Only by controlling it can we banish the nightmare

treesOccasionally I like to take part in the daily prompt, brought to us by the WordPress Daily Post. This one is entitled ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’ and I’m not exactly cheating by choosing to share with you a nightmare. For one, the prompt allows this deviation, and for another, it had a positive outcome.

When I was eighteen I was held up at knifepoint. I’ll spare you the details (so unlike me to skimp on the drama!). I was working in a video store at the time, and two men ambushed me so they could steal a mere £50.00 from the till. Okay, so I’d just cashed up, and had tucked the days takings securely in the safe, but I didn’t tell them I had a key – obviously.

Anyway… I was understandably shaken by the event, and though I adjusted quite well, considering what could have happened, I began to experience a reoccurring nightmare.

As the prompt calls for imagery, I’ve written the account from memory – the experience of actually living through them.

***

The forest closed in on either side of me, oppressive and strewn with shadows that wanted to devour everything in their path.

But that wasn’t why I was afraid. It wasn’t what had my blood pumping so fast it was all I could hear, or what kept my legs moving despite the fatigue. It was the thing behind me.

An indescribable thing, an inescapable thing.

It was tall and wide and threw shadows at the ground to rival those in the trees.

Ahead of me was a never-ending track. I had to have been running for hours,  yet nothing in my scenery changed. I chanced a look back to see the thing was gaining on me. A monster that wanted to peel the skin from my bones.

I knew it would catch me, it always did. It was a blur now, blocking out everything but the blinding terror pulsating through me.

Still I ran, panting now, desperate for a different fate, to find a way to out-run it.

Then a hand clamped on my shoulder, stopping me in my tracks. I was too afraid to turn around. I never turned around. It didn’t matter, I knew what was coming next.

In a practiced movement, the thing slit my throat with its sharp and lethal claws, before gripping my chin in its large hand and peeling my skin back; up and over my head. My flesh tore easily, like I’d been broiled for hours and was easy pickings.

That was the last thing I remember before everything went black.

***

This is the part where I woke up screaming, a cold sweat clinging to me as I tried to calm my racing heart. It had only been a dream, and yet it felt so real my throat was sore.

It go so bad that I hardly slept. I was too afraid to go to sleep – I couldn’t face the nightmare again.

Eventually I was referred to a sleep specialist, but as it turned out, I only had one session with the good doctor.

When I described the nightmares, he first commended me on my imagination; trying to hide the face I’d totally creeped him out. He then shared with me his expertise and introduced me to a technique called lucid dreaming. He suggested I take back control and, as I longed to do, change my dream fate.

I’ll admit to being a little sceptical, and knew that, even if it worked, it probably wouldn’t work the first time.

That night, as I closed my eyes and prepared myself to enter the dreamscape, I reluctantly summoned the nightmare and played it out, scene by scene. At the end, instead of skinning me, the thing pleaded with me to stop running. All it wanted was a chance to spend time with me.

I laughed at the absurdity, long and loud, and maybe I was delirious (sleep-deprived), but it relaxed me enough to sleep.

To my surprise, the dream had a completely different conclusion. Bizarrely, I was sat at a scarred and well-used kitchen table, beside an open fire, sipping tea with my thing!

I haven’t had the dream since, and it doesn’t take a specialist to understand it was a result of having a knife pressed to my throat. But still, controlling our dreams is a fascinating prospect. Thanks for letting me share my experience with you.

Mel

 

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