Only a Dream

only a dream
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Estimated reading time — 21 minutes

I think that I was so scared and intimidated by my dreams for so long that I kept them to myself. I was scared what people would think of these dreams I had, I feared judgement. Although I’ve found that the older I get the less I care what people think of me. I have a few close friends, but to them I can tell anything. It’s hard to tell if someone will be an open-minded person or not. It takes time to build the trust and to relinquish the fear of embarrassment. I feel home around my two best friends. They don’t think I am crazy or weird.

Well so anyways, sorry if I ramble, but I just tend to put too many minute details into things, but I feel like it somehow gives more of a visual, you know? I’ll just dive right in. Have you ever heard of lucid dreaming? Well if you haven’t, just imagine yourself being in a dream and being consciously aware of the fact you are dreaming. You know you are dreaming and can recognize it; not getting lost in dreams about goals and aspirations or nightmares or maybe even that dream where you are falling and wake up a microsecond before you SPLAT. These are a few accounts where I have dealt with such dreams… lucid dreams I mean. I try and find ways or other excuses as to how these things happen… But, I am always left confused or worried. Anyways…


A little backstory may help. A lot of people nowadays grow up with depression and anxiety… fearing silly things, or having weird quarks, socially or just in general. A dark sense of humor and sarcasm is usually a pretense. Anyways, so when you’re young and feel these things you don’t quite understand why or how you feel that way, or how to handle it, but you do. My uncle passed away at a very young age. This was my dad’s brother and it hit him hard. He started drinking the pain away, like most are guilty of at some point in our life. I don’t blame him for anything or how he acted, mean things he said… We all hit the bottom sometimes, but it does affect the ones you love.

It makes you feel anxious about what will come, coming home in a state of mind that “Wow, my Dad is so gone… what is he going to say to me today, or blame me for today.” -taking it out on the people who have no control. It can make you feel lost and out of your own control. That’s how I felt. Growing up being told you are worthless, unwanted, a burden… I feel all too much or nothing at all. It’s like looking at the world through an invisible screen, trying to talk to yourself through glass you can see through, but that cannot be seen from the other side. That’s how I was feeling, so I always wondered if it followed me into my subconscious and created a lucidity in my dream realm. Or maybe not.

I remember one of my biggest fears as a young child was the possibility of monsters in my closet, yes, the typical monster in your closet… When I was young I slept with my door open and the hallway light on. So, I would know that there was safety near. Well, one night laying down to bed with an uneasiness in my stomach, a burning chain in my chest tugged from worry. The light in the hall radiating a warmth and safe zone in a way. The hum of my fan was always a comforting white noise for me as well. I would close my eyes each night to the comfort of these things. So, this night I fall asleep in the same routine way…
Suddenly something washes over me, I wake up, or so I think. With the fan humming in the background, I look to the right searching for the light, I see it and feel a wave of relief shudder over me. I hear a tap and I look forward from my bed, directly across from my bed is my window. As I heard the tap on the glass I see a hand, I couldn’t make it out whether it was a black glove or just dark… This was the moment I was aware I was dreaming, it all felt so real, as if I could feel myself in my own skin in the dream. I immediately pulled my Scooby Doo comforter covers straight over my head and huddled my teddy bear tight against my chest. I let out a warm worried sigh and shoved my face into my teddy bear’s fur. I can hear the sounds around me disappear along with my own breathing. I kept my eye shut tight.

Curled up into a ball, I try to do things to wake myself up – pinching my arm, pushing my eyelids shut as hard as I could, even changing my breathing patterns, at some point it worked. Then at this moment I wake up for real, with shaky hands and sweaty palms I get up and walk to my door and flip the light on in my room. It doesn’t seem like much has happened so far, but the eeriness was overwhelming, especially as a young child. Dare I brave looking out the window? Finally, after taking a few deep breaths, I walk over to look out and see nothing but my backyard. It’s silly of me to think I’d see anything considering I’m on the second floor and my room would be inaccessible without a ladder or something of the sort. I let out a big sigh then fall back to sleep for the night, not having a dream at all for the rest of the night. Thank goodness.

