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A nightmare made flesh


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Axel Dance

"Your mother says that you're having nightmares, Lexa."


The little girl is about eight years old.  She has light brown hair, fine and straight, pulled back into two french braids.  She is drawing something, and her artistic talent is evident, even though it's hard to determine exactly what the constellation on her page is supposed to mean.


She hums in half-hearted agreement with the counselor.


"You know you can control your dreams, a little, if you want to, right?"


That gets the girl's attention.  Her head snaps up.


"Yes.  Lucid dreaming.  When you reach the point where you know you are dreaming, you take control.  You realize you have control.  And then you can push the world of your dreams to be what you want it to be."




She can't remember how long it's been since she's gone to bed without a pain in her wrist.  It's always bandaged, always hard to find a place to put it that doesn't make it hurt worse.  Usually, she winds up on her back with her arm pillowed over her chest, and for some reason, she has nightmares when she sleeps on her back.


She fights them with trepidation, tries to make up stories, to do whatever she can to make sure that when she finally drifts off, she won't dream, or won't dream what she fears.  But just like always, when she dreams, she finds herself in a long black corridor, in a room that smells salty and vile in a way she can't really explain.


There are nasty pictures on either side of the hallway, all the way down, but she doesn't look.  She can just feel them leering at her.  Judging her.  Trying to make her just one thing.


She doesn't have to look at them, but she can't look away from the mirror.  It's large, much taller than her, a rectangle, and it's black and glossy and not set on the wall, but propped at an angle against it.  It reflects all sorts of things as she grows closer, but not her.  Never her.


There are shadows, running fluid like blood.  Inky watercolor blots.  Script in a language she can't recognize and doesn't want to look too closely at in case she can.


And as she draws nearer, unable to resist, not so much walking as gliding within the dream, her eyes meet the mirror and eyes appear within it.  Bright red eyes.


An icy wind blows through the hallway, staggering her.  She hears the harsh sound of something cracking, like the tree branch iced over at grandma's house years before, and the sound of boots on the passage in front of her, even though no one is there.


The crimson eyes belong to a tall, thin creature with pale skin and a handsome face.  The mere sight of him, forming in the mirror, makes her heart hammer in her chest.  She freezes, wants to run.  She's saying 'no' in her head, over and over again, but nothing happens.


He steps out of the mirror.  His cold fingers curl around her throat.


She thinks, suddenly and violently, with every ounce of will in her: You love me.  You love me, and you never want to see me hurt.


You love me, and you never want to see me hurt.


You love me, and you never want to see me hurt.


He comes closer and she flinches, pushing out her hopes, her will, and then he brushes tears from her cheek and wraps her in the warmest, kindest embrace she's ever known.  There's no judgment in it.  No desire for anything in return.


Her nightmare's long fingers stroke through her hair, and his deep voice whispers, "Dear little one.  I will always keep you safe."
February 21, 2019 06:09 am
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