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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/1172740
Rated: 18+ · Fiction · Horror/Scary · #1172740
There are dreams that should never be remembered. This is one of them.
The Dream


There are dreams that hide inside us like bats in a cave, dreams that know only the night and feed upon the pale glow of the moon; bad dreams, that have made a vessel of the darkness and sail across the long nights looking for someone they can inhabit. Terrifying dreams, that enter us like a cold wind and dwell there driving the dreamer to despair, madness, or even death. Most of these dreams have never been told because words are unworthy of the task.

This is one of them.

You have been warned . . . . .




John Kirby realized that Death was nothing like he imagined it at all.

In fact, he found that people went out of their way to dress it up and call it something else, something other than what it really was. Like the way a mortician dolls up the newly deceased with Cover Girl foundation and rouged cheeks, but then dresses them in their finest clothes as if they were bound for a big business meeting rather than a long season of decay amid the roots and worms. John discovered -- realized -- that Death disguises itself as nightmares, and hides within our dreams. The memory of these dreams dogs our everyday existence, and pesters us the way we tongue an aching tooth.

He found that there are three different kinds of dreams: those that begin; those that pause in the middle; and those that never end.

John was having the latter, a nightmare that waited patiently for him as he dropped into sleep like a pebble sinking to the bottom of a lake. It throbbed there like a living thing within him and its darkened landscape lay stunned to the slow beat of his heart. As it roiled inside his mind seeking a place to belong, John felt a terrible sense of loss and grief. His teeth were clenched tightly together, and his face pinched as though he were in pain. On the verge of tears, he was like a child that has been locked away in the dark. He tossed and turned, and then settled down uncomfortably into unfamiliar territory within a neglected room that was locked, hidden, and gathering a skin of dust.

Sheila was there, as she was in all his dreams since the horrible accident. He found himself sitting upon a pile of journals and loose papers within the center of the darkened room and listened to the slow ‘thump-drag, thump-drag' of her broken body as she jerked and stumbled forward like a drunk puppet.

John cringed, knowing what was to come. A hoarse, lost cry escaped his lips--the cry of someone hopelessly ensnared within a grinding nightmare. Several large crows cawed from an old, gnarled branch just above him as if startled awake by a lightning strike. Sheila hesitated, looking up at the birds with hatred, and then came closer amid their grating shrieks. John watched her from the corner of his eye, too terrified to look directly at her.

She was completely naked, her battered frame bending oddly to one side and bleeding from hundreds of open cuts and wounds where the shattered windshield had exploded in upon her. Her head hung forward as she came, and her long, auburn hair covered most of her face. A gaping hole, six-inches in diameter, sat above the swell of her bosom where she had caught the twelve-foot piece of steel railing from the trailer of the truck.

"John..." she uttered in a gagging moan, her lips drawing back from her chipped and jagged teeth; she wore a beard of fresh blood that oozed from her once perfect mouth as she spoke.

Overcome with dread and grief, John lowered his head between his knees and pulled desperately at his hair, praying he would wake-up. Not again . . . please, not again. What in God's name is happening to me?

"John?" she called. "It's me. Aren't you glad to see me?" Her voice gurgled and sounded as if she were choking on her own blood.

"No . . . no, you're dead. Go away!" A moan passed his lips as he shook his head in denial.

She stopped in front of him, wobbled, and then opened her arms. In a muddled and graveled voice, she said, "But I've missed you so much, John. Come on, give me a hug."

The thought of embracing her sickened him; there was something obscene about it, something unwholesome and unclean like an infected sore that won't heal. "No! No, please, leave me alone!"

Her eyes sparkled and her lips drew back in a narrow smile. "Aw, Johnny . . . what's the matter?" she taunted. "You look like you're gonna cry." She lifted his chin with her bloodied hand.

He shrank away from her. "It's nothing . . . nothing at all," he said, but then a single large tear spilled over from the corner of his eye and rolled down his cheek.

She bent toward him, the tendons in her neck creaking like the hinges of a rusty screen-door. He could smell the stench of her rotting flesh and see her torn breasts sagging down before him--breasts that he once cuddled and loved. It was more than he could bear, and he moaned again.

As if she could sense his thoughts, her nipples began to grow tight and harden. "Come on, John, you know you want me. It's been so long."

He heaved a sigh of defeat, his shoulders slumping forward. It was the sound of a man who realizes he has not glimpsed light at the end of the tunnel after all, or of someone who understands that nightmares never go the way you want them to.

