‘‘Dream Sellers’? That shop must be new,’ I thought. I hadn’t seen it around here before. It certainly looked like a shop that had just opened, in a fairly rough area of town, just off the high street.
I stepped inside. It mostly sold clothes, though there were no racks. The clothes were just folded up (sometimes not even that) and were displayed inside and on top of IKEA shelving units. This place could not have felt any cheaper. No wonder there were no other customers.
The shopkeeper came out from behind the counter and hounded me closely as I looked around.
“Hello, how are you, sir?”
Jeez. Didn’t this guy know good business practice? He was starting to annoy me already. He obviously didn’t sense the dark cloud above my head, because he saw me glance at a hoodie and then exclaimed.
“Ooh! You like jackets! Wait here, sir!”
And he disappeared behind the counter, leaving me alone for all of ten seconds, before returning with a very fetching blue jacket with black leather on the shoulders and elbows. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to have it.
“Do you like this one?”
“Yes. It’s really nice!”
“How much money do you have?”
“£30” I answered automatically, before thinking about why he might have asked that. I realized at that moment that nothing in the shop had a price tag.
“This jacket is £30, please.”
I was not happy. I had not asked to buy the jacket, but here he was, bullying me into buying it. If I didn’t really want that jacket, I would have had strong words with him. As it stood, I didn’t want to cause a scene, so I grumbled to myself and shelled over the £30.
I was happy, though, because I had left the store with a brand new jacket that I loved. I wasted no time in putting it on as I walked home.
My good mood was to be ruined, however, by my noticing that people flinched when they walked past me. Some of them shivered as if it was cold, when it wasn’t, some even turned and stared at me like I had just insulted their mother. People were beginning to act very strangely around me, and I didn’t like it.
Nothing of incident happened for the rest of the day once I got home. Nothing of incident happened... until I went to sleep.
My dream began at the spot where the Dream Sellers shop was, but back before it had opened. Back when it was just a long closed, graffiti covered steel shutter with a ‘for sale’ sign stuck on it. I turned round. There was a teenager standing behind me. He was wearing the jacket I had bought today, and had grotesque growths on his face, most likely the symptoms of a disease. The most striking thing about his was his hideously twisted neck, as if he had hung himself. He was just staring at me intensely, but his voice was so meek and timid.
“Do you hate me? Do you think I’m ugly? Are you going to laugh at me? Or call me a freak? I don’t care if you are. At least I have a cool jacket. Maybe it will help stop the bullying.”
I awoke in a sweat, deeply disturbed, though I’m not fully sure why. It wasn’t just his face. Besides, he had been bullied for that face, it seemed. I felt pretty bad for being so scared of it.
Was that kid behind the way people were acting around me earlier? Were they treating me like they treated him? I had to go back to the shop. If I couldn’t return the jacket, I could at least find out who used to own it.
I set off walking back to Dream Sellers, the jacket tucked over my arm. They could have their bloody dreams back. As my journey progressed. One or two people jumped with fright when they saw me, and one particular group of kids laughed at me. Was the effect getting worse? Or was there something else going on?
It took a man to stop me and deliver some bad news for me to realize the reason for the behaviour of those around me today.
“Excuse me, mister. You have something on your face.”
“I do?” I replied, alarmed, and looked over at the nearest shop window. I could see my face in the reflection. The growth had started. It was only a tiny bit, on my right cheek, but I had a very strong suspicion that it would continue to grow the longer I owned this coat.
When I reached the shop, my heart sank. It was no longer there. The shutters were back down, and the ‘for sale’ sign was back up. I asked a passer by what had happened to the shop.
“What shop?” he replied. “There hasn’t been a shop there for years.”
Now, I was even more confused. I decided to head back to my house. On the way back. A couple of kids started to pelt me with stones and laugh. I’m not sure whether it was the jacket, or the fact that this had never happened to me before, but the impulse came over me and before I could stop myself I roared at them. An inhuman, terrifying sound had escaped my throat and sent all the children running away screaming. I admittedly derived some small satisfaction from this, but at the same time, that roar came from me, and that was a very sobering thought.
Back in my house, I went straight to the bathroom and studied my reflection. The growth had spread slightly. It was still small, but there was no mistaking it for ‘something on my face’.
The phone rang. It was Helen, a friend of a friend. She was part of a gang that I pretended to tolerate but secretly found grating to suffer the company of.
“Hey, Jack. You wanna come out tonight?” She giggled her usual obnoxious voice. Normally, I’d have either reluctantly accepted to be polite, or I’d have made up a fabricated excuse and declined, but an idea grew in my brain like a cancer; an idea that she was just making fun of me.
“Oh ha ha!” I spat acidly down the phone. “Ask the freak out on a date so all your friends can point and laugh!” and then I smashed the phone back down onto its holster so hard I cracked the plastic.
That night, I had another dream. I was in a bedroom that wasn’t my own. Posters for rock bands donned the walls. There was a desk with a P.C. on it, some used and bloody razor blades scattered about the desk, and my blue jacket, slung across the back seat. I felt a breeze behind me, so I turned.
The original owner of the jacket was swinging from side to side. He had hung himself in his own bedroom, and his arms and wrists were cut to ribbons. It took everything I had not to throw up at the sight. His cold, blue face twitched, and then looked down at me.
“They all hated me,” he began. “And now they all hate you.”
I awoke in a sweat again, this time with proper cause to be so. I felt my face. It was like feeling a stone wall. ‘Oh no’, I thought, jumped out of bed and made a beeline for the bathroom.
In the mirror my fears were confirmed. Tears formed in my eyes upon looking at my own reflection. The growth had spread completely overnight. I now looked just like the boy who had killed himself.
Written by Cyanwrites