In the pitch black darkness of nightfall, many unsavory things can and often do take place. We are told at a young age that nothing can get you in the dark… that you’re safe. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the truth. There are indeed monsters in this world… sometimes they’re in your state, sometimes they’re in your city or even in your very neighborhood. And sometimes, just sometimes… the monster is in you all along…
There is a storm raging outside, it’s after midnight, and the only light in fact is supplied by the bolts of lightning that sporadically litter the sky. Outside, in the middle of this downpour is a man wearing a dark rain slicker, he’s feverishly digging a massive hole in his backyard. The property is pretty private and secluded. It was actually a selling point when he and his wife had purchased the home.
The house is an old turn of the century home that looks as though it belongs in some sort of horror film. The type of house you would walk past and quip “Oh I bet that one’s haunted.” The lightning crashes once more and as it illuminates the night sky, the man has his attention stolen from the hole as he looks up to catch a glimpse of a woman’s figure, watching him from the bedroom window.
In a jolt, Jerry springs upright in bed. He is soaked through his pajamas and drenched in sweat. The storm rages outside and lightning crashes as Jerry takes a few moments to catch his breath and slow his heartbeat which is pounding quite rapidly. All of this sudden commotion awakens his wife Jennifer from her deep slumber. Rubbing her eyes as she rolls over to her left side and clicks on the antique table lamp, Jennifer grabs the old digital alarm clock, a mid 1980’s edition, from the nightstand. She peers at the time with sleepy, half closed eyes. It reads 2:35am. She places the alarm clock back on the nightstand and now sitting upright, she turns her attention to Jerry.
“Jerry, hunny, are you okay? Did you have another nightmare?”
“Yeah, yeah I did. You go back to sleep Jen, you have work in the morning, I don’t want to keep you up again with this.”
“Nonsense Jerry, besides you have work too you know?”
“Yes, but at least my work is here at home. And we can’t very well both walk around here like a couple of sleepless zombies now can we?”
Jennifer yawns and clicks the lamp back off, “Okay sweetie you made your case,” she says with a laugh, “Just don’t stay up too late okay? If you don’t start getting more sleep you will drive yourself mad.”
“Goodnight Jen, I love you”
Jennifer yawns again, “I love you too hunny. Goodnight.”
Jerry swings his legs over the side of the queen sized bed he and his wife share and in the darkness, he uses his toes to find and retrieve his slippers. Rising to his feet with a groan Jerry begins stumbling clumsily through the bedroom and towards the door. Taking care to be as quiet as possible as Jennifer has already seemingly fallen back to sleep, Jerry turns the knob ever so slowly so as to not create a sound. Once he steps through the doorway, he turns and uses both hands to control and silence the door, closing it behind him.
Jerry begins to saunter sleepily down the hallway. He passes various photographs hanging from the wall of Jennifer and himself. Lots of fantastic memories adorned these walls with photos of white water rafting, mountain climbing, hiking trips, and their cabin. Easily seen in these montages of their lives together is their love of the great outdoors. Often they would each take a few weeks off from work in the summertime, so as to make time for themselves to enjoy such activities.
Sleepily, Jerry stumbles and finds himself bumping his shoulder into one of the photo frames hanging from the wall. This sends it crashing down to the floor in a heap, shattering the frame in which it was encased leaving shards of glass strewn on the hardwood floor. Jerry continues to shuffle down the hall, turning to his right and heads into the kitchen to grab his broom and dustpan. He returns to the frame still lying broken on the floor and flips it over in his hand to see that it was the picture from his and Jennifer’s wedding taken some fourteen years prior.
Jerry places the frame down on an end table located not too far from where it fell and sweeps up the mess of glass. After shuffling back into the kitchen to dispose of the glass, Jerry glances down and notices a cut on his hand. The crimson blood begins to drip down onto the bright linoleum floor which wakes Jerry up a bit more as he shakes himself free of cobwebs and hastily runs to the sink to begin addressing the wound.
Jerry finds himself briefly in a trance as he watches the bright red blood mix with the running water and spiral itself down the drain of the kitchen sink. Feeling as if he will suddenly faint, Jerry clutches the edge of the kitchen counter to keep himself from falling. After taking a few deep breaths with his eyes closed, Jerry feels steady enough on his feet to begin walking towards the living room.
