Most Likely

November 10, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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It’s night, most likely. The canopy of sky above is that deep fathomless shade of dark that usually can be associated with nocturne, and the breeze is wispy with a crisp natural scent that it carried from the swaying branches above. It is quiet tonight. You like quiet. That is probably the reason you began taking these evening strolls through the forest, the rejuvenating quality of the tranquil, woodland air. But right now, it is very quiet; there are no crickets or insects chirping in the undergrowth, no unseen creatures shifting through the foliage, no stars. You don’t remember it being cloudy, but clouds could have rolled in relatively recently; even though the air is still down here, who knows what was going on up in the stratosphere. It doesn’t look cloudy, but it’s most likely just too dark to tell. As you continue to gaze skyward, you notice there is no moon. Was tonight supposed to have a new moon? You don’t really pay attention to those things, but that could explain the unusual darkness. Well, if it is even night. It should be but you’re not quite sure.

You have stopped walking; when did you stop? Oh, when you looked at the sky. This makes sense; it is unwise to not keep your eyes in the direction of travel when hiking, no matter how familiar the path. It would also be wise to continue on instead of wasting time considering matters of little consequence. It is getting late, probably. It is really, really dark.

Pointing the beam of your flashlight down the path, you continue on with nothing but the natural crackle as you tread upon the bed of fallen leaves and biodegradable debris that eternally blankets the woodland floor. Have your footsteps always been that loud? You don’t remember. The sound is bothering you though; you don’t know why. Carefully, you control each step, dampening the sound of your travels. But why are you doing this? They say that in the dark, your other senses are heightened, and it is very, very dark. However, there is no advantage in silence in the woods; noise actually is better to frighten away dangers such as bears. Not that there is anything to scare off. It is very, very quiet.

You seem to be at a standstill yet again, and you reprimand yourself silently for over-thinking such simple things, like a walk in the woods, albeit a very dark, quiet walk in the woods.

Now you start to notice that you are shivering; goosebumps are poking up along the flesh that is exposed to the air. Actually the air is quite nippy, chilly even. But this is the woods at night, or at least you assume that this is the woods at night, and you should have known better than to wear this light of clothing. Come to think of it, when did you put on these clothes? Your brain tells you that it was obviously this morning, but are you certain you ever got up?

A minute passes as you stand in place, mulling over how you ended up in the forest, in such a dark, cold, quiet, hour that may be night, but you cannot quite place the exact motivation for any of this, despite your mind supplying estimations that would seem logical. You are wearing a pair of khaki pants, a light button-down shirt, and those tennis shoes that you found in the clearance section that fit you just right. But can you prove it?. No. It is far too dark.
Wait. Didn’t you have a flashlight earlier? Your hands are trembling, and you realize that you cannot hear your own breathing. It is very, very cold. There is only one explanation. This is a dream, one that has tread into lucid territory, one that teeters on the edge of consciousness, not quite ready to dissipate.

You bring your hand to your arm slowly and pinch the the tender skin just below your wrist. A sharp spike of pain shoots up your arm, but that is the least on your mind as the world distorts in a way similar to pushing down on the screen of a calculator, and voices start whispering from nowhere identifiable, “She knows, she knows, she knows…”

All you know is that you want to wake up. You pinch the same spot again, causing the same weird ripple effect and the intensifying of the voices. You pinch the area again “She knows” and again “She knows” and again “She knows” each time the stimulation around you and the pain intensifies, coursing through your nerves; you scream in frustration but hear no noise over the cacophony of silent voices resonated right above you, below you, and beside you, cocooning you in a maelstrom of everything and nothing, chaos and oblivion. It hurts; you feel raw, as if your skin had been peeled away and yet you are desperately trying to push through a membrane of your own flesh, giving birth and being born simultaneously.
“She knows!” this time it is more urgent, and you pinch down harder, feeling something give way, the skin separating from the muscle below with a sickening pop. “Hurry,” then the darkness appears to scatter away from from on and around you in a sensation somewhere between water running off your skin after surfacing from the pool and a swarm of insects scrabbling over you, and it is quiet once more.

Your eyes are closed and you are warm, the type of warm that only seems to present itself when you are wrapped snugly in the blankets of your bed. You can feel the early sunlight shining invitingly just outside your eyelids, but you are far too comfortable to open them just yet.

It is morning,

Most likely.

Credit To – A Whimsical Technicality

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Death Dreams

November 8, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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1.

I wish these birds would shut up. I’m trying to sleep… What time is it? The sun seems so bright.
Did I forget to close the sunshades last night?

…birds? I never have birds around my apartment. There are no birds in the inner city. I slowly open my eyes, trying to search for the ceiling. There is no ceiling… Damn, everything is so hazy. I can barely see anything.
I reach for my nightstand to pick up my glasses. I grab and miss. No nightstand?

I’m beginning to feel that I’m not in my own apartment right now. How could that be though…? I can clearly remember me going to bed last night.

I sit up, pushing the covers off me. There are no covers either. I’m starting to panic a little. Did I sleep here? Where’s here? Where am I?

The haze is still in front of my eyes, as if there’s a cloud of fumes surrounding me, with the sun slightly glaring through it. It’s not mist. It’s the kind of haze that would hang in front of your eyes when you’ve been out relaxing in the sun with your eyes closed for too long. Have I slept that long? Is it afternoon already? The air feels damp and it’s definitely not cold out here.

I reach for my eyes to rub the sleep out of them, but hit something hard. My glasses… I have had them on this entire time. But why is my vision so blurry still? I slowly get up on my feet and look around. Nothing. I can’t see further than 3 meters. I feel I need to explore and find out where I am, but walking around without eyesight could be dangerous.

My chest burns… I put my hand on my chest, but can’t feel any abnormalities. Yet with every move I make, an antagonizing pain moves through my heart. What on earth happened to me?

I look down and notice leaves and twigs on the ground. I crouch to feel the earth. It’s warm, probably heated up by the sun. The birds above me are still singing. I get the feeling I’m in a forest. Perhaps there are people around.

‘Hello? Is anyone there?!’ I shout.

Or at least I try to shout, but there’s no noise coming out of my mouth. Everything in what I assume to be a forest just went silent. The birds stopped singing and the leaves and twigs on the ground stop cracking as I step on them. What’s going on here…? I sit back down and try to think things through.

The silence is droning, the only thing I can hear is the thud of my own heartbeat. I lay down, my arms supporting my head. I never experienced a silence like this. I try to focus on what’s happening, but slowly I notice I’m dozing off…

2.

‘Goddammit!’

My bed is soaked as I wake up screaming. What the hell was that all about? I look at the clock on my nightstand. Tuesday, 10 AM… Great, I’m late for work. I get out of bed, freshen up and go outside. It’s cold outside, maybe 8 degrees max. Better call my boss and tell him that I’m on my way.

I arrive at work at 11:30 AM. Those damn traffic jams didn’t help either. The boss wasn’t happy and I was to come to his office as soon as I arrived.

Walking through the entrance hall, the receptionist smiles at me and says: ‘Are you okay? You look kind of pale. Are you sick?’
At this point I really don’t feel like talking to her and I reply with a mere: ‘Rough night, don’t get me started.’ and I walk on.

‘Come in!’ the man yells from behind the office door. I walk in and see my boss sitting in his chair that was about to collapse under his weight. The guy was unhealthy as can be and had trouble walking. He basically never came out of his office during work hours and led the whole firm from that poor chair.

‘Sit down. We need to have a talk’ he says.
‘It’s the third time in these two weeks that you show up late for work. And you know these are very busy weeks. We’re at the point of almost finishing up the biggest deal this company has ever seen. You should know this. You were one of the people that got us this close, and I know you don’t want to mess this up now, do you?’

‘No sir.’

‘Care to explain why you’ve been slacking off this much lately? Is it stress? Personal life? For crying out loud, if something is wrong with my best employee, I want and need to know.’

I want to tell him of course about the nightmare I had today. Not to mention other strange dreams in the past that made me sleep through my alarm clock. It’s not stress related, that’s for sure. But I feel weird telling about the nightmares that I had. Especially the one from tonight. But it’s just a dream after all…

‘It’s a bit of stress, sir. I can’t help but feel pressured by what’s going to happen these weeks, you know? But I’ll be fine.’

He looks at me for a few seconds and asks me: ‘Stress huh… You sure that’s all that’s bothering you? There isn’t anything else I need to know?’

‘It’s just stress, sir. Really, I’ll be fine. And I’ll get my act together, promised.’

Jeez… How about you worry about yourself first. You’re the one incapable of walking and are under heavy meds. Everyone has his own troubles, not just me. I can’t even remember what he meant with this big deal.

‘Alright,’ he says while smacking his hand on the desk, ‘Good talk. You can go now. And could you do me a favor and throw away this paper can for me, please? I can’t really throw it in the dustbin way over there. You know, with my back and all.’

‘Sure.’ I say.

A little exercise won’t hurt you though. At least it would give that chair some rest. But I’ll keep that thought to myself. Very well, on with the day.

It’s 12 pm, almost lunch time. I haven’t been able to concentrate much on work. I spent most of my time researching dreams and their meaning. I came across a website owned by a doctor who is an expert in explaining dreams. Doctor, yeah right. But who knows, maybe he can help. I want to get more information about these weird dreams I’m having. I’ll see what happens the rest of the week.

3 pm. I’m bored. I want to go home and watch TV. I don’t understand what all my colleagues are working on. Why do they take so much time to finish their work, while they could do it in two hours max.

5 pm. I’m going home. I don’t feel like talking to the rest of my colleagues about whatever pops into their heads.

8 pm. Even though I slept in yesterday, I feel tired as hell. TV is kind of
boring and I almost dozed off a couple of times. I’ll just go to bed and see what’s going to happen tomorrow. I take off my glasses and put it on my nightstand, next to the phone number of the doctor.

3.

Darkness surrounds me as I open my eyes. I look to my right to check out the time. 2 AM… I feel wide awake. I might as well go to the kitchen to get a glass of water. I get up and walk to where I remember was my bedroom door. It’s pitch black and I don’t have my glasses on. Maybe I should get them first. I walk back to my bed and sit down to get my glasses off my nightstand. A sudden shock goes through my body as I fall through the air on the cold floor. I reach around, trying to find my bed or something to hold on to, but can’t find it. Damn…

Did I forget where my bed was? I get up and walk around, trying to find the walls of my room, trying to find the light switch, my arms reaching out in front of me, hoping to touch something solid. Nothing.

I try to get my eyes adjusted to the darkness, trying to find some landmarks which indicate where in my room I am now. Unless…

No… not again.

I didn’t realize it earlier, but the environment is silent. I can feel objects cracking under my feet, but I can’t hear anything. It’s as silent as I remember it was the last time.

‘Hello!? Anyone there?!’ I try to scream. But words don’t come out. It feels like some sort of shadow is lurking around, trying to capture my every sound and blend them in with the silence. I want to start running, I want to try and find something to hold on to, but my senses tell me not to. I sit down on the ground and try to calm myself down. It’s just a dream, I tell myself.

Suddenly I feel something as I sat down. There’s something in my back pocket. I reach for it and take the content out. Hmm… Feels like a key chain. It has a button. A light! It’s a small flashlight! I click the button and a small light appears. It’s not much, but it’s enough to see in a radius of a meter. I get on my feet again and look around. Darkness. There’s nothing but darkness at the end of my light stream.

Fuck!.. Oh no…

There’s that pain again, burning in my chest, so painful that I can’t stay on my legs. The pain is excruciating, so bad that my whole body starts contracting. I can’t help but scream, let out a sound as loud as I can.

Suddenly I hear a seemingly distant thump and just like that, there’s sound all around me again, as if my scream cut through the wall of silence. There’s wind blowing, children’s laughter and I can even make out some gunshot sounds. The sudden orchestra of sound is so loud that I have to cover my ears to protect them. I get up, shivering from the pain going through my chest, trying to look around. It’s still dark as fuck.

