“How nice”, Erica said, pouting.
“What is?” I asked.
“You and your nightmares”, she answered. “You’re the only one who ever has them.”
We were killing time at our college’s cafeteria waiting for our next classes. We generally don’t talk about the nightmares at school, but the topic has somehow come up.
“We can try making you have one tonight”, I replied. “I can do that suggestion thing to you over the phone, although I don’t have a bell to use.”
"Actually, I've been recording our calls. I listen to them when I go to sleep, but I haven’t been having any kind of dream from them."
“Maybe recordings don’t work on you?”
“I didn’t dream when you did it to me in person as well.”
“We only tried it once. Maybe I was doing it wrong the first time. I’ve been listening to you for the past three days so I think I know now how to do it the same way you do.”
Erica placed her elbow on top of the table then rested her head on her hands. She assumed the thinking pose and considered my suggestion for a moment before finally saying, “Alright, we’ll do that tonight.”
The day then went by like a blur, mostly because I had classes for the rest of the day. At night, after dinner, I spent my time composing the scenario that I was going to make Erica dream of. I was done well before bedtime, the time we were supposed to call each other, but I wasn’t any more confident about it. Regardless, we were going through with the ritual.
I wasn’t sure how Erica was doing the calls. It’s the first time I tried thinking of it now that I was the one going to do it. But, I’d like to imagine she was laying in her bed, too, with the lights turned off. So, I turned my lights off, wore my earphones, then went under my blanket before making the call to her.
Unlike the night before, we made a bit of small talk before one of us went to sleep. Erica was preemptively complaining, teasing.
“I hope the dream you’re going to give me is coherent and not full of plot holes”, she coyly said.
It was only a quick chat and, not long after, we were greeting each other “Sweet nightmares.”
“Imagine you’re outside”, I began.
“You’re feeling the grass on your bare feet.”
“The trees sway to a gentle breeze.”
Suddenly, there was a knock on my door, which took me out of my zone.
“Sorry, someone’s at the door”, I said to Erica over the phone.
There was no response. I haven’t been doing the suggestions long, so I wasn’t sure if she was still awake and just not saying anything. I wasn’t going to wait for her, although, just in case, I brought my phone with me as I went for my door.
I opened my bedroom door expecting a complaint. I was sure I was speaking in the lowest possible voice I could while being heard over the phone. But, the walls in my boarding house are so thin, I wouldn’t be surprised if whispers penetrated through the rooms.
However, to my surprise, I found Erica standing on my doorway.
Wide-eyed, I looked at my phone and back at her in quick succession. The call was still ongoing, yet she was right in front of me
“How?..” I tried asking, but before I could finish the question, she had grabbed my arm and dragged me out of my room with force.
Her pull was so strong, we fell down. But, instead of meeting the wooden flooring, it seems to have been replaced by some dark abyss and that’s where we dropped.
The next thing I knew, I jolted awake.
Looking at my surroundings, I noticed I wasn’t in my bedroom. I was back at the college cafeteria and I seem to have been sleeping on the table. Erica was in front of me wearing a wide grin on her face.
“You’ve had a nightmare, haven't you?” she asked.
Groggily, I replied, protesting, “Don’t you think this isn’t the time or place for making me have a nightmare?”
“Oh, but I wasn’t doing anything. I’ve been letting you sleep because you said you haven’t had a full night’s rest since we started with the suggestions.”
“I did? When?”
“Just before you took your nap.”
I thought about it for a moment. I had been waking up in the middle of the night because of the nightmares and actually had trouble going back to sleep, but, “I don’t recall telling you that.”
I never mentioned it because I thought I had it under control.
“Well, they do say sleep deprivation can affect your memory”, she said. “Now, about that nightmare you just had…”
She was reaching her hand towards me and I reflexively jerked my arm away from her.
Erica wore an expression of surprise to my reaction. Although, I was surprised by it as well.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“Nothing”, I answered. “It’s just that, in that dream, you pulled me down into a deep hole again.”
“Is that right?” she said as she laughed it off. She then produced a notepad and a pen from her purse, slid them through the table towards me, then told me, “Well, just write it down first so we can talk about it later.”
I did as she told me. It was a short dream so I didn’t write much.
“So, what do you want to do?” she asked as I returned the notepad and the pen to her. “There’s still ten minutes until the next period, you can go back to sleep if you want.”
“Nah. I’m still sleepy, but I think I’ll just close my eyes if class is that close already”, I replied.
“Alright”, I heard her say.
I’m not sure if it’s because I was too drowsy, but I noticed I could no longer hear the noise of the cafeteria. When I noticed this, I sat up from the table thinking I had inadvertently fallen asleep when I didn’t intend to.
I expected to still be at that table I shared with Erica, but, somehow, I found myself on a chair in an empty classroom. I wasn’t sure how I got there, but I could hear the bell signaling the next period was about to start. Thinking that was for my next class, I got up from my seat to go where I was supposed to be.
On the doorway, I met Gab. He seemed shellshocked, but I just thought that was because we were about to have a quiz today and he was unprepared for it.
“Oh, hey. Is this where we were supposed to have the class today?” I asked him.
I had thought it was supposed to be in another room so I had to make sure.
“You shouldn’t have come in here”, he said, his voice trembling. “You should have run away.”
“Why? What do you mean?” I asked, confused.
However, blood started coming out of his mouth. His lips were moving - perhaps to answer my question or something else, I don’t know - but it just caused him to spit his blood towards me.
I stepped back to avoid the droplets as I covered my mouth in horror.
A thin red line then appeared across Gab’s neck. It slowly grew bigger until the red, which I soon realized is more blood, started dripping down. His neck has been cut by some unseen force.
His decapitated head then rolled forward while his headless body kneeled then dropped to the floor. The momentum of the fall caused his head to roll towards me.
I took further steps back to avoid his head.
Once Gab’s head stopped rolling, it faced towards me. I wasn’t sure if he was still aware, but his mouth was still moving as if telling me something.
I wasn’t sure why, I probably should have booked out of that room, but I continued watching Gab’s head try to speak to me. Eventually, I slowly started hearing his voice.
“Wake up”, I thought I heard him say.
“Wake up”, I now faintly hear from his decapitated head.
By the third time, I found myself being awoken by Erica.
I was back at the cafeteria. Apparently, I had fallen asleep again.
However, I wasn’t sure if I was already awake or still in a dream as I looked at Erica, who had been staring at me the entire time with a wide smile, blood covering her face.