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I had a strange recurring nightmare when I was in college, living alone for the first time. It always started off innocuously enough; I would be doing some random chore or talking to someone in my living room. One time, I was folding laundry, and it felt normal except for the resistance in the air. Normal movements felt like I was moving through water, but I recognized that I was asleep, so it didn’t really bother me. I didn’t ever quite have lucid dreams, like when you can control it, but I was aware of the situation.

The first hint that something was off was when I would feel a drop of something wet on my hand. I would never be looking at my hand, and you can probably guess what it was. Always the same, a single drop of blood. The first time the dream happened, it freaked me out, but it got worse when the dream started happening again and again. The anticipation made a heavy feeling of dread spread throughout my body, the same feeling of impending doom that I felt as a kid when I heard one of my parents yell, magnified by about a thousand. The part that I can feel when I think about it today is the paralysis that came over me, a complete inability to move that mirrored the fact that the room was standing still around me. I knew I was about to see the woman.

In my bedroom at the time, there was a grate for the AC system on the top part of the wall. It was about eighteen square inches, and it was the last thing I saw before I went to bed, so it wasn’t weird to see it in a dream. However, when I looked up in these nightmares, there was a woman in that grate. I couldn’t see far into the grate when I was awake, but the woman’s face was clear to me in the nightmares. Her cheeks were emaciated, her blonde hair was a stringy, malnourished mess, and her eyes had no life. It looked like something had clawed at the woman’s face, blood pooling beneath her body, dripping slowly onto the wall. She looked dead, but her eyes stared at me.

Even now, recalling the details of her face brings that same feeling of dread back to me, that same pseudo-paralysis spidering out through my limbs. Once I saw her, she would either blow me a kiss with her bloodless lips or say a short phrase like, “You know, I really don’t like it here.” It sounds comical, but in that moment I felt the purest fear I’d ever felt in my life. I’d never seen a dead body, and this example felt more real than any movie or TV show I’d ever seen. At the same time, the woman was awake and speaking to me.

The nightmares kept happening for several months, once every week or two. I knew that recurring nightmares were a thing, even though I’d never had one myself, so I assumed it was normal. I lost some sleep, but I was still able to function normally. The only tangible effect on my life would be a letter grade loss if I had the nightmare the night before a test or something. Was it inconvenient? Sure, but I had no reason to believe it was anything supernatural. I stayed at the apartment so I didn’t have to break my lease, because I was a poor college student. Anyone saying they would’ve moved at that point hasn’t had to scrounge together the couple thousand dollars it takes to move in that situation, but I would’ve found a way to break it if I’d known what going to happen.

Every time I had the nightmare, the circumstances would change slightly. Sometimes, the woman was filing her obviously torn apart nails, other times she would pose like a pin-up model with ragged clothes hanging off her body in a suggestive way. All I could think to myself at the time was, “Of course, my nightmares would have a sense of humor.” It didn’t matter what room the nightmares took place in, either. The grate, which was only in my bedroom, would suddenly be in the kitchen or bathroom without any regard to its actual physical location.

The last time I had the dream was about a week before my lease was up. At the start, I had been playing a board game with a couple of close friends. On cue, everything in the room stopped, my friends frozen and the dice halted in mid-air. A single drop of blood dripped onto the dice. My sense of dread grew, and I looked up to see the woman, unable to control my body. The woman looked bored, and I expected to hear something from her and wake up. Instead, the woman stared at me for a few seconds, eyes reddened and intense. She slammed her hand against the grating. A ring filled my ears and I saw blood flow out of the grate, covering my friends and our board game with sticky, metallic liquid. While the room filled, the ringing morphed into a screech that I recognized as metal against metal. The woman had a screwdriver in her hand and a smile on her face, but her eyes were still on me as she turned the screws.

I woke up at that moment, but I still couldn’t move. I’d heard of sleep paralysis before, but I’d never experienced it. It felt like the strings controlling my body had been severed, and I could only move my eyes. I didn’t want to look, but I knew something had changed. I’d looked up at the grate before to see nothing. These were just nightmares. Annoying, scary, but everyone has nightmares, right? I looked up at the grate and saw a flash of white, something moving. It went away quickly enough that I questioned if it was a trick of the eye, but it seemed like tempting fate to stay there. I couch-surfed for the week until I moved out and never set foot in that apartment after dark again.

