Story – Nightmare

Amy’s nightmares were more than terrifying. They hunted her, haunted her, and hounded her until she woke up.  Or at least, when she thought she had woken up. (Genre – General, Genre – Horror, Rating – 12, Full Story)  Image credit – wolfgangfoto, flickr

In the nightmare, the world twisted and fluctuated like the sea around Amy.

She ran as fast as she could. The creatures followed her, decaying hands reaching out and grabbing at her ankles to try and pull her into their deathly grasp. She didn’t turn to look back, but in her heart she knew that she could not outrun them.

Yet she continued to run. Her limbs moved as if travelling through treacle, their movements painstakingly slow and laborious.  The ground felt soft underfoot, even though it looked like the road that she walked down every day to get to work. Her bare feet pulled the pavement up with every step, as if she was walking in vicious mud, skin ripping as she tore it away from the surface to try and make her escape.

The creatures, however, faced no such restriction. They swarmed around her like insects, elegantly galloping forward on their elongated rotting limbs. A small part of Amy’s mind thought that these creatures looked awfully familiar to that dead body on the thriller movie she had watched last week, but the quiet voice was quashed by a very real fear that she would be eaten alive.

They converged like water rushing down a river, spreading down the sides of the houses and closing the thin strip of road that was Amy’s corridor to freedom. Red eyes that set back into grey skeletal heads flashed around her, as the monsters ghastly screeches that sounded like the squeal of car brakes filled the air.

Amy tried to run, but it was in vain. The creatures turned, as they pounded down the road towards her like a herd of wildebeests, their thick grey skin drawing back to revel rows upon rows of pointed teeth like a shark.

In a moment, they were upon her.

She could feel the creatures ripping into her skin, pulling apart her body with their thin claws like a meticulous surgeon. Hands groped at her eyes, her arms, her stomach as she was slowly dismembered piece by piece until all Amy could feel was burning vicious pain that was as bright as the time she had burnt her hand on the stove the other day.

Then, thankfully, she died.

x-x-x

The world burned.

Flames roared high into the sky, licking around the wooden columns as it ate away at the building. Glowing embers fell like rain, scoring as they pummelled into the wooden floor. The acrid smell of smoke was almost overpowering, but it was not strong enough to stop Amy laughing.

In truth, she wasn’t sure why she was laughing. There was some part of her mind that questioned what was so hilarious at a burning building, especially one which was burning to the ground around her.

She didn’t care.

Her skin was scored with red marks where the fire had burnt it. Her left hand was nothing more than a red mass of blood and burns, her fingers strung together with the barest hint of tendons which managed to still pull her finger bones into any position she desired. Her dress was aflame, the rich fabric smoking as the flames leapt from the nearby column in search of a new source to burn into ashes.

A flash of light and the world changed.

Amy stood in the burnt out cinders of the house, still dressed in the same dress which was smoking gently. The smell of burnt wood was fresh in the air, even the gentle breeze which drifted lazily through the remains of the house failed to shift the acidic stench.

“Hello?” Amy asked.

The word echoed through the house, rippling across the deadly silence like a ripple moving across the surface of a still pond. Ash was kicked into the air by the word, swirling as if it had been hit by a huge gust of wind, before it drifted slowly back towards the ground like grey snow.

Amy waited.

She knew she had been here before, even if it was not in this house or wearing this dress or at this time of the early morning. It was the familiarity of the silence that made her mind recognise the scene, knowing it to be a pause before the main hunt began.

“Come out,” Amy asked.

Her mind created a creature in response.

The ashes on the ground ten feet away from her began to stir. First, it was as if the wind was tossing the ashes into the air, but then they cemented into one another to form into a huge paw, which bled red cracks of burning ash in the place of veins.

More ash was swept up to create the creature, and soon long legs and broad shoulders were created out of nothingness. A body was added, making it almost six feet long, as its legs extended so it would stand as tall as a man. The ash coalesced into a skull, as flames leapt off a burning pillar to fill its black eye sockets with twinkling red flames.

The rest of the creatures monstrous face formed into that of a huge wolf, but with teeth that were almost the length of Amy’s forearm. It was a primal beast, born from Amy’s primal fear of dogs and their long slim jaws which looked so inhuman.

The creature growled, kicking up piles of ash as it pawed the floor.

Fear hit Amy like a truck.

It was then she felt the fire burning her skin, as it licked up the edges of her velvet red dress. She had been in this dream before, and now she realised why her mind had purposely ghosted over the detail of the nightmare. The creature began to walk towards her, muscular shoulders flowing under the skin of ash that made up its body. It could kill her in a single bite.

In fact, that was what it was going to do.

Amy turned to flee, but she couldn’t move her limbs. She was frozen in position, burning embers dropping around her, as the creature lowered itself towards the ground. Its muscles bunched, tangling together as it bared it teeth, a growl rumbling from the very depths of its throat.

It pounced.

Amy screamed.

Teeth sliced.

Blood spilled.

Amy died.

x-x-x

Amy screams when she wakes up.

The noise is something primeval, as she scrabbles at her throat to ensure that there is no blood spitting out of it. Her hands no longer burn, but sweat covers every inch of her trembling body.

Her heart pounds.

She breathes, deeply, trying to calm her turbulent thoughts. They continue to spin, however, and the shadows that dress the darkest corners of her room mould into the ghosts of the monsters that haunt her dreams.

The door creaks.

Her eyes flick towards the door, hands gripping the duvet tightly. The air presses in around her, tickling her skin with invisible fingers, telling her that she is alone.

It is just her and her mind here, and the mind is a powerful weapon of terror.

She breathes again, and her heartbeat settles. Her hand reaches tentatively out from underneath the covers, scrabbling for her phone. Fingers clutch the familiar technology, she turns on the music app and suddenly the silence is snapped by a few keys of piano music.

A rattle against the window.

Her heart leaps, but not as hard as last time. She tries to breathe, in through the nose and out through the mouth. The music that trickles out of her phone means that the room doesn’t become a breeding ground for her manic thoughts.

This is real, Amy thinks.

She clutches her duvet tightly, pulling up around her shoulders. As she settles into sleep, allowing the music that slides from her phone lulls her into a deep and peaceful sleep.

In the corner of her room, red eyes blink in the shadows.

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