The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Selah Janel
The dream was back.
The dream that was so lucid, it was almost less a dream and more an opening into another world. The dream where nothing existed except the void, where there was no place to run, no other place to escape to. In the dreams there was only gray: gray sky, gray ground, gray shapes. Cold, gray air. Gray, looming dread.
And shadows. Lumbering, hulking things that might be mountains, but could be something else. They were always on the periphery, waiting to spring into form, ready to do…something.
Terrence had had the dreams since he was little. They’d back off for a while, then send him screaming to his parents’ room until they insisted that he was old enough to realize monsters don’t exist. They’d freaked out his roommate in college, made his wife send him to the spare bedroom permanently after a while. He’d tried shrinks, tried sleep aids.
For a while, they worked and made his mind mercifully blank.
And then the lovely velvet blackness inevitably turned gray.
And the thing would show up.
It never had a name, and at first it had been another shadow stuck between the not-quite-mountains. Or maybe they were a gateway.
When he was ten, the thing gained a silhouette.
At twenty, the details began to show. Now, at 40, it was all old hat, but no less horrifying to see the thing staring at him from that gray nothing world. Long, curved horns, long hair, long beard, long ears, long face. Burning, merciless eyes. It was the face of something else, of somewhere else, and every time he had the dream it got closer.
That night, it had gotten so close he could smell it’s reeking, blood-stained breath and noxious pelts. And he’d heard its thoughts.
Rumbling, in a language no man had heard for eons.
It has begun. You will do.
And this time, also unlike the others, it smiled a horrible, victorious smile. And Ted couldn’t look away no matter how hard he tried. There was something in the thing’s eyes, a terrible, conniving secret, and he found himself falling into them.
You’ll do nicely.
That was the point he woke. He should have been screaming, thrashing, running for cover. Because it felt so different, yet so real.
This time, though, he was calm. Relaxed. Strangely triumphant, as if deep down, at long last, he knew the ordeal was over. He left the spare bedroom and slunk into the master to use the john. On the way he tugged the covers up over his wife. A light sleeper, she stirred, fluttered her eyes awake as she rolled over.
It didn’t even occur to him that she was the one to scream this time, and that suddenly, easily, he’d made it stop. It didn’t occur to him that the light creeping under the drawn curtains wasn’t the nighttime outside lights from the street, but a dull, constant gray.
Nothing occurred to him until he flicked on the bathroom light and saw the thing staring right back at him from the mirror, strong and horrible, victorious, and very hungry. He blinked, and watched the thing blink with him. He opened his mouth, and the creature did the same. The thing in the mirror slowly smiled, and to his horror, Terrence found his own mouth moving, or maybe he had moved first, he couldn’t say.
And then Terrence knew he’d never dream again.
Fiction © Copyright Selah Janel
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Author Selah Janel:
Like many young men at the end of the 1800s, Bill signed on to work in a logging camp. The work is brutal, but it promised a fast paycheck with which he can start his life. Unfortunately, his role model is Big John. Not only is he the camp’s hero, but he’s known for spending his pay as fast as he makes it. On a cold Saturday night they enter Red’s Saloon to forget the work that takes the sweat and lives of so many men their age. Red may have plans for their whiskey money, but something else lurks in the shadows. It watches and badly wants a drink that has nothing to do with alcohol. Can Bill make it back out the shabby door, or does someone else have their own plans for his future?