Years had passed, I was now in high school. Not thinking much of the dream after such a long time, I went about my weekday like I normally would. I Wake up in the morning and follow the same routine: swim practice, school, swim practice, food, homework, bed. Although my family wasn’t perfect, I always had the luxury of food and a warm home. I went to bed with the same uneasy feeling I had the night years beforehand. Maybe I was just getting into my head again… So, I just focused on breathing, until sleep came.


I tuck myself under my comforter and close my eyes, exhausted from swim practice and the burdens in life I am asleep. I wake up, hear the fan humming as always. I look to the right, like in the first dream. The hallway light is on, but then I hear a switch flip, I run up to the hallway and look outside and see nothing but the empty hall and closed doors, not a sound. I took a deep breath and flipped the switch to the hallway. Relieved that the light turned on, I start to walk bed to my bed. As I do this my door slams shut, I try and open it but it is locked, my room had a lock on the inside but it would not come undone. I’m frantically shaking the door, screaming and banging repeatedly… That’s when I heard it.

I hear a familiar tap on the window, and see the same shadowed hand lingering up against the window. The hand goes from a tapping formation into a flat hand and reals backward, it smacks it’s palm up against the glass creating a steam formation around the hand as it slams down on it. Except this time there is also a shadowed face and shoulders, the figure’s other hand holding it up against the window sill. I remember it/him having a dark black Hamburg or fedora style hat like from the 1940s along with what seemed like a nice black suit. But for his face… it was completely black or shadowed it seemed. I could barely see the whites of his eyes as a wide grin appears, almost like that of the Cheshire cat, gleaming and white, but terrifying all the same. His eyes quickly shift towards the locks and simultaneously I see both locks flip open. At this point I am now frantically screaming and crying, slapping myself across the face with both hands to wake up, screaming but no sound utters from my mouth. The only thing I can hear is a ringing in my ears slowly coming and the hum of the fan dissipating.
I didn’t know what else to do, I look towards the window as he slams it open with that damn smile still clinging to his face, as the rest of his features are still unrecognizable… He starts to climb through the window, FUCK! I see him reaching in his pocket while climbing through pulling out a shining huge kitchen knife. Not being able to escape through my door, I run to my closet which is slightly agape. Yea, great, I know my fear is my closet and it’s the only thing available. Makes sense, right? I Open, the door and slam it shut, holding it tightly with one leg pushed up against it with the other planted up against my chest as I’m sitting down against the wall. The door shakes as he tries to break through, I keep trying to remember the fact that I am most certainly only dreaming, it feels real, but I know this! I am only dreaming, just dreaming! Wake up, just wake up, god damn it, Wake up! As I release the door in my dream, he slams it open with one fail swoop. I look up at the lanky, dark, empty figure and pass out from fear, but I wake up in real life.

Although this time I am no longer in my bed. I am in my closet. Knee to my chest, facing the wall and hugging my leg just as I was in my dream… It’s pitch black, behind a closed door of my closet, I can barely see, shivering and sweating I reach for the doorknob, scared of what may be beyond. I slowly creek open the door and peer out, hearing the hum of my fan and feeling the calmness of the room made me feel okay for a moment but still uneasy. I look left and right, everything seems normal. I can see the moonlight spilling onto my floor behind a closed and locked window, so I decide it’s safe. I sprint to the door, which is usually open but was now closed. I flip open the door quickly and stealthily trying not to wake up my parents. Staring out into the darkness of the hall, I flip the lights on. Out of fear of the door closing, I prop a step stool between it, leaving it open to the hallway light.

I lay down in my bed, not knowing what else to do. I’m scared to disturb either of my parents, as my dad was passed out drunk, and my mom didn’t take well to being woken up, it was always a burden because I knew how much she already dealt with, with my dad. I lay there in silence; no sleep came that night. I just stared at my ceiling, scared to look at the window, scared to look at my closet or door, scared to look anywhere. My eyes were fixated against the painted curls in my ceiling, I just focused on the twirls and tried to find images in them as if they were clouds or constellations. After a few hours of laying there lifeless, I hear my alarm chime the radio, it is playing “Brighter Than Sunshine” by Aqualung. This sends a jolt through my body, then I realize what time it was… damnit I have school.