All of a sudden I see something in the distance. A light. A moving light, slowly, but gradually getting closer. With my hands covering my ears, I struggle towards the light. As I come closer, the light stops moving. I increase my pace and start walking faster. I shout to the light, hoping for a response from something or someone. I get closer and closer and the light gets bigger and bigger. The wind is almost blowing me off my feet as I try to make out what’s holding the source of light. I stop moving and call out to the light source, looking for my breath at the same time.

‘Hey… Help me… please,’ is what I say to the thing. I don’t want to come any closer, even though I need help. Who knows what this thing could be.

Suddenly the light weakens and as it does so, the sounds of the environment decrease in volume as well. I take my hands off my ears and stare at the light for a little while. I see the light slowly getting less bright, until there’s almost nothing left. At that point I run towards it, knowing that it might be my only chance of help in this place. One hand on my chest, the other one stretching forward I reach for the light, but as soon as I’m a meter away from it, I hear a thump and the light falls down on the ground.

I hesitate for a second…
But then I pick up the light source and look at it. An old fashioned oil lamp, with a valve to brighten up the light… I open the valve so I’d be able to see more. I look down and see the radius of the light beam expanding. The light beam sheds its light on something. On someone.

As I increase the light beam, the environment gets louder again. The sound is painfully loud now and I move closer towards the body to see what’s going on. On the ground lays a man. His hands are bloody, his clothes are ripped… I move the light further up and see that his torso is full of blood. I move the light so I’d be able to see his face.

This can’t be. What happened here? The visual image of the hurt man shocks me so badly that I can’t see anything for a moment. I stumble backwards and after a few steps my whole body gets numb and without knowing, I drop the light, thus killing the flame, making the environment pitch black again. The sounds of the environment however, don’t fade. On the contrary, the sounds get even louder…

I panic and cover my ears again as I run away, far away from the body. My chest is still burning, but I’m ignoring the pain. I need to get out of here, need to get away. I sprint as hard as I can for what feels like minutes. Suddenly my left foot gets stuck and I fall over, face first on the ground. Woozy from the fall, I stumble to get up, but don’t succeed.

Stop laughing, children. Go play somewhere else. It’s not safe here.

4.

I open my eyes after what seems to have been days… months even. I don’t realize that I’ve been staring at the ceiling for god knows how long. I move myself up quickly, getting some spots of blindness in my eyes for doing so. Disoriented, I rub my eyes before looking around.

I’m in my bedroom. What time is it? What day is it? I glance at the clock next to me on my nightstand. Wednesday, 7AM.

I get up and walk through my house. I can’t believe that it’s not even been a day since the last memory I had of me going to sleep. I walk to the front door and pick up the newspaper that’s shoved into my mailbox. Indeed… it’s just the next day. How come I feel so weird then? Whatever. I guess I’ll go to work early today.

The streets are deserted. I’ve never driven to work this early before. It’s nice though, no traffic jams or anything. Every now and then you can see a pedestrian walking around, probably doing his morning routine. I like speculating what people do on a day. I see them walking and wonder… what is he going to do today? Work? Vacation?

I shouldn’t let my mind drift off now. Not while driving. But at least it keeps thoughts of what’s been happening the past nights away.

‘Morning Hank!’ I say to the janitor when I walk into the building.
‘Morning.’ He mumbles back. Poor Hank, always grumpy. At least I’m not the only one who isn’t having the best days ever.

I walk through the office, not sure what to do at this time. I know that if I’d start working now, I’ll be done around 11 AM, and would have to kill 6 hours doing nothing. So I’m just wandering in between the cubicles, looking at people’s workspaces. After two rounds of wandering, I notice something big and heavy is moving through the building. And sure enough, a moment later I see my boss driving to his office in his new modified handicapped scooter. I wave at him, but he doesn’t see me. He looks different from normal. Not as upbeat as usual, and he seems to be lost in his own thoughts.

I want to walk to him for a chat, but that would mean I’d have to start working right after that. Hmm… thank god he didn’t see me wave. Silly me. I’ll step by his office later today. For now, I’ll just go and chill in this cubicle. I lay on the ground and close my eyes for a few minutes. Damn, I’m exhausted…

5.

There are the birds again. They’re whistling. I like birds, but not when I’m trying to get some rest. I open my eyes and get up to see if I can scare them away somehow.

Huh… birds in an office? That’s funny.

As soon as I move my head above the cubicle walls to look around, the walls collapse outward, the ceiling fades away and just like that, I’m back in the forest again. Even though this area frightened me before, for some reason it doesn’t scare me that much this time. I can see. I can hear things, nice things. Birds whistling, the wind gently blowing through the leaves of the large trees that surround me, some animal sounds and crickets chirping. I look around to see what place I’ve been spending my nights in. I notice I’m standing in the middle of an open area, surrounded by trees. I can’t see the sun, since it’s shaded by the leaves and arms of the big trees. There are some small rays of sunlight glaring through the green ceiling. It looks nice.

I think I’m ready to explore. I start walking forward, only to bump my nose into something.

What the hell is this? Am I trapped in some kind of invisible cage? I can’t even move more than two meters forward. I move my hand in front of me and notice that my palm turns flat in the air. This is weird… I can’t feel anything solid… Yet it appears there’s something blocking me. I move myself a couple of meters backwards and feel another invisible wall against my back. What’s going on here?

I panic a little bit and turn around again to walk the other way, only to be stopped after an even shorter distance. What is this? I turn around again to feel the distance of the other wall and feel that it came closer too. Panicky, I start walking to the side, only to be stopped there too. I turn around to try the other side. Maybe there’s an exit somewhere. But with every step I take, with every turn I make, I get closed in more and more. The invisible walls press harder, until I can’t move anymore. I’m stuck.

I can’t move anymore. I can hardly breathe now. With every subtle move I make, I can feel the walls pressing against my body.
Dammit! I don’t like small spaces! I can’t stay in here. Wake up please… wake up! Someone help me!

Suddenly I hear a faint whistle. It’s coming from above. With the last muscle I can move, I look up and see a dot in the air, something falling as it appears. The dot is getting larger every second and I can even start to make out what the item is. It’s a rectangular shaped object, a metal case of some kind.

That’s an object falling. Right above me. Uh-oh.

I try to move my arms to shield my head but I can’t move them. The walls are really squishing my body now and I can’t breathe anymore. My lungs are on fire… This hurts, this really hurts. I can’t do anything but close my eyes and wait for the thud of the case falling on my head.

*Thud*

6.

‘I’m stuck!!!’
I yell out. I open my eyes and notice that half of the office gathered around the cubicle to see what the hell was going on here. Even my boss came driving around to see what’s going on.

‘Alright everybody, that’s enough. Back to work. Don’t you guys ever have nightmares? Come on. Chop-chop, move it!’ my boss says.

Reluctantly, all my colleagues walk back to their stations. My boss looks at me and is obviously puzzled.

‘In my office. Now.’
I get up and follow him to his office, ignoring the stares of my colleagues.

‘Close the door behind you.’ he says.
I sit down at his desk and look him in the eyes.

‘Before you say anything…’ I start saying, only to be interrupted by him.

‘Stop it. Just… shut up and listen, okay? I asked you before if there was something I should know about. You said there wasn’t anything important going on. Then you come to my office, looking like some kind of ghost from hell and start causing scenes like that? You’re kind of getting on my nerves.’

His face swells up as he speaks and I can’t help but look at the veins that start popping out of his forehead. Yeah… he’s mad.

‘And I’m going to ask you again. And I want full honesty here and I will not ask it again. If you don’t give me a decent answer, an answer I can do something with, I’m going to have to schedule an appointment with the company’s therapist to have a chat with you.’

He stops talking and engages in a raging cough mode, making his face swell up even more.

‘I… I don’t know what to say, sir…’ I start telling him, almost crying. ‘I’m just on the verge of a breakdown. I haven’t slept properly in weeks and some nights I have these nightmares that really keep my mind occupied all day and they scare the living hell out of me… Man… you know?’

He looks at me, kind of puzzled, then picks up the phone and dials a number. I look at the buttons he presses and I recognize the combination. He’s going to make a call to the therapist. I jump off my chair and press the end call button. With two hands flat on his desk I tell him:

‘Sir… please, there’s no need to talk to the therapist about this. I… I found my own doctor already. Yeah! I didn’t call him yet, but I think he can explain to me what’s going on with me.’

Still confused about what I just did, he puts down the horn and looks at me.

‘Alright. I’ll give you the day off. Go make an appointment with that doctor of yours if you haven’t already. Make sure to drop in tomorrow too to let me know how things went down and if you made any progress. Then I also got a favor to ask you, but that’s for later, okay?’

7.

A favor… he never asked me for a favor before.

I went to sit in my car with my phone in one hand, the phone number of the doctor in my other hand. I typed in the number 15 minutes ago, but I hesitate to press the call button. Come on, man… just do it. Call him.

10 more minutes passed before I got the guts to click the call button. I put the phone to my ear and listened to the sounds the phone made. Dialing… ringing…and a soft click followed by a low voice, saying:

‘This is Dr. Sethe speaking, how can I help you?’

I hesitated… ‘Uh yeah… hi. I uhm… got some bad dreams and uhm… I need help. I read you were an expert with dreams and such so I was hoping you’d have time to see me today…’

‘Sure thing, how about 3PM, that sound good to you?’

‘Yeah… 3PM is fine.’

‘Alright, I’ll see you then. Just tell my assistant that we spoke on the phone, she’ll know who you are.’

‘Okay. Seeyouthenbye.’ I mumbled out. I never have that much trouble talking on the phone. Weird.

I arrive at the doctor’s office at 2:30PM. The weather suddenly changed and dark clouds are forming in the sky above me as I step out of the car. I look up to see if there’s rain falling already, but there isn’t. The wind stopped blowing too. I guess this is what they call the calm before the storm…

I turn my gaze forward again and look at the building in which the doctor’s office is located. I guess I’m going in. It’s a pretty modern building and it really stands out from the rest of the street. I cross the street and almost fall down over the edge of the sidewalk, but I regain my balance before I do so. This building doesn’t fit at all. The rest of the houses in this block look kind of dirty, old, not taken care of. But this one… it almost shines. I kind of recognize this street too. But where have I seen it before? I can’t remember. My memory has been a complete wreck lately anyway.

I open the door and walk inside, looking around to capture some details of the building. As soon as I enter, I hear a friendly voice.

‘Welcome sir, you are the man the doctor spoke with on the phone?’ a woman said, while stretching out her arm to shake my hand.

‘Yeah,’ I say, while still looking around the building, ‘nice to meet you and such.’

The woman notices my confused staring and says: ‘Not quite what you expect in a neighborhood like this huh? Quite frankly, this whole neighborhood will get a renovation. Or well… the whole neighborhood will be taken down. Not good for the image of the city, they say. All will be rebuilt in the style of this building you’re standing in. Apparently they liked this building so much that they wanted the whole block to look like it.’

I look at her and say: ‘It is quite nice, yes. But all these other houses are empty?’

‘No,’ she says, ‘but word is that the government closed a deal with a demolition company, without notifying the civilians.’

‘Did they now?..’

‘Yeah… I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. Anyway, enough random chit-chat, you were here to see the doctor at 3PM, right?’

‘Yeah that’s true. But uhm, how is the doctor? Is he good? You think he can he help me?’

She looks into my eyes and says with a confirming smile: ‘The doctor is one of the best in his field of business. Don’t worry about a thing. Now, if you’d take a seat right over there where the chairs are, the doctor will be with you soon. Could I offer you something to drink?’

‘No thanks, I’m good.’ I tell her, and I go to sit down where she asked me to. I look at my watch, and see it’s 20 minutes to 3. Pff… all this waiting. I look at the window placed above the door where I came in and I notice that it started raining. I can also hear a very faint rumble in the distance. I listen to the sound of the weather, and try to pass the time that way.

8.

‘Sir?’

Woah… I zoned off for a while. I look to my left and notice that the receptionist is looking at me, trying to get my attention.

‘The doctor is ready to see you now. If you’d walk up the stairs, it’s the first door on your right.’

