Nightmares. Dreams that show us our greatest fears. Dreams that make us realize that what may seem not so scary to us while we are talking about it at a bar, actually makes you go stone cold with fear when you face it. Stories that may seem pretty easy to read or listen, but may make it hard to breathe when we dream about them. Once I faced such a nightmare.
It was around two years ago, when I read ‘Pet Sematary’ by Stephen King. As the name suggests, the story is about a pet cemetery where the buried come alive their very first night of burial. I guess retracting the entire story here will be an insult to the creative genius of the writer. So, now I get back to my nightmare.
When the dream starts, it didn’t feel like a bad one. I am with my family, celebrating Diwali, a popular Indian festival that signifies the win of good over evil, light over darkness. After the celebrations, somehow, I decide to go on a walk in the neighbourhood to see the decorations in other houses.
I feel happy. I am enjoying the different decorations, each better than the previous one. As I go further, I come across a bend, where at a distance, I see houses that are not lighted up. I get curious. It’s Diwali, everything gets lit up. Why is that area so dark? I start walking towards the houses. As I approach them, I find myself, facing three houses at the end of the street. I stand there looking at them. The houses appear normal. No sign of dilapidation. Suddenly, lightning appears in the sky and for a flash of a second, the houses disappear, everything but the doors standing intact. I take a step back. The next second, I decide to explore more, no idea why. I decide to enter into the house to the right.
I open the door and see a corridor, with a living room to the left and a dining room to the right. I enter and close the door slowly. As I turn around, I find myself engulfed in total darkness, pitch black. I turn left, and bump into a wall. I turn right and there is a wall too. I walk forward.
The floor feels wooden. I keep walking, extending my hand trying to feel anything around me. I walk for ages. Suddenly, the wooden floor is replaced with hard ground. I feel soil. I walk further. Five steps ahead, I hit my knee, hard, on a stone. I bend down to massage it. After a while, I extend my hand to feel the stone. I feel a rectangular stone, standing upright on the ground. Realizing what it is, I try to step back, but my hands are not able to come off the stone. Another lightning, and I see a cat, sitting on the stone, staring at me. I just remember patches of bones in its body, and one of its eyes missing. My hands come off the stone, and I fall back. Only thing is, there is no ground there anymore.
I fall through a pit. I keep falling, screaming, crying for help, dreading the end. There is no light, I can’t see anything. I can just feel myself falling. After a long time, I hit hard rocky ground again. I don’t feel hurt, just a little fazed. I stand up. I try to walk but my feet are glued to the ground. Suddenly, I hear the ground breaking. The sound starts a little far, but keeps coming closer and closer, from all sides. A lightning in the sky shows me standing in the middle of a high rock, and the rock breaking from all sides, falling down and becoming smaller by every second. Darkness engulfs me again. I bend down, touch the stone, find a firm hold near me, and hold on to it. The rock below me falls, and I hang on to my hold. I suddenly start feeling the base of the rock breaking and the rock decreasing in height. I keep hanging. After a minute or so, I feel solid rock beneath my feet. I let go of the rock. The breaking stops.
I hear water all around me. I can’t go into the water. I don’t know how to swim. Another lightning, a long one this time and I see a wave coming towards me. I turn around and I see the door, opening into the street right in front of my home. I try to move. My feet don’t let me. I see my dad standing in the window. I shout at him. I feel the wave coming closer. Somehow I feel that if I don’t go through the door and close it, the wave would crash through and destroy the entire city. I try to move again, but the wave is so close. I look at my house, my family, sitting together talking happily with all the guests, not aware of my absence from their midst. I look at their smiling faces one last time, and close the door, engulfing myself in the darkness.
My eyes open up. There is no water, there is no darkness. It’s just me, alone, in my room, feeling relieved.