Unnoticed by either staff or guests, a thin, silvery grey mist slid into the lobby of the building, up the carpeted stairway, and down the hall. It moved slower now, seeming to pause at the door of each room. It was coming, just as it had done so many times, and always when she was alone. She tried to scream but her vocal cords were paralyzed, like the rest of her body.
Sara-Lyn Jones sat bolt upright in her bed, eyes snapping wide open, heart pounding in terror, her body bathed in a cold sweat. Fearfully, she looked around the room. Everything appeared normal. Nothing appeared to be out of place.
She knew she’d been dreaming again, but it was always the same dream. This had been going on for months now, disturbing her rest until she was unable to function properly at work, or anything else. She was totally exhausted, losing weight, and dozing off at the most inopportune times. Finally, in despair, she had checked into a rest home for rest and therapy, hoping to rid herself of this recurring nightmare and regain her sanity and some semblance of her former energy and drive. In actual fact, she needed to regain control of her life.
“You’ll suffer burn-out before you reach thirty! Slow down and live, for Pete’s sake!”
“I’m not interested in living for Pete’s sake, Marianne,” Sara told her roommate, as she dressed for another evening out. “I’m living for my sake and I plan to live life to the fullest.”
That night the dreams had started. And it was always the same dream. The first time she had not thought much of it. It happened again several nights later, when Marianne was gone home for the weekend. Sara was in the apartment alone. She had decided to take Marianne’s advice and get some rest. So after watching some old horror movie on television, she went to bed. One early night out of her busy social schedule wouldn’t mean much.
As she slept, the dream crept upon her. Her subconscious mind watched as a mist, like a streak of liquid silver, squeezed in beneath the lobby door of her apartment building. It hung, like clinging ivy, around the name plates beside the door buzzers. Then it floated into the elevator shaft and floated up to the third floor. Sliding purposefully along the hallway, it stopped and swept silently into the apartment, and then into Sara’s bedroom. She felt a smooth coolness on her cheek, like the gentle caress of icy fingers.
Sara woke up suddenly, with fear flooding over her like a cold shower. She had the uneasy feeling that someone, or something, had been in her room. Hesitantly, picking up a high-heeled shoe to use as a weapon, she got up and searched the room. Nothing. It was the same in the rest of the apartment. There was no sign of any disturbance. Everything was locked up tight, just as it had been when she went to bed. She checked Marianne’s room to make sure that she had not cut her weekend short and returned early, but her room was empty.
“Must have been a nightmare,” she said to the sleeping canary. “That’s what I get for watching horror movies alone at night.” She went back to bed.
As the bedroom door closed behind her, a thin grey pulsing mist crept out of the apartment unnoticed. First contact established!
The dream returned at regular intervals until Sara was almost afraid to fall asleep. She would stay awake until she literally passed out from sheer exhaustion. Through it all, she kept on working and socializing, but nothing, it seemed, could stop the dreams. And they always seemed to occur when she was alone, when her air flight attendant roommate was away. Each time, the cool caresses would touch a different part of her body, until she felt it knew every inch of her flesh intimately.
“What am I going to do? This is possessing me, and destroying my sanity.”
“You’re under too much stress,” Marianne replied. “You need to get away, to rest and regain your strength. I’m not much help because I’m gone most of the time, but I’m worried about you.”
“You have enough on your mind, without worrying over me,” Sara said. “You’re supposed to be planning a big wedding, remember?”
“Don’t worry, everything is under control. Look, Sara, it’s obvious that you can’t fight this on your own. Will you seek some help in dealing with it?”
“Okay. Listen, there’s this place out in the country. I’ve heard they have a wonderful therapy program for people who are burned-out, stressed-out, or suffering some emotional problems. They specialize in trauma cases, I think. I was considering checking them out.”
“Sounds good. Maybe they can help you get to the bottom of this. You’ve got nothing to lose by trying.”
Sara grimaced. “Just some hard-earned cash. They’re probably not very cheap, but it might be worth it.”
Four days later, after arranging a leave of absence from work, Sara had checked herself into the Peaceful Pines Resort. It was a beautiful place, set among acres of lush green lawns, flower beds, sunken gardens with classically sculptured water fountains and statues, and intricate pathways shaded by tall, majestic pine trees.
