October 12th
by nate bennett

Some people dream while they’re awake. This isn’t that.

“Hypnagogia”, the Internet says. But I’ve been around longer than the Internet (ugh). I’ve always called it evil.

Okay maybe that’s too formal. How about something not good? Every night in bed, I have to look. I get the feeling that if I don’t, even once, it will be a mistake.

Every night, I see it.

Sometimes it’s tall and slim, sometimes it’s short and wide. I STILL have boxes on my floor to unpack after all (I know) but it’s not that either. It’s kind of dark, but more like an absence of color than black.

And it moves slowly. Getting closer.

Usually this is when I jolt awake, maybe I throw something. Last time it was our TV remote (oops). But that did it. It’s gone. My partner is used to it now. She touches my back and says, “it’s okay, it’s nothing.” I agree and calm down.

I’m lying.

It’s there, testing. But tonight I decided to enough is enough.
I want to know what happens if I don’t look.

I put on a sleep mask. A corgi with a crown on its head someone gave me. It’s comfortable as hell. Weird.
We’ll see if that helps.

I don’t look.
I don’t dream.

I’m awake. I feel exhausted. But I made it. Maybe it was just chemicals sloshing around in the brain, creating a form. Problem solved.

Then I see it.

The darkest bruise ever on my arm. I fell down on my face hard last year, so I know an ugly bruise when I see one. But it doesn’t hurt at all.

I call in sick, whatever. I can rest more and put ice on it. Plus, it’s daytime and the apartment’s empty so I can get some extra sleep. It never comes out in the daylight, even with the shades drawn.

Except today.

It’s peering around the doorway. I don’t know why.

“What are you? What do you want?” I ask. Of course it doesn’t answer. Rude.

It moves closer, soundlessly.

“This isn’t real.” I tell myself. Still lying.

It’s at the foot of the bed now. Dark, formless, reaching. How?

I pull the covers over my head.

This time I dream. I’m floating. Away from my bed, my room, into dark.

I can’t breathe.

When I wake up, I’m on the floor by my closet. I feel different. Not quite tall or short, or anything really. I feel not good.

I crawl off the ground but I’m so weak I can barely stand. And I look.

I see myself get out of bed and look. It makes me feel even more weary.

It’s me. I’m smiling. I turn on the lights and vanish.

Nightfall. I’m so tired. But I’m somewhere different now. I see someone different. I have to get to them.

I can’t move much yet, but it feels like I can soon.

See you tonight.

Don’t look.

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