Upon entering the room, Jerry immediately ambles towards the couch. The home, and especially this room had a beautiful mix between modern and antique furnishings. Jerry once tried to call it Modernique, but the phrase never quite caught on with Jennifer. The room is covered with owls. Stuffed owls, owl lamps, owls hanging in the corners… so many owls that to the casual observer it may well be extremely unnerving. But to Jerry, it’s an ode to his late grandmother, Ruth. This was once her home and she was quite fond of collecting anything with owls on it. To Jerry, this was a gentle and constant reminder of his youth and oftentimes would find himself sitting alone in this room while doing nothing at all in particular. Just reminiscing and enjoying the quiet.
Of course, although Jerry loved the silence this room would bring, there was still a very large 60 inch television affixed to the wall. Jerry isn’t much of a sports guy, though he does quite enjoy hockey season, he uses the television mostly to sit back and have some much needed laughter provided by situation comedies.
Once plopping his mildly girthy frame onto the couch, Jerry reaches to his right to grab the remote controls for the television and begins to surf the channels in search of something to relax him back into sleep. Now that Jerry was finally beginning to relax, his brain began racing with the memories of that nightmare that woke him up.
Truth be told, Jerry hadn’t gotten much sleep the last few weeks. He kept having that same recurring nightmare of the man digging the hole outside. It’s a constant loop in poor Jerry’s mind, it began driving him mad once again thinking about it. He always woke up the exact same way, cold sweats, heart racing, and not remembering any other details of the dream. It was all positively maddening to Jerry. He couldn’t very well go on much longer with this intrusive lack of proper sleep.
He started to develop deep and dark bags under his eyes and he was consistently suffering from a tension headache. He feared what any further strain would put him through. All over this nightmare that he could barely even recall. That was the big problem with the whole ordeal, whenever Jennifer would ask Jerry about the dream, he never had much to say about it because the details, even to him, were so scarce.
Finding no program on the television worthy of his waning attention, Jerry clicks the remote control, once again turning the television off. That was the last thing he remembers doing…
A few hours later, the next morning, Jennifer came out into the living room finding Jerry asleep on the couch. She surveys him for a few moments before he once again bolts awake.
“Jerry what’s wrong, was it another nightmare?”
Jerry collects himself for a few seconds before replying, “No, no, sorry, you just scared me that’s all. Must have not been sleeping all that deeply I guess.”
“Guess not,” Jennifer starts, “Hey what happened over here?” she says, walking towards the table with the broken picture frame resting upon it.
“Oh that? Yeah sorry about that, I bumped into it on my way in here last night. It fell off the wall and shattered, but I’m pretty sure I picked up all of the glass. Cut myself doing it no less.”
“Oh my god Jerry you cut yourself? Are you alright?”
Jennifer runs over to examine Jerry’s hand but he pulls it away pretty quickly. “Yeah, yeah I’m fine, just a cut. Don’t worry about it. See?” Jerry holds up his bandaged hand to Jennifer and briefly catches himself off guard. ‘When did I bandage this up? I don’t remember doing that last night,’ Jerry thought to himself with confusion.
“Okay, yeah you seem fine now I guess, sorry for worrying. Did you sleep at all?”
Jerry, still deep in thought about the bandages, took a few seconds to answer but finally did, “N-no I didn’t… not really anyway.”
“Jerry, if you don’t start getting some better sleep you really will need to call Doctor Willams’ office. I’m beginning to worry about you is all, you don’t look well hunny.” Jennifer pleaded her case with Jerry but the pleas seemed to fall on deaf ears. “Jerry, hunny, are you listening to me?”
Jerry gazes into the distance silently before speaking, “Yes, yeah, sorry Jen, yeah you’re right. This whole lack of sleep still has me frazzled I guess. You’re right, if it doesn’t get any better by the weeks end, I’ll give his office a call, okay?”
Jennifer looks at Jerry with a caring and beautiful smile, “That’s all I ask dear,” she says. “Now, why don’t you go take a nap for a while, you still look exhausted.”
“Oh, I’m really not that tired, n-no really I’m okay.”
“Now now, I insist. I have to go run a few errands and when I get back I’ll just be straightening up the house. If you need anything just give me a ring,” Jennifer persuaded, again while flashing that enticing smile of hers.
“Oh okay, okay, you win. I promise I will at least go and try to get some rest, okay?”
“Good boy,” Jennifer replies with a light hearted chuckle.