The building itself resembled some old, luxurious estate from the Victorian age. The décor was largely of chintz-covered furniture, elaborate Persian rugs, and muted earthy colours. Bedrooms were on the second floor, with each one containing a four-poster canopied bed, vanity and mirror, chest of drawers, spacious closet, and a desk in front of the window. There were also a table and several chairs for guests, an easy chair and lamp for reading, and a private, fully equipped bathroom. On the ground floor there was every type of entertainment and activity needed for relaxation and exercise.
Every modern convenience one could hope for, with all the charm of a country inn. All the latest technical and medical equipment were also available, but very neatly camouflaged. Small wonder the place is expensive and hard to get into, Sara thought.
As Sara’s eyes adjusted to the near total darkness of her room, she could see that nothing had changed. No one was there. She drew a deep breath. Perhaps one of the night staff had checked her room. That might have awakened her. But that couldn’t account for the fact that she had felt a strange presence in the room. She had been dreaming again, the first time since coming here.
By dawn, Sara had made her decision. It was time to talk openly and frankly about this, in detail. Residents were left to make their own decision about therapy, whenever they felt it was time. Sara scheduled a session with the therapist for that afternoon.
“Now then, Miss Jones, tell me about this dream, every detail you can remember. Just close your eyes, relax, and take your time.”
“This was like every other time. It’s always the same,” Sarah said. She described the feeling of watching the mist enter the building and come into her room. Then the feeling of something cold, touching her and caressing her, just before she woke.
“Do you wake immediately, as soon as you feel this?”
“Yes, it wakes me, the cold touch of … whatever it is!”
“How do you feel when you wake?”
“Scared, mostly; in a cold sweat. I have the strangest feeling that I’m not alone.”
“What do you do after waking?”
Sara drew a deep breath. “I turn on the light; I search my room, sometimes the entire apartment, but, of course, there’s no one there. I know if I go back to sleep I’ll dream again, and if I go to bed I’ll fall asleep, so I usually sit up and read until daylight.”
“I see. Is this what you’ve been doing every night you have this dream?”
“Yes, and practically every other night as well. I’m afraid to sleep, afraid of the dream, so most nights I’ve been getting very little sleep.”
“No wonder you’re so exhausted. What is it that scares you exactly? Is there something threatening about the dream?”
“No,” Sara said slowly, “not really. At least, I don’t think so. It’s just this overwhelming sensation of something out of the ordinary, something so totally alien that I can’t even begin to understand it. It has me terrified. I’m a total wreck, doctor, and I can’t take it much longer.”
The doctor smiled nodding his grey head. “People generally fear what they don’t understand. One thing you must do, Miss Jones, is try to remain calm at all times, as much as possible. Have you sought help for this before?”
“No, not professional help anyway. I did try some kind of sleeping pills, thinking that if I slept too soundly I would not dream, but it was useless.”
“Nothing. Doctor, this has been going on for several months. What am I going to do? I need help.”
“That much is obvious, my dear young woman.” The doctor leaned back in his chair, stroking his chin thoughtfully. “Are you willing to try anything I suggest?”
Sara nodded her head. “Anything. I’m desperate.”
“Why don’t you try letting the dream finish?”
“What do you mean? I can’t help it if I wake up, and then can’t get back to sleep. So how can I finish the dream?”
“I’m talking about acceptance. Accept the dream, without fear, and see what happens.”
“How can I do that if I can’t get back to sleep? When I wake up I’m terrified, though I don’t really know why.”
He pushed a bottle across the table towards her, containing just a couple of tablets. “Take these tonight. They’ll calm your nerves, and help you to relax. They aren’t sleeping pills. If the dream returns tonight, when you wake, just lie back and relax. Maybe, if you can sleep again, the dream might continue. Once you let the dream finish, it may not return again.”
“What if the dream doesn't return tonight?”
“Then we’ll continue with the tablets until it does.”
“And what if they don’t work? What if the dream doesn’t stop?”
“We’ll deal with these things when, and if, we have to. Let’s take it one step at a time, shall we?”
“I guess that’s logical.” She took the tablets and left the office. At this point, she was ready to try anything, but accepting the dream? She wasn’t sure she could, even if she wanted to. She might think she was ready, but what if her subconscious wasn’t ready? Or maybe the tablets would relax her so much that she wouldn’t even dream at all.
