The Vault

Chris Krueger


He woke with the realization that the closet where he kept his vacuum was the dustiest place in his house. It was 5:21, which meant if he turned on that Elisabeth movie right then, it would end at 7:25, which then left him enough time to shower, dress, and of course vacuum his closet before having to leave for work at 7:52 and arrive at 8:27, provided that the movie didn’t put him back to sleep. Perfection.

His plan overshot the expected time by two minutes, but he got on the road confident that he wouldn’t be late. He drove to his job (which he called “media about media”) and hated every aspect of his commute. At the first stoplight, he slipped on his “driving shirt” because he was sick of sweating through his work shirts before even arriving. Driving was stressful, and the stress made him sweat. He turned down the radio as he approached the ramp to the highway. He needed the focus for this merge that the music impeded on. He was sure that this ramp would kill him one day, but he made it on for the 115th consecutive success. He turned the radio back up, though he wasn’t listening. He was trying to make some sense out of his dream that he couldn’t fully remember. This happened to him often, and he enjoyed trying to make some sense out of the scraps of information that his brain put together. The radio was background noise to his thoughts and billboards were background visuals for the road. His strange form of exhaustion began for the day.

This mental exhaustion meant struggling with basic sentence structure, forgetting words to his favorite songs, soaping his hair and shampooing his body. On the bright side he finally knew some pop culture, having replaced every other hobby (including staring off into space) trying to catch up with his colleagues. He sat at work under heavy influence of his peculiar sort of exhaustion while editing an article on Cate Blanchette (who he had never seen perform before this morning). After writing the sentence “she achieve nomination for Oscar as being best actress in 2007” he decided to see if anyone on the internet had similar problems.

He found similar accounts of his issue, but everyone just said to meditate or get more sleep. The amount of sleep wasn’t a problem and there was never time for meditation, so he tried to mix the solutions. He typed More restful sleep. He didn’t need a new mattress or sleeping pills, so he got more specific. His daytime schedule was set in stone, but maybe he could change something about his sleep. How to stop dreaming. Once again nothing looked promising, but he did find something interesting. “Lucid dreaming” it was called. Apparently, if he can become aware that he is dreaming, he could manipulate the dream to his will. Naturally, he spent the rest of his workday researching ways to achieve lucidity. He decided if he could become lucid, he would try putting himself to sleep within the dream, and maybe that would black out his awake-in-sleep feeling and he would finally get some rest, silence, and peace.

He watched the clock roll from 4:49 to 4:50 which meant that if he got up, cleaned out the coffee pot, took a piss, and said his goodbyes, he could be out the door and in his car by 5:01 and home around 5:36 which meant that he could start Runaway Train for his Jon Voight research at 5:40, be done at 7:41, eat, do some more lucid dreaming research, and get to bed around 8:30. This time his plan was flawless.

Rich Linkson is on his high school track, not running, but getting ready to jump. He checks the mark on the tape measure next to his left foot, and sure enough, his foot is at 78’ away from the board. He reaches his right foot back and digs his cleat into the rubber (the rubber yells “Fuck that hurts” not with words but with tiny vibrations through his leg). He launches, starting slow at first, picking up speed according to his muscle memory, which lands his right foot on the board perfectly in stride. And we have liftoff. Serious liftoff. Like holy shit he is almost outside the stadium liftoff. “Fuck. This doesn’t make any sense. Oh shit, I’m dreaming!” Manipulations: Bang - The sun is green. Bam - The football field has a lingerie football game going on. Pow - His arm is a shotgun. Alright, enough fucking around. Blam-The roof of the school is a giant mattress. Time to sleep.

He woke up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night. He was so excited that it actually worked that he didn’t think he could go back to sleep. But wait, it didn’t work now did it? He achieved lucidity and slept in the dream, but he actually felt worse. The excitement made his mind run even faster. On top of constant television, commercials, movies, trailers, radio, billboards, computer screens, and pop ups, now he had to worry about the amplified dreams taking up his mental space. He wished he never clicked that blue link. Eventually that night, he was able to cut down on the amount of firing synopses in his brain and slept.

Linklson is on his high school track, not running, but getting ready to jump. He checks the mark on the tape measure next to his left foot, and sure enough his foot is at 102’ away from the board. He reaches his right foot back, lifts the vault pole up, digs his cleat into the rubber (the rubber yells “Fuck you and everything that you stand for” not with words but with tiny vibrations through his leg). He launches, counting every time his left foot touches ground. On the third he begins to lower the pole, on two the pole is parallel to the track, on one (wait. Fuck. This is a women’s pole. Weight limit is 130lbs. I’m going to snap this thing. Good thing I am dreaming) he plants, pushes the pole hard with his left hand, forcing a bend, too much bend. It begins to lift him but the recoil isn’t fast enough (the pole says “my life shall be revenged,” not through words, but through shards of pole scattering through the air at blinding speeds). One of such shards is heading right towards Linkson, who, in such panic, forgets he is dreaming. Shard: meet jugular. Blood runs warm, comfortingly warm, down Linkson’s neck. As his eyes close for good, he sees his vault couch smiling. “Great jump!” he says, thumbs in the air.

Linklate solved his problem.


Euphemism Campus Box 5555 Illinois State University Normal, IL 61790