Guilt…that feeling I get when I neglect the Creative Copy Challenge for weeks, or months, on end. 😉 Without further ado…
Bleep! Bleep! Bleep!
Connor rolled over and smacked the alarm clock with the palm of his hand. He buried his face in the pillow and tried to burrow back down into REM sleep, to hold onto the dream. He hated to wake up before the end of a good one, leaving loose ends to dangle and tickle the sulci and gyri of his brain. Most of Connor’s dreams were nightmares, but those, too, demanded their denouement, lest their inhabitants take to flitting through the light and shadow of his waking imagination.
The only incentive Connor had, to sleep, these days was the occasional nocturnal recreation of happier times. They lifted Connor out of his darkness, a temporary translocation of the psyche, allowing him to believe, if only for an hour or two, that he was back at home with his bride, Marinda, in their little cabin on the edge of the woods. A harmless disassociation, but one that increased Connor’s suffering each morning as dawn’s diagonal bands chased the night from his eyelids and placed the gift of mortality back into his heavy hands.
A small bribe, eagerly accepted, yielded the identity of Marinda’s killer. Connor reached over to the nightstand for the photo. This was the creature that haunted his nightmares and ultimately rotted his dreams from the inside out. He traced it with a finger, mentally sharpening the focus until the monster was crystal clear in his mind. A trucker had captured the image, but had taken over a month to come forward with it. The man was visibly shaken but afraid of being mocked or derided as a lunatic. Now the trail was cold. At first, Connor and the police dismissed the photo as a hoax, but the coroner had no better explanation for the wounds Marinda had sustained in the attack. Connor’s expression hardened; his eyes went cold as a killer’s.
He recognized the thing in the photograph. He knew where it lived. He knew it intimately, and he knew that it would continue to taunt and torment him until one of them was obliterated. With Marinda gone, Connor figured it didn’t much matter if both of them ceased to exist. After thirty-seven years, it was time for the final confrontation. His plan wasn’t terribly well thought out or brilliantly inventive, but it would get the job done. No one else would have to die, and that made the risk of eternal damnation acceptable to Connor.
He didn’t know when the creature of his nightmares figured out how to step outside of his fevered imagination while he slept. How it became autonomous – or why it despised him so – was a complete mystery to Connor. He had sought it out and tried to talk to it, but the minute his dreams turned lucid, Connor became hyperaware of the lumps in his mattress, the nervous sweat dampening his sheets, and the restrictive binding of the blanket wound around his ankles. He invariably awoke, banishing the creature to the realm of “imagination.” The psychiatrist had given him antianxiety drugs and a mumbo-jumbo explanation about “natural feelings of guilt stemming from an inability to protect his loved ones,” but he was pretty sure two fifths of Wild Turkey and a little C-4 around the perimeter of the house, timed to detonate at just about the time he passed out, would do the trick.
The hideous creature, which had always known what evil lurked in the heart of his creator, sat at the base of Connor’s skull and sighed with relief. Soon, very soon…