Posted by: quoththesparrow | May 18, 2016

What Nightmares May Come

volcanic

It’s happening again. I wake in the desolate grey. Volcanic rock and remnants of scorched trees. Silence, except for the occasional whistle of a breeze. The sky is steel grey but there are no clouds. No one can be seen for miles, the loneliness crushing. But I know I’m not completely alone. It’s out there somewhere, ready to pounce as always. My pulse races and my body tenses from my nerves being on edge. All my senses are heightened.

As quietly as I can, I get up. Each pebble that moves causes me to jump and frantically search my surroundings.

I just walk. Anywhere but here.

Minutes pass and no sign of it. I start to relax. Maybe it’s gone, finally. Did I conquer it? But how? Do nightmares just go away?

Movement in front of me snaps me back, and my insides turn to ice. There before me is the creature. Several yards away, but I can smell its fetid breath on me. For a second I try not running. Maybe I can scare it away. A breeze whistles past us, rustling the rotten shreds of its clothing and the long wild wisps of hair. I try to look it in the eye, and my courage dissolves. It’s always the eyes. I turn and bolt.

I run as hard as I can, like always. But as always, the creature is not far behind me. Its growls are as close as though it were at my neck.

After a minute my chest burns and I know what’s coming. Everything goes into slow motion, except the creature. Within seconds it will be on me, and I will wake up screaming as always.

The creature’s icy, stinking breath is on my neck and I shut my eyes, preparing to wake. Except I don’t. Suddenly I feel its skeletal hands on my back and I am shoved to the ground. I open my eyes and turn to face the creature, my every fiber stinging with fright. The creature stares down at me, its skeletal face like the Cryptkeeper, smiling maniacally.

Somehow, looking it in the eye this time, I find courage. “Who are you? What are you? What do you want?”

A rumble comes from the creature’s throat and I realize it’s chuckling. “You don’t recognize me? You murdered me.”

“Me?! What? No!” But as I continue looking into its eyes, I do in fact find them familiar. Whose eyes they are exactly, I can’t quite figure out just yet. “How did I kill you?”

“You left me to die. One day you just didn’t want anything more to do with me. You gave up. I kept trying to get back to you. But without you, I withered into nothing…Murder by neglect.”

Carefully, I stood up, keeping my eye on the creature. It just watched me. The odd part was it didn’t look angry. It was…what?

At last I said, “I’m sorry. I still don’t know who you are.”

“I’m your dreams, hopes, aspirations.”

The shock froze me. Then a sick feeling welled up inside me.

I realized the look it had was hunger.

The creature spoke again. “You killed me, but nothing stays dead forever. Now I’m your nightmares. I will get energy from you again, but instead of giving you life, I will consume you until you die, too.”

And it lunged. I snapped back in time to dart out of its way. Then I did the only thing I knew how to do – run.

Before I had made it even a few feet, the creature grabbed me by the wrist and spun me around.

“No more running,” it snarled.

With its other hand the creature clutched my neck and pulled me close. Face to face, its breath was so putrid I wanted to pass out. I tried to wiggle free but the creature wrapped me into a tight embrace, but not a loving one. Its lower jaw dropped and it began inhaling.

I had to do something. My mind raced while my life flashed before me, all in a split second. Then it hit me.

“Wait!”

The creature stopped.

I took the opportunity. “What if I resurrect you?”

The creature cocked its head.

I continued. “You said nothing stays dead forever. You came back as this. I killed you by neglect. What if I resurrect you by giving you back the care you deserve?”

The creature made the rumbling chuckle sound again. “You can’t bring back what’s dead. It has to become -”

“-Another form. I know. I resurrect you as new dreams.”

The creature took that idea in. I held my breath, hoping, praying. After several moments, the creature returned its gaze to me. “That could work…Yes. It would…Actually, I think I’d like that.”

I laughed nervously. “Yeah, I’d like that, too. Being consumed until I die doesn’t sound too fun.”

A chuckle came from the creature. This time it was clear and out of amusement.

“I’m sorry I abandoned you,” I said.

Looking at me with pity, the creature sighed. I coughed, trying not to gag.

“It’s not me you need forgiveness from. It’s yourself,” said the creature.

The creature released me. It put its hands on my shoulders and looked me in the eye. “The first step to bringing your dreams to life must be that you wake up.”

And the creature passed its hand over my face as though casting a spell. Everything went black.

For the first time, I woke with a sense of peace.

 

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