah.”

“Go!”

She slammed on the gas, and the car flew down the hill. In seconds, the creature was in their sights. She pressed forward, shining more light on the beast until it collapsed from its legs melting. The creature dropped its sky blackening device, causing the stars to return upon impact with the ground. Jacqui kept the car still on the creature as it melted away into a massive pool of black goo.

Slayer floated out of the car and inspected the goo. Jacqui joined.

“Is it dead?” she questioned.

“Yes,” Slayer affirmed.

Slayer returned to the car, pulled out the transformation box, returning the vehicle to normal.

“Well, that was an adventure,” Jacqui declared.

“Indeed it was,” Slayer admitted. “You should get to wherever you were going. I imagine they’ll be here soon enough to clean up this mess.”

“Who’s they?”

From above, a blinding white light blasted down on them. Jacqui felt like a criminal caught in the spotlight. 

Slayer slipped down through the ground. “It doesn’t matter. You’ll forget all of this soon enough.”

This week’s short story was inspired by the following writing prompt: “It’s midnight, and your headlights barely pierce through the darkness settled on the road in front of you. Shaking away your exhaustion, you begin to panic as you realize you’re lost. As you reach for your phone, a voice from the back seat whispers, “Did you realize the stars are gone, too?”

Story Artwork by Chen Kang at Design Pickle. Get a discount off your first month of Design Pickle via this affiliate link, which full disclosure, I earn a small commission as a discount for me as well.

Discover more stories following Slayer via the character tag.

Have a safe holiday travel!

Festival Suggestions

After finishing a project for her history class to modernize an ancient Greek festival honoring Dionysus, she jokingly makes a toast to him and the god appears. 


“Finished at last,” Shelby cheered to herself, alone in her studio apartment. 

Shelby stood up from her two-person dining table where her laptop lived. She stretched her body from the extensive writing session. As a final class project, her history professor assigned everyone to write a report about modernizing a forgotten tradition. She chose the Great Dionysia, which she learned about the ancient Greek festival honoring Dionysus from a video game.

To celebrate, she procured a clean wine class from her kitchen cabinet and poured herself a glass of her favorite boxed red wine. Jokingly, she raised her glass in the air.

“To you, Dionysus,” she toasted. “Hope you like my festival idea.”

She took a sip and then sat her glass down on the kitchen counter. The moment she looked up back at her table, she saw a tall, slender man in a gray suit. She shrieked. The man dramatically spun around like a dancer in an elaborate musical number reveal. His brown, curly hair with a pair of locks rested gracefully on his shoulders. In his hair wear a pair of grape leaves. 

“I love it!” the man praised.

Shelby grabbed the pepper spray attached to her car keys and sprayed the man in the eyes. The man did not flinch. He casually blinked when the spray stopped.

“Yeah, that doesn’t hurt us,” he politely explained.

“Who are you?” Shelby demand with a tremble.

The man’s face brunched up, offended she didn’t know. “You just wrote a report about me.”

Shelby’s jaw dropped. “Dionysus?”

“Ding!” he smiled.

Dionysus sat in the gray armchair Shelby had stationed next to the table. He waved his hand over the table, swirling to life in a blue-green mist, two bottles of wine in the air that gently landed on the table. He took one, drinking directly from the bottle. Dionysus nodded at Shelby and nudged the other bottle toward her in a peaceful gesture to join him.

“How did you do that?” Shelby asked in a hushed voice.

“You know what,” he started and then paused to think how. “I just kind of made them appear. God of wine, et cetera, et cetera. Would it help if I turned into a fox to prove who I am?”

Shelby nodded. Happy to put on a show, he snapped his fingers, and in a poof of purple smoke, he reappeared as a red fox with the same suit top.

“Ta-Da!” Dionysus announced in a charming tone.

Shelby fainted, falling on the floor. Dionysus sighed and snapped back into the human form.

“I was hoping to talk and make a few suggestions for your festival, so I’ll just edit your document while you take a nap.”


This week’s short story brought to you by wine and this writing prompt: “You’re sat alone, with a glass of wine in hand, and decide to jokingly toast the Greek God Dionysus. You did not expect him to appear before you in human form, create two bottles of wine, and take a seat next to you.”

The game mentioned in the story is Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which has made me fantasize about putting on a modern version of the festival. Hope you enjoyed this fun little story. 

Story Artwork by Nona Calingasan at Design Pickle. Get a discount off your first month of Design Pickle via this affiliate link, which full disclosure, I earn a small commission as a discount for me as well.

The Ghost Child from the March of Flaming Skeletons

Three time-travelers visit a Halloween parade when a young spirit starts to cause mischief. 


