I don't remember when the nightmares began. It feels like they've been plaguing me for so long, I've forgotten what it feels like to get a restful night's sleep. Every night, I relive the same horrible ordeals—it's gotten to the point that I dread going to sleep every night, but I just can't seem to stop myself. I just can't stay awake...
My name is Anna. I'm a pretty typical high school girl... scratch that, I'm completely typical. Normal house, normal neighborhood, normal family, normal friends, normal education. Nice and normal, just the way I like it. The only thing that's really abnormal about me is these dreams I've been having lately. When I first told my friends about them, they laughed and said I was worrying over nothing. Dreams can't hurt you—put your mind on some happier thoughts and eventually the nightmares will go away. Since then, I've tried to follow their advice. Really, I have. I've been nothing but cheerful at school, led my normal family home life... now that I think about it, nothing in my life has changed recently. Nothing in my life has really changed, ever. I've been living just the way I have for as long as I can remember. Why did I suddenly start getting these nightmares now? None of it makes any sense. There's no reason for me to be having dreams like these.
I still remember last night's. Luckily it was one of the tamer ones, comparatively speaking, but it still robbed me of a perfectly good night's sleep. I was chained up in a dark, stone room with no windows and one iron door. My dream self must have been kept there for days, because it smelled of my own... leavings. Eventually, a dark-skinned man came into the room and dropped a bowl of foul-smelling food in front of me. It was covered in mold, and consisted mainly of what looked like scraps of what his master must have thrown out... but my dream self didn't care. I ate the food eagerly on all fours, like I had done before. I didn't feel hungry—it was just a dream. I couldn't even taste the mold. Maybe my dream self was just desensitized to these sensations, or maybe I'm just overthinking things. I usually can't taste or feel acute bodily functions when I'm dreaming. My friends find it weird that I can smell things, though. I wonder if that's not normal. I hear most people don't even dream in color, so maybe there's something at least a little special about me after all.
It's been almost a week since I took their advice of having a positive outlook, and I've finally decided that it isn't working. I need to talk to someone about it—I mean really talk—and I don't really feel comfortable talking to my parents about the kinds of dreams I'm having. I haven't told my friends any details about what actually happens in the dreams yet, either, but today I'm going to talk to them about it. I just need someone to listen, to know what I'm going through.
I told my friends about the dreams, leaving out some of the messier details. They just started making fun of how weird and twisted I was inside, calling me a masochist and pervert, bondage queen... they were just joking, of course. I knew that, and they knew I knew it, but still. I wish they had listened to me more seriously. I guess part of having such normal friends is that they don't really know how to deal with abnormal things like what I'm going through. Maybe they're right, though. Maybe I am just a pervert, with some weird, suppressed desires or fetishes or something that I don't know about and are manifesting themselves in my dreams. But then I recall the awful, terrible things I've gone through some nights—there was no way that I wanted any part of that; not me and not any part of me, no matter how deep down it was. There was a word for these dreams, and that word was "nightmare." There was nothing glamorous about them. If the nightmares continue, I'll try talking to them one more time. Maybe this time they'll actually listen.
Last night I was in the same room again. This time, I was chained upright, hanging from the ceiling, with a ball gag in my mouth. Once again, I was naked, like an animal. My body felt weak... you know, like when you try to punch in a dream, and it feels like you're punching through water, and your muscles just don't react and move like they're supposed to? My whole body was like that, totally unable to kick or struggle or put up any kind of fight. Then, the dark-skinned man came in. This time he was accompanied by his master—a man in a white stage mask who I'd dreamt about once or twice before. Those were always the worst dreams, and when I saw him walk through that door, my heart sank, as I knew that this was not going to be a pleasant night. It was easy to tell what he wanted. As the dark-skinned man lowered me just so on my chains, the masked man began to violate me, just as he had in the past. I couldn't resist at all. I knew it was pointless to fight a nightmare. The affair must have lasted for several hours, in dream time, but fortunately, it felt to me only like minutes. I submit myself to the inevitable, and just like that, it was over, and again I lay, weak and naked on the cold, stone floor. The two men left the room with an amused banter, and in my weakened haze, I gradually woke up to reality.
The first thing I thought after waking up was, "What the hell is wrong with me?" The whole "depraved masochist" argument might start to actually hold water if I keep having dreams like this. I knew I couldn't tell my friends about this one. They would just hold it over my head, with an onslaught of "I told you so"s and joking insults until I finally dropped the subject and we inevitably started talking about something more mundane, like the new guys at school or that falafel stand that just opened up nearby. For now, I just had to grit my teeth and bear it. The day passed like any other boring, normal day, and before I knew it, I once again found myself lying in my bed, dreading what was to come but knowing that there was nothing I could do to prevent it. After all, it's not as if I can just never sleep again, right? I hear that supposedly a person will die if she goes more than 10 days without sleep. Or maybe that was water... could be both, maybe. Whatever. I'm too tired to think about anything like that right now. Just too tired...
