Nightmares

Posted: December 9, 2010 in Short stories

My head hurt. It hurt like hell. Slowly, I opened my eyes. The first thing I noticed was that it was dark. Not so dark that I couldn’t see though. It was as if night was just beginning to fall. Next, I noticed the prickly grass under my face. I groaned and pushed myself with my hands into a sitting position. I looked around and saw that I was in a large, grassy field, but I had no idea how I got here. Last I remembered my three best friends, my sister, and me were hanging out at the Acme grocery store, waiting for my mo to get out of work. Suddenly, a hand touched my shoulder and I screamed.
“Ellis! Jesus Christ! It’s ok… It’s just me, Riley.”
When my heart returned to it’s regular beating pattern, I turned and saw my friend Riley Fahey staring at me with sad eyes.
“Thank God you’re ok,” he said. “It feels like I’ve been waiting forever for you to wake up.”
“How long have you been waiting?”
“Four days.”
“Four days?! I’ve been asleep for four days?!”
Riley nodded. “But I couldn’t leave you. I had already chosen you and if I left… you’d be gone too.” Tears shimmered in his eyes.
“What are you talking about Riley? Where are we and how did we get here?”
“You don’t remember?”
I shook my head, wishing I could.
“We fell through Hell.” His face and voice were stony and expressionless.
“‘Fell through Hell’?” I repeated. “What do you mean?”
“I mean we fell right through the freaking ground, past Hell, and landed here!”
“People don’t just ‘fall through the freaking ground’!” I argued.
“Well we did!”
I flinched. Riley had never yelled at me before. I’d never seen him sad or angry in the whole time I knew him and it scared me.
Riley noticed my reaction and his face softened. “I’m sorry Ellis. I really am. I’m just stressed and upset.”
This time, tears didn’t just fill his eyes, they fell and raced down his cheeks. I’m so sorry Ellis… I’m so, so sorry.”
“What happened?! Where are they?!”
“I couldn’t save them all… I could only save one and you were the first one I found…”
“What are you talking about?!” I demanded, tears beginning to fill my eyes as well.
Riley put his head in his hands and  began sobbing. His shoulders shook violently and his cries filled the night air, sending shivers down my back. My heart broke at the sound of him crying. As desperate as I was to find out the fate of my other friends, I waited silently until Riley calmed down and was able to explain.
“I don’t know how far back you remember, but we were sitting in Acme, waiting for your mom. Then all of a sudden, the lights went out and the floor started cracking. It was like in the movies when an actor steps on thin ice and the whole lake begins to break. And we just fell through. Everything was dark. Before we fell, you passed out. I remember that because Catalena grabbed your arm so we would know that you wouldn’t get lost or something. But at some point, on the way down, we all must have passed out.
“When I woke up, a woman was standing over me. She was beautiful, but terrifying at the same time. She had glossy, black hair. And her eyes were so dark. I couldn’t even tell the difference from her iris and her pupil. It was just… black. But she was very pale and insanely skinny. Like she hadn’t eaten in years. And she had blood dripping from her mouth. It was so odd. All I could think of was a vampire…
“Anyway, she told me that everyone had been separated and that I was the one responsible for saving one person. She told me I had two hours to find someone and declare them as the one I wanted to save. She also said it was impossible to save more than one person and even more impossible to save everyone. She said the best idea was to just stay with the first person I find. And that was you.
“She never said what would happen to everyone else or where they would go. All she said was that they couldn’t be saved and that they’d never be the same. She said there’s no point in even thinking about trying to save them. It’s impossible. All we need to focus on is getting out of here.
“Luckily, she told me how to do that too. Well… sorta. She told me that somewhere in this field there is a silver archway. The archway us covered in golden roses. That’s the way out. She didn’t say where in the field it is, but she did say that we’d stumble across it eventually. And besides, how big can this field be anyway?”
I looked around. The field seemed almost endless. There were no trees or even flowers. Only grass and the early night.
“I guess we should get moving, huh?” Riley said, standing up and then offering me a hand.
I took it thankfully and then said, “I don’t think we should believe that everyone couldn’t be saved. We have to go look for them.”
“I don’t know Ellis… She seemed pretty serious.”
“Riley, these are my bet friends. I can’t just leave them.”
“They’re not your best friends anymore Ellis. They’re changed.
“This isn’t Twilight, Riley. People don’t just randomly turn into monsters and lose their humanity.”
“People also don’t just randomly fall through the ground, and yet, here we are.”
“This has to be a dream,” I said stubbornly.
“Feels pretty real to me,” Riley muttered.
I ignored him and began to walk, in hopes of finding one of my best friends or my sister.
“Wait! Ellis! Don’t leave me here!” Riley caught up with me and we walked together in silence.
By the time my legs starting hurting, my stomach was growling, and beads of sweat were forming on my brow, despite the cold air. I figured we had to have been walking for at least an hour. I sighed and looked at Riley who was also panting and sweating. Suddenly, his eyes widened and he pointed in front of him. I quickly looked to where he was pointing and my jaw dropped.
Not far from where we were standing, a figure was laying in the grass, not moving. My blood ran  cold and my heart dropped into my stomach. I knew it had to be one of my friends. I started running toward her, desperate to see if I could help her.
