Cold sweat covered my body. I couldn’t remember the nightmare that had woken me up so abruptly; I just knew there was one. The bed beside me was empty. Where the hell was Devin? My watch told me it was three in the morning, there was no way he’d left for work already.
That’s when I heard it — the subtle tapping on the floor that sounded like a large dog whose nails hadn’t been cut recently was coming down the hall, but we didn’t have a dog. The clicks were getting closer, but then they suddenly stopped. Right outside my door. I called for Devin, hoping this was some kind of terrible prank, but the only answer was the slow creak of the door opening. An icy wind following it coated the entire room in a frost and cut my breath short when it reached me.
I shot up straight trying to catch my breath. The nightmare was so realistic it took me a minute to regain my breath and mind. Devin was next to me, but I didn’t think it was worth waking him up. Instead I simply nudged closer and closed my eyes again. As I drifting off to sleep I was woken again by one of his fish splashing in the tank.
No. That wasn’t right. He’d cleaned out that tank over a month ago and got rid of the fish; he was going to make a turtle terrarium. Scared of what I might see I slowly opened my eyes. On top of the dresser there was his tank full to the brim with water and fish swimming round and round in blissful continuous circles. They didn’t notice when the air turned too thick to breath, that was only me.
It felt as if my entire body was being filled with tiny stones. Every muscle and vein, every bone turning into a mess of stones until I couldn’t move anymore. Then the faint click, click, click of claws on the wooden floor began again. Sharp teeth grazed me leg. I tried to scream, but my lungs were filled with pebbles so all that came out was a garbled noise. I tried to kick it off of me. No matter how hard I tried I could not focus my energy enough to even wiggle my toes, let alone dislodge the creature that was at least 10 times stronger than me from me legs.
A lightning bolt of pain shot through me leg. Without being able to see it I knew the creature was tearing into my flesh. It was ripping off my skin, tattering up my muscles, one tiny bit at a time. It was trying to prolong the pain. I kept telling myself this wasn’t real; this was not real.
This. Was. Not. Real.
Finally relief came as the pain became too much and I succumbed to darkness.
This time it was my watch that tipped me off — blue instead of purple. It happened before I could stop it or even think about how to stop it. A black skeletal arm reached up over the side of the bed and grabbed my leg. Even with the chill in the room its touch burned my skin. The smell of scorched flesh filled the room. None of that matter to me though because of what I saw between it’s fingers. Bite marks. They covered the lower half my legs. They looked as if they were from a dog but with twice as many teeth.
They’d already healed, but they were real. If they were real it meant this was real too.
I retched at the thought as the smell of my singed flesh filled the room until it was so thick it choked me. It moved one of its hands from my legs as I struggled to get away. But there was nowhere for me to go. Its left hand reached from under the bed with an impossibly long arm. The last thing I saw was its palm as clawed fingers latched onto my face. The last thing I felt was the burning sensation and nails tearing into the back of my head.
It happened over and over again:
- Notice an anomaly — it took longer each time.
- Feel the change in the room — the air turned thick as frost filed the space.
- Wait as everything crumbled around me — water flooding the room then my lungs, large stones falling from the ceiling and crushing me under their weight, ice filling my veins and bursting as it expanded.
- Finally wake up, terrified, as the ever present creature came closer and closer.
It felt like it went on for hours — it had to have gone for at least a day.
I was huddled in the corner of my room shaking, tears already covering my face. I knew it was coming for me again. I knew once I noticed it I’d tumble down that hole again. I was halfway across my room from my bed but I hadn’t gotten up, the bed was still perfectly made.
It happened immediately — I could hear the scratching start back up in the hall then suddenly it stopped. There was a pound on the door. Then another. It was trying to get into the room but the lock couldn’t hold for much longer. With a metallic crack the door swung open, the wood splintering as it hit the wall. The walls froze over. Just then a leathery black hand grabbed the wall, as if trying to hold it’s up and pull itself into the room at the same time. I knew exactly what it was; all the nightmares rushing back to me at once.
It was one of the creatures I had dreamed up when I was young — a skeleton with black leathery skin stretched so thin every movement looked slowed with pain and let out (something noise). The skin created a seal over the mouth, which could open only enough to let you know it screaming in agony and to let its inhuman teeth point through the thin covering. Long claws extended from its hands and feet. What was truly spectacular though were their wings; with a span around 10 feet they could fill a room and block out any light. They didn’t look like they could fly because pieces of bones tore through the thin lining of their skin.
When I was younger I had imagined they had come from another dimension to protect me, but tonight had made it clear they had always been waiting to attack, waiting for me to feel safe or to forget them completely. I didn’t know why they’d come back for me but I knew my own imagination had brought them to life and now they had turned against me. Before I could move the creature was on top of me with talons clawing at my face and torso.
Suddenly my world turned red, the room began to spin and all I could focus on was the searing pain, the blood that was beginning to cover my whole body.
This time when I woke my boyfriend was staring at me, shaking my shoulders with a crazed look in his eyes. He told me he’d I’m shivering and convulsing, I’d scream randomly and mumble about how cold I was mixed with feeble mumbles of “please stop” and “it hurts”. Frantically I searched, but I couldn’t find the anomaly this time; what was out of place?
That was a year ago today. And I’m still waiting.
Waiting for something wrong.
Waiting for something out of place.
Waiting for my monsters to find me again.