This is a story I wrote several years ago. I thought I'd air it out for Haloween.
There's an oh so fine line of distinction between the boundaries of reality and death. That very same line that one's mind wants to straddle when the psyche hovers precariously close to the abyss of sleep. Most of us experience little, if any harm. Occasionally, the feeling of falling endlessly into a deep chasm of nothingness to awaken with a gut wrenching jerk might leave us breathless. But...I tell you, that is mere child's play.
My mother once told me that if I hit bottom, I would die. She was wrong! I've hit bottom so many times I’ve lost count, and I’m still alive. But again, that is mere child’s play. It's those other nightmare worlds that I fall into that worry me. No matter how many times I tell myself that it’s only the strange, futile wandering of my groggy brain as I drift into a drugged induced sleep, they won’t go away. Still, the doctor tells me I’m hallucinating and I really want to believe him. But, I know better. They can’t fool me!
Is Dr. Kensington lying or just a nincompoop? Or…maybe he thinks I’m the one who’s insane! Maybe that’s why I always get this stupid, supercilious grin when I tell him they are real. Then he checks my constraints again, as if I might get loose!
Without batting an eye, he proceeds to recite to me for the umpteenth time that it was only a nightmare. "Now, be good, Sammy,” he croons as if to a child. “Otherwise, I’ll have to sedate you again." That creep knows I won’t let that happen. Once was all it took for me to learn my lesson.
"Anything but that," I whisper piteously. I haven't slept in days and I'm tired...so very tired. They'll get me for sure next time I sleep. I don't dare close my eyes for even a moment. Wouldn’t Kensington just love it if I kicked off in my sleep. Yes sir, I’ve learned my lesson. I will never sleep again! Do you hear me? Never! Never! Never!
That’s exactly what that monster Greely is waiting for. Last time, he had me by the throat, ready to sink his four-inch fangs into my flesh before I barely managed to drag myself awake. I was so close to that gaping chasm of rotting flesh that I nearly puked from the stench. I know that if I fall asleep now, he'll get me. Yes, he will regardless of what Kensington says. There is no return from that seething world of evil, depraved gargoyles, griffins and hippogriffs.
Do you think that I might even become one of them? Oh, Gawd, say no! Please don’t let them get me. I’ll do anything to keep that from happening!
I don’t care what that idiot doctor says, no human mind ever conjured up such a slithering, cowering, skulking bunch of freaks. Perversely, that's what makes them so real. I beg you, you have to believe me. I wouldn't lie to you. It's not just a horrible nightmare summoned up by my subconscious. And, I’m absolutely not hallucinating! They are real! I know they are...and so does Greely.
When the police first brought me here, to the hospital, I made the mistake of telling Dr. Kensington that they were trying to kill me. Those monsters were going to suck my body dry and then toss it onto the putrid, undulating, smog yellow sirocco wind of their world. He had the nerve to laugh! Can you believe that? He laughed at me! Kensington had the gall to say I was letting all those years of research into the paranormal curdle my brain.
"Who are they?" he asked solicitously. He doesn’t know how close I came to wringing his wattled neck right then and there. "Sam, you know it's just a small matter of too much cheap wine,” he sniveled. “You've got to give up the bottle. Booze and drugs don't mix. Sam...Sam...Sam, when are you going to learn?"
The man’s an absolute idiot! He acted just like I'd been here before. I don't drink. I can't stand the taste of alcohol. And, I've never seen that pompous ass before. He's the one who needs to be locked away in a cell, not me. He’s downright dangerous. In fact, I don’t even believe he’s a real doctor.
I have to admit that that was when I got violent. Next thing I knew, Kensington zapped me with a sleep hypo. Then, my troubles started for real. That was the first time Greely actually laid hands...paws...claws on me. Since then, I've managed to remain calm no matter what, but I refuse to sleep. The doctor says that as long as I'm good he won't knock me out again.
It was that ignorant bastard's fault, and there's nothing I can do about it. He refuses to believe me. If I play his retarded game, he won’t drug me. "Be good, Sam. Don't make waves, Sam. Do as I tell you, Sam," that supercilious prick whines. Gawd, how I hate him!