Feeling unready for the day, I step into my swim suit and slop some clothes on over it. Headed to school, which was not my favorite thing, seemed safer than it ever had. I was very introverted, I kept to myself and talked to almost no one, I was very socially awkward, so I was known as a “quite girl.” So, having a happy connotation towards school was rare for me. When I arrived home that night after school, I was nothing short of exhausted. I ate my dinner after my second swim practice of the day, finished my homework, and laid down to (try to) sleep. A few moments before I fall asleep, I click off my new lamp, well new to me. I borrowed one from my sister, it was a kind of odd lamp. You have to click down the top, as if pushing a button. It took some effort, I pushed hard to click it off. On the edge of sleep, I hear a familiar click, and my light has been turned on, although there is no one in site. I see my closet door slightly ajar. I get up slowly, close the door, click the light off for the second time and lay down to sleep again. At this point I was concerned but I was so tired that it was hard to pay attention to anything other than shutting my eyes. I would have been more worried, but it was one of those physically exhausted moments where nothing really phases you or seems realistic. I was probably just tired, and my brain was tricking me – or so I’d hoped.

As I fall asleep, this time things my dream seems a lot faster paced than usual. In my dream I wake up with the same consciousness of knowing I am dreaming. Things happen in a similar sequence as my other dreams, I feel deep in this sleep. I try and wake myself up before anything can start to happen. I am fighting this sleep, I wake up for a split second, but my body won’t budge, I am stuck in the state staring at the circles formed in the paint on my ceiling through my eyelashes, unable to fully open my eyes… I start to feel… I start feeling something – something there with me. I can’t keep my eyes open, I fall back into my dream. This one felt different than the others. I am uncertain if it was because I was so tired that maybe my mind was a lot more into this trance than normal or if there were other things at play here.

Nonetheless, the sequence starts again, oh god, I can feel my heart beating out of my chest. I try the lights, the door, everything… in the same order. The ringing comes back into my ears and this time I look over and the man’s full body is seen, as if he is floating in front on the window (I’m on the second floor, like I said before, so that’s the only thing that made sense). This time there is no struggle for him, I try and scream and again nothing, no noise can be released. In unison with my scream, he simply thrusts his fist through the glass, breaking the entire window with one try. He steps through, I turn away from him and stumble-run for the closet.


As I open the door only to come to an abrupt stop – he is there, sitting how I was, in the same spot, staring up at me. Keep in mind his whole body is still shadowed, as if he were a shadow himself. You can tell it is a body, but the only way to describe it better is to envision him as a black, lanky, silhouette, never seeing fully who or what he was. As I stare blankly, I pause for a second, I’m not sure if I froze out of sheer fear or curiosity. I see his white eyes slowly open to meet mine and his grin widen as he had done before, as if he’s so clever. I look down at his hand, he was leaning his arm out straight letting his hand dangle casually over his knees. This shadowed hand is dripping with blood and covered in glass. The shards are sticking out, but he seems to feel nothing, no pain. He takes the fist and slams it into the wall, leaving bloody marks and glass shards behind.

I feel the whole room shake so hard it knocks me backwards against the floor. I got the immediate sensation of losing my breath and being unable to retrieve it. It was an intense feeling, if you have ever fallen off a swing or a trampoline flat on your back and had that split second where you black out or feel all the air leave your chest as you struggle to catch your breath, that is the feeling I got as I stumbled backwards and my back slammed the ground. This all feels too real, too real… I think to myself. I tilt my head to stare back behind me where he had been sitting with blurred vision, he starts to slowly rise, he’s very tall. He begins to walk towards me. As he does this I am starting to remember, I am DREAMING, this isn’t reality, maybe I have some sort of control.
At this point he is stepping over me towards my bed, I grab his leg and it feels like a cold silky cloth, it was hard to grasp, yet I pulled as hard as I could. He was taken aback that I would even try this and stumbles. Using the force of my body to pull him down I also pull myself onto my feet. Disoriented, I look over at my bed to see… well I see my body laying in my bed. I stare down at my hands shaking, I am starting to turn dark, shadowed like the man, the man who was now peering and confused, before me. Oh god… this is what he wanted the whole time… But what does he want to do with me? Why me? He reaches for the shin of my leg and pulls me back and slams me to the floor again, this time my head slams and I can feel blood trickling from my nose. I am fighting my way, tugging on the floor boards to reach, well, myself. I can feel his palms, cold and damp, pulling on my legs – trying to pull me back, trying to get past me. I glance back in fear to see him reaching with his bloody glass filled hand to pull out his knife… Unsteady he tries to slam it into my temple, I swing my arm against him causing him to miss by a longshot because of his injury, and the knife flings under my bed.

