Tag: Nightmare

NIGHTMARE: Perfect Harmony: Shining Star By Josh McMullen

Word: Nightmare
Words – 498

Perfect Harmony: Shining Star
By Josh McMullen

“This has to be a nightmare,” Elodie whispered to herself. “All I have to do is wake up and all this will just be one bad dream.”

It wasn’t a dream, no matter how hard Elodie pinched herself or how much she convinced herself otherwise. She felt all the blood rush to her face and shoulders as she scrunched into an embarrassed ball. Though the steam obscured almost everything, that didn’t stop the chaos.

That chaos was Leo, who wasn’t there by choice. Being a baseball prodigy on a team that was mostly made up of juniors and seniors had its privileges and its risks. This had been one of the risks: being dumped unceremoniously into the girls’ locker room with no way of escape. The fact that the seventh grade girls’ gym class had just let out was just icing on the cake.

It was almost like a balloon bursting in slow motion. What had been harmonious chatter after hard-fought games of badminton turned into a ripple of pandemonium as they realized something – or someone – was out of place there.

All Leo could do was stand there, frozen to that spot, his face bright red. For once, being the center of attention was the last thing on his mind. All he wanted to do was run away. He looked around furtively for another door, until his eyes landed on a shoulder with a perfect star birthmark. That’s when he knew he had to get out of there incredibly fast. In an instant he had forced his way out the door and far away. Leo couldn’t believe that the universe hated him that much to put Elodie in the same room. When he figured he had finally run far enough away, he collapsed on the floor, wrapped his arms around his knees and buried his head.

Elodie found him a few minutes later, arms wrapped around his knees. She softly touched him on the shoulder. When he didn’t respond after a couple seconds, she sat next to him, a silent sentinel against the horrors middle school had wrought.

“You know,” Elodie said after several minutes of awkward silence, “There was a door about ten feet to your left. With your speed, you could have ran out the door before anyone knew you were there.” She giggled slightly, then hummed absentmindedly while keeping her hand on his shoulder. They sat there in ungraceful silence for a few minutes more before Leo broke it with: “Hey, you know you have a birthmark that looks like a star?”

“I’m well aware,” Elodie said, trying to contain her laughter. “How did you know it was me?”

“I don’t know,” Leo said. “I could just tell.”

Elodie smiled brightly. He had seen her at her most vulnerable and did not shy away (well, not completely at least). She wrapped her arms around him, a smile on her face. She may not have known it there, but she found her shining star.

NIGHTMARE: Time Waits for No Man By Peg Scarano

Word: Nightmare
Word Count: 499

Time Waits for No Man
By Peg Scarano

The driver, taking us from Positano to Rome where we were catching a train at noon, was late. The roads on the Amalfi Coast are treacherous and he was googling Little Falls, NY on his phone while he was driving. He explained to us how to find the correct platform for our train by looking at our tickets. As we were leaving, he took my hand – I thought for a romantic Italian kiss. However, he just turned my diamond ring around and whispered, “Watch out for the gypsies in Rome.” That was thoughtful!

We found our platform easily, got on the first car and sat in our assigned seats. We had to stow our luggage overhead, but since we were on a 10 day trip, our suitcases were not carry-on size. Poor Rock. Several minutes later a man came over to the three of us and in broken English, explained to us we were in the wrong seat. We showed him our tickets and he pointed out we were on Coach 11 and we needed to be on Coach 4. Apparently our driver forgot that tidbit of information.

Rock hauled down our suitcases and we headed towards the front of the train. Halfway through Coach 10, I determined I couldn’t do this anymore. The aisles were plane-sized and we had these huge suitcases we had to lift over each seat and there were people everywhere. We turned and got off at the back of Coach 10. As I looked down the platform for Coach 4, it seemed to be at least three city blocks away and the ornate clock informed us it was 11:56 – four minutes to departure. At least there were no people on the platform as the three of us took off at a full run dragging suitcases and purses.

