In the following days, I had tried talking to my mother about what had happened, but my words were muddled. I could barely put a sentence together. My inablilty to express myself only amplified the utter lonliness that night's terror had force-fed me with a cold, dirty spoon. My mother simply placed a warm hand on my cheek.
'It's alright, sweetie. We all have nightmares; they can't hurt you.'
Six days passed, and by the time my ability to articulate returned to me, I had shyed away from her softly patronising look. A teenager can only take so much dejection before giving up. I even started doubting it myself. But, the possibility of it having just been a nightmare didn't releive the horror I still felt, that cold hand that squeezes your heart and drags it down in to your stomach.
That cold hand. The cold hand returned to me on the seventh night. My mother kissed me on the cheek as I lay in bed. My father hovered at the bedroom door.
'Come on, Sarah, he's got school tomorrow,' he said.
My mother gave my hand a squeeze, and moved to the door. Dad stood aside to let her pass, gave a momentary glance in my direction, the flicked the light off and closed the door.
I had expected to lay awake for more endless, fear-soaked hours until exhaustion finally took over, but the moment my father's shadow disappeared from the line of light beneath the door, they came. The moonlight that had streamed through the window dulled, muted by a grey mist. Three orbs of bone drifted toward me from the corner above my bed. Tattered strings of grey flesh hung from jaws peppered with blackened teeth. The jaws opened in a hungry sigh as my own lips parted to scream. It came only as a whisper, and the floating skulls opened their mouths wider as if trying to catch my very breath. I felt my heart thump backwards in my chest, as if it was trying to abandon me through the back of my spine, and a terrifying thought came to me. Whatever it was that allowed me to communicate, to utter a word, to scream, these things were taking it from me... no, they were drinking it! I drew my arm back, then hesitated, frozen with fear. I blinked hard, then forced myself and tried to swat one of the heads from the air. Their eyeless sockets flared red, and teeth bit down on my fingers, bit through my fingers. Hot red pain shot up my arm and spilled down my wrist. I felt a vibration in my chest, and this time my scream came out loud and clear. The skull's eyes flared again descended upon me. Footfalls thudded on the floor, my bedroom door burst open, and flood of tungsten light filled the room.
'What the hell is going on?' my father yelled.
I looked up to where the evil heads had been, but they were gone.
My mother pushed past and ran to the bed where I sat with three of my fingers lying pale and still in an expanding stain of blood. She put her hands on my cheeks, tears running down her own.
'Dear God, what have you done to yourself?'