“No…no…noooooo”… was the scream Alex´s mother heard from her room the first night. She ran across the hall to his room, and immediately entered to see her son.
Alex was awake and trembling, bathed in sweat, disoriented and gasping for air.
“What´s wrong honey?” The fourteen year old had not noticed yet that his mother was at his side. A moment later, he realized he was not alone.
“Mom?” he said… and went for her safe embrace. “It´s all
right honey… mommy is here”, she said trying to reassure him.
While he buried his face in her neck and hair, his father arrived, and began searching Alex´s room with his eyes, like trying to find something.
"Are you ok, son?” was all he questioned. Alex turned to face him and said in a still trembling voice: “I think it was just a nightmare”.
His father only moved his head, acknowledging what he heard.
“I am going to stay with him a little longer”, Lory said,
and immediately embraced him again. Alex´s father went back to their room.
“I am sorry I woke you up mom. I did not count on having bad dreams tonight”, Alex said, lying again on his bed.
“Don’t worry darling. Are you going to be ok on your own?”
Lory asked with a little bit of concern. “Yes mom, I am a grown up now” and a hint of a smile touched his lips.
Lory smiled full and hugged him again, planting a kiss in
his left cheek. She went back to sleep too.
When she reached their bed, Aaron was waiting for her.
“He scared me, love”.
“Don´t worry love, it was just a nightmare. This happens all
the time. And won´t be his only nightmare until he moves away”, said Lory with a reassuring smile.
“Didn´t you see him? He was trembling badly, love. I didn´t
like that one bit”, said Aaron.
“He is just a boy Aaron, not a grown up like he says and you
think he is. Don’t worry about it and please, let´s go back to sleep”.
The day after, everything began as normal as it ever was.
Alex went to school, Aaron to his doctor office and Lory to teach in college.
Alex´s family lived in the suburbs, and Talltrees High was
very near his house. He walked every afternoon from school. It gave him the opportunity to hang out with his friends and talk about classes, teachers, the day and girls.
That afternoon, Lory got a call from the school´s principal,
Mr. Vassé, telling her to come immediately. She went out in an instant. The first thing to come to her mind was that
Alex was injured. He liked to play basketball, and had the physique for it, but he was very thin and she feared for his bones.
“Mrs. Waters, I am glad you could come so quickly”. The
principal´s face was unreadable. “Has your son, had any troubles with his classmates that we don’t know and you do? “
“Not that I am aware of. Why?”
“Nothing in particular. Has he had any problem at home Mrs. Waters?” Lory´s thinking was in the bullying world.
“No sir, we have not had any problem at all”. Her heart was racing.
Mr. Vassé´s gave a respite. “Then I assume he must be tired,
from all the basketball he has been playing. I must say, he is really good at it”. He said it with pride.
“I don’t understand Mr. Vassé. Is he ok?” Lory´s heart had
diminished it´s race.
“I got a call from Ms. Halway, telling me that he had fallen
asleep in her math class and woke up screaming in terror. It is common that kids fall asleep in a not very interesting class like math, but it is not screaming in the middle of it. I am afraid that it would be better if you can take him to a specialist”.
Lory´s heart calmed down a little more. However, she began worrying about her son´s nightmares.
Maybe he fell asleep because he did not get enoughof it last night or maybe out of boredom in the class, but screaming again was not normal.
"Thank you Mr. Vassé".
After that, she departed from the principal´s office to get
She reunited with him in the school´s cafeteria, where he
was sitting alone, with his head down.
“Alex, are you allright?”
He kept his head in the same deprecating position.
“I guess… “ was his answer.
“Let´s head home, and we will talk about it.”
They didn’t spoke to each other during the drive home.
From time to time, Lory spared a look for Alex.
To see if he was ok. He seemed normal enough.
At home, his mother prepared some cookies and coffee to get the mood going.
She wanted to talk about the day happenings.
Soda was served for him.
“Would you like to tell me what where you dreaming?”
Lory asked, as sweet as only a mother can ask.
He was eating all the cookies in the table, but had not
realized at the moment.
When he did, he got an embarrassed look and stopped.
As he finished gulping the last of the cookies in his mouth, he washed them down with the soda and stood quiet.
His mother just waited for him, for fearing that pressure
would make him uncomfortable.
“To say the truth mom, the dream last night was the same
this morning in class. I don’t know how, but it happened. “
“What was it about?”
Lory was internally happy to hear him talk.
He thought for a long time and then said: “I was in a white
room, the kind where they put the insane people. It had padded walls and I was in a straight jacket. In the dream, I knew something was going to happen and began to feel agitated. Then, all of a sudden a very brilliant portal appears in front of me and two beings enter the room.
