shot up in her bed, screaming into the darkness. Once silence overcame the room
again, she brought her fist down on her pillow, clenching her teeth. Every
night was the same: she woke up screaming, sweat trickled down her forehead,
she felt sick to her stomach, and she trembled in fear.
buried her head in her hands, silently sobbing. ‘The same dream.’ she thought. ‘The
same damn dream!’
of all the dreams she had for the past weeks, this was the worst. Everything
was just so vivid, clear as day. There was maniacal laughter, the glint of a
knife, a splash of red, screams, and the unmistakable sound of metal piercing
skin again, and again, and again. It was all over in a flash, but it still
chilled her to the bone.
groggy, she walked into her bathroom. Tiny motion sensors installed in the
doorway activated, filling the room with a warm, yellow light. She was never
very tech-savvy, even when technology reached a new high with hover cars,
robots, and microchips, but she was extremely grateful for these motion
sensors. As twitchy as she’s gotten over the past few weeks, she had trouble
handling simple things like a lightswitch.
looked at her mirror, studying her reflection. She was a mess. Crust was built
up in her sunken eyes. Her skin, instead of its usual tan, was a sickly pale.
Her black hair was unforgivably frizzy, resembling a giant hairball on her
head. Great. She felt sick, and she looked even worse, and how couldn’t she?
These days, she was lucky to get three straight hours of sleep before the
nightmares came back. They would be the death of her. It was clear: she needed
help, and needed it soon.
morning came around, the nightmare still lingering in her mind, Jin stumbled
into her living room. When she did, a robotic voice echoed from her personal
morning, Ms. Walker.” it greeted in a robotic, female voice. The blinds slid
open, allowing stingingly bright light to pour into the room. Jin shielded her
eyes from the offending light, groaning in protest.
off!” she growled. The blinds closed back shut immediately, leaving Jin in her
shady home. She let out a reluctant
sigh. She didn’t want to use that ‘revolutionary helmet’ that got everyone all
giddy, not with the way it worked. Apparently, through some technobabble
nonsense, it allowed you to enter your nightmare, sort of like ‘living’ in it.
That way, you could find the source of your nightmares, confront it, and
overcome it. Why anyone would want to meet their nightmare in person, Jin didn’t
know. There were even complaints about physical pains experienced in the dream
world being carried over to the real world, though those people didn’t seem to
mind too much. Then again, those people probably didn’t have nightmares
the other hand, Jin wasn’t going to blow five-thousand credits so some jerk in
a nice suit would waste three hours of her time just to tell her to ‘take it
easy’. It looked like she didn't have much choice. After all, desperate times.
retrieving the helmet from her closet, Jin sat down on her living room floor.
As much as she didn’t like it, she had to admit, the design was appealing. It
was round and sleek in design. Its chrome finish seemed to shine even in the
shade of her house. At first glance, it seemed to be a very nice-looking
hovercycle helmet, with a visor, padding inside, and a chinstrap. The only real
difference was a controller connected to the helmet’s side.
picked up the controller. It was small, rectangular, and black. It had only a
switch and a dial, so it seemed simple enough. There was the ‘On’ and ‘Off’
switch, and the dial seemed to be for setting the time.
Let’s give it a try.” Jin said, though doubt lingered in her mind. Was this
thing really going to help end all of this? Could it? Only one way to find out.
let’s see…” She picked up the helmet and placed it on her head. The next thing
she grabbed was the controller, focusing on the time dial. “Let’s go for a…thirty
minute test-run.” She turned the dial until it was pointing at the 30-minute
mark. All she had to do now was turn the power on.
had better work.” With a deep breath, she slowly flicked the switch to ‘On’.
a tingling sensation wrap around her head as the machine hummed to life. The
feeling persisted for nearly ten seconds until Jin felt a sudden drowsiness
overcome her. Her body became weak, her eyes became near impossible to keep
open, and soon enough, she fell back on the floor, eyes shut as she drifted
eyes snapped open as she shot up from her place on the ground. Her vision was
blurry and her head was aching. Did it work? Was she dreaming? Once her vision
came back, a quick look around gave her an answer. She was no longer within the
confines of her home; she was sitting on the cold, hard driveway of an average,
two-story house. As plain as it was, Jin recognized it. It was the home where
she grew up. Strangely enough, she couldn’t remember much of her childhood. The
only real significant things she could remember were that her mother was ill,
and her father, a doctor, was trying to find a cure that always eluded him.
Everything else was a blur. But what was she doing here in the first place?
What was so important about it?
was so caught up in thought that she nearly failed to notice something else.
Looking around, she found herself surrounded by an impenetrable shroud of fog.
