I lie awake here in the night alone, with only my thoughts as my company. My thoughts, dark and twisted as they have become, are they truly mine? Could they be shades of another’s life? I don’t know anymore.
In the dark, these thoughts can warp and twist and become something that I never before thought I could create out of the fabric of my own mind. Twisted demons of doubt and uncertainty plague me and I feel as if I am going mad. Surely, these must be the phantom conjurations of some terrible night fever that has afflicted my mind, or perhaps I really am simply losing my mind. Yes, those would be the most comforting of notions compared to the alternative; the alternative which I know could never be true and yet simply cannot refuse its existence any longer. Shall I sleep tonight? A simple question, one with an undeniable answer to almost any who would ask it, a question which would seem confusing, rhetorical and absurd if asked with sincerity by a normal person to another. Yet, I do genuinely ask myself if I should sleep tonight, indeed if I can sleep tonight. Is the mercy of rest worth the price, the price of my sanity?
Oh yes, the act would be merciful for I am very tired and I have not slept in days, however, the pills, the caffeine, the stimulants, they will not work forever. Am I postponing the inevitable? It can’t hurt me; it is just a dream, a dream I cry. I feel as though I am going to weep in desperation. How did it come to this!? I ask myself out loud, with rising frenzy in my voice. I check my outburst and fall back into the solemn reverie of my writing, I must finish before it is too late. I took so many aspects of my life for granted; sleep, for instance, something which was nothing to me other than a refreshing, restful and welcome respite from the day’s activity, where I would lay my head down and sleep until I woke up the next morning. I never really remembered my thoughts or dreams when I slept, to the point where I did not think I ever dreamed before. Yes, while I slept I only knew peace. People never appreciate something until it’s gone, even if that thing is the ability to rest without having to question one’s own sanity.
I try and come to grips with the events of the last two weeks. My hands shake as I try to type this record, perhaps for posterity, so that someone may learn of what happened. I force the morbid thought from my mind, no! I keep telling myself, it is just a dream, just a terrible dream it is not real. The soft glow of the laptop the only light in the room highlights my panicked countenance and gives my reflection a deranged appearance. I steady my frenzied breathing and try to focus my thoughts. Though I begin to wonder what happened to the other lights? I thought I had left them on. No matter I must have wanted it dark anyway; yes dark, perfect to get some sleep.
So silly I must just be going crazy; I am in no danger. All this trouble simply because of a dream, a sweet little dream; yes, all this worry just because for the first time in my life I had begun to dream. And were not dreams so peaceful and sweet? Yes, I shall rest, but not before I finish my account, no, I must finish that, now where was I?
My name is Simon, and I used to live a quiet and simple life, alone in a small apartment near where I grew up. I am 25 years old, with no real ambition and no particular goals or purpose; I guess I have always been okay with that. I have few friends, just acquaintances really, from work and back from my days in school. Indeed many of these friends have moved on with their lives and gone on to bigger and better things, following their dreams so-to-speak. Some would still call every now and then to check-in, but for the most part, they have moved on with their lives. Of the past, they have forgotten, of me… they have forgotten. Perhaps not forgotten, perhaps never really knew me at all. Indeed I always felt alone, for my friends have their hopes, their dreams and still I am alone.
Despite my loneliness, I used to consider myself somewhat content. I had a decent job as a manager in a local store, and despite my absence of real friends, I had an abundance of friends online through the various games and social channels I participated in. Additionally, I would have the occasional get-together with some people from work, mostly the ones who are actually somewhat close to my age, as many of my coworkers are much older than me. It was at one of these get-togethers where the turning point of my life and the true beginning of this story occurred.
I was invited to a birthday party for a coworker and decided to attend. It was an alright time I suppose, though I still don’t remember whose birthday it was, Linda, Laura? It was L something; anyway, I have always been terrible with names, even my own coworkers. They normally have a get-together every week for various reasons and I normally make up some excuse as to why I am busy and can’t go, but this time I decided to give it a shot. Who knows I might accidentally have a good time, but worse case scenario, it costs me a couple hours of whatever games or other business I would normally attend to on Saturday evening, so no big loss.
It was a slightly boring affair at first. I didn’t really have much common ground besides work, so I avoided all but the most direct questioning until at last I was starting to regret my decision and I decided to head home. On my way out, I bumped into a woman who I did not recognize from work. After slight embarrassment for almost spilling her drink, I saw her face and was taken back. It was a surreal experience almost like deja vu when I saw her; she looked instantly familiar, but also infinitely mysterious. She had such piercing and unique eyes, such a deep shade of gray. Those eyes unnerved me but they also attracted me, so I did something very out of character for me, rather than excusing myself out of embarrassment and leaving, I talked to her.
She introduced herself and I learned her name was Sabrina Cohen and she was new in town, having just moved here the previous month and she happened to have moved in next door to one of my coworkers who had been invited, who decided to invite her to come along and meet some new people. She seemed very shy and soft-spoken at a glance as if afraid of being looked at too closely, but when I looked in her eyes it was almost as if she was holding something back about her true self, something dangerous, perhaps predatory. She may have sensed how strangely compelling I found her. I was infatuated by her presence, and perhaps she felt the same towards me since we talked for some time. I was dazed and almost hypnotized by her grace and beauty, her speech, her eloquence, but her eyes mostly her eyes I could lose myself in those eyes. We talked about anything and everything and I felt like in a short span of time I really knew her and she really knew me.
