Saturday 28 – Sunday 29 July 2018
Clara’s voice grated on his nerves, especially when she yelled. He hid his head underneath his pillow, hoping to block out any further hint of her voice.
‘Vincent, breakfast is ready.’ Her voice was closer this time, not screaming out from the kitchen but beside him. ‘Honey, you’ve got to get up. You can’t stay in bed forever.’ She touched his hand and he flinched. ‘Sorry.’ She put her hand on her leg. It worried her when Vincent got this way.
‘Not hungry,’ he replied, and rolled away from her.
‘You’ve got to eat.’
‘I just said, I’m NOT hungry!’ The rage in his voice caught Vincent by surprise, and he rolled back towards Clara. ‘Sorry. I’m sorry.’
She was trembling. He could see her hands shaking. There was no point trying to hold Clara; she’d only push him away. Clara said nothing as she took herself back to the kitchen.
When she was gone, Vincent reached for his phone. He checked for messages and emails but there was nothing. He threw the phone down on the bed before quickly thinking better of it and retrieving it from where it lay. Fumbling with the screen, he activated the phone’s Bluetooth pairing with the new speaker he’d bought online the week before. The drum, bass and guitar riffs of his favourite Arctic Monkeys’ song thundered through the room. He heard Clara calling to him from the kitchen to turn the music down.
Pretending as if he’d not heard her, he waited for the chorus to sing out in response, ‘Crawling back to you, Ever thought of calling when you’ve had a few, ‘Cause I always do . . .’
Sometimes Vincent felt sorry for Clara having to deal with his moods, and he’d considered, long ago, that one day she’d walk out the front door and never come back. It was taking her longer than he’d anticipated for Clara to leave. He gave her credit, on a daily basis, for her persistence. He’d have left her the moment the dreams started.
‘Shit.’ Thinking about Clara leaving brought it back to him. They were horrific. In waking life, Vincent didn’t think he had a violent bone in his body, despite his angry outbursts at Clara. But in the dreams, he was aggressive, brutal and sadistic, and he enjoyed it. When he woke, terrified and appalled by what he’d done in the dreams, he often barely made it to the bathroom to vomit. The dreams and his reactions to them were taking their toll on Vincent. His relationships were suffering, or had completely failed, he never had enough energy to get out of bed, and he hated himself. His job was the first thing to fall by the wayside, but he couldn’t honestly say he missed having to face a shitty boss.
Vincent reached under his side of the mattress and pulled out a forlorn, tattered notebook. He flipped through the pages where, every morning, he’d write down any details he could remember about the dream. Vincent stopped at the first blank page he came across. He’d learned something new during last night’s dream. It had been quite different from every other night’s version. Last night his prey had eluded him. Vincent made it all the way through the dream without causing harm or injury to anyone else in it.
He scribbled down as much as he could remember. At the very bottom of the page, Vincent wrote down a name he’d heard in the dream. He repeatedly copied over each letter until it was almost cut through the page, ensuring that it would be etched onto both the paper and his mind. Nyssa.
* * * * *
His feet felt like they were made from lead. He looked around, realised he was in the midst of the dream, and cried. This was not where Vincent wanted to be. He wanted desperately to wake up, but lately, he’d been unable to force himself to wake once the dream began. The best he could do was go through the motions and pray to whatever god was listening to stop him from hurting anyone.
He saw her, from across the street, and she looked back at him, terrified. No, not terrified, Vincent thought, not terrified. Pleading. She’s begging for help. This time, he called her name. ‘Nyssa? Nyssa, wait.’
She screamed and ran. She was fast. He wondered how she managed to move so fast. One second she was there, right in front of him, the next she was hundreds of metres down the street.
Vincent’s lungs were burning by the time he caught sight of her again. She’d run ahead and into a derelict house. He knew how this panned out. He’d race in side after her, she’d scream blue murder, and then she’d be torn apart in front of his eyes. He’d look down at his hands, covered in blood, piss himself with terror, and then wake up in a cold sweat, the sight of the last look on her face burned into his memory.
But not tonight. Tonight, Nyssa had survived. The dream had changed. He looked down at his hands, well aware that he was in the middle of a dream. There was no blood on them. There was no blood anywhere. Nyssa was standing in front of him, alive.
‘What the fuck is this?’ Vincent asked her.
‘No idea,’ she replied. ‘But I don’t think now’s the time for any sort of celebration. And who the fuck are you?’
. . . To be continued . . .