I get up and mumble a quick thanks to her, then proceed to walk up the stairs. First door on my right… right. I climbed the stairs and arrive at the first door. There’s a gold plated plaque on the door, saying:

~~Dr. Adam Sethe, Dream Doctor~~

I smirked a little bit at the thought of it. Having a title like this probably doesn’t get you much respect in the academic world, let alone in any world. But I shouldn’t think about him this way. He might be able to help me more than I expect. I knock on the door twice and wait for a response from behind the door.

‘Come in!’

I open the door and walk in. The room was very different from the rest of the building I’ve seen so far. Marble floors and walls suddenly turned into wooden laminate flooring and oak walls. I look around and notice a man, sitting in his chair. As soon as my eyes cross his, he gets up from behind his desk and walks towards me to shake my hand.

‘Welcome, I hope you could find it easily.’ he says.

‘Piece of cake…’ I reply to him.

‘Hm… well, let’s get started then, shall we?’

I nod to him and walk towards his desk to sit down. I wait for him to sit down as well.

‘Do you mind if I smoke?’ he asks me.

‘No, it’s okay.’ I say and he immediately proceeds to light his cigarette.

The man looks a bit old, yet sophisticated. He was your typical shrink type of person. Grey beard, grey hair and some glasses pinned down on his nose. I observe him for a little bit. I don’t even notice that he’s doing exactly the same. Only a few minutes later I snap out of my zone and notice that he’s staring back at me. Right as I snap out of it, he starts talking.

‘Right, now that we’re back on earth, I understand that you’ve been having some trouble sleeping properly. What I’d like you to do now, is dig through your memory and try to figure out what it is exactly that you’ve been seeing in your dreams, what you’ve been feeling and what makes you feel so afraid.’

I hesitate… I don’t like to think back to it…

‘I understand that you have trouble going back to your nightmares. And it’s perfectly normal. But to get to the core of the problem, you have to remember, you have to feel the thing that’s bothering you. Only that way I can help you. Take your time… there’s no rush.’

I look at him and notice that he’s serious. He waits for me to talk. I start thinking back to the first night.

‘The first nightmare involved three things that scared the hell out of me. My eyesight was partially gone, there was a silence that scared the living hell out of me and my chest was hurting so badly I could feel my body collapsing inward…
The second nightmare I had involved even more darkness. I couldn’t see anything. I was completely blind and could only see for what… 1 meter? And that was with a flashlight. I encountered a light, held by someone. I can’t remember his face, but it was a man. The man was hurt, bloody. Dead.
The third nightmare I had, was this morning in the office. I was stuck. I couldn’t move. I was trapped in nothingness. And the briefcase. What’s with the briefcase?
That’s all I can remember doctor. What can you make from all of this?’

I got out of my memory and see that the doctor isn’t in his chair anymore. He’s pacing around the room, lost in his thoughts. He then says:

‘A very peculiar case, that’s for sure. Let me first tell you that dreams are generally considered games of the mind. People tell you that dreams are nothing but an illusion, a practical joke played by the brain. But I don’t share that viewpoint on dreams.
To me, dreams have a red line in them. This red line usually stretches through several dreams, creating a story. Then there’s also a blue, green and maybe thousands of other lines that swirl around the red line, making up details around the story that the red line makes. The red line gives out facts; it basically predicts your future.

Usually our mind doesn’t remember what the red line of your dream indicated about things that are going to happen in the future. Yet sometimes the red line gives out indications so strong, that your mind does in fact remember it. You get the feeling that you already experienced a moment when it comes. That’s what people call déjà-vu. French for ‘already seen’.
As for you, my friend, the dreams that you may be having is a way of that red line, trying to tell you something, trying to make you see something that is about to happen. From what I understand is that your dreams are getting less painful right? I mean, you regained your vision and you felt a certain form of enjoyment in the last dream, right? At first, that is of course.’

I nod. ‘They’re scary as hell still. But not as painful.’

‘So maybe your dreams are trying to protect you from, or warn you for something. For some reason they tell you a story in a reverse order. There’s probably a reason for it.’

I look at him and ask: ‘So do I have to fear for my life? I mean… I did feel a lot of pain in my dreams.’

‘There’s no need to fear for your life, however you can’t be too careful. At this point you can’t really tell anything for sure. Just know that the red line isn’t always the dominant line in your dreams. Sometimes, the blue line sends out a message too. Your pain might’ve been caused by the blue line, but it’s only the red line that tells you actual facts. However, at this point you might not know which line tells you what.’

I look at him again and honestly, I believe that this man is crazy. I get up and reach for my wallet.

‘Righty-o. Thanks for wasting my time. Here’s 50 bucks. If you want to scam people for their money, at least come up with a story that makes sense. Bye.’

I turn around and walk away. As soon as I touch the doorknob, the doctor says:

‘Don’t come back to me saying that I didn’t warn you.’

He barely finished his sentence and lightning and thunder struck outside, making it feel like the building was shaking. The room lit up for a few seconds, then went back to its normal state.
I look out the window, and so does the doctor. He turns to face me again.

‘Well that was kind of cliché, wasn’t it.’

‘You’re a crazy man.’ I tell him and I walk out the office.

I descend the stairs and walk past the receptionist. She asks me:

‘How was your meeting with the doctor, sir?’

‘Bad, thanks, bye.’ I say and I walk out the front door, pulling my coat over my head as I run through the rain towards my car.

9.

I drove straight home. I open my door and drop my keys in the basket on the phone table near the door. I’m soaked; it’s been starting to rain even heavier. And I only walked from the car to my house.

The words of the doctor still float around in my mind. This guy… how does someone get so desperate for people to believe him. I walk into my living room and sit down in my favorite lounge chair. I wipe the water out of my face and rub my eyes. I’m a wreck. I close my eyes for a few seconds and feel the darkness taking me to sleep…

No… not now. I’m not going to sleep right now. I’ll take a shower first. I get up and walk up the stairs towards the bathroom. I undress and step into the shower cabin, closing the cabin doors behind me.

Finally something I’ve been looking forward to all day, a nice hot shower. I let the water flow over me, but it takes me some time to realize that the water isn’t flowing away the same way it usually does. Dammit, are the pipes clogged again? The water is up to my ankles at this point and I kneel at the drainage to try and find something that blocks the water from flowing away in the plughole. I can’t find anything… The problem must lay deeper in the pipe system. I guess that’s the end of my shower.

I turn the knobs to stop the water flow, but the water keeps coming. What the hell? The water has risen until my knees now and the only thing I can think of doing now is open my shower doors. I push against the doors, but there’s no movement in them. The steam of the hot water is building up against the cabin walls. I turn around quickly again to see if I can turn off the water anyway, but realize that the knobs are gone. Did they fall into the water?

I take a deep breath and go underwater to look for the knobs. I can’t see anything shiny and metallic, however the bottom of the cabin feels dirty. I scrape my hands across the bottom to find out how it suddenly got so dirty. I move my head up, expecting to get out of the water, but the water level suddenly seems to have risen meters above me. I try and jump, to get above it, but it doesn’t work. I’m starting to get out of breath and I can’t hold it much longer… I need air.

I push my hands across the surface of the cabin walls, trying to open the doors, but I don’t succeed. My lungs are on fire and I can’t help my reflex to gasp for air, only to fill my lungs with water. Panicky, I try and look outside, through the transparent doors. My vision gets less clear and my head starts to hurt real badly. With my last bit of vision, I can make out something through the doors. It’s the silhouette of 4 men standing there, looking at me. Looking at me suffering, wanting me to die.

10.

I jump out of my place, face first on the floor, screaming. I’m in tears. I don’t know where I am right now. All I know is that I’m tired of it. So tired. I breathe heavily trying to get my grip on what’s reality. I’m losing my mind. I’m trying to look around, but I feel dizzy and can only make out flashes of the environment as I look around. Slowly I start to see things sharper, getting a feel of where I am again.

I’m in my house. Okay, that’s good. Where in my house am I? There’s a chair… coffee table… kitchen door… Okay. I’m in my living room. I turn around and look at the place I fell out of. It’s my chair. I fell asleep in my chair. How long has it been? I feel my clothes and hair and notice that I’m still wet from the rain. Can’t be too long then. I look at my watch and notice that I’ve only been asleep for 6 minutes. Damn…

I guess I’m not sleeping tonight anymore.

I walk to my kitchen and start making coffee. Lots of it. I need to stay awake tonight; I can’t take another one of these nightmares. I guess I’ll be watching movies or maybe play some video games. But first things first. Coffee. Yes, that’s a good idea. Coffee.

Hours went by and I’ve been watching 3 or 4 movies at this point. Although watching is kind of a big term for what I’ve actually been doing. I haven’t really been paying much attention to the movie and its story. I’ve mostly been watching some moving pictures. I think I drank at least 5 cups of coffee already. What time is it now? I look at my watch and see that it’s 3:15AM.

Better turn up the volume of the TV to keep me awake. I look for the remote, but I can’t find it. Must’ve fallen on the floor. I get up after sitting for 8 hours straight, trying to see if the remote is on the ground. But mere seconds after I get up, my vision goes black, my head starts spinning and my body goes numb and I crumble down on the floor.

…should learn… not to get up… too fast.

11.

I open my eyes and see a familiar environment. The forest…

I immediately jump up to look around, scared about what might happen this time. I stretch out my arms to feel if there are any walls. But there aren’t. I walk forward and notice that I’m not bound to any radius to walk freely in. There’s lots of background noise as usual. Just like last time.

‘There you are.’

I suddenly hear a voice behind me, and it scared me. I turn around quickly and see someone I didn’t expect to see here. Not in this state anyway.

‘Good to see you here right on time …’ my boss said.

I look at him, surprised and say: ‘Sure thing, why wouldn’t I be?’

He drives closer to me with his handicap vehicle and continues to speak to me. His voice… it echoes a little bit. And some parts of his speech cut out…

‘Well both … good with you lately. So how … doctor? … it did, otherwise you wouldn’t have … right?
Anyway, yesterday I told … you. … pretty important. I want you to … operating in. There are some issues … close and I want to take matters … escalate and … mayhem. But I don’t … right? After all, you’re … big thing. Now then, let’s go, shall we?’

I focused as hard as I could to try and understand what he was saying, but I couldn’t make much from it. I try to signal him that I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but he doesn’t seem to understand what I’m trying to make clear.

‘Sir… I don’t really know what you’re getting at…’

He looks at me with a funny look and turns his vehicle around, saying:

‘Hahaha! Some joker you are. Come on, let’s go.’

I need to follow him, so I start walking after him. But his vehicle is too quick and starts speeding up more. I try to call out that he needed to go slower, but I realize that it isn’t him who’s going faster; it’s me who’s going slower. I look down and notice that my feet got stuck in the ground, as if the ground suddenly turned into hot asphalt, waiting to dry. I get more trouble walking with every step, and at a certain moment, my whole foot gets stuck and I can’t move anymore. I try to pull my foot loose from the substance that’s on the floor, but don’t succeed.

I lose my balance and fall over. My face hits the ground and the ground starts absorbing it as well. I try to pull myself out of it with all my power, but it doesn’t let me. The last thing I hear is the voice of an unknown man, telling me that I need to slow down…

12.

Slow down?

That phrase rushes through my head as I wake up swiftly again, noticing I’m on the floor of my living room. What time is it?

I look at the clock on my TV-stand and see that it’s 6AM. I get up, I can feel my body shaking a little. My head hurts, probably from that fall I made last night. I walk to my kitchen to get a drink. I might as well take some aspirin too. Damn, I hate aspirin.

I walk back to the living room and sit down in front of my television. I place my arms on the sides of the chair and feel the remote laying on the arm of the chair. Weird…

Let’s see if there’s something interesting on TV. I ended up zapping for two hours. There’s never anything interesting on TV anymore. The only thing that caught my attention was the news, talking about a storm that’s passing through the area. Oh well… at least it’s time to go to work. I put on my working clothes, brush my teeth and go out.

Indeed… the weather man didn’t lie. I pull my coat above my head as I walk out and rush to my car. I drive off and once again, the streets are pretty empty. Who can blame people anyway? With this weather, I’d rather stay inside too. At least I can kind of step on it.