I remind myself, “you’re in your dream. This is YOUR dream.” As I think this, I realize it is a dream, not reality, so impossible things can happen as I assured myself before. If it was reality this man would be able to pin me down in an instant, but he is struggling because this is not reality. I kick back, and I can feel his teeth in my foot, blood and spit trickling down his face against my leg and foot. I run and slip a little bit, jumping to save myself. I reach within myself, what now? Wake up? What now?! I lay down into myself (I am aware this sounds odd), as I see the man hovering above me. He reaches for my throat with his one good hand, I fight to wake up. I almost wake up once, and again I am staring at my swirled ceiling eyes almost open, I can still feel his hand around my neck as I cling to reality. I fall back in, for a split second, I throw him off me and scream at the top of my lungs, no sounds uttered but a sense of concern or possibly fear washes over him, I could tell by his expression. I need to wake up, I HAVE TO WAKE UP. I’m screaming, and he scuttles backward, I still don’t remember what I screamed, but this time he was terrified, he jumps out the window, and disappears. Right before he leaped through the window he flashed me one last grin…

I wake up screaming, and immediately sit up in my bed… I look back and forth, scanning every aspect of my room, then down at my (as usual) shaky and sweaty hands. My body was also shaking now though too, not necessarily a cold shake more of an almost vibration. I think to myself “Is it done, is it REALLY done now??” I am terrified to sleep, drenched in my own sweat and tears. I walk downstairs to get some water and use the bathroom. My legs are aching, I notice a bruise. A fucking bruise on my leg that he was grabbing over and over. As well as my neck, there were red marks and my nose felt itchy… It may have been a coincidence, but it made me think, even as a teen… Can our dreams really relate to our reality? Is there some realm that connects us in a deeper level? Or am I just doing these things in my sleep, not realizing the self-harm I was inflicting… I was terrified.

The dreams stopped for a while, years actually. Then recently the dreams returned. It was when I was around age 20, I had recently broken up with a high school boyfriend who I pretty much lived with at the time because my home life had gotten so bad. I had no where else to go really, in the moment. So, I returned to “my” home. Since I had pretty much moved in with my boyfriend at the time, I got downgraded to a smaller room and my brother got my bigger room. I wasn’t complaining, because of all the scary things that happened in that room I was honestly happy about it. I Slept in my room for the first time in a long time which was seemingly untouched except for the mess of scattered clothes from the few weekly visits to pick up clothes or do laundry. I laid down to rest without hesitation, exhausted from the tears falling and the heart ache. I feel like whatever presence may or may not exist thrive off these feelings of despair, anger, or fear… really any feeling that makes you feel low, really, really low…

I hadn’t eaten in days, let alone slept. Just worked and cried. Tonight, felt different. I was laying and crying in my bed listening to music on my phone like any broken-hearted person would. As I finally decide to plug my phone in and try and sleep out of physical exhaustion, I turn off the lights and lay down and try to clear my mind of my worries and heartache. I have dirty clothes scattered around my floor (I am a messy person when it comes to laundry, everything else I keep neat and tidy). Right as I almost hit that moment of pure sleep, I hear a long slow creak. All my lights are turned off, so it was a bit eerie.

I honestly had shoved all the terrible things that had happened in my lucid dreams/house deep into my subconscious, almost forgotten. Sleepily and kind of creeped I stand up and flip on my light switch which is a lot closer to my bed now. My jaw drops… My closet door had opened the entire way, completely ajar to its furthest extent. I even had clothes scatted in front of it… It just didn’t add up, just like the lamp turning on by itself in my old room, nothing else in my reality like that had happened before, so I just tried to dismiss it as a faulty, crappy lamp. But this… I just didn’t know what to think. I could’ve sworn I shut it, even still I always make sure my closet door is shut before bed, almost as a routine thing. I just tried to brush it off and hope I was wrong. I laid down with an uneasy feeling but was too tired to worry too much about it. I heard my family cat meowing, so I let him in to sleep with me. That was a feeling of some comfort. I listen closely to the silence in my room. I drone off to the humming of my fan and my cat’s consistent purrs with him calmly vibrating as I hugged him until sleep came.


