~As he made his way down Columbus Avenue in the city of Middleton,
Dr. Jameson was sure she was following him, hiding in the shadows,
waiting patiently before making her move.
The restaurant, his destination, wasn’t much further. Dr. Jameson
wondered if maybe he should have phoned for that taxi, but it was a
warm September evening and the walk would do him good. He could
turn back; he was only a block from home, but he pressed on despite
his uneasy feeling.
The disturbing quiet of a usually busy city rattled him. It was as
though he was the last survivor on the planet. A noise sounded from
somewhere behind him. He turned to the dark night close at his heels
and saw a tin can roll from out of the shadows along the sidewalk
towards him. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up and took
She was there, hiding in the shadows, waiting. Dr. Jameson’s mind
raced with fear. He felt his life was in danger so he turned and fled.
He ran an entire block, but fifty-six years old and not as spry as he
once was, he was forced to stop. Sweating, shaken with fear, his heart
raced out of control. He leaned forward to catch his breath, placing
both hands just above his kneecaps with elbows locked. He scanned the
area all around him. The sound of dogs barking off in the distance was
strangely comforting to him. His heart slowed to normal rhythm. He
stood straight and continued on his way.
He stopped in front of the courthouse steps, feeling rather foolish
for letting his mind get the better of him. After all, he was supposed to
be the rational one, the one who remains calm in a crisis. His profession
demanded it of him. How would it look, he, a professor of psychology,
being so irrational?
A noise sounded. His heart jumped to his throat. He snapped
his neck toward the sound and saw in the park across the street, an
old woman under a streetlight rummaging through one of the park’s
trashcans. The light flickered and went out. Within seconds, the light
flickered back on. Dr. Jameson thought he should offer the old woman
a few dollars so that she might have a hot meal, and just as he was about
to cross the street, his greatest fear raced out of the shadows towards
Dr. Jameson fell face first to the ground. Instantaneously, his arms
shot out to stop his fall. The soft flesh of both his palms tore open
from the rough pavement of the sidewalk. Succumbing to the pain, Dr.
Jameson scrambled to get to his feet, but his attacker was on him again,
kicking and punching with brute force.
During this madness, Dr. Jameson was unclear if he turned on his
own accord, or if she turned him. He found himself face-to-face with
his attacker. “You!” Dr. Jameson gasped, like a man who had already
The streetlight overhead reflected a mask of light from the steel
blade across those unmistakable green eyes; eyes Dr. Jameson knew all
too well. Mesmerized by these eyes, Dr. Jameson lay frozen, accepting
the steel blade entering his body over and over, again and again.
T H E N I G H T M A R E
The nightmare begins in the dark. Like routine clockwork, Doreen
finds herself in a darkened hallway, frantic, waiting patiently for that
first flash of light. Sickening odors like spilled bottles of alcohol fill her
nostrils. Her sixth sense tells her the place she is in is a hospital, and
the figure moving up ahead is a nurse; a nurse who suddenly vanishes
into thin air.
Doreen comes to know the nightmare like she knows the back of
her hand. She knows she will find the nurse behind a set of swinging
doors inside a room filled with hospital equipment. She knows inside
the room will be two nurses. A man in a dark suit wearing a white
smock will appear as if by magic. She knows from the windows of the
swinging doors, a yellow light casts over a black and white tiled floor.
What she doesn’t know and can never seem to remember; she is barefoot.
It isn’t until she steps into the yellow light that she feels the cold
tiles beneath her bare feet. She gazes down and sees her feet atop the
black and white tiled floor. A rumble of thunder, followed by a sharp
crack of lightning, sounds in the distance.
Staring through the window of the left swinging door, Doreen sees
two nurses near a hospital gurney. On the gurney, two legs protrude
from behind a partially drawn curtain. Although Doreen has no clue
as to the identity of the person on the gurney, she knows it’s a woman,
and like herself, the woman is barefoot.
The nurses’ stand face-to-face, conversing with one another.
Doreen cannot hear any of what they are saying. The nurse facing her
is an older woman with careworn features. Doreen tries to decipher the
words coming from the woman’s lips, but the light in the room flickers
and goes out.
Frightened, feeling trapped by the dark, Doreen presses her face
against the small windowpane. A scream begins to crawl up the back
of her throat.
The room fills with light. Presto, like magic, the man in the dark
suit appears. In his right hand, he holds a syringe and in his left, a vial of
liquid. He inserts the needle into the vial and extracts the liquid filling
the syringe. The man nods his head to the nurse who has her back to
Doreen, the nurse from the hallway. The nurse steps to the foot of the
gurney and takes hold of the woman’s ankles. The man slips behind
the partially drawn curtain, casting a huge and monstrous shadow.
The woman on the gurney begins to thrash about, moaning, sounding
afraid. The needle pierces the woman’s flesh and muscle, straight to
the bone. Fluid is forced into the woman’s veins. Screams engulf the
room pushing back the silence into a dark corner where it hides. With
clenched fists, Doreen sinks her fingernails into the palms of her hands,
holding the scream that has crawled up the back of her throat.
The lights flicker out. Flashes of blinding light mixed with
crashing waves of thunder and screams echo loud. In the midst of it all,
music begins to play. Patsy Cline sings, “If Only I Could Stay Asleep.”
Patsy’s voice is the last thing Doreen hears before she wakes. Only this
time, Doreen finds herself trapped inside the nightmare. Something is
wrong. Somehow, she has stepped further into the nightmare.
And God said, “Let there be light.” Even in the light, Doreen’s
fears reach out for her. Inside the room, six eyes fix upon Doreen,
looking to consume her soul. Doreen’s knees buckle; her body descends
to the black and white tile floor.
Footsteps! “They’re coming…run!” the voice in Doreen’s head
whispers; the voice Doreen fears may be a sign of madness; madness
she inherited from her mother. With every ounce of strength she can
muster, Doreen pushes herself to stand. With her left hand against
the wall to guide her, she makes her way along the darkened hallway.
There is no thunder and no lightning. There is only the fear of what lies
ahead, waiting in the dark.
Like pulling a rabbit out of a hat, the moon rises from behind
a dark cloud. A beam of light filters through a window and reveals a
door. Doreen has never seen this door before. Could this be a way out?
Doreen moves anxiously toward the door. From behind her, a
whisper of air crosses the back of her neck. Doreen whirls around,
frightened. She comes face-to-face with herself. Not a mirror image,
but her own self. The scream at the back of her throat rushes out like