Unable to stop himself, he rose to meet her; saw the splintered bone and tattered flesh hanging from her chest. Her dark, hollow eyes met his gaze, and, as if in a trance, he reached for her mangled form. "Oh God, Sheila, why is this happening?"

Her eyes cleared for a moment, and her face appeared relatively normal. "I tried to hide it, John, but they want it. They want it!" Then her head jerked as though pulled by an invisible string. Whatever battled inside of her had won control. The wicked grin returned and she moved into his arms with a soft fleshy sound.

"That's my boy . . . " She puckered her cracked and bleeding lips and kissed him full on the mouth. Her tongue shot down his throat, suddenly gagging him with its abnormal length, and then with her serrated teeth, she groaned like an animal and bit down upon his lips.


He awoke screaming, his arms flailing out in front of him as if he were trying to fend off an attacker. Sobbing like a wretch, his face as pale as paper, he fell back into his sweat-soaked pillow. "God . . . please, no more dreams."

John felt as if a network of cruel steel hooks were ripping his horror-struck soul apart. His heart pumping in his chest, his blood-pressure somewhere over the moon, he rubbed at his face and tried to wipe the dream from his mind. His hands came away smeared with blood. "What the hell . . . "

Shocked, he ran into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. Both his lips were bleeding, and he thought that perhaps the nightmare had caused him to bite himself. But on closer inspection, he noticed the bites were cruel and vicious, forming a perfect circle on the outside of his mouth. How could I bite both my lips at the same time? He shuddered, and something stirred uneasily in him, something like common sense which might have spoken if he had given it time. But he wanted no dissenting voices; did not, in fact, even want to think about the dream anymore. "It's just a nightmare, nothing more . . . just another damn nightmare."

Gazing at his reflection, he saw that his eyes were sunk deeply inside his head and swollen, purplish shadows puffed beneath them. He looked old, so much older than thirty-five. Even his hair had started to gray.

"Jesus, John, you look like shit." It was Sheila's voice. "Come back to bed, darling. Get some more sleep. I'll be waiting for you."

The truth was that he hadn't slept well in weeks. He was too afraid to sleep--afraid he'd have the dream, and it was getting worse. For John Kirby, sleep consisted of two destinations: One an endless kingdom of wonder, while the other was cold, dark, and unthinkable.

He quickly doctored his mouth with hydrogen peroxide, and then straightened his badly wrinkled clothes that he'd slept in for the past three days.

The phone rang.

"Hello?"

"John? It's Charles . . . Charles Colby. I'm the project director down here at DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency."

"Yeah, Charles, I remember meeting you briefly at the Christmas party that Sheila dragged me to last year."

"I hate to bother you with this so soon after Sheila's death, but the fact is some things have turned up missing."

"Missing?"

"Yes, Sheila kept meticulous notes on everything she worked on. She said she didn't trust computers. Well, those notes have disappeared."

"I see. Maybe that's why my house was ransacked the day I came home from the funeral. You wouldn't know anything about that would you?"

"No, of course not, why would I? But there's more John."

"More?"

"Yes, it appears that Sheila attempted to sabotage the entire project."

"Sabotage? That's a harsh word."

"Well, I don't know what else to call it when an employee deletes the entire data base from a computer."

"That doesn't sound like Sheila. Are you sure you got the right employee?"

"Yes, quite sure, someone observed her while she did it, and then when she realized she'd been caught, she jumped in her car and drove off like a bat out of hell."

"Was that the day she had the accident?"

"Uh...yeah, I believe it was. They said she seemed unstable--freaked out about something. I would have stopped her if only I had been there, John. Maybe then, none of this would have happened. I can't imagine what it must be like for you. Sheila had a lot of good friends down here. She was a remarkable girl, and an extraordinary chemist. She'll be sorely missed."

"Thanks, Mister Colby, I appreciate that."

"Call me Charles, John, everybody else does, and please accept our condolences over your tragic loss."

"Thank you, Charles, that's very comforting to hear."

"About those journals, if you happen to come across them, please give me a call. The project has come to a complete standstill over this, and I've got the Government boys bugging me over the millions they've sunk into this thing with no results. You can understand, can't you?"

"Yeah, sure, I understand. And if I find her notes, you'll be the first person I call."