Soon, I noticed we had spent hours talking and the party was wrapping up. I had not even had a chance to talk to my coworkers; we had spent all of the time together. We were on the way out when she pulled my arm looking longingly at me. You know, she said, the party doesn’t have to be over. Oh my God, I thought, this is progressing faster than I expected. I decided to take her back to my place and see what she had in mind. To my amazement, she agreed readily as if expecting me to propose this to her and smiled beautifully. I was overcome by the events of the night and elated to have met her. I could not believe that I had met a person so seemingly perfect for me. I felt hopeful for the first time in a long time. Looking back now, I should have known that in my life some things are too good to be true and hope is the first step on the road to disappointment.
We got back to my apartment and we settled in on my couch. I offered her another drink, things were going well and I was thrilled that we were making such a great connection. However, very suddenly she paused, looking very confused. I asked what’s wrong and leaned closer and she jumped back is if startled. For a split second, it seemed like her eyes flashed a hint of green could be seen in them.
"Are you okay?" I asked.
"Oh I," she stammered out, looking more and more confused until suddenly she blinked twice and seemed to regain her confidence and composure. Just then she leaned in towards me and just when I thought she was going to kiss me, she moved near my ear and whispered, “Go to sleep and dream your sweet dream.”
I was not sure what she meant but before I could figure out what was going on I fell into a deep sleep. At the time, I thought that this would be the best night of my life. I never thought it would be the beginning of the end instead. For from that night and every night thereafter, I had been marked and my time was already slowly running out.
I woke up in my bed to the blaring of my alarm; I forgot to turn it off last night, and I did not need to be up this early on a Sunday. I sat up with a start trying to figure out how I got here. I was on the couch having drinks with Sabrina and then... then what, what happened I fell asleep? Oh no, I thought with sudden dread, I am such a loser. A pretty girl comes to your house after a party to have drinks with you and you fall asleep in front of her; real smooth. She must have taken me to my bed and then left. Well that was nice of her to tuck me in at least, I thought to myself.
"Too bad I will never see her again," I groaned, not realizing how I would soon come to regret those words. I felt so embarrassed I was sincerely thinking about just staying there and going back to sleep, but I decided to get up anyway. Maybe she left a note or her number I thought hopefully, not really believing the idea. I suppose I should not be to negative; I remember how much we had connected over and thought that maybe she did leave something after all.
I decided to look around and see.
I was just getting out of bed when something caught my eye overhead. I looked up straight above my bed and I was puzzled by what I saw. I had not noticed it when I first woke up but there, hanging above my bed like some strange icon. It was an old and strange looking dreamcatcher. Slightly confused as to the origin of this item I inspected it. I definitely had not gotten it myself, could Sabrina have left this here? I wondered.
I sat down on my bed and looked up at the thing. It looked in almost no way like a traditional dreamcatcher, it seemed to possess an aura of ancient and incalculable age, yet paradoxically appeared almost glossy or shiny, like some substance had washed over it to make it look like something that it was not.
It possessed eight small tassels or streamers that dangled beneath the central circle, where feathers would be traditional. The central circle was an arcane pattern of scarlet thread, woven less like a net and more like a window. The circle felt so strange to look at like it would pull me into its intricate angles somehow. I sat up and stared more intently; it almost felt as if I was being drawn into the image, and for a brief second, I thought I had seen the gleam of gray eyes in the circular frame of the thing. Then I reached up and took the thing in hand. It felt cold to the touch, almost icy. Odd, I thought, as I did not know those types of materials to retain temperature like that. It almost acts like metal, but there was none to speak of in its composition.
I turned the thing over in my hand and noticed a small paper note that had been folded over many times and affixed to the side of the dreamcatcher in a small hollow on the side. Could this be a note from Sabrina? I pulled the note off carefully and unfolded it. The note appeared to be some sort of strange poem, written in a crabbed and eerie handwriting. It was titled: “The sweet dead dream”. The actual content of the poem was very disturbing it read:
“A dream a dream so short so sweet, a lovely thing you know.
But in these dreams, these lovely dreams where do you truly go?
To what you dream of someplace far, or someplace very near,
the distance moot, whilst dreams a flute plays songs of something dear.
Dear to your heart your dream will start oft happy will begin,
but dreams oh dreams so short so sweet, will fade away again.
"And once they fade why then you’ll ask where did the dreamscape go?
It felt so real so very real, but even you won’t know,
then comes the pain and comes the fear, a nightmare now it seems,
the ones you love and try to keep will never hear your scream,
but that’s alright, scared in your plight,
you will dash and run and flee,
away from her, away from it, away from all you see.
"The things you see that cannot be, the things so very real,
but they can’t be you tell yourself while panicking you’ll feel.
So you press on in disbelief, press on in mounting fear,
'A dream a dream so soft and sweet' is something that you’ll hear.
Hear from a voice, a voice so calm a voice so crystal clear,
the voice says, 'Dreams so soft and sweet must cost you something dear'.
"You’ll try to run down every road and run round every bend,
no matter how you run or hide she will have you in the end.
