It happens every night. Every night in my dreams. At first I dream normally, and then it goes dark and I see them. The eyes. They are sometimes red, sometimes yellow, and sometimes blue. It always starts with me at the end of a hallway. I turn back and see them in the dark. They are so far away. But then they start moving – up and down – and I know I must run.
The hallway in front of me is dark, and I don’t know where it goes. But I have no choice: I must run. When I enter the dark spaces, the floor feels strange, as if I’m running on hard jelly or something. But I must run, and after a while a small light appears. This makes me feel better, but still I know I can’t look back.
I eventually get to the light. I’m running so fast and look to the sky – the kind of sky you see at sunrise. I then realize I’m running too fast and can’t stop, and I know I’m going to fall. This makes me feel scared, but still it’s better than looking back.
While falling, I look to the sky. It’s beautiful – all gold and yellow and red. I don’t feel scared now. Actually I’m happy, because I know the eyes can’t follow me. As the clouds grow smaller, I close my eyes and smile.
I then realize I’m underwater. This confuses me because I don’t know how to swim, only to realize I can. This makes me feel strong, like a grown-up. But then I turn around and see the eyes. They are still behind me.
My whole body feels cold, but I must move. I swim as fast as I can – like a dolphin – yet the eyes remain close behind. There are beautiful fish everywhere, and the turtles and whales about make it seem like I’m in an underwater carnival. Before long, I notice what looks like a cave. I swim to it and notice the water gets shallower upon my approach.
I’m soon stood on solid ground. Everything is dark, but after rubbing my eyes a series of fire-lit torches spring to life. Before moving ahead, I look back. The eyes are still behind me. I swallow the lump in my throat and run. The path in the cave winds like the body of a snake. The light becomes brighter, and soon I pass a young boy and a dog sat next to a fire. I don’t stop, but do notice they’re covered in something – a ‘moving slime’ of sorts. I also notice the dog has different-colored eyes. With the enemy not far behind, I can’t waste time thinking about this.
I keep running, and the meandering route straightens before coming to a dead end. There’s a rope ladder there which I climb. I look back while doing so. The eyes are still behind me. The ladder leads into darkness, but still I keep climbing. It leads to a circular hole which I crawl through. I’m soon stood on grass. As my eyes adjust to the evening shade, I notice I’m on the grounds of my elementary school.
I’ve never been this far in my dream before. Upon realizing this, I run to the school’s main buildings. They’re far away, maybe five hundred meters. Once I get there, I look back, and surprisingly the eyes aren’t there. I’m breathing heavily and sweating a lot… and then they come. From the distance between us, they’re simply drops of light. They don’t move, as if they must first make sense of everything. Yet when they see me, there’s no turning back.
The only thing in my favor is I know where I am. I go to the third floor of the main school building and look out onto the red brick courtyard below. From my bottom right, the eyes appear. This is the first time I can see who or what they belong to, but it isn’t easy. The eyes are followed by a lingering darkness which clouds everything in black. I watch as this ‘force’ tries to sniff me out. It walks from one side of the courtyard to the other. And then it looks up and sees me.
I step away from the low wall and run as fast as I can. I’m at the opposite end of the passage by the time the eyes reach the third floor. They’re about eighty meters from where I stand, but I’m safely hidden behind a wall. I cannot make any large sounds, so I slowly creep down the stairwell beside me. This leads to the second floor, where I try open one of the classroom doors. To my surprise, it does so without effort. I’m soon surrounded by desks and chairs and maps of countries from around the world.
I go hide under a table in the corner of the classroom. Something funny then happens; each time I breath, the classroom turns a different a color, like I’m in the belly of a chameleon. While this happens, a whirling noise stirs outside. It must belong to the eyes.
As they approach, my chest grows tighter. In the window at the opposite side of the classroom, they appear. I notice they’re slanted, like a dragon’s eyes. And then they stop moving, and all sound dies to nothing.
I’m afraid – very afraid. I know they can sense my fear. It’s so strong it’s coming off me as a smell. Everything is black now – a black like nothing I’ve ever experienced. My terror grows as the eyes move toward the door. What must I do!? The door handle creaks as it’s pushed down, and the eyes enter the classroom.
They see me, crouched under a table in the corner of the classroom. I try to wake up but can’t, like this isn’t a nightmare after all. I think about my mom, my dad, and my puppy Rex: Will I ever see them again? And then something crazy happens.
A second set of eyes appear. And then another, and then another. They’re all white, like daylight shining in from the darkness. As more eyes appear, I start to think I’m stuck in a balloon, and someone is pricking holes in it to help me find a way out.
And then the light overtakes the darkness. It’s like one reality gets replaced by another. As more eyes appear, I realize they weren’t eyes after all: instead, they’re parcels of light. As the darkness gets peeled away, my own eyes see what was hidden behind everything I just experienced.
I’m no longer hidden under a table in a classroom. I sit upright on my bed, and a drop of sweat trickles past my temple. I can see my whole room, the morning light illuminating everything around me. But, I think to myself, I never woke up!
In a quiet whisper, something replies, “Did you ever go to sleep?”