The best naps happen after lunch on Sundays, when your wife is in the kitchen and your daughter plays with her toys. You sit down in your favorite chair, just to relax a few minutes and rest your eyes, but the next thing you know you’re standing in a quiet forest clearing, watching your breath rise up through the gently falling snow. And you’re holding a hatchet.

A rustle in the distance. Something drawing near, treetops shaking, powdery snow pluming into the air. A man crashes out of the trees and into the clearing—black beard, long, greasy hair, a short, curved sword in his hand. He stares at you with frenzied eyes. From all sides others like him pour from the woods dressed in tattered leather armor, carrying daggers, axes, and bows. With howls of fury and a clatter of weapons, they charge. You plant your feet in the snowy ground and let them come.

You duck a swinging axe and sink your hatchet into the attacker’s side. A dagger slashes at your chest but you bring the hatchet down on the wrist holding it. An arrow cuts through the air by your ear and lodges in the throat of the man behind you. Another arrow grazes your shoulder. You chop and slice and hack. Jets of hot blood cut canyons in the snow; six, seven, eight men down, but more keep coming. At your feet are fallen weapons and moaning bodies; the ground has turned to pink slush.

You spin from blades and slash at everything that moves, but a blow to your back knocks you to your knees. Arrows puncture your sides, your skin pierced time and again as wild pain fills your body. Your hatchet sinks into one last attacker but you lack the strength to pull it free. The men pile on, press down. Still gouging and tearing, your vision blurs and you cry out with a horrible, savage scream.

When you wake up it’s the middle of the afternoon—an infomercial on TV, your daughter eating Play-Doh off the floor, your wife calling from the kitchen to get up and start the yard work. You look down and clutched in your hand is a severed finger, warm and bloody, its fingernail packed black with crusted blood.

Your wife yells again, so you stuff the finger in your pocket and go mow the lawn. Scattered in the path of the mower are your daughter’s toys, and you try to kick them out of the way but accidently run over a doll. You look down at the remains, the limbs scattered about, the plastic broken at jagged angles. Your daughter will cry when she finds out, and your wife will shake her head mournfully. But for now you keep mowing, and every so often you dig into your pocket and give the finger a squeeze.


About the Author

Robert Hinderliter is currently living a life of confusion in Jinju, South Korea. His fiction has appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, Hobart Online, decomP, and other publications. Feel free to visit his website at