I drive through town, approximately ten km/h above the speed limit. Suddenly I see lights flashing in my rear view mirror and I can hear an alarm sounding. Damn… just what I need. I pull over, turn off the engine and wait for whatever is going to happen next.

Looking in my side view mirror, I see an officer stepping out of his car, walking towards my car. I roll down the window to hear what he has to say.

‘Sir, do you realize that you were driving 60 in a 50 zone?’

I don’t really feel like staying here and talking with him for long. So I answer short and polite:
‘Yes officer, I was aware of that fact. I just felt that those extra 10 km/h’s couldn’t hurt, since the streets are deserted anyway.’

He looks at me, a bit annoyed and says: ‘Sir, do you realize that a speed limit still is a speed limit, even if the road is deserted?’

‘Yes officer, I realize that. It was my bad, and it won’t happen again.’

‘Alright, I’ll let you off with a warning this time. Just remember to slow down when you’re driving in urban areas, alright?’

A bell rang in my head. ‘Excuse me? What did you say?’

The officer looks at me and asks me: ‘Do you have trouble hearing, sir? Or can’t you grasp the simple concept of road safety? Slow. Down. When. In. Urban. Areas.’

I can feel my heart beating in my throat. I nod to the officer and roll up the window as he walks away. Slow down… slow down… Déjà vu?

I sit idle for a few minutes, before turning on the engine again and driving off. I turn my rear view mirror towards me and see that my skin turned very pale all of a sudden.

13.

I simple refuse to believe the words of the doctor. That man was out of his mind. Dreams predicting the future? No way.

I arrive at the office, park my car and run to the entrance, with my coat covering my head. I don’t greet the receptionist, nor Hank and walk straight up towards my boss’ office.

As I arrive there, I knock on the door and rush in as soon as I heard my boss saying I could come in.

‘There you are. Good to see you here right on time …’ my boss says.

I look at him, surprised and say: ‘Sure thing, why wouldn’t I be?’

Only just realizing what happened when I came in, I quickly cover my mouth. My boss looks at me, a bit confused, but proceeds to talk.

‘Well both you and I know that things haven’t been going very good with you lately. So how was your visit with the doctor? Did it do any good? Surely it did, otherwise you wouldn’t have been here at this time, right?’

I don’t even know what to answer. He continues talking.

‘Anyway, yesterday I told you about this favor I wanted to ask you. It’s pretty important. I want you to accompany me to visit the area that we’re going to be operating in. There are some issues concerning this deal we’re about to close and I want to take matters into my own hand, before things escalate and could probably cause a lot of mayhem. But I don’t have to tell you that, right? After all, you’re the main man who led us to this big thing. Now then, let’s go, shall we?’

There’s the ongoing feeling of déjà vu again. In the past I would always try and continue a déjà vu for as long as possible, before my memory lost the trail of what was going to happen next…

But this time I don’t want that to happen. I want to tell my boss that I can’t do him this favor, but all that comes out of my mouth is:

‘Sir… I don’t really know what you’re getting at…’

My boss drives around his desk towards the door, turns his head and laughs, calling me a joker.
‘Come on, let’s go.’

I’m scared. Could the doctor be right?

14.

‘Let’s take my car, it’s modified to carry me and my vehicle around,’ my boss says as he throws his keys towards me. I catch them and look at them. I notice my hands are shaking too. The déjà vu ended, but still I couldn’t help but think about what the doctor had told me. I walked to the driver’s door, opened it and sat down. It took me a minute to realize that my boss wasn’t entering the car.

Right… he doesn’t walk. I get out of the car and walk to the back of the car. My boss is sitting there with a funny look on his face. I can’t blame him. It’s pouring outside and both of us are already soaked from the trip from the office to the car. I open the back doors and jump in the car to bring out the rails that are kept in the back. My boss drives over them, giving me a faint smile as he enters the vehicle. I fasten the straps to keep his vehicle steady, put the rails back in and jump out the back.

Right… now. Where to go?
I get in the driver’s seat and start the car. There’s a walkie-talkie on the dashboard. It has a flashing light on it. I pick up the mic and say:

‘Boss? You can hear me?’

I wait for a response and sure enough, he can hear me.
‘Yeah buddy, I hear you,’ he says. ‘Now, I want you to drive to the address that’s pinned down under the sun visor. The address should be familiar to you; you’ve seen it many times before. In case you don’t know how to get there, there’s a GPS installed in the car.’

For some reason, I don’t need it. I do remember the address. I’ve seen it yesterday. I know exactly how to get there, although I don’t know how I know.
As I start driving, the rain starts getting heavier as well. The windshield wipers are at full speed and are having a hard time wiping away the enormous amounts of water which are flowing on the window…

My brain is on autopilot right now. I don’t have to focus on controlling the car. All that’s on my mind at this point is the gnawing feeling of discomfort.

‘Boss? Could you remind me who we are visiting again?’ I ask him.

‘What’s wrong with you, man? We’ve been struggling with this issue for a long time now. And I finally figured a way to get rid of the issue and you can’t even remember what this is all about? Sometimes I think you’re not as smart as you usually seem on a normal day.’

A loud laugh followed his demeaning comments. I keep on driving without talking. But the closer we get to the destination, the more anxious I feel.

Arriving at our destination, I try to make out some landmarks. I’m trying to see why this place seems so familiar. But the rain is too heavy to see anything through the windows. I pick up the walkie and say:

‘Boss… we’re here.’

‘Good,’ he replies to me. ‘Could you unload me please? Bwahahaha!!! That sounded disrespectful if I do say so myself. But in all seriousness, could you help me out?’

I take a look out the window, already feeling the amount of water I will get over me if I get out now.

‘Sir? Don’t you think it’s better to wait for it to dry a little bit before we get out?’

‘Nonsense. What are you made of? Sugar? Come and get me out of here. We can’t be late for our meeting.’

Reluctantly, I put down the walkie, take the keys out of the contact and open the door. I jump out quickly and within seconds, I’m soaked. Running to the back of the car, I try to look around to see if I recognize the place. I… I do recognize it… I know I shouldn’t be here.

I stand still for a few seconds, trying to push away the feeling of panic that suddenly came over me. I hear my boss smacking the inside of the car. Quickly, I get out of my zone and walk towards the back of the car. I open the door and my boss is ready to drive out. He drives forward without waiting for me to put down the rails and jumps his vehicle out of the car. A loud smack follows, but his vehicle still works.

‘Slowpoke…’ he mumbles to me. ‘Come on, let’s go, we’re running late.’

I look at him while he drives off and I walk after him. But I want to get an explanation from him. I start talking as I walk.

‘Hey! Just… stop there. With all due respect, sir, I’ve been asking you several times what this was all about. And you just won’t answer me. Really, I need to know what we are about to do. I’m not joking around here… My mind is a complete blank! I really… really don’t know what this big thing is all about. So please, I’m asking you. What are we about to do?’

He stops his vehicle from moving and looks back at me.

‘My friend… obviously you haven’t had the best days ever. I realize that. But this thing we’re about to take care of? It’s not something to forget about, even if you’re stressed out. Especially since you and me are the ones who caused it. These people we are about to meet aren’t in the best time of their lives right now, and it’s because of us. Personally, I don’t give a damn about them. But it’s time to take care of business. And if your mind is troubling you, well… you should’ve thought about that before we caused all of this. Now get your act together and stop pretending you can’t remember shit! There’s loads of money to win or lose here. And I’d rather choose to win.’

He drove onwards after his speech and I reluctantly follow him, still unclear about what I’m doing here. The rain keeps falling down on us, the wind blowing in our backs. I can’t stand the rain anymore, I can’t see how my boss can be so unmoved by it. This whole time I’m following him, I’m looking at him, trying to figure out what he means to say. Damn, I can’t even remember what kind of work I do. Is it because of my nightmares that I remember so very few about my life?

My boss suddenly stops in front of a dark alleyway.

‘Here it is.’

15.

I look inside the alleyway and wonder what kind of meeting he has set up.

‘It’s here? In this alleyway?’

‘Yes. It is. What’s the matter? Afraid of the darkness?’

I don’t want to admit it to him, but I am in fact afraid of the darkness. Especially after the past few days and nights. My boss turns his vehicle, switches on his headlights and drives into the alley. I can see the rain falling quickly and swiftly in front of the light beam, once again reminding me of the terrible weather.

I stop walking for a second. I feel something… I feel familiarity with this place. I turn around to see what’s across the street. I squint to make out some details of the building across it. My eyes suddenly grow bigger as I see where I am… I gasp for air as fear runs through my body. I wipe away the water from my face, hoping that what I saw was just an illusion. But it’s not. I’m looking straight at the doctor’s building. My memory… it’s much clearer all of a sudden.

‘Hey! Stop slowing us down!’ my boss yells at me.

I quickly turn around and run towards him. I jump in front of his vehicle, begging him to stop moving.

‘Stop… please. I have a bad feeling about this. I… I remember now. This neighborhood. It’s going to be torn down, right? We were planning to destroy it, right? That’s what this is all about, isn’t it?’

My boss looks at me and smiles. ‘Welcome back to the demolition team, my friend.’

He starts moving further, pushing me aside, leaving me standing there with nothing but his empty response.

Though I remember now. It’s my job.
I’m the person responsible for the upcoming destruction of this part of town…
But I can’t stay here alone. I need to follow my boss and help him out. I can’t leave him to do this on his own, especially since my senses tell me that things aren’t going to end too well today…
I walk after him into the alleyway, until he suddenly stops driving. I stop as well and try to see what’s at the end of the alley. The rain is flowing down my face, getting into my nose and mouth as I breathe. It’s so heavy that it almost feels as if I’m drowning while standing here.

Drowning?

Oh god no… a fear shook through my heart as I look down the alleyway and make out a silhouette in the distance. I remember this. The rain, the feeling of drowning. The 4 men.

I shout to my boss:
‘Boss! We need to get out of here! NOW! It’s a trap!’

He turns his head around to look at me, shocked by my sudden panic. His mouth opens to tell me something. But before he can make out a sound, I feel a hard hit on the back of my head, instantly making my vision blurry. I drop down on the ground, into the cold water that was pouring down my face before.

16.

‘100 grant? He wanted to give us a 100 grant to silence us?’

‘It would’ve taken a lot more to convince us. The greedy son of a bitch. Did he really think that he would get away with a lousy offer like this?’

‘Doesn’t matter now. We keep the money and we’ll get rid of those two.’

‘It doesn’t feel right to me. 100 grant to be divided amongst us? What about all the families that will lose their house because of these two?’

‘Come on, man. Think logically for once. No main contractor, no deal with the government, no destruction of the area. Should make sense.’

‘Maybe you’re right… But are you willing to kill two people for a 100 grant?’

‘These two here aren’t people. They’re vermin. The dirt of today’s society. All they care about is money and that’s it.’

‘Alright, so… we split the money even? 20,000 each?’

‘Sure.’

I hear 5 voices around me. I slowly am able to open my eyes. I notice I’m not outside anymore. The floor on which I’m laying is dry. I feel cold. I try to make a sound and ask what’s going on. Before I can even say anything, one of the men notices I’m not knocked out anymore. He walks towards me and kneels in front of me. He starts talking to me.

‘Hey there sunshine… how was your sleep? I wouldn’t worry too much if it wasn’t good, because soon enough you won’t have to worry about sleeping anymore. Hell, you don’t even have to worry about waking up either.’

He gets up again and walks towards the table they were standing around to pick up something. I hear two clicks and the man appears to pick up something heavy. I try to see what it is, but I already know what’s coming. I try to shield my face from the briefcase he’s going to hit me with, but I can’t move my arms quickly enough. I feel a pain flashing through my head and I lose consciousness again.

17.

I can’t move again. I’m stuck. I try to move my body, but it feels just like in my dream. Am I dreaming now? I could be. But I don’t think so. This feels a lot more vivid than it would in a dream. I try to feel what’s holding me from moving.

It’s not the invisible walls. It’s rope. My wrists are tied to something, my middle is too. The rope is so tight that I have trouble breathing. I can’t move my legs either.

