A man is faced with a challenge when an ancient creature hunts him down in his dreams
|Someone once told me that there was an ancient people that believed our dreams
were gateways to another realm, all we need is the proper key to get through it. But
what I never knew until it was too late was that they also believed in a great beast
that hunted you down and killed you if you so much as tried to cross that threshold.
In the winter of 2007, I unknowingly crossed that threshold…
It was a normal day when it happened. I woke up, groggy and a bit sleep
deprived, as usual. I took a hot shower and gulped down a makeshift breakfast that
made me wish I was actually good at cooking. Then I hopped on my bike and raced
to class, making it on time by only seconds.
As usual, I paid next to no attention to the droning words of my English
professor. I was too distracted by my best friend, Sarah. She was playing with her
dark hair, like she usually does in this class. I still found it mesmerizing. I’m just
lucky that my professor doesn’t ask you questions when you’re obviously miles
away, like a high school teacher. I would’ve been dropped from the class ages ago
if he did.
After class I talked with Sarah for a few moments; waiting for her
boyfriend. “He’s not good for you Sarah.” I said, surprising myself with how blunt I
“So he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, big deal. It’s not like I’m gonna marry
him.” Sarah said, rolling her eyes.
“It’s not that he’s shallow… he just… he doesn’t treat you the right way.”
“How?” She crossed her arms. I was silent for a few moments, my lips
opening and closing in stupidity.
“I… I dunno.” I said finally.
“My point exactly!”
“Just trust me Sarah!”
“Quiet, here he comes,” She hushed, creeping closer to me “And if I
hear you say anything else on this subject, you’ll regret it.” That wasn’t an empty
threat, believe me. “I don’t want to hear you criticize my love life just because you
don’t like the way my boyfriend treats you.” She hissed. I felt a vein grow in my
temple as Ben embraced her and leaned in to give her a kiss. Sarah pulled him in
and held his lips to hers. I almost screamed at her, instead I grabbed my bag and
stormed off to get my bike. They were still making out by the time I left for work.
I returned home shortly afterwards, dropping my keys on the table in my
silent apartment. The dinner I made for myself tasted like something unholy. So I
ordered Chinese food—as seemed to be the trend lately—and shared it with my
quiet dog, Chester. He’s quite an interesting dog. Sure, there’s such thing as quiet
dogs but Chester hasn’t barked a single time since I got him as a pup. There was
even one instance where I stepped on his tail, and all he did was look up at me and
said with his big brown eyes, “Get the hell off my tail bud.” I thought I heard him
whimper once, but I found out that a Pigeon was the culprit.
My night consisted of dull, monotonous rituals that I loathed—as usual—
followed by my odd sleep patterns that often resulted with my bed sheets and
pillows in a heap on the floor. I’d pick up the pile of muddled gray rags and
rearrange them on my futon, then come back in about thirteen hours and repeat the
But on that night there was more. That night I had a dream that shaped the
rest of my life…
The walls were a pasty grey color, like the skin of a zombie in one of
those old black and white horror movies. You know, the ones that make you laugh
more than scream. Eerily contrasting the walls, the white curtains stood
motionlessly, like sentries guarding the windows.
I sat up in my bed and placed my cold feet on the floor. Rain was
pattering on the dark window, dripping down it like streams of quicksilver in the
moonlight. The room was pristine. There was a desk next to the bed, the objects on
its surface placed obsessively. The carpet was as white as the curtains, from being
nearly untouched by the looks of it. Even the bed was neatly made despite me
sleeping on it…
This wasn’t my apartment. This was a house, and an odd one at that.
A light flickered on in the hallway behind the closed door, flooding the
floor with light that showed up like dirty yellow liquid on the carpet. I stared at the
glowing doorframe with my sweaty palms on my knees, too afraid to move.
The sound of shattering glass echoed in the hallway, heavy footsteps
rumbled on the hardwood floors, a lengthy shadow slid by the strips of light on the
doorframe. I held my breath as the shadow froze in hesitation before the bedroom
door. The frame rattled as the creature sniffed it before moving on, the light around
the doorframe returning.