"That's great, John, fabulous! I'll keep in touch. Good-bye."

"Good-bye," he said, hanging up the phone, "you bastard!"

Sheila had discussed some of her work with John, and how DARPA had stepped in and taken control of their latest endeavor. She called it Project Halloween because it dealt with a psychosis-inducing toxin that was similar to the old hippie drug, LSD, and caused hallucinations so severe that it would systematically drive the user completely insane.

It had been three weeks since the accident, and at first, John felt no desire to even get out of bed. Sleep had become his best friend and ally--the only escape he knew. He wished that he were in a coma, or better yet, dead.

Then the dreams started. They were bad--real bad.

He felt so haunted he was too afraid to sleep at all. He spent the past few weeks fighting shadows, and the shadows were winning. The thought came to him, as he sighed heavily, that he just might be going mad.

Thunder bellowed outside, sounding loud enough to crack the world as the approaching storm began to shake the air.

John put on some coffee, and then rummaged through the refrigerator for something to eat. Finding nothing appetizing, he settled for another slug of orange juice from a gallon container of Sunkist, and then plopped onto his favorite couch with half a bag of stale Doritos. The salt from the chips burned the fresh wounds around his mouth. He tossed the bag to the floor, his eyes watering from the pain. Bleary-eyed, nervous, and strung out on caffeine and orange juice, he flipped on the television and scrolled through the channels twice before his head began to sag from sheer exhaustion. The last thing he remembered was a couple of guys selling swords for an ‘unbelievable low price'. He wondered what it would feel like to have a cold piece of steel penetrate your chest, pierce your internal organs, and then exit out the other side--he thought about Sheila, and what she must have felt.


As he slipped into the dream, he carried the weight of memories he much rather preferred to shed. Once again, he found himself within the dark room, collapsed upon a loose tumble of papers and books. But this time there wasn't any air, and he gasped like a fish pulled from water, his chest heaving, mouth working up and down. He cleared his throat into his fist, but the stillness of the air lacked the oxygen to fill his lungs. Black roses--harbingers of approaching asphyxiation--bloomed before his bulging eyes. He felt like a snowman melting in the sun, his body giving way beneath him. Then, in a melodic, soothing voice, Sheila was there.

"Breathe, John, breathe. You're having a panic attack. Just relax and breathe."

He relaxed as everything in his body seemed to let go at once, and he again was able to suck life-giving air. He took long, deep breaths, calmed himself.

"That-a-boy," she said. "I knew you could do it." She stood in front of him wearing the dress she had been buried in, and looking more beautiful than his fondest memory of her. "You and your anxieties. You gotta learn to relax, John, stay focused."

"Sheila?" He staggered to his feet.

"Yes, sweetheart, I'm here, but only for a moment."

He stepped toward her, tears welling in his eyes, his heart breaking. "Oh, Sheila...you look...wonderful."

"Stay focused, John. Keep remembering me as I was."

Cradled within her arms, she clutched a baby.

"Yes...yes, I will...I'll stay focused. But Sheila, tell me what's happening."

He looked down at the child, felt a mental link between them.

Sheila smiled and he remembered why he loved her so much. "It's your daughter, silly. She's the daughter we would have raised together."

"Daughter? But...but how?"

"Oh, you know, the usual way. I was pregnant, honey. I wasn't going to tell you until I got home that night. You were to be a father...a daddy."

"A father?" Tears bunched in his eyes and flowed down his face.

"Her name is Christine."

The baby whimpered softly as though she recognized her name.

He reached forward and pulled the blanket away from the child's face. She looked up at him with beautiful corn-flower blue eyes and a perfect round face.

"Hello, Christine," he said.

Suddenly the cawing of thousands of crows broke the serenity of their reunion. He turned to look up at the clamor. The wicked birds approached like a runaway train, their screeching becoming louder and louder. John turned back to the child. The baby began to change, her eyes glowing a brilliant red. She bared saw-like teeth at him, and then snapped at his exposed hand as if she were an angry bull gorilla.

"John! Focus on me! On me, John!" Sheila stepped back, snarling with pain. Her dress fell away in tatters. John watched in horror as the entire scene played in 'fast-forward'. Her flesh began to droop and deteriorate like something was eating her from the inside out. Hundreds of ulcers blossomed on her skin, and then peeled away revealing a hideous hole where the steel pipe had punctured her chest. "John, help me! Oh, God, it hurts!"