It appears I’m in some kind of cellar. There’s light shining through a small window above me. It looks like I’m below the floor. It has stopped storming and raining too…

Fuck! My boss! I didn’t even think about him. I try to look around to see if I can find any trace of him around me. I want to call out for him, but I know that it’s not the best idea at this point. I start moving, trying to get out of this chair. I’m moving my entire body, trying to get loose. But I don’t succeed. I lose my balance bouncing around, and fall down on the floor.

So this is what the doctor wanted to make me see. He was right. He was oh so right. My dreams did tell me what was about to happen. And I just let it happen too. Why didn’t I want to listen? I could’ve still been in my apartment, watching movies at this point… I close my eyes and let out a single tear. I feel my end is nearing. If my dreams were accurate so far… who knows what’s going to happen to me.

I didn’t even finish my thought or the door on top of the stairs that led down to the cellar flew open. I quickly turned my gaze towards the door and in the door opening I see the same image I saw in my dream.

It’s a man. His clothes are ripped. He’s bloody. He’s dead.

My boss’ lifeless body tumbled down the stairs, making the dust on the floor spread out as he hit the cold stone tiles. I look at the body and I can’t believe what I’m seeing.

Why did I ignore the dream I had? Why did I… Two men come running down the stairs, before I can finish my thought. They cut me loose from my chair and drag me up the stairs. No matter how much I struggle to get out of their grip, I don’t succeed.

‘Please… I don’t want to die. Don’t do this please… I didn’t mean to do what I did. It was an accident…’

I look at them desperately, but they don’t seem to be interested in whatever I have to say. I get dragged to what looks like a hallway. The 5 men are looking at me as I get dropped on the floor. I keep begging them not to do what they did to my boss. One man steps forward and holds a piece of cloth in front of him.

‘No… I don’t want that. I don’t like the darkness. Don’t put it on, please. Don’t blindfold me; I’m afraid of the darkness!’

The man doesn’t seem to want to listen and he puts it on anyway. I struggle to make sure he can’t put it on. But with the last bit of energy I have in my body, I can’t really get much done.

‘Hey… Hey! Stop struggling. It’s not like you can do something anyway. It’s better that we blindfold you before doing this.’

I ask him: ‘Do what?’

The man sighs, some of the others laugh.

‘What? You think we were going to throw you a surprise party? Nah, it’s much different from that. You see, what we’re about to do, doesn’t just benefit us. People like you… people who only care about money and their precious business, they destroy this world. Let me ask you, rhetorically of course, because I can’t really care about what you actually have to say for yourself; how much money would you’ve made, from destroying this block?

2 million? Perhaps 3 million?
Not a bad score. For destroying hundreds of people’s lives!!!’

The man fell silent for a few seconds after that outburst. I can hear him pacing around the room.

‘Were you really able to live with that on your conscience?
Are you really that cold of a stone? Surely you’re not going to make me believe that ‘you didn’t know’?
Because we all know that you did know. And not just you, no… that dirt bag of a boss of yours too. And you saw what happened to him.’

I reply to him, desperately:
‘Please man… I’m sorry. I really am.’

He laughs at my response and proceeds to talk:‘Sorry? You’re sorry? Bullshit you are… You’re sorry because you’re about to die. And dying you will. Goodbye.’

Oh god… I close my eyes, waiting for what’s about to happen. I can already feel the pain from my dream rushing through me. I can hear the sound of a gun clicking, then firing two, three times. I can feel the bullets piercing my chest, giving me the actual pain I’ve felt in my dream too. Only this time… it’s real. And I won’t wake up. It’s not a dream. It’s reality… The pain is real. And my dying is real.

18.

‘No it’s not.’

I hear a faint voice, slowly getting closer.

‘It isn’t real. Well… it WAS real. Past tense. So did you find out what you wanted to know?’

I open my eyes and notice that I’m lying on a couch. I look up and let my gaze flow around the room I’m in. Oak walls… I move myself upward to get my orientation back.

‘Not that easy, was it? Most of my clients don’t take stuff like this seriously. But as I said before, it does hurt and it might make you feel empty afterwards. But for some that’s a good thing.’

My vision slowly becomes less blurry. I sit on the side of the couch, my head in between my hands, trying to figure out what just happened.

‘Don’t shield yourself from what’s here and now, my friend. And stop dwelling in the past. You came to me looking for answers. And answers you got…
Here, take this, it’ll help with the headache.’

I take the mug that the man is offering me. His voice sounds familiar. I look up and stare into a pair of familiar looking eyes.
‘Doctor Sethe?’

‘Call me Adam, please,’ he said with a confirming smile. I wanted to ask him some things; I wanted to clear up what just had happened to me.

‘Hey… did I just die? Am I dreaming right now? What did you do to me in the office that I don’t know of?’

He sits back down at his desk and puts his feet on the table.

‘Well, well, looks like you won’t change. Always looking for answers, never satisfied with what you got. Alright then, here we go: Yes, you died. You are dead. Did you die just now? No, you didn’t. Now, with that information, let that brain of yours work and start digging in your memory. Why are you here with me?’

I start thinking… I start running through the flashes of my memory, trying to look for some images that can explain what happened to me. Flash after flash runs through my mind, until I encounter something I haven’t seen in the past days. Everything in the memory is grey. I close my eyes and focus on the moving images.

19.

I see myself walking around, trying to talk to random people that are walking around a cold, grey looking area. Nobody seems to want to respond to me. Their skin looks pale and rotten. They don’t have hair. All they do is shuffle around, not sure where to go. I look at my own hands and I notice that my skin has gotten pale as well. Everything is silent. There’s no noise.
Every now and then one of my own thoughts breaks through the barrier of silence.

‘Help me…’ is what I say. ‘Help me figure out what happened to me.’

But nobody seems to be able to hear me. I look around me, trying to see if there’s something or someone who can help me. In the distance is a building. None of the other people seem to notice it. I start walking towards the large building.

After what seemed to have been an eternity, I arrive at the building. The material looks brand new, and it seems to shine more than anything else in this area. I walk up the stairs and open the door.

I walk in. As soon as I enter, there’s a man lifting himself out of a chair in the large hallway. There seems to be sound again… He walks towards me and says:

‘Glad you could come. I was expecting you. Follow me and I promise you that after this, you will feel much better. Dr. Adam Sethe is the name, nice to meet you.’

A huge flash suddenly kills my vision and I feel a sickening lurch, pulling me out of the memory. The flash slowly fades away and I’m back in the doctor’s office.

‘You remember now, do you?’ He said.

‘I came to you… for help. I wanted to know how I died. You’ve been helping me figure out how I came to my end!’

He nods, then proceeds to speak: ‘That’s right, I did. And I have to tell you, you didn’t die in the most comfortable way. But then again, you probably deserved it, right?’

I look at him and want to protest, but I know deep down that he’s right.

‘Yes, Adam. I deserved it. But I still don’t get it. All this time I was tracing back my steps, thinking I was living in the real world. But if I understand correctly, I had already been dead this entire time?’

‘Correct.’

‘Then what was the forest all about? My nightmares I was having? The shower, the darkness, the pain? That all actually happened somewhere around… here? The real world I thought I was living in was nothing but an illusion? A dream?’

‘Correct.’

‘But how?’

‘Take a look at this.’ He gets out of his chair and walks to the window. ‘Come now, you might want to see this to fully understand.’

I get up and walk to the window to look out.
‘It’s the forest! It’s so vivid compared to the rest of the grey environment…
You… you’ve been watching me go through all the horror? Or… was it you who made that happen?’

‘Well, if you put it that way, it may seem pretty harsh, but that’s basically true, yes. You came to me, hoping to reclaim some of your memory. But you see, the process of getting parts of your memory back after you die, consists of two parts.

As soon as people walk into my office here, I can tell how and why they died. That’s why I’m here, that’s my purpose in death. However, when I try to tell them, they won’t believe it. They don’t remember it. So I have to take different actions.

By putting my clients through several things that appeared in their lives prior to their deaths, I try to stir up their memories.’

During his speech, I keep looking at the forest. I then say, with a mind as clear as crystal:
‘You made me drown to remind me of the rain. You hit me with the briefcase to tell me about the money. You closed me into an invisible box to remind me of the ropes that bound me to my chair. You showed my dead boss, you showed the darkness from being blindfolded and you made me feel the pain of a gunshot wound…’

I look at him; he looks back at me and says with a smile:
‘Pretty genius huh… But, that’s not all. There’s a second part to the memory regaining process. You see, the death also dream. They do. They don’t do it very often either, mostly when they want to remember something important.
However, the memory of a death person is very bad, to say the least.

I had been struggling with this thing for a while. Prior to your visit here, I had loads of clients who just couldn’t link the things I put them through, with what happened to them before their death. Very troublesome.
I made a visit to one of your dreams, remember that?’

‘Yeah I do remember…’

‘Now, I’m sure you also remember what I told you about my theory about dreaming, right? You seemed to think I was nuts. But with all the new things you experienced now, it doesn’t seem very implausible anymore, does it?’

I walk back to the couch and lay down on it. ‘No… it most certainly doesn’t. So dreams actually do predict the future?’

‘Well… it hasn’t been proven yet and probably never will, but it’s a better explanation than most others. So it got me thinking, if the dreams of the living show the future and work towards the end of a person’s life, would it be the exact opposite in death? Will the ‘death dreams’ show the past?
So I started experimenting a little bit. And sure enough, when the death dream, they dream of their past life.

So if you combine this method with my ability to make them feel how they died, I can make the death figure out how they got to their end. They can put 1 and 1 together.’

‘So everything that happened in what I thought was real life, actually happened? Even the nightmares I thought I was having?’

The doctor sighs and turns away from the window to face me and says:

‘You still don’t completely understand it… My theory… remember my theory, man. Talking about all these lines? It applies here too. These death dreams have the red line too. And the blue, green or whatever color line. It works the same way, only here the red line shows parts of the past instead of the future.

Who knows, you might’ve fallen asleep at the office, maybe you spent 8 hours staring at a television screen sipping away liters of coffee. But maybe you didn’t do those things at all.

You probably didn’t even have nightmares when you were still alive. Perhaps the green line sent out that message; however the green line doesn’t show the truth. But one thing is for sure. You did get killed. And that’s what the red line offers you, and that’s what it wanted to show you.’

My mind is blank. I don’t know what to say or think anymore. I should be happy with what I know. After all, I came here to find help remembering. But somehow I don’t feel free.

‘You don’t feel free, huh…’ he says. ‘Don’t worry, you’re dead. You’re not supposed to feel free. Death isn’t a joy, I tell that to all my clients here. I just wish they would’ve lived a better and healthier life so I wouldn’t have to put them through all their misery, even after their deaths.
It’s not a fun task I have to do here. But I hope I can at least help people get closure. Now, if you’d excuse me, I got some more clients to take care of.’

I get off the couch, still not sure what to say to him. He walks towards me and shakes my hand. He then leads me outside, into the grey environment I remember so clearly was around the house. I descend the stairs in front of the building and blend in with the people shuffling around. I turn around to look at the building one last time, but… it’s already gone.

I turn around again to blend in some more and I start to feel in place. Every second more that the house is gone, the volume and sound of the bleak environment turn lower and lower. I look to my right and smile at the dead person walking next to me. He looks back and smiles at me too. With the last bit of sound in the area, I speak to him:

‘Hey boss…’

Credit Link – www.youtube.com/SpaceShuttleG

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Seeing, Really Seeing

November 6, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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Sometimes, you really can’t understand what someone is going through. You have to go through the same. Live through the same. Face the same disasters and torments they have.

I haven’t seen her in a while. It’s been almost 8 years. Of course, I would’ve visited her sooner, but I have a job, a life I have to keep up with. I couldn’t see her and risk all that I had worked for, all I held dear, fall apart. I knew what each visit brought. Another session of her thoughts, her inner turmoil, unleashed and spewing venom across every aspect of my being. I had enjoyed talking with her, yes, but that was in the beginning. When she was in control. When she was still sane. Another visit would make her even worse. Last time she was already unhinged from reality. From herself. Her nightmares had taken over. And every time I went to see her, those same monsters threatened to consume me as well.

