Okay guys, I’m writing this as fast as I can right now so you’re going to have to bear with me since I’m running out of time.
Heh, time. That’s the one thing I thought I’ve always had a lot of. Time to kill, time to relax, time to sit back and do nothing. But as it turns out, I’m running out of it. It’s slowly dripping with each grain of sand into the abyss. And it’s been counting down for the past six weeks.
Now all I have left is a few hours at the most. Speaking of which, let’s get on that.
Now, for the people who’ve been following me on here, you all know who I am and for the few who just found this and don’t know me: I’m Jason. I’m about 5’9, got flat brown hair, hazel eyes, and you’ll usually find me wearing my beat up leather jacket and rugged blue jeans. So, yeah, I’m basically your average college student. And I do mean average. You see I’m not an athlete, I’m not a nerd, not a Goth, not a redneck, hell–I’m not even in the special-ed. group.
I’m just…well…I’m just me. I’m not special in any way.
And if you would have asked me two months ago if I believed in paranormal-supernatural B.S., I would have laughed in your face and simply said, “No.” I don’t think there’s anything out there besides us. There aren’t any ghosts, there aren’t any aliens, or whatever else it is people make up to frighten people. Though, now I know that isn’t entirely true.
As of now, I’m starting to question what I believe and what I don’t believe, but perhaps it’s too late for me to do that. In a few hours it won’t matter anyway.
You see, nearly six weeks ago I had something very strange happen to me and in a way, is still happening to me. It started with a dream. Yes, you read correctly, a dream. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “You mean to tell me this punk wasted nearly 8 paragraphs of my time to talk about a stupid dream?” And since you’ve put it that way, why no! I haven’t. Because it wasn’t just a dream. Even though I have sprinkled it with fairy dust and wished upon a star that it was! And if you continue to read, you’ll see what I mean.
Now, as I was saying: about six weeks ago I had a very strange and extremely frightening dream. I’d just come home that day from my engineering classes and lived it like I usually would–I walked into my apartment, popped a chicken sandwich into the microwave, ate dinner, watched TV, and showered. Nothing strange. Nothing different. I didn’t have any weird feelings that so many people claim to have when something’s stalking them. The only thing I felt that day was the same fatigue I felt every day after a long boring eight hours of lecture and classwork. I went to bed.
Sleep came naturally, and the first half of the night seemed okay. Well that is until something pulled me out of the dream world and back into the land of the living. I don’t know if it was a simple night terror or if maybe I’d stubbed my toe on something while I slept, but regardless, I awoke. Beads of sweat clang to me as I set up, despite having the AC set on sixty. The nighttime atmosphere of my bedroom that never bothered me, and rather enjoyed, to be honest, appeared menacing. Moonlight spilled into the bedroom from my window, yet it couldn’t quite pierce the darkness engulfing the room. Logic should’ve told me: Everything’s fine. Yet my gut told my mind: Something’s wrong.
But if there was one thing that I’ve learned through my years of living, it’s that people think and feel the strangest things when they’re tired or just waking up. I figured my mind wasn’t in the right the place at the moment and solution to that was to just go back to sleep. But yet, I couldn’t. No matter how long I laid still with my eyes closed and my thoughts cleared, something cold tickled at the nape of my neck and refused to leave me be. I tossed. I turned. I did everything I could do to make my uneasiness go away. Ten minutes passed, fifteen minutes passed, twenty…thirty…forty.
“Aaaaggghh,” I groaned and sat up. I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed Nyquil.
I got up from bed and made my way to the bathroom adjacent my bed. I flipped on the lights and opened the mirror cabinet above my sink and grab the pills. I swallowed two of them before putting the container back and closing the cabinet.
But for some reason or another–I don’t know why–I didn’t head straight back to bed. Instead, I put both hands on the edge of the sink and leaned forward to gaze at the mirror. My shirtless, unhappy reflection greeted me. I could tell I looked worse for wear. I had two dark bags hanging beneath my eyes and my cheeks had lost its pigment. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was beat, I’m certain I would have had more of reaction at my sick visage. But all I could manage in my state was an exasperated sigh. How could I look so tired and sick when I’d been sleeping so peacefully for the past few weeks? Was I coming down with something?
