That night, my childhood demon once again invaded my less than pleasurable slumber. I was forced to lie awake, listening to the sounds of deep breaths and emphatic snoring. I became painfully aware of the many participants that spoke in their sleep. Echoes of screams and panic filled the relatively small room. It would seem as though we all had demons. The words of the scientist rallied in my head like a crowd of boisterous protesters. What had he meant when he said our dreams could become reality? I spent all night trying to make sense of his words, managing only to loath the sound of snoring even more.
The first one awake was the girl. It wasn’t surprising really, judging by their screams I figured this was the most sleep any of them had gotten in days. She stretched, letting out a murmured yawn before smiling widely at me. I smiled back and pulled out my notepad.
“Had a nice sleep?”
“For the most part, you?”
“Hell no, all the snores and screams made it damn near impossible, not to mention my reoccurring nightmare.”
“Aw, whose the princess now?”
She laughed behind the cover of her hand.
“So you’re a comedian huh? Amy Schumer or Whitney Cummings?”
“Well, I did steal your joke.”
“Touche. You know, I never got a name.”
“It’s Jennifer, but you can call me Jen, and yours?”
“The names Kyle, nice to officially meet you.”
We continued our intriguing conversation until the other participants were jolted awake by their own restlessness; one even managing to yell out “don’t rip me apart!” before abruptly waking in a pool of excessive perspiration. About an hour later, the scientists reeled in carts of syrup soaked pancakes and less than appetizing looking scrambled eggs, handing each of us a tray. Before leaving, the same scientist who spoke those haunting words turned to me, a scowl stretched across his otherwise expressionless face. ” You should think against lying awake tonight, otherwise we will have to expel you from the experiment.” Guess they were monitoring something after all.
While forcibly scarfing down the foul-tasting complementary breakfast, I noticed a small pile of pills sitting besides a cup of water labeled ‘take these’. I looked around, everyone, including Jen, opted to take the suspicious mystery pills; I decided to play along and take them as well, envisioning them as some sort of lucid dreaming aid. There wasn’t much to do after that, Jen had decided to take a quick nap and I doubted any of the others would agree to a witty conversation via hand written text. Most, despite their nighttime terrors, opted to nap as well, their screams and cries following not to long after that.
My crippling bordem eventually lulled me to sleep, I tossed and turned as I dreamed again of the creature. Its vacant eyes staring down at me while it pinned me to the ground, its putrid saliva drooling from its mouth, dripping onto my cowering body. It lowered its unhinged jaws towards me and before taking a large chunk from my face, I awoke to a loud bang followed by scratching noises. It was one of the participants. He was banging his head hard against the door and pawing at it like a trapped dog. “Let me out, the beast, the beast, it comes!”
Large amounts of blood trickled to the floor. Jen gasped from the sight; two other participants rushed over to him trying desperately to pry him away. He wouldn’t budge. His fingers were filing down to the bone, his skull began to crack from the constant banging. In one last, fluid motion, his skull gave way and he fell to the floor, completely void of life.
We all screamed in terror, some turning away from the gruesome spectacle. Two of the scientists rushed in with a gurney, hauling his lifeless cadaver away in an instant without uttering a word. None of us could figure out what the hell had happened. Maybe his dream had become too real, maybe it finally broke him. The scientists words rang in my head, ‘our dreams could become a reality’. I was beginning to know what he meant.
None of us slept that night. We were too transfixed by the mans sudden death, still unsure as to how it all began; sleep was the furthest thing from my mind, from any of our minds. As I laid still in my bed, the clear sound of the beast’s growl resonated through my ears. A feeling of dread washed over me; I was hoping not to be the next to lose my head. I decided to ignore it, remembering the damning advice given to us by that scientist to “just stay calm.” Stay calm huh? I’m not so sure that I can.