A place where dreams never come, only nightmares. Those who are claim to have a dream disappear. As two young people start to dream of each other, never having met the other they begin to wonder... Perhaps dreams ARE real... maybe someone is just trying to hide them.
I woke with a scream looking wildly around for the demon who had been on the verge of killing me. My gasps slowly quieted as I realized that it was a dream.
No. Not a dream.
Dreams don't exist here. Only nightmares. Those who claim to have had a real dream disappear. I hate it. It doesn't matter that I wake up like this every night. It doesn't matter that I haven't slept fitfully since I was born. I always wake up scared, alone, in a panic. I'm stuck in some horrific cycle. Well... it's not just me. It's everyone.
The oldest among us say they can remember back to a time when dreams were real. When good things came true. When you could lay down and sleep without the violent terrible intrusion of a nightmare. It doesn't matter if it's true or not... those days are gone. There is no dispute there. We've tried everything. No amount of pills, medicines, or "magic rituals" can remove the nightmares.
There is no hope.
There is only resignation.
There is only...
There is no teasing. There is no taunting. The strong face the nightmares with the same frequency as the weak. The brave as often as the cowards. The good people as often as the bad. Everyone woke with a scream. Everyone was made to go through the same torture. It didn't matter how much you cursed your fate, prayed, or lamented.
The nightmares still came. They always came.
That was why I knew something was wrong when mine didn't come.
When I woke, I woke up refreshed. Happy. Full of energy. I had no memory of a nightmare. There was only... her. Instead of the darkness in my mind I saw a girl. I had never seen her before. I wondered if I would ever see her again. She woke, screaming like everyone did when they broke free of the nightmares. I watched as her breathing slowed, as she brushed her hair away from her face, as she began to grow calm.
She laid back down with a fearful expression, and it was right she did. Sometimes once was not enough. You could wake twice. Three times. Four if you were unlucky.
Her eyes closed and I watched her sleep. Tonight she was fortunate. The rest of the night was spent in quiet slumber. When the sun rose and the girl awoke once more I could feel myself doing the same. Before the dream ended I tried to speak to her, even though it was a dream and she wouldn't hear me. But I said goodbye nonetheless and before the dream winked out...
I could have sworn she looked in my direction.