I turned on the faucet and splashed some water on my face hoping it might help. It didn’t. My face remained the same.
“Weird,” I mumbled then leaned closer to the mirror. My reflection did the same. I stared at my eyes, perhaps searching for answers lurking somewhere within them as to why I couldn’t sleep. They were dark, empty, and hollow. Whatever secrets they kept, they refused to share. I sighed and leaned back with a yawn. I nearly choked on it when I noticed the mirror show something different.
My reflection continued to lean against the sink, observing me with a dark smile. My jaw dropped, and I thought my heart would leap to my mouth. The mirror didn’t change. A light-sounding chuckle came from the other me.
“Can’t sleep?” it asked, its voice sounding nothing like mine. It was light, feminine in nature. It cocked its head to the side waiting for an answer. I couldn’t give it one. I was dazed. Was this a side-effect from the Nyquil? If so, well…damn. I was never taking these things again.
“Are you there Jason?” it asked snapping me out of my stupor.
I shook my head trying to clear my befuddled thoughts. This had to be my tired mind playing a very, very scary trick on me. I mean, come on, as I’ve said, there’s nothing out there but us.
Yet, my doppelganger remained. “What the hell, man?” I mumbled, still thinking it was a hallucination. “Did I overdose?”
The other me straightened, raising an amused eyebrow, before shaking its head. “No Jason. You didn’t overdose.” It chuckled.
I snorted. “Yeah, right…and I suppose that there really is something in my mirror that looks just like me. You’re not real. It’s the pills; has to be. There’s no other explanation.”
“Oh?” It grinned. “Are you sure? Usually people who see something like this can think of several. Most of them are not good. Which is also true for you in this case.”
“Hehehe, yeah right. Like what?” I challenged.
The thing in my mirror smiled once more. I smiled too since I knew this was all rubbish and not real. My smile melted when things started to change.
A loud cracking sound, like would splintering as winds tore trees from earth, came from the other side of the mirror. Within seconds, the room inside it began to change. The sky-blue paint began to peel from the walls, dozens of tiny cracks spiderwebbed along the floor. The lustrous bathtub behind me darkened with decay–rust built upon its spigot, paint flaked and fell, mold crawled across its sides. Within less than a minute, I witnessed my entire bathroom age several decades. All the while the “evil me” remained, its smile becoming a carnivorous grin.
“Now Jason,” the imposter said once the room completed its transition, “look closely and tell me if this is a hallucination.”
And just like that it changed.
Or rather she changed.
It started with the hair. It lengthened over its shoulders, darkening into the color of coal. The pale skin blackened, growing darker and darker to the color of shadow. Its clothing dissolved, becoming one with its black, inky skin. Its chin grew sharpened, cheeks smoothened out flawlessly, becoming more feminine. Then the eyes. One moment they matched my hazel, then it closed its eyes then opened to reveal bright ivory, with bottomless pits for pupils.
I could do nothing but stare as the last of the changes finished. The mirror was no longer a mirror, but a window to another world. On one side–my side–I stood, gaping in fear in a perfectly, normal, lit bathroom while on the other side–its side–a shadowy, young woman with wavy hair flowing down just past its shoulders, bared its fangs in a malevolent grin, in decrepit bathroom.
It was like a very poorly done “Spot the Difference” game where each side was the opposite of the other.
“Like this?” she whispered, drawing closer to the mirror.
I didn’t think twice. I scrambled away from the sink until my back hit the wall. I didn’t even notice the pain.
“This isn’t real…This isn’t real…This isn’t real!” I stuttered, over and over and over again. There was no way something like this was happening. It was impossible.
The girl–the thing–drew closer, pressing her head against the glass, her grin growing wider.
