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And then she woke up. Her mind was blank as she continued in her zombie-like routine of taking her medicines and continuing with her daily routine. Daytime was fine, she felt extremely sleepy all day, sure but it was only at night that things truly went awry.
The dog looked up at her as if its eyes were parsing through the depths of her brain and discovering all her secrets. Casey said nothing as it continued staring or rather scanning her. But it was probably satisfied because it stepped aside for her to continue her walk from the kitchen to the front door. Just as she opened the door it lunged at her, its mouth viciously wide open with its teeth glistening. She ducked as it crashed against the wall, its muzzle collided with the concrete and she dashed out the door. But it was too late, she could hear it panting behind her. Not just behind her, she could hear it in her head. It caught up to her before she could make it down the stairs of her apartment and pounced, its claws tearing through her clothes and into her skin. When she fell it stood over her and then everything went dark before it was bright again.
Casey looked at her ceiling fan, letting its continuous motion hypnotise her and lull her down from the horrid vision she had just experienced. Sunlight flooded in from the window to her left reminding her to get out of bed yet something inside her just wasn’t convinced that the day would be worth it. It was when she stepped out of the kitchen after taking her medicines and with her packed lunch in hand that she remembered the unusual nightmare. It had seemed so real, she had been standing right there and the dog had been right in front of her. It was that exact wall that it had banged its muzzle against, where faint traces of blood should have been. You’re going paranoid Casey; you don’t even own a dog! Get out of it, and get to work. She walked out the door.
After she’d gulped down her medicines and slipped into bed that night she couldn’t stop the sensation in her arm. Like smooth moist sandpaper sliding up her arm. Like a tongue, a dog’s tongue. But she didn’t have the time to think about it before her mind went blank and she fell into a void of darkness. It was in that void that she saw the dog again. This time, it was on her desk at work where her laptop should have been. There were claw marks on the edge of the table, deep gashes into the wood. Her co-workers were cooing around her at its cuteness unaware of her horrified expression. She backed away from it slowly. Whichever direction she turned her head, the dog seemed to be there. It looked so very harmless yet it brought a sense of dread to her. It plodded towards her, its eyes giving her the same empty look. She wanted to fall to her knees, to ask for forgiveness and to plead and cry. Yet all she did was stare at it as it stared back at her.
Its head cocked to the side and it lunged at her again. This time she dodged and ran without looking back. Everything around her was a blur of darkness and familiar backdrops as she raced forward, running away from its daunting brown eyes. She could feel its eyes on her, it was panting in her mind, and its claws ripping her skin apart even when she knew it hadn’t caught her. Yet. She was fuelling forwards yet she tripped and found herself tumbling. Words swam in her mind as the dog caught up to her again. It looked down at her and cocked its head again as if mocking her. It snarled its teeth and then it went dark again. That morning had many minutes of staring at the fan, trying to tame her heartbeat and convincing her mind that it wasn’t true. Snap out of it! Is this how weak you are? You’re scared of a dog of all things. She got out of bed with sweaty and clammy hands. She would be very early to work that day. She knew she could sleep after that but she just didn’t want to. She hoped her medication would be strong enough to prevent her from falling asleep at work.
The day passed on with no remarkable difference as it usually did. Days were fine, it was the nights that held problems. She eyed her bed with contempt, was it really worth it? Just do it, you need the sleep. Nothing is going to happen, Casey, you’ll be fine. She nodded her head as if confirming and draped the blanket over herself.
This time the dog was on the dining table. Sitting regally with the same stare and Casey waited. She waited for it to move, to cock its head, or to snarl at her. Yet all it did was stare and make Casey extremely uncomfortable. She moved closer towards it, maybe she should just get it over with, right? It simply continued to stare at her as took tentative steps towards it. She stood right in front of it, she could smell it, she could feel it. She reached out to touch it but then it vanished and she was falling. When she looked at her fan that morning she spent time trying to decipher the true meaning of her dreams. Perhaps the universe was giving her a sign that a dog was out to get her. Perhaps it was a sign to buy a dog. Or maybe it was time to see her psychologist again. He would be ecstatic to know that she was consulting him for help again.
Or maybe her narcolepsy therapy group would be of more help.
After some unsuccessful google searches about the nature of her dreams, the wonderful world of the internet told her that she was going to “meet a stranger who will change your life. You will unlock your true potential and have a great week ahead”. She was highly skeptical and disregarded it. That night, she waited to fall asleep. That was something she never had to combat with before. It was probably her medicines or something.
The dog was in her bed. It was right next to her. She could sense it and yet she didn’t move. She wasn’t sure what she should have done. It was just a dream anyway and it wouldn’t make a difference even she tried. The dog walked around her and she tried not to open her eyes. When she did, the dog was sitting next to her staring at her with the same haunting gaze. It leaned down and she prepared for it to lunge at her and claw at her but rather it hovered above her face. Maybe it had never meant to hurt her and only chased her so she would stay and not leave. Maybe it wanted to convey some message. What did this dog want and why wouldn’t it leave her alone? What did its recurring appearance in her dreams signify? Were they even dreams? Her mind raced as the dog’s face hovered above her own. She waited. Time was insignificant as minutes or hours ticked by as she waited. She waited for it to move. When it slowly began to cock its head to the side like it had usually been doing in these recurring nightmares she could feel herself being yanked back to reality. Almost like struggling to stay in her dreams, to see what would finally happen. Her eyes flew open, her breath came in short pants, her heart was racing, her mind was flooding with thoughts fleeting by too quickly for her to process any of them. The day passed on and she waited for the sun to go down, for her to return home and fall asleep, for the dog to return. It didn’t. It didn’t return the next night either.
It was on the third day after the nightmares stopped that Casey actually began to analyze the shroud of unease that enveloped her when she was at the dining table, the kitchen or at her cubicle at work. She was eating her breakfast on the table when she noticed fine hair on the table. She swept them off the table, nothing to worry. When clicking away at the keys on her laptop she noticed something coarse rubbing against her wrists that lay against the edge of the table. She noticed the wooden edge was uneven and ragged at places. She hadn’t noticed that before. weird. She stepped into her kitchen exhausted and tired. Casey pulled out a bowl and poured some milk into it. After tossing some cereal into it she watched the milk slosh about, the flakes of cereal bobbing on the surface; she never paid attention to such trivial things. Perhaps I should pay more attention to small things like that. But then Casey wished she’d never tried to see the trivial things, she wished that thought had never come to mind.
Because staring right back at her on the wall opposite to her was a faint stain. An unmistakable trace of where it had been.