Over the years the weather and passing travellers had picked away at the old inn. Windows had been smashed, doors ripped off their hinges, roof tiles missing, many of them laying smashed on the ground around me. The local vegetation had taken the opportunity to invade every spare crevice. Over time the moors will reclaim this bit of land. Despite this, it was a welcome haven to me, a chance to get out of this driving rain and prepare myself.
In normal times I wouldn’t have dreamt of lighting a fire but these weren’t normal times. Trying to hide was futile. They knew where I was and it wouldn’t be long before they joined me. At least I’d be dry and warm when they arrived. I emptied my rucksack onto the floor. A chunk of stale bread, a tin of beans and a bottle of not so fresh water. Not what I would have chosen as my final meal but better than nothing.
It was hard to imagine that these creatures had arrived less than a month ago. Nobody was sure how they got here but the truth is, we let them in ourselves. They’d always been there, the fearful creatures that made up our dreams and nightmares but, until now, they’d been confined inside our heads, visible only to each one of us. Horrors we kept locked away in the daytime, afraid to share with others.
The experiment to investigate our dreams had been funded by a number of large and wealthy institutions, all keen to find a way to manipulate our thinking. In the interest of science the researchers had been pushed to take more and more risks. What had been heralded as the final breakthrough turned out to be mankind’s downfall. By opening the door to our dreams we, inadvertently, let our nightmares out. Once free they worked tirelessly to release others.
Most of mankind has perished, destroyed by the very creatures they had stored away inside their heads. I’m not sure how many of us, if any, are still alive. I’ve been running from them for days now, hoping I might bump into other survivors but to no avail. I think I might be the last one left.
They’re getting closer now. I can hear their screams and cries echoing on the wind. The smell of fear precedes them. Any thought of fighting is futile. Best I simply give in and let them take what they want.
They’re here. There is movement all around me, flashes of light coming at me from all directions. The noise is deafening. Then there is silence. The light ceases. Everything is still. Out of the gloom comes a creature, hideous looking, someone else’s nightmare, not mine. It stops in front of me and stretches out a grotesque arm, touching me gently on the head. I do nothing to stop it, there is nothing I can do.
It slowly unlocks my mind and my worst nightmare steps out into the room. I know what it wants and death, when it comes, will be a release.