Nightingale By D.I. Jolly

He had loved a woman named Joy, but his nightmare was so present, such a weight on his mind that even she got left behind.

It started as most nightmares do, suddenly one night. In his dream he stood in the courtyard of his home, when all at once the earth began to shake and a terrifying and deafening sound of grinding lashed his ears. Then a pillar erupted from the out of the ground in front of him. A twisted monstrous collection of spikes from which bodies hung. It took him a moment to grasp what he was seeing and when he did he realised that each body wore his face. Their lids open, but no eyes inside, their mouth open but no sounds coming out. But there was no mistaking that they were all screaming, and so was he. When he burst from his bed, he was so wet that he couldn’t tell if it was sweat, urine or both, and a moment later there were also tears. Not of fright or of sadness, but of relief, relief that it was over and had only been a dream. One week later and 4 more nights where his dreams were interrupted by the pillar of spikes, and his tears had taken on a new meaning. By the 8th day, he was terrified of going to bed, of sleeping and seeing that thing again. He tried to confide in his friends, his family and his Joy. But each said the same thing.

“It’s only a dream Daniel, it’ll be okay.”

Eventually, Joy decided that he needed a break and the two went away on holiday. A trip to the countryside, fresh air and no work would solve his nightmare problems. But there again, when his eyes closed the pillar would appear, bursting out of the ground in front of him. Whether he stood in the country or the city, his home, his work it didn’t matter. The pillar could find him. So, in the middle of the night, driven slightly from his sanity, he did the only thing he could think of, and he ran. In his craze he believed that since the pillar always burst from the land, he would leave the land. He boarded his ship The Nightingale, a gift from his father after returning from the navy, and set sail for the deepest darkest ocean he could find. He wanted, needed to put as much space between himself and land as possible. Believing that not even that demonic thing could reach him there. For the first time in what felt like a lifetime he went to bed restfully, peacefully and slept dreamlessly.

For four nights he was able to sleep and not see his nightmare, the horror of his own face hung a hundred times a hundred, from a demonic spire of death. But on the fifth night he could feel the boat start to shake, hear the noise of grinding and swirling and as the pillar burst from the sea each face opened its mouth and screamed! Screamed with all their might, as if all they had lacked was the water in their throats. The noise echoed across the water bouncing off the weaves caused by the sudden arrival of the pillar. Daniel screamed right along with them, and slapped himself as hard as he could, again and again, desperate to wake up, but with each blow he felt the truth setting in, and with each blow he felt his sanity fray a little more until he realised that he was no longer asleep, and that the thing that had so filled his dreams had pushed him out to sea so that it could find him. So stopped screaming and started crying, knowing then that he too would be hung from the pillar spikes, and be dragged down to whatever hell it had come from and live out his nightmare for eternity.

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