“Keep telling yourself that, Jason,” she said. “Keep blaming the pills. After all, it can’t be like I’m real. Now can it?” She slowly tilted her head to the side. “It can’t be like I’m able to be in the same place as you.” At the word ‘you’, the lights flickered out, plunging the room into darkness. Goosebumps ran along my skin and my hair stood on end as the temperature plummeted several degrees. Before I could understand what was happening, the lights flickered back on.
I gasped. The world had switched. Now I was on the other side of the mirror–in the world of rot. Musk air settled across my tongue and mold enter my nostrils. It made me want to gag, but none of it compared to what laid in front of me. The thing in my mirror had its back to me, it hands still holding the edge of the sink, gazing into the mirror where my actual bathroom remained.
Slowly, her head turned, peering over her left shoulder; her ivory eyes boring right into mine.
“And it can’t be like I can actually touch you either,” she finished.
She stood and turned. My heart had gone into overdrive and slammed against my rib-cage, begging to get out, while my body stiffened. I didn’t know how to process what I saw. I could see all of her now and she wasn’t human. At all. Her entire body glistened like smooth, black, oil. She wore no clothing–what monster needed clothing Nothing differed from the rest of her figure except for her hands and fangs–which I realized were in fact four and not two–two on the top and two at the bottom. With her hands…Even now I still can’t repress the shiver I feel. Her fingernails were sharp talons that could easily peel the flesh off any animal or person.
She placed a finger on her chin and began to tap. “Want to see if I can?” she asked in a not-so-innocent voice.
She waited for an answer. I couldn’t. How could I? My mind was gone. Rationality had abandoned me leaving only fear to try and comfort me. I began to tremble.
She laughed quietly to herself then slowly approached. My instincts screamed at me to flee–to run out of the room–to get the hell out of the apartment. Sadly, my instincts didn’t have a say in those next few terrifying minutes of my life.
She stopped a little less than an arm’s length away. While she appeared to by my height, I felt myself shrinking and sliding down the wall as she towered above me.
A pleasurable smile came to her lips as she raised one of her talons in front of my eyes. I pressed my head back as far as I could and turned my face away in some futile effort to escape. She moved it closer in front of my eye, stopping less than an inch from it. I slammed my eyes shut when she suddenly thrusted it forth, but the prick never came. I cracked my eyes open to see her laugh then do it again, and again, and again. Each time she did, the talon got closer and closer while each time, I did nothing to stop it.
She made one final thrust, stopping so close to my pupil that I swear I could almost feel it, but instead of pulling it away this time, the talon lowered, trailing down my cheek. I couldn’t move as she began to delicately stroke it with her razor. With each stroke, I could feel the talon’s sharpness and the ominous presence within them–a cold, colder than the icy waters of the Arctic or the vast emptiness of space–death. I realized by that mere, simple touch that my life was hanging by a thread that she could sever as easily as my skin.
“So soft,” she cooed as she stroked my cheek a few more times in queer, sadistic fascination before calmly grabbing my chin and forcing my face back towards hers. Her eyes bored directly into mine for one, long, cold, breathless moment. Then slowly–ever so slowly–she traced one of her talons up my chin, tapping its point on my lips.
“This will be fun,” she whispered then without warning stabbed her finger down into my skin while plunging her other hand into my chest.
I’ve never screamed louder than I have that night. The pain was so intense, that it hurts to even remember it as I write this.
But as fast as the pain started, it stopped.
I awoke screaming with my hands clenched on my face and chest, feeling for the wounds the monster had left me. When I realized that there were none and that I had fallen off the bed, I stopped screaming. I closed my eyes, drinking in several deep breathes.
“It was just a dream,” I said to myself. “It was just a stupid, effed up dream.” I took in another deep breath, then got to my feet. I looked out the window to see the sunshine, filling the entire room with a warmth I so badly needed.
