Do You ever Do This?

It's rare that I write myself as a character, but I did it once.

I explained how I’d been thinking about it the last couple of days, how I push myself in dreams to terrify myself. I often lie in bed and drift off, then have lucid dreams, the kind you can control... I manufacture situations to scare myself. Maybe my love of horror films. I think of something, a long dark corridor, a face that could change, what would make this worse? What if there was a figure, and it turned and jumped, face erased, mutilated? What if something about the space I was in was wrong, just so wrong?

That's from Withdrawn, a short story I wrote. It needs some editing, but you can read it if you really want to.

I read this Storify ( by @kittyshorrorshow a few days ago, and it made me think of this, the way that some of us are drawn to feeling terrified. Go read it; she says some really interesting things about her relationship with the Silent Hill video games, and horror games in general.

I can relate to what she said, and it's a feeling I've been trying to capture in my own writing. That terror of being in bed and the house is quiet, just the wind and random noises as you drift off to sleep. Shapes in the darkness, eyes adjusting in weird ways. I used to imagine they were figures.

It reminded me of when I was a child, seeing shapes in the folds of my bedroom curtains. The bed was hard, the wall near my head chipped away from where I scratched at it... I gave the folds names: The Lord of the Rings, the Skeletal Arm, the Wizard. Each night they came to me and something about them made me unable to close my eyes, covers held tight up to my chin.
— Withdrawn

Then you drift off to sleep, halfway between sleep and wakefulness, then finally into a deep REM state, and the dreams start. Most you don't remember, but the ones you do, they're the special ones. Some of them fun, or romantic, or erotic, or surreal, but then there are the ones you have control over.

A lucid dream can begin in one of many ways. A dream-initiated lucid dream (D.I.L.D.) starts as a normal dream, and the dreamer eventually concludes it is a dream.

You can do anything in a lucid dream. You can fly above the world, fulfil all your sexual fantasies, be a millionaire.

Or you can utterly terrify yourself.

You're in a house, or an office, or outside. You're just walking, minding your own business. You're dreaming. You're well aware of that fact. Nothing is real, and yet EVERYTHING is real. So real you can touch it, smell it, taste it, but you're not interested in that. You're here for the real good stuff, for making yourself so afraid you have to wake up right this very second. A world of limitless possibilities is the most terrifying thing you can imagine, because you'll corrupt it and make it wrong.

A world of limitless possibilities is the most terrifying thing you can imagine, because you'll corrupt it and make it wrong.

So let's change things. Go on, just a little.

At first.

Move things around. Create something. You hear a noise and get up from the frayed armchair and walk into the hallway. The sun streams in through the stained glass, but it's cold and blue, like the day has died and hasn't realized yet. Then there it is again! What noise would scare you the most? That's the one you hear, coming from upstairs. So you push it a little further. Feel things behind you. Sensations on your hair, at the limits of your perception. The back of your neck tingles.


Still nothing there.

But no matter which way you look, there's always something outside of your view, in your peripheral vision.

So let's go upstairs, through the trees, into the corridor, through the worn red door, into the dusty garage. Let's see how much further you can push it. What exactly would escalate it? What would you not want to see in a million years? Stick it in there, play around with it, make it a real horror show. Go on!

Each step is torment. The weight of it presses you down. You don't want to see it. You trudge through sludge. You can barely move. That sleep paralysis that affects you in the dream, even though you know you're dreaming, but now you're in deep, so let's make it worse.

AND YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO ANY OF THIS! These are your choices. All you...


Then, when it's close to climax, you unleash the worst. It jumps out at you, grabs your throat, holds your ankles, you see its face, no face, wrong face, inhuman, screaming at you, fingers in your mouth, it turns around, runs at you from the end of a dark corridor, no teeth, teeth filed to fangs, a wrong shape, not even like a person or animal.

It's this moment from The Haunted.

But you push it too far. You're hyperventilating. You can't run fast enough. It starts as a gurgle in your throat, then a moan. Then you scream, scream until you wake, scream until the nightmare stops, until you're safe and just an idiot lying in your bed, work in the morning, blankets a mess. You calm down, turn and grasp for your phone on the bedside table. Digital blue lights the room. Check the time:


The night has only just begun. You drift back to sleep. You're shaking, coming down from it, you don't want to go there again.

Except you do. A part of you really, really wants you to go there and push it further and further until the night terrors come at you and you go through the whole frightening routine again.

Me too, Mother Crow.

Me too.