Missing Days of Horror23
That title and subtitle is probably more interesting than the content of the post. I realized I missed four entries between posts and the last post was already so damn long that I didn’t want to tack them on.
March 4 - Somnia
Another nightmare. You wake up drenched in sweat again. Your heart slams against your ribs like a drum. Your lungs struggle to catch up to it. Each breath is quick a short, beating out a staccato rhythm to match the panic that grips you.
You made it three days without sleep this time. Not your longest record. Not long enough. Caffeine only does so much. You are going to have to find something stronger.
Coffee and lights go a long way to calm you down. You are loathe to do it, but you sit down with your dream journal and try to remember whatever fragments of your nightmare you can dredge from your brain. The journal is thick and battered, filled up with pieces of a nightmare you can never fully remember. You are damn near to the last page. You’ll have to get another one soon.
You struggle to remember, but the clearest part of the nightmare is the same one across all of them: an entity lurking in your dreams, waiting for the moment to twist dreamscape and torment you.
💬 What lurks in your dreams?
💬 Are there any other common elements in your nightmares?
💬 Who do you reach out to for help?
💬 Who are you alienating with your behavior?
March 5 - The Space Beyond
Your return to conscious thought is painfully slow.
The flashlight in your hand is held slack and useless, it’s beam shining on the sucking mud of the space beyond the cellar.
Your eyes eventually focus on the space ahead of you, on a darkness so deep that the scant light of the flashlight barely penetrates it. You prompt your brain to bring the flashlight up. It does not. You hear nothing but the static of your rushing blood and your own labored breathing.
The rank, rotting smell of the muck at your feet finally claws its way into your senses, but you don’t even have time enough to register your disgust. The pain starts in the tip of your toes and spreads upwards, a slow crackle of lightning that shocks through your joints and jolts your muscles.
You try your foot. The mud holds it fast and everything aches, but you can move.
This is not the first time you have been here. Every step of that first excursion was a battle, as if the mud held fast to root you in place and prevent you from progressing deeper into the dark. You remember the unsettling feeling you had back then, the raised hackles and goosebumps and sensation of wrongness that spiked into your lizard brain and made you want to run away.
You said you weren’t going to go back. You took measures—a grate and planks and a liberal application of fasteners and a heavy shelf you barely managed to scrape into place. So how the fuck did you get here?
That unsettling feeling strikes you again. Panic streaks through you. Your breath quickens, your pulse races. There is something here with you. You can hear a slithering sucking sound coming from the dark ahead of you, from that deep dark that your now wildly sweeping flashlight can’t even dent.
You rip your leg up from the muck. Turn. Rip the other out. Take one step. Then another. The mud grasps at your feet and holds firm. The battle forward becomes the battle back. Each labored step stokes a painful fire in your legs.
The slithering, sucking sounds grows louder. You feel as though whatever it is will catch up any moment.
It does not.
The mud eases.
Each step is easier, thought he pain does not subside.
The sound is still behind you. A little further behind now, perhaps, but very much there.
You see light coming from the hole in the cellar. See the stonework just beyond that portal. You squeeze through. The grate and planks are piled nicely next to the portal. The screws and nails collected in a jar just beside them. The shelf has been pushed to the other side of the room.
You don’t remember any of this.
There is no light shining through the high thing window. Night time. You last remember morning.
How long were you down there? How much time did you lose?
You notice the book in your hand as you reach for the ladder up. You did not notice that you were holding it until now. You push the thought of it aside and climb. The pain is tremendous, but you climb still. You want desperately to sit and rest after you pull yourself from the cellar and slam the door shut.
You do not.
You pack a bag and grab your keys and you are out the door and into the night. Near midnight if the clock in the car is anything to go by. You hope it is the same day, but you can’t be sure. Panic still rips through your mind. The pain still throbs through you limbs.
The book is still clutched in your hand. You can’t seem to let it go. To put it aside. To leave it behind. Even as you speed away from the cabin you’ve called home for the past few months, the book rests on the seat beside you. You absently stroke its ancient cracked leather when not trying to find a radio station playing something, anything to help fight the exhaustion that threatens to lull you to sleep.
