Chapter 8:

Sweet Nightmares?

Sweet Nightmares

I jumped from my seat and bolted through the crowded cafeteria.

Erica’s bloody face did not invoke worry in me because the memory of the last time I saw her smeared in blood was still fresh in my mind. It wasn’t just that, too. This time, I could clearly see that hungry look in her eyes - as if she had just seen her next prey.

That is why I ran.

I weaved through the crowd hoping at least one of the people I passed through would delay Erica, if not be her victim instead. I felt guilty, but it was a survival situation.

I ran as fast as I could while routinely looking behind my back. At some point, I realized Erica wasn’t chasing me, so I slowed down to a jog until eventually stopping to stand and look at the direction I came from.

Erica was nowhere in sight.

I breathed a sigh of relief, although that just made me aware of the intense beating of my heart.

Looking around, I hadn’t realized I was already out in the streets. I hadn’t even noticed getting out of the cafeteria, let alone the college campus. But, the scenery had changed completely to a busy sidewalk along a row of varied shops. The only thing that didn’t change was that there was a crowd.

In any case, I seem to have lost my pursuer. If Erica had actually been chasing me, I don’t know. Regardless, I felt safe for the moment.

However, I wasn’t sure what I should be doing next. Should I go to the police? Should I go home, barricade my room, then call the cops? Either way, both options would need me to move from where I stood.

I walked towards the direction I was running to before I stopped. I wasn’t sure which part of town I was in, so, logically, I should be retracing my steps. But, I didn’t want to head back the same way I came from and meet Erica in case she actually was chasing me. I figured I should circle the block and make my way from there so the buildings could hide me if she did follow me.

As I neared the corner, I started noticing the voices in the crowd start growing in number. There was more and more chattering, although I could barely make out what was being said by any of them.

Suddenly, when I was about to turn, a loud ringing noise reverberated through the streets, causing the ground to shake, which caused me to fall forwards.

Then, somehow, my view changed to a white surface - a table - the same table I was in just a while ago. I was back at the cafeteria and I could hear the bells ringing to either indicate the end of the current period or the start of the next, I wasn’t sure.

I noticed Erica standing beside me, looking at me with a sinister smile on her blood-smeared face.

I was about to run again, but her face returned to normal and her expression turned more playful after I blinked. I thought maybe I had just hallucinated it.

“So you really were just keeping your eyes closed”, she said as the ringing noise faded. “I thought you went back to sleep and I was just about to wake you up.”

I just stared blankly at her.

“Class is about to start”, Erica told me. Then she reached for my hand and said, “Let’s go.”

But, I avoided her.

“Still dreaming, huh?” She commented, laughing it off.

Despite my reaction, I followed her out of the cafeteria when she told me we had to go once more. I was wary, but class was something I felt I should go to as well.

We then wordlessly walked through the campus. I didn’t feel like talking since I woke up with a headache, which is my brain telling me that I have not had enough sleep yet.

The walk towards my next class felt like a haze as well because of my headache. I remember saying goodbye to Erica when it was time for us to head in different directions, but I wasn’t sure if it really did happen.

I also don’t recall when two of my classmates, Ollie and Al, started walking beside me. The two were happily talking about sports.

I just listened in. It helped me lose some of my drowsiness.

Outside the classroom of my next class, we spotted Gab with a horrified expression on his face.

“Don’t come in”, he said with a panicked voice.

“Why? Is someone collecting the assignments already?” Ollie joked as he and Al entered the classroom.

I would have probably thought the same if I hadn’t seen a similar scene earlier and thought of a similar reason on why Gab looked so stressed.

“No, don’t!” he pleaded to the two, sounding genuinely scared.

Neither of the two listened to Gab’s warnings and entered the room. I followed them a step behind, but I stopped on my tracks when I saw the insides of the classroom.

There were random body parts strewn all over the floor. It also doesn’t seem like it came from one person as there were multiple amounts of the same body part. Blood pooled on the ground as these mutilated parts seem to have only been freshly cut.