And in the end, with broken dreams, in your last breath you’ll know,
what faces those who come to find the place where dead dreams go,”
I felt very shaken and confused when I read this bizarre piece of paper that came with the equally bizarre dreamcatcher and resolved to find out where the hell it came from. I was angry now. Sabrina had played some prank on me by leaving this bizarre trinket behind. Was this some kind of cruel joke? I had even told her I never dream, at least I never remember them; was this some way of making fun of me? I felt unsure of what to do and also tired, very tired in fact. I decided to go back to sleep after all. Unfortunately, I didn’t know things would only get worse from there.
I awoke drenched in sweat, my heart racing. What time is it? Where am I?
“Simon…” a voice called in the distance.
My eyes finally focused in the gloom so that I could see that I was not in my room anymore. I was outside in the middle of a vast and terribly dark forest. I was not even in my bed anymore it had vanished somehow and I was inexplicably standing in the middle of a dark forest, with no trace of where I had come from or how I had gotten here.
All of the sudden I heard that soothing but ominous voice cry out again, but closer this time, “Simon…”
I shivered and reflexively backed away from where I thought the voice was coming from. I did not know how or why someone was calling for me out here, but I was too scared to move or speak at the moment, so I just stood there and listened as the voice grew louder. “Simon, I know you are here, my sweet, little thing, come here to me and I will help put you back to rest…...”
That voice it couldn’t be; was that voice Sabrina’s, but how? How was she here? Was she looking for me? Did I sleepwalk all the way out here somehow? Why was it so dark? And why did she not sound concerned, but sounded longing and somehow hungry?
I started to fall back away from the voice without really knowing why. I took a couple of steps in the opposite direction and suddenly a strong smell assailed me. It smelled like a sickly sweet aroma of too many types of perfume mixing together. At first, I found this smell unbearable, but soon my opinion changed. It smelled enticing and delicious and I found the aroma so irresistible I slackened my pace. Eventually, I stopped completely, and then I began unconsciously walking back toward the source of the smell.
I was staggering forward, almost in a trance and once again I heard the voice, reassuring but menacing all at the same time.
“Simon, oh sweet, Simon, let me tend to you, soon this nightmare will be over and you will find your sweetest dream. But first, you must come to me.”
The voice drew me in and comforted me promising me an eternity of ecstasy and pleasure.
No don’t listen, the thought rushed into my head. What the…? Who or what was that? It sounded like a woman’s voice in my head, Sabrina’s voice? I continued slowly walking toward the voice, while it continued growing louder and louder all the while the sweet smell growing stronger, more overwhelming and then she materialized.
It was Sabrina, or was it? She was completely naked and her form was unspeakably beautiful. And those eyes, those eyes shown a blazing light that I had never before seen but only seen hinted in them. The gaze was beautiful, seductive and lovely, but also dreadful and imperious, brokering no argument about what she desired. She willed me to come forth and so I would, any restraint or voice in my head warning of the danger had been reduced to just a whisper now. I walked ever closer towards her and she outstretched her arms as if to accept me in her embrace and hold me forever.
I moved close almost close enough to touch her, seemingly oblivious to the fact that those dark and lovely eyes were almost completely black now.
Then I heard a terrified shout, “SIMON WAKE UP NOW! YOU ARE IN DANGER, PLEASE WAKE UP, DON’T TRUST HER!”
I snapped out of my daze just in time to see that Sabrina had vanished. All I heard was a mournful and dejected sigh and saw a pair of terrible black eyes fading into a strong fog or mist that had suddenly formed around where I was standing. I was so confused about what had happened. Before I had another second to think about the strange event, I thought I heard Sabrina’s voice again, pleading, “No please don’t, please don’t!” Then silence.
What was happening? My vision blurred and in an instant, I felt displaced like I was somewhere else, somewhere near to where I just was but not there. I felt intensely panicked and felt somehow like I was no longer in my own skin. I took a shaky step forward and tripped over a heel, a high heel shoe that I was wearing? I barely had time to register that when I cried my voice sounded feminine and nothing like my own before I cried out without thinking “Please leave me alone” That voice, my voice, Sabrina? But how? But suddenly the shadow of a clawed arm reached for me I was pulled strongly into the thick fog and I screamed one last time.
I woke up again still drenched in sweat, a fading whisper calling out, “Sweet dreams……” I shook my head dazed. I checked and was grateful to see that this time I was in my actual bed. It was noon now and my alarm was blaring again, hadn’t I turned it off? It was just a dream, wasn’t it? A dream, yes it must have been, but it felt so real, like I was actually there. Is this what dreams are often like? No, it can’t be this was definitely a nightmare if anything. If this was common fare, I was grateful I had not been able to dream, at least not until now.
A sound snapped me out of my contemplation, it was the dreamcatcher, and somehow it had made a harsh, metallic sound while swinging. This didn’t make any sense it did not appear to have any metal parts when I first examined it and how was it hanging over my bed all the sudden? I pulled it down and took a closer look at it.
Sure enough, when I rolled it over in my hand I saw what appeared to be a metallic spike or sliver of some unknown metal, replacing what had once been one of the simple cloth tassels. I saw something slowly appear as I stared at the object; in the center was it a pair of eyes? They looked straight at me and began to focus and change color from a deep gray to black. I stood transfixed again lost in these eyes somehow familiar…. I jumped with a start as the alarm started blaring again, I had only hit snooze instead of turning it off. Ouch! I had dropped the dreamcatcher and the strange new metal part had cut my hand as it fell.
Odd, my hand was bleeding a lot for what had seemed like such a little cut, but even stranger the blade had no blood on the tip. Bizarre, I thought, but I had no more time to dwell on it. I was going to look for Sabrina and find out where she had found such a strange item, and why she left it with me. This was just too much. I had to find out what this thing was and where it came from.
