Estimated reading time — 14 minutes
The dream was the same as the night before, and the night before that and the night before that….
Mathew Scott hadn’t slept well in a long time, hell, he wasn’t sure he had slept at all lately.
When would it stop?
When did it start?
He “woke up” from his sleepless slumber just like every night. A frazzled mess. Sweat coated his skin from head to toe. The confusion was so great, it was a sensation he had never known. At first, his surroundings were nonexistent but would slowly crawl back to him.
The faint glow of his digital alarm clock on the nightstand was just bright enough to make the area around his bed visible, barely. Beyond that, nothing. Without his glasses, he would have to squint to make out the digits on the clock. But there was no need for them, he knew what time it was without even looking at the time box. He knew the time because since the night visions started, he woke up….or was brought back from whatever world he was stuck in at exactly 3:39 AM.
He sat up and reached for the pad of paper and pen he kept next to the alarm clock. This was new for him. After having the dream for what must have been a couple of weeks, he became annoyed that he couldn’t remember much of anything about it. After talking with his twin sister Michele about this, she suggested placing the tablet close by and encouraged him to write down whatever came to mind as soon as possible. He and Michele were very close and he referred to her not only as his sister but his best friend. Matt thought that to be great advice. Michele was studying to be a psychiatrist and had done some research on dreams. She told him that once a person was awake, the memory of any dream faded just as quick as it was conceived. It couldn’t hurt.
With his mind racing, he frantically searched for a memory of his nightmare. He closed his eyes hoping that would help bring something to him. He was gripping the pen so tightly that he could feel it bend to the point of breaking. Suddenly, images raced through his mind. Pictures like a slide show. They were there, but nothing made sense. He started to shake. Sweat was running down his forehead. Without really knowing it, he started to scratch something on the pad. A sudden shutter ripped through his body, up his spine and into his head. A ringing started in his ears but stopped almost the instant it started.
He reached for his glasses and slipped them on. He wanted to see what he had written down, at least he thinks he had written it. There was one word printed on the paper. One word that covered the entire
8 ½ by 11 page. Not only written, engraved into the tablet.
In the morning over a cup of strong black coffee, Mathew sat at the kitchen table talking to Michele on the phone. After describing what had occurred, Mathew waited anxiously for his sister’s evaluation. With only a one word conclusion to the dream, Michele was unable to shed any light on the subject. She encouraged him to keep the notepad nearby and try it again.
As evening quickly approached and gave way to night, Mathew found himself lying on the couch in his den watching a ballgame. With pad and pen on the floor, he felt himself start to doze off. His eyelids would slowly glide down and wash out the glow from the TV and bring him into darkness only to shoot wide open as if he were trying to fight sleep, which would be the furthest thing from the truth. Finally, his eyes closed and there was no shutter or glimmer of the TV.
He woke with such violence that he could have sworn his bed jumped up and shifted over a few inches. Perspiration lathered his face and arms. The blurred light that caught the corner of his eye was to weak to be that of his television. He swiveled his head around and saw the three digits on his alarm clock.
Just in front of the alarm clock was the pen and paper. He grasped for them and started to write. With the same intensity as the night before, something was being put to paper. In a manner that Mathew wasn’t really sure was of his own power. While writing, visions filled his head. A lot of darkness interrupted by strikes of light. Something appeared at the end of this light. With each flash, the object was getting closer. The light was getting brighter and faster. With each flash, he felt his breath getting heavier and heavier. The unknown item was getting closer, closer. Breathing so loud it was deafening. Than, an empty void. One more grand burst of light. He saw it. A door.
He felt quivers run through his body. The pen had fallen from his hand but the pad of paper was going nowhere. How had he gotten to his bed? He didn’t remember waking up and walking from the den. Perhaps he never fell asleep in the den, an extension of his dream. None of that really mattered right now. He reached over to the end table and twisted the knob on the small lamp. His hands were so sweaty that he had a hard time twisting the switch to the on position. He glanced down at the tablet and was bewildered at what he saw. First off, this was the second page in the bonded tab. Since he had written the word ‘alone’ with such force the night before, the imprint was clearly visible. Accompanying the word was a picture. It was a door. A wooden door with one distinctive marking. Located on the top half of the door was the letter M. This was a door from his childhood. It was his sister’s childhood bedroom door.