Rock arrived first. Emily looked back and yelled, “Hurry, Mom!” I was finally at the door of the car, but my strength and adrenaline were depleted. I could not lift my suitcase one inch above the ground. Em left her suitcase teetering on the step, grabbed mine with one hand and my hand with her other hand. Rock snatched Em’s suitcase to get it out of the way. When I reached the second step, I crushed Emily’s toe. As she howled, the door to the platform slammed shut behind me. It took 30 minutes to get my breath back and for Em to conclude her toe was not broken.

Trains are not like airports. They wait for no man or woman! On the bright side, Coach 4 was first class. The aisles were wide enough for the luggage. The storage area was under the large, plush seats which were easy on the butt. The train traveled at 180 miles per hour. It was so quiet and smooth, it seemed like we were in a movie theater watching the Italian countryside glide past our eyes. Adult beverages were free. We woke from our nightmare and entered dreamland.

NIGHTMARE: Livin’ the Nightmare B.A. Sarvey

Word: Nightmare
Word Count: 500
Livin’ the Nightmare
B.A. Sarvey

Some people left and never returned.
Some people had to leave and come back again in order to discover who they really were.
Others never left at all.
Douglas had wanted, at an earlier stage, to be the first kind of person, but ended up being the third. At forty-nine, he didn’t know who he was. With the half-century milestone within sight, he worried that he’d never figure it out.
Did it matter? Maybe a tad. But only to him.
Douglas never married, had no children, no such relationship to create any. His parents were long gone. His only sibling—Bernice—also childless, waded into the rain-engorged river last spring and drowned. Neighbors might have recognized Douglas, but he rarely went out. And while he had created a relatively successful business empire, he remained a faceless, nameless entity, sheltering behind an on-line persona through which he bought and sold antiques.
Douglas’s home served as his warehouse, though his was strictly an on-line presence—no, he didn’t have a “shop”, he told buyers. No, he didn’t “do shows”. He and Bernice had grown up in this house. Three bedrooms, one bath, a one-stall garage and remains of his mother’s rose garden out back. Only the regular UPS guy and the kid who mowed actually knew him, for all that he’d lived there forty-nine years.
The antiques that were the basis of his business had belonged to his parents. He had since amassed an entire houseful.
Douglas, until that fateful day when Bernice had entered the torrential waters, had been anonymous. Resigned to his lot, he got along fine. Then Bernice had done that foolish thing. Now, dishes jumbled up the sink. Antiques threatened to suffocate Douglas. He was no longer getting along fine.
Sometimes, Douglas sat up half the night, the computer’s glow the only illumination of the room once inhabited by his parents. He’s transformed it into an office. Anyone peering in the window would have seen a haggard, middle-aged man, cheeks furrowed, great hollows cast around his eyes by the unnatural light, which also shone off the expanse of forehead unveiled by receding hairline. Surprisingly, his hair was unmarred by gray, his sallow, waxy skin ghostly by contrast.
Douglas told himself he stayed awake to track his e-bay auctions. But he was merely forestalling sleep, avoiding the nightmare that clutched him when he drifted off, just as Bernice had clutched at him by the water’s edge. Water. So innocuous, yet so powerful. The difference between tap-water and a raging river was like the difference between a Lionel caboose and a freight train. Poor Bernice, so foolish, attempting to leave.
Douglas had only wanted to show how dangerous the world could be. Now, in dreams, he saw her face, distorted by the water, melting, skin dripping, falling away, the bloated, grimacing skull, triumphant in its defeat, mocking Douglas.
Douglas, the quiet neighbor who never bothered anyone. He still didn’t know who he was. And neither did anyone else.