As hard as she tried, she couldn’t see a thing, save for the house, as if she
was being directed towards it. Not only that, but Jin couldn't hear a thing
either. Nothing, not the chirping of birds, or even gusts of wind, like they
didn't even exist. The place was just silent, eerily so.
tried to shake off the worry, telling herself that it was all just a dream. A
nightmare, yes, but still a dream. She got up to her feet, looking up at the
She heaved a
heavy sigh, trying to dispel the hesitation built up inside. "Okay, let's
She approached the front door. Aside from the surrounding fog, it seemed safe
enough. However, when she tried to open it, she found that it was lock. Of
course it was.
be that easy, could it?” Jin muttered, chuckling to herself.
have you done?”
a shocked gasp, Jin whipped around, darting her head side to side, trying to
find the source of the whisper. There was nothing around her, no one in sight.
Jin knew that it was a man’s voice, a strangely familiar one at that. Even stranger,
Jin could’ve sworn that it was right behind her. She couldn’t be that paranoid
already, could she?
turned back around, calming her racing heart only to have it speed up again
once she saw that the initially locked front door was open. Well, not open,
gone, hinges and everything, like it was never even built in. The new entrance
lead into darkness, one that Jin would have to brave if she wanted to find the
answers for her nightmares.
only a dream. It’s only a dream. It’s only a dream.” Jin kept saying, which
didn’t help much. With her breath held, she crept into her childhood home,
unaware and unprepared for the answers she would find.
her eyes began to adjust to the darkness, Jin could see that she was in the
living room. It was rather cozy, if not antique in design. Instead of the fancy
holograms and streamlined furnishings she’s grown used to, the decorations
seemed to have come from the 21st century. A nice, red couch sat in
front of a fireplace. If Jin wasn’t scared out of her mind, she may have taken
observed an end table next to the couch, spotting a framed photograph. Picking
it up, she saw that it was a photo of her parents before her mother’s illness.
It seemed to be a vacation photo, because they were both at the beach, wearing
swimsuits. However, Jin noticed that a piece of the photo was missing, torn
out. Jin turned the photo over, looking at its back. Despite the darkness, Jin
was able to make out ‘Florida ’59’ written in black felt-tip pen.
Jin mumbled to herself. “I was five back then.” Then where was she in the
photo? For some reason, her place in the picture was torn out, but by who?
She didn’t have much time to think of an answer
before she heard something that nearly made her heart stop. In the dead
silence, Jin could hear slow, heavy footsteps. They were faint at first, but
slowly grew louder, and louder, and louder. Someone, something was approaching
her, each step growing louder as they pounded in her mind. Jin flipped into a
silent panic; her body was stiff, but her mind was racing a mile a minute. What
was she going to do? Could she run? Would it catch her? Where would she go? All
the while, those footsteps were getting louder, getting closer, until...they
stopped. They stopped behind her. Jin froze up; she didn’t move, didn’t
even breath. It took all she had not to shriek as she felt cold, musty breath
brush against the back of her neck. She could feel it staring down at her with
its cold, dead eyes. This was unbearable! Why wouldn’t it just leave?
for reasons Jin couldn’t describe, maybe stupidity, she found herself slowly
turning around, keeping her eyes shut as she did. Only when she was certain
that she was facing her stalker did she muster up the courage to open her eyes.
She expected to see a ghost, a demon, a man slapping a goat, anything but what
she did find: nothing. Again. Even after the fear passed and her heart calmed
down, she was still left speechless, confused, and above all, angry. Really
angry. Angry that this place was teasing her, toying with her emotions like it
was all some sick joke. There was no way in this nightmarish hell that there
was nothing the whole time!
clenched her fists, trying and failing to contain the anger bottling up inside.
Just when she was about to explode, a door next to her swung open, slamming
into the plaster wall. In an instant, all of Jin’s rage left her in a very
shocked, not-angry yelp. Once she got a hold of herself, she stared into the
darkness of the room beyond. Somehow, it was even darker than the living room,
but Jin could hear something coming from it. Whispering? Yeah, it was
whispering. Jin couldn’t make it out, but it sounded like something was calling
her. That was when it hit her. This place, this dream, was leaving signs and signals
for her to follow. They were leading her somewhere, but to what? Jin just had
to decide whether or not she wanted to find out.
didn’t have much time to come to a decision. A sudden sense of drowsiness came
over her, making her brain numb. Her legs became jelly, her eyes became heavy,
and her whole body in general just grew weak. It didn’t take very long before
Jin collapsed, unconscious before she
even hit the ground.
Her thirty minutes were up.