Nightmare: A Short Horror Story, by Louis Hamm

Reads: 205  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 1

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
Dreams are curious things. They can take us to the place were we've always longed to be. But if we are not careful they can turn into nightmares. And sometimes, they can get out of control.

Submitted: January 02, 2012

A A A | A A A

Submitted: January 02, 2012






A Short Horror Story


by Louis Hamm



April 5th, 1996


I had a funny dream last night. It was funny weird, not like comedy, and not like anything I had seen in my sleep before. In my dream I found myself in a very dark place, surrounded by trees. Everything else was barely visible, overshadowed by a thick fog, which began to settle only after I became aware of my surroundings. As I gained vision, I began to explore. I was in the woods, and it was midnight, with a full moon set just above my head. The floor was damp, covered with rotten leaves and wood. It took a while for me to notice I was barefoot. My uncovered extremities began to lose feeling, and after a while, the chilling sensation began to take over my whole body like water freezing in a lake. I had to find a source of heat. After wandering for what seemed an eternity in  my dream, I found an abandoned campfire in the entrance of a gloomy cave. Too exhausted to be really thankful, I took a log from the surplus wood, used it as a chair, and sat there for a while, hypnotized by the dancing flames. I thought of fire as a sentient being, with a will of it's own, it's only ambition to keep burning. As I observed the fire, I noticed something in the cave. I turned my head and saw two ruby-red eyes looking at me, motionless. I looked back at them for some time, with a mixture of fear and curiosity running through me. A breeze suddenly killed the fire, and everything became engulfed by the dark. Only the red eyes were visible, and for the first time I thought about them observing me instead of me observing them. And if this were true, how long had they been observing me? Who did they belong to? As this thoughts poured over me, the eyes began to move, and my fear grew. At first, whatever belonged to the eyes moved in circles around me, but after some time, it began to close in on me. I suddenly realized I was soaking wet. As I looked around to see that rain had begun to fall, I felt a warm breathe on my neck. Lightning struck, its sound deafening me while its light let me see the owner of the red eyes. I cannot remember what the face looked like. I only know it was horrific enough to wake me up.


I woke up drenched in sweat, frantically searching for this old notebook, which I improvised as a diary. Dr. Howe, my childhood therapist, had once told me that I should write down dreams like these. But that was many years ago.


I don't remember my childhood very well. I would rather forget the little fragments I do have of it. I remember having horrible nightmares every night, caused by a horrible fever, which had confined me to a hospital ward. I remember the loneliness, the fear. I remember the nurses; treating me like if I were toxic waste, like if they were going to contract cancer from being close to me. I remember the fear in their faces. And I remember him, the only person who held my life together when it fell apart. Dr. Howe, the only person who talked to me, who listened to me. A special kind of bond was created between us. A sick kind of bond. I let him peer into my nightmares, and in return I was eased from my solitude once a week. He was quite young to be a therapist, I thought. He was maybe 25, max. But despite his age, he had cured me from my sickness. The nightmares vanished, with the sickness, at the sweet age of 20, and I was allowed to finally step out of the ward and for the first time, I had the chance to rebuild my life


It has been 30 years since my last nightmare. So I have promised myself that if I have any more, I will write them down here.



April 7th, 1996


I had a dream again tonight. It was the same one as last time. Yet there was something different about this one: I was not alone in the forest; there was somebody else. I saw her by the fire. She was an old lady, but her age did not prevent her from keeping the fire alive by throwing heavy logs into it. She looked in my direction and when she noticed my presence, she vanished into the cave. The same cave from which the scarlet eyes gazed.

I cannot recall whom the face belongs to. But I know I have seen her before. Even now that I'm awake my mind cannot find a name for that face. Its pointy nose, its small mouth, the wrinkles, nor the shallow opacity of her eyes bring a name. The more I try to remember, the more evades me. And it drives me crazy.


There was something else different from the dream two days ago. This time, when the lightning struck I did not wake up. I saw its face. I saw its huge, yellow, crooked teeth, dripping a fetid liquid that looked like a mixture between drool and pus. I heard its growl, the sound of a thousand muffled screams of agony. My mind told me to run, but my body was frozen still. I looked deep into its red eyes, which glowed like the blazing wood in the campfire. No, they glowed like hell itself. The beast looked back.


I read somewhere that things that happen in our personal lives influence our dreams. Dreams are our unconsciousness, sending messages to our conscious. If the dream continues, I will have to do something more than just write about it.