NIGHTMARE: Tam Ky By Terry Rainey

Word: NIGHTMARE
Word Count 500
Tam Ky
By Terry Rainey
I left Chu Lai at 0930, landed at Tam Ky at 1000. With two other replacements, I was taken over to B Troop Cavalry, Second platoon. Commander Sergeant Leonard Knox looked us over from where he stood on the back of ACAV#21, pockmarked with bullet holes, not even remotely like the ACAVs back in Fort Jackson, SC.
ACAV. Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicle, 40MPH mobile platform with a 10-man rifle squad and two-man crew. ACAV doctrine: fight directly from the track and never dismount. Normally ACAVs had a driver, track commander, two gunners, with M60 machine guns, and two loaders, one armed with an M-79 40mm grenade launcher. 38-mm thick gun shields offered some protection. The commander sat in a gun shield turret and operated a .50caliber Browning machine gun.
Sergeant Knox chose me because I was small and would take up less space sleeping. I was humiliated. I was a lesser piece of human, that’s how I ended up as left machine gunner on ACAV#21.
At 1030, we left Tam Ky heading northwest through Pineapple Forest. It’d been soaked in Agent Orange a few years ago and should have been called Dead Forest. Nervously I asked the right machine gunner about everything. His name was Merrill Matson but everyone called him Red. He called me FNG.
FNG? I just didn’t want to screw up, just badly to fit in. Afraid to ask about FNG, I found out later: Effing New Guy. Bad luck. Red assured me: every day is boring; the hardest part of the job was dealing with the environment and 18-hour days.
At 1400, boring ended, badly, quickly. A regiment of North Vietnamese Army (NVA) attacked our line of armored trucks from a concealed position on a hill. They unloaded a 57mm recoilless rifle, shooting straight down. The first shots killed the Driver and the Track Commander of the lead vehicle. Then its two gunners were blown backwards into flying pieces of torsos and legs.
As we pulled the vehicles into a tighter line, a company of infantrymen fed into our position, on foot! They had been told to get in between our ACAV’s to protect the sides and rear. This was pure craziness. Behind my gun shield, I shot my M60 continually and aimlessly, amidst deafening noise.
As hell erupted, a terrified infantryman caught my eye. I shouted: get behind our ACAV. Me, the FNG! What did I know? Just then, we got pushed back. The driver put the ACAV in reverse, and backed right over him. Somebody screamed so the driver pulled forward and ran him over again!
Next day we found we’d killed 850 NVA, versus our 11 dead and 43 wounded. The curious math meant jackshit against my guilt about the infantryman, until I found out that the rice paddy underneath was a cushion and the lucky sunuvabitch just broke both legs, a ticket to a hospital. Where the hell it was I don’t know, but I’m sure it was somewhere outside my nightmare.

NIGHTMARE: The Pilgrimage By Sally Madison

Word: NIGHTMARE
Words: 489
The Pilgrimage
By Sally Madison

Elizabeth trudged through the water and sand of the ebb tide’s last remains with her eyes staring at the granite rock and, hopefully, her salvation. Her slippers were sucked off as she struggled through the muck. Her dress was filthy from the last four weeks of her nightmare. She needed to feel alive again; she needed to feel the joy she once had. The drizzling rain began to wash the outside of her, but only a pilgrimage to Mont Saint Michel would cleanse the inside.

She had seen the granite island with the majestic abbey on it’s precipice from the ocean, as the pirate ship passed on its way to San Malo. She could hear the monks chant from across the bay, calling her like a siren. Elizabeth knew that, if she were ever delivered from her captors, it would be to this Abbey she would pay homage.

As she climbed the granite steps, the people passed around her, jostling her, but she never faltered. Some people stopped to buy a bread twist or a cup of tea, but she never smelled anything. Some people stopped to buy trinkets, but she never looked. As she climbed, her eyes stayed focused only on the steep hill ahead. The first 200 steps chaffed the skin of her delicate feet on the cold slippery stones, rounded by the pilgrims who had come before her. Following the mass of people in front of her, she entered into the chapel of Saint Peter and fell to her knees in prayer. After several minutes, she looked up and focused on the small alter before her. She realized that she was not in the abbey, but had veered off the steep stone passage. Grateful for the refuge, she prayed with every ounce of her being. The lack of feeling she had previously experienced began to leave. Comforted by the chapel’s spiritual warmth, her body awoke to her pain. Her stamina revived, she began her assent of the remaining 200 steps to the abbey, on her journey of forgiveness. She was one of thousands that had made the journey to pay homage to the angel who had built the magnificent sanctuary for desperate people. She peered over one of the stone walls along the stairway and could see the wooden crosses in a cemetery for people who had made this, there final resting place.

Hanging her head in reverence, she heard, “This is the body…” The morsel dissolved giving her arms and legs strength. “This is the blood…” She sipped, her heart swelled. Her eyes sparkled and shown, as if she had been reborn. She had heard those words every Sunday since she was a child, but this time it was as if it was for the first time.

