An invisible force, beyond her control, steered her through the dark, second floor hallway towards her bedroom door. Apprehension mingled sadistically with a hint of terror, and it lingered in the air like a sick stagnant fog. The need to catch her breath, in protest of the ominous air, forced her to pause outside the sealed door. Closing her eyes, she sucked in one sharp breath before moving forward. She opened her eyes and stared at the door while delving deep to muster the courage to open it.
Intense trepidation had a grip on her mind, making it impossible to be rational. The other side of that door held the reason for her unease, and the impending doom taunted her without mercy. Something horrific waited for her—something that made her stomach clench and her heart ache. Attempting to shake off the uneasy feeling that weighed her down, she rolled her shoulders and stepped forward. Her hand trembled uncontrollably as it reached out—but hesitated when it came to rest on the smooth, brushed brass handle. Instincts voiced their silent concern by shrieking in her ears, urging her to turn and flee, but idiotic curiosity compelled her to move forward, so she turned the handle and eased the door open.
The master bedroom that she and her husband Greg shared was empty. Greg’s bedside lamp provided the only illumination in the room, but it was enough to clearly define the liquid that dripped down the wall at the head of their unmade bed. Stepping closer to the bed to investigate, she stopped dead in her tracks, gaping at the thick, crimson liquid that trailed down the wall and gathered in a pool on Greg’s pillow. She recognized the strange substance as the same life force pulsing through her veins with incredible ferocity.
Her mouth opened, prepared to release a scream, but icy terror paralyzed her vocal chords, so she turned and ran from the room. If she knew anything, it was that she needed to escape. With Greg unaccounted for, she had to save herself.
Tearing through the house, she made her escape through the patio doors and raced down the shadowy street. Convinced that a malevolent being pursued her, she glanced back several times, expecting to discover the culprit, but the only thing hot on her trail was senseless fear. Desperate to outrun it, she propelled her legs to the brink of agony, pushing through the pain until the world began to spin out of control. Her thoughts, a dizzying mass of confusion, forced her legs to stop. Her eyes searched in the dark as she tried to steady herself and form a plan, but her swirling mind made it impossible to go on, and she lost her balance, collapsing into nothingness...
As if she had really fallen, a full-body convulsion rocked Cassie Woods from her dream. Gasping for air, she clutched her chest while trying to gain control of reality. She turned to examine her husband’s sleeping form, but Greg Montgomery slept soundly—oblivious to her current state. Trembling with fright, her gaze shifted to the wall above Greg’s head.
No blood. “Oh, thank God!” Cassie whispered, releasing the breath she had been holding in.
Totally shaken, Cassie sat for several minutes, waiting for the terror to dissipate, her heart rate to normalize, and the tremors to wane. She rarely had nightmares, but that dream was awful—something happened to Greg in it, but she had no idea what. Shaking her head at the ridiculousness, Cassie lovingly admired her sleeping husband while reasoning with herself. Whether the dream felt real or not didn’t matter because Greg was unharmed, so there was no reason to be upset.
Common sense couldn’t erase the unease that had control of her body, and the thought of being sucked back into the same nightmare made it impossible for her to return to sleep. Leaning over, Cassie smoothed a wisp of Greg’s coarse brown hair away from his eye, and kissed his cheek. Rather than waste time stressing over a nasty dream, she could make use of the quiet. It was almost six o’clock, and she didn’t have to be at the office until nine, so she decided to go for a jog to clear her head.
Dressed in a grey track suit, Cassie gathered her thick, straight, slightly-longer-than-shoulder-length, medium brown hair into a pony tail, started a pot of coffee, and stepped outside. Her feet pounding against the pavement echoed throughout the sleepy predawn neighborhood that glowed beneath the shimmer of streetlights. Her warm breath mingled with the dank mid-September air, cooling her body as it passed through her lungs. It was the ideal temperature for a jog, and normally it would feel amazing, but her mind was preoccupied with images from the nightmare. Cassie shuddered as she recalled the blood on the wall. What would have happened to Greg in her dream if she had slept long enough to find out? Probably, she didn’t want to know.
Although Cassie couldn’t completely shake the uneasy feeling, she planned to ignore it by running until the high freed her mind from the negative effects of the dream. Forcing herself to change her mindset, she thought about making breakfast for Greg, and how nice it would be to enjoy a leisurely meal with her husband.
The opportunity to chat was rare because they were usually busy with conflicting work schedules, so they had to take advantage of every moment together. Suddenly appreciative for the fact that Greg was safe, Cassie wanted to spend as much time with him as possible…starting now. Pushing past the pain in her legs, she raced home, eager to be with her husband.