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In My Mind, Darkness Waits

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To You, My Reader

So… I know it’s been a while, and I know I said this thing wouldn't drive me to this much hysteria again… but it’s gotten WAY too real now. Without going into too much detail yet, it’s become more than just an annoyance, more than just something I can write off as my own subconscious being unruly in those hours of night I hold so dearly. It’s becoming frightening, very, very frightening… I'm afraid to sleep now. I have NEVER been afraid to sleep, not since my earliest years, not after horror films or scary stories, or anything. I don’t have nightmares, I just don’t. They’re just not possible when I have full control of what I see, hear, touch, smell, and taste as I dream.

So what the hell is making my dreams such horrible places now?!

I’ll… I’ll get to that in a minute. First I should probably give a little back story on my life. Not my life story, just something that I'm starting to realize the significance of right now, in the days I've spent huddled in my bed not sleeping for the first time in my short existence. This isn't going to be some revelation that I was abused as a child, or that I was witness to some form of horror no child should see. This is something more tragic than horrible, causing more sadness than it did outrage. Something that had a massive impact on my life… and indeed is currently having a bigger impact than I thought possible.

My mother… and her tragic passing.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I was incredibly young when she passed, but as little about her as I personally experienced, I still feel like I knew her. This was mostly due to my father. Considering he had to raise me basically from birth alone, he had every night from then on to deal with me if I woke up and started crying. As a child my gift was more curse than boon; imagine what the combination of natural lucid dreaming plus scared toddler equals. This was the only time I remember having nightmares. Only looking back on it now I realise just how much sleep he must have lost out on. One thing this increase in night time visits to my room allowed for was him to tell me stories. And his favourite topic was my mother, once I was old enough to understand the stories he had. So as a result of this I have a good bit of knowledge about her, or at least enough to know what a wonderful woman she was. And as a result I think I grieved for her much later in my life than when she had been taken from us.

I was around a week old when she had died, so I naturally don’t remember anything about her from back then. It was my father who filled in the blanks. He would take me up on his knee and tell me stories about her, and I would listen intently, holding the small locket he religiously wore around his neck. It had a picture in it of my mother’s face, smiling a warm, glowing smile, one of the happiest pictures of her he could find. He told me the of how they had gone to Malin Head, in the north of Donegal, and how they had spent their day there just lying in the sand, looking up at the wispy clouds of one of the rare sunny days in that part of Ireland. This was a couple of months before I had been conceived, and one of the moments I have personally returned to in my dreams, on those days when stress or some other factor had pushed me a little further than was comfortable.

She was, from my father’s stories, an incredible woman. A midwife, and one of the local hospital’s most trusted at that. My father told me how she had been catapulted up the ranks when the head of the department at the time had been injured in an accident, and had named her as her replacement for the time she had to take out to heal. It wasn’t supposed to be her, but the woman had insisted. So naturally my mother had accepted, throwing herself head first into the position and, according to my father, rising to the occasion.

“I’ve never seen her so absorbed in something as when she would be sitting there” my father would say, pointing at the desk in the corner of their room, next to the balcony doors “working through big piles of paperwork and patient files. I would fall asleep, and wake up the next morning to see her lying face down on some expecting mother’s file, fast asleep, with the ink of the paper staining her forehead”

So when the old head of department had to retire due to her injuries, my mother had stayed on. From there I’ve been told a few different accounts of her work after that, but the common theme is that she had delivered almost a quarter of our small community’s newborns personally, and had earned the love of each of those families. I’ve seen the stacks of old Christmas cards, the old file she kept of the pictures she had been sent from new mothers of their baby, even the old baskets of many fruit and muffin hampers from newly happy families. In a town as small as the one we lived in, that kind of thing made you a local hero. People would smile and stop her in the street for a chat, or invite her and my father out for dinner, just because she had been the one to deliver their little bundle of joy into the world safely.

But one thing my father later admitted was that he suspected my mother’s dedication had come from something much more personal than simple ambition or a love for the people of the community. They had been trying for a baby themselves for years, with little success, and he had a feeling that she was as committed to her job as she had been as a sort’ve substitute for the child she couldn’t get herself. I remember his voice when he had said this; a strange mixture of nostalgia and remorse, with a hint of unreasonable guilt. He knew, he said, that it wasn’t his fault. Nor was it hers for that matter. But he still had that little bit of guilt, as irrational as it was, that she had gone without a child of her own for as long as she had. But eventually they had managed me, and (he smiled so warmly it used to bring happy tears to my eyes when he said this) he never saw her as absolutely happy as the day she found out she was expecting.