I left in a hurry to Sabrina’s house, at least, where she told me she had lived. I had so many questions for her, and she was going to answer them. I arrived at her house a short while later, no car. She might still be home; she had told me she had not found work yet since moving here and was likely still home at this hour. I tried calling the number she gave me the night before; instead of going to her voicemail, I heard a message claiming that the person I called had a number that had been disconnected. I tried the number again and received the same message. This is getting weird, I thought. I decided to go to her neighbor’s house and my coworker from the store, to ask if she had seen Sabrina today. After ringing the doorbell a couple of times a middle aged woman answered it. I think her name was Lisa, but like I said I am terrible with names.
"Hello," I said as friendly as I could sound.
“Oh hi, Simon,” she said sounding rather confused but not unfriendly. “What can I do for you”? she said.
“Well I was wondering,” I stammered, “if you happened to have seen Sabrina today? Her car is gone and I tried calling her a couple of times but it says that her number is disconnected, so I had just wanted to check if you had seen her come or go today.”
She shifted uncomfortably.
“I am sorry, Simon,” she said. “I have no idea who you are talking about. That house has been vacant for the last two years, and I don’t know anyone named Sabrina. Are you sure you are in the right neighborhood”?
I felt stunned, how could that be? Was she just joking with me? I thought that she had been the one to invite Sabrina to that party; she said that she lived next door to her.
“But,” I stammered, “you must know Sabrina -- I left with her last night,” I spurted out slightly embarrassed by revealing what I had done yesterday. “She had said that she lived next door to you,” I repeated.
“No,” Lisa insisted, “I really don’t I am sorry, are you sure you are okay”? she asked with concern in her voice.
“Yes, I am," I managed to spit out. “I must be mistaken -- sorry to have bothered you, I will see you later.”
“Alright,” Lisa said waving goodbye and closing her door.
What the hell is going on? I thought to myself. Maybe it is just a mistake and she actually lives somewhere else? That must be it. I tried calling her a couple more times to no effect. I searched near the neighborhoods of some of my other coworkers for several hours, determined to find some answers. With no luck so far and with it starting to get late, I decided to return home. Maybe she would be there, I thought, maybe it was all just a misunderstanding and I did wind up assuming that she lived in this neighborhood and not next to another one of my coworkers.
I got back home and no one else was there, I sighed. What was going on? I could not reach her by phone and I apparently did not know where she lived so I had no idea what to do or where to go or check. I was getting very worried and upset. It was getting very late, so I decided I would get some sleep and take the day off of work tomorrow to see if I could find out where she had gone, or what she was doing. I went inside and got out of my clothes, took a quick shower and went to my bedroom. The dreamcatcher was hanging over the headboard of my bed again. Strange, I did not remember putting it back up. I considered throwing it in the trash, but some compulsion stayed my hand, so I decided to leave it up for tonight. I turned off the lights and pulled the covers over myself. I wondered if I would sleep at all, I was so confused and worried about what had happened today. Eventually,after tossing and turning for what felt like hours, I drifted into a fitful sleep.
I slowly opened my eyes. What is this, what is it now? I asked as I sat up to see that again I was not in my bedroom anymore. I was not in a forest either; I appeared to be in someone else’s house, resting on a filthy couch. I quickly jumped off the disgusting couch and almost tripped over various debris and garbage that had been strewn out over the floor. The place stank like something fetid or rotten and it was very dark inside with almost no lighting. This can’t be real, this must be another dream, I thought.
I tried to find the door to get out of this moldering house; the smell was so oppressive it was making my stomach turn. I staggered further down the hall which I assumed to lead to the exit, but I saw something that turned me back the other way and made me feel even sicker. There was a door leading to a bathroom that was partially ajar in that hall. In that bathroom, were what appeared to be some sort of amalgamation of various body parts floating it the bathtub. The sickening stench must have been coming from there.
I backpedaled until I was back in the living room with the couch, on the verge of throwing up, when I heard something which made a chill run down my spine. It was some sort of scratching accompanied by a soft guttural moan. I was terrified I had no idea what was going on or where or what could that be coming from? I cautiously approached the stairs where I heard the sounds intensifying, fully aware of how bad of an idea that this felt like, though you rarely have such forethought in dreams I guess.
I had an oddly familiar feeling with this house despite having no idea where I was. I somehow knew that someone was upstairs and knew I had to check on Victor and make sure he was alright. Wait, who the hell is Victor? I shook off the odd thought and continued my ascent up the stairs.
The stairs creaked as I climbed them, grimacing as I made unwanted noise with each step. Finally, I reached the second floor and saw a single open door with a sickly red light glowing out from the aperture. I froze as the moaning grew louder and a terrible tearing sound was coming from down the hall. I nearly retched when I saw what appeared to be a severed arm launched out into the hall. I was starting to realize just how bad of an idea that investigating those sounds was, when I heard a voice call out.
“Do be patient, my dear, it is almost your turn, just stay right there I will be with you shortly”
My God! Who or what the hell is that?