Occasionally, I find myself falling...falling...falling. Nearly falling into that torturous, black hell of nothing before I realize that I’m drifting on the first feint currents of sleep. It's so hard to stay awake when they won't take the restraints off. If I could only move around it would help. But no, Kensington doesn't want me to hurt myself. Not that he cares one way or the other. It’s all an act!
What does he think I'm going to do trussed up like a fattened pig? Maybe he thinks I’m going to slip through the steel mesh screen and inch thick bars across my tiny window. Besides, Kensington says there's an armed guard outside my door. I’m not a criminal, so I think he’s making it all up.
Not that it really matters. When I finally give out, they will know about it before Kensington or anyone else can save me. I can't stay awake forever, you know. I can imagine the look of astonishment on his stupid, bucolic face when Kensington discovers my empty corpse rotting in a pool of fetid ichor. If I could witness it, my death just might be worth while.
I wish you could see Greely and his buddies. Most of them are so repulsive that it's impossible to look them in the eyes. That is if you even knew where to look. Every time I try, my stomach roils violently and bitter bile rises in my throat. "Dear, Gawd, make them go away," I pray to myself, but it doesn’t help. They’re still here and getting stronger all the time.
Even though they fight constantly among themselves, there is one thing they all have in common. Every last one of them longs to hang my soft, unprotected, pitiful flesh out to dry. The repugnant bastards fight over me like I was a choice piece of candy! I want to cry every time I think about it.
Just to amuse myself, I’ve given a couple of them names. That way, I can think of them as human, or maybe I should say semi-human. Take Greely for instance. It just sort of fits him. He's big, mean and ugly, but maybe not as bad as the others. And he’s the one who first crossed from their world to ours.
There's another one that I call Bozo the Clown because he has an enormous ruff of writhing, brilliant orange hair that reminds me of the kids clown. Of course, it's not really hair. Hair doesn't hiss and moan at you. His double set of hot, pulsing, red eyes puts an end to any resemblance of gaiety. It doesn't take a genius to know that he is totally insane.
Then, there's the little female who stands about waist high on me. She doesn't appear quite as repulsive as the rest. But, it's all a put on. I saw her...it fly into a rage that even had Greely cringing and he’s three times her size. The madder Lucricia got (I don't know why I think of it as female), the more she sprayed the crowd with vitriolic slime. Scalding spittle showered us every time she opened her repulsive mouth. It was sort of like being sprayed with hot lava.
I tried to show Kensington where the stuff charred my skin. But, he claims that I did it with a lit cigarette. He seems to have forgotten that my hands are tied to the bed, plus who would give me a match to light a cigarette if I had one? What kind of a weirdo does he take me for? No sane person would pull such a stunt. I had oozing blisters all over my face and arms, but he just ignored them. And I am sane in spite of what the doctor says. I know it. Greely knows it and someday, so will Kensington. Of course, by then it will be too late.
Kensington came in a few minutes ago. The idiot treats me like a retarded child. I want to puke when he calls me Sammy. You'd think I was a sniveling, snot nosed, six-year-old the way he acts. It makes me so furious I could cheerfully commit murder with my bare hands. Can you believe that he actually asked if I was ready to get out of my "designer jacket?" I nearly told him where he could stuff his damned jacket!
I did pretty good for a while. I almost had him convinced that I was ready to go home. But then, Greely suddenly loomed over his shoulder, slobbering like a mad dog. I tried to warn Kensington, but the fool wouldn't listen. The imbecile laughed and called me a naughty, little boy.
Well, big, green and slimy followed close upon the heels of the retreating doctor. Unless I'm mistaken, that quack won't be back. I could be wrong, but...I don't think so. Greely looked very, very hungry. I've seen it before, I know what that look means.
I just wish they would let me out of this straight jacket. Sometimes I can't keep my eyes open no matter what I do. If I could only walk around...or run in place...or...or...I don't know. Anything would help. As it is, I sit and worry…and wonder when they’ll be back.
More and more, I'm beginning to wish that Kensington was right. If, I was hallucinating, everything would be okay. I keep seeing one or another of those creeps slither under my door. Some just stick a hand under and wave at me like we were best friends. Yet, I know that they’re not a part of my waking world. I have to believe that. I just have to.
