I wrote previously about the difficulty in writing good fiction involving dreams – it can come off so very badly. Derek White, he of Calamari Press (Good, Brother, the excellent Part of the World, among others) has his first novel coming later this year. I asked if he would share, as part of Small Press Month. Here’s an excerpt – a dream sequence.
The Adjoining Room at the Calico Hotel
Marie-Yves and I went to “get a room.” When we arrived at the hotel the
lobby was full of cats—orange tabbies that all appeared to be related.
One in particular, with tear-duct markings like a cheetah, rode with us
in the elevator. It had some sort of nerve disorder that rewired its
intentions. If it tried to jump to the right, it jumped to the left. If
it tried to jump up, it slunk to the ground. This cat had learned to
make do by always thinking the opposite of what it wanted to do, so by
not trying to get in the elevator with us, it ended up in the elevator.
Initially I thought by the way the cat was rubbing against me that it
truly wanted to ride up with us, until I realized it might be rubbing
my leg against its will, and that it in it’s heart it truly despised
I was embarrassed because I was the one that had suggested this hotel
to Marie-Y, who by this time (judging by the ruby ring on her finger
that evidently she had received from me) had become my fiancée. The cat
tried to rub against her leg but fell in the opposite direction away
“I’m sorry,” I kept saying.
“Don’t worry about it,” she kept saying back, touching my elbow.
“There’s nothing you can do.” Then Marie-Y started rubbing against me
with increasing intensity.
When we got to our floor the hall was full of identical calicos. They
all got out of our way as we approached like a sea of cat molecules
parting. They bowed down on their front paws in perfect unison and
avoided eye contact. The orange cat with the nerve disorder and
tear-duct markings remained in the elevator as the doors closed behind
“Sorry if this is weird for you,” I said.
“Don’t worry. It’s putting me in the mood.”
Our room key said ‘habitation 16-28-13,’ but all the doors had X’s or
Y’s on them. The room at the end had a bank vault door with a
“Ah-hah,” I realized. “Maybe it’s not the room number, but the
combination.” There was a funny smell coming from under the door,
making me reluctant to even try it. One of the cats lifted its tail and
sprayed on the door, effectively counteracting the smell.
“We’re rich!” yelled Marie-Y. She hugged me and I accidentally kissed
her on the lips thinking she was coming to kiss me, not realizing that
the custom here was to kiss to either side on the cheek. Marie-Y kept
kissing me back, on the lips, and then with an open mouth and I
reciprocated. She tasted like she had eaten an orange, or some
“Why?” I asked, after we had finished kissing.
“The Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle will pay 10,000 euros to
anyone that finds a male calico.” When we looked down, the cat had
mixed in with the others.
“They all look the same to me.”
“Only one of them is a male, with an XXY chromosome instead of XY.”
“How will we be able to tell?”
“By lifting their tails and checking.”
When we walked toward the cats, they kept sweeping just out of our
reach. Marie-Y got down on all fours, meowing like she was one of
them—thinking the male might act differently toward her. No such luck.
We woke up in bed together, which reminded me I was still sleeping and had yet to meet Marie-Yves.