A thousand people dressed as skeletons held tiki torches as they led a Halloween parade. The three time-travelers siblings blended in with the Saturday, October 24, 2009 audience with their own costumes. The one named Raven wore a silky red dress with a foam pumpkin over her head. The one named Gia dressed as the 1950s movie star Marilyn Monroe. The one named Slayer simply wore a hooded black robe.

“I can’t believe you had me change my form for this,” Slayer grumbled as they crossed their human arms. “Skeletons are on parade, and you wanted me to look human. My form would’ve been appropriate.”

“A floating transparent skeleton would’ve freaked people out,” Gia playfully reminded. 

Slayer put a thin piece of white paper in their mouth. “At least the candy is good.”

“That was a sticker you ate,” Raven corrected in a polite factual matter. 

Slayer shrugged. “I’ve never been much for this world anyway.”

Gia scanned the parade for something to change the subject. It had been a while since she spent time with them, and thought this parade would’ve been something they could all enjoy.

“Hey, look at the little skeleton,” Gia said, pointing at a little girl dancing in the street with the other marching skeletons. “Aren’t they just the—”

Gia’s jaw dropped as the child danced through the other people. People shivered, losing their balance, and some almost hit others with their torches.

“That’s a spirit,” Raven said in a matter-of-fact as she pulled out her tablet from her dress pocket that was much bigger on the inside. “It seems to be causing quite the disturbance.”

“Finally, some chaos!” Slayer cheered with hands raised high.

“No, no chaos and no watching how it all plays out,” Gia ordered. “We have to guide the spirit home.”

“Fine,” both Slayer and Raven grumbled.

The ghost child turned into the crowd of bystanders, skipping along through people. While Gia lost sight of the girl, she watched the movement of people shaking from a sudden chill and losing their balance. The three pressed against the crowd. 

“Where did she go?” Gia asked as they emerged out from the crowd. 

“Over there,” Raven alerted. She pointed to the girl standing in front of a couple heading to watch the parade. A man in his late 20s got one knee to talk to the girl on her level. “That human seems to be able to interact with the spirit.”

Gai squinted in thought. “Wait a second. I think I know him or, more specifically, who he will become.”

“What becomes of him?” Slayer questioned.

“His name is Geoff DeRoot, and he becomes a rather prominent paranormal researcher, but this isn’t his origin story. Not until the death of his fiancé drives him mad,” Gia explained as she started to sprint forward. “We can’t let him get introduced to ghosts just yet.”

“So, where are your grown-ups?” Geoff asked the spirit.

Before the spirit could answer, Gia stood beside them. 

“There you are!” Gia exclaimed to the spirit. “Come on, let’s get you home.” She looked at the couple and smiled. “Thank you.”

“No problem,” Geoff said as he stood back up and wrapped his arm around his girlfriend.

The girl smiled wide and held out her hand, which Gia took as best as possible to make it look like she was holding the spirit’s hand and not going through it. Raven and Slayer caught up with Gia. Together, they walked down the alleyway, where they parked their freestanding doors that allowed them to travel throughout time and space. 

Slayer opened his red wooden door, letting out a bright white light. “I’ll take this one where she belongs.” Before walking through the door, Slayer turned back and faced his siblings. “You know, watching the Halloween parade was kind of fun. I guess this world isn’t so bad.”

Gia smiled. Missioned accomplished. Slayer closed their door, and it blinked out of existence. Raven reached for the handle on her red metal door with a golden frame.

“It has been fun, Gia,” Raven thanked. “I should get back with Loki as I left him in the middle of an experiment.”

“What are you two up to this time?” Gia asked with a slightly accusatory tone. 

“We’re hosting a spaceship reality game show on Earth.”

“Oh. That sounds like fun! What year?”

“2020.”

“Yikes,” Gia chocked up. “I tend to avoid that year.”

Raven chuckled. “It’s been fruitful for us. Anyway, it was good to see you.”

The two exchanged hugs and left through their respective doors, disappearing without any fanfare as the first wave of parade participants crossed through the alley to the afterparty.  


This week’s short story was created in response to a writing challenge. The setting had to involve Halloween with a word limit of 800. Bonus points for using the following words: Candy, Leaves, Chill, and Pumpkin. Points for also using the sentence blocks, “Skeletons are on parade” and “I’ve never been much for this world anyway.”

Hope you enjoyed this story and all of the other spooky tales this month!

Story Artwork by Joemar Villarejo, Design Pickle. Get a discount off your first month of Design Pickle via this affiliate link, which full disclosure, I earn a small commission as a discount for me as well.

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