I've had this specific dream since I was a little boy. It's always been a short dream, not much to it, really. You could describe it as... a nightmare, I suppose. Except I was never truly terrified.
It starts out by me waking up on the floor, cold and hard, and in total darkness. Yet somehow, the scene feels all too familiar. I've never once wondered where I actually was in the dream, it seemed like I just knew.
After getting up from the floor, it takes a minute (sometimes even longer) for it to start. The sound.
The sound of two metal blades scraping against each other.
Each time, the sound grows louder, stronger, as if whatever is causing it is putting more and more strength into it.
I know they're coming for me.
They want to rip, tear, cut into my flesh.
I can feel their desire to pierce my skin.
At this point, I usually wake up, bathing in sweat. I used to be terrified at first, but after five weeks or so, it started feeling natural, calming even.
Every time I went to bed, I.. knew it was coming.
I've been taking these pills with a name I can't even pronounce, which seem to help me dream somewhat normal again. They're also supposed to help against my blackouts, though I'm still having those from time to time.
Now, something weird happened earlier today. I was together with my friend Edith, as she was cutting my hair. She's always wanted to be a hairdresser, and insists that she'll cut my hair at least once every month.
I let her do whatever she wants. I'm not bothered by it, and seeing her face brighten up every time I shrug and mutter, "Sure, go ahead," is really the thing I live for.
Anyways, as a thanks, she wanted to cook me dinner. Being broke and not looking forward to a lone night, I agreed. After finding out her fridge was emptier than mine, we decided to split up. She'd go to the corner store for some vegetables, and I'd go to the butcher's.
The thing is, I've always been a rather introverted person. I decided to write down what I needed and hand it to the cashier at the butcher's. I quickly reread my note before setting foot into the shop. I immediately noticed something wrong. The cashier wasn't there.
You may be thinking, "So?" but trust me, I was about to just head back outside and tell Edith the shop was closed. I had no intentions of actually finding someone, and reading my note out loud to them. I couldn't just take the meat myself either, what if someone caught me taking it?
As I put my hand on the doorknob, ready to leave the store, something caught my attention. Voices. From the back of the store. The cold steel of the knob left my hand as I decided to investigate the voices. After all, maybe the cashier was just in back? I decided that that must have been it and waited for the voices to die down and the cashier to return to the front.
However... they never did actually stop.
Very cautiously, I started to shuffle towards the back of the shop. My head peeked around the corner, and I saw the origins of the voices.
Or rather, origin. There was one voice ,to be exact, speaking in different tones. I saw the butcher standing over a pig's carcass talking to who I assumed must have been himself.
My throat started drying up, thinking back to the horrors I'd seen before. Assuming it'd probably be better to leave at this point, I turned around as quietly as I could, and started to head back to the door.
When my hand touched the cold steel of the shop's doorknob, I felt a wave of relief going through me.
That wave of relief was followed by an immediate wave of danger.
The voice had stopped talking.
Instead, there was now a different sound coming from the butcher.
I stopped for a moment, listening again carefully.
My throat became dry and my hand which wasn't resting on the knob started shaking heavily.
That can't be the sound... that... can it?
Just like in my dream, the sound became louder, stronger with every repeat.
It kept getting louder, until it sounded like it was almost behind me...
I threw open the door and darted out without looking back. After running three blocks without so much as breathing , my legs were killing me, but I forced my entire body to keep running.
I was in utter panic when I arrived back at Edith's. Luckily, she wasn't there yet, so I went to the bathroom and cleaned myself up a bit.
You know that sound, when you're alone in bed, late at night? That sound that cannot be there, but you've heard it before? That TV-buzzing sound while your TV is turned off, the wind blowing leaves around on a windless day. When I was getting myself back together in Edith's bathroom, I decided that must've been it. I'd been freaked out by the possibility of social activity, so I invented a quick path out of there, making sure I'd never have to go back while I was at it.
The next day, I read in the newspaper that the cashier went missing. Horrible, of course, but it gave a perfectly valid reason as to why she wasn't at the butcher's. Maybe the butcher wasn't even talking to himself, he might have been on the phone... Things like this went through my head all day and made me feel a lot calmer about the whole situation.
I decided to stop taking my pills for a while. After all, I hadn't blacked out when I was so afraid, ad I haven't had that dream for a while, so it should all be good, right?
Inevitably, after a couple of days, the time came. Edith asked me to pick up some steaks at the butcher's. I couldn't tell her about what happened, as I didn't even believe it myself, but I can't say that I was completely over it either.
I mustered up whatever courage I had and set out for the butcher's again. Comfortably? No. There had been two more disappearances in the past few days, and I was planning on going back alive. That's why I packed my S&W Model 10, a trusty six-shot revolver. I wasn't planning on using it, but I brought it under the pretense of "better safe than sorry."
Arriving at the butcher's, I noticed the cashier still wasn't back. Then again, if she was, it'd probably have been front-page news. I slapped my cheeks a little until I was courageous enough to ring the little bell on the counter. A slightly overweight man stepped in from the back of the store. This must've been the butcher, as he was holding his two razor-sharp knives.
As I stretched out my arm to give him the note, I noticed my hands were trembling as much as they were the last time I was here. I scolded myself and put all my effort into keeping my arm as straight as I could.