Call it whatever you like, but I have to protect myself from her. Before it affects me even more.

Last time I understood why they locked her away from the others. Why she was no longer in touch with the world. God only knows what she’s become after 8 years.

I miss her, and I don’t want to leave her as she was, all alone, with no one to be with; no one to keep her grounded and help her push back all the demons that she said had invaded her mind. She deserves better, she needs a proper goodbye, at the very least.

So, instead of going to work, I make a right on Bradley Drive. I keep on going, down the long road, lined with the forest, and make my way up the hill, in the clearing, where Williams House stands. The Institution.
As I pull up to the front gates, I get a much better view of the building, and see that it is in serious need of maintenance. I get out of my car and head towards the entrance, taking note of the weeds and vines consuming Williams House. A painful creak of the rusting gates informs me that people are a rare visit to the institution nowadays. I glance at the front doors, and then I see the notice plastered across them.

DO NOT ENTER
By order of the State of Massachusetts, the Williams House and Institution for the Mentally Unstable has been shut down until further notice due to the architectural faults and other general hazards. Trespassers will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
September 28th, 1962
Building Inspector Arnold Lewis-Ramsay

Shut down.
That means she’s not here anymore.
And I never got to give her a proper farewell…

A minor setback for me, but I was nevertheless determined. I needed to see for myself that she was truly, and forever, gone.
I headed towards the East wing of the building, where, somewhere among the bricks that made up Williams House, was a door.
Having reached the East wing, I began feeling my way around the ivy-ridden wall for the old brass doorknob that was my gateway inside. After what felt like hours of searching, my hand grazed metal, and pulling back the ivy that crawled up the building, opened the door and stepped inside Williams House.

It was definitely abandoned. In need of a good dusting, roof repair, and some new wallpaper, as the current one was peeling. It reeked of old; the musky air threatened to choke me, consume me and trap me here for eternity. I was sure I was the only one to visit since the building inspector.

I headed up the flight of stairs, to the fifth floor, for one last look at where she had dwelt. Each step made a creak that echoed through the wing as I crept up the stairs, and the early morning sun slowly transformed to afternoon daylight, sending streaks of light through the crumbling building. As I reached the fifth floor, the conversations of long past started seeping into my mind, and before long, I was in front of her room, every word she had said to me flooding my brain…

“…You know I’m stuck here forever, don’t feed me any this bullshit you call freedom.”
“I just don’t want to see you so…so…confined…”
“Well, I’ve got you, it makes staying here easier…”
“I guess so, I’d probably love it if someone visited me in your position.”
“Yeah, it’s real nice. But for me, it’s more than a visit. You’ve helped me to see the better part of this. And when I can’t find anything good about this place, you show me one I’ve overlooked. You help me out.”
“You’re always saying how there’s nothing to see in this place, but have you looked outside lately? The flowers are just starting to pop out after the long winter, the birds are coming back, even the trees have their own way of showing beauty.”
“Ok, ok. So Spring is finally coming around. But Spring comes every year.”
“I come every week, and you still haven’t gotten tired of me.”
“That’s true; I just wish I could actually go outside for once, y’know? Smell the flowers, not just see them from my window. Lie on the field, not just look at it. Go into the forest, and actually touch the trees again and feel the earth and grass tickling my toes. I want to be in the forest, not just see the same part of it every day from this hell-hole.”
“You’ll be there soon, and I’ll be there with you.”
“There you go, feeding me a fantasy again. I’m just tired. Of all of this. Of the fact that I’ve been labeled as a freak. Mentally unstable, as they like to call it. I’m tired of being here, knowing that these are the only walls I’ll see for the rest of my life. No one except you sees me anymore. I’m a lost cause, even to my family. They don’t even bother with me anymore because they know I’m going to rot in here. I’m never getting out, and you know it.”
“Don’t be like that, you’ve been controlling yourself for as long as I’ve known you, and I’ve known you for a long time. There have definitely been worse than you in this place. They’ll let you out eventually and-”
“Stop it.”
“Stop what? I’m only trying to-”
“No. You’re not cheering me up at all. They’re all lies. Every last one of them. And yet you keep telling me that I’ll be out of here soon, that my family actually does care about me, that there’s always some kind of bright side to things! You don’t know. You don’t know anything! Not one-”
“All I want to do is help, I just-”
“NO! You don’t know anything! Nothing about me! I’m stuck here forever! You don’t know what it’s like! Rotting, confined to these walls for the rest of my life!”
“I just want to help. I know what it must be like. It-”
“NO YOU DON’T! Don’t tell me that you understand! You can’t possibly know what it feels like to be abandoned! Left for dead, no one, not even your family, who’s supposed to love you, no one giving a shit about you! Letting you rot! Not one visit in 5 years!”
“…”
“You won’t understand. And you never will. You don’t know what someone’s been through until it happens to you…”

She was right, in the end. Staring at the gray walls, scratched and tainted with spots of blood here and there, I will never know what it was like for her here. I can only imagine. I stood at the window, the field she saw everyday mocking me. Mocking her. This is exactly the kind of place that confined people to their insanity, with no way of overcoming it. These walls were the cradle of her nightmares, all that grey, all that dull, all that ominous nothing, everywhere. She could never escape. Not even to reality. Even if she opened here eyes, she’d never wake up from the nightmares. These walls were what let the images roam free, enveloping her more than ever in her mind. I sat on the floor, glaring at the walls, I breathed in, and closed my eyes as I felt the simple gray color invade me…consume me…and I started to see them.

One by one, like a ghastly procession, they took over the gray. I saw things that looked like death, others too grotesque to identify, and people. There were people everywhere, but they all hid behind masks, with eyes as red as blood. Never looking away. The more I tried to look away, the more I could feel their eyes drilling holes into me… every inch of me. I shut my eyes, and it only got worse. I could hear the whispers of the night, but was it really night? The sun had abandoned me long ago. I lost track of time, noises flooded into my mind, people murmuring in my ear in a language I couldn’t recognize. I opened my eyes, wanting it to be over, wanting to get back to my car, wanting to get out of this hell, but I was trapped. I didn’t see the door to the hallway anymore. There were too many of them, they were past the walls, filling every inch of the ceiling. I couldn’t find a single spot of refuge in this room. I tried to back myself against the wall, curling up and screaming, wanting this to end. The murmuring in my ear grew to loud voices that bounced off the walls, and the red eyes closing in on me, wanting me, knowing that I was no match for them.

I couldn’t go on like this. I needed to get out. Then her voice started to seep into the mixture of murmurs and voices and satanic noises. She started to cry. She was crying everywhere in the room. The window long forgotten, blocked by all the nightmares. Now she was wailing, she was in pain, and for once, I felt her pain. Not having anyone to see, nothing but these demons in her life. Nothing but pain and anguish in this room. She was screaming now, but as it went on, her screams went from desperation to terror and fear. I couldn’t take any more.

I started screaming. Not knowing what to do, having no way of getting rid of these hellish creatures that surrounded me. I scratched at the walls, trying to make the nightmares go away, but they only snickered at me. I was a joke, a weak little life-form that didn’t know true fear and terror until now. Desperately, I clawed at my arms, my fingernails digging into my skin. I bit at my tongue until I tasted blood. I pulled and yanked at my hair. I pounded the floor, crying. I stood up and smacked the walls, slammed into them, tried to get out.

She was right. This pain, this fear, this torment was unimaginable. There was no way out, no way I could escape this horrid place, this inferno. Her words came back to me as I sank to the floor, knowing that I’d never leave this place, that I would forever live in my nightmares:

“You won’t understand. And you never will. You don’t know what someone’s been through until it happens to you…”

Credit To – I. Fernandez

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What Happens After

November 5, 2013 at 12:00 PM
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You never escape. Not really. It’s always going to be there.

Sometimes hidden away in the back of your mind in the form of a nightmarish memory. Or it sits and stares you in the face, daring you to just try and forget.

Do I consider myself lucky? Maybe. I don’t know anymore. I did at one point I suppose. I encountered something terrible. Inhuman. A real…whatever it was. It tried to hurt me. It hurt my friends, my family…all to get at me.

I don’t want to talk about “it”. Even thinking about it is causing my hands to shake. God, I’m sweating. The scars on my arms are itching at the memories flooding back. But “it” isn’t what I wanted to talk about. More, rather, I want to talk about after.

That creature killed people. And it almost killed me, but I beat it. I stopped it. Sometimes, on the darkest of days, I try to think of myself as a hero. That by stopping it, I saved countless future victims. Or that I avenged my fallen family. But I know it was just self-defense. Nothing more. A man isn’t a hero for shooting a charging bear. He’s just lucky the odds were in favor. I don’t consider myself a hero…or lucky either now.

I hear so many stories of people surviving against odd creatures. Monsters and demons…but they don’t delve into what happens after. Maybe a few lines but never the details.

You don’t hear about the countless sleepless nights staring out your dark window, imagining a beast pressing it’s head up against the window, staring and smiling. You don’t hear how they jump at the slightest creak in the house, wondering if another of its brethren has come to sink those stinking claws into you for revenge. They don’t talk about how their home is gone, lost. Not to those creatures, but to memories. You can wash away the blood from a room but not from your mind. I can still see my little brother’s room. So much…

That’s what happens after. The worst thing about that dark world that lies just out of sight of our own is knowing that it’s there. Knowing that the dark should be feared. That every creak or rustle can have something terrible behind it.

I know and worse, I can see them. Once you’ve been touched, it’s like you’re attuned for them now. You notice the small signs that give them away. I’ve seen a young boy play with a little girl who almost managed to hide the small, bloody hole in the back of her head with her long brown hair.

I’ve seen the jogger running through the park, unaware of how the trees above her rustle along at just the right intervals to constantly remain right above her. She looked just like my friend Connie too.

God, I miss her…

I’ve almost thrown up many times to the news articles outlining mysterious suicides where the victim showed no signs of depression but seem to always occur in the darkest hours of the night.

Sometimes, I wonder if I should get involved. Warn the jogger or the boy of the creatures they’ve attracted. Try to help them escape a fate that no person should be forced through. But, the truth is, I’m terrified.

If I help, I know I’ll attract them back to me. I’ve managed to keep my head down long enough after that creature to avoid any others. However, constantly sitting back and watching them target those poor people has weighed on me.

I…don’t know how much longer I can hold on.

Sometimes, on the blackest nights, when all light seems to be snuffed out, and the creaking grows in my house to where I’m sure they’ve found me, I pull out the small pistol I bought. It gives me comfort. It reminds me that those things are vulnerable at least. Claws, nasty face, or an inhuman body doesn’t make you bulletproof. Now, it’s a different comfort I feel as I place the cold barrel into my mouth. The metallic taste on my tongue and the surprisingly heavy weight in my hands seems to call to me. Offer a way out. It gives me a chance to be free from this dark knowledge.

I could never do it though. It’s not because I have some great deed left to do or even because I really want to live on. It’s because death horrifies me. It chills me to my core. Every time I think about it, my mind turns to them. I get the feeling that’s what they’re waiting for. For death to take me as he has countless others. Then I would join them in their world. Nothing would stand in their way as they claimed me like one tried to do long ago.

I just know, deep down, that the only thing that separates my world from theirs is this fragile, delicate body I live in.

So, there really is no escape. No matter how long you run or hide or forget, you can never escape the inevitable. One day, they’ll have me.

And there’s nothing I can do to stop it.

Credit To – David

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Hell Lives Inside

November 4, 2013 at 12:00 PM
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A shiver of terror runs through me, and I’m awake, gasping. I lay still, fists clenched in my sweat soaked sheets, shaking from the nightmare. Forcing my eyes open, I confront the darkness. My breath hitches in my chest as my eyes desperately search for something to focus on, but there’s nothing. This is what they call “cave-darkness” my mind tells me. An absence of light so profound your brain goes a little haywire. I don’t know how long I’ve been down here, minutes, months or years. I sleep, I dream, I awaken, I relieve myself, I scrape moss from the floor for nourishment and water from the walls for hydration. Then it’s back to sleep. My bones are sharp, and my skin hangs from my wasted body, like an ill-fitting wet-suit.

