I ran as fast as I could through the thick cover of grass that reached past my ankles. My unforgiving footsteps threatening to give away my location as I forced my way past the hanging canopy of branches that tried desperately to hinder my progression. I could hear it in the distance, growling and hissing my name in a distorted voice. I had caught a glimpse of the thing before it chased me into the woods. It didn’t have a physical body, just a black, gelatinous ball of black mass coated in red boils that twitched with every movement it made.
It grew closer, its massive build swallowing up the encompassing shrubs that surrounded us. I was quickly approaching a cliff, its tendrils devouring the forest on each side of me; I was trapped. I took notice in the peripherals of my vision one of the participants. He was staring blankly at the creature, his eyes filled to the brim with terror. The creature aimed a tentacle right at the mans lower leg, penetrating it with ease. I watched, paralyzed in fear as the man was hoisted from the ground, made to hang over the a gaping hole I assumed was its mouth.
I quickly thought on my feet, grabbing a nearby basketball sized boulder and chucking it in the creatures direction. It growled deafeningly; I covered my ears as the sound pierced through them, microwaving my brain from the inside. Before I knew it, I was lifted off the ground, a sharp pain igniting in my lower thigh. The inside of its mouth was filled with rotating bladed razors, their ear-splitting screeching more deafening than the creatures roar.
“Come on come on, wake up!” I screamed to myself, the tensioning descent into the monsters gaping mouth made peeing my pants inevitable. In one final attempt to force myself awake, I grabbed hold of my finger, driving it back until I heard an audible pop followed by a flow of a crippling twinge. I was jolted awake from the pain in my finger, crippled even more by the inflaming pain in my right thigh. I had no choice but to ignore it though, I had to act fast.
I bolted from my bed to the one of the man from the dream. I shook him violently, frantically trying to free him from the grip of that horrifying nightmare. Eventually he awoke with a gasp, breathing heavily and sweating profusely. He looked up at me with a gratified expression. Questions boiled on my lips as I desperately wanted to ask him what the hell that thing was. I had never dreamed of it before, so I knew it was his dream, not mine.
Morning presented itself as a sliver of dim light barely seeping through the dirt stained window. Once again the scientists came with our complementary breakfast, along with the mystery pills. We all respectively ate the putrid meal and swallowed the pills, one of the lab rats even patched up my finger and leg for me, along with the guy whose name I later learned was Max. Jen was absent-mindedly staring at the gushing wound as it was being stitched up. I took the opportunity to write to her once the scientists left.
“Pretty nasty scare huh?”
“It’s a bit more than a scare, how’d ya get it?”
“Long story short, I found out how “dreams can become reality” the hard way”
“Him too?” She motioned her head towards Max who was face deep in his meal.
“Him too.” She thought for a moment, her pen hovering above the notepad.
“You really think the money we’ll get for this is worth what we’re going through?”
“Maybe not, but the call of student loans and the absence of a full-time job says otherwise for me.”
The nights spent in the inadequately spaced, dimly lit room was disorienting at best. I felt like I was trapped in some zoo-esque cage put on display for a bunch of science nerds. I laid on the bed, staring at the barren, fractured wall above me, then looked over at the people beside me; one male, one female. For the first time in three days, they seemed to be sleeping peacefully. I shut my eyes, slowly drifting into a deep slumber.
For a while, my dreams were progressing normally, being reminiscent of those I had after my twelve year old rehabilitation. The typical Freddy Kruger, Jason horror mash-ups I usually got seemed to cease. I even dreamed of marrying Jen; we had two children and lived in one of those upper middle class white picket fence houses you see in magazines. Just when I was enjoying the satisfactions of the married life, I was jolted awake by a blood curdling scream.
It was Jen; standing there, towering over her bed was Max. He stared down at her with an empty expression, his hands bloodied, a black, smoke-like aura fluttered around him. I took notice of his eyes; they were gouged out, clutched tightly between his fits. I got up from my bed, slowly limping towards him, careful not to alert him of my ever-growing presence.
Without warning he unfurled his lips, hundreds of those unsightly boils came pouring from his mouth. They darted around the room, sticking to whatever they came in contact with. I dropped to the floor in an attempt to avoid them, Jen hid under the protective barrier of her covers. The black fog that surrounded him became larger, growing into the enormous mass from the dream. I forced my terror filled body to move, grabbing Jen in the process and huddled close to the door, wrapping the sheet around us both.
Through the thin fibers of the blanket I could see the creature. Its gelatinous girth encompassed Max, swallowing him whole. It grabbed one of the nearby participants, stabbing its tendrils through her body and lowering her into its mouth. Her screams erupted through the air as they were torn to shreds, my panicked breathes stalled by a burning feeling of pure agony.
With one final tear of flesh, the black mass vanished, taking Max and the other participant with it. I slowly removed the blanket, hoisting myself and Jen off the cold, grime streaked floor. The only other remaining participant crawled from under one of the beds and looked at us with utter dismay. The air was gripped by the stench of death; a thick, murky gloom permeated the area. Jen’s question ricocheted through my mind and I was beginning to wonder if any of this was really worth it.