The butcher took the note from my hand, mumbled, "Jus' a minute," and walked back to wherever he was before I rang the bell. I was delighted. Everything had gone well, I was going to receive my order, and thankfully, my intestines were not scattered all over the shop. Today was one of the brighter days.
The butcher came back with my steaks and named the price. I , being the good citizen that I am, paid him by the exact amount. With a rather large smile on my face, I took my steaks in one hand, and reached for the doorknob with the other.
I couldn't do it. I couldn't just leave without knowing it for sure. The butcher had gone back, and I had to know whether anything of what I experienced last time was true. I set my steaks down my the front door, and slowly shuffled into the back of the store.
The radio was on. The butcher was humming along. He swung a new carcass on his table, took out his knives and...
Coincidence, I thought. Pure coincidence, that these blades and the ones from my dream sound so alike.
My body didn't agree. My hands started trembling again, my eyes were fixated on the back of the butcher, and every muscle in my body was ready to leap back into the store and out of there.
I closed my eyes. When you'd really listen to it, it doesn't even sound so much alike. It's obvious that I'd just been wrong.
Yet something felt wrong.
I couldn't put my finger on it.
I tried to compare the snipping of the knives to the ones in my dreams again, and then it hit me like a bulldozer.
I knew what was wrong.
The snipping had stopped.
I opened my eyes, and saw the butcher standing a few feet away from me, with both of his knives in hand, staring at me. I don't know what happened next. I blacked out, yet woke up in Edith's apartment. Thanking some deity I hadn't fallen prey to the man from my nightmares, I collapsed on the sofa.
I had to tell Edith. I couldn't go on keeping her in the dark about this. She had to know. As I set my steaks down on the kitchen table, my revolver nearly fell out of my pocket. I took it in hand, with the intention of putting it back where I found it, that being the closet. As I was walking to Edith's room, I stopped dead in my tracks. There was hair on the floor. Blonde hair. Too long to be mine, and definitely not Edith's raven black hair. I brushed some of it together with my hand, and then asked myself what on earth I was planning to do with a ball of hair.
Edith had one of those hair-bins in her practice room, so I decided it'd be best to go there. Knowing she never really allowed me to go in, I took the key from under her mattress while thinking she needed a better hiding place, unlocked the door, and went in. In the dimly lit room, I saw a couple of mirrors and some of those heads-on-a-stick hairdresser-dummies. She was really into practicing a lot of different hair techniques, so I figured that's what she used them for. I walked up to the hair-bins at the far end of the room, opened one of them up and froze.
Something was shining from the bottom of the bin. I decided not to just stick my hand in, after all, Edith is a hairdresser and she uses all kinds of scissors and razors, and take out my flashlight.
I sort of remember turning my flashlight on, looking inside the trashcan and not being able to move.
The trashcans were filled with human organs, severed limbs, actually entire human bodies carefully chopped into bits.
No, not entire human bodies.
I looked up, almost throwing up. I stumbled backwards, and to avoid falling , grasped at one of the dummies. Except it wasn't a dummy. The still lukewarm red liquid dripping from one of the heads' poles confirmed that. These were human heads, likely previously attached to the bodies in the bins. Lying flat on my back, I tried to come to my senses. Was Edith behind the kidnappings? Did she kill these people? What was she-
"You... I told you to never come here again," an all-too-familiar voice said. I might have stayed there, on the floor, if my body didn't jerk up to a specific sound I was hearing.
Did she... Was she... carrying... knives?
No, these weren't knives.
These were scissors.
I opened my eyes. In hindsight, that may have not been the best idea. I caught the last glimpse of a scissor-blade heading for my right eye, with a terrified Edith on top of me.
The snipping of the scissors now reduced to a slow, meaty scratching in the back of my skull as the blades sought their way into my eye socket.
The pain was unmanageable.
Yet I lay there, accepting it.
I wasn't trying to defend myself in the slightest, because I knew...
Everything stopped. Edith stopped poking, the scissors stopped seeking their way to more damage, and I stopped existing.
I had blacked out again.
The doctors said I'd been lucky. If Edith had stabbed me an inch more to the left, I would have been dead. I don't feel lucky. They blamed Edith for the kidnappings and the murders. I didn't even know she could've done such a thing. They also say she was on vacation until that day, so they questioned me for a long time until they released me. I told them multiple times she hadn't been on vacation, that we had talked the very same morning. Some of her friends seemed to "support her alibi," but that didn't matter so much anymore.
I never really understood it.
Edith kidnapping and killing her own sister like that? It makes me wonder whether I ever really knew her.
Her friends lying about Edith being on vacation?
The doctors told me I needed to start taking my medication again. Helps with the disease, they say. Schizophrenia, they call it. I almost yelled at them.
The dreams have stopped lately, and so have the blackouts. I'm even starting to remember things from my previous blackouts, so why should I need any medication? This is the best I've felt in years!
I've developed a strange liking of meat, though. It's like I can't get enough of the faint iron taste of the blood pouring out a good steak. I bet it's the pills wearing off.
I wonder whether Edith ever felt this way when cutting up those people? I guess I could understand her, in some way, at least.
Anyways, what am I saying? I should get started on today's meal.
Scraping two knives together, I hear a familiar sound again.
However this time, it doesn't bother me as much.
I have a family, please don't do this
On the table in front of me lies the butcher.
Have you ever had a living meal? I doubt it. Don't worry though, I'll give you all the fleshy details.
Written by Isobe