Every so often I have a stretch of nightmares, ranging from two or three nights in a row to a full week. Usually, its something weird, I wake up, and then its done and I’m over it; back to sleep ago. There is one that bothers me, one that makes me scream out in terror and forces me awake in a cold sweat.
I’m alone and its usually either late at night or the sun has just dipped beneath the horizon. I’m always walking, comfortable within my surrounding, yet aware of every sound, shadow, breeze that gently brushes against my face. Its a residential area of some sort usually, winding sidewalks, trees, I pass by doors and cars without a second thought. Sometimes I see him as I’m walking; I make eye contact, nod in his direction, make sure he is aware that I know he is present. I walk by but turn to look back and he is there, following me. My heart races, it becomes increasingly difficult to breathe. He grabs me, takes me, I wake up. I wake up knowing I was lucky, I didn’t have to deal with the ending. Not this time.
Two nights ago I fell asleep and started walking. It was dark, I knew I was in a familiar place but the location seemed less important and my subconscious couldn’t really figure out where I was; that didn’t matter, I was comfortable. The usual lights were on, everyone was asleep in their beds and I was headed to my car. I was focused on the warmth of the evening, how the stars above me twinkled and the breeze helped to cool the still warm concrete. I didn’t look for anyone this time, didn’t feel a presence beyond the knowledge of so many around me in their homes. I’m grabbed from behind, a firm grasp on my arm tugs me back and forces me to face a stranger with hungry eyes and disgust etched into his face. The fear kicks in, heart racing, can’t breathe, I try to scream but I can’t find my voice and it sticks in my throat as he pins my arms to my back with one hand and covers my mouth with the other. I struggle, its the least I can do, and I know that no one will see him take me. I don’t wake up. Things get darker, I try to focus on finding my voice, to continue fighting but I’m getting tired and light-headed. He frees his hand from my mouth and rips into my clothing like I’m a shiny present on Christmas Day. I struggle but its no use. I can’t wake up, the dream continues. Its not until its too late that I find my voice, suddenly my throat opens up and I find myself struggling harder, fighting. I scream, at first it sticks in my throat, but when I try again it comes out clearly, smoothly. This is when I finally wake up, finding myself safe in bed and shaking, the scream I let out in my sleep always wakes me up and I can tell I’ve been talking throughout the dream and I’ve physically screamed myself awake. I’m fine, I go back to sleep realizing it was the nightmare and understanding the escalation of the situation; somehow I’m revealed it finally panned out. I have a slight hope the dreams end now. I didn’t wake up any of the boys when I screamed, but I warned them all to wake me if they ever hear me talking in my sleep. I go on about my business, I don’t let it rule my life.
A few moments ago I made a run to Walmart to get a pie pan to make Justin’s cake. I didn’t think, I just grabbed everything and jokingly thought to myself ‘don’t forget your phone in case you end up not coming home’ and ‘maybe you should leave a note in case you go missing’. Subconscious, what are you doing? I walk out the door, down the stairs, and open the door to go outside. It hits me like a ton of bricks. The familiar place is here; the parking lot of the apartment complex. The suburb environment, winding sidewalks, the breeze in the evenings, the usual lights; its the walk to my car. Something feels heavy in my chest and my heart begins to race, but I’m not dreaming. I hold my keys as I always do, to be used as a weapon if need be, prepare myself to run, but as calmly as I can muster I walk to my car. I’m aware of every sound, every movement of shadows, I pay close attention to the bushes and every car and apartment door I pass. I don’t look towards my car as I unlock it with the remote, I’m turning around and monitoring my surroundings. Once I get in the car I lock the doors and force myself to remain calm. Its not worth overreacting or making a scene. I get into Walmart, get my shit, get out. Back at the apartment I consider parking in the boy’s spot so I have a shorter walk to the door but decide I should just park in guest as I’m supposed to. The same, cautious walk back to the door and back up the stairs as my adrenaline pumping. I lock the door behind me and can breathe again.