Jerry finally rises himself up off of the couch and after sliding back into his plush slippers with the hard house-shoe souls, he saunters back towards the bedroom. Stumbling into the room, Jerry haphazardly slides the shades closed to darken his surroundings. His head barely hits the pillow before he is out like a light, finally receiving some deeply needed slumber.
It was dark, with rain once again descending outside like a small private monsoon. Jerry can see the silhouette of the man in the dark rain slicker off in the distance. A dream to be sure, but what did it all mean? Who was this mystery man digging the hole in his backyard? Jerry was about to find out as he wasted no time, dream or no dream, and dashed toward the man to finally get some answers. He approached fast but seemingly not fast enough because as soon as he arrived at where the man was standing, he was gone in a flash. Lightning crashes and with a loud BANG, the sound jerks Jerry awake once again from yet another miserable and sweat drenched nightmare.
Jerry awakens clutching his chest and trying to catch his breath. These nightmares always seem to awaken him with some sort of a panic attack. Unpleasant to be certain, Jerry didn’t know how much more he could withstand. He stands up and begins wandering to the private master bathroom located to the right of their walk in closet. Once he is finished with his business, Jerry heads over to the sink to wash up his hands and splash some cold water on his face hoping to revive himself a bit.
These nightmares were beginning to take their toll, that much is evident with just as much as a simple glance into the mirror. Jerry’s bags under his eyes had almost seemed to double in size, his crows feet more defined, and was he going mad or did he appear to be losing more hair as well? He briefly turns the sink back into the ‘on’ position so that he may try to splash the water one more time as if it would suddenly wash all his problems down the drain along with last night’s blood.
‘The blood, the bandage… that’s right, where did that come from?’ Jerry began thinking silently to himself.
“Jerry, are you awake? I’m home!” Jennifer called out to her husband from the kitchen. She’s putting away the groceries she bought as Jerry enters the room looking worse for wear. He slumps against the wall and seemingly uses every ounce of energy to stay upright.
“Jesus Jerry, you look like shit. Did you sleep at all?”
“Well that’s a fine how-do-you-do,” he replies mockingly.
“Sorry babe, but you look pretty awful. I’m getting worried. Maybe you should call the doctor bef…”
“NO!” Jerry snaps back, his voice so angry it sounds like a different person altogether.
“Jesus, sorry, I’m just…”
“Yeah, yeah, worried… I know, I know. I get it okay? Enough! I’m the one dealing with this, NOT you, so please just keep your damn opinions to yourself.”
Jennifer’s jaw drops as she finds herself practically in tears. Jerry immediately feels intense guilt. Sure, they’ve had arguments before, but Jerry can’t recall ever being that vile during one.
“Jen, I-I’m sorry. I’m just so damn tired. I didn’t mean to take it out on you I swear. I’m so sorry. I promise I’ll call okay? I just need to sleep. That’s all I need and it’ll all go away, I know it will.”
“Well then dear,” Jennifer begins coyly, “you are so lucky I love you. Here I got you something, I hope it’ll help.”
Jennifer walks over to the kitchen table and grabs one of the grocery bags pulling out a bottle of melatonin and hands it to Jerry. “Here you go,” she says, “take two and call me in the morning,” she finishes with a hearty laugh.
“Thanks Jen, really… it means alot.”
Jerry opens up the bottle, first removing the safety wrapper around the seal. After opening it, he takes two small grape flavored gummy capsules and chews them up quickly and swallows.
“You’re taking them NOW?!?” Jennifer says with a surprise.
“Yeah well I gotta sleep sometime right? Who cares if it takes all damn day I need to sleep babe.”
“Okay, yeah, absolutely I get it. Okay, you go back to bed and I’ll try to be quiet out here. I love you Jerry. Sleep tight.”
“Thanks Jen, I love you too… I’m really sor…”
“Shhh shhh,” she says, cutting Jerry off, “I know. It’s okay, you’ve been through so much. Go get some sleep.”
Jennifer leans over to Jerry and gives him a firm and passionate kiss on the lips while holding his face in her hands. She pulls him in for a hug and takes the opportunity to rub his back for comfort. He pulls away a bit but then stops himself and allows her to finish. Truth be told, it did feel good, and more importantly, it was comforting.