The nightmares stopped after I found a new place. After a while, it felt like I had dodged some sort of supernatural bullet, and one thing that I learned recently confirmed that for me (and it’s the reason I even chose to write about the situation in the first place). Apparently, the mind can’t make faces in your dreams, and I can still imagine the woman’s horrible face: cuts, scrapes, and all. Every detail of her face is clear as day to me today as it was then, like no time has passed at all. I swear I’ve only seen her in those nightmares, and I don’t know how it’s possible. I might spend some time looking into it now that I’m thinking about it again. Has anyone heard of a similar phenomenon? I would appreciate any information people would be willing to give me while I’m researching the possibilities.


After remembering those nightmares, I spent hours upon hours reading about dreams online, everything from dream interpretation to the inspiration for Nightmare on Elm Street. I should’ve left well enough alone, focused on my life in a cubicle more than the past, but I didn’t. After years of nothing, I’ve started seeing the woman’s face again in my sleep. The formula of the nightmares has changed, but the result is the same. I’ve been dreaming about classic movies and TV shows, and the main actress will be introduced in the scene, but the woman will always replace whoever is supposed to be there.

The woman’s body has decayed to the point that her bones are visible in many places, but I know it’s her. The first time it was the scene from Dr. No when Bond wakes up on the beach. I was in Bond’s blue outfit, which I recognized quickly. There was singing in the background, and the woman came up out of the water, hair falling off in gobs. She wore a bikini, and her pelvis was clearly visible, holding up the bottom of her garment. She picked up seashells like nothing was wrong. Without me saying anything, she shouted, “Who’s there?” at me, and her jaw hung slack like it had unhinged before I woke up. I didn’t know what to do, so I tried to ignore it, but she’s been there every night now.

Last night, I dreamed the opening sequence from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and the woman was Mary Tyler Moore. The only difference for most of the opening sequence of the show was that the woman scowled as she drove instead of having Mary Tyler Moore’s bright and innocent smile. No one looked at the woman twice as she walked through the street, maybe because a coat covered most of her deformities. Then, at the end of the sequence, she threw up her hat, and her arm disconnected from her body, freeze-framing as a voice-over happened, “It’ll be over soon.”

I don’t know what that means for sure, but I have a pretty damn good idea. I thought this was over. Now I almost want it to end, no matter what that means.

Update 2[]

At least now I know what she meant. I had my last nightmare last night. I was having a cookout at my house, and all of my friends were over, both work and personal. When I felt my body moving like it was in water, I hoped in a desperate moment that it was my subconscious playing a prank on me. Maybe, if I applied dream interpretation to it, I would’ve been able to come up with a metaphorical reasoning behind the events—maybe a fear of commitment or something. No, that would be too convenient.

I knew what was coming when it happened. A single drop of blood hit my tongs as I was turning the brats. The entire scene froze, including the smoke from the grill. I tried not to, but I looked up. There was no grate containing the woman. She was hanging from the roof of my back porch, her bones jammed into the wood to secure her as she grinned down at me. That’s when things got weird.

The woman dropped from the ceiling, and I was sure she was about to kill me in some horrible manner, but she stood next to me, smiling. The woman’s near-liquid decayed flesh dripped from her cheeks, but she started playing hostess, laughing and making small talk with my guests. I learned through the conversations that her name was Emmy. The feeling of dread never left my body, but I couldn’t wake up until the party was over. When the last guest left, Emmy waved to them and closed the front door. “Was that so bad?” she said, and I woke up.

I didn’t know what to expect when I woke up, but I couldn’t move at first. I could see the light in my bathroom on, hear the sound of someone going to the bathroom. Before I could do anything, I saw Emmy walking into the bedroom, rotting flesh and all. She wore a nightie that didn’t leave much to the imagination, and she curled up next to me. I haven’t been able to sleep since I found Emmy in my bed. Sometimes, I am able to move around and act like a normal person. Other times, I feel like she’s restraining me with the look in her eyes. I’d rather not discuss what she does to me.

As I’m writing this, she’s undressing in our bed. Her skin, if you can call it that, comes off in thin strips with every garment she removes. The worst part? I’m kind of into it. I mean, this is my life now, right? I might as well make the most of it.

Written by Casualobsession
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