I awoke the next morning and everything seemed to be normal for my house. It was a Saturday, I had the day off for once, so I decided to go out with some friends for awhile to get my mind off things. I went to lunch then to a movie with some friends. We drank a little after, then I was sleepy still from the night before and going out was a lot for me. My friend dropped me at my house in a buzzing and happy mood. I returned home and played some games until I couldn’t stay awake any longer. I laid down to sleep.

This time I awoke, but things seemed different. That’s when I realized I was not awake. “Not again,” I thought. Being a little older I figured “hey I’ll be brave! I know what this is.” I tried to wake myself to no avail. The same flutter of my lashes and barely opened eyes with my body paralyzed and clinging to my bed. Nothing bad was really happening… Until I see the moonlight shine into my eyes through the window. I had blinds on these windows and they shook violently as if the window was open behind them. My new room led to part of the roof, you could literally step out and sit on it. The room is small, so my bed sits partially against the window.

I inch toward the window and pull open a blind shade and peak through. It was completely black… An eye opens staring directly into mine, less than an inch away, the only thing between us is the blinds. I stumble back and fall onto my butt on my bed, it’s calm for a second, but too quiet. No fan humming, no cat meowing. As I feel a sense of calm confusion, the figure slams a knife vertically through the exact middle, bottom up cutting the blinds with precision. The blind pieces trickle to the floor as I focus in on what is happening. I can see it forming, it’s the man… it’s the man. That same damn hat and suit.
I am gasping for air, I can’t breathe let alone move… I pause for a moment and so does he, it’s been so long since I had a dream like this… Why is this happening again? I am wondering now if I can get more information. Instead of being scared, maybe there is something I should be taking out of these experiences, as scary as it seems. I try questioning him. “Who are you?” His grin dissipates… he has a mix of a sad and maniacal emotion in his eyes. I am still on my butt with my knees bent up as a shield and my arms are behind me holding me up, not the best fighting stance. He slowly inches towards me this time, he gets close to my face and I start to almost crabwalk backward away from him until he uses one hand against my sternum to slam me down. Clearly understanding his or my purpose/connection would not change anything.

He is leaning over me on his knees and quickly pulls out the same knife in a split second and throws his arm up to prepare the thrust downward to pierce me with it. I grab his wrist with the knife in it. The struggle continues. I am scared but honestly frustrated, I just want to sleep. I start screaming at him, “WHY? Why me? WHY? WHY WH—–????” Until it turned into gibberish crying and just as he looks like he is about to mutter something I wake up. “What the fuck? Why is this happening, it has been years. Please, make it stop,” I thought. It did stop. Which confused me even more. It almost made me more curious as to why it happened until eventually the thought escaped my mind and I moved on.

Four years pass, I am going through one of the toughest times of my life. I have clinical depression and anxiety and I have taken on a lot of responsibility. I was going through a tough time again. So, it made it even worse. The dreams had subsided for so long and were hidden somewhere deep I tried not to reach anymore. But that didn’t stop them, or him. I’m 24 now. That is why I am now deciding to recap my thoughts and experiences to better understand them or at least let people know they aren’t alone if they experience these things.

It was a night, one of my bad nights. I was in tears, feeling hopeless, lifeless, just empty. Finally, I slipped into a deep sleep. For awhile I had friends stay over a lot of the time or I’d stay with my best friend because it was comforting, but it had been awhile since then. At least a year or so, so it was odd this was all happening again now. Maybe the negative energy has something to do with it. I had been sleeping happily on my own, so things seemed fine. Until the night came.

