Monday, February 09, 2009

Nightmare on water

There is light just beyond my reach as a shapeless terror closes in. It shimmers and flows on the other side of the water that has closed over me, too far away. The water is warm and suffocating. I cannot breathe.

How did I get here? My mind searches for an answer, but comes up empty. There is no explanation to be found, just the terror, and I cannot breathe.

I am straining hard for the surface, and I cannot breathe.

There is something here in the water, lying in wait for me. I cannot see her, but I know she is there, very old and very patient. She moves slowly, like someone who has all the time in the world.

I cannot breathe.

She is there, waiting for me, closing in. The light above is failing, the horizon is shrinking overhead. I kick with all I have and it is not enough. If I do not get free, I will die.

I am sinking. I will die.

The light is now a dimly shivering disk overhead, the size of my hand, the size of a quarter, and it is shrinking fast. There are warm tendrils gathering about me in the darkening water. In a moment I will be hers. I will never be seen again.

Something within me stirs, and I lash out again, struggling, kicking, forcing my way toward the light, toward the surface, toward the air. With a last desperate lunge, I force myself into the open. The blankets lie tangled over me, and the pale blue lights on the clock burn the time 2:34 into my weary mind.

Aside from that light, the room is dark. My wife sleeps at my side, unconscious of my movement. There is a lingering tremor of fear, but nothing else remains of my nightmare beyond associations that fade even as I try to lock onto them.

I lay myself down and close my eyes. I am asleep in minutes, but not as deeply as before. Before the night has ended, I will have awakened in the same manner three more times.

Something is waiting.


Copyright © 2009 by David Learn. Used with permission.


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