I've often had strange dreams, most relatively tame by modern standards, some not so much. Like many of you my mind shaped by Barker, Lovecraft, and Koontz I've developed a sort of shield to most things "creepy" or "scary", with Slenderman becoming a sad old hat, the rake falling out of favor, and awful stories like Jeff the Killer being so popular I've wondered what most you you genuinely find scary.

As it turns out, not much (this being said with mature authors in mind, not 10 year olds who watch marble hornets and think, "Golly, I need a change of trousers."

I aim this at you who are versed in fictional horror, you who in the 90's stayed up late to watch hauntings and UFO docs on history and discovery. You who attempted to tell your friends at school all about that ghost/monster that lives in the thicket of woods beside your house. Bless you

At the time of this occurrence I was 15, my world was a futon on the floor, an ocean of soda cans and cigarette ashes and butts, dirty clothes, writings, carvings, and magazine cut outs on the walls. Often I would turn on the clock radio and put classical music on, I always set the volume low as to not wake anyone, double whides have thin walls you know.

Night after night, I would sleep alone save for the roaches that frequented the soda cans, my mind filled with angst teenage babble, forum arguments over Slayer vs. Decide, why Kittie sucked and blah blah, the usual misguided youth who found solace listening to music that displayed aggression and dark imagery; books and .pdfs abound of horror stories from before my time.

Movies which quite frankly were more suspense than horror, all filled my mind with a sense of what I imagine was comfort.

It's easy to go towards dark themed images and words when they are simply that, with all the talk of brutality and evil, its hard for a young mind to think deeply on the subject of fear or pain; especially when films like the August Underground trilogy exist, these things all add up to the same thing, a view of such things askew and warped. One night however, I learned a few things.

It was only a dream, nothing more, but the imagery and feelings were so vivid, so powerful, just thinking of it again gives me chicken skin. I remember it starting with what I assume to be a hallway, the only visible thing being a dark maroon light in the distance; as I grew nearer I realized it to be a doorway, before entering all was silent, numbing almost, as if my ears were ringing, without the ring.

As I passed the threshold a sound of chanting caught my attention, dull and muffled as it might have been, it was just enough to be noticed, the rooms seemed spacious and bare, save for an alter and something resembling a makeshift furnace; upon first sight the room, empty, red, and essentially nonthreatening didn't offset me mentally or emotionally, I was simply confused as to what exactly was going on. I had turned back to see if I could make anything out in the hallway with the light now to my back, but to no avail.

When I turned back around the room had been inhabited by what I figured to be monks of some sort, what with the course brown robes, hoods, and chanting it seemed logical. They stood 'round the alter, and seemed not to notice or acknowledge my presence, curious I carefully stepped closer to peek, mindful of my footing as to not make noise or move to quickly and draw attention.

I noticed a gap in their circle and made my way around for a good view, with the stone wall to my back I looked down in shock. Never before in my trashy, elitest life had I ever seen something so awful to freeze me, before me on the alter lay a woman, split as if field dressed; the skin around the stomach and ribs had been peeled back, the ribcage broken and folded in the same way.

Now before this I had only seen organs and entrails in paintings and movies, this looked nothing like that, they looked yellow and infection green, the lack of liquid blood lead me to think the creator of this mess had finished a while ago.

The paleness of the skin wasn't what I expected of a corpse, its pigment seemed almost painted; the face was without expression, as if she were simply reading in a waiting room. I newborn child rest in the cavity. I stood there, still frozen, not fully recognizing what I was looking at, never had I seen something so vivid, something so real.

In my statue-esque state I hadn't noticed to noise building up, at some point the room had become filled with ferocious chants from what I assume was the monks. I didn't recognize the language but by the intensity of their tone I inferred they were growing somewhat feral; the once poised monks began to jolt and quake.

They're movements irregular and untimed, spasms and grunts filled the room with an air of chaos, I felt as if I were falling, the fight or flight response came into mind, but fear of provocation kept me still. Amidst the noise and twitches I noticed the crying of a child, looking down at the veiny, blue tinted child I noticed it was still alive.

Even now I'm not sure what possessed me to do this, maybe the heat of the moment, might have been some sort of western societal programming, but for some reason or another I flung myself down to grab the child; just before contact was made the woman sprang to life and grabbed hold of my forearm.

The grip was so tight I thought she'd break the bone if she so wished, the pain made me aware of my surroundings, my shock now dulled slightly, I realized the monks staring me down, the dim light and their hoods made the shadows glow damp red. For a split second I felt numb almost, as if the fear had become sublime; I was quickly reminded of the immediate danger and struggled to free myself from the grip of the woman. With all that I am I tugged, and struggled, and torpedoed myself in every which way, but for not, her grip was too intense.

Thankfully something drew her attention and I was able to slip free, as I tried to avoid the inevitable gauntlet of burlap clad specters I felt a tug at my ankle, one of the monks had fastened his large apelike hand around it. I feeling of cold water shot down from my scalp to my chest, as I fell to the ground, they descended upon me viciously clawing and punching, as if animals to a fresh meal, their grunts and howls accompanied by their ferocity lead to my first break of silence.

I screamed and struggled, in panic I attempted flailing my limbs in hopes of maybe knocking at least a hand from my body; this only made it worse. I felt like my skin was being ripped, not from the clawing but from the sheer force of their strikes, it seemed with each blow I felt a crack, or rip, or loss of feeling, or a sense of internal leaking I suppose is a term to describe it. All that crossed my mind was an end, this surely couldn't be permanent, no god nor simple whim of fate would allow an eternity of such a thing, surely. After what seemed to be an eternity, it ended.

I awoke to the green glow of my clock radio and the sounds of the London Philharmonic, no cold sweat, no moving thing in the room save for my roaches, no laughter, no eyes, no whispers. I lit a cigarette and examined and can of soda for any insectoid intruders, I took a big drink, and filled my lungs. In hindsight, I don't actually remember my original thoughts on the matter, nor my feelings.