These are a few trial excerpts of a novel I’m helping the Dreamer with. It’s mostly hers, but some of my characters are in it, so I help her. And I like writing some of the nightmare scenes. These are told from the point of view of her main character, Shaden. They are in chronological order, but not consecutive.
I stood before the portal, shaking as I tried to will myself to step through. The frame looked as though it were made of bones. I didn’t want to know whether or not that were true. I closed my eyes and stepped through, feeling the barrier between the Dreamscape and the Nightmare slide around me like slime. Choking, gasping, I staggered away from the portal.
Into the Nightmare.
Even before I opened my eyes, I started to believe all the terrible tales about this realm. All around me I could hear screams, but distant ones, too far off for me to help, but close enough to chill me to the bone. By turning my head, I could hear different things.
Screams. Laughter, of all kinds. Happy. Sadistic. Maniacal. Sinister. Moans, of excruciating pain and of unspeakable pleasure. The sounds of claws, on wood, and on metal… and on skin and bone.
I opened my eyes, looking around at… nothing. Or almost nothing. A formless cloud surrounded me, yet its formlessness seemed to almost give it form. Vague shapes, disembodied eyes, monstrous creatures… were they actually there, or were they just the products of my racing imagination?
A noise behind me made me whirl, and there stood a werepanther. The first thing that struck me was the sheer oddness of it. Werewolves were heard of. Werebears, even. But a werepanther?
Secondly I noticed the perfection of its frame. Even motionless, it seemed graceful. All muscle, all power, all control. I could tell than when it did move, it would not waste an ounce of power.
As though my thought had bee spoken aloud, the werepanther moved towards me, its talons extending and retracting slowly. I backed away, my breath catching in my throat as it approached.
I backed into a wall that I knew had not been there a moment ago, and the werepanther came right up to me, running one talon down my cheek.
“Hello, Shaden,” he said, his voice at once terrifying and attractive. “Welcome to your worst nightmare.”
Time had no meaning in the Nightmare World, but that didn’t stop me from thinking I had been in this maze for hours. After the endless terror of the past few days, the quiet of the maze was almost more than I could bear. I stayed tense along every corridor, around every bend, expecting this turn to be the one to lead to something terrible, yet it never was.
I found myself growing tired for the first time since I’d entered the Nightmare. Could you sleep in a nightmare? The drowsiness overtook me, and I collapsed on the hard ground, the world fading to black.
A small man in a lab coat stood over the table I was strapped to. “Ah, you’re awake. We can begin.” He held up a scalpel, and I realized my clothes were gone. Lines were drawn on my bare skin, marking organs and veins.
“No, no, please no!”
He cut into my stomach, ignoring my cries of pain, chattering quite pleasantly, as though I were an interested student, and not an agonized victim. Reaching into the slit he had carved, he pulled out my stomach and showed it to me. “Curious, isn’t it?”
The stomach grew a mouth and blood-red eyes, and growled fiercely at me. I screamed and-
-woke with a start, back on the hard ground of the maze. A thin line of burning pain was etched across my stomach, but when I lifted my shirt, there was no mark. The ground around me, however, was drenched in blood. My blood. And it seemed that my blood had opened a trapdoor downwards, further into this mad place.
A tear formed in my eye, and I brushed it away angrily as I moved towards the door. My thoughts, however, were harder to brush away.
Will this Nightmare never end…?
I stayed close to Vera as we pressed through the dark forest. I had only just met her a few hours ago, but she was a sane, kind person in the mad, evil world, so I clung to her like a lifeline.
After a while, I noticed the whispers again. They had been haunting me for a long time, and then had stopped. Now they began again.
Dream Child… Take her… Use her… Never get out… Never get out… Dream Child… Dream Child…
The ground shook, and I fell hard, knocking my head against a tree. Though dazed, I heard Vera scream.
“Vera!” I staggered to my feet and looked around. She was gone. No traces.
Not the Dream Child…!
The voices sounded angry, and Vera’s scream tore through the forest.
“Vera, no!” I fell to my knees, sobbing.
A wet thud sounded behind me. I turned slowly. Vera’s mutilated corpse lay there. Her eyes, the only part of her body not torn apart, stared accusingly at me. I whirled away and retched, shaking hard, a cold sweat covering my skin.
Next time, Dream Child… We have time… She can never leave… Never leave…