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The mind has always been considered by some to be the only truly private place of refuge. A place where no one can enter or influence directly without your consent. A place where you are the master of all happenings and occurrences.
Up until a few weeks ago, I would have agreed.
You see, when you sleep, you have dreams, and some dreams aren’t as… nice as others. These bad dreams are usually passed off as nightmares and are sometimes thought to be the result of an overactive imagination.
I used to think so too.
It all started, about a month ago. I had just gotten into bed, when I got the strange feeling that there was someone else in my room with me.
I looked around and, of course, there was nobody in the room. I shrugged it off as irrational paranoia and went to sleep.
My dreams that night were rather odd.
The dream began in a building with many windows that let in the moonlight. The building was huge, almost like an abandoned office building, except everything was nice and clean, as if the place had just closed for the night. There were personal artifacts from people I didn’t know on some of the desks, and an odd feeling that I wasn’t alone. Despite the peaceful enough setting, the air felt thick and suffocating, as if the world was holding its breath, waiting for… something to happen.
I wandered through that building for what seemed like ages, looking for a way out, or for some sign of life, only to find more empty rooms and dark hallways.
This dream alone would not be that unsettling, but it wasn’t just that dream. Every night when I went to sleep, I would have this dream, except every time, the building would feel slightly older, and more unnaturally still.
I was beginning to become used to this routine, it didn’t bother me, it was just an empty building.
Then things took a dark turn.
It began while I was walking through the building, which by this time was looking like it hadn’t been occupied for several years. When I noticed that the desks were no longer looked abandoned and neat. They looked like they had been ransacked, many of the personal effects were now strewn across the room, as if the owners had left in a hurry without taking their belongings. Many doors were closed, and felt as if they had been barricaded from the inside. And there were some ominous red stains on some of the floors, especially under the doors that seemed to be locked.
Then He showed up.
I began to hear whispering from behind the closed doors, and footsteps behind me as I walked through the building, but whenever I would turn around, there would just be the dark, empty room or hallway. The building continued to deteriorate, and the footsteps and whispers became louder every day. The whispers seemed to be telling me to get away, to find an exit, to not give up.
Believe me, by this point, the exit was all I wanted to find.
It got so bad, that I decided not to sleep one night, I would just stay up and watch TV in my living room, just to take a break from my recurring nightmares.
It helped for a while, until the delusions started happening.
I would see the dark figure out the corner of my eye, but when I turned my head, there would be nothing there. At this point I was pretty confident I was losing my mind, how can a dream follow me into the real world? Even still though, things were better while I was awake, I just would see it in the outer ranges of my field of view, but that was it.
But of course, I had to sleep sometime right?
Two nights later, I was too tired, I couldn’t function without sleep, and my work performance was going down. As much as I dreaded going to sleep, I rationalized that nothing in the dream could actually hurt me, and if I confronted the fear creature in my dream, I would be able to overcome it.
At least, that’s what I wanted to think.
There was no mercy for me that night. As soon as I fell asleep, the dreams began. The building was so decrepit and worn that ceiling panels had begun falling and papers and carpets were rotting. The red stains had grown more numerous, and a smell of rotting meat had begun to invade everything. These things were only secondary facts in my mind though, because the dream had changed. From the beginning, I started running, the footsteps didn’t sound far off anymore, they sounded real, and close. The whispering had stopped and the building was silent and felt alive.
And I caught a glimpse of the thing chasing me for the first before I began running.
He was tall, thin, the mere silhouette of a man wearing a tailcoat and top hat, standing straight as a post. He had no features except two large round eyes that glowed white like the moon, burning my soul with their icy flames, and a large smile, with no detail of teeth that appeared out of nowhere from his black shadow of a face that seemed to span the entire width of his face, glowing with the same intensity of his eyes. Before I turned and ran from the rapidly approaching figure, I received an image of this glowing mouth and eyes mounted on the shadows of his body, and felt that I could not overcome this, and that it would not leave.
I ran, desperately searching for an exit to the maze of a building. I sped down stairs, past doors, and over the scattered and broken objects, looking for an exit.
At some point I realized that there was no exit, that there was no way out of a dream that I didn’t control. Yet I still ran, and ran, and ran, fleeing from the dark apparition that followed me. Sometimes it would seem that I had outrun the thing chasing me, but it was always there, constantly falling behind, then catching up, as if it was playing with me. No matter where I hid, no matter how fast I ran, the thing would find me, it would let me get away, and just keep following.
Eventually, I couldn’t run any longer.
I ran into one of the rooms and shut the door behind me, but when I turned, there he was, standing in the center of the room. His smile was gone now, and his face was devoid of anything except his blazing, icy eyes, all traces of amusement now gone. I tried to open the door again to escape the thing, but the door was now held closed by thin black shadowy threads.
I tried to move, but found my feet sewn down to the floor by the threads.
I tried to close my eyes, but they were held open by the threads.
I tried to scream, but all that escaped me was a ragged whisper as the threads wrapped all around me.
I became a puppet.
I was left with nothing but the fear, and the pain of the threads that dug into my skin. I could see my blood as it fell at the bottom of the door, seeping under to the hall beyond.
Then, I hear someone in the hallway outside, walking around, tugging at doors, and wandering.
The whispering started.