A dawning horror overtook me, I knew that voice. I had seen and heard enough I started to back away when a shape sprang out of the door. Its figure was bathed in a terrible red light but its image will forever be transfixed into my very soul. It was a terrible and lithe shape of a woman, no not a woman. No woman could be so horrible! She was streaked in gore and viscera from the unfortunate person she had just finished with, and she licked blood from her fingers with a serpent-like tongue. On each of those fingers, prodigious nails extended out, or were they claws? And her skin was a shifting layer or translucent colors, one moment jet black, and the next ivory white and somehow every shade between. Her hair seemed ethereal as if it was not really there, and floated above her head in a silvery white vapor. But worst of all were its eyes, its terrible eyes.
The eyes had the predatory pupils of some great hunting cat but the color of the irises was not anything of this world. The pupils seemed to shift between a dark gray and abysmal black like the darkest pits of the abyss. Her, or rather its eyes transfixed me and I could not move, nor look away. She walked closer to me, seemingly not walking at all but rather gliding. Until she was close enough to touch me.
“Hello little thing,” she purred, “I have been waiting for you.” She reached out one arm and caressed my face with the monstrous claw.
“Zach no!” a voice cried out from down the hall. He was missing his arms but the prone figure down the hall tried to rise and scream a warning. I felt panicked and horrified what had this monster done to Victor, how did it get in our house? Then I remembered, or wait how could I remember this dream is not mine? But I remembered the deaths the terrible nightmares the warnings and my name, Zach Thomas? Who is Zach Thomas? The creature disrupted this burst of jumbled memory and she inched closer as if to kiss me, then she turned and slashed my throat out with the other talon.
I fell back down the stairs, watching my body separate from my severed head, but that body... it was not my body… And then I saw only darkness.
I screamed as I lurched up out of bed. My bed! Yes, thank God I was awake. The terrible dream was at an end and I was back in my bedroom. I stood up in a cold sweat, naked. It was only 4 am. I turned the light on. I did not think I was going to be going to sleep again tonight.
Once the light was on, I looked over my headboard and to my surprise I saw that another of the tassels of the dreamcatcher had turned into a metal spike. This cannot be happening, what is going on? I thought. I decided to look into different avenues with my search and look into some of the details online since I definitely was not going back to sleep and I had resolved to take the day off of work. I booted up my computer and searched for any details or stories involving Sabrina Cohen, maybe I could track her down if she had a history. What I found was deeply disturbing.
When I looked up Sabrina’s name all I found was a connection to a year old police report about a missing person in this county. That’s impossible, I thought, it must just be a coincidence. But then I saw the picture. It was definitely her, absolutely no mistaking her features. Except that I noticed her eyes were green, a very bright green, not the gray color I had seen when I met her.
The report was from a little over a year ago and read:
“Local police have officially declared Ms. Sabrina Cohen as missing, after her absence from work was noted and later investigated after concerned coworkers had asked the police to look into the situation.” The report continued, “Ms. Cohen lived alone and was not known to be seeing anyone at the time, so there are no suspects in regards to a possible kidnapping. If you have seen or heard anything about her, please notify your local police.”
What the hell is this? I wondered. That can’t possibly be her, someone would have recognized her by now and she is not using an alias or disguises other than maybe some contacts. Did she just come back without notifying anyone? I had no idea what to do next.
I continued looking at various police reports in the area and decided to check for any that occurred around the same date in previous years. I was horrified when I saw the obituary for one Zachary Thomas, 32. He had apparently been decapitated in his home over two years ago by an unknown killer. His roommate, Victor Gavin, is reported as missing, but wanted for questioning in possible connection to this grizzly homicide. The crime scene photos were even more shocking and sent a wave of icy dread into my heart. Mr. Thomas’s house was, or at least looked, exactly like the house I had seen in my dream last night.
Zach. Why was that name familiar?
“That’s my name.”
What? No, why would I think that that is my name, my name is Simon? What the hell is going on with my head? I continued to read on in the report and was truly unprepared for the next part. As I reviewed the details of the location of where the murder occurred I checked to see the street address and nearly fainted.
The report gave a very familiar address, familiar because it was the very same address as the house next to my coworker, Lisa… The very same house that I had believed that Sabrina lived in. “No,” I said aloud. This is not real this cannot be real, I must still be dreaming. There is no way it can be the same place, there is no way I could witness a murder that happened over two years ago in a dream. But did I witness it?
“I was murdered.”
What the…? Why were these random memories assailing me? Am I going crazy? When I was dreaming I felt different, not like myself. And I moved and acted almost like someone else was moving for me. And in the terrible end, when I was killed, I saw a body on the ground that was not my own, before it was over and I woke up. Was Zachary Thomas killed by that thing? I thought that’s impossible, that thing cannot be real. But the dream was so vivid, how in the hell could it just be a coincidence?
I was overwhelmed by these revelations; I had no idea what to do. I decided I would check out that house. Maybe I would find something there that might link all this together or perhaps explain some detail of fact that I had been missing or open a new door to the truth. Unfortunately, now I know that some doors are better left unopened.
I arrived in the neighborhood later that day, equipped with a flashlight and my cell phone, in case I needed the light or to call for help. I had more than a few questions in need of answering and I hoped that this little break in would answer a few of them. I decided to arrive later in the evening since I would rather not have to explain myself if I was caught breaking into an abandoned house for what sounded, admittedly, like a crazy person’s theory. I parked down the street in case my coworker Lisa saw my car parked outside her house and thought I was stalking her, especially after our awkward encounter the other day.
