The Infection (Excerpt)

Chapter Eleven

I jolt out of sleep and am met by a wave of relief. So it WAS just a dream! That kind of dream drains me emphatically. Wow, I’m thirsty. I get out of bed to get a drink of water. As I go out, I stub my big toe on the doorway. I yell several words that my mother would not approve of, and I stumble out the door. I faceplant on the floor.

I limp towards the bathroom, or at least, the direction I imagine the bathroom to be.

… And I run smack into a wall.

Yeah, of course I do.

Why? Because the bathroom door is no longer present. Just to piss me off, life gives me a dream-inside-a-dream. They’re the most tiring kind. The relief just fades so fast, especially with bad dreams.

I lumber back over to my bed, hoping it might go away. What better place for a dream to end than in a bed? You never know when you might have just been hallucinating and you’ll wake up in the warm morning.

I come into contact with another wall. Well, there goes that.

What’s eery is that this environment is exactly the same as my last dream. It’s like the dream is repeating itself in some horrible, tormenting way. And I just won’t wake up.

So, I begin to walk through the hall, longer than ever, simply because it’s the only way out. And the mesmerizing pattern, again and again and again. It’s even more frustrating because it’s not even the carpet I remember from our apartment. Then again, what about this torturous dream isn’t frustrating?

I just want to get it over with, but my brain won’t comply with that demand. No matter how far I walk, I don’t seem to get anywhere. My feet get sore, my eyes get heavy, and I feel like I’m about to collapse. Just as I’m about to actually do so, something changes. Nothing becomes visually different, but my feelings of boredom and drowsiness change to fear and panic.

I turn instinctively, feeling as if retreat might at least let me end this nightmare where my “home” was. But it’s pitch black behind me, and creeping tendrils of darkness extend from the shadows that chase me.

I run.

I try to calm myself, to no avail, by whispering to myself in my head. It’s just a dream. It’s just a dream. It’s just a dream. But I was definitely failing to convince myself, because all I could think of was being consumed by whatever (I thought) was chasing me.

In my frightened panic, I make a mistake. I turn around to look behind me, as if something was there. And something was there. The darkness had begun to form into something, malevolent and embraced in the darkness of the shadowy hall. This time, I got a glimpse of what it might have been.

Its eyes glow white with the empty void of death. I don’t know how, but the shining light that threatened to end my existence reeked of torture and the screams of its victims. Its shape is veiled, but I can feel the very aura of its destructive potential emanating from its wraithlike black form.

I try to escape as best I can, but like before, the hallway begins to come to an end. A door stands there, but I have no time to look at it, because I’m already through it. The room is empty, and the door is no match for the creeping entity. As it bursts through, the shadows are upon me.

The tentacles of dark matter begin to crush the life out of me. I start to cough up blood as I run out of air. I know it’s just a dream, but the pain is somehow real. I can feel every razor-sharp blade of shadow pierce my flesh, every gasp of air get choked out of my body. And as I’m finally on the brink of death…

It stops.

The creature had faded into nothingness, leaving only a wisp of black smoke and the fragrance of rotting flesh.

The door has disappeared behind me, but it doesn’t matter to me. I wouldn’t make it either way. I stumble over to a tiny, box-shaped window — identical to the one in the first version of this nightmarish hallucination. At the foot of it is a dead body. It’s a terrifying revelation to figure out that it was my body. But I’m far too exhausted to care, too desperate to end this horrid experience. I gaze through the window as I had done before, in the hopes that it would end.

I see myself, once more, staring in shock as the light leaves me.

And that’s the last thing I see before my vision fades to black.

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