Once again, Mathew found himself at the kitchen table. Two cups of coffee down, countless to go. This time, it was his phone that rang. He looked down at his cell and saw his sisters face glowing on the screen. She really must be anxious to hear the latest episode of his nightly freak show. He spilled out the details to her and finished by telling her of his drawing, excluding the specifics of the door. She listened intently and asked a few questions. Mostly about the light and the breathing to which he had no answer. She was trying to help and he could only offer up what he remembered. She paused for a second or two after he was done describing the events. “Did the door look familiar?” She asked.
“I’m not sure”, he lied. “Tell you what, let me text you a picture so you can see it.”
“Ok”. Within a minute her phone buzzed with the receipt of the incoming picture. She looked at it. After a few seconds she realized she was holding her breath in. As she exhaled, the back of her neck tingled. “Mathew, that’s my door.”
“I know”, he admitted. They talked for a few minutes and ended the conversation with the agreement that they would talk again the next morning.
Tonight, Mathew wanted nothing to do with falling asleep in the den. He had come to the realization that no matter where he fell asleep, he would wake in his bed….. at 3:39. Sleep came easy this night. Well, the act of falling asleep did. It was what happened on the other side of sleep that was difficult.
His scream was so loud, it was surely heard by his neighbors. It wasn’t a ‘drop a hammer on your toe’ scream. It was a ‘I’m going to die in a matter of seconds’ scream’. Terror raced through his veins with such intensity, his vessels were sure to explode within him. He felt the color leave his skin, leaving him ghostly white if only for a few seconds. His hands were clenched. Grasping onto the sides of the bed, as if his mere existence depended on him not letting go. He jolted up. Breathing so hard that he was panting. He felt tears rolling from his eyes. He snatched up the pen and paper and dropped it on his lap. In the same manner as the previous two nights, he started to input something onto the pad of paper. Only, it wasn’t really him. He wasn’t aware of what he was writing or how he was doing it. The only thing he was sure of was that the nightmare had ended and this was a separate event. When the writing was complete, he tossed the pad down and threw himself back onto his pillow to catch his breath. He was spent. After a few minutes of listening to his own breaths and thoughts run through his mind he swung his feet over the side of the bed and onto the floor. He picked up the worked over tablet and gazed at the current page. What was written made no sense to him: ‘It’s time’.
Three cups of coffee and four Advil later, Mathew was on the phone with the only person he had been in contact with since…………..since, he couldn’t remember when. Lack of sleep was starting to take its toll. Michele had a theory this time though. She said it’s possible that “it’s time” could mean that the dreams might be coming to an end. Her reasoning was that no matter how obscure these dreams were to Mathew, they were crystal clear in his brain and the latest message might be a way for his inner self to let his outer self know that it was almost over. He could only hope that to be the truth. He was certain of one thing though, he was scared.
This time it was different
As reality vanished before him in his dark bedroom, a new world waited for him. One in which he knew no boundaries. The playing field was familiar but alien. He was standing outside staring at a house. A house which had a striking resemblance to his childhood home. That was the only familiar part. Surrounding the home was nothing. No cars in the driveway, no driveway, no trees, bushes street lights or even a neighboring house. It was as if the structure had been dropped on some deserted island, minus the island.
Wherever he was, it was pitch black. Only illuminated by occasional lightning strikes. Rain was falling with such anger that the drops were stinging his face when they landed. He started to approach the house. Either that or the house was descending on him. The closer the two got to each other, the more frequent the sky filled with fire bolts. Thunder clashed as loud as any noise he had ever experienced. Fear was creeping deeper and deeper into Mathews body until it consumed his entire being.
He was on the elevated porch, arms length from the front door. This was definitely his boyhood home. Memories of his childhood danced through his head. Michele and him playing like brothers and sisters do. Laughing, smiling. Now this. What sort of evil existed here now? Without any discern, he had reached for and acquired the doorknob. The knob twisted easily in his grip and the door flung open as if guided by a strong wind. Behind him, the sky was still exploding with fury. Just as the door met the wall behind it, lightning punched a hole into the darkness, exposing the inside of the home. On the far side of the front room stood something. Night overtook the home again. Mathew stood frozen with fear, not sure what to do. Another bolt lit the area. It was still there. But It wasn’t something, It was someone.
