My Worst Nightmare

BedWhat do you dream about? Are your dreams filled with realism or fantasy? Do you remember your dreams when you wake up? I do. I have all kinds of dreams, and remember many of them. Some of them are pure escapism—flying, exploring places I’ve never been to in my waking life, or seeing the world as if through someone else’s eyes. The dreams I remember clearly are the ones that are the most vivid, the ones that seem so real, I think I’m awake.

It can’t be easy sleeping next to me. When I have nightmares, I startle awake, breathing hard. Other times, I’ve said things upon waking, still caught in the fabric of the dream. When I was first married, I had a silly dream about riding in a boat. A flat fish jumped aboard and wrapped itself around my hand. I could feel the slime on its scales, the spines in its fins. I sat up, shook my hand in the air, and yelled, “There’s a fish on my hand! There’s a fish on my hand!” For a moment, before I was fully conscious, I could still feel the pressure of something wrapped around my hand. I must have slept funny, causing my hand to lose feeling, but it was an incredibly stupid dream, and my husband and I had a good laugh about it.

Other dreams haven’t been so amusing. I’ve done battle with a variety of monsters and spooks, including zombies and a killer clown. Usually, my nightmares aren’t too bad, but every now and again there’s one that stays with me long after I’ve woken. I’ve never forgotten the worst one. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen, asleep or awake.

I was sleeping over at a friend’s house, on the floor of her bedroom. In the middle of the night I woke up (or thought I woke up) to the sound of her crying. I looked over at her bed and saw her lying there, trembling with sobs. I sat up in my sleeping bag, and looked around the room, trying to figure out what was going on, why she was crying. I remember seeing moonlight coming through her window, and how it illuminated her desk and bookshelf.

I glanced back over at her bed, and there was a person standing there, watching my friend. I must have made a noise, because the person turned, slowly, to look at me. With a shock, I realized the person looked just like my friend—but it wasn’t my friend. I could see my friend, lying in her bed, still crying and shaking.

The person standing next to the bed wasn’t human. I knew that in my gut, and knowing made my blood run cold. The thing pretending to be my friend resembled her physically, but it was almost like it was wearing a mask of my friend’s face. It smiled, and slowly started walking toward me.

The expression on its face was one of pure evil—an unadulterated lust to hurt me. It shuffled across the room, as if it knew that moving slowly was somehow more frightening than lunging at me, as if it was savoring my terror, feeding off it.

I started screaming. It kept coming, and I screamed the same thing over and over, “Shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!” What I was saying made no sense, but it worked. I woke up for real, my heart thundering in my chest.

I sat up, searching the room for any sign of what I’d just seen. The house was deathly silent. I could see my friend lying in her bed. She wasn’t crying, and no one was standing over her. But the moonlight was streaming in through the window, and in the faint light, the room looked just as it had in the dream.

I heard a soft sound and turned. My friend’s cat padded over to me, curled up on my sleeping bag, and stared at my friend’s bed. I don’t know how long I sat there, petting the cat, trying to catch my breath and assure myself it had just been a dream. I do know I will never forget the look on that thing’s face.

© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2015

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4 responses

  1. Yikes! That sounds just terrible! I have recurrent dreams about being at home, originally always my childhood home but sometimes where I live now, and trying to get away and hide from someone in the house who’s trying to hurt me. The sheer panic in trying to find a place that they won’t find me in is terrible.

    October 24, 2015 at 3:41 am

  2. Oh wow–that sounds incredibly scary. Those kinds of dreams are awful–the ones that seem real and could really happen.

    October 24, 2015 at 4:19 am

  3. Carole Brown

    I hardly dream anymore and they are short. I have always remembered my dreams. I would always dream the same dream probably for 35 years. I was always trying to get away from someone or a group of people. Every time I would end up trapped and the only thing I could think of was to SCREAM FOR HELP or SOMEONE HELP ME. I would wake up thinking I was screaming but it was a very low raspy scream. It would keep me awake the rest of the night. One time my husband and I were having similar dreams at the same time. I was trapped and woke up Screaming and my husband woke up shaking me asking if I was all right. He worked in a foundry and dreamt there was a huge object being moved overhead and the chains broke. The object was falling and when he woke up he thought it was landing on me. He say he never dreams or if he was dreaming he doesn’t remember them.

    October 24, 2015 at 10:50 am

  4. That is frightening, Carole. Having a dream like that for 35 years sounds like torture. I wonder if your husband picked up on your fear in his sleep and that shaped his dream.

    October 25, 2015 at 2:40 am

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