I stood for a long time, allowing my body to soak in the sunlight before my eyes fell to the open doorway of my bathroom. I knew I needed to get ready for school, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hesitant to go into there. It still looked like my normal bathroom and I knew it had been a dream, but I still felt a tinge of apprehension. When I did build up the courage to walk in, I discovered everything was normal. I began to relax. I started to reassure myself that the mind could play cruel jokes on itself when it came to dreams and that nothing like I had witnessed in that terrible dream could ever be real.
That’s when I noticed the mirror cabinet’s door was ajar. “Huh,” I murmured. I’d assumed getting Nyquil the night prior had also been part of the dream, perhaps it wasn’t.
Only one way to be sure, I thought. I grabbed the door and opened it, expecting to find the pill bottle waiting for me. A huge sigh of relief sigh left my lips. It was there. I grabbed the bottle then unscrewed the cap to check the contents.
Sure enough, the bottle was nearly empty. I turned the bottle in my hand, reading the label mentioning the side-effects: “Drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, upset stomach, nausea, nervousness, constipation, or dry mouth/nose/throat…” it read.
I snorted. “You forgot to add, ‘serious nightmares’ to the list, stupid pills,” I murmured.
I put the cap back on, then went to set I back on the shelf. I froze when I spotted something else in the cabinet I hadn’t noticed earlier. The pill bottle fell from my hand as I leaned closer towards the cabinet, scarcely believing my eyes.
There, carved into the back of the cabinet, behind where the Nyquil had been, was written: “Sweet dreams are not made of these. ~A.”
I spent the rest of the day wondering whether I was going crazy or if my nightmare had been real. A large part of me was still riding off the slim hope that maybe it was me who had written that in my sleep and not the freak in my dream. I just refused to believe that something like this happened–could ever happen. Yet, a small part of me knew that this was far beyond the realm of sleepwalking. This was something else.
When I got to campus, I considered telling someone about my predicament–a psychology professor perhaps–but when I opened my mouth to voice my dilemma, no words would come. I don’t know if it was out of embarrassment, shame, stubborn disbelief, or some strange, hidden force preventing me from speaking the truth, but for whatever reason, I kept silent.
Well, actually now that I think about it, I did tell one person. It was another student at the campus that I sort of considered a friend–we never really hung out that much. I caught him in the student lounge and we talked for a bit about the usual–Call of Duty, the latest Marvel movie coming out, and what-not–until I casually broached the subject of dreams. I told him about the one I recently had, leaving out the part with the message carved in my cupboard–I didn’t want him to think I actually believed in this supernatural B.S. He only raised an eyebrow at me and said that it sounded like a pretty cool dream and that it should be a short story or a vignette.
I cut my eyes at him and shook my head. I was about to ask him to take me seriously when some other student I didn’t know–some slim kid wearing a dark blue hoodie–walked by at that exact moment and with a loud sigh, muttered to me, “Oh, the irony.”
He turned down a corner further down the hall, before any of us could respond. I turned back to my friend who looked just as confused as I was. “New kid?” He shrugged.
“Riiigghht,” I agreed, slowly nodding. “But uh…back to what I was talking about. You don’t think the dream was strange in any way?”
He shook his head, “no”. I didn’t pursue the subject any more than that.
When night finally came and it was time to sleep. I stood a long while in front of my bed, staring at it with uneasiness. I didn’t want to sleep that night, not after re-reading for the twenty-third time the message in my cabinet. But I still had class to consider and I needed to stay awake for the lectures.
So, with great reluctance I submitted to my fatigue and got into bed, although still fully clothed–I hadn’t the courage to get ready for sleep this time. I was that anxious. After what felt like forever, I slept.
When I woke to the brilliant light from the morning sun streaming through my bedroom window, I was overjoyed. I started laughing. I laughed with relief. I laughed at my own cowardice. I laughed at my stupidity for even considering that something would happen that night. It wasn’t real. It was all just a stupid dream.
I got up, went to the bathroom, brushed my teeth, and got ready for class. Just after I finished, I gazed into the mirror with a smile that reached ear to ear.
“Told you it was just a dream, idiot,” I said.