The Ollie and Al pair were nonchalantly walking by and stepping on the carnage, however. I wasn’t sure how they were not seeing the scene they were walking into.

The two looked back at me and Gab, then asked, “You guys coming?”

Then, through the corner, from the other side of the room, a figure of a girl swiftly crept behind them and grabbed each of them by the neck.

It was Erica.

I didn’t bother waiting to find out what she was going to do with those two. The body parts on the floor gave me enough clues on what their fates were, so I ran without thinking of rescuing them.

I didn’t feel guilty this time like I did earlier with the people in the cafeteria. That was because I already had the thought that I was still dreaming. That would explain the situation and all the other scenes I’ve been experiencing in quick succession. Neither of them was actually going to die. But, for me, I might get some psychological scars if I face the monster of this nightmare.

“If you’re gonna ditch class, wait for me”, I hear Gab say from behind.

Although I wasn’t sure of what he meant, he was also running behind me.

As I neared the stairs, I noticed Erica was just coming up from them. Her face distorted. Fresh blood around her mouth and her hands, plus splatters on her clothes. I had no doubt in my mind where the blood came from, but I didn’t stop to wonder how she got ahead of me.

I made a quick turn to run the other way, but we were already too close to each other. She grabbed my shoulder and flight became fight. I didn’t have any other choice. Her grip was too strong and I couldn’t shake her off. I felt like a cornered rat.

I grabbed the hand she had on my shoulder as I stood up, making the chair behind me fall on its back, and grappled her to the ground. Sitting on top of her, I punched her in the head multiple times in quick succession as she laid on the floor. Some hits caused the back of her head to hit the concrete for extra damage.

I stopped attacking after a few more punches as she had seemed to have gone limp. Surprisingly, she was weaker than she was intimidating. But, I kept sitting on top of her for the moment just in case her now lifeless body decides to reanimate.

Gab then pulled me off of her, shouting “What the hell are you doing?”

It was an unfamiliar voice, more deeper than Gab’s.

I looked to see it wasn’t Gab at all, but someone else, a stranger.

“I finally beat the monster”, I replied nonchalantly.

He reacted with a look that said he thought I was crazy.

Regardless of him, I was starting to wonder if this is what the protagonists in those slasher films feel once they know they’ve survived the ordeal. It doesn’t make me happy beating up Erica even in a dream, but I felt something bittersweet about the whole thing.

I thought maybe this was the ‘sweet nightmare’ Erica and I were searching for.

I couldn’t wait to wake up from this dream and tell her about it. Although, I guess I have to write it down first so I don’t forget too much of it.

I was still being held by the stranger when another man suddenly held my other arm. They both pulled my arms behind my back as if apprehending me.

Then, another guy kneeled down beside Erica. He was checking her pulse and her breathing.

“She’s dead”, he said as he looked up at me and the two other guys. He then looked around the crowd of people that had encircled us, some carrying trays with food if not having a sandwich in their hand, and repeated, “She’s dead.”

The reaction would have been silent had there not been a few who sounded like gagging.

Some guy surfaced from the crowd to confront me.

“What hell were you thinking when you did that to her?” he screamed at my face.

The crowd followed up with their own questions along with directing profanities at me.

“Relax”, I said. “This is all a dream.”

“A dream?!” he reacted with a mix of surprise and disgust. He paused for a moment to face the ground, thinking, before looking back at me to say, “Let’s see if you’re really dreaming then.”

Then, he punched me on my cheek.

It hurt.

My head recoiled back and I probably would have fallen to the ground if the two men weren’t holding on to me.

My attacker punched me again, this time on the other cheek.

It hurt again.

My two captors then pushed me to the ground and the three started kicking at me. The crowd, now an angry mob, joined in as well.

I assumed a fetal position and held my head with my hands to protect some of my weaker parts.

I was already convinced during the first punch. All the pain I’m getting currently has beat any doubt that I was in fact awake the whole time.

However, I had no time to think about what I had done when I was being ganged upon by an angry mob.

Eventually, someone kicked me hard on the forehead and I lost consciousness.