The Night Caught Fire: Chapter 4

Chapter 4

I awoke (if you’ll allow me) on the floor.  Same home, same room, same sameness as before.  And within moments of my eyelids pealing open to welcome the light of day, I heard the all too familiar whistle of my teakettle from across the way.

I pushed myself up upon my hands – my palms acting as platforms for my being – and seated myself into a sitting position.  The light of the fire (and not of the day) crackled in my corneas as my pupils restricted to allow the glow in.  I yawned once… then twice… and asked myself the question to which I knew the answer all too well: Have I been dreaming?

To be sure, the facts were clear: the kettle, the settle, the floor.  And yet clarity and truth are not always the same.  And I had the unsettling feeling that the facts in this case were pointing more towards fiction.

But still, the tea wasn’t going to drink itself.

“Come now,” I said.  “Let’s have a cup.”

I followed the same procedure as before.  “Half a cup for you.  Full cup for me.”  And after cheering to good health (and other such pleasantries) the tea was drunk.

“Well,” I added, now that my pallet had been soothed.  “Time for a peek out-of-doors.”

I was surprised in the way one isn’t surprised to find that night had fallen like a comet on my sleepy surroundings.  All outside was blackness, and no shadows danced save those inside the walls.  And though the fire cracked and blazed, my miniature companions did not return.  Just as well, I told myself, for I am out of tea.

I once more laid my head down on my pillow, half hoping to revisit their wonderful world.  “To dance in the colors,” I said dreamily, “all the oranges and the greens…”  And as I did, my eyes began to dim… and the corners of my lips curled into a smile… and I fell asleep…


“No time for nonsense!” the portly man said.  “No time at all!”  And I awoke to the sound (and the pound) of a thump on my chest.

“Dreaming,” I said to my now conscious self.  “You’ve been dreaming again.”  And my recent conversation with the now vanished portly gentleman played briefly in my mind like a warped recording on a phonograph.


“You must!” the portly man said, all the while forcefully pressing the red leather bound journal against my now anxiously beating heart.  “You simply must!”

“But the weight…” I began, as my fingers curled unconsciously around the edges of the tome against my will.  

“Never mind all that!” he continued.  “This is yours alone and yours to bear.”

“But the weight…” I repeated once more as the book now brought the bending into my knees.

“No time for nonsense!” the portly man said.  “No time at all!”


Odd, I thought, as my right hand instinctively reached up to rub the dream from my now waking head.  How odd of that portly gentleman.  For gentle he most certainly was not.  And as I thought (all the while stimulating the follicles of my increasingly receding hair), my left arm reached over my torso in a yawn… and struck something solid.

Here then, I said to myself.  What could this be now?  And had I only recalled my dream correctly (and completely) I would have had no reason to question my current quandary.  But waking from sleeping makes one woozy and slow, so you’ll forgive (just this once) when I did not immediately surmise my current state of affairs.

“Why, a book!” I said looking down at my chest.  “I do believe it’s a book!”  And as my ocular sensors opened ever wider, I reasoned the redness of the tome.

“But, could it be?” I said, half to myself and half to the journal.  But whether I had answer or not, here it lay, pressed hard against my person.  “And what am I to do with you?” I asked the manuscript.  “What am I do to with you?”  Pick up and read, I heard a Voice say.  Pick up and read.

And so, against my better judgement, I sat up into a reading position, and began to peruse the tome, ever hoping to glean seeds of truth from its yellowed and well-worn pages.


“There never was such a book for reading!” I exclaimed upon my completion.  “Never!”  And I closed shut the book with a clap and cloud – the dust from the aged pages poofing out and forming a haze of thought and contemplation.  “Never such a book for reading!”  And I laid my head back once more against my pillow and stared up at the ceiling.

The cracks and imperfections in the wood above began to take on shapes and forms from my most recent reading.  Trails appeared (that were most certainly not their before!), and I saw the shapes of characters dot here and there along the canvas.  Movement began as scenes from the pages began to act themselves out in the grains and granules of the wooden beams, and my eyes (and my heart) followed as recent emotional escapades pulled me this way and that along the planks.  “To see it played out,” I said to none but myself, “is miraculous.”

I stared in wonder for what seemed like an eternity as time itself danced upon my ceiling.  And when it was done, it was done, and there was nothing for it but to sit up once more, place my feet firmly on the wooden floorboards below, and set my red leather bound treasure on the table.

“Rest, my friend,” I said to the book.  “Your work is not yet done.”  In saying so, I walked to the door (dismissing my customary cup of tea) and – placing my hat on its head and my coat on its body – stepped out with newly formed eyes to face the world.

Dave Burns

About Dave Burns

"Writing is dreaming with your eyes open." - Dave Burns Available Books and Works: The Movement: A Children's Story for Grown-ups The Movement: Revisited Edem's Flight The Movement: Concluded - The Completed Anthology Pieces of Me a million little gods: the clearwater chronicles UnApologetic Uncarved: The Literature and Arts Magazine Volume 1 Uncarved: The Literature and Arts Magazine Volume 2 Uncarved: The Literature and Arts Magazine Volume 3 For a complete list of books and works, visit the author @ or
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