I turned to leave only to freeze. The bathroom, the bedroom, and the city horizon I saw through my bedroom window every morning, were no longer the same.
My bathroom had aged several decades along with my bedroom. Paint had peeled off the walls, the carpet rotted with mold, my bed and its mattress had turned brown and sunk into itself and, worst of all, the view of the sunny skyline above the beautiful, vibrant city through my window had vanished. In its place was a dull glass window with spidery cracks running across its surface, containing a gray overcast of clouds and depression above a barren, lifeless city. It reminded me of the pictures I’d seen of the abandoned Ukrainian town, Chernobyl. A place where humans and animals were long gone, and time and decay had become its new masters. My city could’ve been its twin.
“You’re right,” the last voice I wanted to hear said behind me. Beads of sweat formed on my neck. I turned, knowing all too well who had spoken.
The freak from the night before stood with its arms crossed. A pitiful, amused expression rested upon her face.
“You are an idiot,” she said with a smile.
I started backing away, through the open door into what used to be my proud bedroom. “You…you…you can’t be real!” I cried. “You just…can’t be!!! I woke up! It was morning! You can’t be here!!!”
With her arms still crossed, she doubled over laughing, like I’d told her the funniest joke in the world. It took her a few seconds to calm down before she stood straight and said, “You saw what I wanted you to see.” A dark hand suddenly fell onto my right shoulder, bringing my attention from her to…her. She was now standing to my right. Still speaking to me like nothing had happened. I swung my head back to the now empty bathroom then back to her in bewilderment. “Not what really is.” She gestured with her free hand to the place we were in.
I didn’t want to hear more. I tried to bolt out of the room, but her pain flared from my shoulder as her talons dug into my shoulder. I yelped as she yanked me back to her.
“Where are you trying to scurry off to? I’m not done speaking.” Her smile had become irked.
“I don’t care!” I screeched. “Let me go!”
“Let you go?” Her mouth fell open, sounding surprised. Then her jaw snapped shut and fire poured into her voice. “You’re graced to have even seen me,” she hissed, “let alone talk to me, and you want me to let you go?”
Anger began flicker deep within her ivory eyes. “Well fine then,” she whispered.
Without warning, she plunged her free hand into my other shoulder. I screamed as I was pulled backwards. Through it all, I managed to glance back to see she was dragging me to the window. A thick knot formed in my stomach. I knew what she planned to do. “No!” I screamed. “Let me go!” I tried to plant my feet into the ground and slam my elbow into her gut, but she was too strong. My elbow sank into her like water and only seem to annoy her. Her talons dug deeper into my shoulders, causing me to scream. Nothing seemed to faze her.
When we reached window, she flung me pushed me against the window’s frame. The pain in my back didn’t register; my attention had gone to her angry scowl, which she held less than inch from mine.
“I’ll let you go, alright,” she snarled with a scowl that morphed into a malicious grin. “Because unlike you, I’m nice like that.”
With unnatural strength she heaved me from the floor and slammed me into the window. The glass shattering drowned out my pain-ridden screams as I crashed through then plummeted towards the ground fifteen stories below.
The cold air blew swam against my face as I fell screaming. Within those few seconds of falling I imagined myself becoming a flat red-like pancake when I’d hit the ground–a sick, gory, unidentifiable, bloody pancake. The asphalt grew closer second by falling second, until finally, I met the ground.
I remember my face hitting it first, the force shattering every bone in my jaw, skull, and neck before traveling through the rest of my body at it too kissed asphalt. The pain. The pain was indescribable. Every bone in my body was splintered and fractured–my legs, my arms, my neck. And the blood…I could see it pool around me as it leaked out of my broken, smooshed face and arms and legs.
I waited for the flash of light so many people describe seeing once you die, but it never came. The unending waves of pain refused to relent freezing, then burning, then freezing me again and again while death refused to come and rescue me. I was conscious; still see everything around me–feel everything around me. I didn’t die, or I had, and was trapped within my now lifeless corpse. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move, but that pain–WHY DID I STILL FEEL THAT GOD-AWFUL PAIN!!??
