I rarely get nightmares. Come to think of it I don’t dream very often. I like to think that dreams and nightmares are our psyche’s way of working stuff out on the inside, and what we experience when it hits our consciousness are the stories we see while we sleep. If this is true, then because I have not had dreams of any kind in over five years I must have it all figured out. Now that in and of itself is a scary thought. Can you imagine having it all figured by your 50s? Then what do you do with your life from that point on? What fun would that be? Really what’s the point of going on living? Don’t worry, this is not some kind of suicide note, just because I wrote “I got it all figured out,” and “What’s the point of going on living.” I have too much to live for. Besides that, I did have a nightmare.
I will say this nightmare was scary. So scary that when I started to tell the story to my ten-year old son the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Describing it to him, I conjured up the image of my childhood home where the story took place. He picked up on the vibe of fear and started to feel the impact of the nightmare and became scared. So much so that when asked by his Mom to go to his room to get dressed for soccer practice, he refused.
I must confess that I have not gone into grave details yet about the nightmare for fear of raising the hairs on my neck again. I cannot promise that it will be all that scary to you because it originated in my subconscious and not yours.
I am the same age I am now and find myself in my childhood home, a small postwar 3-story home in a middle class suburb of Minneapolis. Built for a family of three we were a family of five – Mom, Dad and three boys. There were only three bedrooms – two on the first-floor and one big room in the attic. The attic was where the three of us slept for the first ten years of our lives. It was an interesting place. The sharp angled V shaped ceiling made for a peculiar feeling. The L shaped room ran the length of the home and yet large enough to accommodate the three of us – a bunk bed for my younger brothers and a single for me. Windows on both ends of the room allowed for both morning and afternoon light, which made it bright and cheery throughout the day. I am not quite sure who chose the carpeting, but it was a small block shaped pattern blue tone color. It was an odd combination when contrasted against the typical 1970s light wood paneled walls, but did add an overall pleasantness to the unique space.
Then there were the four doors that opened into the rarely used storage spaces. These tiny rooms when opened emanated nothing but blackness. At the time, our imaginations went wild whenever we opened them thinking ghost or creatures resided behind the doors. We dared one another to go in and stay as long as possible with the doors shut. I do not recall anyone ever going over the one-minute mark. After reaching our fright threshold we signaled to one another with a loud scream when it was time to open the door.
I remember that all-encompassing feeling of dread once the doors shut. You couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. It was comforting that I could still hear brothers voices, but not enough so to make it past one-minute. To this day I do not know if it was our imaginations or there was some unseen entity lurking behind the doors. This is why I believe my nightmare had such an impact. Well that and the storage space at the top of the stairs was the scariest of them all. I cannot speak for my brothers, but this particular space’s creepiness factor was off the charts. Whenever I had to open those doors to put something in storage I would get so spooked and threw whatever it was I had and slamming the door as quickly as possible.
I stand before the bedroom door with a cardboard box in hand. I open the door and start the walk up the stairs leading to the bedrooms and storage space. Nearing the storage space door fear begins to seep in despite the simple objective of putting a box in storage. Reluctantly opening the storage space door, at first glance I see nothing but that darkness. As my eyes adjust I make out a blue quilted blanket lying on the ground in the shape of a body. I shrug that off as my mind playing tricks.
Because the storage space and entrance is narrow, as an adult I now have to get down on my knees and wiggle my way in to avoid hitting my head. On my knees I breach the threshold where darkness meets light. I am nearly close enough to drop the box, get out, shut the door and be done with it. Just as I am about to put the box down, the blanket in front of me moves ever so slightly. “My imagination again,” I think. As I move to put the box down, the blanket flies off on its own accord in a violent manner revealing within inches of my face the pus white face of a decomposing corpse with blood oozing from the white cranium like hot lava only to be sidetracked by dark patches of greasy hair. The stench of death makes me gag, I swallow to avoid throwing up. The piercing deep black lifeless eyes revealed the true nature of this evil entity. I know in that moment, had I locked eyes I would have surely lost the stare down and my soul. With no time to waste I drop the box, slam the door hitting my head and screaming out in pain and fear.
The moment I stand up and back away from grisly ghoul is the moment I find myself standing at the foot of the stairs with the same cardboard box in hand and no memory of what just happened. I begin my journey again walking the stairs to the storage space opening the door, the very same blanket in the shape of a body. The blanket flies off revealing the same evil entity. I back away in fear slamming the door shut, hitting my head, screaming and finding myself at the foot of stairs yet again with the same cardboard box.
And so it continues over and over becoming a twisted horror version of Groundhog Day. The real nightmare having to relive that level of fear ad infinitum.
Fortunately, my eighty-year old bladder residing in a 54 year old body saved the day by signaling to my brain it was time to relieve myself now or risk wetting the bed. And I don’t want to relive that childhood nightmare again.