Flash fiction response to prompt: Write Something Spooky for Halloween
She has always been a vivid dreamer. Dreams so intense, she would sometimes wake exhausted. So, in some respects, this dream was not so different from the others. But in most every other way, it is nothing like any other dream she has ever had.
It begins at a familiar dreamscape, her childhood home. She’s standing in the backyard, looking at the backdoor. She’s not sure why, but with the absolute certainty of dreams she knows she has to go inside, but at the same time she knows something terrible is awaiting her inside. Her feet slowly start to drag her forward, towards the door. With each stumbling step, her dread grows. She wants to stop, to run away, but she keeps moving slowly forward. By the time she reaches the door, a scream has built inside her, nearly choking her with its desire to escape. She sees her hand reach out for the door handle and it feels like she has lost all control of her own body. She doesn’t want to open the door. She doesn’t want to see what’s inside. But she can’t stop, can’t look away. It’s inevitable, her opening the door. She can no more fight it than she can pull the sun from the sky.
The knob turns under her hand. The door opens, slowly, before her. The darkness inside rushes out and swallows her whole. And she wakes, screaming.
The dream first came to her as a small child. She doesn’t remember exactly when. Sometime in elementary school. And for awhile, it was a frequent problem. Night terrors, she later decided. Strangely enough, her parents never knew. Evidently, her screams were silent, her vocal cords, and the rest of her body, paralyzed by the trauma of the nightmare. She doesn’t suffer from sleep paralysis. Except after this dream. When she has this dream, she wakes gasping, mouth open in a silent scream, but unable to move or speak. All she can do is wait, soaking in her terror until it slowly fades, until the dream releases her. It’s awful, but it’s been so long since it’s happened that she’s almost managed to forget it. In the haze of distant memory, the terror has dulled. She figures she’s outgrown it.
But here she is again, standing in the yard before that door with the chill of fear sliding down her spine. She fights it, fights herself, but it progresses just the same as it always has. And she discovers that she was wrong. Time has not dulled the terror. It slices through her as hot and sharp as it ever has. Helpless to stop herself, she twists the knob. The darkness roars as it surges forward.
Her eyes fly open, as wide as her mouth in its attempt to scream. Her heart hammers against her chest like it’s beating against a locked door, desperate for escape. Her muscles are all straining, but locked in place. She wants to flee or cry or hide, but can do nothing. And that’s when she hears it. And she knows she’s not alone.
Her eyes roll in their sockets, the only part of her she can control. She can barely see anything in the dark of the room, just the shadowy outlines of her furniture. Then one shadow moves. It consolidates into a human form, but she can’t make out a face. As it draws nearer, she realizes it’s wearing a mask. At first, her panicked gaze catches on its predatory stare, but then it opens its mouth. And something blacker than the night flies out of its throat and engulfs her with a deafening, thunderous boom.
No one really knows what happened to her. She went to sleep one night and never really woke up, they say. It’s sad. She was supposed to go on a trip the next day, home to visit her parents. She’s not going anywhere now.
She’s awake in there somewhere, the doctors say. She could still come back. We shouldn’t give up hope. I like to think that she’s just dreaming. I hope it’s a good dream.