For as long as I can remember, my dreams have always ended the same way. The dreams always turn nightmarish when some demonic-looking creature comes out and tries to kill me. Its appearance is always the same: a dark red, bleeding face that resembles a human skull resting on the body of a four-legged, black-haired beast. Its ear-shattering wail always alerted me of its presence. My dream is often normal up until it appears. Nothing bad happens, until a chill is sent down my spine, causing my body to become covered in goosebumps, which is when the monster appears and attacks me. I wake up in a cold sweat right before it kills me every time, along with fear throughout my whole body. After many years of dealing with it, I eventually learned to cope with it, but I'm still kind of afraid of what would happen if it got to me. However, they have become increasingly bothersome within the past week.
A few days ago, I brought it up during lunch with my friends. There were only three of us. Ellen, Evan and I were great friends in high school, and we were enjoying our meal and conversation. We were carrying out an average, common conversation until Ellen wondered why I wasn't contributing very much.
"Are you alright, Al? You haven't said very much today. You're usually the life of the party," she questioned.
"Well," I started to say, "I had that nightmare again."
"I thought they stopped bothering you years ago," Evan added.
"They did, but last night's was way too intense. I was wandering around the store, looking for a new phone, when the one I was checking out suddenly received a call. When I answered it, a deep voice kept on saying 'run' every second or so. Not even a second after hanging up, I hear screams throughout the store. When I turned around, the Beast comes charging after me, knoncking over people and groceries as it approached me. Needless to say, I woke up screaming."
After a short pause, Evan responded. "That sent chills down my spine, man. What are you going to do?"
"I have no idea. Do you think I should see a psychologist?"
"Actually," Ellen added, "I think you should try and take control of your dreams."
This got my attention. "Really? You can do that?"
"Yes, you can! There's this thing called 'lucid dreaming'. It basically means to be aware that you are dreaming."
"Yeah, that's a great idea! You could take control of the dream and kill the monster," Evan added.
"How does it work? How do I take control?" I asked.
A look of confusion suddenly flooded their faces. "I honestly don't know. Look it up when you get the chance, alright?" Evan mentioned.
I was ecstatic. The thought of ending the nightmares excited me too much. I left in a rush, heading home to figure this out.
"Al! Let us know how it turns out. Give me a call when it works, okay?" Ellen shouted as I was leaving.
I stuck my thumb in the air towards them as I left the restaurant and ran home. Honestly, it sounded too good to be true, but they were right: you can control your dreams. I went straight home and onto my computer. I read as much as I could about lucid dreaming. I was desperate to end this cycle of nightmarish dream endings, and desperate to regain control of my mind and overcome my fear. I spent the next week practicing lucid dreaming. I attempted it every night, but I remained unaware every time. The first night, I tried to recognize "dream signs", which are common themes seen within my dreams. I tried to get myself to recognize them, but my conscious thought shut off for the duration of the dream like always. In my dream that night, I was camping in a forest with my parents. We sat around our little campfire and told ghost stories. I can't really remember most of the stories, but the story my dad told is still fresh on my mind.
"Once upon a time," he started with, "there was a teenager, just like you, Al, who had nightmares every night. He would always wake up screaming, but glad that it was just a dream. However, one night before bed, he suddenly heard this charging sound."
At that point, the whole camp site disappeared as I heard the monster coming after me. Once again, I woke up covered in sweat. I ran straight to the computer to write my dream down. My research told me that keeping a dream journal can make me more likely to have a lucid dream. After writing it down, I did more research. I came across an article about reality checks. The article said that reality checking is the process of checking the state of awareness. The method I chose to use said to plug my nose and breathe through it. It claimed that in a dream, I'd be able to breathe through my plugged nose. I spent most of the day trying to make reality checking a habit. Whenever I felt confused by something, I would plug my nose. Forming a habit was harder than it seemed. Throughout the day, I only checked my state of being about three or four times. Before I realized it, the day was almost over, and my mind was already taunting me. When the night sky rolled in, I fearfully climbed into bed. Although I was eager to control a dream, the thought of that creature coming for me sent shivers down my spine. After a couple hours of restlessness, I finally passed out.
That night's dream started out in my old house when I was a kid. I wandered aimlessly around the vacant building, looking for somebody to talk to. After what seemed like an hour, the front door opened. When I wandered outside, I heard that all too familiar charging sound as the monster attacked.
I woke up in a cold sweat as usual and immediately rushed over to write this dream down. I continued to research lucid dreaming, but I was running out of research. I'd spent so much time studying the process that I ran out of available information. This realization added a huge load of stress on me. It was hard enough to have a lucid dream, but now I have no way of knowing if one would come soon or how to make one more likely to come. I slammed my fists on my keyboard in anger and ruined my H key. Whoops. Not only was I failing to become lucid and in control of my dreams, my nightmares were becoming increasingly terrifying as the days rolled by. I opened up my dream journal again in hopes of finding a dream sign, but instead found disappointment. Being out of research to study, I decided to read others' lucid dreaming experiences (which was hard to search for without a working "H" key, by the way). What felt like minutes of reading turned out to be hours, leaving me with no choice but to crawl back into that terrible place I used to call my bed.
Next thing I knew, I was in my old high school. I was in my old psychology classroom with fellow classmates all around me. My teacher was giving a lecture on fear. It was alright at first, but his voice got more disturbing over time. The tone started getting deeper and angrier until he turned around, showing his face. It was dark red, bleeding from every possible hole on his face, with empty black voids for eyes. He then fell to the ground, became the monster and charged after me.