Last night's dream was even worse than the one before it. I was strung up again, but this time I was whipped; beaten, by the dark man. Apparently I had done something to offend his master, and even though I had no idea what it was, I apologized, and I apologized, over and over again, I apologized. My efforts were wasted, though. It was plain to see in his eyes that he was enjoying striking me, and the only way it would end was when he had had his fill and finally felt satisfied. Each strike of his whip stung in that weird sort of dream-pain that you sometimes feel in really, really realistic dreams. It wasn't one of those things where you don't actually feel anything and just suddenly jump in your sleep because your body flinches in reaction to what it thinks is coming, but an actual sensation of pain. Or, not really regular pain, but more of a sort of stinging, numbing sensation... Is it weird that I can feel things like that in my dreams, but not feel hungry? I'm also able to go to the bathroom in my dreams without having any "accidents" in real life. People tell me that's weird, too. Maybe I'm not as normal as I thought I was. But I suppose that's been made pretty obvious by these messed up dreams I'm having, hasn't it? When the dark man finished his gleeful onslaught, he dropped me very suddenly and violently to the floor, then kicked me and walked out of the room. It looked like my dream self wasn't getting any moldy supper tonight. As I lay on the ground, weakly rolling in my own self-pity, I hazily awoke once again.
This has to stop. I'm going to tell my friends the whole story today, without censoring myself, and I'm going to make sure they understand how distraught I am by all of this. I really need someone to listen and be there for me right now; I just need to know that someone cares, so I won't feel like God himself has abandoned me anymore. I'm going to meet them in a private place after school today. Maybe the third floor landing—no one ever goes up there for anything. I'm going to spill my guts and tell them everything, and if they still don't take this seriously, I'll make them, no matter how long we all have to stay there and discuss it.
I had the weirdest daydream in class today. I really must not be getting enough sleep if I'm conking out at my desk. At least this time it wasn't one of the nightmares I've been plagued with for so long. Seems I only have those at night (hence the name, I guess, huh?). Still, it did feel like it might have something to do with them. It was a hazier, more surreal sort of dream than the hard, easily-recollectable sort that I've grown accustomed to having of late. I remember being on an island... a very seedy, run-down island, like Somalia or something. Not that Somalia's an island, but you know what I mean. I was bound and gagged (seems to be a common theme) and surrounded by men wearing bandanas for face masks. In front of me was a small rowboat, and offshore there was a much larger vessel stalled atop the waves. I don't remember how I supposedly got there, but I think I remember being on a vacation, or something. You know, there's always that sort of dream-omniscience that lets you know things that you shouldn't know because you didn't actually dream about them. One of the masked men poked me in the back with a rifle, prodding me onto the boat. Another man, this one taller and darker than the rest and wearing a different kind of mask, got in the boat with me and started rowing me offshore towards the anchored ship. There was something kind of familiar about him, but I woke up before anything else happened. I was a little shaken up by my dream, but I still determined to talk to my friends and get them to understand what I was going through.
I managed to get them all up to the third floor landing of the school's stairwell and corner them there. I told them that I really needed to talk, and that this time, I really needed them to listen. They looked at me curiously, and I started telling them everything. All of the horrible details of what I'd been going through night after night after night—the abuse, the rape, the beatings, the vile conditions, and even some really gross stuff I haven't mentioned up to this point, like when I dreamt that the masked man made me clean the whole floor of my cell with my tongue. That was probably the worst one. All three of them stood in awe by what I was describing to them, and when I finished, they just stared at me, like I was crazy or something. Who knows? Maybe I was crazy. Maybe I just needed them to support me so that I could STOP being crazy. But life is never that easy. Their eyes lowered in a sarcastic sort of glare, as all three of them looked at each other, and then at me. They told me that there was just no helping me. They said that they had tried to be supportive, and to hear me out as I talked about all these crazy dreams and "perverted crap," but that they had just had enough, and that they didn't want to be involved with this anymore. They told me I just wasn't worth it. My heart sank when they said this. My friends... or, these people I thought were my friends, anyway, had abandoned me. They were my only support, and now they were gone. They walked back downstairs, telling me to just leave them alone from now on, and there was nothing else I could do. I was now alone in the world. No friends, no parents...
It never occurred to me until just now, but I just realized something. I can't remember my parents' faces. I must see them at least daily, every morning at the breakfast table, and every night at dinner... but... I can't remember any of that, either. I can't remember ever getting up, getting ready for school. I can't remember eating breakfast, saying goodbye to my parents, or coming home to see them after school. All I can remember is being here, at school, with my so-called friends. That, and lying in bed, either having just woken up from another night's terrible ordeal, or anxiously awaiting the one to come. Where did all the rest of the time go?
And just like that, I awake.
Now, here I lay, on my cold, stone prison floor, unable to feel the hunger that eats at me, or the pain of my scars left from yesterday. I can smell the horrible stench of the room that surrounds me, and it is here that I realize that I have been abandoned, left to the mercy of my cruel captors. I don't remember when the dreams began. For a while, it felt like I would be able to find escape in them forever. But now, as I lie, weak and forlorn, the only comfort I am able to provide myself is found in three empty little words:
"I am real."
Written by Xelrog T. Apocalypse