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Lemming Dreams and Nightmare Follies

by Sally Carson
The lemming was dreaming. He was in the middle of the pack, surrounded by hundreds of others, exactly like him. He was borne along effortlessly by the impetus of those around him. His sharp nose punctuated the air above him. His whiskers quivered, sensing the cliff ahead. Soon they were all falling, plummeting, spiraling downward. But not him. He was taken aloft by two glorious wings which had sprouted from his furred back. The large and iridescent wings shimmered like a bubble and took him higher and higher. He reached forward with his front paws, shart, pointed claws grasping at the air....

Someone nudged him. He stirred and turned over.

The lemming was dreaming. He was in the air, flying, soaring. His two wings beating against the currents of the air. He was surrounded by a radiant haze, so fiery that his bright brown eyes squinted against the light. He wriggled his body and stretched forth his front paws. Then, without warning, something flew past the right side of his head. Then another, on the other side. And then another and another. He turned and looked a long way behind and below him. He saw, poised on the edge of the cliff, hundreds of others, exactly like him, paws upraised. A rock nicked his cheek. More rocks tore through his wings, shredding them like tissue paper. He felt himself falling. He clutched impotently at wisps of clouds, his body twisting and turning at will. He lifted his long muzzle and opened his mouth in a silent scream....

Someone sneezed. He stretched and began to snore gently.

The lemming was dreaming. He was in the front of the pack. Behind him were hundreds of others, exactly like him. The edge of the cliff was a thin black line across the horizon, coming ever nearer. His claws scrabbled over the hard ground, moving him, impelling him forward. Forward towards and over the cliff edge. He was falling. Below and beside him, was an endless vista of never changing blur. He turned his head and saw far above him hundreds of faces, exactly like his, peering over the cliff edge. Brown, beady eyes blinking as they watched, receding as he fell. He lifted his head and opened his mouth in a silent scream....

Something rustled. He sighed and settled his snout on the paws curled beneath him.

The lemming was dreaming. He was in the back of the pack. In front of him were hundreds of others. Racing across the landscape, the browns and greens melting together into a muddy haze. He willed his paws to slow down. He forced his paws to stop, gritting his sharp teeth at the effort. The others continued to move away into the mist. He watched until they disappeared. He lifted his muzzle to the sky. He closed his eyes. And waited.

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