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Thing Of Nightmares
It was a dark and stormy night. Clouds of the deepest shades of gray hung low in the sky and from them poured an endless, merciless rain. I could hear the roar of thunder in the distance and saw fire run through the clouds as lightning flashed.
I struggled through the rain and cold, soaked and shivering, seemingly the only living being for miles. My clothes were torn and bloody and with so many slashes and cuts, hardly recognizable. Pain shot through my body as I forced my tired, blistered feet onward on a road as endless as the rain. Each drop stung as it hit my worn-out limbs and open wounds.
I stumbled and fell to the soft muddy ground, tasting the wet earth as I did so. I gagged at the putrid smell of my blood as it mixed with the earth. I tried to rise as still more glistening bullets of rain hit me, only to collapse on the ground once more. A wall of water splashed over me. I had fallen in a large murky puddle. Even with the rain, leaning over the puddle I could just make out a figure in the water.
I screamed in horror and scrambled to my feet. Finding the strength in my uncontrollable fear, I ran. Through the night I went, running from the demons that hunted me. My nostrils flared but the smells of the forest so near never reached me.
When I finally made it past my picket fence gate and up the long path to the porch of my log house, I reached for the cold, hardwood of the door knob. But before I reached it I felt the evil of my own personal demons catch up to me in the darkness, and coldness wrapped its bony hands around my heart.
The last thing I saw were the dark looming shadows of my nightmares. The last thing I felt were their cold wet hands closing around my limbs. The last thing I heard was a cry of pain and fear, my own. Then, I awoke.
I had had this dream several times in the last ten years. The first time had been the night after I moved to that town. It scared me, but for a time I was able to put it out of my mind.
I had been staying in a hotel while I looked for a more permanent residence. The only home available at the time was a log house with a beautiful picket fence gate settled in a forest near my new town. Of course I knew that this was the same house from my dream but I decided to purchase it despite the fact because it would be a long time before another home became available. After all, the housing market here was extremely competitive.
Apparently the previous owners had drowned there in a flood and the owners before that had been struck by lightning, both of them. Going back to the time when the home was built; every owner of this house had met some unfortunate end and nobody had lived in it for years. Why they were still trying to sell it was a mystery to me.
When I first found out about its history I was pretty upset that I hadn’t been warned. Of course I immediately moved back into the hotel I was originally staying at. I couldn’t sell the house though; the realtor refused to do it.
The clothes I was wearing in the dream were sent to me by my mother a month after I had bought the house. They were hard to recognize brand new but the basic style was there. They were a birthday present though they didn’t excite me like a gift should. I started to freak out a little which wasn’t really normal for me. I didn’t know what to do.
Four days after receiving the clothing I had the dream again but this time there was a slight difference. Before, I had had the feeling that something evil had been chasing me but I didn’t know what. I still had this feeling but now I knew what chased me, people. Not just any people, though, they were the residents of this very town. I do not know why they would chase me but in my dream they were trying to hurt me. Not just hurt, I had heard their cries for blood; they were there for the kill. There was something else with them as well. It led them, running on four legs and looked as if it had horns but that was all I could make out.
The next morning I reluctantly went out into the town. It was nice and warm, comfortably so. The sun was shining and birds were singing from their perches in the trees. There was a slight breeze and it seemed as if everyone had a place to be. Neighbors smiled and waved, not looking half as angry as they had in my dream. I started to smile too. Maybe the dreams had only resulted from my own fears at being in a new town. Perhaps they were really nothing to worry about. This I said to myself though I knew deep down that I was far from convinced.
Somehow I was drawn to the center of town. Others slowly assembled there. Even those who ran shops and attended schools arrived at the gathering after a short while. I didn’t know why I was there or, for that matter, why everyone else was there.
“What is going on?” I whispered quietly to the man standing next to me.
“It is nearly time for the Hunt,” he replied in a monotone voice.
“The hunt? What in the world is going to be hunted?”
“Hush. It is time.”
I looked at the people around me, inspecting their faces and expressions. They all looked, a little off. They stared at the center of the square with dull, thirsty eyes almost like zombies. I also noticed that they stood in rows and columns, each perfectly spaced. Even the children were still and uniform.
