What would happen if nightmares merged with reality?
|Prompt: Two worlds collide word count: 3,429
Jared woke in a nervous sweat breathing heavily. His eyes darted around his room seeing if there were any of the horrid creatures around him that seconds ago were tormenting him. He jumped out of bed and turned on the light. He looked at his digital clock; it was 4:17 am. He walked past his door and down the hall and into the living room and sat on the stuffed leather chair facing the sixty inch TV and turned it on. Jared kept flipping channels until he came to a lighthearted black and white comedy. He felt the tense grip on his mind relax and subside as he slouched into the seat. Jared took a deep breath.
His mom came from behind and put her hands on his shoulders. “Another nightmare son?”
“Yeah. I can’t believe how they came out of nowhere just two years ago.”
“Maybe we’ll find the right medicine to stop them. “
“I’ve been on over six of them with no help.”
“Perhaps it is time to see another psychiatrist. Don’t worry hon. We’ll beat this thing.”
“Could I sleep out here?”
“Sure Jared. I’ll stay until you fall asleep.”
Jared fell asleep with no nightmares. He woke up at 7 am on a Saturday morning. The TV was off and he smelled hot pancakes coming from the kitchen. Minutes later his mom appeared with a stack of buttery, syrupy pancakes. “Here you go sweetie.”
“Thanks mom.” Jared began eating and turned on the TV. Star Wars Rebels was on. He peered at his mother on a stool watching the news on a small TV on a counter. “Weird,” she said to herself.
“What is it mom?”
“Someone was attacked by an animal last night. It was in an alley. The victim said it was like a large wolf with tusks.” She turned to Jared. “That person must have been on a drug trip. People these days.”
“Yeah, they must have been on drugs,” said Jared as his heart dropped.
“Oh, I scheduled an appointment with another psychiatrist who specializes in dreams. It’s on Monday right after school.”
The rest of the day went quickly. Jared watched more TV and after visited his friend Dale down the street. They played his PS4 for a few hours and Jared went home. After a steak dinner he worked on his homework. Eventually it came time to sleep. That night he had another nightmare. He was being chased be a ferocious three headed black dragon. It felt so real. He was on a high plateau and it was dark. The evil beast chased him to the edge. Just as it was about to devour him, he awoke. The clock said it was 5 am. So, he chose just to stay up through t rest of the morning until it was light.
He told his mom about the dream and she said that he was going to get help since he was seeing a dream specialist. The rest of the day occurred as usual. He visited Dale and did home work until it was time to go to bed. That night Jared had no bad dreams and he awoke at 6:30 am at the sound of his alarm. He smiled and got ready for school. Fifteen minutes before first period he went to his desk and wrote his thoughts in his journal about how he hoped he would get real help with the new psychiatrist. This thought floated in his head all through final period, environmental science. When the school bell rang, Jared’s mom was already waiting at the curb. He got in.
“Hey son. How was school?”
“Alright. I didn’t have any nightmares last night.”
Jared’s mother turned to her right where he was sitting. “That’s wonderful! Praise God!” She gave him a shake on his shoulder.
The trip to the new psychiatrist took fifteen minutes to get to. They found a parking spot then pulled in as Jared and his mom got out.
The walked into the tall, dark smooth stoned building. There was a narrow hall with elevators on each wall.
Jared’s mom looked for the doctor’s office number and they both entered suite #307. The waiting room was rectangular with black leather chairs against the wall and a low table was in the mid-section with magazines spread over it.
“I’m here for my son’s appointment at 2:30 pm with Dr. Thourn,” Jared’s mom said to a fair faced blond woman with glasses behind a counter.
“He is ready for you now,” the woman replied.
Jared’s mom’s eyes widened. “I could get used to this – no waiting.” She turned to her son “This way dear.”
They walked into a door with John Thourn Ph. d. on a thin yellow plaque. Immediately, the psychiatrist stood from his high-backed chair behind a desk. “Hello you both!” Dr. Thourn was tall, slightly plump in the stomach and had had slicked back black hair. He had only a few wrinkles around his eyes giving him the look of a man in his late thirties.
