Dream Sequence is not your typical anthology. The twenty short stories in Dream Sequence will task your mind, your emotions, the very way you see the universe. Steve Lazarowitz superbly blends fantasy, science fiction and horror into a speculative fiction cocktail that will challenge you to think at right angles to reality.
What can you expect to find in Dream Sequence?
A story written by a wolf, a magical duel between eighteenth century sorcerers, a princess that must find a way to lose her virginity to circumvent her dark destiny, a young psychic who gives the ultimate gift in an attempt to save the life of a friend’s daughter, a man who must sleep, lest all of humanity perish, a computer technician that stumbles upon the most ingenious invasion of all time, a University on a world of sentient insects, an alchemist trying to obtain all the ingredients to make a very special potion and much, much more.
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Dream Sequence: The Writings of Steve Lazarowitz
Dream Sequence Excerpt
When consciousness first found her, the moonlight seemed impossibly bright. Powerful gusts of wind continually shuffled all but invisible leaves. At the edge of vision, a wall of trees stretched leafy arms toward the heavens. Momentarily disoriented, she shifted her gaze, first to the dark clouds moving too rapidly through that luminous sky, then to those remarkably tall trees and finally to a small gray flash of movement off to her left.
Shaking sleep from her eyes, she propped herself into a sitting position in order to get a better look at it. At first she could not find the cause of the disturbance. Then it moved again and she saw it. It seemed so ordinary next to the rest of the tableau, that she laughed. Startled, the creature sat up on its hind legs and froze in the manner of rabbits throughout history.
"Well, hello there," she said. "Don't be afraid. I won't hurt you."
The rabbit, perhaps sensing her gentleness, began to shift about, though it still kept a wary eye on the stranger. A night bird, hidden within that impossible forest, added its unearthly call to the scene.
"It can't answer you," rasped a voice from the shadows.
At once the woman snatched up her blanket and held it before her, as if somehow it might have power to protect against a stranger in the night. The approaching rustle of footfalls through leaves chilled her. She held her breath, until the intruder was close enough to behold.
It was tall, perhaps nine feet, with brownish skin not unlike the bark of a sycamore. Its legs resembled the boles of saplings, its arms, slender branches. Its eyes, only now illuminated, were brown and so very old. Its lips, a shade paler, were thin and cracked. The creature shook itself and she realized it wasn't only its approach that created the dry crackling that preceded it. She rose slowly and waited, not yet certain whether or not she was in danger.
"Animals can no longer speak, since the Grand Dawteer has taken the magic." There was such a note of sadness in that all too ancient voice, that she took a step forward and reached out a tentative hand.
Brimstone and Nitro Excerpt
The sky above town was a deeper shade of blue than it had any right to be. The sun, already beginning its slow descent toward the horizon, hung in the heavens, a pure golden orb showering the plain below with light and heat. The grass, which might have been vivid green under more forgiving conditions, leaned to brown. In spite of the lack of healthy vegetation, the colors were so vibrant, it was as if a layer had been peeled off reality to reveal the true nature of the universe lying just underneath. And no human being had ever seen it.
The town was named Destiny and the denizens that wandered its sun-baked streets were of all shapes, sizes and colors. They dressed as they willed, for heat had little power over creatures such as these. The men wore suits or denim, the dames dresses or slacks. Some were naked, but no one paid them any mind.
The main street of Destiny, which they had never bothered to name, was an area of great activity. If there was anything unusual about the town, it was the number of garages, which, by the laws of probability, should have been fewer.
At one end of the broad avenue stood a small wooden building, slightly separated from the strip. Three faded wooden steps led up to the porch area, upon which sat an empty bench. Beyond was an outer door with a ripped screen and a second one that remained opened, leading to a seldom used office. Raphael preferred his garage. All the angels did.
Today however, he sat leaning over a wooden desk that many years before might have been considered a valuable antique. He ignored the uncomfortable way his wings felt, folded as they were around the back of the chair. Before him, standing almost eight feet tall, stood a humanoid figure. He was muscular, yet perfectly proportioned in spite of his massive build. He stood inflexibly, his brownish-red skin standing out in stark contrast to the faded wooden backdrop, a pair of large leathery wings folded neatly behind his back.
Raphael spoke, his voice a trumpet’s blare, a normal tone for him. "Then you still want to go through with it, Asmodeus?"
The demon roared with laughter. "I care? Why should I? If I lose that miserable piece of land, will it stop the spread of evil? I think not."
Raphael sighed, imitating the human gesture so perfectly, it was sometimes hard for Asmodeus to remember he was an archangel.
"You are correct, of course. It is tomorrow's contest that holds my attention."
For a moment, two flames appeared briefly in the demon's eyes. He snorted and shook his head. "As well it should. But that territory is ours by tradition. You have no driver to compare with my Lilith." He leered at the angel, displaying a row of pointed teeth. Raphael was not impressed.
