A vice tightened around his heart. Sweat began to seep from his forehead as if it were a sponge being wrung out. The air began to get sucked out of the room.
Suddenly, quicker than a snap of the fingers, he was alone.
As he took in his surroundings he realized this was not the dorm he was just in. The R.A. and his mother, both, were nowhere to be found.
Mark was perplexed, wondering how and why he had gotten here. A vague familiarity began to return. This was his bedroom, just penetrated by the dominance of darkness. He could make out the dresser he had since he was 9 in the corner and his Dallas Cowboy poster on the back of his door. A sense of relief equaled the feeling of confusion. How did I get back here? Mark wondered. Was I just dreaming?
“Hey, Mom,” Mark called out into the darkness. “You here?”
By the look of the room, he knew it was late, probably sometime after midnight.
There was no response.
Disoriented from all of the confusion, Mark hadn’t realized he was in his bed, tucked under his covers, apparently, by his own free will.
Mark, opting to use his logic, concluded he must’ve dreamt the whole dorm scenario. He figured, just to be safe, he’d get out of bed and do a quick surveillance of the upstairs. But, as he was about to pull the sheets off of himself his bedroom door swung open. It smacked into the wall causing a loud BANG!
A silhouette stood paralyzed in the doorway. Even through the darkness it looked oddly familiar.
“Wha- Who are you?” Mark said sitting up straight. “Mom? Is that you?”
The figure did not answer.
Mark didn’t think he could be anymore confused 45 seconds ago but this proved him wrong. Fear was starting to set in as his mind raced of who this could be.
“I’m going to call the cops if you don’t…”
The silhouette burst into life cutting Mark off.
"Welcome! I hope you're as pumped to kick off the year as I am!"
Mark stopped, wondering where he had heard that voice before. It continued.
"We are happy to report no incidents of infestation yet at this institution. We take a lot of precautions to ensure that any bedbugs would be isolated and quickly and efficiently eradicated. No vacuum sharing, plastic covers on the mattresses and the welcome watchful eye of a friendly R.A."
Baffled and his mouth locked open in shock, he realized who this was. Still he couldn’t figure out how he was in his room.
“What? How did you get here? Weren’t we just in the dorm?” Mark pleaded looking for answers.
He started to get out of bed but as he did he felt a pinch at his leg. And then another.
“Don’t look underneath your covers,” the shadowy R.A. laughed.
Letting curiosity defeat the fear of what was underneath he threw off his blankets frantically. Even in the pitch black he knew exactly what it was. His worst fear, manifested into an unreal reality.
Bed Bugs. Hundreds, maybe thousands danced and scurried over his legs biting whatever flesh was not covered by his boxers.
“No!” Mark screamed. “Get them off of me! Help me dude!”
The R.A. stood in the dark, just laughing.
Mark frantically shook all over. Another voice began to echo throughout the room.
“Oh, Mark what’s the matter? Wake up! Wake up!"
Mark felt his body shaking unwillingly now, as if another person were trying to wake him up. His eyes slowly opened. The light from the dorm room flooded into his pupils causing him to shield his eyes.
"What's the matter with you?" his mother demanded shaking him. "You had me worried sick."
"What happened?" Mark asked.
"What happened? What happened? You ran over to the blankets, took one look at them and then fainted for 10 minutes!" his mother screamed in a way that was more than relieved than mad.
Mark was still bouncing back from his mother's ranting to the terrifying dream he just had. He looked around making eye contact with the R.A.. The way he looked at Mark sent a shiver down his spine. He couldn't explain it but it was as if the R.A. knew exactly what Mark had dreamt. Like it happened all the time.
"Yes Mark we can't have you fainting every time you touch the bed now can we?" the R.A. said smiling.