Awake | By: Nick Roberts | | Category: Short Story - Horror Bookmark and Share



                     And they’re still back there.  Slowly and gracefully and quietly creeping and two-stepping behind me.  Inching closer and closer. There really is nothing I can do now. I got the ball rolling when it comes to the subject of them, so there’s no one else to blame but myself.

            With every foot gained in my direction forward, there’s two by them.  There really is nothing I can do now.  Over my shoulder I hear them.  Smell them.  But I don’t dare look back. 

            If I did I wouldn’t be able to turn back around and continue.  Don’t look back.  Keep moving.

            The gravel beneath my bare feet is etching off slivers of skin with every step.  It hurts.  Fuck.  They’re enjoying this.  I know it.

            One of them barked or snarled or growled or something and my heart stopped briefly.   Blood pressure is all out of sync right now and has been for the last eleven days.  Eleven days without a nanosecond of sleep. 

            I first heard them under my bed on day eight.  Snarls.  Barks.  Growls.  Puking sounds.  I sat up on my imprinted mattress and turned on the light on my nightstand.  The sounds stopped when the light came on so I left it on until sunrise.  Everything was cool for the rest of the day. 

            I don’t know what triggered the insomnia.  That’s not to say I don’t have ideas.  Just not certainties.  Eleven days ago I drank too much coffee and didn’t get much sleep the night before.  I sat around all day on the back porch in the sun and felt strange.  Something on the news about an eclipse?  If it happened I slept through it. 

Allergy season for me has been rough.  Took too much Benadryl for it.  Sat in the sun and drank coffee.  Threw up brown and dry vomit that reminded me of shredded beef jerkey and smelled of pencil shavings.

OUCH!  I must’ve stepped on a sharper rock or a nail.  Can’t really tell.  It’s so dark.  The only reason I’m still on the gravel road is because I took off my shoes to make sure I didn’t step in the grass.  They like the grass and hate the concrete for some reason.  Or is it the gravel they don’t like?  Oh well.  Maybe it’s the dust my feet kick up from the old road.

Quickly I touch the heel of my right foot to feel for any damage and my index finger slids into a deep wound.  OWW!  I let go of my foot and take a couple quicker than usual steps to make up for any lost time. 

I’m limping even worse now.  Cuts all over both feet and a crater in one.  Did I feel something stuck in my heel?  Useless question.  Don’t have time to double check. 

Oh fuck it.  I very quickly rub my hand over my injury and realize that I don’t need light to tell how bad it is.  I guess I dislodged whatever was stuck in my foot for two seconds and started a steady flow of blood.  Just unclogged the pipes. 

Taking steps.  Walking with pace but speed as well.  I wonder how they’re going to react.

I haven’t bled around them before now.

Don’t even breathe.  Just listen for a change in demeanor.

Shit that didn’t take long.  I heard one of them chuckle.  I know I did.

Day three was weird.  Took time to get adjusted.  I have never gone more then twenty-four hours without sleep before this insomnia started.  Not sleeping creates an invisible wall between you and the rest of the world.  Within this wall rests fuzzy vision, dry eyes, and a thick fog of crimson irritability. 

On the fourth day I called work and told them I quit.  Got in my car and filled the tank.  Ran out of money and so I was forced to steal three bottles of NyQuil and six boxes of generic over the counter sleep aid with twenty-four tablets in each packet.  Put six tablets in my mouth and swallowed them with NyQuil. 

But no sleep came.  I had to pull over to the side of the road about an hour later and took a piss that I swear was blue.  Then I threw up dark vomit all over the right front tire of my car.  Got back inside and drove. 

It must be this place that keeps me up. 

The fifth day without sleep makes my cell phone sound like what I think is an amplified windchime so I drop it in the toilet.  It doesn’t flush and I took a shit before I disposed of the phone so now the phone will just have to stay put.

My stomach just tightened and I’m having trouble breathing.  A part of one of them just brushed up against my wounded foot.  I think one of them is toying with me but maybe I just slowed my pace.  Pick up some speed but don’t make it obvious or they’ll detect your unease and be forced to take you down, Stupid. 

That’s the only reason I’m still alive.  They don’t know that I’ve sensed their presence since day eight.  These things don’t use the five human senses.

As long as they don’t know that I know I’m alright.  Keep walking until dawn.

There really is nothing else I can do now.

The seventh day, I saw my reflection and it made me shudder.  Raccoon-like eyes.  Pale skin.  Clammy hands.  When you go without sleep for a long period of time, receptors in your brain that are normally active only for generating dreams turn themselves on.  This is why you here people with insomnia complain about hallucinations.  They’re dreaming while they’re awake.  Two completely different trains of thought coexisting in the same mind. 

            I feel grass with my injured foot and quickly redirect my leg to stay back on the road.  I don’t know how many of them are behind me now.  Fucking IDIOT!  That one little mistake just doubled their numbers.  I think me touching grass pisses them off.  Anger makes them multiply. Double to be exact.  There’s twice as many of them now as there were thirty seconds ago.  I know it.  SHIT.

            On the ninth day I drove to a twenty-four hour convenience store and parked my car there for one day and night.  There were always people around me and I was in a constant shield of ultraviolet rays of light.  They didn’t even show up once.  Scaredy-cats. 

            A full service gas pump operator made me leave the grounds.  Said I was loitering.  Said this isn’t a truck stop.  I told him this isn’t a truck it’s a car and he got mad and threatened to call the cops.  Looking back, I wish I would’ve taken my chances with the cops.

            I haven’t had any coffee or sleep aid since yesterday, so my perceptions of them are fading fast.  It’s weird.  Even though I still haven’t slept, my understanding of their existence is slipping away like when you forget an extremely vivid nightmare when you wake up.  The coffee and light makes them vanish, and the insomnia and the NyQuil gives them power. 

            My legs hurt from walking for the last 48 hours.  I did have a cell phone and a cigarette lighter that I used to illuminate my path but I got the feeling they knew what I was using them for so I inconspicuously tossed them into the weeds lining the road.  This shitty road.  This plank on a pirates ship that’s going to drop me into the sharks’ mouths. 

            I ran out of gas on this road two days ago and had to take off my shoes when it got dark.  No more weapons left or tricks up my sleeve.  All out of options.  I’m sure one of them just licked my bloody foot during mid step.  It took all my will power not to react. 

            They do this to everyone everyday.  You’re just asleep when it happens.  You’re asleep when you see them.  You cross over into they’re world and don’t remember but bits and pieces when you return to the “normal” world. 

What I have deemed a conclusion is that I am living in both worlds at the same time.  Seeing one world out of each eye. 

            They’re right on my heels now.  Walking and stalking on the grass on either side of the road behind me.  Nearly beside me.  One of them keeps reaching in to taste my blood. 

            Dusk seems so far away and I’m really scared.  I’m so tired.  Just turn around and get it over with.  Let them know that you know.  Let them handle the situation for once.  Without giving it a second thought I slowly turn around and can’t help but get a little excited.  I’ve been dying to know what they look like.  They know.  Oh my God, this is the most horrible thing I’ve ever heard.  The sound that they’re making.  I’m still turning and I start to cry.

            I’m so tired.  There really is nothing I can do now.  Wake up and go to sleep.

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