"Sheila! Sweet Jesus, Sheila, what‘s happening?"

Her body hunched to one side as if her back were broken in two. A strange grin, evil and maniacal, rose on her face. Her eyes shone milky white--hollow and dead. She opened her arms, dropping the child, and John heard the splat of wet flesh as it smacked the floor. A coil of umbilical cord dangled between them still connecting the baby to Sheila's stomach.

"Johnny!" she growled loudly, her grizzled voice rumbling and bubbling in her chest like fresh phlegm caught within the decaying tissue of her lungs. "Did you miss me?"

His daughter crawled toward him like a slug, leaving a trail of blood from her cracked and bleeding head, her teeth gnashing at the air.


John bolted upright, eyes bulging in terror. He was back again on the sofa in his house. He armed sweat off his forehead in a quick gesture.

"Sheila!" His scream echoed off the thin living room walls. "Sheila! Sheila!" He burst into tears; runners of snot dripped from his nose, his upper lip, and the creases which bracketed his mouth. He bowed his head in anguish. "Oh, Sheila..."

The storm raged outside as John donned a waterproof jacket and a Dodger's baseball cap, then headed to the police impound garage. If they couldn't find the journals in the house after tearing it apart, then maybe Sheila hadn't brought them home.

He showed his identification to the officer at the main gate and was escorted to where they had stored Sheila's Ford Focus. The front of the car was smashed like a beer can and what was left of the front windshield hung from the top of the roof as though it were a shattered glass curtain flapping in the wind. John saw the perfectly shaped hole in it just above the steering wheel where the piece of solid steel had slid from the trailer and exploded in upon his wife.

John hesitated before opening the car door. From the way Sheila's was killed, he knew it wasn't going to be a pretty sight. Bolstering his courage, he took a deep breath and pulled the door open. Inside, he saw the burnt-orange bloodstains that had pooled within the creases of the cream-colored seats and floorboard. John felt a lump grow in his throat that he could not swallow. Choking back his tears, his body froze in mid-motion, unable to continue. This is Sheila's blood, part of the life-force that coursed through her veins. The car even smelled like her.

Anxiety washed over him again. He tried to lay blank his mind, took a deep breath, and then reached under the front seat and felt around. His fingers brushed against the flap of a book cover. His hopes soared. He pulled out an old map of Los Angeles partly covered in dried blood. Dropping it in the floorboard, he checked the back. There was a pile of wire-bound journals lying in plain view behind the front seat. John snatched them up, hugged them to his chest as though they were Sheila, and then turned to leave.

He glanced at the back of the car and noticed the trunk had been smashed in. He didn't recall another vehicle reporting that they had been involved in the accident. He ran his hand along the bumper. There was a long smudge of black paint across the length of the trunk. Someone had definitely plowed into the back of Sheila's car, perhaps forcing her into the rear of the truck. John made a mental note to check the police report again, then turned and hurried back to his car.

Later that night, he sat up in bed plowing through the four journals he had found. Sheila was a brilliant chemist and most of her formulas and equations were way over John's head, but there were many footnotes and explanations as to what Project Halloween was about and what it was intended to be used for. Evidently, DARPA planned on introducing the virus as a military weapon and that's when Sheila refused to continue with the project.

In the last journal, he found a small vile of clear liquid taped to the page of a quickly scribbled note.

John,
I have created something atrocious-a potential horror for all mankind. Rather than let this blasphemy continue, I have destroyed all computer data in connection with it. These journals and this sample are the only proof that Project Halloween ever existed. I know they'll be after me for this; you don't mess with DARPA or any of its numerous arms without feeling the full sting of their wrath. My only hope was to use this information against them--my ace in the hole if they ever tried anything. I thought my work was invaluable to the project, but after confronting Charles Colby and explaining my trepidations, I feel my life may now be in danger. They'll want the journals and will do anything to get them.
Keep them hidden. Stay safe.
I have to go...they're coming.
I love you, darling.
-Sheila


John pressed his hand against the writing. "I love you too, Sheila."

He now suspected that Sheila's crash was not an accident at all, but a deliberate attempt to silence her. He carefully pulled the tape away and clutched the vile tightly in his hand. "I'm going to ruin you, Charles Colby. I'll see you rot in Hell."

Reaching toward the nightstand, he grabbed his glass of orange juice and finished it, and then climbed out of bed, his body aching from fatigue.