The man motioned for the patient and his mother to sit at two chairs on the other side of the desk.
“Hello Mrs. Smith,” the doctor said.
“Please, call me Carol.”
“Certainly.” He turned to Jared. “So you’ve had nightmares a long time right?”
“Yes. Can you help me?” Jared said softly with raised eyebrows.
“I believe I can but before that, there are just few things that need to be discussed.” He put his hands together and put them to his chin then took a deep breath. “First I must know the nightmares are about.”
“Well, usually I am being chased by a monster,” Jared said as he rubbed his temples.
“What do the monsters look like?” Dr. Thourn said.
Jared shuttered a bit.
“Take your time and concentrate.”
“The one that scared me the most was a scorpion with the head of a dragon and it had a bunch of eyes.”
“Very good. That is a great start. Now where are you when these monsters chase you?”
“Sometimes I’m in a dark cave or splashing around in stormy waters. Sometimes I’m just floating in darkness with these horrifying sounds all around me.” Jared squirmed in his seat. “Once I saw this big open door with these dark, shadowy ghouls or something coming out of it.”
Suddenly Dr. Thourn jolted then became like cold stone. “You’re sure that is what you saw?”
“Yes. Why are you suddenly so serious?”
Dr. Thourn stood, walked around his desk and to the door. “If you both would follow me.”
“Where are we going?” asked Jared’s mother.
“To a place where Jared can get the help he needs,” the doctor answered.
“We’re going to another Psychiatrist” Carol asked.
“Yes. It is urgent.”
“What do you mean? We’re going right now?” Jared’s mom asked with a flush face.
Jared’s mom frowned and jumped up. “What’s wrong?”
“I’ll explain on the way.” Dr. Thourn said as he motioned for then to follow.” He pulled out a phone and pressed button. “I have a code blue.”
Jared and Carol walked behind the doctor. “Start explaining,” Carol demanded.
“The whole situation is more than just bad dreams. I am taking you both to a facility where the rest will be explained.”
A black van drove to the curb and a door slid open.
“You can’t be serious!” exclaimed Jared’s mom.
“I am very serious! No please step inside.”
“Are you kidnapping us?!” said Carol.
“For your son’s sake I implore you,” said Thourn.
Carol grabbed her head. “I cannot believe I am going through with this. Let’s go son. If he can help you, we have to trust him.”
Jared and his mom stepped inside and a man in a white coat greeted them. “I am Dr. Price,” he said they drove off. “I am a doctor of neurology.”
Dr. Thourn was next to Jared. “You are not the only teenager experiencing dreams like you described.”
“What’s your point?” asked Carol.
“These teenagers are suffering from a top secret experiment conducted to examine the deepest regions of the subconscious mind during sleep,” said Dr. Price.
“There are others like me? If you know what caused it, can you fix it?” asked Jared with glossy eyes.
“Quite possibly,” said Dr. Thourn.
“What is special about me?”
Dr. Price leaned in. “Code blue, which you heard Dr. Thourn say, means that someone’s dreamed about the doorway to what we call the Introverse.”
“What is the Introverse?” asked Jared with trembling eyes.
“We found it when we did the first deep sleep experiment.”
Dr. Thourn tilted his head veered his eyes. “Unknowingly, we were playing with fire. Within the door came a flood of hostile metaphysical entities. We call them Dream Wraiths.”
“How does all this affect other teenagers with my problem?” Jared asked.
Dr. Thourn frowned. “We don’t quite understand it, but these beings live in a shared dream world like how we all share the physical world. Once they came through the door, they entered the subconscious universe of all people your age.”
“But why just teenagers like my son?” asked Carol.
“We theorize it is due to the early stage of the thalamus and the cortex which partly mediates the formation of dreams found in teenagers.”
“But the real danger this. Have you ever seen this in one of your dreams?” asked Dr. Price who showed Jared a computer generated image of a spider-like creature with bat wings and a serpent’s head.
“Yes, I have!” exclaimed Jared.
Dr. Thourn liked his lips. “The Dream Wraiths can travel from the dream world to the physical world and take any shape they want.”