Realizing her weakened condition, the monks gave her sustenance and then a blanket to rest while until she was ready to leave and begin life anew.

NIGHTMARE: The Mourning Routine By Mike Cecconi

Word: NIGHTMARE
Word Count 500
The Mourning Routine
By Mike Cecconi

Frank Yetti woke up late in the morning most days, there weren’t enough tourists walking down Hollywood Boulevard at ten to make the effort worth it, especially on a weekday, so he afforded himself leisurely mornings, excluding holidays or dedicated events. If there was a line outside of Mann’s for a premiere, if someone was putting down footprints or collecting their purchased star, it’d be worth an early rise. If he had a particularly jarring nightmare about his long-lost home, it might not be worth going back to sleep anyway.

Frank would wake with coffee and fruit, maybe granola, sasquatches are mostly vegetarian and lactose-intolerant, though eggs or fish were not out of order as a little treat. He’d eat and shower, taking a long while to shampoo up and down near-to seven feet of thick brown fur. He’d agreed with his roommate long ago that he’d pay the water bill because of those showers, they got along quite well for their shared outsider honesty. His roommate was an actor who had steady bit-parts as footballers, boxers and bouncers on the strength of his corn-fed Nebraska stocky musculature, despite being a gay man mostly comfortable in his own flamboyance. I suppose if you hop a bus in from Omaha, hoping to blossom into your true self but end up typecast as a straight farm-boy anyway, you’re not going to judge your roommate much for being a sasquatch who pretends to be a human in a particularly good sasquatch costume.

After ten minutes of blow-drying his entire body, Frank would take a dab of spirit-gum and glue an obvious metal zipper to his back, from skull to coccyx, completing a minimal illusion that he was just a man in a costume and then strap on a fanny pack to hold his back-up instant camera, his busking license and his loose change for the tourists with large bills.

Frank then walked to work, up Fountain to Sunset, stopping at the Seven-Eleven along La Brea for another coffee, some more fruit, perhaps a lottery ticket. The middle-aged Armenian owner would always joke with him “Good morning, Mister Bigfoot!” not knowing Frank was an actual bigfoot, of course. Sometimes the owner’s wife would be there, sometimes his mistress in from Glendale, but Frank did not comment and tried not to judge.

Eventually he’d arrive at his spot in front of Mann’s, greet his dearest busking friends, an elderly Long Islander dressed up as Elvis and a middle-aged African-American who did a great Michael Jackson and then he’d get to work. Ten bucks a pop the tourists paid for a picture with the guy in the sasquatch costume, except when there was a new Star Wars or around Halloween, when he’d add a bandolier and say he was Chewbacca.

That’s how Frank would make the money to pay his bills before returning to his apartment just north of Fountain to dream his fitful dreams of when he was not the last sasquatch left on Earth.

