Graham Enoch was tired. He hadn’t managed a full night’s sleep for over a month. The nightmares kept him awake.
He’d had the nightmares for as long as he could remember. Every Wednesday they would come, waking him with terror. After a few years Graham had grown used to this, come to expect the terror invading his dreams, but this all changed about a month ago. The dreams changed, they grew more vivid and clearer. They also began happening at random, abandoning their Wednesday only routine that Graham had become accustomed to.
The last week had been the worst. Every night the nightmares came, each night more clear and real than the last. Graham would be in a dark room, a room saturated by a foul smelling mist. It was so thick that Graham found it difficult to breathe, but he managed.
He could hear water sloshing somewhere nearby. There was a gentle rhythm to it, as though someone was playing with a giant water balloon. The sloshing would get closer and closer, the sound becoming louder and louder still. Graham would try to run but would find he couldn’t move. When he examined why he would discover a mass of tiny black tendrils pinning his feet to the ground. The tendrils would writhe over his feet like snakes but would be tough as steel. Graham would try to pry his feet free, the tendrils slashing a deep gash into the palm of his hand as a result.
Rooted to the spot he would see the creature coming. First, its wake would displace the stifling mist. As the mist moved it would do so like a cloud in the sky, with a speed and coherence all to alien to the movements of man. Graham would be left staring into the darkness for what felt like eternity. It would be about this time he would realise he was asleep, but with no amount of will could he take command of this dream. The darkness would start to move. It would peel away like the ancient paint on the wall of a run-down cottage. Strip by strip the creature would be revealed to him.
The creature defied description. Its form would shift rapidly from one grotesque monstrosity to the next, always sloshing its great weight towards Graham. There was an overall fluid nature to the creature as well as its watery sounding movement. The shifting of its form was like seeing faces in the endless crashing of a waterfall, seen so briefly but never forgotten. Its eyes, however, would never change. Their position on the creature would change, but the actual eyes would remain constant. Three giant, red orbs would stare down on him with their yellow pupils ringed by thick, black irises. Graham could feel them looking through him, as if staring straight into his essence rather than taking heed of his physical body.
The creature would slosh its way to within 6 feet of Graham. Looking like a sentient waterfall it would stoop – at least that’s how Graham would describe it – to look him in the eye. A mouth would form somewhere on the creature, a cavernous maw filled with millions of dripping fangs. Graham would be reminded of needles as he viewed the fangs and could almost feel the pain they would cause. He would try to run again, this attempt as futile as the last, and the creature would slide 3 feet closer.
It would stay at that distance, glaring at Graham as he trembled before it. Time would pass slowly. A minute would clank by before the creature spoke, its ugly mouth rounding out alien syllables. Graham couldn’t heard the words, quite the opposite in fact. The creature wasn’t silent, it would suck away ambient sounds to leave silence. Graham thought of it as like cutting letters out of a sheet of paper, the gaps in the paper would be as legible as the letters themselves. This was how he believed the creature spoke.
It would be unnerving for him to “hear” the creature speak this way. The human mind is wired to notice the presence of something more than the lack of something, and it would take Graham a few moments to “hear” the creature. He did not know the language in which it would speak but that didn’t seem to matter. Graham may not have known the words but he knew what they were saying.
‘Reborn he shall be,’ the creature would spew out in its strange language, ‘and the world will be remade once more, in his image. The Last Scion of the Age of Repentance will awaken at the anointed hour. You will be his midwife.’
The creature would repeat this hundreds of times, its “voice” getting more deafening each time. The silence would beat at Graham’s eardrums harder and harder, pressing in on his head with a great power. Blood would start to drip from his ears and his head would start to pound.
A fourth eye would open on the creature, larger and more brilliant than the others. The entire eye would be empty, a void, apart from the gleaming pupil in the centre. Graham would stare into it and would see something. He could never remember what he saw, and every attempt to do so would leave him with the sensation of his sanity starting to fray, like an ancient tapestry, brittle and worn.
It was then he would awake with a start and peel himself out of a sweat-sodden bed. He dare not try to sleep again that night, too afraid of another audience with the creature. It was still there when he was awake, sitting at the back of his mind, speaking to him in its alien “voice”. He could feel its teeth dripping on his head, soaking his hair in gelatinous spittle. A brief glance in the mirror would abate this feeling for a while, but only because of the disgust in his looks. The dreams had made Graham gaunt and pallid. He looked wasted and sickly, a vile half-man of the shadows.
Graham had contemplated suicide five times in the last month and each time it was the creature in his mind that stopped him. The large, enthralling eye would open and Graham would falter. He wanted to remember what he had seen, what the creature had showed him. Why was his memory sealed from him, why did he not understand what was happening? He knew the creature had those answers and he suspected it would tell him eventually. The silvery pupil would dilate, filling his mind with a bright light, blinding his perception to the outside world. Graham would come back to himself an hour later, in a different part of the house, and would feel at ease.
The ease would pass of course, it rarely lasted more than ten minutes, and the sickening terror would creep back in. He could feel the terror waiting just outside the boundaries of his mind, like a vast river dammed by an eroding dam. The cracks would spread and the river would flow, but until it did Graham was happy.