Reality In a Nightmare
By: Jeff R. Young

It begins so innocently that pull towards oblivion, that gentle tug towards the restful slumber I so desperately crave. Yet, hanging like a shadow over everything I know is the memory of the previous nights, the terror, the screaming and the wicked dreams that haunt me still.

At first, there is bliss. The strange rapture of dizzying, rapid visuals one could never comprehend. The chaos of the dream world, where nothing makes sense, yet everything stands in perfect logic if only understood. I bask in the wonder of the surreal moments, where I can fly, where I am the hero of the day. Where friends and lovers long gone meet and reunite in visions either already experienced or were never meant to be; where Dèjà vù is given birth, waiting for its inevitable moment to spring forth. This is perfection behind closed, slumbering eyes and the haze of the dream world.

But lingering on that other side, deep within the shadows of the mind, something lies in wait. It is something dark, malevolent, malicious, a ghostly humanoid shadow almost to faint to comprehend…a hunter, a fiend waiting to assume control. It creeps through the chaos, lurking just out of sight, starving for the peace I have succumbed to. It looks for its moment, it looks for the weakest instant, and it looks for me.

Finding that moment a midst the dream, it reaches out caressing my mind with an almost surreal gentle touch, as if merely to let me know it is there. It lures me in with promises of riches, the actual ability to fly, power unimagined…fate controlled. And in my moment of weakness, at the moment I am seduced to accept, its icy talons grip tight, latching on and freezing my soul.

I feel it try to gain entrance, to occupy my very essence. It is a monster, attempting to possess my body, my spirit, my mind. It wants me, but not me. It's lured to my body, the vessel, as a means to wonder. Its promises were lies. Its presence now fills me with terror. I try to scream out, to banish it away. I punch and kick in the fight of my life. But the contest is fruitless, this is its realm, its domain, I am just a visitor to its world.

My terror coalesces, giving conscious thought to the dream. I am sleeping, yet I am awake. I can feel every emotion, every ounce of fear dripping from the nightmare. I try to force myself awake, only to be fooled. What feels like a lucid moment back from the dream world is merely another level of the trance, for I am not awake. I try to force my eyes open, but under heavy lids they slam shut, and I am sucked back in by the demonic presence of my nightmarish attacker.

I try to scream out, but in the trance my voice is nothing more than the baying of a dying sheep. No power, no strength lies within the cry for help. The monster begins to push again, to force its way into my soul, once more attempting to steal my identity. I fight, I resist, driven by the terror of what I would become if consumed. I cry out again, outwardly, in a vain attempt for help. Still, my voice fails me as I let loose a pitiful wail into the real world around me.

The creature, the monster, the fiend, renews its attack, pressing in on my mind. It wants me, hungers for me, and nothing will sedate its appetite then the complete consumption of my very existence. But I will not be taken so quickly.

I lash back, sending out a shockwave of anger, regret, and resentment. My pain, fear, and rage become my shield, my sword. I am given but a second of reprieve in which I again attempt to open my eyes, but to no avail. It renews its attack once more, unleashing its demonic pull with force almost unbearable. I try to cry out yet again, sending my conscious thought out into the real world with a struggle to once more open my eyes. They open, for an instant, or so I think. It is yet another trick, for I am neither awake nor asleep. I am stuck between the two realms, lost between the dream and the safe harbor of the real world. Or is this, the nightmare I have come to know, the real world around me. I cannot tell which is real or dream, not no more.

In one last burst of mental energy, I break free of my shadowy attacker, slipping quickly from a nightmare to reality, drenched in sweat, heart beating rapidly, throat dry and sore; yet those screams echo in my ear, and a tear falls slowly down my cheek. I am finally awake, finally free of its grasp, free of its pull, safe from its hunger. At least for the moment, for I am tired, and sleep lures me back with its innocent call once again.

This is my dream, my nightmare, my night terror. This is why I am afraid. Why I do not crave sleep like so many others do. This is my reality.

This is me.


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