The Dentist's Self-Imposed Insomnia

"It's the same nightmare over and over. I can't sleep! I mean I'm losing my mind", the Dentist said to the bartender. "It started maybe three or four months ago? Now and then. Occasionally twice in a week. No real pattern to it, you know? Then it occurred more and more often, and now I can't even close my eyes without having that damn dream." He took a sip of his almost empty beer. The bartender was patiently washing glasses in the sink at the end of the bar, occasionally nodding to show he was listening. It was well past closing, and they were the only ones left.

"In the dream, there are people everywhere. Crowding the sidewalk, down alleys, in every window and doorway, around every corner. And they are all moving around in glorious sunshine." He paused and shuddered like he was cold. "I mean, that's why I come to this dark bar." He paused, knowing that didn't sound right. "I don't mean dark. I mean comfortable... The sun can be so bright, right? Thanks for staying open for me...uh" He wanted to address the bartender but forgot his name. He shook his head in an attempt to remember and then just continued with the story.

"And these people are... are radiant with happiness. I mean they're practically glowing. And... and they're all smiling constantly. Big, wide, horrible smiles. It's their teeth. Their damn teeth. Their teeth have grown in normally, but the gums will not break to let them through. The gums have just stretched over them to a thin opaque membrane covering the teeth. It wakes me up screaming."

The bartender, not knowing what to say, flashed the Dentist a hideous, fleshy smile. The Dentist fell off his bar stool and woke up screaming in his bed.