Nightmare Fuel

Click.

I jolt awake, sitting up and breathing heavily. My back is covered in sweat, and my arms tremble. I stay like that, my head bowed and fists clenched, unable to get rid of my uneasiness. I squeeze my eyes shut, then open them wide. The darkness pushes at my pupils, an unwelcome guest. I slowly sink back into the mattress, pulse thrumming in my veins. There’s a faint glow in my peripheral vision, angry and unyielding. I ignore it. No need to fuel the nightmares.

Click.

Click.

The cursor on my computer’s screen is unresponsive, and I tap the left mouse button harder than necessary, frustration rising in my chest. After a moment, the screen goes black. I realize I never saved my work. All my progress, painstakingly pored over, gone. The bubbling irritation boils over into hot red anger, spilling over the sides and feeding the growing flame inside me. I clench my jaw, teeth clattering as my whole body vibrates.

I grip the mouse in my fist, hurling it at the wall. The sound it makes as it collides with the solid surface makes me wince. The fire dwindles, gradually replaced by shame. I shove it down, blaming the intensity of my anger on stress.

I get up to inspect the damage and retrieve my poor mouse. There’s a hole in the wall, but there’s no sign of the mouse itself. Sighing heavily, I prod at the tennis ball-sized hole. The edges crumble at my touch, and I snatch my hand away, watching in horror as the hole widens.

Images of eyes knock at my memory, but I push them away. No need to fuel the anxiety. I catch a glimpse of white plastic just inside the opening, and I reach my arm inside to feel for the mouse.

But then there’s a tug on my wrist, and suddenly my waist catches on the rough, exposed edge of the wall, and I’m falling, falling, falling. My stomach fails to keep up, and I feel sick, but then it’s over.

There’s solid ground beneath my body, but I can’t see. I squeeze my eyes shut, then open them wide. Nothing. I push myself off the floor, standing on unsure feet.

The sound of my breathing feels magnified, flooding my ears and blurring my senses. Thoughts of the unknown threaten to overtake me, but I tamp it down. No need to fuel the fear.

I take a cautious step forward. I want to take off my shoes to muffle the sound, but I don’t dare. My footsteps want to echo, but their shouts are clipped short, shackled by the infinite darkness.

Click.

Click.

Click.

Long fingernails on a sturdy wooden table. Pointed heels on concrete. Garden shears on a bright summer day. The back and forth swing of a trusty metronome.

Then eyes, blinking, all around me. Their lids obscure glowing red pupils, like bloody crescent moons. I keep walking, but they follow my path, insistent.

I walk on and on, but the tunnel seems never-ending. The darkness is suffocating, making my legs wobbly and feet uncertain. My balance shifts, and I stumble. My arms fly up to steady me, and a drop of wet lands on the back of my hand. Startled, I quickly snatch my hand back, pressing it to my chest. My pulse races. I can hear the rush of blood in the back of my skull.

But then there’s another on my shoulder, and another on my cheek, and the air is warm and misty, almost tangible. Eyes, staring, everywhere and nowhere all the same time. My lungs constrict, refusing to take in air. Every one of my muscles tense in anticipation. And I’m terrified.

I break out into a run, sprinting and gasping and throat stinging. Eyes, everywhere, wrathful and calm and full of warning and promise and I can’t breathe.

I slip on the damp floor, falling forward. My hands are there to catch me, but they shake too much and I end up sprawled on the ground, frozen in fear.

Click.

Eyes, angry and unyielding, closing in.

Click.

Darkness, heavy and suffocating.

Click.

Dew, settling on my skin, encasing me.

Click.

My head swims, and I’m gone.


Inspired by this writing prompt.

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