“Ellis! No!” Riley called after me, but I kept running.
When I reached the body, I dropped to my knees, sending sharp, hot pain up my whole body. I clenched my teeth to keep from screaming. Then I reached out my arm and turned the body until I could see the face of my best friend, Catalena Wilson. Tears streamed down my face as I brushed a strand of black hair away from Catalena’s closed eyes.
The sight of her was horrible. Her usually tan skin was a light shade of blue and it was freezing cold to the touch. Her clothes were torn, making her look like a wild animal had attacked her. However, there were no wounds anywhere as far as I could see.
“Catalena?” I said, trying to gently shake her awake. “Cat, please wake up. Please,” I begged her. But she didn’t move.
“I told you,” Riley said sadly, walking up behind me. “I couldn’t save them.”
I shook my head quickly, as if by doing so, his words would suddenly become false and Catalena would sit up, laughing and teasing me about how I fell for their little joke. But she remained on the ground, cold and unmoving.
I brushed my best friend’s cheek lovingly. “I’m so sorry Catalena…”
As if the sound of her name finally triggered something, Catalena’s eyes flew open. I gasped and found myself short of breath. Catalena’s eyes had lost their warm, brown color and were now blood red. It was terrifying. I wanted so badly to look away, but I couldn’t bring myself to do so. Instead, I whispered, “Cat…?”
And then she started screaming. It was the most spine-chilling scream I’d heard and worse then anything I could ever imagine. I jumped away in fear and just stared, tears pouring down my cheeks. Catalena just lay there and screamed. Her face did not contort to show that she was in pain. In fact, her face was completely expressionless.
“Ellis, we need to get away from here.”
“But we need to help Catalena!”
Riley yanked me to my feet and spun me around until he was staring into my eyes. “That is not Catalena! That is not your best friend! We need to find the silver arch and that means leaving her here. There’s nothing we can do to help her.”
Sadly, I knew he was right, but the thought of leaving one of my best friends killed me. I glanced at her one last time, then took Riley’s hand, and we began to run again. We ran until we couldn’t hear Catalena’s screams any longer. I was amazed that I was still able to cry. I had never cried so much in my life. I looked over at Riley and saw he was crying again too.
“Do you think they are all like that?” I asked him.
“I really don’t know. I just hope we don’t run into anyone else. That was horrible.”
I nodded my head and despite the agonizing pain in my legs, I began to walk again.
“I wish that creepy woman had told you where in this field the arch is.”
“That would make things too easy,” Riley said bitterly.
“Hey! Do you think they could tell us where the arch is?” I asked, pointing ahead to where two figures were standing.
“I don’t think we should go near them,” Riley said, stopping in his tracks. “It could be like Catalena again. Or… worse.”
“But what if it’s not?” I pressed. “What if they really could help us?”
Riley raised an eyebrow. “Do you really think there is anyone in this place that wants to help us?”
I placed my hands on my hips. “I don’t know, ok? Maybe they’re not people who can help us. Maybe they’re just going to make everything worse. But either way, I think we should go over there.”
“But…”
“Riley, please. If you really don’t want to go over there, then don’t. Stay here. But I want to go see who it is.” With that, I began walking toward the two figures. I closed my eyes and held my breath as I wished for the turnout to be positive. When I opened my eyes, I was standing right in front of them. I bit my lip and willed myself not to cry, but my eyes didn’t listen. I cried anyway.
My other best friend, Veyona Soed, was standing there with her arm draped over Ian Tweed, a boy at school whom I had a huge crush on. Veyona was so pale, she looked sickly. Her brown hair stood out strangely against her colorless skin. Her eyes were just like Catalena’s. What used to be jade green was now a deep, scarlet color. Ian, on the other hand, looked completely normal. He had his normal, chocolate colored skin, soft brown eyes, and curly black hair.
Ian and Veyona were talking to each other and neither looked as if they had noticed my arrival. Veyona looked very pleased, but Ian showed no emotion at all. His face was a stonewall that refused to give in to expressing whatever he was thinking.
“Ian?” I called softly. “Are you ok?” I was worried. Ian did not look like something horrible had happened to him. In fact, he wasn’t even with us when we were at Acme. So, I was really confused on how he had gotten here. But, if he was ok, I was determined to keep it that way. If there was any chance I could save someone, I was going to jump at it.
“Ian?” I called again.
Veyona rolled her ruby eyes and sneered at me. “Can’t you tell? He doesn’t want to talk to you. He doesn’t even like you. Never did. Never will. God… When will you learn?”
I began to chew on my bottom lip. Veyona had never said such terrible things to me before.
“Veyona… Please just leave him alone. Just let him go and we’ll all get help.”
“I don’t want your help,” she spat.
“Please V. Just come with me. This isn’t who you are.”
“You have no idea who I am!” She looked at Ian and grinned wickedly. The arm she had draped around him twitched and a small knife appeared in her hand.
“Veyona… put that down. No one has to get hurt.”
Veyona laughed and then she plunged it into Ian’s shoulder.
I let out a loud scream, but Ian’s face didn’t even flinch. He didn’t look like he was in pain, or even scared. He just stood there as Veyona slid the knife out of his skin and a crimson stain spread across the sleeve of his white T-shirt.