April 15th, 1996


For the past week, I have woken up from the same nightmare at least two times every night. I had lost my notebook, my diary, and I had been unable to record them. Not that it made any difference, with every dream being almost exactly the same as the other. I saw the same old lady, looking at me, and then going into the cave. I was observed by the same ruby-red eyes. The same lightning uncovered the face of horror. And each time, after I woke, I felt the same frustration flowing through me, not knowing whom the old lady was. I'm sure I have seen her before. That face, I know it.


I visited my therapist, but it was pointless. He couldn't find and explanation for my visions. I must find someone else. I wonder if Dr. Howe is still working. Or if he's even alive. I must search for him. I must find him.



April 18th, 1996


I had a different dream tonight. It was in the same forest, but this time it was during the day. I did my usual walkthrough, but when I got to the campfire, it was out. In the sunlight, I noticed something I hadn't noticed before. The campfire was in front of a majestic lake. In the darkness, I hadn't been able to see it. I stood there for a while, just enjoying the beautiful view. I could've stood there forever had I not noticed the scarlet stain by the ashes of the campfire. It was some kind of liquid. The stains made a path, which led into the cave, dark by night, but bright by day. I became a statue for a while, frozen in place, trying to gather up the courage to finally go into the hole from which my nightmare came out every night. I felt the heat from the sun on my skin, the daylight telling me it was safe to go in. As I followed the path of carmine stains, I noticed something inside the cave. It was far away and I couldn't figure out what it was, but it looked like a foot. Soon, I was close enough to prove that my sight had not fooled me and that what I was seeing was, in fact, a foot. A foot still attached to someone. I moved slowly as more details unveiled. The body was wearing pajama bottoms and a navy blue sweater, which had more of the ruby-red stains. The pants and the sweater, just like the lady, seemed familiar to me, but just as my mind was about to tell me who they belonged to, my sight gave me the answer. I saw the body's face, and once again my body froze. The whole thing was a mess, but the features were still recognizable. I knelt down by the body and turned him, the sensation that I was looking into a mirror flowing through me. His face was mine, my traits his. I took a step back and tried to figure out what was going on. The whole body was a mess, covered in blood; the torso ripped open, guts spilling out. The neck was torn up, and I was sure that if I touched the head again it would fall away from the body. The hands had acquired the color of blood, covered in holes that looked like bite marks from a wild dog. The legs showed the bite marks too, but with large pieces of flesh ripped from the thighs. Vomit traveled from my stomach to the back of my mouth, but I held it in. Then I heard a mumbling. The body, which I thought was dead, was trying to tell me something. I looked at him and he looked at me and I made out two words: get out. I had not fully understood what he meant by this when I heard a growl behind me. The beast. I turned around and as soon as I placed my sight on the red stones he had for eyes, its paws tackled my chest.


I woke up abruptly, submerged not only in sweat but also in fear. My heart was racing. I felt a pain in my torso and stumbled to the bathroom. I took my shirt off and stood in front of the mirror, contemplating the marks in my chest.






April 20th, 1996


I found him today. He lived in an old house downtown. It took me some time to track him down, but time I could spare since I wasn't sleeping; the fear of sleeping keeping me away. I spent all night looking through the phonebook, until I finally found him. Lawrence Howe, once a recognized therapist, now a discontinued 70-something living off his retirement fund. I called him today at 8:00 a.m. He seemed confused, but after I gave him a quick summary of what has been going on, he agreed to see me at 10:00. I arrived at his house and saw the same face I had seen 30 years ago, buried underneath a well preserved and proudly displayed white beard. After greeting him, as it is proper with an old friend that has gone missing for three decades, I explained him what was going on with more detail. I even showed him this diary. After reading my entries, he told me to stay put, and went to his room, looking for something. He came back with two small containers. One held sedatives, the other, antidepressants. He told me to take one of each before sleeping, and one antidepressant at noon, and that the nightmares should end. The pills reminded me of my days in the ward. But those days were over, and now, for the first time, I thought this could be too. He handed me a book about dreams too, if I wanted to read it. Maybe I'll read it tonight, before sleeping. I hope to God this works.



April 21st, 1996


There were no nightmares tonight. I dreamt, I know that, but I can't recall what it was. Something happy, I'm sure. I hadn't slept like that in weeks. Yesterday I saw Mike. Like Lawrence, I hadn't seen him in years. I finished reading the book. It talked about "lucid dreaming", the state of dreaming where one is aware of their dreams and is able to control them. It also talked about how dreams are only in our heads, and how they could not harm us. Reading those words gave me a sense of peace. After all this suffering, I finally feel in peace.


May 1st, 1996


It's just about midnight now, but I had to write this. I don't know what triggered it. Maybe it was the pills, maybe not. But something snapped in me, for some reason it all just came back to me: the old lady, the forest, the dream, the nightmare. It all began when I was very young...