I craned my neck to see what everyone was staring at. I froze, petrified as I saw what entranced everyone. In the center of the square paced the thing of nightmares. It was about the size of a large dog and looked like a cross between a lion and a lizard and a few other creatures I could not name. It had several horns and spikes on a triangular shaped head and a shaggy mane framed its face. It had a long reptilian tale tipped with a needle like point surrounded by long fur. It was long and somehow majestic. The eyes are what unnerved me the most. They were long red slits with no pupils.
For several moments I was frozen just as everyone else was. I can’t really describe the feeling it gave me. I remember only the coldness and the numbness, as if I were prey and it the predator. I felt… alone. Then the thing looked at me and no one else. It stalked towards me, quickly, quietly. All those around turned to gaze at me in the same way the creature did. I shivered and shook. It had suddenly turned cold, maybe because of the creature, or maybe because of a shift in the wind.
As it came closer I fought to move, to run away but I couldn’t move. When the thing was only a few feet away from me it lunged in for the kill, I closed my eyes but no pain came. When I opened my eyes I was in my bed, drenched in sweat. I looked around startled. This was the house, the house I had bought, the one that was cursed. I didn’t understand. I had left, I know I had. Was everything that I had thought happened, just a dream? It couldn’t be. I got out of bed quickly and went immediately to the mirror behind the bedroom door. I was horrified by what I saw.
I was wearing the clothes that my mother had sent me but they were not as they were received. They were torn and bloody just as they were in my dream. I was scratched and cut and bruised. My long, dark, curly, brown hair was in knots and I was covered in mud, all five and a half feet of me. I started to feel the pain from my wounds and my sore blistered feet. When I tore my eyes away from the mirror I saw a mixture of blood and mud on the white carpet. It looked as if something or someone had been dragged across the floor. I felt numb again as I looked from the stains on the carpet to my own legs. I had made those stains. Beside them were muddy footprints, several of them and coming from the bed, that was also stained, were another set of footprints, a mixture of brown and red, my own.
I cried out and screamed over and over. I did not care who heard. I did not know if anyone did hear. I tore the mirror away from the door and threw it across the room. Glass shattered. Some of it may have hit me but I didn’t feel it. I went to every side of the room knocking things over, tearing apart my life, picture by picture. The life that I had put into the hotel, not this house, everything that wasn’t supposed to be there I destroyed.
Nothing was right. Nothing made sense. When there was nothing left untouched in the room I dropped into a corner and rocked. Back and forth I went; rhythmically, never stopping, never missing a beat. I had stopped yelling and screaming but not once had the tears stopped rolling down my cheeks. I am not sure how long I stayed like this. It could have been minutes or hours or maybe even days.
I do know that somehow I was found. They took me away from the house. I remember a bed, an uncomfortable bed. There were sirens that shrilled and hurt my poor ears, I felt deaf after that. I saw white, a lot of white. There were faces, so many faces, blurred around the edges. And there was numbness, a different kind from before. This one dulled my pain, only that that was physical though. Nothing could heal the pain and confusion in my mind.
The next few months were a blur. I finally came to realize that I was in a hospital and that the whiteness were the walls and the faces were those of doctors and nurses. The sirens had been the ambulance and the numbness was from the drugs.
Some of my caretakers tried talking to me but I hardly ever answered them. Truth be told I couldn’t understand them. They spoke my language but I couldn’t process it. When I did say something those around me would only look at me worriedly and leave the room.
I did eventually begin to feel better. When I did I was moved to another place, one that was darker and more frightening. There were others there. They scared me, yelling and screaming and laughing like they did. I wanted to be taken away. I yelled and screamed with fright and for no apparent reason, I laughed as they did. Then I was locked up, just like all those other miserable souls.
I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but I know why I am here now. Those on the outside don’t want me around to ruin their perfect little world. To them I am crazy, insane even. They do not believe my story. They do not want me to poison them with what they see as lies and ramblings of a woman who is not all there. They do not see what I see. My demons are invisible to them. My ghosts haunt only me. Every time I fall asleep I relive the night I nearly died, both of them. I relive the beast attacking me and my run through hell. They still do not believe me, even after all I have told them. Perhaps they are the ones who are crazy. Soon, though, they will all believe me and soon you will too because now that you know my story you are no longer ignorant of the unseen. You know of them and soon you to will see my world and feel my horrors. And you too will end up just like me.