But the most important discoveries I made about my mother, and the thing that had finally let me come to terms with her loss, was her diary. A small, leather-bound, elegant book that I still cherish, in a box under my bed. I’m holding it right now, as I write this, and even now I find myself smiling as I thumb through the old pages, her slightly scrawly writing more of a comfort than anything else I have tried in the last few days, which is odd, considering what I’m about to tell you. At first I was apprehensive to take it when I stumbled across it looking for a pen. It was in my mother’s old writing desk, at the bottom of one of the lower drawers. I had hesitated, my fingers inches from the worn leather. I didn’t want to just breach her privacy like that; it being her diary after all. But something made me take it anyway, just even to have it. It had a lock on it as well so I couldn’t read it even if I wanted to.

It’s only recently that I actually accessed any of its contents. It had fallen, you see, and had hit the hard wooden floor of my apartment’s bedroom. When I had found it, the little padlock had been shattered by the impact, and the old pages had been slightly scuffed at a part near the end. I couldn’t not read it. I know I shouldn’t have, I know how wrong it’ll seem to many of you reading this to be as bold as to read my own mother’s private thoughts, but as guilty as I feel there is something more important right now than me kicking myself for being a bad person. And that, readers, is the pages that were open when I had found it.

Y’see, originally I hadn’t meant to read the thing. All I had meant to do was to try and smooth out the pages that had been crumpled in the fall, the ones near the back of the book. But I had absent-mindedly been smoothing out a page at the start of an entry when I read the date. It was about a week into what, if my memory serves correct, would be the first month of my mother’s pregnancy. AKA, this would be around the time when my mother would have found out that she was going to have me.

Now bare in mind that this was around the time that that thing had really been rearing it’s ugly head in my dreams, and had been getting more and more active, moving and walking around, interacting with the people around it. And close to this point it had started… hurting them, tripping them down stairs or simply batting them aside with a long, fiery arm. It had even killed a few, simply lashing out with a tendril of the same dark substance its body was made of and crushing them or impaling them, I won’t go into detail, more for my sake than yours, I know you people can handle it.

But naturally I was pretty freaked out back then, and because of this I found myself remembering back to what my father said about how happy my mother had been when she had found out she was expecting. I wanted to read her entry from back then, but I didn’t know the date. So I started from the page I was fixing. You have no idea how much I regret reading what I read. You do not know the sheer terror this brings back as I sit here, right now, writing this. I tell you now, I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t scared for my very life, wouldn’t be writing this if I wasn’t worried I am in danger. And I am only this fearful because of what I read in those last entries. Here is the one I think illustrates my point the best:

“January 14th, 1991,

Dear diary,

You would not believe the day I have had. Patient 184, a miss Maria Nightingale, has left us. She died last night at around three in the morning, after we took her to a private room for monitoring. She’d given birth to a healthy, if a little sickly looking, girl. And within the space of an hour, we had to restrain Maria. Something must have been terribly wrong with that woman, because I’ve never seen a case of post-natal psychosis I have seen in all my years. I swear, it was like a switch.

I wasn’t there for the birth, but I saw her once or twice, and he seemed fine. The next thing I know I’m being told she’s screaming, raving about something in the corner of the room, saying things like “It’s watching me” and “I’ve failed it” and, the most disturbing one of all, “Don’t let it kill me”. Naturally I rushed there as soon as I could, but by the time I got there she’d been sedated and was fast asleep. I told the others to leave. I had a free schedule anyway so I thought I may as well make myself useful. I kinda wish I hadn’t, though.

She woke up at around half one, and I didn’t get to her until around two. I could see the distress on her face as soon as I got there to send Trisha off, and she was more than happy to leave. She explained that Maria had been trying to tell her that there was a monster in the room with them, and had been trying to describe it. Trisha gave her a piece of paper and a pen, and the woman had been scribbling ever since.

This woman was in her early thirties, pretty, and looked about twenty five, and the look of terror on her face aged her about thirty years. She kept glancing up at the far corner of the room, then back to the page, then back to the corner again. I asked her what she was drawing. “It” she replied, pointing over at the corner with a shaking hand. When I asked what ‘it’ was, she just pointed again and shouted “You can’t see it either! Dammit!” she turned to the corner again, and this is verbatim what she said:

“What the hell do you want from me!? I can’t change it, I can’t! I didn’t know, I’m sorry! Just don’t hurt her, don’t hurt Viola!”

