Kim Nelson: Not a Dream

You run because you’re not completely sure it’s just a dream. There’s something terrifying clipping at your heels behind you, dark wisps of shadows attempting to wrap around your ankles. Somehow, you are faster than you’ve ever been. You feel like you have superpowers. Maybe you can fly! Leaping forward, you give it a try, willing yourself to lift away from the ground. But you don’t fly; your feet are still pounding on the ground with every stride.

Maybe this isn’t a dream then. It could be real.

You should be winded by now, but you still feel strong. Around you, naked branches snatch out from trees, grabbing at you like skeleton fingers. You finally take note of your surroundings. You don’t recognize this old, haunted forest. How did you get here? This definitely must be a dream. Yellow eyes glint at you in the darkness, slitted and angry. You are not wanted here. Unsure of what this place is, all you know is that you need to get out of here immediately. You can feel the blood surging through your veins, oxygen bubbling in your bloodstream like a fountain. The speed at which you are traveling feels incredible. Although the terror around you is coming at you from every direction, you have never felt more alive than at this moment.

You are not waking up; this must be real.

Beyond the edges of exhilaration, you notice another sensation. At first, it’s just a wisp of a feeling barely registering on your psyche. It grows like a small flame, dancing deep in your belly. As it uncurls in your gut, you begin to recognize it as dread. It is the feeling of all hope being sucked out of every cell of your body, leaving you empty and cold. The fear you now feel is primal. It feels like something ancient, a memory that happened generations before you were born that twisted itself like a coil in your DNA, living on within you. You have no idea how to defeat it. You keep running even though you have no hope of defeating it. Your feet keep moving, programmed by animal instincts imprinted in the deep subconscious of your brain. Fight or flight.

You pray that this is a dream.

You sense something behind you that you cannot see. Somebody released the wolves, and now they are coming for you. The slitted eyes are moving closer in every direction. You can hear their steady panting, you swear you can feel the humidity of their breath on your skin. Ahead, you see a clearing, a green oasis. Somehow, you know that if you can reach that calm meadow you will be safe. You are so, so close. You can almost smell the grass, clean and fresh and earthy like spring rain. You reach your hand out towards it, just as something tears into your flesh behind you. Something you cannot see has got its hold of you. You scream for your life. You scream like it’s your last act in this life. You surge forward into blackness. You cannot tell if you are tumbling towards death or awakening. You close your eyes.

You open your eyes.

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