His glimpse was brief but long enough to tell it was a person, or more of a someone than a something. Again, the light was gone and darkness was back. Rain was still pelting him from behind as he stood on the porch looking into the house. As the next round of nightlight shone down, there it was. Standing face to face with him. Whoever it was stood the same height as him. Its’ breath filled Mathews gaping mouth. Rancid and putrid. If death had a taste, this was it. Hair slumped down across its face, or what must be the face. Looking at it, he couldn’t really tell if it was facing him or looking into the house as he was. He only knew that it was looking at him because it exhausted its death gas at him. Over the booming thunder it spoke. One word.
In a flash it stood there. The next flash it was gone. The empty house stood before him. He looked behind him and saw exactly what he expected to see, nothing. A different kind of emptiness. One in which he was sure that if he were to turn around and step off the porch, he would start falling and never reach a landing spot. The world behind him felt as empty as his soul did. There wasn’t much of a choice. He stepped into the house. He took a few steps into the front room and heard exactly what he thought he would hear. The front door crashed shut.
Whispering voices filled his ears. Whispers that sounded more like screams. He stood alone in what was once his family’s front room. He was alone but not by himself. It was as if eyes were watching him. He spun around to see if anyone was behind him. Nothing. He turned to face the majority of the house again and the whispering persisted. He knew eyes were upon him, could feel them. Movement to his left caught his attention. Quick. By the time his head swung that way, whatever he spied was gone. If this was indeed his old home, the room that he was now looking at was the kitchen. He inched along the middle of the front room towards the kitchen. As he approached the opening, he put his back to the wall so he could poke his head into the room. He paused before he glanced in. He took a quick look and saw nothing. The house was still being filled with pulses of light from outside. Thunder was providing the soundtrack. He committed himself to entering the kitchen. He shuffled in, his shoes glided over the linoleum. The ground felt sandy and dirty. The kitchen was a skeleton of what it once was or supposed to be. Cabinet doors were hanging by loose screws. The sole window was gone. Rain snuck in through the frame. He was nearing the end of the long kitchen when its’ head peered around the corner before disappearing back behind the wall. It seemed like a sick version of peek-a-boo. This time, instead of pausing he dashed toward the corner and turned it. He was now looking at what was once his room. Lightning was flashing so wildly it seemed like a strobe light. Claps of thunder rolled so deep he could feel it. It was standing in the center of the vacant room. One arm was outstretched. Was it pointing at him? No. It was beckoning him. Inviting him to come closer. For a brief second, he saw its’ eyes. He recognized them instantly. Michele. The room blacked out then relit and she was gone.
Without hesitation, he knew where he would see her next, behind the wooden door with an M on the top half. A cold sweat began to take over his body. He finished crossing the room that opened up to the hallway. The marked door down the hall was just as he drew it. There were minor details that existed that weren’t in his drawing, but the picture in his head from when they were kids was an exact match. After only taking a few steps, he realized he was seeing first hand what he had dreamt about two nights ago. He soon found himself face to face with what he knew would be his final destination.. His heart pounded with such force, he thought it might actually jump up his throat and make a miraculous exit. With no effort by him, the M door exploded open, leaving Mathew breathless for a moment. As he caught his breath, two words escaped his lips. “It’s time”.
Both windows had been blown out in this room. Rain entered at will here. This room appeared to be in the same shape as the others, dank and in disrepair. A waterlogged dresser, a wall mirror, and a bed were the only remnants of what used to be a little girls dream room. There she was. Sitting on the bed, which occupied the center of the room. Her back was to him as she sat on the far side of the bed. He wasn’t sure what to do next. She answered that with her own actions. She lifted her right hand and patted an empty area next to her on the bed. He wanted to call out to her but the deafening thunder assured that his cry would be unheard. Reluctantly he slowly moved into the room and around the corner of the bed. Never losing a visual of her, he eased down onto the mattress next to her. Time seemed to be inching along. She stared directly in front of her, not acknowledging his presence. Sweat dripped into his eyes. He blinked to clear his vision.
A new scene welcomed his opening eyes. Michele had turned to look at him. She had the most beautiful smile. The room behind her was full of colors. The walls were painted a light purple, Michele’s favorite color. Furniture was strategically placed and well decorated. Bows riddled Michele’s hair. She was eight years old.
