Estimated reading time — 6 minutes
I awoke to find myself in a darkened passageway. As I sat up from the dusty floor and rubbed my head, I realized I had no memory of who I was or how I got to this strange place. No matter how I got here, I felt I needed to get out and fast. The passageways were like a maze; a maze that led nowhere. It was as if I was stuck in a castle in Europe or something. Great, I can remember Europe and castles, but not my own name? How pathetic was that?
Anyway, I traveled down the halls for god knows how long until I reached a dead end. I couldn’t believe my luck. So, I turned back in search for another route out of this hellhole. Upon coming across an intersection of passages that I passed through before, a thick mist and a soft light appear to the left of me. I looked and saw a tall, well-built figure walking down the hall towards me. At first, I was relieved, thinking that I have been saved. I waved and shouted at the man, trying to get his attention, but all I got in return was silence. Soon, however, what felt like excitement turned to dread.
As the mist surrounding the man parted, I could see he wore an old military uniform of some kind. I couldn’t quite remember of era, but maybe like the 1600s, maybe earlier? I didn’t know; I just couldn’t put my finger on it. What was clear was that he was headless. It was clean off his shoulders with a smooth edge. I then began to notice that sound; the horrible, screeching sound like something metal against a chalkboard. I then saw in his right hand he dragged a large handle that was linked to a chain. I couldn’t see what was on the end of that chain at first because of the mist, but as the headless man in uniform came closer, I began to hear groaning and high pitched panting.
Without warning, the headless figure took a swing at me, as a large metal-looking ball with spikes came at my head. As it swung, a loud high-pitch scream echoed through the halls. I managed to dodge backwards to avoid it while the spiked ball got stuck in the stone wall. Once I regained my breath after the shock, I looked up to find the spiked-ball was not a ball at all: it was a human head cast in iron. The face on the iron head was that of agony and pain; the mouth was opened to reveal a metal tongue, and the eyes were closed shut.
‘What sort of thing was this?’ I thought to myself.
With one huge pull, the figure freed the iron head from the wall, as it screamed again. It then threw its arm back and swung at me again, as the spiked-head screamed that god awful scream. It missed only hitting the space between my legs without a scratch. The face on the iron head looked right up at me, and then it suddenly opened it eyes to reveal horribly bloodshot eyes. The head began to scream again; it was so loud I thought my ears were going to bleed. The figure pulled back on the chain, getting it unstuck a second time. Before I knew it, I was sprinting down the hall like a bat out of hell.
I don’t know how long I ran, but I soon found myself in what I believe to be the center of the maze. It was a four-sided corridor of some kind with what I thought was a bottomless pit in the center. I almost fell in when I stumbled upon this place, as I slid to a stop; my feet dangled above the darkness below for a moment. I looked up and saw even more halls above the one I was on, but no sunlight at the top. I then heard the footsteps of the thing coming up from behind. I looked up and around my shoulder to see him, the mist parting as he approached.
I thought I could get away. I had two options: right or left. When I was halfway up onto my feet, however, the stone bricks that held the floor of the hall began to collapse like dominoes. It started on the opposite aide from me; I was able to hear the loud crack that began to affect. The floor caved in all around me. I was left on a narrow pathway, like that of a pirate’s wooden plank. The figure then slowly approached at me. As the thing neared, I heard the dragging of its bizarre weapon. I was left with two new options: jump and hope to live, or stay and die for sure. And so, without thinking much longer, I jumped into the abyss below. As I fell, the headless thing looked down at me, dangling its head on a chain above the darkness as it did.
I then woke up in my bed screaming, shooting up until I was seated upwards. I was in a cold sweat and breathing hard. I rapidly looked around the darkened room, but nothing was out of the ordinary. Nothing was wrong in the apartment. My memories came flooding back to me: my name was Stephen Tyler. I remembered everything now.
As I lay back on my bed, I sighed in relief, “It was just a dream, oh thank God; it was just a dream.”
I gently drifted back to sleep. I smiled as I did. In the morning, I got up and went back to my old routine. I brushed my teeth, took a twenty minute shower, made myself some breakfast, and then got dressed in a suit. I remember I worked for a law firm downtown as a paralegal. And so, the day started out like any other. That was until I opened my door.
Out in the hall, police were everywhere. The passed my door and down to the apartment at the very end of the hall. Flashes blasted the light shadows of the hallway, as pictures were being taken. In the doorway of that apartment, I saw a group of people who all had jackets that said “CSI.” They mumbled to themselves about something, but they talked so loudly and all together it was hard to hear what exactly they were talking about.
Just then, my neighbor from the apartment to the left of my own came up to me and said, “Yeah, they just showed up like five minutes ago. The superintendent called it in no too long ago.”
“What’s going on here?”
With a loud sigh, my neighbor replied, “Well, I guess I’ll be the one to tell you. Apparently old Mrs. Bittermen was murdered last night.”
“Yeah, beaten to death with some sort of large, heavy object; I overheard one of the cops talking about the details. I also heard they believe she might have been killed sometime in the middle of the night, but I didn’t hear anything last night, did you?” the neighbor exclaimed.
I thought it over for a moment and said, “No, I didn’t hear anything from her apartment. Sure, I woke up from the weirdest dream, but I didn’t hear a damn thing.”
A detective walked up to the two of us. He looked us over for a moment before asking, “Which one of you is Stephen Tyler?”
“I am, sir,” I replied.
“Did you hear anything last night?” the detective asked.
“As I was just telling my neighbor here,” I said, pointing to the neighbor who then waved at the detective, “I didn’t hear anything.”
“OK then, and Mr. Tyler, do you have any enemies, Mr. Tyler?” the detective asked.
What kind of question was that? What did I have to with the murder of Mrs. Bittermen? Sure, we were neighbors, we chatted, said hello in the hall, but I barely knew the woman. And why would I have any enemies? True I worked in a law firm, but it’s mostly a desk job. Very few of our clients are even aware of my existence. My family was normal enough, and I had great friends. Why would I have enemies?
I told the detective that I didn’t have any enemies. He then asked me to follow him to the apartment. After passing through the crowd of people, I saw the scene. There were large holes in the walls, blood splattered everywhere, bloody boot prints on all over the floor, and poor Mrs. Bittermen being taken away in a body bag. How could no one hear what did this horrible thing? And finally, to my horror, my eyes went wide opened after the detective pointed it out to me. A message, written in blood, which read:
“ONE LIFE FOR ANOTHER, STEPHEN TYLER.”
My god, did the thing from my dream kill her because I live? Tell me it was just a dream!