In the mid 1890s, a man of questionable faith falls prey to a paranormal creature who plagues his dreams. An exploration of morality within a man who left his past behind before he was ready and the questionable debate behind the existence of the soul.
A small town near London, 1896.
Doctor James Greene
I hadn’t seen a case like this before and certainly hoped I would never have to again. A young woman by the name of Althea sent me an urgent telegraph one evening as I was concluding a meeting with another patient, asking for my help to cure her husband-to-be; he had begun to sleep for days on end and still claimed to be fatigued. Though the message was devoid of any detail, I knew something was very wrong and vowed to visit them immediately.
They lived in a modest house within a small town, always dimly lit by the many candles in their windowsills. Althea greeted me with great pleasure the first time I arrived. Bowing deeply and rushing me into her home, she told me of her many hours leaned over her husband-to-be (whom she only addressed lovingly as “Jack”) blotting his brow with a dampened cloth and watching for signs of improvement. As we spoke, I was able to examine him. Jack’s seemingly lifeless body laid in a small bed that had been tousled by strange and sudden movements. He was once healthy, as he had somehow withheld his normal weight through the illness, but his face did not reflect this in any manner. The dark circles under his eyes were even worse than his fiancee’s and his cheekbones had become prominent against his drooping skin.
“He’s been sleeping for nearly fifty hours now,” Althea concluded after telling me about his symptoms. “This is the longest it’s ever been, and...” she trailed off, attempting to conceal her tears under a cupped hand.
“Not to worry, Miss Althea, I’m here to help you now,” I assured her with a slightly shaky voice.
She smiled politely through her tears. “Do you have any ideas?”
I thought for a while, but could think of nothing. I had never once been approached because of a man who slept too much. “Has he told you of any dreams he’s had, or--or how it feels while he sleeps?”
Althea hesitated visibly, then looked at Jack. “I don’t know if he would want me to...”
I interrupted her. She was rather soft-spoken and her reluctance had started to vex me. “Miss Althea, I cannot heal him unless you tell me everything you know.”
She looked up at me indignantly. “A woman. He dreams of a woman.”
I looked at her, confused, waiting for further explanation.
“She comes to him every time he sleeps,” she continued. Her voice was stronger now, and I could tell that these dreams made her angry. “He says that he tries to avoid her, but she pursues him and forces him to stay. He’s afraid that one day she’ll want to do other things than just talk.”
“What makes him say that?” Althea obviously wasn’t telling me everything she knew.
At this point, the tears nearly returned. “Because when he tries to leave her...she--she hurts him.” She paused and took a deep breath, then pulled the covers from Jack’s arms. This revealed fresh scratches all down his arms--some still bleeding. “And he doesn’t know how to stop her.”