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Herman sat upright in bed, his body trembling uncontrollably and drenched in sweat.
“Go back to sleep,” his wife Lita said groggily. “It was just another dream.”
“It wasn’t,” Herman insisted. “It was real. I saw it.” His voice dropped to a whisper. “The dinosaur ghost.”
“It wasn’t real.” Lita assured him. “You know there’s no such thing as dinosaurs.”
“But what about all those bones in the museums?” Sweat continued to rain down his brow.
“That’s just liberal propaganda.”
Herman nodded. “And ghosts?”
“Well, of course ghosts are real,” Lita said, “but dinosaurs are purely speculative.”
Herman began taking in and releasing deep breaths. Slowly, his heart rate returned to normal. “You’re right,” he said. “It was just a dream.”
“Just a dream,” Lita repeated. Her voice transformed into snore.
“But it seemed so real.” Herman whispered.
The rest of the morning proved uneventful. Herman went about his normal routine. He showered, dressed, gobbled down the microwaveable hotcakes and bacon Lita had lovingly placed on a stick, and then took one last swallow of coffee. Lita met him at the door with his briefcase. He kissed her once on the lips and planted another on her protruding belly button.
“Have a good day little boy,” he said to her stomach, adding, “little Bruce Willis.”
As he strolled down the driveway, his nightmare long forgotten, he felt safe and comfortable, and he was about to feel even more so. He climbed up the steps and into his own private fortress, The Leviathan, the biggest SUV ever manufactured outside of a military facility. It got only two thirds of a mile to the gallon, but it more than made up for poor fuel efficiency with its ability to intimidate other drivers.
“Hello, Beautiful,” He said, stroking the padded leather dashboard. He settled into plush seats made from the skin of a small herd of Italian cattle. He leaned forward and kissed the steering wheel. He loved this car: the powerful engine, the luxurious interior, and the capacity to literally crush any other vehicle on the road. He kissed the steering wheel again and then fingered the gear shift. As his tongue flickered against leather, he suddenly remembered he was driving.
The moment coincided with a sudden jolt that rocked him out of his seat. He frantically steered his vehicle back onto the road, while checking both directions to make sure there were no witnesses.
“No problem,” he said, calming himself once more. He patting the dashboard again. “Nothing can hurt my little girl.”
The neighbor's mailbox, on the other hand, was completely destroyed. He would have to remember to blame renegade teenagers at the next neighborhood barbeque.
A flashing red light on the console snapped Herman back to the present. “Well, Dixie Cups,” he mumbled. “I just filled up last night. And here I am late for work.”
Herman could feel his blood pressure rising. The last thing he needed was to run out of gas. Life as a conservative journalist was becoming increasingly stressful. Back in the old days, all you had to do was take the daily talking points memo and then transcribe it into your own words. These days, you had other syndicated print journalists, half a dozen radio broadcasters, a million jerks on the internet, and FOX NEWS to compete with. With everyone reporting the same talking points, it became increasingly necessary to find new ways to zazz up the news. In fact, that was the slogan of his own personal website: "Looking for New Ways to Zazz up the News."
Work was stressful alright. Luckily, he had an ace in the hole.
He’d recently entered into a new business venture selling modified truck engines. Herman’s crew could reconfigure a standard internal combustion engine to produce nearly three times as much carbon dioxide as it would have normally, thus allowing his clients to totally stick it to the liberals. He already had a half dozen orders, and just as soon as he uploaded that YouTube video of various patriotic Americans spewing black smoke from their trucks’ exhaust pipes into the windshields of a bunch of Prius-driving communists, sales would explode through the roof.
Herman turned on the radio and smiled. He had decided to ignore the blinking light on the console, and nothing calmed his nerves like the mindless jabbering of radio shock jocks. To his disappointment, every button he pressed produced nothing but static. “Dominoes Pizza,” he said. (Herman always substituted the names of conservative-owned businesses in place of curse words as a way of simultaneously promoting conservatism and avoiding the Lord’s wrath.)
There was something odd about the white noise, though, he noticed. He heard a low rumble, almost like a roar, emanating from the background. He recognized that roar from somewhere, but where?
Ahead of him on the freeway, a chain or break lights illuminated. “Hobby Lobby,” Herman exclaimed. Now he was really going to be stuck in traffic. He began to feel that old familiar anxiety that comes with a flashing fuel light. Of course, he could always manually override the “Socialist Repellent,” as he called his modified exhaust system, thereby saving much needed gasoline, but if he did that, how would he dump a black cloud on the Chevy Volt riding up behind him?
“It’s totally worth it,” he said as he adjusted the rear-view mirror.
It was then that he noticed something strange glaring back at him from the back seat: a large pair of greenish yellow eyes. Instant recognition accompanied a blood-curdling scream. As stalled traffic barelled toward him, he tried to brake, but something went wrong. He couldn't move his foot.
“What the Chick-fil-A?”
He looked down and saw the translucent image of a three-toed claw superimposed against his J.C. Penny loafer, holding the pedal pinned to the floorboard. He gasped as he looked up and saw the approaching rear end of a tractor trailer.
A moment later it was all over in a giant ball of fire.
At his funeral, one of his friends solemnly remarked on the massive number of toxins released into the atmosphere following the crash. Everyone agreed that Herman would have pleased.