I dared not move.
The footsteps took on a more muffled tone as they rounded a corner in
the hallway and into another room. Soon they vanished along with the light. I sat
there in the dark for a few moments, frozen.
Taking a deep, uneven breath I forced myself to stand and approach the
door. My movements sounded like the pounding of drums to my ears, when they
were, in actuality, silent. The porcelain doorknob felt like bleached bone as I turned
it in my hand.
The hallway was empty.
I did my best to step lightly down the hardwood hallway—which stuck
noisily to my sweaty feet—and down the stairs. Everything was colorless; full of
emptiness. It felt like it hadn’t been lived in for ages, but someone had kept it
perfectly clean. Or, better yet, it felt like the stage to some grand show that was
currently vacant. A lump grew in my throat as I rounded the corner and entered the
kitchen. Why didn’t I just stay in the safety of the bedroom?
Staring at the black, sterile kitchen I willed my stiff legs to carry me
back to the bedroom. My heart throbbed against my rib-cage.
I made it back safely to the bedroom, closing the door carefully behind
me. I was more than grateful that the creature in the hallway hadn’t found me. It had
stopped raining, I noticed, and a cool breeze—that smelled nothing like rain—
wafted in from the window.
Wait…the window wasn’t open when I left.
Throwing aside all of my questions, I got up and closed the window, the
pale curtains caressing my arms. I stared out at the nothingness of the of the
outside world, shoulders hunched and palms pressed to the windowsill. A door
creaked behind me.
There was a monster in the closet.
I turned slowly to face the closet door that was abnormally tall and
crooked in comparison to the rest of the house. The air was suddenly frigid. A set of
long, thin fingers wrapped themselves around the door, foot-long claws of sharpened
bone protruding from each one. A thick snout slid from the door’s edge, wrapped in
nothing but muscle without flesh.
Its breath was thick against the cold air.
I swallowed, never before had I been gripped so strongly by fear. My
teeth forearms dripped with sweat, my heart throbbed and my breath quickened. I
could practically feel my eyes dilate. I never noticed how alike and fear and anger
The beast, smelling the salt of my skin, and let out a low, quaking growl that made
my heart sputter to a standstill. The door splintered open, and the beast leapt
towards me, claws and teeth brandished, a bellowing howl reverberating off the
walls. I didn’t move.
I awoke to the scent of warm, fresh urine.
The shock of me wetting the bed was more powerful than my dream. I'd
never wet the bed in my entire life, and to do it when I was a grown man was...
sobering, to say at the least. After cleaning up the mess I'd brought upon myself, I
followed my usual routine with a preoccupied manner. I had to take a test for my
first class, and I'm fairly certain that I failed it with flying colors.
“Are you ok Max?” Sarah asked.
“Pardon?” I mumbled, I didn't hear anything she had said for the past five
minutes; I was watching her lips and thinking about my dream.
“I said, are you ok? You've been acting weird all day. Is something the
matter?” I breathed her words of concern in as if they were a pleasant perfume.
“Oh, it's nothing. I just had a bad dream last night.” Her eyebrows
furrowed and she looked at me seriously for a moment.
“You're getting distraught over a bad dream?” Her tone stung.
“Yes.” I replied sheepishly, picking up my soda and swallowing words
“I have bad dreams all the time, it's nothing to freak out about.” She
rolled her eyes. We sat in silence for a moment, nothing ever went the way I hoped.
“Oh, here's Ben.” Sarah piped up, standing up from the cold stairway
and waving at him. I did my best to keep my lips straight, but I never was that great
at hiding a frown.
“Hey Maxine, how's it goin?” The jackass smiled after he gave Sarah a
quick peck and a long hug.
“Not bad bimbo, did you manage to put your pants on the right way this
morning?” I said.
