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The Nightmare This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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The first thing I noticed was a girl. She was just standing there, blinking in a daze as her feet moved below her. She was walking, that much I knew. But where to? And where was this? I glanced around in the dark area, and seeing nothing familiar, turned back towards the girl. She was walking into what looked like an abandoned shack or a house, gloomy and menacing in the dark of the night. Somehow I knew this wouldn't turn out well. I tried to cry out to her, but my mouth opened and no sound came out. I tried to run to her, but I found I couldn't move any closer than I was. I could only see the back of her head as she moved.

She went into the house and in that moment my feet let me move, so I followed from a distance, watching as it all unfolded. First it seemed normal, quant even, and then things she didn't notice began to pop up. Little shadows; dark things, began to surge behind her, grabbing at her legs at a sluggish pace. My mouth twisted in disgust and I tried to scream as more and more drew up, closing in on her. All this was happening behind her, and all she did was walk forward, an unsuspecting victim, ignorant of her own fate. When she finally glanced back, she screamed, the little shadows bulging up into larger forms.

Then she was running. She ran and they chased her. I followed her at a slower pace, the fear that she felt not affecting me. Somehow, watching from a distance it didn't seem so scary. The moon reflected against the windows and I stared out for a moment before following the screams. They now had her surrounded in a corner, bulging and moving forward, surging towards her. Masses of inky darkness that took different forms: one would seem to become something intelligible, then it was gone, bubbling like a cauldron. Just as it seemed like they were to have her the scene change.

In the blink of an eye they were in a forest now, the moon cloaked in dark clouds. The girl shuddered and spun towards the sound of cracking branches, a man in a ski mask appearing. How cliche. The girl uttered a scream as he ran for her, claw-like fingers reaching out, grabbing at her legs and arms. She ran faster and faster, pushing herself as she began to perspire. After several minutes she stopped and stood there, panting. I watched in suspense as something new showed up; a monster. Large claws, gnarling fingers, and a gigantic rotten body. Bits and pieces of green, mossy flesh seemed to drop at constant rates, bright red eyes glaring at her, a mouth of gnarly teeth. It roared and went for her. Exhausted, the girl started to run again with a fresh scream, her pace lagging. Watching her, seeing the look of fear displayed on her face, I could feel my own heart quicken its beating. Oh, how I wished to help!

I watch in mute horror as the thing took her in its claws, breathing down her neck and revealing a gaping jaw with rows of pearly white teeth. Just as he was about to clamp down the scene changed again and we were in some sort of swamp area, except instead of water, it was blood. The girl was falling into it and with a face of stricken horror. She was taken, black tendrils rising out of the water, wrapping around her arms, legs, and torso. they groped at her body and tightened their grip, screams ripping from her throat. "H-Help me!" Finally the girl spoke and I was frozen to watch in the same fascinated horror as it began to drag her down into the bloody water.

Her screams were drowned out and bubbles rose as she thrashed, gasping and choking, gagging and gurgling. I was tense, wishing desperately I could do anything but watch. When she went under I closed my eyes, relaxing when I sensed the scene had changed (if the sudden silence was any indication). When I opened them it was now a space of pure darkness. The girl was hunched over, shivering as she curled up, knees against her chest. Her face was obscured and I watched as she panicked in the darkness, jumping at every little sound that penetrated the silence. What were those sounds, I wondered faintly, my focus fluttering from the darkened area around me to the girl. She was afraid of this dark, I realized. Not knowing what lay beyond.

At some point she seemed to snap, her voice rising in a cry of anguish. She tore at her throat, her face, her hair, taking out clumps and shaking wildly. She pounded her fists into the ground and I watched, a feeling akin to depression entering my heart at her broken will. She looked up suddenly, her eyes falling onto me as if seeing me for the first time. I was shocked by the clarity in those eyes, the recognition, and took a step back.
This girl
Was me.

"Help me!" she cried. And as if the spell was broken I stepped forward, my steps causing bursts of light to appear in the darkness. I knelt by her, hesitant until she threw her arms around me in a tight hug. I was thrown back and despite the pain it gave me, hugged myself back tightly. She sobbed against my chest and I held her there, murmuring words of comfort and encouragement. She shook and shook, almost leaving me to believe she may just shatter, as I made promises all would be ok. I kissed her forehead and realized how young I looked, shocked beyond belief. The other me wiped at her eyes slowly, letting herself stop shaking before she gave me a final smile, her body bursting into a golden powder, the room flooding with light.

The powder shimmered, falling all over me as it collected together and sunk into my skin. I shuddered for a moment and was filled with my own senses and feelings. Her's and my fear, anguish, apprehension and horror mixing up inside. For only a moment I felt what she had felt, shivering before standing up. The room was completely white, and I glanced down at my had, a speck of dust settled there. I clenched my fists and stared upwards, feeling the new warmth flooding through me.

I had survived the nightmare.



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