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Have you ever had a dream where you were somewhere you did not belong? Perhaps you were back at your childhood home, school, or old Job. You panic as you’re unsure what you are supposed to be doing and everything seems off. Soon reality seeps its way into your dream and you remember you don’t belong here. As I tell you my story I want you to keep such feelings in mind because it is the only way I know that may describe what I want through.
I awoke that morning to the familiar sound of my mom calling my name. “Edward!” she called several times as she flipped my bedroom lights on and off. I slowly got out of bed bewildered. Looking around I felt nostalgic. My room was a sanctuary for a teenage boy. Toys littered the floor along with dirty clothes, and a tv that was left on static. But, I could not escape the feeling that this was all wrong. I put on an old pair of jeans from the floor and felt in my pockets a set of keys. I pulled out the keys and looked them over, several keys were attached to a metal key ring. They felt familiar but I could not place their origin. Putting the keys back into my pocket, I put on an old shirt and went downstairs. My mother gave me a smile as I smelled breakfast on the table. It was the familiar and warm smell of pancakes. Still, I seemed to feel half asleep and dazed.
I followed a routine every morning and this one was no different. After breakfast, I got ready for school and walked out the front door to see the culdesac I grew up in. I still could not escape the feeling that this was wrong, that I was doing something wrong. That is when I saw in the middle of the street a large tower-like rock. It was at least two stories high and four or five yards across at its base. It seemed to stand as a sentinel watching over the neighborhood, completely out of place from the cement road it sat on. I had the odd sense that it was watching me. As I approached it felt as if a strong wind was forcing me away. My concentration on the rock was broken by a honking horn. I could see my school bus stopped at the corner where the culdesac entered and exited. Students loaded onto the bus and I made a run for it, fearing I would be late.
As I rushed on the bus I was met with staring faces. They all watched me coldly as I found an empty seat. I felt their eyes on me as the bus started to move. It was deadly quiet except for the hum of the bus’s motor. I put my head against the window and shut my eyes to escape. I was cold, and my head still felt clouded. I tried to fight through my daze with rational thought. “What class was first today? What day is it? Haven’t I already graduated?” I opened my eyes in shock with that last thought and slowly looked around the bus. Everyone was still staring at me. Each face seemed familiar but I could not pick out a name for any of them. The bus came to a stop and the door opened but no one stood up. They all still sat watching me. I rushed off the bus and onto the street when the door closed behind me and the bus drove away still full.
I looked at the school with distress. The building was familiar but also altogether different than any building I once learned in. I turned around and started to walk hastily away. I had no destination other than away. I desperately tried to clear my head of the fog I felt. Everything seemed nostalgic but unknown. I had no idea where I was and it was growing worse the further I’d walked. The clouds in my head grow worse as well and I felt dizzy. Soon I had no idea even wich way I had come from. I had passed people on the streets but they all ignored my confusion. I did not wish to question any of them, and I grow paranoid I was being followed. Each step I took felt like I was climbing a mountain as I grow weaker and weaker. I fell and crawled on all fours trying to find my way. Around me, people still walked on and ignored my plight as I completely collapsed to the ground. I then awoke in the same bed as that morning, my mom flipping the bedroom lights on and off calling my name.
I remember a part of a poem about dreams that has stuck with me since then.
By route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an eidolon, named Night,
On a black throne reigns upright.
I was stuck in such a dream. But it was not a dream as well. That pillar was the black throne, and something indeed haunted me. Even lying in the bed of my youth covered in blankets I felt cold. My fingers and toes grew numb. The room seemed a stranger to me, it was wrong but I can not describe why. I did not want to leave my bed but feared the end if I stayed. Quickly I got up and dressed. I rushed out the front door this time without eating breakfast or even looking at my mother.
The moment I opened the door I was greeted by the stone Sentinel in the middle of the culdesac. It seemed to stare at me. I tried to approach the spire but was met with a pain in my skull and a force I could not pass. I looked up at the tower and saw something quickly climb away from my sight. A dark figure that moved with speed like a cockroach. The longer I looked the more fear had entered my mind. I started to run and was met by the school bus driving away. From the back window, faceless children stared at me. I ran in the opposite direction, away from the bus and away from the culdesac.
I ran as fast as I could but soon ran out of breath and had to stop for air. When I looked around I saw that I was standing in front of the school despite my efforts to run in the opposite direction. Looking at the building I felt a sense of unease and loneliness. Still, I felt drawn to it. The world around me seemed bleak and colorless, the school was the only way forward.