“Seriously now, can't you two play nice?” Sarah asked, still gripping onto
Ben's hips. I said nothing, being the coward I am, and prayed that their grotesque
display of affection would show mercy on me. After what seemed like hours I had
my fill and stood up, grabbing my bag with a touch of violence. As I walked past the
disgusting couple Sarah stopped me.
“Are you gonna come to the movies with us tonight? Lilly really wants to
“I'd rather chew broken glass.” I winced when I saw her expression out of
the corner of my eye. “I'll be there.” I sighed, walking off before I could say anything
else I regretted.
I rode to work with a knot in my stomach and a tune of bitterness
running on a continuous loop in my head, just like my routine called for.
When I got home I fell asleep. I had woken up early from my dream last
night and couldn't get back to sleep. That on top of class, work and repressing the
vision of an ass kissing the girl you love can really take it out of you. Besides, I
didn't really want to go to the movies. Maybe if it were just me, and maybe Sarah.
But with Ben and Sarah, as well as a girl I didn't know anything about, was like
putting my arm in a vice and stabbing it repeatedly.
But I didn't mean to fall asleep.
I was just sitting on the couch, watching one of the countless reruns of
Seinfeld while Chester dozed next to me. The last thing I remembered was Kramer
saying “Stick a fork in me Jerry, I'm done.” then darkness.
I was in the house again. Damn. I already knew this was gonna end
badly, I just didn't want to ruin the upholstery on my couch. But despite my
knowing that the creature from last night was with me tonight as well didn't settle
my fears, if anything it made me more fearful. People often fear the unknown, but
not me. I fear the known.
This time I was standing in between the living room and the stairway;
right in front of the front door. Straight ahead of me was a short hallway to the
kitchen, lined with pictures of plastic looking families smiling almost painfully. I took
in a deep breath of the cool air, trying to steady my nerves.
A shadow moved in the kitchen.
I held my breath and pinched myself. But if it didn't work in the movies, it
wouldn't work here either. The shadow grew larger as the beast neared the hallway,
and for the first time I saw the great behemoth in full. It was grotesque in all its
glory, if that makes any sense.
It walked slowly, but fluidly and with grace. Its thick, white claws clicked
gently on the cold tile despite its size and weight. It reminded me of a raptor, a
great lizard built for speed and killing. Its claws were longer than I thought possible,
its teeth needle sharp, and its emerald eyes more piercing than both of them put
together. I drew in a shuttering breath as I noticed its most disturbing feature.
It had no skin.
That's right, no skin. Just a mass of perfectly constructed muscle and
bone. I half expected to see it leave a trail of blood behind it on the floor. I shifted
my weight, getting ready to flee, but the beast let out a deep growl that made me
reevaluate my choice. It approached me slowly, as if it were planning out each step.
I shifted my weight slightly, getting ready to run for the stairway. I
ceased my actions, though. For the monster froze as well, letting out a growl that I
felt more than heard, like a bass drum. I stopped and did my best not to flinch as
the beast’s breath condensed on my skin. It smelled like old, stale air.
I stared into its deep eyes, glowing with fury and torture. I clenched my
teeth as it raised one of its claws and lifted my chin with it. I wanted to scream, but
I willed my body against it. I then tried to avoid its eyes as it looked me over like an
abundantly ripe pear. It slid its claw against my chin when it stopped scrutinizing
me, leaving a stinging slit that oozed warm blood.
It gestured towards the door behind me.
I turned towards the door and opened it, the doorknob so cold it almost
hurt. Behind it I saw a land that still hands me. The house sat on a small island,
drifting on a sea made of black water. Gnarled, gray grass sprouted from the
ground, turning black under the shadows cast by the moon and trees. The beast
nudged my back, and I stepped onto the porch and then onto the ground.
I could see the beast’s hand in my peripheral vision, pointing towards the
opposite end of the islet. A dark, slightly crooked lighthouse stood next to the drop-
off into the waters. Its light was extinguished. I heard my companion grunt in
impatience, and I began to walk towards it unsteadily. I felt as if balls and chains
weighted my feet. I stumbled the whole way to the lighthouse door, the grass
clawing at my feet.