Jerry heads back towards the bedroom and after removing his slippers and robe, he climbs back into bed. It isn’t long before Jerry is fading away thanks to the melatonin capsules. As he drifts off, his mind is already racing back to the same nightmare sequence, hoping beyond all hope, that he can finally receive some answers.
Sure enough, Jerry quickly found himself back outside in that same storm surge. Within a few seconds he acclimates himself to his surroundings and scans his line of vision till he finally catches a glimpse of that very same man in that very same dark colored rain slicker digging that very same, and very deep hole.
If you think that sounds rather redundant, you could imagine how poor Jerry must feel. The whole experience is absolutely maddening to even the sanest individual. With haste, Jerry sprints towards the man and from behind he grabs the mystery man’s arm and viciously spins him around. What Jerry finds is unspeakable and most disturbing.
There, staring at Jerry and wearing a menacing grimace, under the hood of that dark rain slicker, was none other than Jerry himself. Jerry, our Jerry that is, is in complete and utter shock. He scans his doppleganger up and down positively speechless to find that what was once a shovel has now morphed itself into a knife dripping with fresh, warm, blood.
The lightning crashes behind the men and is so loud it makes Jerry jump back a few inches. In the light electricity filled sky, Jerry looks up to once again find a female figure lurking in the window. Only now, does he finally realize who it is… Jennifer.
Lightning crashes once more and this time Jerry bolts up from his nightmare to find himself still in bed. It’s dark now and it appears as though there is a storm beginning to brew on the horizon. He reaches out for Jennifer but his efforts come up short when he realizes she isn’t in bed.
Jerry stretches his arms out overhead and heaves his frame up off of the bed. He saunters back to the master bathroom as the storm begins to pick up steam outside. He enters the bathroom and after relieving himself, he walks over to the sink and mirror. His appearance in his reflection shocks him awake further.
He looks gaunt, sickly, and unwell. The bags under his eyes are thick and massive, he appears to be getting worse as the hours go by. Jerry exits the bathroom and heads down the hall first finding himself in the kitchen. The sight he finds when entering the room puts him in a bit of shock. There are flies buzzing about everywhere, dishes are piled up in the sink and covered with filth, and food seemingly left out for days covered in mold and rotting away on the counter tops.
Jerry is stunned into silence as he backsteps himself towards the living room. Once arriving there, he finds the scenery isn’t much more pleasing to the eye. The furniture is ragged and torn, there’s dishes piled up in here as well, and Jerry finds himself even more confused.
“Jen! Jen, where are you?” There is an audible level of fear in Jerry’s voice as he receives no answer. The storm continues to pick up outside and as the lightning crashes, it illuminates the room and out of the corner of his eye he sees it. There, hanging on the coat rack, is a dark rain slicker.
Jerry stares at it for what feels like hours but is in reality just a few moments. For reasons even Jerry didn’t quite understand, he found himself reaching out for the slicker and putting it on, lifting the hood to cover his head from the rain.
Jerry opens the front door and exits the house, he looks to his left to find a large shovel leaning against the outside of the home. Running on instinct alone, Jerry reaches for the shovel and walks down the front steps leading down into the yard in a scene he knows all too well.
It isn’t long before he locates the familiar spot that has haunted his very nightmares for weeks. Jerry begins to dig, and dig some more. Finding nothing to explain away the dreams, Jerry almost gives up hope entirely when suddenly he jams his shovel into hole out of frustration and feels it hit something hard. It didn’t clang like it would if it was hitting stone, instead it made a more grotesque squishy noise.
Jerry gets down on his hands and knees in the dirt and uses his hands to clear away the soil from whatever his shovel has struck. He feverishly tries to clear it all away hoping to finally come to some sort of conclusion. Why had this all been happening to him? All he wanted was some sleep, everything would be okay again if he just got some sleep.
When the lightning strikes once more it illuminates the surrounding area. When it does so, to Jerrys complete and utterly traumatizing shock, the bolt of light across the sky reveals the horrifying, cold, deceased flesh of his once beautiful partner… his wife Jennifer. Dead presumably for weeks, murdered in cold blood.
As it would turn out it seems, the dreams Jerry experienced were actually taking place during his waking hours. Having conversations with a woman long dead, dreaming of a world that no longer existed for him. Tragic really.
It’s been famously said that we all go a little mad sometimes… but when the time comes and it happens to you, will you be the last to know? Apparently, our dear friend Jerry was.
Credit: George McGaffin
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