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The first time the Nightmare came, I was five. I was dreaming of ice skating, but with two ugly and sinuous slithering along side me. But then the ice beneath my feet fell away, and I was drowning in the Nightmare. The world turned black, with writhing gray clouds contorting around my feet. A dark horse with flaming red eyes stood before me. It’s very presence filled me with such terror I almost woke up. But the nightmare held me captive.
I ran from the horse, the Nightmare, with utter desperation. If it would free me from the terrible red eyes of the Nightmare I would do it. I ran until my dream self was dripping with sweat and gasping with exhaustion. The Nightmare approached, leisurely, and froze me in it’s gaze. It opened it’s frothy mouth and closed it’s square teeth around my head.
The worst part about the dream was that I didn’t wake up when the Nightmare caught me. The dream held me captive as the teeth closed, forcing me to feel the pain of death. Only then could I wake up, screaming and sweating, utterly petrified.
I began to avoid the color red, I began to run screaming from horses. The Nightmare returned night after horrible night. I began to lose sleep, afraid to return to the Nightmare’s world of darkness and shadow. My parents only heard me the first night, the terror in the following nights was so powerful I would fall unconscious the moment I woke up.
When I was eight, I discovered a technique called lucid dreaming while searching online. Lucid dreaming is where you realize that your are in a dream, enabling you to manipulate the dream.
I tried for weeks, going to bed each night not fearfully but hopeful, longing for a lucid dream. I practiced ways to realize that you are in a dream, such as asking yourself if you are awake repeatedly during the day, making it such a habit that you ask yourself even in a dream.
Finally, one night, I did it. I was so excited that I finally was having a lucid dream that I didn’t even run when the nightmare charged, and the dream was over before I could even try altering the dream world.
Two nights later, I had another lucid dream. I quickly tried to imaginee a wall between me and the Nightmare, and suddenly a huge stone wall separated us. My dream self screamed with joy. But cracks appeared in the wall, and I could hear the thump of the Nightmare’s hooves against the wall.
I ran, giving myself the body of an olympic sprinter, and I realized that for the first time the Nightmare was not catching up. But then, a pit opened beneath my feet, and I fell downwards into the jaws of the Nightmare. That was the first time I realized that the Nightmare was a lucid dreamer too. He could alter the dream as well.
Over the years, I became a skilled lucid dreamer. Maybe once a month would the Nightmare catch me. I began to enjoy the dreams, exploring the dark world and forming it into anything I desired. Some nights it would be earth, other nights it would be a spaceship, or a planet far far away.
Then, one night, I reached the edge of the dream. In a enormous spaceship of my own imagination, I had traveled to the farthest reaches of my dream universe. But suddenly, the ship stopped.
I created an air pocket around me, and stepped into space. The ship was resting against a mirror that stretched indefinitely every which way. It was invisible unless you were standing in front of it.
In the mirror, I could see the nightmare approaching, galloping across the galaxies I had created. With only a second of hesitation, I stepped into the mirror.
It was like walking through rubber. The mirror folded around me, bent and stretched, and finally snapped. I shot into a whole nother world. The mirror shut behind me, the strands and fibers weaving back together.
I was in a tall redwood grove, and I could see a kid walking along a small dirt path. Something felt wrong, and I looked down at my legs. They were the legs of a horse. I used my powers as a lucid dreamer to see what I looked like. I almost woke up from shock when I saw. I was in the body of a Nightmare. Which meant… my Nightmare was another human.