Nightmares fill my every sleeping hour, and most of the waking ones as well. My hallucinations have reached the point where I can feel the demons hot breath on my cheek, smell the rotting of the flayed and tortured creatures that hunger for flesh in the dark corners of my cell. I don’t know how I got here. I just awoke one day, still in my bed, in utter black. Normally, I had my fear of the dark under control, but this darkness was different. Not just the absence of light, but the presence of something else, an inky black terror that seeped into my very bones. I wonder if this is Hell, if maybe I was a bad person, or if there had been some kind of twisted mistake. I hoped for so long it was a dream, but can a dream stretch for eternity?

Delirious, I stumble from the damp, reeking bed and crouch beside it, my hand still on it. I had gotten lost once, stumbling around my tiny prison, smashing into the jagged rock of the walls in panic. When I finally fell to the floor I could feel the pain, and the hot, sticky blood that came with each fresh wave of agony. I let unconsciousness take me, falling straight into the night terror’s claws, and when I awoke, I crawled across the floor, groping with my hands until I found the cold metal of the bed-frame. The dream. It’s always the same, and always different, composed of my deepest fears and the darkest of sins. Every situation is new, a fresh horror born of my imagination, but the feeling is the same. The same terror, unnatural, freezing me in place, an unwilling subject of the acts of horror and atrocity committed.

A wall of metal gears, ripping through a town in a spray of gore and rock, killing all before it, then coming for me. A spider, inflated, huge, wrapping me up, when she stops and explodes, showering down smaller spiders, with needle sharp fangs. A child, viciously torn from my body by a madman wielding modified surgical tools. Animals, abused and killed, then revived, eager to visit the sins of those who killed them upon me, not caring where their “pound of flesh” came from. My family, set ablaze, screams tearing through the crackle of fire. Dolls, come to life, with jagged porcelain hands, slicing and tearing, clowns with jagged red mouths and empty eye sockets armed with acid-filled water balloons and garrotes. A parade of fears, and always the helplessness. I wish for oblivion, for this torture to end.

I wonder how I’m not dead already, from starvation, or infection. Sometimes my hallucinations aren’t as bad as dreams, but I can’t shake the feeling that they’re only there to disorient me. To give me false hope, my mother’s voice, telling me to hang on. My father, weeping. My husband telling me to come back to him, and worst of all, my children, calling out for me. At first I tried to search for them, but I was surrounded by rock, a silent crushing tomb. I lay in the bed, fighting sleep, then succumb.

The dream is different, of course. I’m sitting on a hill, lazily flying a kite. My lucid mind is wary, searching for danger, and finding none. I turn me eyes back to the sky and assess the dark clouds. A drop of rain strikes my face, and I flinch, but it is only rain. No acid, no pain where the water struck. Thunder rumbles, and my mind clicks. I turn back to the sky, and try frantically to pull the kite in. The rain makes the kite string strangely slippery, and as I examine it more closely, I realize it is thin copper wire. As I’m staring in horror, the wind abruptly tears the wire I had managed to gather from my hands, and I attempt to let go of the kite completely. Nothing. My fist remains tightly clenched around the wire. A flash, and I tense, but there is no jolt. I stare upward, frozen in place, bracing for the pain. And it hits. A white-hot flare runs through my nerves, searing me from the inside out. Again, and I close my eyes, wishing for death. The last time, I suck in my breath as my body is flooded with the agony, and open my eyes.
A blinding light hovers over my head, and as I try to turn to the side, something stops me and triggers my gag reflex. I retch and spasm as voices around me bark concerned orders at me, and each other. “Stop moving Miss. You’re OK, but you have a tube in. There’s been an accident”. An accident? My mind reels, and I have so many questions, I try to talk around the tube, and gesture frantically with my hands. The heart monitor beeps erratically, and the nurse comes around to my side. “Here sweetie, this will help you sleep. You need rest now.” I struggle harder, my blind panic back. I don’t want to sleep. I can’t bear to dream. What if I open my eyes and I’m back in that cave? Darkness claims me, and for the first time in an eternity, I have a dreamless sleep.

When I open my eyes, the tube is gone. Light is streaming in the window, and despite my aches and pains, I feel great. My husband is sitting next to me, and jumps from his chair upon seeing my open eyes. “I knew you’d come back to us”, he says, wiping tears from his face. The door swings open, and in the doorway stand my parents, grandchildren in tow. I look at my kids, and begin to cry. I never thought I’d see them again. They rush into the room, and jump onto the bed. I feel no pain as I hold them, and my son tells me he loves me, and missed me. My daughter admonishes that if I ever go away again, she’ll run away from home. I laugh, and promise them I’ll always stay with them. My parents smother me with hugs and kisses, then shoo the children out of the room ahead of them, so my husband and I can speak.

I ask him how long I was out, and he tells me “two days”. My mouth opens in shock. I can’t believe that eternity was only 48 hours.He looks me dead in the eyes and tells me “You died. Your hear stopped for a full 3 minutes, and when you were brought back, you were comatose. Then, yesterday, your heart failed again, so the staff resuscitated you again. But this time you woke up!” The horror that fills me is profound. Was it hell? Was it an elaborate dream? I resolve to never tell anyone of that dark, rancid cave where my subconscious was held prisoner.

Life goes on, and I recover almost completely. Physically, it’s like nothing ever happened. The nightmares still occur, but less. It may be that this place exists only in my head, a hell perfectly suited to me, and now that the pathways have opened, I’ll always carry that darkness inside of me.

Credit To – Danielle Elizabeth

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Sleepwalker

November 1, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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“NOOOOO!!!!!” I woke up screaming.  It was the third time this week I woke screaming ‘no’, and my clothes were wet with sweat, even though the window was open, letting the cold night air in.  What was wrong with me?  Was I going insane?  For the life of me, I could not remember what I was dreaming about.  I sat up in bed and rubbed my eyes, and looked at the clock.

“5am?” it was two hours before I needed to get up to go to school.  Did I dare close my eyes again?  My body felt tired and weak, like I had just run a 5K race.  Even as I debated whether to sleep or not, I caught myself nodding off.  I shook my head, and sat up straighter in bed.

“No, I am not going back to sleep!”  I climbed out of bed and headed to the bathroom.  A shower would wake me up.  I lived with my 23 year old brother.  He had been eighteen when my parents died, so I was allowed to live with him.  The first few years were rough, but I was sixteen now, and could easily take care of myself.  Most of the time, like tonight, he slept at his girlfriends house, so I had the place to myself.  Which was good, since I kept waking up screaming!

As predicted, my shower woke me up.  I went to the kitchen and made myself some eggs and toast for breakfast, and started working on a report that was due Monday.  I’m not like super student, but I tend to get my work done, and get pretty good grades.  In order to remain living with my brother, I have to maintain a certain GPA, and not get in trouble too much.  Since I didn’t want to live in a foster home, I did what I needed to do.  Plus I really didn’t want to spend the weekend working on this damn report.

By 7:30am I started the 30 minute walk to school.  My report was almost done, I just needed to type it out.  As always, Zoe was waiting outside her house for me.  We had been friends since elementary school, but after my parents died, we became really close. Her dad had died a few years before my parents did, that kind of shit brought people together!

“Hey Zo, what’s with the necklace?” Zoe always wore really weird clothes.  Today she had on a necklace with a 2 inch rubber chicken hanging off of it.

“It’s a luck chicken, Chem test today.”

“You really believe that shit?”

“Don’t you?” she asked incredulously.  I decided not to comment.  The rest of the way to school we quizzed each other on our chem test.

I was pretty out of it at school.  Lack of sleep, and nightmares were beginning to take it’s toll on me.  By sixth period I felt like I was sleepwalking my  way to class.  Mr. Jenkins, my History teacher, seemed to notice.

“You feeling alright Mr. Silver?”

“Yeah, I’m good.” He raised an eyebrow at me in question.

“I think I’m getting that cold that going around.” The first rule of being an orphan living with your big brother, is never offer too much information.  The old ‘I think I’m getting that cold that’s going around’ always works, because there is ALWAYS a cold going around!

“There are definitely some nasty bugs going around.” He still didn’t seem satisfied though.

“Are you sleeping okay?” I almost reacted.  How could he know I wasn’t sleeping well?  that is, besides the bags under my eyes, and constant yawning.  Okay, so maybe I do look tired, it must  just be sleep deprived paranoia.

“Yeah Mr. J, I’m sleeping fine.”

“How’s Chip? That brother of yours is something else.”
Happy for the topic change, I responded with gusto.

“Oh you know Chip, he’s still the same.”

“He’s a good kid.” Then Mr. Jenkins grabbed my shoulder and guided me away from the other students.  In a whisper he said, “Listen, you let me know if you start having trouble sleeping, okay?  It’s really important that you tell me!”  He had this crazy expression on his face.  I said sure and went to my seat.  I couldn’t get that look out of my mind.  It stayed with me the whole walk home.

“You okay?” Zoe asked.

“Yeah, why?”

“You barely talked all the way home.” I hesitated for a second.  Maybe I should tell Zoe about my nightmares, and Mr. Jenkins.  To be honest it had kind of freaked me out.

“I’m fine, just thinking about that report for english.”

“Don’t remind me!” We said goodbye, and I made the rest of the trek home.

At around 5:30pm Chip came by to check in.  He had two bags of groceries with him.

“Hey kid, you don’t look so good, you feeling okay?”

“Think I’m just getting that cold that’s going around.”

“You sure, maybe I should spend the night here tonight.”

“No!” I said it just a little too fast, but Chip didn’t seem to notice.  I helped him unload the groceries and assured him I was fine.

“Okay, if you need me, just give me a call.”

“Will do.” He started towards the door, then stopped and turned around.

“Hey, you’re sleeping okay, right?”  He seemed really serious all of a sudden, and Chip was never serious.

“Yeah, of course.  Why?” Chip hesitated.  He looked as though he were about to say something, then changed his mind.
“Nothing, get some rest, okay kid? Call me if you need anything.” With that Chip was out the door.  Was it just me, or did it seem like he couldn’t get out of the house fast enough.
The rest of the night was pretty uneventful, I finished my homework, and typed up my report.  I wasn’t that hungry, so I just had a yogurt for dinner.  I was climbing into bed, when I started feeling the anxiety kick in.  Was I going to have a nightmare again.  I picked up the phone to call Zoe, but changed my mind.  It was already pretty late, and her mom didn’t like her talking on the phone after 9pm.  I thought about calling Chip, but what would I say?  In the end I turned off my light and hoped for the best.

“NOOOOO!” I woke with a start.  I was cold and drenched in sweat, and something sharp was poking my side.  I reached around to feel what it was, and my hand touched hardwood.

“What the fuck?” I sat up and hit my head hard on something.  I could see stars, as I felt hot blood run down my forehead and cheek.  It was pitch black, and I started feeling my way around in the dark.

“Where the hell am I?” I was under a table of some kind.  I worked my way out from under it, and continued to feel my way around.  On top of the table I felt a box of wood matches.  I struck one, and an old cabin of some sort came into view.  The table I had been under was very rough made, of heavy wood.  I started to look around and the match burned down to my hand.

“Ouch!” I reached down and grabbed another match.  I noticed an old style oil lamp and some candles on the table.  I lit the candles, and tried to figure out how the lamp worked.  In the end I just had to light the wick like a candle.  The room, now illuminated, looked even more dingy and old.  I felt like I had gone back in time.  Like this cabin belonged in the old west.  My hand was covered in blood, I must have wiped the blood off my face while I was looking around.  I was still wearing my sweats and t-shirt I had worn to bed, and my feet were bare.  My clothes were sticking to me from sweat.

Continuing my search of the cabin, I found it to be a single room, with no bathroom.  There was just an old wardrobe in one corner, and the table I had woke under.  I noticed that my side still stung, and when I felt under my shirt, it was all sticky.  I walked over to the lamp, pulled up my shirt, which was also sticky, and realized it was sticky with blood.  There was a deep gash in my side, that now identified, seemed to hurt four times as much.  I walked back to the table, picked up the lamp and headed for the door.  It had a very simple locking mechanism,  just a board you latched in a stay.