I approached the house and felt a terrible sense of deja vu and dread. I felt I had been in this house before, but I had only ever seen it from the outside. I stepped up onto the porch and carefully tried the door: locked! Well, damn it! I was unsure as to how to proceed. Then an odd thought popped into my head as if it were a deeply buried memory. I moved towards one of the decayed potted plants that were still on the porch for some reason having long since died just like the occupant.
I lifted the pot carefully, reached underneath and pulled out a key. I somehow knew inexplicably that it was there. Just as I suspected, after turning the key and handle the door swung inward with a low pitched creak and a faint unpleasant odor of dust and mildew assailed my senses. It was pitch black inside, probably since the electricity was shut off a long time ago. I silently regretted coming here at dusk and not sometime in the afternoon. I was considering turning back for a second, but I was here and I resolved that I would search for whatever I could find and get the hell out of here as quickly as possible.
The door yawned open even wider and I stood on the edge between light and dark. All the sense and reason in my head screamed to me that this was a bad idea, but that voice faded to a whisper, slowly dispelled by some strange imperious pull to go in. I switched on my flashlight in an effort to pierce the veil of inky blackness, and what I saw made my heart sink. The hallway was exactly like the one I had seen in my dream last night. Despite all of the clutter and garbage having been removed, it was unmistakably the very same hall. I fortified myself and stepped inside and moved to close the door despite not wanting to. I was grateful to have the exit open as if expecting that closing it would seal it shut permanently. But I could not leave it open in case someone noticed from outside and investigated or worse called the police because they thought that some squatters or something were coming in here to vandalize the place or do drugs. Reluctantly, I closed the door, sealing myself in with whatever ghosts of the past this place contained.
I walked slowly into the living room, passing the bathroom I had seen before, though mercifully the only smell was of faint mildew and the bathtub was clean and empty rather than being filled with other unmentionable things. I entered the living room and the sickening sense of deja vu intensified. I thought that if you were to empty a garbage can of rotting meat and various other unpleasant objects and it would recreate the mental picture of this room perfectly. I took a quick look around the 1st floor, though I had a suspicious feeling I would not find anything on this level. I paused near the stairwell, the feeling of apprehension growing stronger every second. I did not want to go up those stairs where I… no, where someone had died, but I was almost certain that what I was looking for was up there.
The stairs creaked painfully loud as I ascended, just like they did last night… no, it was just a dream I reminded myself. I reached the top and to my relief there was nothing up there. Just a simple second floor hall, all the doors were closed and there was no lights on, sickly red or otherwise. This worked a great deal to alleviate my tension and I relaxed at the sight, breathing a sigh of relief.
I checked two of the doors that were closed in my dream to find nothing of interest, just another unremarkable bathroom and a small empty bedroom. When I arrived at the final door, a bit of the tension returned. I knew nothing would be on the other side just another empty room most likely, but I still paused when I reached for the door, suppressing a shudder as I remembered the dream and the creature I saw that emerged from this door, caked in the blood of the latest unfortunate soul she had bestowed her special gift to.
I pushed the thoughts away, held my breath and pushed the door open with a jolt. I let my breath out as I saw what I expected an unremarkable room and nothing more. I couldn’t decide if this was a good thing or a bad thing. I had come here seeking some answers, but I don’t know why I would find anything in what was presumably an empty house. I paused unsure of what I was really expecting to accomplish. While I was contemplating my plight, a strange pattern on the wall drew my attention.
The walls had plain and unassuming white stripped wallpaper plastered over them, but this area near where it joined the window had an odd mark on it that seemed to show through from underneath the wallpaper. I shined my flashlight on the spot and stepped closer to look at it. It was a dull reddish brown color and the mark appeared to be what may have been a portion of some letter. I noticed that it was covered up right at the point where the wallpaper seemed to start. Maybe the room was another color before, I thought. Or maybe the put this wallpaper up to cover up the blood. I shuddered.
Dream or no dream this was apparently where Zachary Thomas had been murdered and worse, the thought crept into me head. I stuck my finger into the gap between the fragments of what may have been a letter and pulled off a strip of the wallpaper that had been concealing it. My mind was not ready for the revelation that unfolded.
Beneath the paper was what appeared to be words written in a shaky script onto the wall. The words appeared to have been written in a deep red ink or paint, or maybe even blood. I pulled off enough of the paper until what appeared to be a complete sentence was visible and what I read was deeply disturbing:
“The dreamcatcher, it is the key. It unlocked this terrible creature it must be able to seal it away again.”
Dreamcatcher!? I thought, no, no, no, no, he cannot possibly mean the same dreamcatcher? A dead man writing about the dreamcatcher I received from a missing woman in blood on his walls like a psychopath. It was all too much. I was completely stunned.
I had to know more so I proceeded to spend several minutes tearing down all of the obscuring wallpaper and what I found was the chronicle and downward spiral of a madman. I looked at what appeared to be the beginning and read as much as I could bear:
“It can’t be stopped, this thing. I know that now. Every time I go to sleep I see them, their memories, how they died. I know I will be next, my time is almost out. After all, in these dreams one thing has always occurred, one of the dreamcatchers tassels have turned into that abhorrent metal. There are six total and five of them are now transformed. Somehow, I know that once the final one turns it will be my time to join the others. I have tried to destroy the thing, but it appears above my bed every night. After I first suspected what it was, I threw it into the fire and thought that I might be safe as it burned just as you would expect anything made of such simple materials to burn. But at night… at night it came back and the dreams, or rather the memories came back with it.