“No!” I screamed. “Veyona! What are you doing?!”
Veyona laughed. “You like that?” She raised the knife behind Ian and sunk the blade into his back. Ian fell to his knees, his face still unreadable. Veyona laughed harder.
Unable to handle listening to her cackling. I went to run over to her. My fists were clenched and I had every intention to punch her in the face. But the moment I took a step, something began pulling me back. I tried to fight it until Riley’s voice rang out.
“Come on, Ellis. We can’t stay here.”
“But Ian!” I sobbed.
“I know… But there’s no use.”

He dragged me away. We didn’t run this time. We were too tired. My body began shaking with exhaustion and I had to lean on Riley for support. We hobbled through the field, praying silently that we would find the silver arch soon. Just as I thought we would both collapse, something shimmered in the distance. I patted Riley’s arm and pointed.

“Do you think that’s it?” I could only manage a whisper because my throat was so dry and sore.

“I hope so,” Riley sighed.

With the hope of finally getting out of this place filling us up, Riley and I sped up and ran to the glimmer. When we finally arrived, tears of  joy filled or eye. A large, beautiful arch made of shiny silver and ornamented with thousands of tiny, gold roses stood in front of us. I screamed and hugged Riley, jubilation filling every inch of my being. We were getting out of this hellhole! My heart was beating so fast, I thought I was going to explode. Tears shined on Riley’s happy face.

“I can’t believe we’re here,” he breathed.

I just nodded my head, unable to find the words that would express my happiness. I stretched out my arm and Riley gripped my hand tightly. Then, we began walking closer to the arch, holding our breath, not wanting to let it go until we were on the other side. Suddenly, we noticed a young woman standing in front of the arch. Her back was facing us and her head was tipped up as she stared up at the arch. My whole body tensed up. I knew that figure. That hair. The way she stands. I’ve known it my whole life.

“Calise…” I whispered my sister’s name.

“Ellis, don’t do anything drastic.”

“Riley, that’s my sister. Calise is right there.”

“I know but-”

“How are we going to get past?” I ask.

“I don’t know…”

Slowly, Calise turned around. Her light brown hair shimmered in the sun. Her skin had its normal, healthy color and glow. Her eyes were a sparkly blue. She was normal. Completely normal.  Swiftly, tears filled her eyes.

“Ellis! Riley!” She ran toward us. “I can’t believe it! You guys are ok! I thought I was the only one!”

“Riley said he and I were the only ones who were going to make it!” I yelled back. “Oh my God! Calise… I can’t believe you’re alive…”

Calise held out her arms. “I can’t believe this either. Come on. I need a hug.”

I took a few steps and then wrapped my arms around Calise. The familiar feel of my sister’s hug warmed me and filled me with life.

“ELLIS!”

Riley’s scream jolted me out of my happiness and suddenly my body was filled with pain. I dropped to my knees as coldness filled me. Riley’s terrified scream rang in my ears. The pain was a fire, burning my insides and threatening to burst through my flesh. I closed my eyes and begged for everything to end. Riley screamed my named one last time and I was enveloped by darkness…

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Comments
  1. poetsandall says:

    You are an amazing writer. Well done 🙂

  2. JL Dodge says:

    WOW this was truly great !
    Keep up the wonderful writing !
    Happy Rally
    JL&B

  3. lolamouse says:

    OMG! Now I won’t be able to sleep! I don’t usually read stuff like this for just that reason, but this got me hooked and I had to keep reading it. Now I want to know what happens! Is there more?

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