Afraid To Fall Asleep
Sleep is a hated necessity for me. A dreaded occasion. A chore. A nightmare.
Every night, I embark on a twisted ride like Charon on the river Styx. I glide in my kayak on the black water of the nightmare world. The water is thick like oil and sticks to my paddle and skin like molasses.
It takes so much effort to get through the bad dream. I strain, pushing the oar through the murky liquid, afraid what will happen to me before I can get out. I have my eyes set at the distant light, a small opening, far away.
There are mud covered heads with missing eyes bobbing up to the surface of the water as I try to push my way through them. I strike some of them and it splits their skulls in half, dark brown liquid mixing in with the onyx water.
Skeletal arms and hands try to grab for my paddle, pulling on it, tilting my kayak from side to side. Sometimes they latch their bony fingers onto the side and I have to drag them with me until they get tired of it.
Ash covered winged creatures like pterodactyls swoop down from the charcoal sky, flying so low, my hair flutters. I can smell their musty aroma. I feel the specks of dust from their feathers falling on my cheeks. Their beaks are large and curved, hungry for my eyes.
I keep going, the opening to the light getting closer.
But before I reach it, my kayak runs aground and I must get out and sink into the mud. I trudge forward, stumbling, falling on my hands, my whole body covered in the earthy, wormy layer of dirt.
There are cliffs on either side of the muddy river and suddenly, as if by osmosis, they produce a score of men.
Some look like Vikings with long braided hair, bulging biceps and muscular thighs. Some are tall, lanky, menacing, enveloped in long black trench coats. Some have masks on their faces. But they all have one thing in common: the look in their feverish eyes. All of those eyes zoom in on me, like a cluster of lasers focusing at a common target.
I feel my heart bang in my chest. I can’t swallow. I try to speed up but keep getting sucked down by the mud.
They are getting closer, starting to raise their various weapons of choice. Bows and arrows, knives, guns, sticks. Some hold a metal string or a rope between their hands, snapping them as they approach. Some of them just clench their fists.
I finally find my footing and pull myself from the mud onto the dirt and grassy bank. I feel tears and desperation run down my face. I open my mouth to cry for help and all I can hear is a slight whimper.
I start running towards that light opening, still so far away.
The dream world becomes a vortex of my escape. I bound over meadows, zig zag through a forest, crash through thorny bushes, jump over fences. I run down the stairs, sometimes taking a whole flight at once, I roll under wooden panels descending to the ground and burst through swinging doors.
I feel the men’s fingers brushing my back and I arch it to get away from them. Their rancid breath shrouds me like a cloak. I hear them rustling behind me, clinking their weapons, grunting, bloodthirsty.
Suddenly, I feel a surge of energy and I am lifted up in the air and I fly. But it is not a pleasant flight like a bird. It is a manic horizontal swirl, propelling me across the sky and pushing me higher ever so slightly. I know that if I don’t stop this, I will end up higher and higher and fall that much harder.
I see tree tops in the distance and try to grab the top branches. They whip me in the face and burn my palms but I manage to hold on to one and I cling to it. I anchor my body to the tree limb. I wrap my arms and legs around it, willing the flight force to go away. But it won’t let me.
I am torn from the branch and I am flying higher and higher. I can barely see the ground and I know I am doomed.
I tilt my body downward, I might as well get it over with.
I jet down, in almost a straight vertical trajectory, my hair like lightening bolts on the side of my head, my eyes squinting in the whoosh of the wind.
I see the rooftops now, I see the grass and pathways in the fields.
My body levels off but teeters dangerously left and right just like an airplane about to land with an inexperienced pilot.
I see the rocks and pebbles in the dirt.
I am about to hit the ground.
My eyes snap open. I realize I am in my bed. I am panting. My T-shirt and the sheet I was under are soaked in sweat. My hair is stuck to my head. My heart is drumming as fast as hummingbird’s wings.
I try to see the men in the darkness wielding their weapons. They are not here. But they are there, in the dream, waiting for me.
I force myself to stay awake for at least ten minutes hoping I won’t go back into the same dream.
I don’t go back into the same dream. The next dream I have is worse.