The End: Story Two
Nightmares and Dreamscapes
By: David K. Montoya
We were on the road for only a short period of time before dark storm clouds rolled in. The deafening thunder traveled throughout the blackened sky and then without warning rain began to fall. The sound of large droplets crashing against the top of the bus echoed through the hollow inside of the vehicle.
With the soothing sound of the storm accompanied by the strong smell of Greece weed, my pain started to subside and I fell into a light sleep. I was brought back to reality when I felt a slight touch. I opened my eyes and saw Renee standing in front of me. She asked if there was enough room on the bench for her, as well. Before I could say anything Renee climbed over me and snuggled down against the backrest. Within moments we were both fast asleep.
I began to dream of life before the sickness, when everyone was still alive and happy. I watched Michael and Maria as small children while they played in our backyard sandbox. My wife Helen was on the phone, and at the same time she dug through a pile of papers. My mom and dad were there as well. They were sitting in the living room with Tina and Rose watching TV.
I walked over to my parents and gave them both a tight hug. I told them that I missed and loved them. My dad told me that he and my mom had just visited last week. I did not bother wasting what little time I had with them by arguing about how long it really was since I last saw them.
I walked over to my sister Tina and embraced her; I told her that what she had done back at Palace city was a brave thing to do. Tina looked up at me and gave me a smile, telling me that she was in a much better place.
Then I went over to my wife. I wrapped my arms around her and started to cry. I told her that I missed her so much, that it was unbelievably hard to continue life without her by my side. Helen turned to me with a bright smile and she said that I had done fine and that I did not need her. I held on to her a few seconds longer before she told me that I needed to go see the kids. I gave her a soft kiss and told her that I loved her. She gave me another big smile and told me to get a move on.
I stepped out the sliding glass door into the back yard. My two kids were still playing in the sandbox. As I got closer I saw that they were making sand castles. I sat down next to them and watched them play; it was a bitter sweet feeling to see them there so happy and carefree. Michael handed me a small plastic shovel and asked me to help him build sand castles. I sat there for some time filling their pails with sand and enjoying the time I had to spend with my kids one last time.
As we sat there the sky began to rumble and I knew that my time was almost up. I hugged my children, hugged them tight. I told them that I loved them; they embraced me back, begging me not to go. I tried to be strong but eventually I broke down and started to cry.
Another loud crash of thunder rattled the now black sky. As I opened my eyes I realized that my children were gone. In fact, just about everything was gone and what was still visible was in complete ruins. When I turned around to face the house I was shocked by the condition it was in; it appeared that it hadn't been lived in for several decades. The structure reminded me of something straight out of a horror movie.
I slowly walked from the yard back inside the house and was met with a pungent mildew odor. The interior of the house had been nearly destroyed by several years of neglect. As I walked farther inside it became harder for me to see, especially in the long hallway that lead to the bedrooms. I had to feel my way through the darkness. I could feel the wet and slimy debris from the wall build up on my hands and it was beginning to become difficult to walk; it felt as if my feet were slowly sinking into the floor.
As I got closer to the other end of the hallway, I began to see a glowing blue light which outlined what would have been Michael's bedroom door. As I neared, the brightness became more intense and I could barely make anything out. I felt around for the door knob. Oddly enough I found it in the center of the door. I quickly yanked my hand away because it was freezing cold. I prepared myself for the intense pain and grabbed the handle once more, then cried out as the coldness burned my hand.
Finally, I was able to push the bedroom door open and once I did the blinding light subsided. I stood there for a moment cradling my hand as I tried to figure out what I was seeing. It was me. I was severely bruised and battered, lying asleep on what appeared to be an old bus bench. And there was a woman who was also asleep, lying almost on top of me. I didn't recognize her, but I knew it wasn't my wife.
Just as I was about to walk across the threshold, the door swung shut and a pair of hands came up from the floor, grabbed me by my ankles and pulled me down into the murky ground below. When I opened my eyes I was lying in a graveyard. I looked around and spotted a gravedigger in front of me, some three rows away.
I stood and saw the name on the tombstone in front of which I had been lying. It troubled me to learn that it was my uncle Virgile's. How did I get back to California? At that point I was seriously confused. As I moved about the graveyard, on each headstone I passed I read the name of a family member; my mom, my dad, my sistersbut I knew that wasn't right. I was sure one of my sisters was still alive, although I couldn't remember which one it was.
I continued to read the names on the headstones that I passed. The carved names included Richard, Helen, Michael and Marie. They were all theredead. I walked up to the gravedigger who appeared to be shoveling his last spade full of dirt from a new grave and the thick dark dirt had covered the name on this stone. I walked passed the man who held the shovel, but he paid no mind to me and then I stood next to the tombstone. With my hand I slowly removed the dirt from the cold stone. In just a few moments I had cleared off the fresh soil. I stepped away from the grave marker so I could make out the words, then stepped farther back from the grave site and read:
Beloved Husband and Father
May his soul rest in peace
I took a quick step backward and bumped into the gravedigger who hissed and growled at me.
I spun around to face the man, only to find that the man who had dug my grave was an Unlucky! But there was something unusual about this unlucky. It was my height and about my build. When I looked into its eyes I realized that this demon was me!
He pushed me backward, causing me to fall into an open casket at the bottom of the grave. I tried to get up but small arms materialized from the red, velvetlined sides of the coffin. They roughly grabbed at me and held me down. I struggled, but was unable to move as the Unlucky leaned down to glare at me as an evil grin stretched his thin lips. Then the demon spoke to me in my own voice. It told me that he was now Lucas Grey and the man that he used to be was dead and gone forever. Before the beast could finish his sentence, more tiny arms materialized from the casket just above my head and began to wrap around my face.
I could barely breathe as the small arms forced their way into my mouth and down my throat. I felt tiny fingers digging under my eyelids and sliding into my skull. I tried to fight back but that was useless. My attention turned back to the Unlucky who was now standing at the foot of my grave. The bastard was laughing wickedly. He got down on his hands and knees and while continuing to laugh, he reached into the grave and hit the lid of my casket, which caused it to fall inward and slam shut on me.
I tried to scream for help but was unable to do so as the small velvet arms crawled further down my throat. I felt them grab my windpipe crushing it and immediately I could no longer breathe.
I shot up from the bus bench seat gasping for breath. Renee calmed me, reorienting me to reality and told me it was all just a bad dream. Even after I was calmed down, I could still feel those tiny fingers crawling down my throat.
Renee asked me if I remembered anything from the dream. I lied to her and told her that I didn't remember a thing, even though I could recall everything in exact detail. She got behind me and wrapped her slender arm around my waist, then pulled me back until my head was resting on her chest. She ran her fingers slowly and gently through my hair until I once again fell asleep.