A soft, rhythmic padding of feet against asphalt fluttered with the breeze. I couldn’t turn my head nor move my eyes to see who or what it was. I controlled nothing. It drew closer and louder with each step until a lustrous black foot stepped into view. The monster laid down on her side, propping her head up with one arm. A wicked smile crossed her face as she bobbed her head from side to side, humming a familiar tune.
“Let it go, let it go, turn away and fall to the floor,” she began to sing, “The ground never bothered me anyway.” Her lips parted into a chuckling grin. Then her hand short forth, plunging its razors into what remained of my eyes. The pain…The pain…
Like the morning before, I woke with an abrupt scream. Droplets of sweat clung to me like a lover while my heart’s bear roared in my ears, threatening to wake the neighbors. Tears rolled down my cheeks as my body ached in memory of the night before. I slid out of bed, still wearing the clothes I had on the day before. I tried to stand and make my way to the bathroom. But my legs were filled of concrete and my footing so rough and jagged that I had to brace against the wall to stand.
Somehow, I managed to make it to the sink. It turned on the faucet and splashed as much cold water as I could over my face, in dim hope of clearing my head of that nightmare. I paused mid-splash when a sickening thought entered my mind: What if I’m still dreaming?
I straightened, shaking and hyperventilating while I swept my head from place to place looking for her–it–whatever the hell that monster was. The room was empty and still as ordinary as ever. The sun was just beginning to rise in the east above the city’s skyline.
I faced the mirror. My pale, sickly face, morphed to terror as the memories of the first nightmare rushed back. I stumbled backwards from it, but the reflection didn’t change. It didn’t grin, it didn’t chuckle, it didn’t start laughing or mocking me with an icy voice. It stayed as it was: dull. I closed my eyes and drew in the deepest breath one could ever. I was truly awake.
School that day was tough which wasn’t surprising given how disheveled I both looked and felt. I didn’t mind the lofty glances or queer frowns people gave me when they noted my appearance, nor did I really care what they whispered behind my back. They couldn’t begin to understand what I was going through. Their whispers were nothing compared to my nightmares.
When the professor dismissed us from each lecture, and the classroom emptied, I rose from my seat last. When school was over, I went to my car last. The walk to my Sebring, which usually took less than five minutes, lasted twenty. I took my sweet time getting there because I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t take another night of this. But, what choice did I have? We all need to rest and sooner or later we all need to sleep. I was no exception.
As I drove home, I flicked through the many radio frequencies for any sort of tune that could calm my troubled nerves. I turned the knob and skipping through a few talk shows, country songs, some rap songs, until the song “Thanks for the Memories” by Falloutboy started playing. I started humming along with the tune and for the first time after two days of this hell, I felt normal.
“One more, one more time,” I sang under my breath. “Thanks for the memories, thanks for the memories…” The lead singer’s voice suddenly garbled, then new voice replaced took its place.
“See, they taste the same but you’re sweeter.”
My jaw dropped as I stared at the radio in horror, a mistake. A semi-truck blared its horn as I dipped into the other lane. “Crap!” I hollered, jerking the wheel to side, just managing to swerve back into my lane. The song kept going:
“Been looking to the future,
But my eyes are growing sad,
Gazing at your distant fall.”
I pressed the mute button, tried to turn the volume down, tried to switch stations, but no matter how hard I slammed my finger into the mute button, no matter how hard I turned the knob, not matter how many buttons I pushed, the song kept playing.
“It’s been lousy except for,
When I look into the past,
Your night stands off.
One night, just one more night,
Thanks for the memories,
Even though they were so great,
Tonight only gets sweeter.”
The tires screeched as slammed on brakes into my parking spot. I ripped the keys out of the ignitions and scrambled out of the car. I didn’t want to hear any more. But that one line from the song kept playing over and over in my head: One night, just one more night. I knew it what it meant. Just one more night, then I wouldn’t wake up.
