Echoes of Tomorrow's Past - Part 6 (An Original Novella)

in #steemit2 years ago

Dreams took him. Another unrelenting marathon of distress, anxiety and fear. Faint murmurs in the dark, echoes of a woman’s plea for help. A pulsating black mass in the background, thousands of writhing tentacles embedded within it. He felt for his mouth but a smooth sheet of skin met his hand. No mouth, no voice. His mind screamed in confined anguish. A shimmering silhouette approached from behind though the figure appeared blurred and hazy. He tried to flee in a fit of panic but found his feet to be wedged deep into the ground. Surveying through every possible direction only revealed more abyss, more disorientation.

As the apparition drew in closer, a slimy object wrapped itself around his torso. He looked down to see hundreds of diminishing suction pads engorge themselves on his naked skin. The greyish tentacle tugged at him, pulling the mass toward him. Two threatening entities converging upon him. He jerked his head this way and that, watching them almost within range. The apparition began to take a female form as two rippling singular tendrils burst forth and slid across each side of his face. He shut his eyes and prayed for a quick end.

James lurched up, a soft breeze passing over his drenched face. Another damn nightmare, he thought. The lights of their bedroom were out, save for the flashing alarm clock next to where he lay his head. It said 3.23am. He found the frequency of his recurring dreams increase as of late. Leading to levels of concentration during the day being only a smidgen above "distracted". Work had started to notice too. Consistent punctuality and attendance just did not seem to cut it anymore with management. It was obvious the routine glaring mistakes and disorderly practices would eventually lead to his dismissal. At least the steadfast bond he had first struck up with Glen, the deputy manager at O’ Brian’s, had allowed his negligence to carry on this far.

He could feel the weight of Dolores lying next to him. She must have repositioned him onto his side of the bed before going to sleep as he still wore the same attire that he returned home in. A stagnant chill hung through the air though the windows were shut tight. Reaching round, he felt the soft smooth texture of her shoulder. It was cold to the touch. He assumed Dolores must have thrown off the duvet at some point in the night. Attempting to remain in the same drowsy state so that he may finish off what was left of the night, James manoeuvred himself round to face Dolores and drape the covers back over her. The moonlight cast a beautiful illuminated arc across the far wall as he did so. Feeling for the goose-feathered quilt lining, he pulled it up towards her neck whilst glancing down at her one last time.

A sinking horror caused the blood to seep from his face, leaving a pale mask in it’s place. He froze, petrified at what he saw. She lay there face up, eyes closed and in a wistful slumber. However, her distinct features resembled that of his mother. To be exact, bearing the same expression she had worn when he bade her farewell that fateful day in his youth. In fact, the image before him was an identical likeness. The same loving smile, curling up from the left side of her pursed lips. The pure contentment displayed upon her face as she waved at him like only a mother could. That final photographic memory he had stored in a special place deep within the recesses of his mind for safe keeping. Where no one could find it, tamper with it or steal it. That vision had somehow escaped from it’s imprisoned hollow and let loose in the real world. His world.

He retreated back at a measured pace so as not to wake the ghostly manifestation. The ambient light reflecting off her skin gave an almost spectral appearance. He slid off the bed using every muscle fibre in his body to remain quiet. A twisting knot in his belly caused him to retch but he covered his mouth with a hand to nullify the sound. Crawling on all fours, he slunk through the dim gloom like an animal stalking it's prey.

Inches from the door, he heard a soft movement of bed sheets behind him. Terror ripped at the shreds of sanity he had left. A sliver of spittle clung to the edge of his mouth though he would not have known it. Although his mind howled at him not to, morbid instinct now drove him. He looked back over his shoulder.

The figure was now sitting up, staring at him. That replicated stored image still plastered over her face. The smile, the endearment, the love. And then she spoke. ”James, darling. What are you doing over there?” It’s voice reminded him of his dearest Dolores though the facial representation revealed something very different. She shifted towards him, still watching with those dark, almond eyes that James remembered only too well. Though the trapped hysteria could not be contained any longer.

”No!” He screamed ”Stay away from me! Don’t come near me!” Scrabbling to his feet, the door flung wide open and he fled out into pitch blackness. In the throes of his mania, he could hear hurried footsteps of the thing giving chase. With the bathroom dead ahead, James burst through the door and slammed it shut. A shrill voice sounded out from beyond the tiny enclosure but he covered his ears in an effort to blot it out. James fell to the floor and sobbed. However, a new horror then took old of him. In all his panic and dread, he had forgotten to lock the bathroom door. But it was too late.

In an instant, the light switched on as he shrieked with every ounce of strength he had left. Protruding, frenzied eyeballs directed towards the open doorway. It took a second or two for his senses to reach some modicum of normality again, but he managed to register the person standing in front of him. It was Dolores. She rushed over to the trembling heap on the floor. Her initial touch upon his shoulder caused him to recoil with a jolt.

”My god, James! What the hell is going on? Are you alright?” She cried out, stroking his hair with long, slender fingers. He shielded his face from either her or the light of the bathroom, it was hard to tell and quivered in the corner. It was apparent that words had left him and he had witnessed something to cause the strands of rationality to bend over backwards. But whether it was real or make believe was easier for her to ascertain.

”It’s OK” She consoled in a hushed, pacifying tone. ”It’s all over now. Don’t worry. Everything is gonna be fine.”
He placed one shaking hand around her arm and clenched it firmly. ”I… I don’t know… If I can carry on… Like this… Anymore. Can’t tell… What’s real or not.”

Dolores held him tighter in her embrace. ”What do you mean? What did you see, baby?”

He paused for a moment, then looked up at her. She was shocked at the wild glare in his eyes but remained composed. ”I saw her, Dolores. I don’t know how… But she was in the room back there. In our room. And I don’t know how much more I can take.”

”Who, James? Who was there?” She asked with worrying concern.


(To Be Continued)


Hope you enjoyed this story, please look out for more on the way... (author: @ezzy)

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