Rest is for the Weak

Some say that you wake up before you die in a dream.

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There’s something here. Something in this dark alleyway that’s haunting me, watching every step I take, shifting with my very presence. I try to run but there is no escape from the cold shadowy figure caressing the back of my neck, always one step behind me.

“Hello!?” I inquire in the darkness, so thick that it’s like velvet. “HELLO!” I yell trying to find a response from somebody, something, anything to save me.

Wind hurls over my body, throwing my hair around my face, pushing me slightly backwards until I bump into something. It breathes heavily behind me, tickling all the hairs that are standing on edge. I’m about to run when movement coming from behind me pulls into vision. A pale grey hand, so smooth that it looks like it was made from clay, with elongated fingers coming to a sharp point at each tip, reaches for my face. The longest finger pokes threateningly into my cheek, with it so close I smell something rotten, like death.

The hand rears back before flying towards me with flashing speed, pointed fingers ready to spear through my head. I’m frozen in place. I can’t move. I-

 

An alarm rings piercingly through the air, waking me up in a panic. Sweat drips down my spine in chilling relief. I breathe heavily trying to get rid of the rotten stench sitting inside my nose, and running my hands over my body, making sure I’m all intact. When my hands roam my face I feel a sharp pain on my right cheek, quickly I pull away and look at my hand to see speckles of blood littering my fingers.

I throw my hot blankets off of me and race to the bathroom across the hall. As soon as I’m in front of the mirror I examine the stinging pain on my face, and sure enough there’s small gash in the middle of my cheek with blood smeared around it. ‘This is just a coincidence. It must have been the cat. Yeah, he probably scratched my face while I was sleeping.’ I say trying to reason with my frantic thoughts, which are still on that dream.

“Dani, we’re going to be late if you don’t hurry up,” my brother, Jay, says as he passes by the doorframe all dressed up and ready to go. He says this every morning, always getting up thirty minutes before I do and every day we both make it with enough time to avoid each other and talk with our friends.

With one last glance in the mirror I take a wash cloth and wash my off the drying blood before heading back into my room to get ready for the long day of school. Looks like my day can’t get any better.

 

***

 

My eyelids grow heavy as I stare at the whiteboard in front of me. Everyone is silent as they take their tests in their funky costumes. Having woken up in such a fright my head wasn’t in the right mind as I got ready, which meant that I forgot that today is Halloween. It was only once I walked through the front doors and was assaulted by my friends for messing up our group costume (we were supposed to be the powerpuff girls, but Buttercup left her outfit at home). Now I sit within a crowd of dressed up people, trying not to drift off from the restless sleep I had last night.

The classroom is warm, not hot like the school usually is during this time of year, but comforting like I’m back in my soft bed, all cozy and cocooned in my blankets… My slowly closing eyes flash open as my head bobs backwards, looking for somewhere to rest. I glance at Ms. Eriksen, who’s sitting at her desk typing away at the computer, not bothering to see if anyone’s cheating. ‘Well, if she doesn’t care about them cheating, she sure won’t mind me taking a quick snooze,’ I reason with myself as I lay my head down on the desktop and close my eyes with ease.

 

I walk through the school, or what looks like the school, instead its abandoned and destroyed. The floor is coated in a thick layer of dust, the majority of the lockers are flung open holding nothing inside, and all of the classroom doors are closed. I try opening some of the doors but they won’t budge, probably rusted shut, so I continue to wander down the corridors.

Until I see one door open at the end of the hall. I’ve never seen that room before but something about it draws me closer, like its calling my name. Willingly or not I walk towards the vast darkness that is contained within the room.

The nearer I get, the more dread that courses through my body but I can’t stop my feet from taking me closer. I try to scream for help but my lips stay shut and I’m yelling internally, trying to find an escape from my own body. My wish is granted as I walk through the doorway, as a gust of wind pushes me, I catch myself before my face can smash into the ground. I take a deep breath, reveling in the fact that I can do so.

“Help,” I croak out with my new found breath, finding my voice that was locked away for what felt like years. “Is there anyone here?” I ask louder and try to search the dark void.

A swooshing sounds off next to my face, something brushes against my arm but I can’t see them in the darkness that’s like a wall in front of me. A low rumble echoes through the room before I feel the vibrations of the words, “Yes there is.”

I thought that if I heard someone else I would be relieved, but the ominous sounding words leave me speechless and frightened. It didn’t sound like a normal person, but more like a creature out of a storybook that eats children for fun. Something that isn’t natural.

“Who a-are you?” I ask hesitantly, frozen in my position on the floor, too scared to move just yet.

“Everyone’s worst nightmare,” it rumbles before an invisible force picks me up and flys me backward into a wall, a smooth grey head with no face appears before my eyes. “Death,” it says out loud somehow with no mouth. It brings a hand to my wrist and clamps down tightly immediately cutting off circulation.

 

The bell rings, jerking me out of the horrible dream and into the reality of the next class walking in through the doors. Quickly I pack my bag and rush out the door on autopilot to my next class, still feeling the effects of sleep on me, but refusing to fall to its clutches.

All through the next class I sit there staring at the teacher while he lectures but I’m not really listening, just freaking out silently while he writes equations on the board. I struggle to keep my eyes open, by the end of class I’m so tempted to grab some tape and force them open. My thoughts go over the same things on repeat before I start to fixate on a point and drift off, and snap myself out of it before doing the process again and again. And all through the rest of the day.

Somehow I get from the school to home so tired my muscles ache as I move them, protesting at anything I make them do. Its a miracle I make it inside safely, I could’ve impaled myself on something in this state.

“What happened to you? You look like death,” my brother points out as he makes a beeline for the kitchen where he will no doubt stuff his face with everything in the cupboards.

I rub my hands over my face closing my eyes temporarily, seeing that faceless thing staring back at me. Shivers run down my arms though I’m not cold. “I feel like it,” I answer him seriously, getting slightly dizzy from standing up for so long. “Do you know where the Advil is?” I ask thinking it might get rid of this developing headache. He mutters something unintelligible over the food in his mouth and I go upstairs in search of some pills to help get over this… What ever this is.

The stair seem to sway beneath my feet, my body dragging like its being weighed down by bags of wet sand. I pause and grab desperately at the railing looking for something to keep me up right. My eyes hurt, aching to be closed, my body begging to rest, to be wrapped up in blankets, and go into a comatose state.

I stagger up the rest of the stairs, head pounding, eyes burning, trying to find the bathroom. I barely make it before I collapse on the ground, knocking down some of the contents of the counter down with me. Despite my trying my lids slowly fall, but not before seeing a tall dark slim figure standing above me with smooth grey hands and head with no face. It crouches down and grabs my throat.

“Good night.”


Dani Anderson, 16, was found dead in her home at two o’clock, the cause of death is unknown. She was a loved girl and had a bright future ahead of her. Her family and friends will miss her surely. There will be a funeral procession at three on November the fifth.

 

 

 

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