When the time for me to sleep finally came, I didn’t. I stayed sitting at my kitchen table with all the lights on, drinking a cup of the blackest coffee I could make.
“Screw you and screw this whole thing of yours!” I yelled in the direction of my bedroom. I downed another sip. “I’m not sleeping! I’m not doing any more of this! And you can’t make me!” I hollered.
I knew that fighting like this would be a losing battle and that eventually I would cave in and have to sleep, but I wanted to put that as far away from me as possible. Call me practical, I wanted to live.
“Oh, no I still can make you,” a feminine voice said.
The overheated cup of coffee in my hand turned cold. No…I thought. Slowly, I turned my head to see my tormentor sitting across from me in the other chair. She sat with one of her legs across her lap.
“But if you insist on staying awake for this one,” she shrugged, like it was nothing major. “Fine by me.”
The mug slipped out of my hand, spilling coffee all over the table. She grimaced at the mess, shaking her head.
“Nice,” she snorted then looked up. “You gonna clean that up?”
Ooooohhhh, was I? I kicked the floor, propelling my chair back and turned to grab one of the kitchen knives I kept on a rack above the counter. But to my horror, she was already there examining one of the knives in her hand.
“A little faster buddy and you would have made it,” she murmured with indifference.
I fell out of the chair in surprise, then scrambled to my feet.
“How the-!?” I hollered but was cut off, literally. She has the knife to my throat faster than I could blink.
“Uh-uh,” she said, shaking her head. “I’m talking now. Thank you.”
I gulped as she pressed the blade a bit harder against my skin.
“Now, where was I?” she said, her eyes raising in thought then brightening. “Oh, yes! Being awake.” Her eyes lowered back to me. She smiled. “Now Jason, I understand how much you dislike waking up in the morning with a cold sweat, tossing ‘n’ turning in bed, but dreams are where the fun is.” Her lips parted into its fanged, impish grin. “You can die in a dream and still wake up.”
“But here,” she leaned in so her ivory eyes were too close for comfort. “Here you can’t die and expect to wake up. Now, getting hurt on the other hand…” She traced a talon down my right arm, leaving a long cut in its wake. It took all my will power not to flinch.
“That’s a different matter,” she said. “But,” she traced the cut again and to my surprise, a dark substance left from her talon began to seal it, till there was nothing but smooth skin, “at least you can still heal.”
I blinked several times at my smooth arm processing what this all meant, and what it meant was both a huge relief and a tremendous omen–she could slice me open, stab me, gut me all she could want, but still heal and keep me alive to endure more. Perspiration gathered under my palms. My breathing became shallower.
“That’s right Jason,” she nodded, guessing my thoughts. “We can still have plenty of fun here. But,” she looked to the side and bit her lip with a regretful shake of her head, “I still like being in a dream better.”
Before I understood what she implied, her hands clamped around my head and slammed it into the wall. There was a loud thud followed with a flash of white and then I was back in that decaying version of my bedroom, laying on my ruined mattress. The stench of rot filled my nostrils, making me want to vomit. I rolled off it to the floor then got to my feet. The sound of footsteps came from my bedroom door.
“See?” she asked. I turned to see the monster step through the open, rotting door that led to my kitchen. “This is much better.” She gestured around her
She knocked me out, I realized, that’s the only way I could be back here. I stepped back. Craaaapppp! Now she can kill me and not have to worry about me dying for real!
“Please!” I pleaded backing away. “Just leave me alone!”
Her fanged and sinister grin crossed her lips. She took a step forward, her arms held wide. “Oh, don’t worry,” she said with mock reassurance. “I will after tonight. Well, at least for a time, that is.” She lowered her arms. “But you still have one more night before we start meeting for real in the waking world.”
“What are you talking about!?” I hollered. “You just met me few a minutes ago awake!”
“Oh, you’re right. I did. But that was just some of me. I’m not entirely here yet.”
Some? What the hell was that supposed to mean? Could she be in multiple places at once?