"Now!" my dad shouted, as I swung the tire swing as high as possible, guiding my jump into the lake. Summers were always fun at Lake Rosewood. It was hot, but the water was cool. The warm breeze gently tickled everything in its path. The evenings were charming, and I thought the night sky was the most beautiful thing there could ever be. It was all great, stupendous. I never thought anything would change. I never thought anything could change. But it all did.


Death is a funny thing. It comes when you least expect it; in the moment you least need it. It takes you by surprise, and once you finally realize what is happening, it's too late to do anything about it. A car accident is what got my dad, and a foster home is where I ended up. It was horrible. The air was cold, the food gross, and the people were terrible. And I could have stayed there, if it hadn't been for this one, very old lady. She was awful to me. She beat me every chance she had, mocked me in every way, and during the few moments where I seemed out of reach, she did what she could to remind me of my father's death. It all became too much, and one day I just snapped. I ran away, I ran to the forest where I used to camp with my dad. Iremembered his lessons and built a campfire next to an old cave. This would be my new home. It would all be perfect.


I never understood how she found me, but she did. It was almost midnight. I remember the moon was on top of the sky, round as a white eye observing the land. I was in the cave when I saw her by the campfire. I know not what took over me, but it infiltrated my soul and I became something else. A demon? A beast? Without taking my eyes of my guardian, I picked up the heaviest rock I could handle, ran at the old lady, and smashed the rock into her skull with all of my strength. She fell, and I continued to smash my improvised weapon into her over, and over, and over, and over again. When I was done, she was unrecognizable No more pointy nose. No more small mouth. No more shallow eyes. No more wickedness.


I realized what I had done just before a group of teachers from the foster house emerged from the woods. I was already running when they found the cadaver. But the woods were dark, and my vision poor. I fell down, twisting my ankle and they found me. They dragged me into a hospital. They tested me. They tried to make me good. They ruined me.


Now I remember. I never had any fevers, I was never sick. There hadn't been a hospital ward, only a mental ward. A madhouse. And the nightmares were caused by what I had done, nothing else. No, they weren't nightmares: they were memories.


I tried calling Dr. Howe already. He had known everything all along. He doesn't answer. I'll try tomorrow morning.


May 2nd 1996


It happened again. I did all that Dr. Howe told me: I took my pills. I even Re-read that book he recommended me. But it was all futile, pointless, useless. As soon as I closed my eyes I saw the same horror I have been seeing night after night after night. The sedatives only made it worse, making me unable to wake up when the beast finally caught me. I felt his every bite, smelt the bitter odor from his mouth, saw the glittering flames incinerating his eyes. I felt its paws hitting my face, leaving behind burning stripes of blood. In my dream, I stood in front of the beast, and the beast stood in front of me. The pain was so real, the dream so vivid. What is more, when I woke, the room smelt of wild dog and burnt wood, the carpet stained with paw marks. The book said this wasn't possible, but the book was wrong, and so was I. I thought the nightmares were over. No, the nightmares are still here, and they are as real as the air I breathe. I tried to contact Dr. Howe, but he is nowhere to be found. His phone line is disconnected. I tried looking for him at his home, but when I got there he was nowhere to be seen. His front door had been forced open and the inside of the house was a mess. I would have believed it was a robbery had I not seen the scarlet stains in the shape of the beast's paw, leading to a bloody pile of flesh and bones that had once been known as Lawrence Howe.



May 3rd, 1996


I just woke up from another dream. It was like the other ones, but when I was looking at the fire, I remembered the book I read about lucid dreaming. I remembered I was in control. I really thought I was. I had taken one of the logs from the fire, anticipating what was about to happen. But I could've never known what was coming. There wasn't any wind this time, nothing to put the fire out. The beast crawled out of his cave, standing on two legs, it's human-like resemblance filling me with fear and the need to puke. It howled in the light of the full moon and snapped at the hand I was holding the log with. It must've landed somewhere near a patch of dry leaves, because in just seconds the whole forest was on fire. The beast grabbed me by the neck, and threw me against the fire. I felt the flames lick my body and heard the sizzling sound of my flesh burning. “It’s all a dream” I told myself. “Wake up, wake up, wake up” I screamed. But the nightmare wasn’t over. I woke up only to find huge flames engulfing every inch of my house. I have ignored the danger and hurried to the diary to write this down. As I do this I have the feeling I am not alone.


Could my dream really have escaped my mind? And if it did, where is the beast?


There's something rambling in the kitchen...


I heard a growl on the stairs...


It’s coming closer...


Somebody save me.



© Copyright 2018 Louis Hamm. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:




More Thrillers Short Stories

Booksie 2018 Poetry Contest

Booksie Popular Content

Other Content by Louis Hamm

Popular Tags