They are clad like mummies, in white old rags.
But the scary part is that they don’t have eyes, only a mouth that they open so wide to speak to each other. They opened them so slow, it looked like they were going to swallow one another. The other scary thing is that they only moan, like humans in pain but don’t speak. They are toothless too. "
He finished talking and kept staring to the table.
“Is that all honey? “She asked in a frightened tone.
He gave a big breath and said: “the last thing I remember is
that when they stop communicating with each other, they turn and begin walking towards me. They walk like zombies, seeming they want to grab me. I can’t do anything in the straight jacket, so I can only shout”.
He turned to face Lory.
“That´s when I scream and wake up.”
He turned back to stare at the table.
Lory was feeling anxious. It was just a dream, but a twice
She ventured with a question.
“Have you seen those monsters before?
In a video game, TV, internet or anime?”
Alex just moved his head to say no.
“Have you had any kind of trouble at school?
Or with someone in particular?”
“No, mom. I have not had one, really”.
“Well honey, let´s hope they are just bad dreams”.
When Aaron got home, he went directly to talk with Alex.
“Hi son, how are you?”
Alex was playing his videogames in his room.
“Hi dad. I am much better now”, and kept playing.
“Your mother called me a while back and told me what
happened at school”.
Aaron was a serene man, very considerate and smart.
He didn’t educate Alex with a hard hand, but not with a soft one either.
Alex pushed the pause button on the console control and
turned to face him.
“It was just a bad dream dad, repeating itself”, said Alex.
He sounded very sure of himself.
He turned to the game and began playing again.
“All right son, you know if you have any trouble at all, you
can come to us”.
Aaron didn’t expect an answer.
“Yeah dad, I know. Thanks”.
Aaron went to Lory who was in the kitchen.
“Hi love. How did it go with Alex?”
“Hi honey”, he gave her a kiss. “Well, I think it went good.
He says he´s all right and seems like he is well now.
Let´s hope those nightmares are harmless”.
Later that night, Alex woke up again screaming. This time,
both his parents went to check on him.
He told them that it was the recurring nightmare.
As a doctor, Aaron thought that perhaps a visit to the
psychiatrist would be needed after these repeating bad dreams.
Next day, all of them drove to a friend psychiatrist clinic,
to present Alex case.
After he listened to the Alex´s story, Dr. David Kavanaugh examined him entirely and ran some tests on him.
He told them that it was strange that a nighmare was recurring, but not out of the question.
“I don’t want to prescribe sleeping pills, because I don’t
want him to make him addicted to them. Just make sure he is well rested before he goes to sleep”. And to him he said: “That means no violent videogames after dinner for sometime”. Alex just smiled sadly but said nothing.
There was not an episode that day in school. When Alex
reached home, he played his videogames early, ate light food and went to his room to read some comics.
He went to sleep early too.
But later in the night Alex screams were joined by an
episode of harming himself. He was still screaming and hitting his face with his palms and pulling his hair when his parents reached his room.
Aaron had to wrestle with him to keep him from doing more harm to himself.
This time they were very concerned. “Let´s take him to the
hospital. I´ll talk to David to on our way”.
Alex was like in a trance and had not talked at all, in the
way to the hospital. Lory rode beside him with her arms around Alex.
When they arrived, Dr. Kavanaugh was already there.
He checked Alex in immediately.
“I will have to keep him here in the hospital to monitor his
sleeping behavior. I am very sorry for what I´ll say next, but it´s necessary”, he said with frowning serious face.
Aaron and Lory knew immediately what was he going to say.
“We will keep him in a straight jacket for the night until
he wakes up again. I don’t want him hurting himself anymore”.
When these words reached Alex ears he began to scream: “No, no, please no. Not a straight jacket, please!!!”
Dr. Kavanaugh called the orderlies to help him restrain the boy. At last, they could calm him and put him in the straight jacket. All the while Alex was crying and sobbing.
His parents were devastated by the scene, but trusted their
friend Dave so they had to go along with all the procedure. They accompanied Alex, the doctor and the orderlies to the padded room. The room was wide and it had a camera in the ceiling, to watch the patients’ behavior.
They left Alex lying on the room floor waiting for him to go
to sleep. After that, David called his parents to the monitor room where the camera was already filming him.
Lory thought that he looked so peaceful, resting. The doctor
asked them if they wanted to be part of the monitoring procedure, at which they accepted.
“We want to see what happens”, said Aaron.
After an hour passed normally, Alex began to stir in his
sleep. His parents went nervous immediately, but David said that this was normal sleep movement. They calmed down a little bit.
