Sweet Dreams

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IV

Gi Beom opened his eyes, and with horror, he didn’t find himself home. He was back where he started - on his stained sofa, a couple of beers lying around, in the dark. He rubbed his eyes and cursed. “This just can’t be. I literally did what the book said.” Lifting his head from his hands, he spat, “Why are you keeping me here?” “That’s where you’re wrong.”

He jumped out of the couch and looked around, eyes wild, but there was no one - not a single soul - around. It was only pure darkness. Grabbing a beer bottle, he swung it and threw it out into the dark. “Who are you?! Show yourself!” His voice caught in his throat, and

he gulped down hard. “You brought yourself here on your own accord. You chose to walk in your own bloodsoaked memories.” A chill ran down Gi Beom’s spine and his fingers began to tremble as the thing’s - whatever it was - voice changed to one of a little boy. “Come find

me, Gi Beom-ah!” His chest felt heavy, and he brushed the hair out of his eyes. He still couldn’t make out anything in front of him, but that voice… it struck a chord with him, reminded him of something from years past.

Maybe if he went deeper, he would find his answers.

Answers that would end all of this.

He began to step forward, remembering the pain where his leg was nearly sawed off as pain shot up his nerves. His feet could make out stone pavement on the floor - probably marble or something fancy. As he began to limp forward, lanterns began to light themselves up, and something in his mind stirred. It’s like I’ve been here before. He realized, though, that he wasn’t as strong as before, in the mansion with the demon. His strength had diminished from all of that running, and he was crippled because of the stupid thing. His hand went to his ankle and he gasped; there was a deep gash and a slab of muscle had been cut out, leaving red flesh in its place. There was still a bit of blood, but most of it was dried up in little clusters. “Well, that’s not the worst of my fears. I still have one good leg.”

Suddenly, he stopped, a hint of pain and sadness clouding over his frosty eyes. His childhood home.

A pang of guilt hit him hard; he hadn’t seen his family in years, ever since he left overseas to study in Brunswick. He said he didn’t miss them, and spent the rest of his days nonstop working, gorging on greasy McDonald’s and downing several Dom Perignons every hour. He had justified this excuse many times in his head, but now that there was a glaring symbol of his guilt in front of him, it was hard to ignore the real reason he cut ties with them.

Taking a breath, Gi Beom put his hand on the doorknob - surprisingly cold - and went in, finding himself on the second floor of the house. He scratched his head. Clearly he had come through the front door, so why is it that he randomly appeared here? Around him, the lights were off and there was only a blue glare from the TV screen, which was missing a

couple cables, he noticed. Helicopter toys and books about farm animals lay around, taking up much of the space on the carpet floor. A copy of “Overlook Hotel” sat on the coffee table, the cover dimly lit by the patchwork lamp. It’s so strange now that everyone’s gone. I haven’t been here in years. In the back of his mind, he could still feel the love that radiated from this

room. All of the good, happy times - those were the things that fed the spirit of this home, and now that it radiated back to him, it felt a tad bit lonely and ominous. Gi Beom began to walk around the room, finding familiar pictures of him and his brother in their Little League in baseball, and some photos of the time they spent together doing family things… you know, flipping burgers outside and playing HopScotch. These were fragments of old memories and older times, with birthday candles and friends on their bicycles. He could almost smell the roses and feel the wind behind his back as he ran between the flower beds - the secret gateway to his grandfather’s backyard. Small shiny shoes trampled over the petaled ground, and the neat bed of crimsons bathed him in a sweet fragrance. Memories like this were supposed to be comforting. They should bring a smile to one’s face, radiating through their skin and bones. They are the ones that should be kept alive, never forgotten.

But poor Gi Beom didn’t feel that way.

As he walked past the photographs and soccer club awards hanging on the walls, he heard a small creak. His eyes turned slowly towards the end of the hall, where a door had opened mysteriously, lit by the moonlight streaming in through the window. “Gi Beom-ah!” that same childish voice called out, “I have something to show you!” His skin goose pimpled with distrust. His attempt to get out of his dreams was foiled, as if someone kept trying to bring him back here. Behind him, the locks on the doors clicked shut, and the blinds closed themselves. Someone was here, he knew. Entity or not, angel or demon, it was out to get him… and he had to wake up before it did.

Sneaking past the open door, he only managed to get a few steps down the stairs when the voice called him back. “Come find me!” He was a grown man, for God’s sake. Every logical, scientific reasoning out there proved that there were no ghosts. But in his

heart, he felt quite differently. It’s weird. It’s my brother’s voice. He was calling me to the basement… It’s like the basement itself is calling to me. But why? It poured heavily outside as Gi Beom put his hand to the window, feeling the cold touch of its fingers. Continuing to trek silently through the house and down the stairs, it was like someone was following him. He could clearly hear their footsteps and feel their warm breath against his scalp, but when he whirled around, eyes blazing, there was no one there.

The lights downstairs didn’t work either. Just as I thought. In horror movies, nothing ever seems to work. He scoured around the room, finding it more sinister than heartwarming to be back in his parents’ house alone. An icy chill gripped Gi Beom’s heart as he saw fleeting images of family picnics and amusement park rides across the broken TV. The colors were faded and there were some lines across the screen, but he could make out each and every detail, and it pained him to do so. His eye fell upon a cable that was sticking out of a wire connected to the base of the TV. He snapped it off, being careful not to break it, and stuck it in his right pocket. The TV went blank and he stopped, grabbing the remote. Pressing every key, he tried to go back, and then the remote in his hand began to shake and he felt it heating up. It was growing hotter every second, until he finally gave up and dropped it. Across his palm was a seared burn, and yellow pus that stung when it glided past it. Looking up, there were now words on the blank screen.

I see you.

Just that was enough to get him out of the room. If he didn’t get out of here - once again - he would die in his sleep, and die in real life. The thought sent him reeling. His brain was bombarded by fear and his actions began to escalate and became more erratic. He didn’t care what was happening. Grabbing the kitchen knife, he threw it straight at the wall and it landed with a thud. He flipped over bookshelves and pots and pans, his thoughts clearly muddled in this intense game. “What do you want from me?” He roared. “I just want to be left alone!” His eyesight became clear again as he saw the demon of his dreams - whatever the hell it was - stare straight into his soul. “You will never sleep again, Kang Gi Beom. You will be here for the rest of your life, living this moment over and over again-”

The creature fell silent, and its eye lowered, and saw that Gi Beom managed to pierce straight through him with a coat rack. Gi Beom’s hair was matted and unkempt, slick due to the sweat that amassed on his forehead. His eyes were bloodshot and his shirt stained and hands stained with the blood of his tormentor. It let out a low growl, rising to a screech, and knocked him backwards, allowing his spine to hit the window. Its flesh covered up the wounds again, and it began to advance towards its prey with the hooked ebony blade.

He got to the door and tried to push past it, but the doorknob was stuck in its place. The creature was coming closer, and, with all of his might, he ran towards the window and broke straight through. The glass shards landed here and there, slicing his limbs with such force that the wounds cut open and blood sprinkled everywhere. But he didn’t care. One

more second with that thing and he would’ve died in there.

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