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What scares you most, sends chills down your spine and makes your pulse race causing your adrenaline to kick in? Could it be the shadows that dance on the walls of a decrepit basement, or the fact that you still do not know what lies beyond the door you have yet to enter? Fears that cause the imagination to run wild can live within our subconscious minds, making it difficult to differentiate between reality and a dream. Some dreams can take us to a whole new dimension, as all of your stresses and anxieties spew forth detestable images of a taunting, soulless underworld. What makes a dream so horrific is the thought of never waking up, or having to live through the terrifying life that comes with the dream, that is, if you do not die in the process. All of the unknowns tend to build up a tension like no other, a feeling of pure shock that you are unable to control. This blood-curdling experience is known as a nightmare…

            When I opened my eyes, the room was illuminated by the single light of a candle. The horrific odor of a decaying corpse assaulted my senses, causing my eyes to tear uncontrollably as a strong wave of nausea took over the contents of my stomach. The sheen of a metal table caught my eye. Lying flat on the table, covered in gangrene, a human hand sat sprawled across the table, with its fingers spread in an inhumane position, each nail filled with dirt to the cuticle. From that moment on, I knew wherever I was, I needed to escape, or I would fall victim to the horrific killing that awaited me beyond the double bolted, metal door south of the table. As I attempted to move, I felt a sharp tightness spread over my muscles. Something was not right, as my limbs lay unresponsive to my desperate attempts of escape. Then, I opened my eyes and realized the severity of my situation.

            I was sitting in the fetal position and I was trapped behind metal bars. My spine longed to be standing, but my restraints did not permit it. I was a caged animal, desperate to stretch my limbs and break free. My mind was flooded with the possibilities that awaited my near future. The suspense was almost as agonizing as the physical pain that consumed my body, and in my intense agony, I spotted a figure from the corner of my eye. Within seconds, its steps grew closer and closer, but I was unable to identify distinctive facial features, as the being was concealed by an obstructive gas mask. I looked down and fear shot through me like a bullet passing through my brain. Clenched in the person’s hand was a tall gray bucket oozing to the top with live centipedes. Hundreds of legs escaped the uncovered bucket as insects by the masses fell to floor and the bucket swung to and fro like a pendulum. Before my mind registered what was going to happen next, I screamed the most deafening scream, sobbing heavily from the pure horror of being attacked by my worst nightmare. Fear was a stalker out to get me; I was its only victim.

            As the mask got closer, its monotone expression shifted to the nefarious face of twisted delight. The sound of footsteps gliding roughly against the hardwood floor mocked me as I began to plead my last will to my tormentor. Slowly, he raised the bucket building up the unsettling suspense that would begin my worst nightmare. One by one, he picked up the creatures with a gloved hand and tossed them into my cage. I went into a state of panic as the centipedes were flicked carelessly onto my cold flesh. Their tiny legs scraped against my skin pricking me with their rapid movement across my body. Adrenaline spiked through my veins and I shook uncontrollably by instinct in an attempt to rid the creatures of my presence. Two by two, three by three, soon the bucket went over my head, coating my body in disgusting layers of centipedes, covering every inch of me making it difficult to breathe. My hair itched with the prickling and tickling of bugs gliding through my long tresses and embedding into my scalp. I tried to open my eyes, but I could only see gray, the color of their putrid skin. I could not scream or cry, in fear the animals would take over my insides. I was a corpse buried alive; I would cease to exist from pure fear of my state of being.

            Only two thoughts consumed my mind: would I live through this experience to see tomorrow and could I find a way to escape? I scratched at the bugs like a cat pawing at a ball of yarn, except this was no fun and games. I was in it to win it in the fight for my life. Conquering my fear, I took the bugs in my hands one by one and violently ripped them apart with my hands like a barbarian. I had to shift them out of my line of vision so I could assess my surroundings. Miraculously, I was able to see the objects I had seen before and could make out the metal table with the rancid smelling human hand, the stained hardwood floor, and the single candle that illuminated the room. The metal door was rid of its bolts and it stood open, encouraging me to enter through to the other side; if only I could escape my confines.  I pushed at the metal bars and by chance, two of the bars came crashing to the floor leaving me enough space to exit my tiny chamber. I crawled out as fast as I could and shook off the remaining centipedes that had attached themselves to the fibers of my clothes. As I bolted for the door at lightning speed, something came over me causing me to see stars and collapse to the ground.

The room was spinning in all directions. As I tried to make sense of what had just happened, my eyes began to give out and I struggled to keep them open. “This was it”, I thought. Never again would I feel the serenity of my home, or hear the laughter of my friends, or experience my next birthday. This was what death felt like. Unlike peace or contentment of going in your sleep, this death was a garble of fear and confusion; distorted images of trickery that would haunt my soul. Where would I go? Would there be an afterlife awaiting my arrival or would my soul take the place of a nomad, wandering aimlessly through the gray areas of life? Or worse, could this be my final fate? If I truly could not make a second appearance in any world, I refused to let this be the way I would go. I had so much to live for and ending a fulfilling life with an unfulfilling death would not be how my life ended. Finally, no longer able to fight, I blacked out.

My ears were ringing with the sound of silence as sunlight streamed through my window; its pure white light piercing the demonic images my eyes had once seen. It was almost as if I felt a strange euphoria wash over me but where was I? Had I really made it to heaven? My eyes opened and I awoke to the comfort of my own bed; the creatures seemed to have faded out of existence and I felt as if the whole situation had never even happened. I was utterly shocked and surprised that my ordeal had not really happened. Still shaking, I was grateful that my dream had ended. The familiarity of my room eased my nerves and that is when I realized, it was all just a nightmare.

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