Title: A Carved Dream
For AMACon 5
I suddenly bolt up screaming, drenched in cold sweat and panting like I just ran a marathon. I look around, bewildered, trying to get a sense of where I am when I realize that I’m in my bedroom and I was just having a damn nightmare. Even though I knew it was but a dream – for a moment, I couldn’t distinguish where I was and what was reality. I look at my hands and breathe a sigh of relief when I didn’t see any blood just as my brain registers that my sheets are all tangled between my legs and my hair is sticking out all over the place.
“Just a dream. Just a nightmare. Nothing more,” I mumble out as I pass my shaking hands across my face. I’m a trembling mess.
Grabbing my chest and breathing deeply, I close my eyes as I try to tell my heart to calm the fuck down. Easier said than done, I know, but I need to do it if I don’t want to look like a fucking zombie when I go to work later. I know it’s probably very early in the morning since it’s still dark out and I probably have a few more hours for sleep.
Though based on the thundering beats of my heart – I’m not sure if it’s possible for me to go back to sleep. What with the adrenaline that is still pulsing through my whole body. Plus I’m not even sure if I really do want to go back to sleep.
Not if I would be seeing—
“It’s just a dream. It’s just a dream, Nicky,” I tell myself. “It’s not happening and it’s never going to happen, alright?”
I exhale loudly and stand up, wanting to get water to quench my parched throat but my shaky knees made me fall back on my bed. I put my head on my hands as I inhale and exhale and try to get the damn nightmare out of my brain.
“Damn it, Nicky,” I whisper, exasperated. “It’s not real, ok? He’s not out there to get you. He’s just a figment of your imagination. HE. ISN’T. REAL!”
But the fucking dream just felt so damn true that I could still see my murderer’s pale face clearly as he smirked at me, his eyes dark and hollow, before sticking a carving knife into my stomach.
I try to repress a shudder even though goosebumps appear all over my arms as I shake the thought of the murderer in my nightmares.
Yes – my nightmare consists of someone coming after me and killing me right after, once he gets a hold of me. I don’t know the reason as to why he’s coming after me. I don’t know why he wants to kill me. All I know is that in my dream – I’m running from him because he’s after me and my life.
I’ve been having these dreams for the past couple of weeks now. I know it’s already showing on my face more often nowadays, the haggardness and dark circles under my eyes prominent. I look pale, my hair is stringy as hell and I probably dropped a little bit of weight as well. Some of my co-workers have been asking about my well-being though I always am quick to answer that I’m fine with a smile that I know doesn’t really reach my eyes.
Katrina, one of my office mates and one I would consider a friend (my only friend, if we’re gonna be honest) has already bluntly told me that I look like death warmed over the other day, once I sat down in my cubicle. I chuckle as I remember looking back at her and telling her in a deadpan voice to mind her own fucking business. She was silent for a heartbeat as she raised a perfectly shaped brow at me before we both burst out into laughter.
Ahhh… Good times.
“You need to get laid,” she tells me when I get to the office a little later that day, looking like – well, yep. You got it – a freaking walker from The Walking Dead. “All these sleeplessness and your state of mental health is telling you that your body is lacking the loving care it needs,” she continues, putting an emphasis on loving.
“Kat, you know that—”
“Shush. A dildo and a vibrator doesn’t count.”
I sputter as I look at her incredulously, almost choking on my coffee.
“Damn it, Katrina!”
“You need a man,” she carries on like I didn’t even talk as she looks at her nails as if bored, with no care for my well-being since I almost died from swallowing my coffee down the wrong pipe. My very hot coffee, mind you. “A man that would be able to take care of that… little problem of yours.”
“Goodness, Katrina!” I exclaim when I finally am able to find my voice even though it still sounds croaky and froggy. I cough a little to clear my throat more. “The last thing I need right now is to be sucked into—”
“Today’s Thursday. I should have someone available for you tomorrow night. I’ll text you the details. Be sure you’re there,” she tells me as if I didn’t even say anything. “Ciao, bella,” she drawls softly before patting my head like I’m some sort of pet of hers.
Then she walks away back to her own corner office with nary a care, leaving me gaping at her like a fish out of water. Like I had no say whatsoever about my life. That’s Katrina for you, ladies and gentlemen.
Yes, she’s my only friend in the office.
But she’s also my boss.
Oh, I’m sorry – did I forget to mention that?
Which is why, of course, when she puts her mind onto something and if that something concerns me – I won’t really have a say. Or I do but if I value my job, then I should just go and do whatever she says. It’s usually harmless anyway.
Besides – how bad can a blind date go?
It went from bad to worse. In a snap.
I was already running late since I really didn’t want to go to this blind date that Katrina set up for me – but what choice did I have? She continuously texted and called me until I gave in and said yes. Then I had to fix myself up in less than an hour just so I could make it in time at the place she told me to be in.
