The street lights marched passed us as we drove. Every house had dark windows. The world seemed empty; the only thing out of place was us, by all rights we shouldn’t be out here at all.
“You ok Cindy?” asked Dad.
“I think so.” said mom.
Mommy sounded distant to me, lost in the monster hour no doubt reliving the horror over and over again. Daddy seemed deep in thought. ‘I thought it was over!’ What did he mean by that? Has this happened before?
“Dad… Daddy?” I asked.
“Are you ok Steven? You hurt?” asked Mommy.
“I’m scared. What was that?” I asked.
She didn’t answer, just kept staring through the window with that lost look in her eyes. Her skin was so pale, she looked frozen in the darkness.
“Daddy, what happened?” I asked again.
“Will talk soon kiddo, real soon,” he said.
‘How could they be back?’ What does he know? After all he said, “There are no such things as monsters” .
We drove through a sleeping city, and for the first time I relived the terror from my bedroom this night. The first of many horrors that will haunt me in the darkness when the monster hour tolls.
We pulled into a parking lot. A sign buzzed in the cold night air.
A rusty Ford pickup was the only thing sharing the parking lot with us. As we walked across the lot I saw Daddy watching the shadows. Mommy was looking a little better. The world looked the way it always does but something was different. The only change was in us, maybe that changes our perspective of life.
Daddy pushed the door open and held it for us as we followed. The waiter/cook looked up from his magazine.
“Hello there. How are we doing tonight?” A wide grin followed the waiter’s words.
“Were good, uh we’ll have two coffees and a Coke please,” said Dad.
“Pepsi ok? We don’t sell Coke,” another wide grin accompanied his reply.
“Ya, fine,” said Daddy.
We sat in the furthest booth from the smiling waiter. Right away Daddy started telling us what he knew.
“I was a kid when it happened, a few years older than Stevens’s age. My little brother had the dreams, nightmares. Roger called it… or I guess described it as ‘slipping’. I don’t understand why he called it this. What happened tonight, what we saw...” . He trailed off in thought; for a moment gathering old memories.
“This drove Roger crazy in the end, but we thought it was over when they stopped coming. It’s difficult to explain but the monsters in his dreams found a way out of Roger’s mind to become living, breathing terrors. It starts in the moment when sleep first takes you and just before you wake in the morning. This place is that spot between sleeping and waking worlds. Is there a name that is used for that time in your sleep when the cold world of reality seeps into your dreams, that moment between sleeping and waking? When the morning light works its way through closed eyelids and the birds sing their songs in the trees, the music falling on sleeping ears? When you can’t tell the difference between what is real and what’s not and time seems not to exist? Is this where the nightmare ends or begins? Roger called this slipping. They wanted him on the inside, in the innerworld “.
“Here it is! Two coffees and a Pepsi,” said the waiter.
Dad fell silent until the waiter left.
” Call me if you need me,” he said as he walked away.
“Uncle Roger?” I asked dumbfounded.
“You haven’t met him Steven. Last I heard he lives in a small town south of the city,” said Dad.
“Should we go see him?” asked mommy.
Daddy shook his head “I don’t know.”
He picked up his coffee with two hands and held it warming his cold fingers.
“They’re after Steven, like the old days with Roger.” Dad’s gaze fell to the table top.