When I opened the door, it was a dark night.  I could hear crickets and frogs, so loud, that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed them before.  I also noticed that I felt a little dizzy.  I kept feeling like I was going to fall over.  I took a step off the porch, and stepped in wet, slimy mud.  My foot began to sink in.  I quickly pulled it out.  The smell of decay reached my nose, and my foot was covered in black mud.  I went back into the cabin deciding it was better to wait till daylight.  I reached for my phone to check the time, but it wasn’t in my pocket.  It must still be by my bed at home.

“How did I get here?” I continued to search the cabin.  The wardrobe was empty.  There were a few rusted cans on the table, and a huge knife, that was also rusted, and covered in blood.

“Is this what cut me?”  I could begin to see a faint glow under the door.

“It must be getting light.”  I went back to the door and opened it up.  The cabin was on the bank of a small lake.  The water was only about 25 yards away from the cabin.  It was still pretty dark out, but I could hear cars driving by across the lake.

“The highway!  This must be that little lake you can see from the road, but I have never noticed a cabin here before.  How did I get here?”  I was about a mile out of town.  If I cut across on this side of the lake, I could come to town unnoticed.  I started making my way home, in the early dawn light.  The sun was just coming up when I reached the house, and went inside.  I went to the bathroom to clean up, and almost screamed when I saw my reflection.  I was almost white, and covered in blood.  My hair was matted to my head, where I had cut my head open, and my shirt was soaked in blood.  I went to the kitchen and grabbed a trash bag, and put all my clothes in the bag and took a shower.  Afterwards I took the trash bag down the street to the dumpster outside of the liquor store.

My feet were sore from walking barefoot, and I had a headache from hitting my head.  The gash in my side was still bleeding, so I bandaged it up.  The cut in my head wasn’t too bad, and my hair covered it.

My phone had three text messages, one from Zoe, asking me to call her when I woke up, one from Chip, checking in, and one from a number I didn’t recognize, with the message

“010011,010001,01100,01100,00101,10010”

“What the hell does that mean!”

I texted Chip to let him know I was fine. The last thing I wanted was him coming by.  Zoe wanted me to come over and work on the report with her. I told her I finished my report yesterday, and wasn’t feeling very good.  I booted my computer and started researching sleepwalking.

A lot of it fit, except it was only supposed to last up to 30 minutes. The cabin was just over a mile away, no way I could have got there in 30 minutes, unless I ran.  That would explain the sweat and exhaustion.  Could I be a sleepwalker?  The article had said some sleepwalkers were treated with drugs, that meant going to a doctor.  They also said you could just lock the house up so the sleepwalker couldn’t get out, I was going to try that tonight.
I spent the majority of the day making sure I could lock all the windows and the doors.  The front door wasn’t a problem, we had a deadbolt that you had to lock with a key from both sides, but the back door was more problematic.  There was only a slide lock from the inside.  How sophisticated was I while I slept?  Could I figure that out?  I was just about to go buy another dead bolt, when I realized the slide bolt could be locked with a padlock.  I locked it up with my bike lock.  Hopefully Chip didn’t notice, if he came by this evening.  The windows were all typical window locks, but all the screens were strong and in place.

“I must have gone out the back door last night.” We normally didn’t lock the back door at all, in case one of us lost our keys.
As dusk approached I began to feel my anxiety rise.  I was confident I wouldn’t get out of the house, but I still didn’t like the idea that I was walking around in my sleep!  I would have to tell Chip at some point, but I wasn’t ready for that yet.  Chip called me in the evening to check in, he wasn’t going to come by.  I told him I was feeling better, and was planning on hanging out with Zoe tomorrow.

I climbed into bed for the night,  anxious, but confident that I would wake up at home.  I left the bathroom light on, and my door open, so there would be a little light in my room.

“NOOOOOO!” I woke up screaming again.  It was pitch black again, and I recognized the stale smell of the cabin immediately, as well as the metallic tang of blood.  I quickly assessed myself.  I couldn’t feel any new injuries.  I felt my way to the table and lit the lamp.  I was covered in blood, my hands, my arms, and my shirt.  Even my pants and feet were splattered with blood.  There was no way this much blood had come from me.  I remembered from my research that in rare cases, people had committed homicide while sleepwalking.  Did I kill someone last night?

I had to get home before light.  I was covered in blood, and I had no idea whose.  I didn’t wait for first light this time, and started the trek home.  When I got home, I found the back door locked tight.  The front door was unlocked, and my keys were in the lock inside the door.  My phone had one text message “01101,10101,10010,00100,00101,10010”, more random numbers, but different than the first time.  I again threw my clothes away, and took a shower.  At nine in the morning I called Zoe.  I asked her how her report was coming along, and after a safe amount of time asked her about the numbers, separated by commas.

“Sounds like binary to me.”

“What’s binary?”

“You know, computer language, ones and zeros.”

“Computer language?”

“Yeah, the computer makes everything into ones and zeros, actually it’s pluses and minuses, but it uses them as ones and zeros.  What were the numbers again?”

“Oh, I don’t have them anymore, but that sounds right.” I didn’t like lying to Zoe, but I needed to figure out what these numbers meant on my own.  Once again I did research, this time on binary.  The numbers were 11,9,12,12,5,18 and 13,21,18,4,5,18.  I found a site that had used binary to code messages, so I used a simple alpha-numeric conversion and it spelled “killer” and “murderer”!  This was not good!  Someone was calling me a killer and a murderer, and it was beginning to look like they were right.  Was this what insanity was like?  Was I going crazy?  Would I know if I were?

It was already almost five, it would be dark soon.  I had to stop myself from getting out of the house again.  Chip had come by at three, and said I looked terrible.  He was going to spend the night here.  I needed to stop myself from falling asleep tonight, at all cost.  Just in case I set up a video camera in my room, and left the lights on.  I wanted to see what I was doing.  I didn’t want Chip to know I was recording myself though, so I hid the camera.  At around seven, Chip got a call from his girlfriend, and said she needed his help, but he would come back later.  I told him I would be fine, I was tired and was going to bed early anyway.

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, dude, I’m fine.”

“Okay, well call me if you need anything!” and he was gone.
I fought sleep all evening.  I dozed off a few times, but I was sitting up, so when I fell forward I woke up.  I leaned my head against my window, trying to see outside and. . .

“NOOOOO!” I woke up in the cabin again.  I was covered in blood, and my hands had scratch marks on them.  It was already daylight.  I had to get home unnoticed, but I was covered from head to foot in blood, and I had no shoes on.  I walked towards the door of the cabin, when I heard voices outside.

“Come out with your hands over your head!” The police were here.

“Did you hear me, come out with your hands over your head! We know you are in there!”

“I’m coming out!” I yelled back.  I opened the door and 10 cops were standing outside the cabin, guns drawn.  One of them began yelling instruction.

“Lace your hands behind your neck!  Now get down on your knees! Lie down, face down!” I felt several people grabbing me from behind, and somebody stuck his knee into my back.  The wind got knocked out of me.  I heard more yelling, and made out Chip’s voice yelling for me.

“That’s my brother!”

I was taken to the police station.  Chip was there, but I was in an interrogation room.  The police questioned me for what felt like days.  It was actually five hours.  I told them that I had no idea how I had gotten to the cabin.  I explained that it was the third time I had ended up there.  They asked why I hadn’t turned myself in.  I couldn’t answer that part.  They let Chip see me finally.  He looked really scared.  He asked me if I had hurt anyone, and I told him I didn’t think so.  He told me not to tell anyone anything else until he got me a lawyer.
I was put in a special cell, since I was under age.  The blood on my clothes was determined to not be mine.  With my information, they found my other two changes of clothes, and those turned out to be two other peoples blood, and my own.

The second day I was in jail, Mr. Jenkins was allowed to visit me.  He asked me how I was.  I told him I was as good as I could be, under the circumstances.  He seemed really annoyed for some reason, but not at me.

“Mr. Silver, do you know how your parents died?”

“Of course I do, they were murdered!”

“Yes, but do you know any of the details?”

“No, nobody does, their killer was never found.”

“That’s not the case.  Your brother decided not to tell you the truth, and since you were a minor under his care, I was not allowed to tell you the truth.”

“What! Chip knows who killed my parents?”

“Yes, as do a few of us.”

“Why didn’t anybody tell me?”

“Your brother thought it best if you didn’t know, I never agreed.”

“Who killed my parents?”

“The truth is, your dad killed your mom, and Chip killed your dad.” I couldn’t believe what I had heard.  I was about to say something when. . .

“Your dad was a sleepwalker.  He had been for years.  He had been to the doctor for it, for many years. They tried drugs, sleep therapy, nothing worked.  typically it was no big deal, your mother would just follow him around.  But he began to get violent in his sleep.  More than once your mom had to wake Chip to help her with him.  One evening, Chip heard you mom screaming, he ran into the kitchen to find your dad stabbing your mother.  Chip had no choice but to shoot your dad, to try and save your mom.  It was too late though, your mom was already dead, and so was your dad.”
“My dad was a sleepwalker?”

“Yes, and that’s why I wanted you to know.  I felt if you knew, you could get help before anything bad happened, but Chip was afraid it would be too much for you to know what had happened, and that it would scar you too much to know the truth.”
“And now I’m just like my dad.” I said it more to myself than to him.

“You have no control over what you do when you sleep, how could you know what you were doing?”

Suddenly I remembered the camera.

“Mr. Jenkins, you have to go to my house.  I recorded myself.”

“What?”

“I realized a few days ago that I was sleepwalking, so I set up a camera, so I would know what I was doing.  It was just in my room, I was going to set it up in different places every night.  It would have recorded everything I did, before I left.”

“I’ll get Chip to let me in your house.” Mr. Jenkins stood up to go.

“Wait!”

“What?”

“Don’t tell Chip, the backdoor is open, go in through the back door.  The camera is on my bookshelf.”

The news said it was the biggest story around, perhaps the biggest of the decade.  The sleepwalker killer case, they were calling it.  Ten unsolved cases  over the last 6 years were all being looked at again.  They were confident they would all be solved now, and the parents of the victims allowed some closure.

“I can’t believe it.” Zoe said, reading the headlines.

“Zoe!” Mrs. Roberts admonished her daughter.

“It’s okay Mrs. Roberts, I have had enough secrets to last me a lifetime.” Chip was behind bars, and Zoe’s parents had agreed to let me live with them, instead of some random foster family.

I was waiting for my mandatory counseling at school, when Mr. Jenkins came out of the principals office, and called me to him.  We went back into the principals office and sat down.  Mr. Raymond, the principal was at his desk.

“How are you doing Mr. Silver.” Mr. Jenkins asked.

“All things considered, not bad.” I managed a smile, but I felt sick, like I always did when I had to talk about Chip.

“How did you know?”  I had been waiting for Mr. Jenkins to ask me this.  There was a good chance he would have to go to court, if Chip didn’t plead guilty.  Chip was planning on pleading insanity.  He said he heard god telling him to kill the evil girls.  When my dad and mom found some blood soaked clothes, he didn’t wait for god to tell him they were evil.

“Every time I woke in the cabin, I remember there being a familiar smell, but it was so buried behind the smell of decay, blood and sweat.  It wasn’t until I remembered the camera, that I also recognized the smell, it was the smell of Chip’s cologne.  The camera was sitting on the bookshelf right next to the bottle he had bought me for Christmas.  ‘Now you can smell like a me, little man.’ he had said.”

“I still can’t believe it was Chip.” Mr. Raymond said, half to himself, and half to us.

“When I watched that video. . . Watched him inject Mr. Silver with something. Scratch his hands and arms up.” Mr. Jenkins stopped and swallowed hard.  “Then poor that blood on his own brother! Mr. Jenkins looked at me like he was sorry I was Chip’s brother.
“And the text messages to you! They found his ‘pay as you go’ phone. Have you seen him?” Mr. Raymond asked me.
“Not yet.”

The headlines today had read “Fallen ‘Hero’ convicted of 12 counts of first degree murder in the ‘Sleepwalker Case’.”

Credit To – Isaac Alexander

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