“It’s just a movie,” they said. “What’s the worst that can happen—a nightmare?”
Alas, they didn’t know—a nightmare was what I was truly afraid of. It wasn’t because I was a child—I was old enough to handle a disturbing dream. It was because, unlike everyone else’s harmless night terrors, my dreams weren’t mine alone—my dreams shaped a world.
“I hate horror movies,” I stated.
“It’s not that scary,” Rich replied. “It’s more of a… psychological horror.”
“Come on, Bill,” Bev pleaded. “It’s the last weekend before school starts.”
“Fine,” I acceded. What was the worst that could happen? A nightmare. Thankfully, there was a way to prevent nightmares.
After learning what my mind could do, I scoured for ways to stop dreaming. Unfortunately, against most of my efforts the foreign world prevailed. The second I departed from my reality, I am swept into another realm without a choice and without reason. Thus, the only way to keep myself away—lest I hurt anyone else—was to take naps. And so, I had a plan to set an alarm at every hour, until I was sure no monster would invade my overdue rest.
My friends were right—it was just a movie with a few jump-scares. If I cupped my ears—dulling the intense soundtrack, the sudden bangs, and sinister chuckles—it wasn’t as scary as I had anticipated. But, I wasn’t risking it. The last time I watched a horror flick, eight people died.
“I killed them,” I remember telling my mother. “I didn’t mean to but I did. I brought it in.”
“It’s just a dream,” my mother said. She couldn’t understand—nobody could. And if I ever tried to explain, they would think I had lost my mind. “Go back to sleep,” my mother prompted.
Alas, I couldn’t return to sleep. In fact, I couldn’t sleep every night after for a week. It was the first dream that had ended with death. And though it happened two years ago, I hadn’t forgotten—it was almost Christmas and my brother suggested a satire holiday film about a murderous half-goat demon.
On that chilly night, I returned to the same place where my dreams often took place. It was a world on its own with the same high-rise buildings, pristine sidewalks, and ordinary-looking people—people who weren’t from my waking moments. But as I stepped through, the clouds darkened and a foreboding iciness settled in the air. Winter had arrived ahead of schedule. And before I could warn anyone, I heard the jingle of its bells.
“It’s just a dream,” Ben echoed. My best friend, too, didn’t believe me.
“It’s the same place almost every night. The same people. The same shops,” I stated during our lunch break. “Do your dreams happen in the same place too?”
“After the demon killed those people, they were gone. I couldn’t find them. And the dream people… they said a demon had murdered them.”
“That’s some extensive dream plotting,” Ben said, almost sounding impressed. “You should be an author.”
“I’m not joking, Ben.”
“Fine. Let’s just say it’s real—what can you do about it?” Ben asked. “Do you know how to stop it?”
“No. I wouldn’t be telling you if I did.”
Ben nodded, and silence ensued. He didn’t utter a single word until the lunch bell rang. And when we spoke again, it wasn’t about my dream. Ben never spoke about my dreams from that moment on.
So that night—after witnessing an eldritch clown terrorise a group of children—I set eight alarms until dawn. I expected a dreadful following day, with fatigue weighing down my eyelids, but that was the price to pay for yielding to my friends. Hopefully, when the sun rose, there won’t be any blood on my hands.
“You’re early,” Ben said.
After the sixth round of beep-beep-beep, it was almost impossible to return to sleep. Deciding to take a short nap before class, I made my way to school earlier than usual.
“Can you wake me up before the bell rings?” I asked, seeing as Ben had found me in the cafeteria.
“Sure,” Ben replied, plopping onto a neighbouring chair. “What did you do last night?”
“I watched a movie,” I muttered, as I folded my arms on the table. “Stupid horror movie about a child-eating clown and red-”
“Balloons,” Ben interrupted.
“Yea. Have you seen it?” I asked.
“No, balloons,” Ben repeated, raising his finger toward the doorway.
Turning toward our only exit, obscured with floating, bright red balloons, I frowned. Was I dreaming? No. That notion didn’t seem possible. “Ben,” I prompted. “Is this a prank?”
Then, as if a thought had just struck him, terror glazed across Ben’s formerly placid mien. With eyes wide in horror, Ben asked, “Did you say the movie was about a child-eating clown?”
“You need to wake up, Bill,” Ben replied. Rising to his feet, he pulled me up and added, “You need to get out of my world.”
“I… I don’t understand. What-”
“You need to wake up, right now, before you kill us too.”
Clown, balloons, and chuckle were words given by Aaron Kwan on Facebook.
With IT being in theaters, I thought it would be fitting to write something inline with it. Oh, and have you seen the satire holiday film with the half-goat demon? I actually enjoyed that one.
Now, it’s your turn! Write a story with the three words given. Perhaps now is the time to write that IT fanfic you’ve been thinking about! Also, if you have three words you’d like to challenge me with, be sure to leave it in the comments below.
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3 Words, 1 Story © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.
(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)