The stuff of nightmares: A short story

It was a very nice, sunny day at the park. Jennifer was enjoying herself quite much. Sitting on the swings she would shoot towards the sky, cheer gleefully and she swooped back towards the earth. This process repeated until something caught her eye. It was a butterfly.

“Hmm, I thought they were extinct.” she thought to herself. She had never seen a living butterfly in her entire life. Sure they had images of them in the computer database along with videos on the internet, but she had never seen one in person. Her heart began racing with excitement as she chased the embodiment of beauty flutter past.

As Jennifer began chasing the majestic creature she quickly began to notice something was wrong. The clouds were darkening, the sky was turning black and she turned to see all her friends who moments ago had been playing happily at the park, were nowhere to be found.

Jennifer grew cold with freight. She knew what was coming next. Instead of chasing the impossible insect she turned to run away. As she began moving the sidewalk slowly began turning to dust. The layers were blowing beneath her feat as she ran with all her might, staying in place her fears increased. She could hear the laughter creeping in the distance. Oh no, he was coming for her and she was not about to let him get her. Not this time. She suddenly knew it was a dream. Calmly she forced herself to picture her bicycle on the street corner next to where she was.

Jennifer quickly hopped onto the bike and began pedaling. To her relief the bike began to move and she was finally getting further away from the nightmare. She was too terrified to turn back. Jennifer knew if she did she would realize her worst fears.

“Not. Tonight!” she thought intensely as her heart was racing, sweat pouring down her cheek. She was not about to give in. Today was a special day. She was supposed to wake up to a camping trip with her parents and sister. This was a happy day, the nightmare was supposed to stay away.

Jennifer had been having the very same dream, or some variation of it, for the past year or so. She had no clue where it came from or what it meant. At age 9 she barely understood what it meant to dream in the first place.

As she rode her bike her legs began to grow tired. The pain settled in, increasing her fear that once again the nightmare was going to get her.

She noticed an empty building. She ran inside. It was the old movie theater years ago, well before she was born. She never saw a movie theater. They existed in her mothers childhood but had long been relics of the past. Jennifer ran inside. Her subconscious not knowing what was inside a movie theater began to fill in the blanks as her wildest fears were imagined. There was an endless spiral staircase in the dead center of the room. In every dream where she got caught she always went downstairs. Not this time. She ran up the stairs clutching the hand rails with a determination she was going to escape this once and for all.

Jennifer began climbing the staircase. She could hear the laughter creeping up on her. She knew it was getting closer. She always assumed it was a he, even though she always woke up right when it caught her she never faced it, in her heart she just knew it had to be a guy. Nothing else made sense in her mind.

She climbed the stairs up past the ceiling and out onto the balcony. She had no choice, the staircase kept climbing into the clouds, which were now raging with a wild storm. Off in the distance she could see a tornado forming.

“Why is there always a tornado!” she thought to herself.

Once again remembering it was a dream she took a leap of faith. Jumping off the edge of the balcony that had enveloped the staircase, she began to fly. The voice was getting closer. Gaining on her it was, and so the fear began to cripple her. She realized even though she was flying she was but 2 inches off the ground. There, just a head was a swimming pool. Somehow she thought if she could just make it to the water she would be safe. Again, she had no clue why she felt that way but her gut told her to take the chance anyways.

“Jennifer wake up!”

Suddenly she snapped to. It was her mom. Standing there with a pot in one hand, a stirring utensil in the other.

“Hurry up sleepy head, we’re going to eat some pancakes real quick and be off to the camping trip very shortly. Get out of bed and get dressed right this instant.” her mother scolded her.

She grabbed her teddy bear, gave it a hug and went to the bathroom. She couldn’t recall what she had been dreaming but it must have been a happy dream she thought, because all she knew was she wanted to get back to sleep to finish it up.

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