NIGHTMARE: Stalemate By Sam McManus

Word: NIGHTMARE
Word Count 500
Stalemate
By Sam McManus
The shredder finally died on page sixty-nine, having chugged its way along for three minutes straight without benefit of respite, despite powering along for a solid year with no issues whatsoever. A pounding on the office door, like a thudding metronome, continued without cease as IRS agents swarmed the law firm, buzzing bees surrounding a hive.
“You are out of compliance, Mr. Waltham,” a baritone voice called from the other side of the door. It was swiftly followed by the jangling of keys. The door slammed open so quickly it hit the opposite wall and rebounded in the face of the agent who was second in line. It seemed all the agents in the entire suite of offices were suddenly crammed into the small space.
Harrison Waltham III put on his best poker face, in spite of the smoking shredder from which he had hastily retreated, the one that was still stuck halfway through obliterating pages fifty-six through sixty-nine, the final pages of the incriminating evidence that showed his firm was embezzling money. At Reinhart, Ford, and Waltham, their motto was, “If they can’t find it, they can’t prove it,” but the remains of the shredder, and the evidence within, didn’t lie.
“I want a lawyer,” the esteemed man said, settling back into his chair as if it were just another day at the office. Judas Reinhart and Patty Ford weren’t going to hear about him cowering when the shit hit the fan.
“Take your pick,” the agent said, a smirk on his face, waving his hand behind him to the scuttling associates who were being herded like cattle.
It was the nightmare scenario, as outlined his first day at the firm, when his old man was still in charge. Fresh out of law school, Harrison had absolutely no problem with nepotism in the cutthroat enterprise that was business law, even if he hated his father worse than crabs. Because guilt can be a valuable weapon, especially against an absentee parent who still blamed himself for what happened to his wife.
“I want Jackie Abrams,” he said, his right hand in a fist on the desk so he didn’t scream his lungs out. It was an exercise he had learned from his shrink.
“Do what you want, but we will be taking these files now,” the agent replied, the smirk still firmly etched on his face. He was obviously the smartass of the group. The others stood around with arms folded, the intimidation team.
“And you will be hearing from me,” Harrison Waltham said. He knew he was up against it, but bravado always seemed to work in the movies.
“Oh, and before I forget,” said the smirking agent. “That’s called obstruction of justice, what we’ve got here that’s been partially shredded.”
As they filed out with the partial evidence, Harrison Waltham III closed his eyes and hoped when he opened them that the whole thing would have been just a dream. The shredder continued to smoke in the corner.

NIGHTMARE: Regret By Sharon Collins

Word: NIGHTMARE
Word Count 499

Regret
By Sharon Collins

“Awake!” commanded the voice that never slept even when the others did.. “Awake! Awake! Awake!” It shouted dragging all the other voices into consciousness . Immediately they took up the clamor, “Your prophecies are true. To your duty, Old Woman! To the Sanctuary! Save the children! To the ships, Ankara! Go! Now!”

Wrapped in a watered-silk bedrobe , Ankara, Elder, Seer and Keeper of the Crystals, struggled to stand upon the mosaic undulating like a leviathan of the deep beneath her feet. Losing her balance, she fell to knobby knees and crawled to the window, where she hauled her ancient body up. Peering over the blue-tiled, sill, she needed no lantern to see. The dark shadow of Atlas, vomiting gouts of reeking smoke and bleeding rivers of liquid fire, illuminated the hellish tableau. Blazing wooden structures, backlit the columned Temple of Poseidon as it collapsed, the glow of it orichalcum façade fading into the rubble. Choking fumes churned, as weeping men carried their children into the streets followed by silent, white-faced wives. Although foretold, the utter magnitude of destruction paralyzed her. Surrendering to despair, Ankara collapsed against the cobalt dolphins gracing her bedchamber floor and wept.

Stung finally, into action by a shattered tile slicing her withered cheek, she reached for her veil of byssus, a rare sea-silk, wrapped her long silver braids and covered her mouth. Clinging to the heavy mahogany furniture, now strewn in a shamble about the room, she fought her way out of doors and into the heaving chaos. Wheezing, and squinting against the acrid smoke, Ankara searched the horizon, and was heartened to see the ships still anchored a safe distance away. The sight of the beach littered with writhing sea-creatures, the sand extending farther than even the lowest tide, however, tightened the iron grip of terror heart into a stranglehold and she limped even faster.

Keening with grief and pain, she heaved open the Sanctuary gates, ignoring the heated bronze, singeing her palms. As Keeper of the Crystals, Ankara was sworn to protect The Eleven. Her children, as she called them, were in reality eleven unearthly beautiful crystals. No one, not even Ancient Ankara knew their true origins. The Scrolls spoke of wandering Star-Beings bestowing them upon the Ancestors. The color of rare gems, each vibrated with a single, perfectly-pitched tone. Ankara loved to hear them hum as she tended them. When coupled and tripled, their harmonies produced a powerful magic. When The Eleven sang in unison, their melody, it was rumored, could move mountains.

Unwinding her veil, Ankara reached the crystal of emerald-green as seawater surged through a widening rift. Swaddling her first child, she sloshed through knee-deep water to the second and chest-deep to rescue the third. As the water reached her mouth, Ankara faced a parent’s worst nightmare; choosing the safety of one child over another. As she made her choice, she knew the gratitude-songs of the chosen would never drown out the hissing curses of the un-chosen they sank.