After a few minutes passed, his stirrings began more
violent. He began shaking his head from side to side, like he was saying no. He couldn´t move his arms freely because of the jacket, so his movements were awkward and he looked desperate in his sleep.
“Please, wake him up”, pleaded Lory.
“I can do that”, said the doctor, “but the procedure would
fail. I need to see his behavior during his nightmare to give me an idea how to proceed next”.
Lory looked disappointed but went with it. Aaron just stood watching with his arms crossed. He looked like a statue.
“I will have to check his brain waves if he wakes up scre….”
“Nooo…nooo…nooo…” Alex´s was shrieking, but had not
awakened. Lory put her hands on her face to prevent her from seeing the monitor. Aaron put one hand under his chin and started to rub it, while the doctor was writing in his board.
At that exact time, the monitor technician alerted them.
“Dr. Kavanaugh, you better take a look at this”.
A single bright spot began to appear at the opposite side of
Alex position. It started to grow into a wide circle. In that moment, Alex´s shrieks stopped and woke up. He managed to get into a sitting position and suddenly caught the spot in his sight.
He was horror struck. The circle stopped widening, and two
white figures came stepping out from it. They had and anthropomorphic form and their heads were only adorned by a black grin. No eyes, ears, nose, no nothing, only their grin. They moved slowly, like testing their environment.
They were skinny, and were dressed like white rags. Just like mummies. One of them fixed what appeared to be his attention, on Alex.
“Get him out!!!” yelled Aaron, and began running to the
room. One of the orderlies standing by, went after him.
Lory and the doctor stood by, watching rooted at the
Alex began to get up and started screaming: “get me out,
leave me alone!!!” But the creature that had spotted him began creeping towards him. “Noo…nooo…nooo…”
His mother went out of her trance and turned on David.
“Please!!! Do something… get him out of there” screamed and grabbed him by his coat. “It´s his nightmare come true”.
The doctor was awestruck. He couldn´t move, nor speak.
Lory screamed louder: “Get him out David!!! Get him out!!!”
By that time, Aaron was trying to force his way in, but it
was locked. He thought the orderly coming behind him had the key, but he said that the doctor had it. “Damn it!!!” yelled Aaron.
He punched and kicked the door to no avail. The orderly went back running to the monitor room.
Lory was out of her mind; one of the creatures was sniffing
Alex and stopped at his face. Alex was standing against one of the padded walls, with his eyes closed and his face turned aside.
The creature threw its head back and began to open its mouth widely. Alex had not seen this then; he remained with his eyes wide shut.
In that moment, Jake the orderly, came into the room.
After he stopped his panting, asked the doctor for the keys.
“The keys, doctor. We need them!!!” David didn’t answer. “Doctor? Doctor Kavanaugh?”
David just turned his face to Jake with a barely open mouth.
When he saw that the doctor wasn´t responding, he began searching into his coat.
David turned again to see the monitor.
“Where are the keys, doctor???” yelled Jake.
He searched the doctor´s pants too.
At last David spoke with a defeated voice.
“It´s no use Jake, Glen has them. His shift has ended”
He kept his gaze at the monitor, not moving at all. Glen was the other orderly who generally went betting to a club, four blocks away from the hospital.
When Lory saw the scene again, she lost it. She was tearing
her face with her fingernails, and screamed with agony.
The creature had opened his mouth so wide, and began swallowing Alex from head to toes. Like a snake swallowing a medium sized animal, it was gulping him with a slow horrific motion. Alex´s screams were barely audible.
Jake had returned to the monitor room where Aaron was
exhausted, with his fist bleeding from punching the door.
“The two of us, let´s ram the door”, he said. They began ramming it with all their might, at the same time.
The other creature made a move like it was hearing the
pounding and directed his gaze at the camera. He began to grow his skinny legs to get taller and higher, all this time moving in slow motion. When it reached it, he opened its mouth wide enough to begin swallowing it. The moan it exhaled, was like a big cat in agony. It made their skin prickle.
At the same time, the belly of the eating creature expanded, to give way to his prey. It looked like a skinny, fat bellied mummy eating a human.
The last thing both of them saw, were Alex´s feet being pulled down in a final gulp from the other creature.
“NOOO… " was Lory´s final scream until she fell unconscious.
David remained in his same pose, standing, watching the
monitor, which now only revealed a black picture.
At last, the combined force of Aaron and Jake tore the door
from its hinges and entered the room. What they saw was this: the foot of one of the creatures finally stepping in the wide circle and it closing and fading.
Jake fell to his knees.
Aaron kept staring at the spot where the circle had vanished.
After a while he thought: “...The Retrievers...why him?”