“There have been multiple sightings of this monster and others you probably have seen. But we have ways of covering things up quite efficiently. Our only failure was the attack of the wolf-beast with tusks,” explained Dr. Price.
Suddenly the van stopped. The door was opened and all four people got out. They were inside a walled compound with guards at different places of a large building. They walked to a metal door and Dr. Price withdrew a security card and swiped it through a device and the door slid open.
“The experimentation room is just down these two remaining doors,” said Dr. Price.
“I don’t like the sound of that. Are you going to do something to my boy?” asked Carol in a raised tone.
Dr. Price spoke softly. “Just follow me.”
After passing through the remaining metal security doors, they entered a large room with tall super computers and monitors. In the center was a typical hospital bed that had an electronic helmet with wires of different color and thickness coming from it.
“You’re not putting my son in that chair!” yelled carol.
Jared gripped his mom’s arm. “No mom, it’s okay. I’m willing to go through this if it really will fix my problem and every other teenager like me.”
“Please. I trust them mom.”
Carol took a deep breath and looked into Jared’s eyes and put her hands on his shoulders. “If you say so son.”
“It’s settled then. We should commence immediately. I will explain the details of the process. Lay down,” requested Dr. Price.
Jared laid down on the bed and the helmet was placed over his skull.
“You will be put to sleep and that’s where the device will come into play. It can manipulate the mind in the dreamscape to augment objects and affect the environment in your dream. A projectile weapon to fend off the monsters will be produced. Most importantly, a key in the form of a cube will be created.”
“What do I do with this key?” asked Jared.
“You will shut the doorway to the Introverse,” Dr. Price said.
“But how will I find it?”
“Focus your thoughts on finding the door. Visualize it and your senses will guide you. Do you understand?”
“You will feel a tingly feeling as the machine puts you to sleep,” said Dr. Price.
After a short five minutes, Jared had his eyes closed and was breathing shallowly.
“Do you hear me Jared?”
There was no response.
“Now what?” asked Carol.
“We wait,” stated Dr. Thourn.
…………………………… ………………………………. ………………………………… ……………………………….. ……………………………
Jared found himself in a dark forest. In his right hand was a futuristic looking ray gun with an end like a small satellite dish. In his left hand was a metallic cube the size of his palm. He recalled Dr. Price’s words and closed his eyes, and pictured the doorway to the Introverse. He felt like something was pulling at him like a magnet. His eyelids shot open and he began walking. No sooner had he gone fifteen feet that a dreadful worm-like creature burst through the ground and towered over him. At the head of the monster was a mouth like a lamprey.
Jared aimed his weapon and an electrical discharge like lighting erupted from the gun and charred a hole below the creature’s mouth. For a few moments it swayed in the air like a drunkard until it toppled onto the ground.
Jared smiled and did a small hop. “Yeah! Take that you monster!”
The teenager followed his innate senses toward his goal. He came to a clearing where he saw three blood red moons. He shuddered. Next Jared came to a pitch black cave. “How will I see my way?”
He thought for a few minutes then snapped his hands. “Of course!”
Jared neared a low tree branch and broke it off. He tossed it a few meters away and fired his weapon. Part of the branch was scorched but the lighting discharge caused the end to be set aflame. He picked it up and entered the cave mouth. After walking for several meters he came to a fork in the tunnel breaking into three passages. Jared shut his eyes and took a deep breath. He cleared his mind and refocused. When he had gotten the mental scent, he took the left tunnel.
As Jared went, the tunnel narrowed and he was pushing his way through webbing. Suddenly the ground began to shake. Dust and rock were falling from above. He dashed forward as his heart pounded in his chest. His foot caught on a large stone and he fell and the cube, the weapon and the burning branch slipped from his grasp. He glanced behind him. The passage was caving in. Jared scuffled to his feet and picked up the three items. He ran as fast as he could until he came to what looked like a dead end. With his back against the end of the tunnel, he cringed as the cave continued to collapse like falling dominoes coming toward him. The quaking caused dust and pebbles to tumble off the walls including the one behind him.
