Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Fearful (08/23/07)
TITLE: Midnight Visitations
By Ed VanDeMark
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Dreams are the region where imagination rules and the laws of physics do not prevail. Horror flicks played out on the underside of the eyelids, a reality, more real than real.
Green snakes, hundreds of them under the bed sheets. Attacking rattlers pursuing. Anacondas lurking in the trees. Cobra out of sight but loose in the apartment. Water snakes in the murky darkness. Squirming balled masses of living green spaghetti, with no relief this side of the horizon. The open mouth of a viper leaping off the computer screen. Sleep will not happen tonight.
No trees, not a single bush in view. Eager, prying eyes lurk in unseen places. The middle of a room is absent of furniture. A public building… a place of business… a busy street… the neighbor’s lawn…a city bus…the endless wait for a rush hour subway…locked in a restroom stall at the airport, the exposure is unbearable. Children point, people laugh. The restaurant is crowded. The college campus teems with life. The elevator is filled to capacity. I’m in the mall. I’m hitchhiking, I’m preaching beneath a street light. I sleigh ride in the buff. I slide into second. My Technicolor nudity quivers before this black and white world. I will not go to work tomorrow. I will never again open my door to the world beyond these walls.
The paper’s written, the grade’s always the same “0’” always the identical “F.” The professor’s scrawl covers my blue book like a red rash. The boss’ teeth grind and his stare pierces my façade of confidence. The Cyclops eye and angry breath of my coach laser my soul. The crescendo of voices rise, then crash, my doom is sealed. My ultimate failure is pre-destined by my creator. I’ll watch TV till the money runs out. I’ll starve myself and die. It hurts too much to try again.
I clutch to the shingles. I slip, slip, slip ever closer to the abyss. I stand at the edge of the cliff. The ground gives way. The ladder has fallen. My fingers throb, how much longer can they hold me to this steeple? The roller coaster lifts off its rails. The parasail stutters in flight. My feet fail to find the top rung. The glass elevator is launched. Hijackers cry jihad. Do I dare open my eyes, what if it’s true?
Evil men are in relentless pursuit. Dark nights host shadows that sway to the eerie flight of bat wings. The jack hammer beat of my heart will surely betray my hiding place. The staccato chatter of an automatic weapon chills my bones. A distant owl, the cry of the coyote, and the sudden movement of a black cat weaken my knees. The endless night of the MRI tube, and the power outage, are as damming as the click of the casket lid. Oh God will the sun ever rise?
The sight of flames dancing, the pungent smell of smoke grows more intense, and the screams rise and fall. Ultimately there is silence. Yes I’m awake now, but the dream still holds the firm fingers of its garret grasp around my throat. I’ve checked every room, been to the cellar, and scrambled into the attic. My wife and children lay quietly. Their chest’s rise and fall in the steady and peaceful rhythm of dreamless sleep. All is well, but the vision of the red, the orange and the blue flames partying with demons won’t die. The gagging flavor of smoke continues to sear my tongue. The agonizing screams of the unredeemed will be my midnight wake up call for days that stretch into months.
In the daylight of reality my world offers a secure calm, but as the hours for sleep arrive, devils engage me in mortal combat. Demons too powerful for mere humans encompass me. Ghouls to great for super heroes taunt me. In those twilight hours the forces of evil seem to be beyond the threshold of miracles. Fear indeed rules the night, until God’s word is again tended to. When my dreams are out of control, I’ve learned to rise and read my bible. This simple act restores sweet rest for my exhausted body and my tortured soul.
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