I have nightmares. Every night.
You kind of expect that from a bloke like me, I guess. The guy who writes the scary stories. Nightmares must be part of the job description, right?
They are night terrors. I have had them since I was five years old. They are recurrent. They make me sweat; when I wake up, my pillows are soaked with perspiration. It’s uncomfortable, to say the very least.
And they terrify me.
You read one of my horror stories. Anyone’s horror story, really. You make a conscious choice to do so. If you’re lucky, it’s a scary tale and it resonates somewhere in the dark parts of my soul, and gives you a sweet, safe little chill.
Nobody chooses to have night terrors. Definitely nobody chooses to have night sweats. Those are just gross. Nothing like rolling over into a cold swatch of your own fear-ooze, trapped inside the nooks and crannies of your micro-fiber pillowcase, to remind you that all the things they told you you’d outgrow, you did not.
That acne is nice. Your love for Tears for Fears is still as non-wavering as it ever was. And did you really ask someone — anyone — to bring you a Jolt Cola while you were at work?
So maybe it’s no surprise I still have horrific nightmares.
I just wish I didn’t act them out in my sleep.
I’ve woken myself up out of a fitful sleep, my arms flailing and slapping at some unseen foe, trying to uppercut some demon. Screaming, too. Did I mention I talk in my sleep, too? Oh, that’s fun. Waking up the wife mumbling about monkeys on the trolley or some other surreal shit that sounds like hilarity and nonsense to anyone not in my addled dreaming head.
Nights are scary. I fight sleep like a toddler. I never want to sleep again.
Let’s take last night for example.
There was an old key, like a Victorian prison key, that I needed to get. It was imperative. I saw it in an odd place; it was in between two slices of bread. The key was in a giant submarine sandwich being eaten by a man I didn’t recognize in my kitchen. I reached up and gingerly grabbed the key while the stranger was biting and chewing. Once I had snatched it away, I used it to unlock a book, that was really a journal I had written in tenth grade for an English class.
It doesn’t sound scary, does it? Nope. Weird, maybe, but not terrifying. Unless you were in my head. In my head, it was the worst damned thing ever. Everything slo-mo and sepia toned.
Meanwhile, in real life, instead of grabbing the key, I was actually grabbing my nightly glass of water and pouring it quickly and deliberately into the keyboard of my laptop.
It seemed important at the time. I had no idea that my dream actions were mirroring my real life actions. Bothersome? Oh, you betcha. That computer was my main tool. Losing it felt very close to slicing off my own fingers, making sure that I can’t do any of the things I need to do. Real smart. If I hadn’t been able to borrow a small netbook from my friend, Scofield, I wouldn’t be writing this tonight.
So I did something stupid, that seemed right, but I had no way to control it.
That’s the scary part. That’s the nightmare within the nightmare. That’s the stuff even horror writers don’t talk about.
Those of you who read the tales? You’re getting off easy.