by Lady Idela1
Monsters in the dark? It happens all the time in our dreams, but never in reality. Right?
|Sara Higgins lay awake in bed again. The dreams wouldn't stop and all she wanted to do was slip into sweet, oblivious slumber, but the churning in her mind had other ideas. Her eyes were hot embers, but she refused to give in. Her gaunt body no longer resembled the woman she once was. She stared at her limp, blonde tresses as they dangled over the bedside. Loose strands swayed in the breeze of the vent above like tentacles grasping for their prey. Sara longed for rest, but prayed it wouldn’t come until this nightmare was over. She dared not face the demon alone - not again. So, she laid still and listened to the ticking of the clock. The weight of her eyelids grew with each resounding tick. She blinked - once, twice...
The hairs on her neck stood up and a chill iced its way down her back. When she had fallen asleep no longer mattered. She glanced at the clock, which no longer ticked and plastered itself at three-oh-one. Dread churned in her gut until a wave of nausea threatened. So dizzy. Why was she so dizzy? She knew the answer the moment she asked herself the question. He was here.
Sara's pounding heart pumped blood at record speed through her veins. She gulped in breaths making every effort to fill her burning lungs and calm herself. Why her? Why did he always come to her? She looked around, but the shadows in the room would not betray him.
Maybe, hoped Sara, maybe it was her imagination after all. Maybe he was nothing more than a nightmare - a figment of her imagination. Was it possible to have a nightmare without sleep? Surely it was. People fantasize all the time. Surely nightmares could be had outside of sleep as well. While she considered the possibilities a quiet shuffle resounded from the corner, startling her. She stared and held her breath while she waited.
"Sara," a soft whisper called. Sara trembled. Her breath steamed the air above her. So cold, she thought. Why was it suddenly so cold? She clasped her hands together and tucked them between her thighs to warm them.
"Wh-who's there?" Her eyes sought the source of the voice, but found nothing. Her chest ached with heavy anticipation.
Just when she thought she could stand it no more, a low, garbled growl reverberated from the foot of the bed. Sara jumped and cupped her hands to her mouth to stifle a scream. She peered down, afraid of what she might find, but needing an answer. At first, there was nothing but darkness. Then, as if sensing her thoughts with a mind of their own, her blankets rose and conformed to a misshapen figure. It rubbed its way along the sheets toward her. Its breath against her skin was an icy contrast with the warmth the blankets offered. Then, she felt it, slick and cold as it inched its way up the length of the bed toward her. Sara opened her mouth to scream, but no sound came out. Trembling, she squeezed her eyes shut and waited for what seemed like an eternity for the thing to emerge. Bile burned its way up her throat and threatened to expel itself. Sara wanted to jump from the bed and run, but remained in place - belted down like a prisoner.
“P-please,” she sobbed, “P-please, n-no.” It stopped. A low, harsh laugh answered back. She realized now that this was it--the demon had come to kill her this time.
Panic took over and she gasped for air, but it was no use. The harder she tried to breathe, the less oxygen her stinging lungs received. Each breath was little more than a squeak as the figure crept over her and settled itself over her waist. The pressure on her chest released and she was finally able to breathe again, sucking in great gulps while she still could.
The figure sat up and the covers lifted. Sara opened her mouth to scream. She thrashed and flailed and clawed at the bed, but her efforts were futile. The dratted straps wouldn't budge. Aware of her predicament, an anger welled up inside of her. She wasn't sure where it came from, but neither did she care. If she had to face her fear, she would face it with all the strength and willpower she could muster. Sara jerked her head and faced her tormenter.
Two lumpy, black horns spiraled up and curled out to either side of the creature's large, bald head. Red glowing eyes glared down at her. He sneered, baring a mouth full of sharp teeth. A smooth, black stone bound by a short leather rope clung to his neck. His slimy, brown skin was covered with thorny protrusions and oozing pustules reeking of decomposing flesh. A smooth, dark loincloth was tied at his waist. He was a horrific specimen and one that Sara tired of fearing.
“Sara, tonight we are one.” He sneered. “Tonight you become my bride.”
"Oh, I would never agree to that," Sara spat, "never."
“Ahh Sara," He whispered and reached for her face, but Sara turned away from him. "You shouldn’t fight me. You should be pleased that I chose you." He said, amusement filling his voice. "Remember, I spared you." He grinned.
Memories crashed through Sara's mind. A necklace. She had purchased a necklace from a street vendor only learning later that it had been stolen from a grave. The police had already retrieved it. That should've been the end of it, but it wasn't.
“Go away.” Sara demanded. "Go away and never return."
The creature laughed. "You're command is lacking. You can't get rid of me that easy. Besides, I brought you a gift." He removed the stone necklace from his neck and inscribe a symbol into it with his claw. The inscription ignited for only a moment before turning black once more. He held it in his palm and offered it to her. Sara turned away.
"No!" Sara said. "I don't want it. You keep it."
“It’s too late to turn back now.” The creature said.
"You can't force me to take it. I can deny your gift just as I can deny you." Sara spat each word forth and glared at the creature. Who was he that she should be bound to him? She wasn't bound to anyone. She had free will, God-given free will and it was about time that she use it.
Sara watched as the creature coiled its necklace on her chest. The stone warmed her skin. Sara twitched and jerked trying to knock it off of her body. Yet, despite her desperation, all attempts failed. The stone re-ignited and the rope that was tied to slithered up and around her neck. She tugged at her confining straps again, desperate to break free, to knock the dratted creature off of her, to claw the stone from her neck, to get out of this situation, but the straps refused to budge. Sara screamed in anger and frustration and called out to God. Then, something happened - something magnificent, something that even Sara would never have believed had she not witnessed it herself. Her straps, the thick, leather straps that bound her, secured her and held her broke. How, Sara didn't know. There was no logical reason for it - none at all and yet, break they did. Suddenly free, Sara wasted no time, but pushed the creature off of her and leaped from the bed. As she ran for the door, she clawed at the necklace until she broke it loose. She took the stone, still hot in her hands, and flung it back at the creature while she stood, this time, and faced him head-on. Memories flooded her of her past, a past she had long-forgotten, a past steeped in religion and rich in servitude to her god, the Christ.
"You will never defeat me and I will never join you. You don't own me and you never will! Now, leave foul creature! By the blood of the lamb, I command you!"
The creature hissed. It spat. It bared its teeth and claws. It crouched down and prepared ran toward her. Sara stood firm and held up one hand and spoke the words again, but this time, with more authority. The creature stopped, was thrown backward toward the shadows. After a moment, the ticking of the wall clock began once more and a small, but growing light flooded the window. It was done. It was over. The nightmare was over and she had won. Satisfied, Sara walked toward the door of her small room and exited it for the last time, unseen, unhindered and untouched. Free. She was finally free.