The door eased open without being touched, revealing a spiral staircase
that lead to the top. The beast ushered me up the staircase, and I obeyed
reluctantly. Why I was obeying this creature, and fearing for my life, I do not know.
After all, it’s just a dream… right?
When my head poked up into the room above I hesitated, for some
reason unknown to me. Fear, perhaps? I don’t know, but the beast picked up on it
and growled. I hurried up into the room, the plinth where the fire would burn was
empty, and the room was the same save for a single bookcase with only one book
sitting pristinely upon it. Once again, the clawed hand appeared in my peripheral
vision, pointing at the book. I rushed over and picked it up.
The books cover was metal, and emblazoned on the cover were elegant
gold letters that read The Vinkard-Domi. I stroked the cover lightly, then unbuckled
the lock on its side and turned to the first, yellowed page. It was riddled with curvy
words written in scarlet blood, several droplets fallen astray on the margins. I
sucked back saliva as my stomach churned slightly, and I read the words on the
"You are a dead man…"
I vomited a bit in my mouth, and I turned to face the Vinkard-Domi, the
great monster lazing next to the stairwell like a cat. I gulped down the bile and
opened my lips to speak, they stuck together with dry saliva as they
parted. “Why?” I asked, my voice raspy and weak. The Vinkard-Domi nodded
towards its book, and I flipped the page.
"Because it is the will of the gods…"
“Why?” I asked again, this time turning the page without prompting.
"Only the waters know…"
I chewed its words for a few moments before pressing on. Even though
this creature was a bounty hunter sent to kill me, there was a certain vibe it gave off
that made me feel a bit at ease, even though my temples pounded with fear. I eyed
it cautiously before asking, “Why haven’t you killed me yet?”
"I tried last night, but stopped myself…"
Its words perplexed me, and the Vinkard-Domi noticed. It gestured
towards the book again. I turned the page.
"Because… you aren’t ripe enough…"
I’m not sure why, but those words hit me harder than “You are a dead
man…” I dropped the book on my foot, my mouth agape in pain and horror. I was
just a defenseless animal in a hunting game fore this grotesque beast. I clenched
my fists in rage as the beast lifted itself from the floor with no effort and drew a
small object from midair. It looked at it like it had looked at me, holding it between
the claws of its thumb and forefinger.
Then it threw it at my feet, the sound of its plastic surface clattered
across the floor. I looked down at it, and picked it up; rolling it in my hand. It was a
number two domino, a long gash ran down the center or its face. A straight, clean
cut. I threw it to the floor in disgust and looked up just in time to see the Vinkard-
Domi’s snake like tail trail down the staircase.
I didn’t move, to enraged and shocked with fear to do so.
When I awoke, it wasn’t the smell of urine that greeted me. But instead
the fearful barks of a dog I had never heard. I sat bolt upright, stars shooting in my
eyes as I noted my pounding headache. The barking didn’t help. I looked around for
the source of the noise and spotted Chester, barking at the kitchen table. The
normally silent dog was in a ruckus; his tail and hair stood on end and he barked
with such a force that he slid backwards slightly when he barked.
I stood up, gripped with fear.
I walked cautiously towards the dog, afraid. “Chester?” I asked, as if it
were a different dog. He continued to bark, as if I weren’t there. I edged behind him,
afraid to disturb him, but I stroked the back of his neck anyways. As if by
command, he stopped barking at my touch, and instead ran to the corner of the
room and curled up; whimpering.
I eyed him fearfully. “What’s gotten into you man?” I said, forcing a weak
laugh. His eyes darted to the table, then back to me. A lump grew in my throat, and
I turned my stiff neck slowly to the old table and looked at the source of Chester’s
On it sat an old book with a metal cover, and a number two domino with
a deep cut on its face.