I was so glad that was just a dream after I woke up screaming. After that dream, I felt I then knew what true teror was. After calming down, I waddled over to my computer to write my dream down. While I was recording the dream in my journal, I noticed that all my dreams so far took place back in my teenage years. I felt hopeful after receiving this useful information. Shortly after finishing my journal entry, I put on some clothes and walked outside. I felt really pathetic before leaving my house, considering that it had been the first time I'd even left my house since starting this lucid dreaming idea. My nightmares were getting increasingly scary, making me more restless and stressed out in my waking moments. Nevertheless, I was going on a stroll to relieve my frustration. I did my reality check roughly every five minutes that whole day.
After my walk, I sat down on my couch and watched some Movies. I put in some old classics and relaxed. About half an hour into the film, Evan sent me a text message saying "It's not safe here anymore. Ellen and I are leaving town. I suggest you do the same." I replied, asking him to elaborate, but my phone lost signal. Curious, I walked outside and saw a mass exodus of people leaving the town. I shouted out to them, asking what was going on, and all they said was "It's coming." As I stepped outside, everyone started screaming, sprinting as fast as they could. As I looked to my left to see what they were running from, I saw that demonic beast, charging at me with full force.
I woke up screaming as it touched me. That dream was too real, especially since I hadn't noticed that I passed out during my movie. I checked my phone and was thankful that I had no text message about fleeing the town. Still, I was a little paranoid and turned on the local news and did a reality check. After half an hour of news, I felt it was comfortable to say that it was all just a dream. However, they aren't just dreams for me. Every night was progressively becoming worse. Going to sleep used to be worrysome, but going to bed became a true fear of mine. The worst part of that fear was the realization I had at that point: it was midnight, and I was tired. I dragged myself to bed and passed out.
I soon found myself in an open field, wandering aimlessly across the prairie. On my walk, I decided it was a good time to do my reality check, trying to make it a habit. I plugged my nose, and sure enough, I could breathe through it. I instantly realized that I was dreaming. I couldn't believe how real everything looked. Beautiful evergreen trees populated the forest I was in, and even their touch felt real. I was ecstatic and quickly forgot why I had tried to achieve lucidity in the first place. I remembered that people would often fly in their dreams, so I gave it a try. I jumped in the air and threw my arms out in front of me and started flying with ease. I spent most of the dream flying through the sky. The cool breeze felt too real as it brushed my face. The bright blue sky and shining sun really got me. I couldn't believe how real it all looked.
After a while, I decided that it was time to land and spent the next minute to find a clearing in the forest below. When I landed, I remembered why I was even conscious in the first place. Unfortunately, the demonic creature decided to show at the same time. Its blood-red, scarred body charged at me fearlessly. I tried to build up the courage to fight it off, but I couldn't. I was frozen with fear. I woke up in a cold sweat shortly before it got to me. Dreaming it was bad enough, but seeing it attack with that incredible realism was too much. I couldn't take it anymore. I went to a psychologist this morning, but he was useless.
"Well, according to Sigmund Freud's studies, you desire the fear and thought of being devoured alive. I'm assuming the desire formed as a result of child abuse," he tried to tell me.
"Excuse me, but I do not enjoy this constant fear one bit. Plus I was never abused in my life," I jeered back at him.
"Well, I'm willing to bet that you were, and that you repressed the thoughts subconsciously. Would you like to try hypnosis?"
"No. I've done some slight research about nightmares lately, and Freud's assumptions were pretty misleading."
"Well, my psychology major says otherwise. Now, do you want my help or not?"
"Yes, I want your help, but first, get your facts straight rather than forcing speculations on me."
"I've got my facts straight. Now, if you want help, you're going to need to go through hypnosis. It's the only way to bring out your repressed thoughts."
I didn't even respond as I stormed out of his office. The research I did even told me that Freud's views on dreams weren't very accurate. Hopelessness was knocking on my door at that point. I decided to take a nap, praying that I could regain lucidity once more.
My prayer was answered within moments when I entered the dream. This time, however, I focused on my mission. I didn't waste any time creating the perfect strategy. All I needed was a trap, a weapon, and a victory. I dug deep holes all around me and created a false image of grass where the holes were. Then, I created a rifle out of thin air to take the demon down. Despite bring a dream, the rifle felt all too real, from the smooth trigger to the rough grip handle. Before long, I saw it charging after me from the forest. I held that rifle confidently as I aimed at it. Before it even reached the trap, I pulled the trigger. Its blood-curdling scream shook the trees, the ground, and my ears. Nothing I had ever done was more satisfying than finally ending this nightmare. My mind was finally free of that monster, free to dream whatever it wants.
As I sat there, waiting to wake up, I became confused. Why hadn't I woken up from the dream yet? After what felt like a few hours, I started worrying. I started to realize that my actions may have proved to cause more harm than good. I ecentually realised that the beast had to be there to wake me up. Every dream I ever had resulted in that creature ending it. I tried to bring it back, re-create it, have its dead body appear to attack me, but nothing worked.
I have been stuck in this dream for what feels like quite a few years now. Relatively speaking, my last waking moment was likely only a couple minutes ago, despite the seemingly real "years" that passed by. I tried to wake myself up, but I never found any working method. I had thought about attempting suicide, thinking that it might wake me up, but the thought that it could possibly end up killing the real me was too big of a burden to bear. I spent these years trying to make my own "new" life. I had tried to re-create my life, family, friends, and hometown, but it wasn't the same. I was once optimistic about waking up from this dream, this nightmare, but I don't think that's very likely anymore.