After gazing at each other for what was probably only a few seconds that seemed like an eternity, he whispered, “what’s happening”? He asked the question without really looking for or wanting an answer. Why was he back in her childhood….their childhood? Sunlight breaking in through the front bay window warmed his face.
“Let’s play”, she responded. Her smile filled his soul that had been so empty. “I’ve been waiting for you to come back for so long, lets go”.
“Play what Michele? I don’t know what to do”. Mathew burst out. “Please help me understand”, he said with tears streaming down his cheeks. He reached out to grab her by the arm. His motivation was to snatch her up and escape with her. Escape to where? Anywhere but here. His hand latched onto her wrist and squeezed it tight. She looked down in disbelief. As her eyes rose up again to meet with his, he saw that her smile was gone. Fear and desperation filled her expression.
Lightning bounced off the sky and filled the room. Hell had returned. His grasp on her wrist was still secure. Her warm soft skin had been replaced by a grey rubbery substitute. Michele’s hair was once again eclipsing her entire head. She started to scream and thrash around trying to break free. He was still holding onto the idea of taking her from this place. Her cries were more animal then human. Their eyes met briefly and he saw nothing but horror in them. They wrestled violently throughout the room. He kept screaming at her, “COME WITH ME.” Over and over he could hear himself exclaim. More and more desperate with every effort. He could see that she was trying to respond but it was inaudible. Rain was pouring into the room at an incredible rate. He was starting to lose his grip on what he thought to be her wrist. They danced around the room with lightning providing a spectacular light show. He kept calling out his plea. “COME WITH ME!” He could now hear her voice out an answer but he couldn’t make it out. They slammed into the wall near the empty bay window. She tried backing away. He held tight. She was now screaming at him while pulling away.
His grip was fading.
She inched closer to escaping.
She screamed her demands again.
Her fingers were all he had left.
She bellowed out her wish one more time.
The moment was instantaneous. Just as what she was roaring out became clear to him he lost his grip on her. She stumbled backwards towards the window and tumbled out. The powerful storm seemed to swallow her up. Mathew fell down as he lost his grip and landed on the floor next to the bed, hitting the back of his head on the mattress frame. His eyes fogged over with the blast and he could feel warm blood dripping down his neck. Mathew lay motionless on the wet floor waiting to die. What Michele had been saying during the struggle replayed in his mind over and over again. As he was repeating it in his head, he started to whisper it aloud. “I want to be alone, I want to be alone.”
Darkness fell over and into Mathew Scott.
The red light flashed at the nurses station on what had been a slow day. Kathleen, head nurse at the Eastbrook Psychiatric Hospital sat up in her chair to view the video monitors. She could see that there was a disturbance taking place in the cafeteria. Kathleen left her station and headed towards the dining area.
Once there, she was greeted by several of the male nurses who already had the situation under control. Two of the nurses had a male patient pinned to the ground. He was trying to wiggle his way free but to no avail. He quickly gave up trying. Kathleen recognized immediately who it was, Mathew Scott. Poor thing she thought to herself. She had been employed here for nearly thirty years now and he had been here for twenty five of them. Lynette, a new nurse approached Kathleen and nodded at Mathew as he was being injected with something obviously designed to subdue him. Lynette asked Kathleen what the patients status was.
“He’s a lifer here. Poor guy, no friends or family.” The nurses were getting Mathew to his feet, “He was sent here more then twenty years ago after killing his twin sister.” Mathew now stood facing Kathleen with his arms interlocked with the male nurses that were holding him down. Kathleen leaned over to finish talking to Lynette as to keep her voice down. “He snapped one day and threw his sister out of her bedroom window.” The effects of the injection were starting to take hold of Mathew. His eyes were getting heavy and he started to slouch a bit. “He’s generally very quiet but occasionally he acts up like this. Who knows what’s running through his head.”
The two male nurses approached Kathleen with Mathew nearly completely passed out in their arms. They asked where they should take him. Meaning they weren’t sure whether to take him to his room or to a holding cell where they could keep a closer eye on. She thought about it for a second and came to the conclusion, after witnessing this several times over the years that he posed no threat to himself or anyone and directed them to take him to his room. The nurses carried the dead weight past Kathleen and Lynette towards the main hallway where they would find his room. Mathew was out. His eyes were open but his eyes were fixated on something other than where he was. The nurses stopped and one turned back at Kathleen. “Which room is he in?”
Kathleen glanced back at the nurses and responded, “339.”