3:00 am. Those numbers glowed green, staring at me, letting me know I wasn’t sleeping. I couldn’t. If I did, who knows what injury I would wake up with. Every night a dream would consume me, and when I woke, something on my body was cut, bruised, or almost broken.I started at the ceiling. The fan squeaked and wobbled, trying to produce air flow. It wasn’t succeeding. I turned over, hugging my pillow. What’s happening? Maybe I should see someone, but who? A doctor? Padded room for sure. Is there such a thing as a dream specialist?
A branch scratched the window. I turned over again.
3:00 am. Those numbers glowed green, staring at me, letting me know I wasn’t sleeping. I couldn’t. If I did, who knows what injury I would wake up with. Every night a dream would consume me, and when I woke, something on my body was cut, bruised, or almost broken.
I started at the ceiling. The fan squeaked and wobbled, trying to produce air flow. It wasn’t succeeding. I turned over, hugging my pillow. What’s happening? Maybe I should see someone, but who? A doctor? Padded room for sure. Is there such a thing as a dream specialist?
A branch scratched the window. I turned over again.
5:00 am. Where did the last two hours go? Adrenaline pumped through my veins, accelerating my heart. My T-shirt was damp and clinging to my back. What happened? Did I dream, again?
Bang. Bang. Bang. I jumped up. Someone was at my door.
I wondered if I should even answer, than decided I should know who was banging at this hour. My sleep shorts and tank top were stuck to my body. The living room wasn’t any cooler, but at least the rug was soft under my bare feet.
I put my eye to the peephole and saw the man from my nightmares. Thick, bristly hair, hooded dark eyes and a nose peeling from sunburn. The last dream came back to me and I shuddered. My breaths were suddenly too loud.
I ran, feet pounding the pavement, breath coming in harsh gasps. Tall buildings bordered the sidewalk like menacing, fanged faces. I glanced behind me and saw him gaining on me. His face was wet and a thick liquid dripped from his chin. My booted foot slipped and I fell, catching myself on my hands. Before I could scramble back up, a large, warm hand wrapped around my throat and jerked me to my feet. I found myself staring into predatory black eyes. He smelled of smoke and coppery blood.
Now he was here. God, how was he here? My heart thumped and my thoughts tumbled over each other.
One thing I knew: I had to leave. Had to get out, get away, get someplace safe. Maybe the police – no, they would never believe a man from my nightmares was at my door. Maybe my fiancé, but I didn’t want to put him in danger. Besides, he lived a couple hours away. Maybe someplace crowded. What was crowded at five in the morning? No where, I realized, heart sinking.
He kicked at the door and hairline cracks appeared at the base.
I snatched my keys and purse from the coffee table and ran to the kitchen. The fire escape window was always stuck. Damn, another jerk – ah, I had it! Standing on the fire escape was odd. The metal bars were warm and sticky with bird poop under my bare feet. The night was quiet and the air still, almost as if it waited for something.
The living room door cracked and gave way. I swung a leg over and scrambled down the fire escape. Luckily, my car was parked right across the street. Clanging metal made me glance over my shoulder. The man climbed down the fire escape, moving with more ease and grace than me.
My legs felt like jelly, but I managed to get to my car. It was small and only a few years old. Surely it would let me outrun that guy.
The engine came to life and I took off towards the highway. There would be cars there.
I looked back once and saw the guy getting a black Mercedes that had been parked next to my car.
My fingers clenched around the steering wheel. Butterflies raged in my stomach, threatening to fly out my mouth. I gritted my teeth, knowing I didn’t have time to get sick.
How was I going to lose him? I didn’t have any ideas.
Adam, my fiancé, would know what to do. He knew about weird stuff like this. Nightmares, guys coming to life like that. I reached for my phone, than remembered I’d left it on the bedside table.
5:30. The highway was already filling with rush hour traffic and I drove as fast as I dared. The black Mercedes stuck to my tail like glue. Other highways merged and rose above me like an asphalt refuge. The car couldn’t go any faster. I moved into the middle lane, then slid into the left behind a little sports car. The black car gleamed in the rearview mirror. I changed lanes again, in the other direction, this time, but no good. I couldn’t shake him.
Again and again, I changed lanes like I was playing musical chairs. I wove in and out of traffic, did my level best to stay away from him. I failed. Throughout it all, the black Mercedes kept one full car length behind me. It didn’t fall behind, didn’t change speed, did nothing but stay glued to my tail.
My heart stopped when it inched up beside me. I didn’t want to look, didn’t want to know he was in the car. But I needed to know, I had to look. In the car window, his grinning face was splashed with crimson light from the rising sun.