Nightmares can drag a man down into insanity
Sleep is not safe.
At times, dreams may be more dangerous than reality.
Lucid nightmares, for example, are as inescapable and traumatizing as the worst facets of the real world.
The pain that we feel can be as real as in normal life, and sometimes, when we die in our nightmares, it can indeed have real-life consequences.
Like a bad trip, a seemingly contrived or halcyon dream can quickly spiral put of control.
The first and foremost cause of this is in change of perception within the dream.
Without doubt, paranoia is the greatest catalyst of terror within the turning of the minds eye.
I must at this moment apologize for my random wanderings upon this page, and explain the reason for my musing.
It is my most sole belief that every human has a dream-world, as real, and as tangible as the world we live in. I refuse to believe that I am the only one to have lived – to have suffered - under this condition of lucidity, of ethereal permanence within the mind.
I would also like to state that this is not another fictional story that I am presenting, but a rather real, and terrible event that has plagued the every waking and sleeping hours of my life. Everything I type upon this page comes from what I can draw from my memory.
It started as young child.
At the age of perhaps one to two years old, I had my first “lucid” dream, if that is the correct term. Before me was a gate of wrought-iron. It was of the Art-noveaue style, with organic curves bent and twisted into the metal. There was a deep, black fog covering the cold, biting air around me. I remember leaning forward, and touching the cold iron, and having pushed the left side of this great metal barrier open. It left pitch-black ash upon my hand when doing so. Walking through the gate, I looked up to see a large figure looming over me. All I remember before waking up is seeing the Figure, red against the fog of the night, extend a large talon-covered hand towards me.
I woke up crying in my bassinet.
There was another dream I had, some years later, perhaps at the age of seven, of being in the depths of the water. It was the murkiest black. And I was sinking. Drowning, my lungs filling up with liquid, oily ocean water, I was being consumed by the ocean. In an attempt to swim, flailing and kicking around, I flipped around in the water to see a large form emerging from the depths of the darkness. The last of my air leaving my lungs, I witnessed it swimming closer to me. It had the body of a whale and the jaws of a crocodile. A nightmare from prehistoric times, a monster whose mouth was lined with endless rows of curved viscous fangs. It spread its jowls, and in a single, fluid motion, was upon me. The worst part was that the dream didn’t end there. I could feel its teeth digging into me. Shaken around like a ragdoll, I could feel every drop of blood leaving my bones. I fell further into the darkness of the throat of the sea monster, into complete blackness.
I woke up in pain. A numbness filling my stomach and arms, I coughed up fluid from my lungs.
I had, for a while in my sleep, become the very definition of pain itself.
It was not long before these types of dreams became more frequent.
I have fallen from buildings, felt every bone in my body break in agony, explored fields flooded with drowned and bloated corpses. They say you can’t smell in your sleep, or count to ten. But I have. I can smell the stench of fresh graveyard soil, the choking odor of burning, rusted shackles, and, most frequently, the scent of my own flowing blood. I have counted my fingers as they were torn from my hand one by one, the number of bodies in an open grave, and the keys of a shattered piano. Every time I dream, it is in the most photorealistic manifestation equivalent in detail as life itself.
This is not to say that all my dreams are completely dark. I have come to realize that every time I dream, it happens within a world riff with continuity, and it is all linked by a single road within my subconscious. What happens in the dream world merely depends where I am within it. I walked upon this road and I stood again by the seashore near where I was eaten whole, and seen the beast eyeing me from beneath the murkiness. I have wandered by the sides of this long highway surrounded by forests and graves, that recurring place that connects all of my dreamscapes. At times, I can get a glimpse of shrouded figures within the woods, wearing robes dyed red and black, all walking in the same direction towards parts unknown. I once sat with my dead brother, alive and well, sat with him on a hilltop and drank with him while watching people fly kites off in the far distance.
No, the land in my sub-conscious is not entirely imaginary. Places where I have been and lived that exist within the real world also exist within the one in my mind, although they are… corrupted; twisted; changed with their transitions into my consciousness. I had a dream that I was back in a small town that I used to live in. Everything was so… wrong.
Cracks and chasms fill the land. The place that was once my hometown was now home to no one, an absolutely barren wasteland.
The elementary school stood derelict and lifeless in the background, torn asunder, pieces of it lay strewn about. I looked up to the sky to see floating pieces of earth and houses floating in the air.
Blood covered everything, blood and pieces of what used to be parts of people. The sky itself was painted in shades of blood-red, with grey clouds framing what appeared to be a large black circle in the sky, not unlike a total solar eclipse. I wandered the empty streets, feeling alone in this wasteland. I felt that, somewhere in this hellhole, there must be someone still alive; some person that could tell me what the hell was going on. Walking down the remains of country roads, I stopped when I found life, if you could call it such. I don’t think you could. They were a grim facsimile of human beings. They weren’t quite living, not quite dead. They weren’t people. Their skin was… burnt to charcoal. Their eyes were glowing bright red.
And they were hungry.
Staggering down the road, they came after me in droves.
They were Shadow people, inhabiting a Shadow town.
Their open mouths lined with shards of what used to be teeth. Blackened rot remains of tattered cheeks. They set upon me with angry wails. Intent upon consuming me, their mouths opened, dripping with black, viscous fluid.