"Perhaps, but I may yet have a surprise for you." Raphael had not wanted to tip his hand so early, but that damned demon was so smug. "I can't wait for you to meet him."
Asmodeus looked thoughtful, but did not reply. He stared into the face of the archangel. Their eyes met and locked. After a long while, Asmodeus broke the gaze. He might have continued indefinitely, but such a contest of wills did little more than waste his time.
"Well, I best be off. If I leave them for too long, they start rutting like animals. You know how demons can be."
Raphael smiled in acknowledgment. He did know.
Life and Death in the EDMC Excerpt
The room smelled of antiseptic and internal organs. A trio of lights illuminated the patient's stomach. There was too much bleeding for me to see clearly. "Suction," I snapped.
A faceless nurse complied immediately. I was looking for a wound that needed to be closed and had yet to find it. This much blood must be coming from somewhere.
"Doctor, pulse rate is falling fast."
I didn't look up. The patient had already lost so much blood, it would take a miracle to save her. Lately, miracles were not my strong point. Even were I to find the wound now, she had precious little chance for survival. Still I continued, wading through hopelessness as thick as the blood. When she flat-lined less than a minute later, I lowered my arms in defeat. Though the other doctors and nurses were all masked, I could read the anguish in their eyes. I took a step backwards and turned away. I had lost another one.
No one said anything as I pulled off my gloves and turned from the table. I ignored them as well. They knew what had to be done. My job was over. Oh God, please let it be over.
I untied and removed my surgical gown and mask. I was tired beyond imagination, yet there was no rest in sight. Even were I to get a break, the ghosts of the patients I lost would keep me from sleep. Perhaps I cried for a few minutes. I can't remember.
I left the operating theater and made my way through mostly deserted hospital corridors. It seemed as if these corridors had become a prison of late. I could only barely remember the last time I’d returned home. I needed a shower and a nap desperately, but as always, there was too much work. I entered a break room where a single table sat surrounded by four chairs. I walked to the counter, poured myself a cup of black coffee and spent a minute searching for sugar before I gave up. We were out of sugar again. I drank it as it was.
The ends to these three tales and seventeen more can be found within the confines of Dream Sequence and other Tales from Beyond.
It seems many ages have passed since the original publication of this volume and much has happened during that period. I have moved through time, space and knowledge in the same way a cloud moves through the sky. I feel as if I've been propelled by the forces of nature, completely out of control of my destiny, unlike many of the characters in the stories you are about to read.
It is a challenge to analyze a volume of your own work as an outsider might, looking for a common thread explaining how each idea has managed to find its way into your consciousness. It's even harder when the body of work encompasses multiple genres, time periods and styles of writing. I suppose, if nothing else, the restless nature of my soul might be evident from the range of tales contained in this volume.
Yet, there are two themes that do tend to occur throughout my fiction. Much of my work centers on duality; more than one reality in a single tale. At times, it takes the form of perception (as in Dream Sequence), while at others, the world is physically divided (as in Worlds Apart).
The second theme that runs through my writing involves my protagonists, who tend to have their adventures forced upon them by circumstance. Seldom do my characters set out to accomplish something. In most cases, the world requires from them a specific reaction, which they must perform in order to be true to themselves.
In this, many of my characters are like me, for surely in my life, I have been motivated by circumstance rather than my own needs. I see nothing particularly noble in this, but rather only seek to understand myself through analysis of the tales that spring forth from my rather non-pedestrian imagination.
So why am I bothering you with this? Because when I read a book, upon occasion, I'd like to know just how an author views his words, apart from the sort of questions you might find in interviews.
Here is what I think of my work... I like it or I wouldn't have written it. That said, I like some stories more than others, though each story is an attempt for me to say something about my life, my condition, my philosophy or, in some cases, my past.
The stories in this book are, as indicated in the title, much like a sequence of dreams. They've all sprouted from a single, unconventional mind. Yet like a dream, no matter how they might diverge, on some level, each story must contain just a little bit of me. And if you like a particular story, perhaps it will call to a little bit of you. Is it not conceivable you will recognize a piece of yourself in the characters and events that have emerged from my own skewed vision?
It is entirely possible, for I recognize bits of me in the works of other writers. I'm not sure what conclusions might be drawn from such an observation, except perhaps in many ways we are more alike than we care to consider. And yet, no matter how many authors write the same story, each is as different as night and day, a duality that permeates the very world in which we dwell.
It is my greatest hope that within the pages to come, you will recognize something you share with me; that you might, from my words, understand your own circumstance better; that you might see these stories as more than just a bit of random entertainment; that the images they place in your mind might dwell for a time with others that have already spent some time there.
At the very least, I hope these tales offer you some small amount of pleasure; that they may for a time, help brighten your existence as you travel your own roads to destinations I can not begin to imagine.
One final note, I highly recommend these stories be read in order. At least two are sequels and would make no sense without reading the first installment and one makes reference to an earlier tale.
I wish you well on your journey.