Saturday, January 26, 2019

Short Story: Dreams

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By Chloe T. 

Dreams are our untapped desires and our guilty pleasures. It's the time our brain holds no morals or restrictions. Like most things however, everything must have an opposite. Dreams can turn into nightmares in the blink of an eye. The once pleasant slumber filled with your greatest desires such as money, family or love, can be the fuel to your biggest nightmare. The perfect women in your dream can end up stabbing you in your own home, the family you cherish could be torn open blood splattered on the walls organs, drooping from their body. In dreams, anything is possible. Some provide pleasant memories, some you wake up from in a cold sweat. There can be no light without the dark. 

I sat in the darkness of my bedroom, my laptop screen illuminating my face with a blue glow. I drowsily scrolled through my book, my eyelids threatening to shut at any second. Sleep overtook me, my eyes closed, darkness coming over me.  

I ran…. roots of the dark oak trees surrounding me. Reached out like the arms of the dead, grasping at my torn and tattered tennis shoes. I stumbled blinded by fear and adrenaline coursing through my veins. My heart beating, clawing ferociously in my chest. I continued to run, no set destination, just running. I could feel a presence behind me, its aura overwhelming my senses with the foreboding feeling of dread and malice. Shivers ran down my spine, the hairs on my arms stood on end. I glanced behind me, seeing a tall figure dressed in what appeared to be a black hoodie and jeans. He held an object that glinted in the moonlight 
I went to glance in front of me when a root gripped at my ankle, effectively throwing me to the ground, the damp soil cushioning my fall. I tried to push myself up, only to feel my body sinking into the earth. The fallen leaves, blades of grass, and the dirt the color of dark brown cowhide pulled me into their depths. My lungs struggled to find oxygen as the soil filled my lungs, a wave of horror washing over me as the last thing I glimpsed was the man in much more detail. The man with a wide smile etched onto its face. 
  
 I shot up from my slumber, my arms and legs flailing to throw my covers from my sweat drenched body. I peered over at my clock, the crimson red letter flashing 3:00 AM. I’ve had the same dream every night for the past month, it always ending with the faceless man. I would never get used to the feeling of complete terror that consumes me during the wretched dream. Not wanting to go back to bed out of fear of the dream repeating itself, I walked, still groggy, to the bookshelf in the loft area opposite of my bedroom door. I studied the rows of books, neatly lined on shelves, trying to decide which one would be my adventure for the day. I decided on The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks. I hummed in appreciation of my novel choice. A romance story always seemed to lift my spirits. I sat in the plush leather armchair situated in the far left corner of the rectangular loft, curling into a comfortable position. 
  
I read until 6:00 AM, when I noticed the vibrant colors of dawn peeking out from the horizon. I tiptoed quietly down the carpeted steps, carefully avoiding the bottom step as it makes a creaking noise similar to that of a rusted gate. I cautiously made my way to the front porch, settling into the tire swing attached to an old oak tree whose branches reminded me of the trees in my dream. It unsettled me a bit, but watching the sunrise was worth the unease. Brilliant shades of orange, red, pink, and yellow mixed and blended effortlessly in the sky, painting a truly exquisite cacophony of colors. I gazed at the sunrise till it was no longer and the sky turned a delicate shade of blue. I unlaced my body from the tire swing, heading back to my house. While walking back I felt as though a pair of eyes were trained on me as I moved. My heart picked up pace, a cold sweat breaking across my skin. Memories of my dream flashed through my mind. Terror once again consuming me. I stopped dead in my tracks and quickly spun around to see the culprit. Only I saw nor heard anyone in the dense tree line that surrounded my home. I continued to my house which only lay a meter or two away, but it felt like a treacherous journey just to make it to the front entrance. Once I reached the safety of the entryway of my house I quickly shut the wooden white entrance door behind me. 
“Oh, Alex, what are you doing up so early? It’s the summer, shouldn't you be sleeping till noon like all the other teenage girls your age?” my dad spoke groggily while shuffling from the kitchen, a mug of steaming coffee in his right hand.  

I glared “ I’m not like any other teenage girl, and you should be happy about that. I chuckled, trying to take the edge off of my nerves. My dad just laughed and continued back to his bedroom. He had one foot into his room before turning around. 

