Sleeper

Posted: June 27, 2013 in Fiction

You are standing in the shower. Hot water courses down your naked body. It burns, just a little, but you don’t mind. Between the near scalding and the soap, the grime of the last few sleepless nights and days sloughs off of you. Knotted muscles unclench. Your frustrations melt away.

You step out of the shower, grabbing a towel and rubbing away the persisting water droplets. You dry your face, but your hair releases fresh rivulets that trace from crown to toes. You step out of the bathroom, still dripping.

Outside the bathroom lies only impenetrable darkness. You are standing, but on what you aren’t sure. Malice fills the air, leaking into your lungs and stealing your breath. You cast about for the source, but find nothing. You turn, but the bathroom is gone. You feel the sensation of falling, but no ground appears. Instead, you see twin pinpricks of red. They grow, taking on the shape of eyes. More appear, each growing and morphing into recognizable shapes. They are all eyes.

All at once, your vision registers that the score of eyes belongs to a single, monstrous face. Lips you couldn’t see peel back to reveal teeth you wish you couldn’t see. Claws sweep in from the side, tearing furrows in your skin and slamming you into a wall. You clank and clatter as your ornate plate armor shifts on your body. Your loved ones all urge you to rise.

You stand. The fanged mouth in front of you opens in a roar. You hear nothing. You feel terror. The overwhelming urge to flee. You turn to run, but you know that if you don’t stand your ground then you and everyone you love will suffer. Tentacles wrap your ankles, snatching you skyward. You flail as you are whipped up, then back into the ground. You smash a crater into the ground, light spearing through the spider-web of cracks. The thing swings you up into the air again, but you chop through the tentacles with a filigree carved sword. You are loose, hurtling upward.

You watch below as the thing’s mouth becomes a swirling vortex of teeth and lashing tongues. You spread your wings and arrest your fall. You hang suspended in the obsidian sky. Clarity comes to you; you aren’t awake. Clawed hands reach toward you, determined to draw you in for the kill. You hack at them, swooping away, severing one limb and another. More appear. A ceaseless barrage of talons. You cartwheel through the sky, spraying the thing’s blood across the night in silvery arcs.

You miss one claw, and it spears into your thigh. Anchored, you can’t evade the next. Your legs are pierced, then a wing. You are dragged downward. The eyes burn crimson hatred as you are borne down toward the maw. You reach out and grab your silver cord and pull, resisting the thing. It surges upward to meet you.

You sword sprouts teeth, and the teeth start racing up one side of the blade and down the other. You drive your chainsaw into the thing’s hands. They tear apart, freeing you. More claws appear, but you don’t rise. You dive, wings tucked close, chainsaw held in front of you. The thing tries to snatch you in its mouth, but you carve through its jaws, ripping its head asunder. You hack away at the beast’s head, ripping it to shreds.

You’re sitting in the bottom of the tub. The shower is still pelting you with hot water. You pull yourself up. You must have fallen asleep. In your hand is clutched a filigreed sword…

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