Moving to the window, he pulled the curtain back to check the weather outside. On the front yard, Charles Colby stood facing the house, looking up at the window as though he were waiting for John to see him. John's first instinct was to duck back, but their eyes locked momentarily, and then Colby turned and walked to his jet-black Hummer and climbed inside. Another man waited inside the car. John watched as they sped away until the vehicle finally disappeared around a corner. "Well, well, well, Charles, it looks as though we have reached a ‘Mexican standoff'."

Suddenly, his head swooned and it felt as if all the strength had left his legs. He was just able to get back to the bed, and then collapsed upon it in a heap.

Immediately, he found himself within the darkness of the dream. The room smelled of death and putrefaction as hundreds of crows performed a herky-jerky ballet around him. Unafraid of his presence, their heads bobbed to-and fro while they squawked and fought over some dead carrion that lay upon the floor. John noticed a piece of red meat hanging from the beak of a nearby crow. Several others moved in to take it from him as the bird quickly took flight amid the loud protests of its attackers.

"John..."

It was Sheila.

Moving dream-like toward her voice, the crows screeched at him and pecked at his feet and legs. He kicked his way through them until he saw where they were bunched closer together, one atop the other, in a feeding frenzy. As he approached, the flock soared out of his reach revealing a form lying upon the ground. The skin puckered on the nape of his neck.

"Sheila?"

"John...is that you?"

Her crumbled body lay in a contorted heap. Several crows pecked at her eyes and the soft tissue of her face. They were eating her.

"Oh, my God! No!"

Screaming and kicking, he attacked the relentless birds, knocking them away with his arms and hands, flailing his limbs wildly hoping to make contact. He pulled one away from her face, crushing its neck with his hand. He grabbed another, and it quickly turned on him, pecking his arm and wrist with a beak as hard as rock. He reached up with his other hand and twisted its head off, and then threw the dead bird at the others. They swarmed overhead, unyielding, too intent to give up their meal. John felt the brush of their wings as they swooped at him from above. He tried to wave them off, felt more painful pecks on his hands and arms.

He bent to his wife and looked in horror at what remained of her pocked and blood-splattered face. Her cheeks were shredded in torn flesh, her eyes completely missing from their gaping and bloodied sockets.

"Sheila!" The scream squeezed out of him as he covered his mouth with his hand. The crows landed and walked a perimeter around her body. A few braved his wrath and rushed forward digging their beak into Sheila's legs or stomach, and then shaking their head like a shark rending flesh, they pulled away small dangling pieces of meat.

"Get away!" John yelled, but there were too many. He watched in horror as a bird threw its head back and swallowed a piece of his wife.

"Oh, John..." Blinded, she raised her arm and swung it back and forth hoping to make contact with him. A crow attacked her long delicate hand, flapping his wings, yanking and pulling, trying to jerk her finger off.

In a panic, John tried to save his wife. "Get up, Sheila! Please, try and get up!" His mournful pleas went unanswered, and then grabbing her arm he desperately tried to pull her to her feet. He heard a dry rustling sound from within her that made him think of cockroaches scurrying across linoleum. "Sheila, you have to get up!"

Suddenly her stomach burst and a nest of insects poured out. Gagging, John released her arm and fell back retching and heaving, tears blurring his eyes and spit running down his chin. "Oh, God..."

She groaned in agony as she twitched and shuddered. "John...they're coming. Get out, John, they're coming for you." Then her body buckled and whipped like a thrashing snake in slow-mo. John backed away in horror as the crows covered her again.


"Wake up!" Someone slapped his face and John's eyes fluttered. "Wake up, I said!" Another slap jerked his head to one side, and he came out of the dream only to see a crueler nightmare before him.

Charles Colby leaned over him, his arm pulled back ready to deliver one more vicious blow. Another man stood at the foot of the bed with a gun pointed at John's head. They were dream creatures on the wrong side of sleep.

"Get up, asshole," Colby said.

John sat up, now fully awake to the real threat. "What the hell are you doing in my house?"

"Isn't it obvious," Colby said, pointing to the journals strewn across the bed. "I thought you said you didn't know where they were. You're a bigger liar than I am."

"You can't come in here. This is..." Another cruel slap caught him in the face.

"Shut up! You don't tell me what I can or can't do. I work for the Government, and I'll do whatever is necessary to protect the people of this country." Colby's eyes shined. He was enjoying this. "Have you been having any dreams lately, Johnny-boy? I'd be very interested in hearing them. You're our first real test subject. So, tell me, how do you like our little formula?"