Sarah watched the shimmering mist wind its way towards her through the hallways of the building. The corridors were deserted, for the night staff could monitor everything from their stations, with cameras and buzzers. If someone needed assistance there was a buzzer in every room. Sara was puzzled as to how she could watch the progress of this strange mist until it reached her room. It had to be all in her head.
The strange visitor was undetected as sit oozed slowly and silently through the darkness and beneath her room door. It flowed towards her slowly. She felt it touch her face, then her shoulder, like the gentle brush of cold fingers. She woke, and sat up, momentarily frightened. But the tablets were effective and, with the barest twinge of apprehension, she lay down again.
She stretched luxuriously, like a bride awaiting her new groom. Then, lying still, she waited until her eyes adjusted to the pale moonlight that illuminated the room. Then she saw it for the first time outside her dream. Like a hazy shadow at the side of her bed, it hovered in mid-air. She wrinkled her forehead, trying to focus her eyes, to see better, but it remained hazy.
Had someone whispered her name? Or was it just her fertile imagination? And wasn’t she supposed to go back to sleep now?
“Sara-Lyn.” The whisper came again, very faint, like the rustling of a breeze through the grass.
“Who’s there?” Her own voice was hushed.
“Sara-Lyn, I have come for you.”
The shadow beside her bed had become darker, taking on a more solid appearance. She stared, transfixed, as it changed shape, and then she recognized the outline of a human form. But it was still a hazy shadow.
“Who are you?” she whispered.
“You belong to me, Sara-Lyn. You will belong to me for all eternity. Surrender yourself to me now.”
“I am yours,” she said. “Do with me as you wish.”
The misty shadow flowed towards her and over her, covering her with the cool softness of a light summer rain. Her last coherent thought was that she had no need to be afraid. Somehow she knew there would be no more fear. Then she gave herself over to the dream, and feelings replaced thoughts.
Sara could see the misty form which lay over her, and feel its cool embrace, but she could touch nothing. Her arms could find nothing to hold on to. It was there and yet it wasn’t, and its cool caresses were soothing and pleasant.
“Sara-Lyn,” came the soft whisper, “are you ready to let my spirit embrace yours? Are you ready and willing to spend the rest of eternity with me?”
“Yes,” she sighed.
Her body felt as if it was on fire in spite of the coolness of the misty shadow that covered her. The mist felt almost refreshing. She felt it flowing into her open mouth gently and slowly, and she inhaled deeply. It came into her eyes, filling her head with bright, swirling colours and shifting shadow patterns. Every pore of her flesh was alive with sensation and feeling as the silvery mist flowed over, around, and into her body. She was lifted out of herself to a higher place somewhere deep within her soul. Nothing existed but feelings, more intense and beautiful than anything she had ever experienced. She gasped as the essence of its life spiraled through her, draining her of all emotion and thought and feeling.
After what seemed like hours, she shuddered as she felt the mist leaving her. It left as gently as it had taken possession, and she saw it form at the foot of the bed, the shadowy shape of a man which now took on a greenish glow as its insubstantial form shifted and flowed within itself. She was incapable of any speech or movement, overcome by a dreamlike state of drowsiness.
Now the mist began to solidify and Sara’s eyes grew wide. This man was absolutely beautiful, more beautiful than any person had a right to be, in her opinion. His body was white but the greenish glow still surrounded him, swirling and tumbling like fluffy little green clouds.
“Sleep now, Sara-Lyn. You will be part of me for all eternity.”
When the attendant came to call Sara Jones for breakfast in the morning, she took one look and called the doctor. After a brief check, the doctor sent the others away and closed the door. There was a secret little smile on his face.
Behind him, in a shaded corner of the room, a whisper came: “You have served me well. She was strong, this one.”
"Can't you just do - whatever it is you do - while they're asleep?"
"I could, but the energy is more vibrant when they are awake."
“You feed off human energy, like a vampire.”
“A different type of vampire than is currently in existence here on earth. I am a more pure and efficient being.”
“But still a vampire,” the doctor insisted. “You prey on the living. How many more?”
“Like her? Not many,” was the whispered response. “I sense you are doubting your role in this. Be warned that if you do not continue to serve me, I will dispose of you.”
The doctor watched silently as the silvery shadow retreated from the room, no doubt returning to the dark confines of the basement. I’m trapped, he thought. Like Dracula’s Renfield, I have no choice but to obey my Master or die. He wished, once again, that he had the courage to end it all, to take his life and be free. One of these days – maybe…
© 2001 Fay Herridge
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