“I meant to ask you yesterday, but can you bike to the store and pick up eggs? I wanted to make omelets this morning, but to do that you obviously need eggs. There's a 10-dollar bill in my wallet on the kitchen table.” With that my father walked in his bedroom and shut his door before I even had a chance to respond. 

The last thing I wanted to do right now was venture back outside, let alone take the forested bike path to the small market about five miles away. I had no say in the matter however. I grabbed the 10-dollars from his wallet, threw on a pair of old tennis shoes and wearily headed out the front door to the unattached shed that was a short distance from the side of the house. The leaves made no sound as I walked, the morning dew making the ground moist to the touch. My nerves stood on edge as I hurriedly paced to the shed, rushing inside the second my hand grasped the doorknob. I unhooked my bike from the rusted chains attached the concrete walls. I procrastined venturing back outside for as long as possible. But the inevitable came as I pushed my bike out of the shed, swinging my leg over the seat and resting it on the petals. I was still dressed in my pajamas but at that moment my mind was only fixated on making this trip as brisk as possible. I pushed off from the ground pedaling hastily.  

I was pedaling for almost 10-minutes when I reached the fork in the bike path. I dreaded the road I had to take, one path went to a complete separate part of town and our county has a policy of no bikes on the roads so I was out of options. I peered at the path to the left, the path that caused chills to run down my spine every time I biked down its dirt road. Ever since the dreams started this path has only caused me anxiety to the point of feeling as though I was have a panic attack. Despite it being midday the path appeared as shadowy as if it was dusk. The thick forest and the dew not yet evaporated had kept the ground damp. I mustered up every ounce of courage I had left, and began biking down the path, careful to avoid the lengthy, chunky roots from the surrounding oak trees. A few minutes passed, my nerves settling, I closed my eyes to enjoy the breeze brushing against my flushed cheeks. It only took two seconds for everything to come crashing down.  

My bike hit a stray root causing my body to go flying through the air. My limbs flailed as I tried to catch myself, only to end up landing in a pot hole of mud. I sat there in shock, not caring about my appearance but more worried about my only way home. My bike. The chain had completely snapped and the tires now sagged as air seeped slowly out. My heart sank as I realized I would now have to walk drenched in mud to the store. I stood, wobbling a little as my nerves tried to regain their composure. I decided I would leave my bike on the path and haul it back after visiting the store. I began walking, sagging my shoulders in disappointment of my journey ahead, mud oozing  from the holes in my sneakers making a sickening squishing sound with each step.  

I walked and walked and walked, the path now seemed to stretch of forever. I attempted to enjoy the scenery but the forest was humid, and the canopy of leaves above casted inky black shadows down at my feet. A wave a dread suddenly rushed over my body. A presence radiated from the tree line to the left of me that made my arm hairs stand on end and my muscles tense. I gradually turned my head towards the dense line of forestry to my left, in the thickness of the Oak I could barely make out what appeared to be a human figure. I froze in fear of the outline, once again memories of my dream flashed through my mind, replaying the image of the man whose skin was white as paper, sockets where his eyes should be, two holes instead of a nose, and a smile carved onto his face, seeping blood from the corners. I ran. I ran as though my life depended on it. My mind went blank providing no logic as to where I should run, I just ran. Adrenaline kept me going, but as long as I could feel the aura of pain and agony I wouldn't stop. 

 I ran roots of the dark oak trees surrounding me grasped at my torn, mud covered tennis shoes. I stumbled, blinded by fear coursing through my veins. My heart threatening to beat out of my chest. I continued to run, no set destination. I could feel the presence near me, it never letting up. I glanced behind me, trying to get a look at the ‘thing’  who was causing me this despair. That one glance had ruined every chance I had.  

I tripped on a long, spindly root which seemed to appear out of thin air. The damp soil cushioning my fall. I panicked looking around me, trying to catch a glimpse of this horrid beast. The all too familiar trees provided no safety, if not fueling the flames of my fear more. One look and I knew my dream, was no ordinary nightmare.  Standing 20-feet away was a man, dressed in a hood and jeans, a glinting object in his hand and…. A smile carved ear to ear on that delicate, paper white skin. 

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