Through the empty streets I bolted, pursued by an army fit for Satan himself.
Several times, I felt their hands graze my back, and the further I ran, the more of the Shadows followed. I rushed through the woods, out of the town, further and further into the wilderness I wandered. I knew I was dreaming, but I could not make myself run any faster, and I was running out of breath. At last I collapsed on the ground, in a dry ditch, my fate sealed. I was set upon by the monsters.
I died quickly as the first of the horrors dug its teeth deep into my neck...
My mind went black, into a blissful blankness. For a time, I was one with nothingness. Then I woke up.
I awoke in the same state I had been in during my dream, tired and out of breath. My chest was in pain. Every part of my body was in pain. I wanted to still be dead.
This was not the worst dream I would have, and far from being the most painful; the most frightening.
I would say that the worst vision grounded in lucidity I experienced came about a month afterwards.
I have had this dream three times since, and each time, it becomes progressively worse.
In each variation, I am a child. I, my mother and my father are shopping at a store, browsing the aisles and departments of a deceptively small looking mall. Being a child, I am short, standing up to the height of my parent’s waists. The mall seems relatively small at first, and we wander from store to store. Eventually, I am separated from my parents when a large crowd in front of me, cuts between me and them. I run off into the direction I believe my parents to be, only succeeding at becoming more and more lost. As I wander the shops, a most peculiar phenomenon takes place.
All the color drains from the world. It’s a slow and steady drain. For hours I search the mall, and the further I search, the larger the place becomes. For miles I wander, further and further into oblivion. As I wander the departments, it becomes apparent that another peculiarity has manifested itself. Looking around, I see that time itself has frozen still. Shoppers, browsing the aisles have been stripped of all movement, all life. They are stuck, trapped in their motions. I see one man reaching for the products on the shelves, another man, halfway through an elevator door. I pass by a woman who is in the process of spilling her coffee, the individual drops hovering in the air before my eyes. I walk around the corner into a shop that sells glassware. Browsing the aisles, I notice that the bottles and glasses are twisted and strange looking. Abstract, the seeming product of hallucinations, I am compelled beyond my own morbid curiosity to head further still into this strange place to see further these strange creations.
I stop. Manifested before me is the most beautiful mirror I have ever seen. It is trimmed in gold, with organic curves embedded with diamond chunks. It is a work that stands a good eight feet into the air.
Something within me moves me forward. I can’t help but peer into the mirror.
It’s me. But I am horrendously disfigured. My eyes are purest black, my flesh is rotting from my fingers blood pours from my mouth and nose. What disturbs me though, is not the dark reflection of myself, but rather, the reflection of what’s standing right behind me.
Her skin was pure white, with not a shade of life. A cheekless mouth lined with rows of needles instead of teeth spread into a deep, permanent grin. There were no eyes, and I could see something squirming deep in the recesses of its eye sockets. As I still stared into the mirror, It lifted its hand and put it on my shoulder. Long blackened nails on long, bony fingers grazed my cheek. She leans her face closer, down to mine, and whispers with a foul breath into my ear “Run”.
As these words reach me, swarms of maggots burst from the face of the monster, spreading down its long arms and starts spreading across my body. I fling the arms off of me and sprint across the store, past crowds of frozen people. I can hear it behind me, keeping pace, laughing maniacally. As I pass the crowds of people, some their bodies explode into showers of fluid and gristle, others melt with age and rot. As I rush along the storefronts. I see my family walking in front of me. I rush to them hoping to find some form of protection in my family’s arms. As they turn to look at me, I scream aloud as they too are blown to pieces right before my eyes.
In shock, fall to my knees on the floor. Just sitting there in absolute horror as my very own mother decomposes in front of me, screaming and writhing with pain. Maggots flood out of the remains of my father and consume the rest of my mother. I feel a cold hand on my shoulder, and am turned around from this gruesome sight. The tall pale, thin creature stands before me, breathing into my ear...
“You should have kept running."
She proceeds lifts her hand to my throat and slits it from ear to ear with her sharp fingernails. Leaning down, the creature proceeds to open its needle-filled mouth and bite deep into my midsection. I fall backwards onto the floor. Unable to move, I just lay back staring at the ceiling as my body is torn limb from limb. My organs being slowly pulled from me like a gutted pig, tendons and parts of my ribs ripped free from my chest. Lastly, the beast digs its long fingers into my chest cavity, and pulls out my still beating heart. As it tears it apart in its mouth, the world disappears into darkness. Death is cold, and for but a singular moment that stretches beyond the fabric of time and space, I stop being, I cannot think, feel, nor remember, and this is the way it stays for an eternity.
When I wake up, I feel no refreshment from my “rest” instead I have woken to a world devoid of value. I know I will have the dreams again.
Sometimes, when I am tired, I can hear her voice in my ear telling me to “Sleep”, and whispering the unknown drivings of insanity into my mind. I shake my head and down more caffeinated drinks.
No longer can the night offer me refuge from life’s exhaustion.
No longer are my dreams restful are they a place willingly would go. To this day I fight sleep, and only let myself fall when I am certain that it will be dreamless.