When I got to the venue – I already knew that tonight wouldn’t be how I expected (nor how Katrina expected) everything would go down.
“I’m sorry,” I told the hostess when I got to the lobby of the fine dining restaurant Katrina set us up. “I’m running a bit late and I’m here to meet a Richard Faulkerson. Is he already here?”
The hostess looked at me stoically before smirking slowly, which slightly unnerved me. Because what was that smirk for anyway?
“Of course, Miss Dei. I was told you were coming. Mr. Faulkerson is already in and is waiting for you in one of our private parlors. Right this way.”
Private parlors? This restaurant has private parlors? But why should we be in one of the private parlors?
I followed and had to take a deep breath to steel myself because for some reason, I was feeling nervous. And the nervousness wasn’t due to me meeting someone for the first time that Katrina set me up with. It was something else. Something I couldn’t totally explain. Something – I don’t know – sinister.
I should have listened to my gut feel.
Because right at that moment when I entered the private parlor where the hostess led me, Mr. Faulkerson stood up and turned towards me with a flourish, a bedimpled yet devilish smirk on his face.
And right there, ladies and gentlemen, as I stood completely in utter shock – I just came face to face with the murderer in my dreams.
I want to run.
I want to bolt.
But I’m frozen and I can’t move.
My eyes are wide with fear and my mouth is open in bewilderment and a silent scream as this Richard Faulkerson slowly approaches me – that blasted smirk still on his face.
He reaches out a hand for me to take before he murmurs, “Welcome, Miss Dei.”
His soft voice is so compelling that even though I’m scared shitless – I still reach out my hand towards him.
What the fuck, Nicky?!
He gently takes it in his grasp and kisses the back of my hand, his lips lingering a little, his gaze piercing me.
“Katrina was right. You’re even more beautiful in person.”
“Please. Would you do me the honors and take a seat? Let’s have a lovely dinner tonight. I’ve taken the liberty of ordering a four-course meal prior. I hope you don’t mind. I’ve asked the chef to give us his very best.”
I still want run.
I still want to bolt.
But I found my feet walking towards the opposite end of the table and my ass sitting on the chair in front of his.
Shit. This isn’t good.
We’ve been silent for a while, only the clanging of our utensils against our plates can be heard. Though I can’t really eat anything, fearing that whatever I down would just come right back up. My stomach is in knots, I keep on wetting my dry and chapped lips and my eyes keep on darting everywhere – perhaps trying to look for a way out. My heart hasn’t slowed down either, my hands are clammy and my adrenaline is shot through the roof.
I’m scared shitless.
What’s a girl gotta do?!
“So, Nicky,” he murmurs, breaking the uncomfortable silence, making me look up at him with too wide eyes. He chuckles and my heart rate soared, not from excitement but fear. “Is the food not to your liking?”
I shake my head infinitesimally. What do you even say to the man that murders you in your dream every single fucking night for the last two weeks?! I didn’t even think he was fucking real! And yet – here he is, sitting in front of me, sparing his steak with his fork and drinking his wine from his glass like nothing is amiss from the silence that’s permeating the room.
“I noticed you’re not really eating anything,” he continues, a small smile on his lips. “I can order something else if—”
“I’m not that hungry,” I say quietly, cutting him off, looking down while I poke on my sea bass fillet.
Oh, please please please… Just be done already so I could leave and wake up from this nightmare!
“Is that so?” His stare is still piercing, his bedimpled smile uncannily disarming. “Can I tempt you with dessert, perhaps? A cheesecake or maybe some sorbet?”
I shake my head again.
“Ahhh… My dear Nicky… You aren’t this docile when we see each other in your dreams.”
I quickly look up as he mentioned dreams. What in the fucking hell is he talking about?!
He chuckles as he sees my deer-caught-in-headlights look. “You usually are very chatty or rather… curse-y and crude and you put up quite a fight whenever we meet each other in your dreams.”
I swallow nervously.
“Or,” he stops to take a sip of his wine yet again as his gaze pins me in my seat. “Do you not remember any of it anymore?”
I remain silent, too shocked to say anything, too scared to even react and too confused as to what is suddenly going on.
He just mentioned meeting me in my dreams. What in the fucking world does he mean by that?!
“I suppose…” he trails as he slowly stands up and takes a carving knife off the table. Where in the fucking world did he suddenly get a carving knife, of all pla—
Oh. My. Fucking. God.
“I shall remind you of how we usually meet and end in your dreams, hmm?” he continues in that soft, alluring voice, a sinister smirk gracing his lips.
I close my eyes. I try to breathe normally but to no avail. I can’t open my lips to even scream.
I’m frozen in my seat and can’t move.
If this is the end, then so be i—