"These memories of her, or it, tormenting them before they died, torturing them, playing with them. And always she knew I was there, watching, waiting; toying with me. Was I them? Or was I myself, I don’t know, I don’t know who I am anymore. All I know is that she is coming for me, that succubus and she is going to have me one way or the other. I have been awake now for the past 5 days. I know she is waiting for me when I close my eyes. I am the last one. I am so afraid, there is nothing I can do, and no one believes my story. They all believe I am crazy. Yes, maybe I am crazy. Maybe I am losing my mind. Yes, maybe that’s it. Maybe it is all just in my head. I have never truly been hurt by these dreams as disturbing as they are. And what I wouldn’t give to have a nice restful sleep.
"All these images and dreams are probably just delusions; yes, that’s it, just delusions of a tired mind. No correlation or terrible cause just the thoughts of a paranoid mind keeping me from having a relaxing rest. Yes, rest, that is what I need now, nothing will get me I am not afraid I just need sleep. A little rest and I will feel better tomorrow.”
The writings ended at that point. Each portion had been affixed with a date like a very grim journal entry. The date of the final entry was a day before the suspected murder had occurred.
“What in the hell is this”!? I screamed in panicked frustration.
This has got to be some hoax. This cannot be happening. I have never been one to believe in the supernatural and I could not wrap my head around this.
"There had to be some rational explanation!" I shouted to myself.
I sighed ruefully as I realized that the most likely explanation was that I was having a nervous breakdown.
I paced relentlessly around the room, refusing to look anymore at the terrible markings on the wall. I started to feel sick and dizzy, like the smell and atmosphere of the place was getting to me or just my own shock at trying to process this new information. I turned towards the door and saw what appeared to be a shadow. Was someone else in the house with me?
The shadow moved and coalesced into an outline that was terribly familiar I knew what it was the moment it took form. “Aren’t you the curious one, ha ha ha! Oh do remember my sweet little thing, what curiosity did to the cat? I wouldn’t want you to get hurt before I see you again in…the flesh.”
I let out a scream and stepped back. “No! You cannot be real!” I cried, staring at the form. It appeared to be not quite there, as if it were a shadow. "What happened to Sabrina?" I yelled at the thing temporarily emboldened by the fact that it appeared almost insubstantial and almost certain I was not dreaming. The thing let out a harsh cackle and then her voice dropped to a disturbing and almost seductive whisper.
“Oh you poor thing, don’t you realize yet? I am Sabrina, or at least all that is left of her. She found this dreamcatcher over a year ago and met with the same fate that you will soon meet. You never knew the real Sabrina.” She laughed as she shifted and her shadowy form melded into an image of Sabrina.
“Recognize me, my sweet little, Simon? Hahaha! Oh I do delight in your confusion, but rest assured as I said you never knew the real Sabrina. She has been dead since before we met, I merely used her likeness and memories to pass as her so I could find a new plaything that would be lured under the spell of my charming little dreamcatcher, you would have her memories too, if it were not for the fact that I needed them,” she continued.
“I am afraid little Sabrina was a bit of a shut-in and was not able to pass the gift along on her own as intended. It was exhausting wearing that shell, but now you are here and soon very soon we shall meet in person again, once you have seen them all that is.” She paused as if checking some impulse. “We will be together again soon, and together I shall show you a sweet and never-ending dream that you’ve always wanted.”
She licked her lips as she revealed the horrible truth of what had been happening to me. Then her hands sprang out to envelop me and I ran back away from the thing tripping over a large section of wallpaper I had pulled off and bashing my head into the ground. I could feel no more as I drifted out of consciousness.
I gasped and shot bolt upright, how long was I out?
“Oh no, oh no, no, no”! I cried.
I was not in the house anymore. I looked around it was completely black with just a sliver of light in this cramped confine I found myself in. I was in what I deduced was a dumpster, after I reached up to throw the lid open. A soft and pale moonlight glowed up above in the sky to greet me as I emerged. Oh God! I thought, Was I moved when I was out or am I still out? I wondered.
It looked like I was at an abandoned construction site or steel mill or something. I immediately smelled a strong metallic scent, along with what I assumed was something burning. I had no clue where I was; my cell phone was lost along with my flashlight. I reached into my pocket again and produced a wallet. Only… this was not my wallet. It contained a driver’s license for one Paul Anderson. How did I get this? I wondered. Then I was reminded of the previous dream and the writings on the wall and it all made sense.
I had the wallet of Paul Anderson because this was his memory, or dream, or dream of a memory; I didn’t know anymore. I caught a reflection of myself in a window and saw that I indeed looked like a different person. Once I looked at my… his face, I felt a rush of memories that I knew couldn’t be mine.
“She is coming, she is coming. Oh God, there is no escaping it! God damn that demon! Oh please, God save me! This is my last chance. There is only one night left, one sleep and it will be over. I am taking matters into my own hands. She will not have me! I will not continue this horrible cycle. I may not be able to destroy this cursed item, but I can destroy myself and hopefully keep anyone else from finding that horrible relic.
"I never thought anything could drive me to suicide, but the alternative… no! I must do this. I will burn, burn myself and this thing. Maybe if I go with it because of the connection, it will finally be destroyed. Or maybe I will burn to death and some other poor soul will discover it, either way, it will be over. Courage just a little courage and it will be done. God forgive me.”