Naturally I restrained her and took the paper away, trying to calm her down. When she saw the sedative again she started squirming “Please don’t put me to sleep again. It’ll get me if I sleep again!” I didn’t really want to put her through anymore stress, she just had a kid after all, but there were other patients in the rooms around her, so I just gave her the injection and waited for her to sleep again.

Just before she nodded off, though, she jolted wide eyed, whimpering at me, tears in her eyes and said “Oh god no… No… It… Its coming after you now… I am so, so sorry. So so sorry, It… It needs a new… a new…” and she drifted off. Freaked me out to no end, Diary. She sounded like she truly believed she had done some sort of harm to me.

I couldn’t stop staring at the picture she drew though. No wonder the woman was distressed, if this what what she was seeing in her delusions then I can understand the terror. Those eyes and that mouth, enough to make you shiver. It was just a big, black, man shaped thing, with those eyes and mouth. She had scribbled all along it’s outline but I don’t know why. Poor woman, I’d be screaming to if I saw that thing.

And what was that bit at the end, where she started talking about me? Ah well, I can’t exactly ask her. Her heart gave out as she slept. She must have been in worse shape after the birth than we thought.

Shame, her daughter is so pretty. She didn’t give any official name to the poor girl, but she said it was Viola, or at least she said it was when she was shouting that time. Viola it is. Viola Nightingale… has a ring to it. Her father couldn’t be found so she’s going to her legal guardians; her aunt and uncle I think. Still, I won’t be sleeping tonight… all very creepy.

On an unrelated note, I’m feeling a bit… odd these days. I’m short of breath a lot, like when I climb the stairs at work, and I felt like I was going to be sick at five in the morning yesterday. My back is sore too. I really need to get more sleep, I can’t afford to be ill, there are at least three women due in the next two days, and I don’t trust Trisha and Joan to handle it. I’ll take some time off soon.

Meredith”

...Now I don’t think I need to point out the horrific little tid-bit there at the end of the entry, do I? That… that sounds a lot like the thing in my head and I’m starting to bloody panic, because I’ve never seen these god-damned page before and yet I’m seeing what sounds like the same thing that woman was seeing before she died. Before. She. Died. And from the sounds of things she’d been seeing it before too. She had been seeing that thing before she had had her child. And it sounded like she was trying to apologize to it. For what, though? Wheat would something like the thing in my head care about a newborn baby?

Regardless, It’s been… it’s been getting worse, since I read that. It looks… happier, almost. It’s outline is more distinct, like it’s gotten more solid and less… ethereal. I’ve been actively trying to avoid it now, and it’s making my dreams more and more into what feels like some twisted game of hide and seek. I try and hide from it, and it slaughters pedestrians in it’s way until it finds me. And when it does, all it does is smile, wave, and stare. Unblinking. I’ve even tried pulling some damned Inception-style moving-the-world crap on it and it didn’t work. I made a wall appear in its way, it walks through it. I make the street fill with fast-moving cars, it walks through them too. Just last night I made a bus drive directly behind me, blocking it’s line of sight, and it used those tendrils to pick the bus up and throw it out of the way.

I panicked, I screamed at it, I shouted, I cursed, I even tried to bring the bus back, but I couldn’t. I thought the bus back into place, it through it away again. I did it again, it lifted the thing and crushed it into scrap. And it just stood there, smiling, and staring.

But all of this is meaningless compared to what happened next.

I shouted at it one last time.

“What do you want from me?!”

And it cocked it’s head to one side, and smiled wider, before walking closer. Close enough that it could have reached out and touched me, and said

“I want the same thing I always have, the same thing I wanted from your mother when I found her all those years ago. I want YOU, John.”

It laughed that silky laugh, sounding so much more evil now, rather than the almost seductive tone it usually took.

I whimpered “What do you mean?”

It stared unblinking at me with those glowing eyes, and finally said

“All in good time, my dear boy. Soon you will understand. Like I said years ago, in that old house, like I said to your mother when you were born… I have been waiting AGES for you.”

And with that it began to walk away. As it did, it turned one more time, and chuckled

“It is a pity, though. I would have liked your mother to be around for this. Pity she reacted to badly when I told her. It is a shame… Oh well, eggs and omelets I suppose. See you tomorrow night John.” It turned to face me and brought it’s horrible hand to it’s mouth and blew a kiss “Now wake up, sleepy head”

I woke screaming.

You see, I never told you how my mother died…

She fell off our balcony on the day she was released from the hospital.

I.. I need some time away… I’m going home, back to my father, maybe he can shed some light on this… I’ll write back soon, once I have my head on straight.

Yours, my readers, John Black.

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