Then he felt a smooth straight groove on the back wall. He traced it with his hand to reveal the outline of a doorway. With no time to look for anything to push or turn or remove that might activate the door, Jared blasted it with his weapon. His heart leapt within him as he saw red moonlight on a flat plateau. He dropped the burning branch, jumped through and was out of the cave at last.
Jared collapsed to his knees as he breathed deeply, wiping sweat of his forehead. “I have to keep going,” he said to himself. He traveled until he came to a thin piece of land connecting to another land formation where a towering castle dominated the surroundings. Black spires rose up with pointed tips.
Jared clearly sensed he was near the door to the Introverse. He passed over the sliver of land and came to an open arched entryway. Dim candles lined the walls and the top of the ceiling was indiscernible.
The ground was of polished black marble and Jared’s footsteps echoed.
“I would have expected this castle to be filled with monsters. Where are they?”
He scanned around as he walked to a set of stairs with railing in the form of twisting snake statues. It was ice cold to the touch. He ran his hand along the left rail as he ascended. With every step, Jared’s heart beat faster. He met the top; two torches lit up by themselves revealing another doorway. It was tall and of black rod iron as he fingered it. It had a single handle like a curving scythe.
Jared hesitated. He didn’t know what to expect on the other side. Needles to say it would not be pleasant. He gripped the handle and exhaled deeply. “One…two…three!” On that count he slowly pulled the heavy door open. He walked onto a small, circular balcony lightened by four torches.
Suddenly the balcony crumbled and Jared fell for several seconds before splashing into cold water in total darkness. Nevertheless, he managed to hold onto the cube and the weapon. He pointed it upwards and fired. There was light for only about two and a half seconds. But in that time he saw a metal ladder a few meters in front of him. Jared swam forward and after a few minutes he took hold of a bar and pulled his body to it and his feet reached a bar below the water. Jared’s clothes dripped and he stuffed the weapon into the side of his pants. He shivered and his teeth chattered with the cold stillness around him. Rung by rung the young freezing soul climbed. He pulled out his gun and fried into the air and caught a glimpse of an open hatch in the brief flash of light. It was only about fifteen feet from where Jared was. As the teenager ascended he stopped to focus on the location of where the door would be. A painful knot coalesced in his stomach as he felt he was imminently close to the doorway he was to shut.
Finally Jared reached the hatch and climbed through. Suddenly a tense pain jolted through his body as he saw his goal. Black clouds in the shape of human figures were flooding out of the doorway.
Jared staggered back as his jaw gaped and his eyes widened. “Now what do I do?”
Then he noticed the cube was glowing an azure blue. The door was illuminating the same glow and Jared took a step forward. The light from both objects intensified. Jared noticed the door began to shut an inch or so. He took another step and the occurrence repeated with greater affect. Suddenly one of the cloudy figures knocked him back, sending the cube and the weapon sliding across the ground. Jared jumped to his feet and clamored for the weapon first. He picked it up and fired directly at the open doorway. The lighting burst scattered the phantoms, as they circled about like a whirlpool. Two of the figures lunged for him bearing sharp claws. He subdued one with a shot from his gun but was slashed across his chest by the other. The pain was very real and he grabbed the bloody scratches. He gritted his teeth and lunged for the cube and grasped it and did a role on the ground. Jerad ran toward the doorway and the door began to close again, but quicker with every pace he neared it. He shot his weapon aimlessly. The door was nearly shut until a huge skeleton with burning eyes came and started to use force to push it back open.
“You’re futile to attempt to thwart my warriors of darkness. Soon I myself will cross over into your physical world and I will use my full power to rule the Earth,” it said.
The horrifying beings continued to come through. Jared fired at the enormous foe but it passed through him.
“Ha, ha, ha! Insolent fool!” the skeleton taunted.
It seemed it was the end. Then a coy grin went across Jered’s face. He bit his lip and took a deep breath. “I hope this works.” With all his strength, the young hero cast the cube right into the dark skeleton figure’s mouth. It began to tremble and cry out as the surrounding phantoms were drawn into the doorway as it closed. With hundreds of shrieks of the dream wraiths, the dream wraith lord and his underlings were shut into the door which then vanished.
Jerad collapsed on the floor and rolled on his back with a smile. “I did it. It’s over.”