This night I got the same feeling, being almost jerked awake in my lucid dream to complete silence. That’s usually how I knew, it would be calm at first, with the humming of my fan, then the sound would slowly diminish through-out. This one started the same, waking in bed and things seeming off. I look around to see and empty, dark quite room with my phone laying on the counter. I remember it lighting up and checking the time, although I can’t even remember what time it said now which always bugged me… Anyways, that was all that dream consisted of. I woke up once after that and slept like I normally would, so nothing weird happened, it just felt… off.
The second night came, and I did the same thing, checked the time on my phone before I laid down, but this time I hear a scuttle, I look over to see the hoodie on my bedroom door move up and down. I was scared but relieved, I looked down and saw a transparent figure of my dog Sam who passed away tugging and pushing on my hoodie potentially searching for treats or “snackers” as we call them. This was the first positive thing I had seen in a lucid dream, so it made me feel light hearted. I heard a light scratching at the door and I see my dog tilt his head. Sam seemed excited not scared so I had a feeling it was okay. I opened my door and one of my dogs (Winston) came running in happy and smiling, they start to play fight and act all cute then suddenly I see them freeze. They look over and my damn closet slightly opens. My dog Winston sprints out and my dog Sam gives me a sad look and cowers. I blink, and he is gone. My room is empty, all that is left is me… Nothing else happens really, I lay down in my dream and wake up in real life. It’s morning, weird how short dreams can seem sometimes.


The third night I fall asleep to the same thing. I was almost excited this time because I had a somewhat positive experience in my last dream. I wake up this time in my dream and check my phone time like normal, but it won’t turn on… I feel for my charger and it’s plugged in but still will not work. Damn phone, I lay it back down on the counter. It’s dark in my room but the kind of dark where you can still see kind of when your eyes adjust. I look around hoping for my dogs but there is nothing but silence and darkness. I hear the little scratch on my door and I go to open it. “Winston!” I happily cheer in my puppy dog voice. He wags his tail for a second then stops and lets out a little “boof” as his eyes are fixated on something behind me. I turn to look behind me and see nothing. “What’s wrong buddy?” He jumps a bit out of fear then quickly scurries down the dark staircase… I call his name but it’s silent.

I turn around to an empty room and am about to lay back down to sleep. I see that amid this my closet is ajar again. This time I am fed up. I try and flip the light on in my closet and my room. Nothing. Darkness. I shut my closet door and lay down. I’ll just wake up. It’ll be fine. I’ll wake up. I close my eyes and wake up. I hear my phone vibrate and see a message that starts with “SARAH! ….” But I can’t make out the rest, I wear contacts and am near sighted so it’s hard to read from afar. I reach sleepily and cautiously for my phone. Right as I am about to grab it something from behind me slams my head down. It feels like large, cold, damp hand of a man. It is holding me down with one hand on the nape of my neck and the other pressing my body down with his other cold hand centered in my back. I feel it shift its weight and bring it’s head next to mine. Dare I look to my right to see it? It almost feels like a different presence but at the same time in my head I feel like it’s him again… I feel his heavy long breaths breathing in and out against the side of my face and neck. Almost a heavy satisfied sound in his breath. That’s all I can hear, the steady heavy breathing.

I feel my own breath falter, fuck… I can’t breathe. I was so shocked and frozen by how fast it all happened that I didn’t realize. I feel the pressure pushing more and more against my back and throat, causing each breath to be less and less, I start to feel dizzy then I think… wait, I must not be awake… I must be calm I have to be calm… I feel myself slowly wake up as I slow my heart rate and calm myself in my dream. I just keep thinking I’m in control, it’ll be okay. Until it was. As I’m waking up I slowly feel him hesitantly release my neck and back, as he slowly backs away I feel him whisper something in my ear. I couldn’t hear what he said, but I could tell he was speaking and not just breathing… I still don’t know what he said and that irks me to this day.
I woke up barely catching my breath. I haven’t slept much since then and I am terrified of what will happen next… I still feel his presence sometimes, in my dreams especially, even when it’s nothing important, I can still feel him there, watching… waiting… I sometimes think I see him out of the corner of my eye. Who or what are you? Why me? But none the less, I hope I never find out. But for now, this is all I can write, my brother needs my help, he said he was cleaning his room and found something weird under my old bed.


CREDIT : Sarah Tejchma

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