She still couldn’t shake the previous night’s dream. She sipped on her coffee, trying to get rid of the clammy feeling, but her heart sank as she realized that she was alone.
After he’d left, the insomnia started. He left her because she was too emotional, running into the arms of a bubbly blonde. As she relived the night he left one more time, the memory was interspersed with snippets of the nightmares.
She would feel awake, but paralyzed, sensing something in the room with her. She heard voices speaking in tongues, and, out of the corner of her eye, she’d catch glimpses of what was really terrifying, dark figures darting about the room doing only-God-knows-what. She’d fight to move and awaken, but only when she felt like she’d never move again would her eyes open.
Alice tried to put the terrifying nightmare behind her as she got ready for work, although she couldn’t help but dread another lonely night plagued by the terrors.
Later she lay in bed, determined to conquer the nightmares, trying to think happy thoughts as she drifted off to sleep. All was peaceful for awhile, but then, the figures emerged again.
As she struggled to break free, this time something strange happened; she moved! Her arm shot out, and, to her shock, she grabbed something cold and slimy. It struggled to get away, but she squeezed it tighter. The world was spinning, and she felt a terrible chill, followed by a harsh wind. She was falling and couldn’t catch her breath, then, darkness.
Alice was dreaming. She heard a soft male voice whisper, “are you alright?” The voice got louder, and she dreamed that the man was sitting beside her as she took a bumpy ride in a carriage like the one she and Gabe had ridden in. But the voice got louder and Alice felt a sharp pain as she opened her eyes. She then found herself staring at the face of a handsome dark-haired young man and the black clouds behind it.
He smiled and said, “You’re okay!” as Alice slowly sat up, confused, scared, and taking in the bleak surroundings around her. It was a gray, barren world covered with nothing but a few lone rocky structures full of holes. Occasionally a small, shadowy figure would scamper out of a hole and take flight into the black sky.
Alice was petrified until the stranger hugged her in tears, saying, “I can’t believe it! It’s been months since I’ve seen a human face! You must be terrified, and I can’t blame you, but you just don’t know how happy I am to see you!” This warm hug from the handsome stranger made Alice blush and temporarily forget her terrifying surroundings, and when he looked at her, he too blushed and apologized. “I’m sorry, I probably should introduce myself. I’m Ethan, and I’ve been stranded in this wretched place for months. It’s like purgatory here; there’s no food or water, but somehow I don’t seem to need it. One of those creatures over there,” he gestured toward one of the structures and continued, “drug me to this horrible place and I haven’t been able to catch one to take me back.”
Alice stammered out an introduction before tearfully asking, “so there’s no way out?” He sympathetically looked at her with his sad but beautiful golden eyes and said, “I haven’t been able to find one; I’m afraid there’s not.” He explained that he believed that the creatures fed off of weakened human minds as they were sleeping. He was mourning the loss of his mother when he began have night terrors, and, like Alice, he had become aware during one of them and grabbed a creature sitting on his chest. He looked saddened, but his eyes brightened a bit as he said to Alice, “but let’s not talk about them right now. Please, tell me a bit about yourself. I haven’t heard a human voice in ages.”
As Alice told him about where she lived and how miserable she was, he smiled and said, “well, it can’t be any worse than this,” and he began to tell her about his life. Staring into his eyes, Alice thought that he was wrong about this place being worse. He was telling Alice about how he wanted to write a book if he made it back to their world when he stopped and said, “you know, I haven’t slept since I got here, but I suddenly feel tired, and…happy.” Alice, too, felt sleepy, but in a good way, something she hadn’t felt in a long time. And as the two stared into each other’s closing eyes, they found the way out of the dark world, destined to meet again in a shining new one.