Union 2 By D.I. Jolly
It was as if I passed into a dream when I saw him. A figure so pale he looked like a statue. For a moment he was there and then gone, as if he didn’t exist. Except that he was standing right behind me.
Marcus wrote the words hoping that getting them out of his head and onto paper would somehow make the nightmare go away, but like the bite of hard liquor or the smell of rotten meat, that kind of isolation lingered.
“Are you alright?” Asked his wife sweetly. “Did you have another nightmare? That’s the third one this week. And it’s only Wednesday.”
He’d hoped not to wake her but she always seemed to know when he was upset. He replaced the book on the bedside table and lay down again.
“Yeah, well, no not really. Just weird more than scary.”
“Tell me about it.” Her voice had changed slightly and as he turned a nervous glance to her he saw the pale figure from his dream. The shock caused him to jump out of bed screaming, frantic to find a light and when he did it revealed the scared and confused face of his wife.
“What’s going on!” She yelled, panic gripping her.
Looking at her now, Marcus wondered if she’d spoke to him at all or if it had all been a dream. The fright and the stress all seemed to hit him at once and he dropped onto his arse, put his face in his hands and cried. Dream or not she was right, it had been the third night in a row he’d had nightmares. Always the same pale man watching him, following him through the streets. If he ran the man chased. If he ignored the man appeared. Nothing ever actually happened, but his presence was enough. A lingering malice that terrified Marcus. And as he sat crying on the floor now, still unsure if he was fully awake, he could feel the presence imposing on him. Afraid of what he might do is startled he looked up quickly to see his wife gingerly watching him, waiting, aware that to touch him now would cause more fear than comfort. When they locked eyes she said calmly.
“I want you to go back to that doctor, to tell him what’s been going on. You… we can’t go on like this.”
He rubbed his eyes and then his nose.
But she cut him off.
“It’s not fine! You wake up screaming, crying, I have to calm you down, calm myself down, explain to the children. It’s not just you and it’s not fine. Please Marcus, for all of us we need to start doing something about your dreams. And the first step is to face up to the fact that this is not normal.”
Her words washed over him and cleared away some of the isolation and persecution, reminding him that he could affect others, that it wasn’t just him and he nodded.
“Ok, ok, first thing in the morning. But, can you call them, please? I… I never know what to say.”
Finally, she got up and went to sit with him, putting her arm over his shoulder.
“Of course. Now come back to bed and try rest a bit more. It’s still very early.”
She guided him up and while he went back to bed, she went to go check on their children. Too afraid to close his eyes while alone he reached for his journal and found that he had written down the first part of his dream after all. The realisation sent a shiver down his spine and when he heard the light click and felt the pressure in bed, he quickly forced his eyes closed and lay down, unable to bring himself to look around. He hoped it was his wife’s sweet voice he could hear but was too afraid to check, to aware of the presents, the pressure and the malice watching him.
It wasn’t until the morning when she got up to get the kids ready for school that he could finally get to restful sleep, and there he stayed until she woke him with gentle words and coffee.
“You have an appointment in a couple hours, you need to get up and get ready then we must go, ok?”
He grunted in the affirmative and despite it being the afternoon he went through his usual morning rituals. Time passed in a daze and before he felt really ready to take on what was left of the day, he found himself in a hospital sitting across from Dr Franklin who was quietly reading his dream journal.
“This is very good, I’m glad you’ve been so diligent about keeping this. It means you don’t have to re-live it all or trying to retell it all from memory.”
Marcus smiled weakly but said nothing, which prompted the doctor to continue.
“Your wife tells me that last night was worse than usual, but what I’ve got here it seems fairly standard, did something else happen?”
The pressure and presents returned to Marcus’ mind and he felt a shiver run over his body, and for just a moment he felt himself close up, but stopped, remembering why he’d agreed to be there, so explained everything that happened after he’d finished the last entry of the journal.
“I see” Said Dr Franklin. “Well, I’m going to suggest you stay here for a few nights, we can monitor you both physically and your brainwaves to see if there is something chemical causing you to decent into such vivid and horrific nightmares. What do you think about that?”
Marcus wanted to protest but didn’t and just nodded.
“Excellent, you can go home, for now, collect some things and then return in a few hours.” He leaned forward and put a reassuring hand on Marcus’s. “Don’t worry, we’re going to get through this together and you’ll be stronger on the other side.”
His smile was practised and comforting and it did actually make Marcus feel better. The pale man didn’t appear for the next two nights and by the third day Marcus was ready to go home and give up, but his wife convinced him to give it one more night.
The instant his eyes closed and he slipped into the land of nod, he knew something was wrong, he could feel it in his very bones. Hands gripped him and held him fast. A cold spread through him freezing him to the core and as a violent rush threw him against the floor it felt as though his heart shattered. And before Dr Franklin could get to his bedside, Marcus’s heart had stopped and he lay ghost pale and so still he almost looked like a statue.