Sunday 22 July 2018
She snuggled down, enveloped herself in the sheets, blankets and thick quilt, and closed her eyes. Nyssa’s nights began the same way now – hoping that her sleep would be devoid of dreams. But it wouldn’t be. It hadn’t been that way for a long time.
Sleep started serenely enough, and then the dream came. Always the same one. An apocalyptic nightmare of death and destruction. She would be mercilessly chased through abandoned buildings and alien landscapes until she found herself unable to evade him any longer. In the hands of the beast her life would end, and she would wake up screaming in terror, sweaty and terrified of a nightmare that seemed all too realistic despite the peculiarities in the landscapes and the people she encountered.
Her grandmother, had she been alive, would have told Nyssa it was an omen of things to come. The old woman had a spiritual bent and did her utmost to ensure she put the fear of God into every single one of her offspring, grandchildren especially. Nyssa had suffered the most at the hands of the old woman. There was a vicious streak in her that found a target in Nyssa, and its effects resonated into Nyssa’s adulthood.
She shifted in her bed, rearranging the bed linen as she rolled onto her side. She tried to relax; willing sleep to come only ever made Nyssa stress, and then there was little chance she’d fall asleep. The sleeping tablets on her bedside table were enticing. Taking two would send her into a drug induced coma for the night. She’d sleep but it would be nigh on impossible for Nyssa to wake herself from the hideous nightmare she’d be thrust into the middle of.
Eyes closed, Nyssa focussed on her breathing. It wasn’t exactly a tried and true method for putting her to sleep, but it sometimes helped clear her mind of all the day’s crap that had the potential to keep her awake. That’s the irony, isn’t it? she thought. If I thought about my day, I’d have trouble falling asleep and there’d be no time to dream. But here I am, willing my mind to quiet so I can get to sleep . . . and dream. Breathe in. Breathe out. In. Out. With each breath, her mind slowed. The thoughts of her day dissipated, and her head sank into the soft haven of her pillow. With each breath, sleep grew closer, as did her dream demons.
* * * * *
Nyssa ran. Through office blocks, neighbourhood houses, deserted alleyways, derelict shops, fields and farmhouses, across beaches and deserts, and always ending up at the same place. Her back to the wall at the bottom of a splintered staircase in her grandmother’s house she waited for him to appear. The beast. Her beast. She assumed it was a he. It’s not as if, even in a dream state, Nyssa had the presence of mind to ask him, the beast, if he was in fact a he. When you were being ripped limb from limb, Nyssa doubted anyone would be concerned with the gender of one’s assailant, particularly not a demonic, supernatural, freak of a thing.
She looked around, wondering where he’d come from this time. Each night, each dream, he’d appear from a different location than the night before. Nyssa knew she was in the midst of the nightmare, but everything felt so real. Any minute, any second now he’d appear and devour her.
* * * * *
The scream woke her. Terrified, she looked around the room for the source of the noise. It took a few minutes for Nyssa to realise that the guttural, primal scream she’d registered in her sleep was her own.
‘Shit,’ she gasped. ‘Shit . . . FUCKING LEAVE ME ALONE, YOU SHITBAG!’ She thumped her hands down on her bed. Every night the same reaction to the dream. Nyssa fell backwards onto her pillow and pulled the sides of it around her head as she desperately tried to calm herself.
The room closed in around her. She could feel it moving in. It was him, her beast exerting his influence in her waking world. Logically, Nyssa knew she was being ridiculous. Instinctively, she wasn’t sure her logical self was making any sense because she knew he was here with her now, in this world. He hadn’t appeared to her in the dream. That was new.
She released the pillow and thought about the dream. He hadn’t appeared. He hadn’t torn her to shreds. He hadn’t been there, in her grandmother’s house, to taunt her so, where had he been? It was different this time. New. Changed. How the hell did I do that? she wondered, not entirely sure it had anything to do with her anyway. Where was he? Why hadn’t he come to her?
Because he’s here, that’s why. She closed her eyes tightly, not wanting to really see what else was in the room with her. It was too late to pull the covers over her head. If he was in the room now, he’d have sensed her vulnerability and it would be seconds until he pounced on her. She counted down in her head. Five. Four. Why am I counting? Three. Two. Shit. Shit, shit, shit, shit. One.
. . . To be continued . . .