One time, I opened my eyes to find Lucricia and two others standing over me. She gave me quite a nasty burn. Teasing me like a seductress, she slowly licked the sweat from my cheek and laughed like a psychopath. I screamed and screamed for help, but no one came. Finally, the trio winked and blinked from existence. Apparently they can’t stay on this side very long…at least not yet.
I pray that that was the worst they can do to me here. If I could only block then from my mind, deny their existence, they might go away. If not...they will continue to grow stronger and stronger, overcoming everything, everybody in their path! And I will become dinner in a million little pieces. Nothing more than a small snack for each of them.
It's three AM, and I've lost the battle. I can no longer deny the obvious. Those ghastly creatures of my twilight dreamscape have made the crossing into reality. As of yet, they are more like mirages; mere phantoms of horrors to come. None of them have any solid matter as yet, but it won't be long now. So far, they aren't strong enough to stay more than a few minutes.
Squeaky passed right through me about an hour ago. Gawd, it hurt! I cried and cried and cried, and the little bitch laughed. Do you hear me? She laughed like hell! I can't take it anymore. I have to get out of here!
Greely is the strongest of the lot. And I swear to Gawd that he's getting bigger, too. He has to bend double just to get through the door. Maybe that's why all the others avoid him. Anyway, he stayed exactly twenty-two minutes before vanishing last time. All he did was watch me, but it was a promise that he’d be back. None of the others have stayed more than five minutes.
His disposition hasn't improved either. I've seen some pretty knock down, drag out fights on the other side, but that was kindergarten play compared to now. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum got into a really bloody row last night. Greely was screaming for order. When they didn't listen, he turned thirteen shades of puke. It was awful, I didn't want to watch, but I couldn't stop myself.
Suddenly, Greely opened his maw from the top of his ten-foot high head to the tip of his fifteen toes on all three feet. It was like a speeding locomotive running over a flock of ducks. Feathers and lots of other icky...stuff splattered all over me, my room...everywhere. This time, Lucritia was the one cowering in fear.
Greely chewed up the Siamese twins and spat them out at the walls. I vomited all over myself as he pulverized the two headed, six hundred-pound twins into little, tiny pieces of gore.
Then, that creep, Kensington, came in to see what the ruckus was. Of course he said that he didn't see anything. He was lying! I know it. "You imbecile!" I screamed insanely. "Are you blind? You have to see them now."
Then, I noticed something odd about Doctor Kensington. He was at least a foot taller. There was something strange about his feet, too. His shoes looked as if they were about to burst at the seams. Then, I noticed the exotic, green tendrils of flesh inching sensuously over the top of his collar. I nearly soiled myself.
That did it, I started screaming incoherently. "You're one of them!" I ranted stupidly. "I should have known. This isn't a hospital! You brought me here. And I know what you're going to do to me. Let me out of here!"
Oh Gawd! I'm still strapped to this hydraulic bed like a fattened calf. It’s no wonder they've been stuffing food down my throat. Oh Gawd! Oh Gawd, get me out of here! Before I could say another word, clutching tentacles slithered from nowhere to tighten brutally about my soft, yielding flesh. "Where did you come from?" I whispered weakly.
The maniacally grinning creature mewled softly. With a sickening squelch of tearing flesh, the doctor's skull split to reveal a mass of pulsating, malodorous, jelly like worms. From somewhere in the grotesquely distended abdomen, a voice boomed. In words barely recognizable, it said, "You brought us forth into reality from the darkest Netherlands of your sick, depraved soul. We are what you never dared be; what you could never be. We are the sickest of the sick; the dregs of a life gone sour. We are you, my poor little Sammy!"
Shivering, I braced myself for the final devastating blow. But, it never came. Not then anyway. I have no idea how long ago that was. The big school clock on the wall smeared into a running, slimy mess about the same time that the Kensington creature did an insane jig out the door.
It's just a matter of time now. I'm so tired. I can barely hold my head up. It's getting harder and harder to keep my eyes open. I find myself treading ever closer to that terrible abyss of no return. Precariously, I teeter on that indistinct line between not quite death and...insanity.
"Wake up, Sam!" I cry aloud. "It's just a nightmare."
Then…a tiny, little voice whispers back, "What if it isn't?"