💬 Whispers led you to the hole in the cellar. What did they say?
💬 Why are you staying at this rural cabin?
💬 Who will you call as soon as your phone gets signal?
💬 Why does this book seem so familiar to you?
March 6 - Blood Splatter
It was an accident. Right?
You didn’t mean to do it. You didn’t want to do it.
How could you ever kill them? You love them more than anything in the world.
But you have to admit that your partner started to act strange.
Not like themselves. Not like the person you have been waking up next to every day for nearly a decade.
They became distant. Withdrawn. They pushed you away. Ignored you. You saw them less and less. Often you’d enter a room and know, just know, that they had just occupied it and left when they heard you coming. It was as if they were now a ghost haunting your home.
When they failed to slip away, they acted cold to you. When you tried to talk with them they responded with silence and a fierce glare.
You didn’t mean to. You didn’t want to. You loved them.
Then they rushed you. Their unholy shriek felt like spikes crushing through your skull. Flesh sloughed from fingers that had grown long and thick. It hung wet and heavy, a ragged glove of skin that splattered blood across the room and you each time they raked at you with those freshly formed claws.
Your mind races to come up with excuses. It was an accident. You didn’t mean to. You didn’t want to. You could never. That’s not reality though.
The knife’s clarion clatter against the kitchen tile ends your panicked reasoning. Reality is cruel but honest.
It wasn’t an accident. You meant to do it because you had to do it.
💬 When did your partner’s behavior change?
💬 Were there any unusual events that happened around that time?
💬 What other changes, physical and mental did your partner undergo?
💬 Who do you turn to about this?
March 7 - Guilt
You were always so good at talking people into things. You knew what to say and how to say it. The right words in the right ears opened up all sorts of doors that opened into opportunities. For a kid from a dead-end nowhere town like you, those opportunities were everything. You escaped the grip of your hometown and family, found some friends, netted a few jobs you shouldn’t have been allowed near, and navigated your way through a life far more exciting than you had ever expected.
The coffee mug in your hand trembles and you sit it back down on the table instead of taking a sip. It’s been a week since exhaustion and anxiety took over your life. Calm feels like a thing of the past. Those moments when you find some semblance of it are about as rare as your escapes from insomnia. One of those doors led you here, too.
The right words in the right ear, but you were the one doing the listening. It lead to a golden opportunity. A group of folks giving meaning to the world and a good paycheck, too. More than that though, there was the sense of belonging. The group welcomed you with open arms and for the first time in forever, you were doing something that felt right. It felt like you were right where you needed to be.
All you had to do was talk and you were good at that. The group brought folks to you at first. People lonely or down on their luck. People with stories to tell. There you were, a sympathetic ear at the right moment. They talked for as long as they needed to and then it was your turn. You spoke the right words in the right tone, wrapped them in the group’s dogma, and the doors you opened brought these folks into the fold.
When you saw these people again, rare though that was, they looked better. Happier. It mirrored your own experience. You were happy before, but never quite as happy as you were doing work for the group. It wasn’t even about the money anymore. You believed in the words you spoke.
Until you were invited into the inner circle to worship with the leaders of the group. Until you led a newer member of the flock, who you had opened that door for, through the small congregation and up to the dais in the center of the room. You held their nervous hand, excitedly assured them that this was a wonderful opportunity for someone new to the group. It took a while to get that invite.
You would know. After all the work you had done over the past several months, after all the people you had brought into the fold, you had finally been allowed to participate for the first time.
And the last time.
What you saw there, what you were complicit in, shocked you. It left you shaken, nerves shot. What little sleep you get is plagued by nightmares. The easiest ones are like reliving the scene. They get far worse. You are exhausted and frustrated by the exhaustion, but that’s nothing compared to the guilt and you know you deserve all of it.
💬 What does the cult worship?
💬 What ritual did you observe that affected you so?
💬 What are the worse nightmares like?
💬 What steps did you take to leave the cult?