Have you ever experienced a reoccurring dream before? People or places from a previous dream seem to appear over and over again when you sink into the irresistible grasp of sleep...

You'll dismiss it as your mind processing data. Your worries, problems, things you desire, all seem to make an appearance when you close your eyes, sometimes subtly and subliminally, sometimes clear as day - lingering in your mind as you wake from your slumber.

When I was little, I had this one dream that I would constantly have at very random times. To me, it seemed like when you go into your attic or basement and find an old box of pictures or tapes. Every time I'd forget about this dream - a dream so surreal and eerie - it would arise again, as though making sure that it was remembered.

In this dream, I would be hidden behind the sofa in my living room. The only sound was the sound of loud, echoing footsteps on the creaky stairs of the house I lived in at that time. I didn't know who or what those footsteps belonged to, but I was terrified. The only thing I could do was hide, and hope that I was not discovered by the thing I feared most.

This dream has since stopped appearing in my sleep.

What I didn't mention, is that throughout my life, I've had a strange way of being able to feel pain in my dreams. Even emotions. As though I'm really not dreaming at all... I had a method for escaping nightmares, where I'd just close my eyes as though I was attempting to go to sleep in my dream, and sure enough I would awaken. Now, at seventeen years of age I am still having these dreams, dreams where I recognize the places I've been to before in my surreal dreamscape.

A most distinctive place I have seen many times before, is area's that I am very familiar with. This would include places such as the road I live on; the field I would play on with my childhood friends, the route home from the secondary school I attended, but all these places, are slightly warped and wrong in some way... The intersection on my road would lead to nothing but a grove of cherry blossom tree's. The downwards slope on the field would lead to a dark and swampy forest. The route home would lead to somewhere on the other side of town, far away from my destination.

Each of these places added a sense of... unfamiliarity. One of my dreams included me being a survivor of some sort of zombie apocalypse. I'd gaze out of my window, several walking corpses roaming my street. The street where a grove of cherry blossom tree's grew directly opposite my house. Another; I'd be playing with my friends in the field where I had so many memories and fun times. I'd wander off, only to wind up in the middle of a dingy, foreboding forest. Lost. Not knowing how to find my way home. There was another of these dreams, then another, and another, getting more elaborate and entwining the familiarity of places I knew with the unfamiliarity of an eerie and mysterious presence.

I remember clearly now, the most terrifying dream since the ones that plagued me as a child. As though those footsteps had come back to punish me and haunt me for forgetting.

This one was set in my house. Right across from the cherry blossom tree's that weren't supposed to exist.

It started with me staring out of my window. There was no intelligible reason for why it started out this way, only that I was meant to witness what was about to happen outside. And what happened made me dread ever having to go to sleep again...

Not instantly, but slowly, the street began to get darker. The only way to explain it is to say that it was like when a very large cloud passes over your head. Everything gets darker for a minute or two. But as I looked between my curtains, directly across the street, everything began to turn black. A shadow devoured the sunlight that had recently been cast across the area. Like the daytime instantaneously turning to night.

Only when I heard very loud, very echoing footsteps on the concrete outside, I regained my senses.

An ancient fear arose inside of me. I felt the fear I hadn't felt for many years. And as I quickly snapped the curtains shut and moved away from the window, I heard something that could only be described as extremely thin fingers, tapping on the glass.

I gasped. Closed my eyes shut. Nightmares like these were easily evaded by using the technique I had used whenever situations like these started to happen.

But nothing.

Now all I could hear was the tapping, accompanied by the pitch darkness of my eyes being closed as tight as I could close them. Why wasn't this working? It had always worked in the past, even in the most dangerous of situations.

The front door began to rattle. Something was grabbing the handle and shaking. Trying to break the door open from the outside. I began to sob at this point. A grown seventeen year old sobbing like a child from something as simple as a nightmare. I was paralysed in fear. And as the window pane suddenly began to creak and burst, causing the window itself to shatter onto the floor, I could only look on as a thin, dark, figure emerged from outside.

I could hear its raspy breathing. The pounding on the door downstairs suddenly ceased. And as the figure lifted itself onto my window pane just so that I could see its face, almost as if taunting me...

The only thing I could make out were hollow, lifeless eyes. Almost staring into my soul. The rest of its face was engulfed in swirling darkness. The figure started to pull itself up onto my window, trying to climb into my room to drag me away to whatever hell it was that awaited me.

Just then, I woke up.

I had finally been able to put a face to the haunting footsteps I had heard many times as a child.

The footsteps I can hear right now, climbing my stairs. And there's no place to hide...