“Who are you!? What are you!?” I demanded.
She closed the gap between us, halting a foot from me. “I’m one of the things your kind refuses to believe in,” she said, her face becoming serious. “While those who do know, pretend we don’t, even when they see us. In fact,” she tapped a talon against my chest as she spoke, “every single one of you sees us every day in every dark corner, every little shadow, every stormy night…You see us.” She lowered her finger pressed her face inwards towards mine, stopping just short of it. “Can you guess what us is, Jason?” she whispered.
I remained silent, refusing to answer or believe what she implied. She nodded. “I bet you can, and you know exactly what I am. And you,” she laughed, “you just happened to be the one I picked. I just thought I’d tease you a bit before coming to collect.”
“Pick me?” I echoed. “Why?” I asked bewildered. “Why me?”
She stared into my eyes for what seemed like an eternity before answering.
“Why not, Jason? Do I need a reason? Does any of my kind need a reason? We choose who we want, whether they believe or don’t believe.”
She stepped back. “But I believe it’s about time you woke up,” she made a motion to snap her fingers then paused. “Oh, I almost forgot. I never did answer your first question, did I? My name,” she made a mocking bow, “is Adaliah.”
She glanced up with a grin then snapped her fingers.
The next morning, I woke to a pounding headache and spilt coffee. I couldn’t quite believe I’d made it through the night alive. But I had and that was all that mattered.
It’s been six weeks since this happened. I’ve tried my best to move on. The mind, as it turns out, has a funny way of rationalizing experiences and unexplained phenomena when given enough time. And that’s exactly what my mind did. I convinced myself that those few nights of hell were just extreme cases of sleepwalking and were all fake. Though, part of me has never quite believed that. I still had night terrors every now and then. While I didn’t remember them, I always remembered the feeling they left behind whenever I opened my eyes; that feeling of inevitability; that something is coming. Something’s going to happen. But I’ve kept lying to myself, telling myself it was all just my imagination screwing with me and that was that.
Until today, when she came.
I didn’t pay much attention to her, at first–the new girl.
She was just another student transferring to my campus. Just some person trying to make their way in the world. It wasn’t until she began sitting near my desk and near me in the student lounge that I took notice of her.
She always wore black leather–reminded me of some of those Goth or Gypsy types without the makeup who weren’t focused on looking creepy. And for some reason, she always kept smirking at me.
Every day, she’d get closer and closer to me, and every time the sickening feeling of dread grew bigger and bigger.
I knew I needed to put a stop to this, so I finally asked what she wanted. The answer she gave, terrifies me.
“Oh, you already know, Jason,” she said with a smile.
When I shook my head and told her I didn’t, she just kept smiling,
“Oh,” she said, “I think you do. Are you still having nightmares?”
I could feel the blood drain from my face.
“H-how do you know about that?” I stuttered.
She blinked and for a fraction of a second, I saw her eyes change from a deep chestnut brown to a bright ivory, before blinking again and returning to brown.
“See you tonight.” She whispered then walked away.
I remained staring after her, too stunned to move, to think, to even believe what I just heard.
It took one my professors who had happened to be walking by to bring me back to my senses and ask if I was alright.
“Yeah,” I mumbled, shaking my head. “Um, hey do you know who the girl in black that keeps sitting next to me in class is?” I asked.
“Oh, the new girl? I can’t recall her full name, but she goes by, ‘Ady’.” He smiled.
Ady, the name sounds innocent enough, but I know better. I know exactly what “Ady” is short for. It’s for that very reason why I’m posting this on my blog. It’s six ’o’clock and nearly dark, now. I know she’s coming and I know there’s nothing I can do stop it.
So I’m writing this as a warning for others.
You are never truly safe from the things that lurk within the dark. No matter what you think or believe otherwise. Monsters are real.
You don’t have to go looking for them. You don’t have to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. You don’t have provoke them to get their attention.
Sometimes you don’t have to do anything.
Sometimes, they just come. Like Ady. Like Adaliah.