"Formula?" John rubbed at his stinging cheek.

"Yeah, dumb-shit, the formula your wife created for us. We put some of it in your container of orange juice the last time we were here. You've been drinking it for weeks. How do you like it?"

John's vision spun, his head felt like a carnival ride. "Orange juice?"

"You're dumber than I thought." Colby said, grabbing one of the journals off the bed.

"He's still in the throes of the drug," the other man said. "He could be like this for hours. Let's stop wasting time and just finish it."

"Don't be in such a hurry. As a scientist, I'd like to know what he's been going through."

John tried to clear the fog from his head. He still held the vial in his closed fist. He skimmed the faces of the two men, and the distance between them.

Just a little bit closer, he thought.

"Get the other journals," Colby commanded. The man with the gun moved to the opposite side of the bed and collected Sheila's notebooks. He kept his gun out, but now it wasn't pointed directly at John.

Slowly, John flipped the top off the vial off with his thumb-waited.

As the gunman came around to hand the books to Colby, John lurched forward and flung the liquid into their faces.

"What the..." The shooter dropped the journals and again pointing the gun at John. He fired pointblank.

John was thrown back as if kicked by a mule, a searing heat building within his chest like the nucleus of a sun.

"You idiot! Why the hell did you shoot him?" Colby yelled.

"What was that stuff he threw at us, acid or something?"

Colby's eyes began to jitter within his head as the drug began to take hold. "Aw, shit!" he screamed. "The son-of-a-bitch doused us with the formula!"

John's body trembled. He couldn't stop. Although he clutched his chest tightly, he could feel the warm blood seeping through his fingers. He saw the gun drop from the other man's hand as his face went slack and mouth drooped open. He collapsed to the floor as the drug took control of his mind.

Colby staggered to the chair at the side of the bed. He sat down, shaking his head as though he were trying to clear it.

John then heard a steady ‘thump-drag, thump-drag'. Through a growing fog, he saw Sheila enter the room. She went straight to the man lying on the floor and knelt before him. Turning his head to one side, she exposed his neck. Her mouth gaped open revealing long, serrated teeth. She leaned forward and bit firmly into his throat. The man's legs began to spasm as though he were having a seizure, and then they stopped.

Sheila lifted her head, blood dripping from her mouth and down her chin and chest. With her new beard of blood, she stood and approached Colby.

His eyes were open, wide open--bugging out like golf balls. She spoke to him in her garbled, grating voice. "How do you like the formula, Charles? Pretty potent stuff, eh?"

She reached in-between his legs and grabbed him by the balls. Then twisting and pulling, she yanked and jerked until the fabric of his slacks, and the organ beneath, tore free. In her hand was a mangled mass of bloodied flesh and sinew. Smiling, she rubbed it in his face, forcing some of the pieces into his mouth. Then she swung her leg around and straddled him; ripped open his shirt and laid her open palm upon his chest. "You were always a heartless bastard, Charles. Let me fix that for you."

With her fingers and nails, she clawed away at the skin of his chest, working deeper and deeper inside of him as his body shuddered and trembled from the trauma. She made a weird noise as she labored. It sounded as if she were humming.

As she excavated his chest, she finally found his heart under an exposed flap of lung, and then reached in roughly and took hold of it. "What's it like to dream the dream of another, Charles, pretty frightening, eh?"

With two hands, she pulled and twisted at the slippery organ. Colby grunted, his body jerked spasmodically. Spittle bubbled and drooled from his lips, but he was still unable to move.

"Are you having fun yet?" Sheila screamed into his face. Then with the sound of tearing muscles and tendons, she pulled his heart free, and for a moment, it moved in her hand like an unborn fetus. Angrily, she threw it against the wall with an explosive splat, and then watched as it dripped and slid down in a trail of clotted tissue and blood.

She stood then, and looked upon her husband. "Come on, John, it's time to go." She offered a bloody hand, and as John reached for it, the dream left abruptly without a good-bye.

John felt a quiet so rich and gentle that he was compelled to settle down within it and go to sleep. God, he felt so damn tired. Then he remembered something he had read once...

There are dreams that hide themselves inside of us like bats in a cave. You will know them when they come: They are dark, they move grudgingly, and you never stop screaming.


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