Dreams and Nightmares – A Short Story about Success, Pride, and Fear

Instructional Design or ID Fiction, Short Stories and Cases set in the e-Learning and Corporate Training Environments

Dreams and Nightmares – A Short Story about Success, Pride, and Fear


The sound of the footsteps echoed in the silence of the night. As Lisa hurriedly made her way across the society compound to reach her block of apartments, the sound began to fade. She wiped the beads of perspiration from her forehead and tried to control her racing heart. Perhaps she was wrong. Perhaps she was not being followed. Perhaps it was just some avuncular man running after his fleeting youth, or even a watchman trying to do his job right. Perhaps it was nothing to worry about. Yet, the footsteps had made her very uncomfortable, and as her mother always said, a woman should trust her intuition in such matters.


Lisa was currently working the night shift, which meant that she’d be home only early in the morning. She had never worked the graveyard shift before and she was still struggling to get her schedule in order. Her reaching home at 5 AM wasn’t something that anyone in the family liked. In fact, her grandmother had stopped talking to her from the moment she came to know about the whole night-shift business. But grandma’s chagrin aside, others in the family had been supportive. Her dad, now retired, had spent his life behind the teller counter of a bank, handling more money in a day than he ever saw in his own account. With his pension being the only source of funds, the six-member family could use some financial help, and Lisa was the only one working. With her intelligence and hard work she had grown quite fast, and now she was working as a Process Trainer. This job was important and she needed to keep it.

When Lisa entered the house, the only one awake was grandma, who ignored her completely which made Lisa wonder if she indeed was her grandma’s favorite grand-daughter until just a couple of weeks ago. But then Lisa knew enough not to fan the embers that lay beneath her grandma’s indifference. Her grandma was notorious for her choice of words – they could rankle for years on. So Lisa shrugged the ignorance and the indifference off and went straight to her room. She hoped that Seby, her fiancé, was still awake. If he were, she’d call him up and tell him about her fear, which, she admitted to herself appeared quite irrational, now that the sky had begun to lighten up.


Lisa awoke past one in the afternoon. The house was bustling with activity. She could hear her mother and her grandma talking in the living room, and her younger sister who was still in college, talking to her boyfriend on the mobile. The power had gone off a while ago and the air-conditioner had switched off. She had woken up feeling clammy and thirsty. Sheesh! What a way to start a new day! And oh… She had to complete the weekly assignments for the IDST course. Today was Friday, and while she wasn’t working Saturday night, still she knew from bitter experience, that it was best that she started on them early. Those assignments required you to plan, think, connect, visualize and then write.

So Lisa pushed herself out of the bed, took a bath, and started on the assignments. She was just halfway through this ID course, and she felt a lot more confident about using her instructional design knowledge than many of her other colleagues. In the last four weeks she had begun to understand that it was her own commitment to the course that was helping her absorb and apply the learning. She had made her own strategies for learning. In fact, she was now consciously mapping all of those instructional design principles to her work.

She knew that once she had learned it all, it would become much easier for her to chalk out a more satisfying path for her life. She also knew that she’d also enjoy her work a lot more than she ever did before. In fact, before she enrolled for the course, she hadn’t even anticipated that learning instructional design could help her review and appreciate her own capabilities in ways that she had never thought possible before.


At about 4 PM, with her bag slung on her shoulders Lisa stepped out of the elevator on the first floor of her apartment block. She looked around. Everything looked so happy and peaceful at this time of the day. Children had returned from school and they were now playing in the park that was in the middle of the compound. Some of the mothers too had formed a group, they were talking about the absolutely delightful and totally incredible things that their kids did, and every once in a while you could hear their laughter.

Lisa wondered why darkness brought such fear along with it. A shudder went up her spine as she recalled the echo of those footsteps. She hadn’t told her family about it. She knew that they make her leave her job, if they knew that she was being followed. Yet, she didn’t want to feel afraid ever again, and so she had decided to take matters in her hands. This was why she was off to the Stadium where she’d join about thirty other women in a class that could one day spell the difference between life and death.


Three Months Later…

Lisa had put in her papers last month. It was her last week in this company. Next week on she’d be working as an L&D Manager in a different company. She was being sent to Chicago for a three-week orientation program, her first trip abroad, and then she’d start working at almost double the salary. In fact, there’d be no nightshifts. Another week and the body clock will begin ticking normally, she thought as she got off the cab.

While in the last three months, she hadn’t heard those footsteps, still she felt her hair stand up at their ends when she turned around the corner, walked those hundred fearsome yards, and got into the society compound. With winters around the corner, mornings had naturally turned chilly and pushed the dawn further away. So she geared herself up, tightened her fists, and started walking through the darkness that had deepened even more because the streetlamp had stopped working.

It was then that she heard those footsteps again. The sound that they made was unmistakably the same. Lisa was still about eighty yards from the society gate. If she shouted the guard or someone else would hear her, if she ran…but before she could decide, the stalker had thrown a cloth around her face and twisted it around her neck. With one hand around her neck and another across her chest, the stalker tried to push her into one of the cars that were parked in the shadows across the street.

In a flash, Lisa’s self-defense training in the Stadium came to her assistance. Her foot flew back and caught the man in his crotch. As pain shot through his groin, he let her go and clutched himself as he crouched over.

Learning self-defense was one of the best things that Lisa had learned, and she wouldn’t have enrolled for the self-defense training, if it she hadn’t learned about self-concept in her instructional design course. Some decisions change lives, and Lisa knew that they did.


Reflection Activities/Questions:

Lisa’s story reflects many instructional design principles.

  1. List all the ID principles that you can identify.
  2. List the different types of skills that have been illustrated in the story.
  3. Why must Lisa’s understanding of self-concept motivate her to join a self-defense training program?