I pushed open the large double doors and entered empty hallways. There was an eerie silence. I walked the halls passing classrooms filled with children. Looking through a door window I could see them sitting in their desks with blank expressions. They were motionless like looking at a paused movie. I crept away from the doors and tried to remember the school’s layout from my memory but I could not. I tried to remember my classrooms, teachers, or locker but I could not recall any of them. It felt like white noise in that part of my memory.
An ear shattering school bell rang causing me to cup my ears with my hands. The hallway was thrown into chaos as countless students filled it walking in all directions. I could barely move as they bumped into me from every angle. I felt a jab in my gut as if one of the students had punched me. Looking down I saw my shirt stained with blood. It took me a moment to comprehend what I was looking at as blood continued to seep out and stain my shirt. Then the sharp pain hit me, I had been stabbed. I looked around for my attacker but there were too many people around. Then another jab hit me in the back. I started to panic, trying to force my way out of the crowd but the hits kept coming. Stabbing me over and over. I fell to the ground in a pool of blood as students kept walking by. Many kicking and stepping on me again and again. The pain was unbearable, my hands were crushed under the weight of uncaring students. My ribs felt broken and blood left me at an alarming rate. I could not breathe, I was choking as the familiar iron taste of blood filled my mouth. A buzzing filled my ears as my vision filled with static then went black.
I awoke again, “Edward” a voice calling to me accompanied by the clicks of a switch being turned off and on. I slowly opened my eyes and was greeted by a room that was like my bedroom. However, the floors and walls were devoid of any personality. The colors all seemed bland and dull. “Edward” a voice called again. This voice lacked any familiarity. It was like hearing a robot imitate speech. I looked at its source and saw a woman very much the same size and shape of my mother. But her face, it was blank. A blur where her face should be and as I tried to recover my mother’s face in my mind I couldn’t. I could not remember her face or her voice. I started to panic as I searched and searched in my head for my mother.
The figure in the doorway turned away, satisfied that I was awake. My panic turned to misery as I searched my memory. I could remember something that seemed missing before. The church, the coffin, the nights I spent crying. My mother died years ago. I sat there lost for a moment as the sad memories came back to me. Then my sorrow turned to anger. My body was shaking with rage. It was enough to chase out any fear and confusion from my mind. The daze that surrounded me till now had started to fade. I got out of bed and walked out my bedroom door. This time I did not need to get changed, I was already wearing Jeans and a jacket. I did not look at the visage of my mother on the way out of the house, I did not want to acknowledge that it even existed.
I walked out the front of the house without shutting the door behind me. This time no culdesac greeted me. Gone were the concrete streets instead there was grass. There were no other houses only trees. The morning sun was replaced by a nearly full moon. A small clearing gave way to the large stone pillar. Looking around even the house I came out of vanished. I looked up at the dark stone tower. Several creatures crawled along it on all fours. They had dark fur and long arms. Claws grappled the stone with ease. But worst of all was the eyes. Their phosphorescent eyes that seemed to be able to stare into my mind.
Summoning all of my energy I ran past the tower of rock and into the trees. Looking over my shoulder I could see the creatures moving, climbing, and jumping off the rock to give chase. They moved with abnormal speed. My hands and feet were numb but I summoned all my energy to move forward. I kept running, everything but the path forward became a blur. I did not know where I was going, but the direction felt right. I followed that instinct till I passed a line of trees giving way to an open field. Beyond the field, I saw a road with a large Semi-truck sitting alone on the side of the road. Hearing the shrieks of the creatures behind me I saw they stopped at the line of trees.
For a moment I thought I was safe, that I made it. But then I saw one of the creatures brave past the trees. I ran again making my way towards the truck. Instinctively I reached into my pocket and pulled out the key ring. I did not have to guess the key, I know the one. I reached the door with only seconds to spare. I could feel the creature just behind my back as I opened the door then slammed it shut behind me. I locked the doors but it proved unnecessary. I could not see the creature anywhere. It was gone. Out of the night air, my body began to heat up. My hands in feet cried in pain. I started the truck and drove away, leaving many questions for when I was safe.
I immediately took myself to a hospital. The ER gave me plenty of time to think. I did not dare tell the hospital staff the truth, as far as they know I passed out in the cold for several hours. Am not sure If I could ever explain what happened to anyone. I was treated for frostbite if I had been out longer I could have suffered much more. However, I did lose something. I’ve forgotten things that are important to me. My mother’s face, she is now only a stranger in my photographs. I’ve lost bits of my childhood that I will never get back. The creatures took them from me, feed on them like vampires. I have never looked for that road or the stone pillar again, the details of where I stopped are fuzzy at best and I have no intention of clearing them up.
Still, I can’t remember what possessed me to leave my cab in the first place.
Credit: Ryan P McNamee
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