I snapped out of my fugue and found myself standing near a smelting station, or some type of incinerator. What the hell? How did I get her? I thought confounded. Then without thinking, I turned on the furnace. Oh good God no, I am going to burn myself alive, that’s what he did. Oh my God, no! As I leaned closer and stoked the flames a fine mist began to gather around me. My heart sank; I heard a familiar voice taunting in the forming vapors.
“Oh don’t do that, my sweet little thing, I have not finished with you yet and besides I prefer my meat to be rare, not well-done ahhahaha!” The creature cackled. I or rather Paul was shocked by the voice and spun around only to bash his head on the steel beam overhead. It still felt like I had been struck in the head despite being a memory.
Oh no, I thought, he must have lost conciseness and fallen asleep… for the last time. My own head was swimming; I saw the dreamcatcher had materialized overhead as I lost consciousness. Only five tassels? Four were metal with the fifth slowly transforming to join its fellows and symbolize the blade which would pierce the heart and soul of me, of Paul and seal our fate. I was doomed and through the hazy silhouette of my vision, I saw it looking down on me.
“Oh my, but you are running out of time, aren’t you? Haha. For him, it was his last but for you, a few more nights, yes? More time for you to enjoy my company, I suppose, and more time for me to enjoy your suffering.
"Soon you can finally and truly sleep deep in the boundless wondrous sleep of oblivion. And I will be free to see to your sweet, sweet dreams…..” the thing purred. “But alas for tonight, we are almost out of time, I hate to end this so quickly but it looks as if you are about to wake up, and I would hate to have you miss out on the best part”
It raised one prodigious claw and plunged it deep into my chest. She paused enjoying the look of agony on my face, then ripped my still beating heart from my chest. I began to fade away, falling in pain and agony. I looked out with a dying breath and saw Paul’s startled expression in the shattered glass of a nearby window and in front, the creature with an evil grin. I witnessed the body I saw the fire uselessly burning in the background and my conciseness faded and saw the futile effort and indeed last effort of another unfortunate victim. As I departed the memory, I somehow knew that his death was not a release as I heard his screams well after his body had died.
I woke up back in the house to see the sun rising through the window, my head was throbbing. I looked up and to my horror, there was the dreamcatcher, one shiny new metallic spike where previously there had been a plain piece of cloth. No, I stared in disbelief. Mine has eight, I thought. Why more than theirs? Then I realized in horror that each of the tassels represents a victim and that person’s dying memory, their final dream. I sat there for a long while in shock and utterly hopeless.
Eventually, I collected myself and my things, and discreetly exited the house and went home. I had no idea of what to do next, no hope of rescue. I went back home, to brood and ponder on my fate.
Time is almost at an end, there is no need to recount the others; the other souls who died, no not died, were imprisoned by that demon, to be toyed with and killed again and again and again, in a never-ending dream of death and misery. The agony and madness of all their tormented memories coalescing into my own is maddening. Dreams, memories, I could not tell the difference anymore. I am dead, no still alive, what was my name? Paul? Cynthia? Gabriel? Simon? I cannot remember. I have always been terrible with names.
To my credit, I managed to make it this far. I thought I could become a professional insomniac. I wish I could say I found some magic cure, some paranormal investigator who would come in and save the day in my time of need. But I found the rest of the world unhelpful and ignorant of my pleas. Maybe I don’t care if this thing keeps going; maybe the doubters of the world need to be shown what happens if you never listen to a cry for help no matter how crazy it sounds. Maybe they will stop it one day, but I won’t be there. Or maybe I will be, maybe number nine will be one of those doubters who would never have believed my story until they see me, see the metal spike that represents me, and experience the ninth memory in that abhorrent dreamcatcher. Yes perhaps then, they will have to believe, but who will believe them?
I was fading the last of my energy running out; nothing will stop it now, my final sleep, and my finale terrible dream that will never end. No more running, no more hiding, no more, it would do no good anyway. If I am to be consigned to this fate then so be it. I only wish that people take heed and know that if you long to feel the lucid dream. Remember that there are some things in your dreams that you don’t want to come true.
I stopped writing and lay my head down and quietly drifted to sleep.
My eyes have opened again and I look up and see the sharp outline of the dreamcatcher, its spikes now complete and clinking together like some nightmare dinner bell for the damned, ringing to signal my fate. This is the end, I think to myself... finally. I roll over and gasp. I see Sabrina next to me, she smiles.
“Hello, stranger," she says with a wink. "You were tossing and turning, are you alright?”
“No, what? It cannot be,” I stammer.
“That’s okay, you’re awake now. That’s what matters, I was worried,” she said embracing me. Oh my God, could it be? Could all of that have just been a terrible nightmare?
Maybe that’s it; maybe it was all a bad dream after all. She hugs me harder and I breathe a sigh of relief and peace that the harrowing events of the last several days did not allow before and I smile at her. She leans in close to my ear and whispers, “Dream your sweet dream with me now…. Forever.”
My eyes widen, my body is paralyzed and the horror sets in. The last thing I can see is a clawed hand gently caressing my face and the ghostly outline of a ninth spike appearing above. The last thing I hear is the things nightmarish voice one last time telling me, “Do not fear my precious little thing, it will all be over soon, just close your eyes and keep telling yourself, this is just a bad dream.”
It roars with laughter and brings its claw down. I scream.
Written by Redbadandy