Cryptic

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
One man's recurring nightmare.

Submitted: August 02, 2017

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Submitted: August 02, 2017

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Cryptic

 

I can’t sleep at night. It never used to be like this, but that’s the way it is now. My brain won’t switch off, my body is restless, and the drugs I take are useless. Instead, I find myself staring into the void of night, into the blare of the computer screen. My groaning head complains and pulses, but I have to ignore it. Sleep during the night has abandoned me. Now, it only waits for me during the day.

Sleep waits in the corner of my mind like a panther on its haunches. Then, it pounces. I fall unconscious without warning, and plunge into a sleep as deep as any other. It is an inconvenience. I could be sitting at my desk at work, I could be walking down the street. Many times have I awoken to worried passers-by, thinking that I fainted. It’s a bore explaining that I have an incurable narcoleptic disorder. I tell them briefly about it. They do me the courtesy of projecting feigned interest in my explanation, and the exchange ends rather quickly. I’m not a particularly chatty person.

I don’t tell anyone about the nightmares.

They were a gradual symptom of my narcolepsy. I would wake up sweating after one of my faints. My home of Sydney, Australia, is a hot one, but I knew the sweat I shivered out during my blackouts was borne of fear, not heat. I had no memory of what cruelty my mind had conjured for me, so I was able to continue my day as normal. Soon, however, memories of the dream would blur back into my memory. A dank, damp crypt, and whispers of light. Each consecutive time I awoke, I had a clearer memory of my recurring dreams. I can remember it even now – there are burning torches on the wall; a long, endless tunnel; walls of slime-glistened stone. The image is very clear to me now. All I need do is close my eyes and I can see it.

This is what I dream of every time that panther drags me down into darkness.

I remember the dreams of the past few weeks vividly. In particular, I remember falling asleep under the burning sun while gardening. I fell asleep as quickly as if someone had flicked a switch. I was back in the dungeon, and I could still feel the radiating heat of the Australian sun’s bear hug. In the dream, of course, this dark dungeon was all I knew of the world. I walked endlessly down the hall, the scenery never changing. I would strain my ears, and could swear I heard whispers. They were so soft and full of nothing that it could have been an illusion. But the silence was eerie, too. And so I ran. But the dark hallway never changed. I ran in a loop for eternity until I woke up, now under the evening sun, safe in my garden, but shivering.

I’m now going to tell you about the dreams I’ve had over the past week.

Sleep clobbered me over the back of the head when I was watching TV one evening, and I found myself in the familiar hallway. I walked down in a straight line as I always did, my dream-self having no recollection of reality or any other dreams, except this time I was able to turn right. There was a turning that had never been there before. My dreaming self never questioned this, but merely made the turning as if it were the most natural thing in the world. There was a pit, which I immediately wandered into. I fell for so long that I fell back into the waking world. My body threw itself out of my armchair and I found myself on the floor, almost as if I had fallen into the pit, through time and space, and landed on the floor of my house. It hurt, and I had to wait a few minutes before I could get back up.

The next time that spiteful panther pounced on me, I found myself in the crypt, turning right again. I fell through the pit, and landed on the floor almost thirty seconds later. It felt like I landed hard, but my dream self was able to dust himself off and continue his exploration seconds after. There were definitely whispers down here. I could hear them chattering and gibbering across the room. The voices crawled along the walls and spat through the air. The torches shimmered, although there was no wind. I was fearful, but nothing came of it. There were archways here, but nowhere to go. Rusted shut coffins were positioned along the walls, and it seemed like they were welded into the very walls. Faint knocking could be hear coming from some. I didn’t approach a single one of them. A giant chasm opened up in the middle of the room, jagged along the edges as if it had been ripped open by an explosion. I walked to the edge and peered in.  I had the urge to jump, but resisted. Then something pushed me.  I fell and woke up in my workplace, head on my desk and drool over my GOS forms. I blinked in the day, and rubbed away the goosebumps that had erupted over my arms. The air conditioning in the office was broken, and everyone was swimming in heat. But I was cold as ice.

Two days later, the panther of sleep bared its teeth at me, almost sniggering, and then I was out cold. I had gone without sleep for a long time, and I knew I was in for a long journey. I ran through the hall, turned right, fell into the pit, crashed into the room of coffins, and was pushed deeper into the next pit. Cold water splashed over me as I landed in a flooded sewage system, and when I pushed myself up, I began to think a little more coherently. No longer in a dream state, I felt like I was fully conscious and able to consider my surroundings. It was cold in here. Freezing, in fact. I hugged my chest and sloshed through the murky waters. There were things moving in the water, and whispers were laughing and rumbling at me from behind. These two things alarmed me very much, and I took to running straight ahead. The system I was running though was huge and zig-zagging. There were many turns to take and the whispers and laughter never seemed to leave me. They were always behind me. Everywhere was flooded, and dark things rose and dipped beneath the otherwise still water. After my body didn’t want to run anymore, I stopped to catch my breath, and a door that hadn’t existed before slammed shut behind me, and when I turned to look at it, I knew there was no going back, not that I would want to. The door was thick, heavy, metal. Stubborn. I turned back around, and could see only jet black darkness. The sewage system was gone.

‘Welcome back to reality,’ said something.

I awoke with pruned feet and a severe chill that wore my body like armour. I was only dimly aware that I was back in my house. It was just a dream, I thought dreamily. I then drifted from room to room, exploring the house as if I had never seen it before, and hardly had any more cognitive thoughts at all. Even when it was time for dinner I just took chunks of ham and cheese out of the fridge and put bits of them into my mouth, one by one. I stood in front of that fridge for twenty minutes, chewing mindlessly, eyes clouded.

*

I am writing this while my brain is still clear. This is reality, right here and now, as I’m writing. This is where I’ve spent my whole life. That nightmare crypt – it’s just some sort of psychosis. Definitely. But I can still feel the chill of the crypt. I write this note out in the baking sun of my garden. The sun’s dusty haze isn’t an illusion, it’s real. But I'm shivering... but it’s just a cold. I got it by walking through the crypt. No, that crypt was a dream. I just caught a cold, and it’s affecting my dreams. But my feet… they’re still pruned. Am I standing in water right now, or is it because I spent too long in the crypt? It can’t be either – the crypt isn’t real. It isn’t. But my feet… they’re freezing. They’re wrinkled. I can feel the water lapping against them… this, right here, right now, is reality. Welcome back. There are other people in this world, that’s how I know it’s reality. They’re all inside right now because it’s too hot, but they definitely exist, I’m sure of it.

… I can hear the panther’s call…


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