Author: axmly PM
A failed author uses recent nightmares as inspiration for what turns out to be a best selling series of books. But the nightmares, they don't just seem to be a figment of his imagination anymore, and they aren't liking the fact that he stole their work... A three part story.Rated: Fiction T - English - Suspense/Drama - Chapters: 2 - Words: 9,090 - Reviews: 1 - Updated: 01-28-13 - Published: 01-25-13 - id: 3095404
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
You'll have dreams and nightmares, but whichever way you're going, you can't conquer one without the other.
"Oh, Caroline…" Aubrey murmured as he gently caressed the picture. "Where ever did I go wrong?"
He gave a quick glance over to a stack of papers on the edge of his desk. On top sat a typed letter.
"Mr. Kasey, we are deeply sorry to inform you…"
Aubrey sighed, stood up and kicked away his office chair with one foot, then picked up the stack of papers and dumped them in the wastebasket. He walked out of the room muttering something about 'written trash', and went to go wallow in his misery in the comfort of his bedroom.
Aubrey Kasey had led a difficult life. Very rarely had the Fates favored him in his whole thirty-five years of living. And although he had experienced much misfortune, he had hardly become accustomed to it. Whether it be rejected manuscripts to rejected marriage proposals, by now it should have hardly been as heart breaking as it was. Instead, he kept throwing himself into a pool of depression, and forcing himself into the deep end. The stack of papers that he threw away was his latest manuscript for his novel, a fantasy piece called the Sons of Demetri, which had been rejected five times before. This morning, Aubrey woke up with a skip in his step and a certain feeling a joy, with hopes that Mr. Slacks, the mailman, had made it through already. To his delight, he had, but to his disappointment the letter he had been so eagerly awaiting didn't deliver good news.
"…Your manuscript The Sons of Demetri has gone through inspection and we have deemed it in our best interests to stay out of this project by any means…"
It was the sixth time in four years that his story had been rejected. It had taken it harsh each and every time, falling asleep in puddles of tears and wine bottles.
But this time, instead of wine bottles, his next choice of relief and escape was a small handgun.
He didn't take the time to write a note, because no one would care. It would be a waste of thought process and paper. He went the study, pulled out a few select books and it revealed a box, containing the gun. He took it out, and walked outside to his balcony. Perhaps the neighbors would hear, he thought. Maybe they'd call the police; maybe it would be on the news and be some sort of tragedy.
Or maybe he'd be labeled as some sort of fool, and soon be forgotten about.
He placed the barrel to his temple, gulped and waited for his finger to squeeze the trigger.
But damn it, he just couldn't do it! Was he too much of a child to even brave enough to end his own life? It wasn't hard, just pull the trigger… then all your troubles will end, he thought. They would. All it took was the slightest movement, and his head would have a hole blown through it.
But no… he couldn't. And dammit, he was crying again. He couldn't help it; at this point it was pure instinct. He just had so many troubled thoughts, so much tragedy… it wasn't just about the stupid stories anymore, it was much more than that. He cried for his parents, who died when he was thirteen. His older sister, who died when he was fifteen… and above all, the loss of his girlfriend, who not only rejected his marriage proposal but died soon after that by the same sickness that took the rest of his family. He was alone in this world, he had no family, and he had lost his true love. It was pointless to live anymore, why was he still cursed to roam this world, empty hearted, trouble minded, and his soul was ripped and tattered. What was the point of this anyway? It was like he was simply a show for God to watch… like his life was the prime time soap opera on the God channel. He felt hurt. He felt lost. He didn't know where which way to go, besides six feet under. He had tried the 'to your knees' approach and what direction are you supposed to go when even God didn't answer?
But… he was young, he couldn't let go despite all the misery. There were other places to go; he didn't have to succumb to the devil's pressure. All the depression comes from in your head, if you choose to be bright you will. Only, dammit, this wasn't him. He wasn't used to looking on the Brightside. He was used to be a miserable man and he deserved to feel miserable.
He waved the gun around for a minute, crying and just trying to decide what to do. After a long while of thinking, and although he didn't want to admit it, another attempt at prayer, he wiped off the tears and put away the gun. That was more or less what he needed… a good cry and a suicide attempt. He felt better, to an extent. He still felt useless… lost, and still very, very miserable. But, on the bright side, he didn't want to kill himself anymore. That had to be a step in the right direction.
He sat himself down at his bedroom desk, fingering his pencil and making the ultimate decision whether or not it he had it in himself to write again. It always did make him feel better, but where would his words lead him? He had trashed three stories because of failure. He decided it would be better to just go to bed, it would probably be best. Get some rest, he told himself. You need it.
So Aubrey Kasey lay down in his bed, which felt overly comfortable and soft after that long day, and he quickly faded to sleep.
And he had dreams.
Except… they weren't like dreams. They were more like nightmares. They felt dark, and sinister. These weren't whimsical, loose dreams. These were terrifying, insidious nightmares.
The first one was simple enough, but it was terrifying just the same. It started with him lying in bed, as if he still hadn't gone to sleep. And from his open doorway, a hooded figure walked in. Aubrey sat up, quickly holding onto the wall for support. He reached for the baseball bat he kept by his bedside for quick protection, but it wasn't there. The hooded figure crawled in, sticking close to ground nearing to his bed. Aubrey tried to scream and get out of bed, but he couldn't, as if he were paralyzed. His scream came out as a barely audible whimper and he couldn't move himself out of his bed. Soon, the figure got to the edge of the bed, and crawled up.
Aubrey gritted his teeth. He felt as if he were going to have a heart attack, while the figure inched closer and closer to him… until it jumped up right against him, baring sharp red stained teeth and glowing red eyes.
Aubrey woke up in a cold sweat, which ran down his forehead and his chest, the remnants of the nightmare still echoing in his mind. Quickly, he jumped up from his bed and patted down the bed with force, making sure the figure wasn't still there. He quickly moved across the room to the light switch and flicked it on with trembling fingers. The room was clear, but he couldn't help but feel as if the presence was still there. It felt so real, so terrifying. It HAD to be here somewhere, it just had to be. Where, he didn't know, but that was a sign. He woke up in the same place the dream ended, the figure was there, he was, he was he was!
Aubrey felt as if he was going mad, but perhaps madness was the right place to be right then. He went along the house, flicking on lights, and then he came across the study and went in to pull out the gun. He kept it besides him the entire trek across the house back to his room, and then set it down on his bed stand. He tried falling back asleep, but his mind was racing and it was absolutely improbable that he was going to go back to sleep… to the world of… that.
So he jumped up, went over to his desk and did what any sensible writer did. He wrote.
His first story was entitled The Devil's Playground. He wrote until dawn, stretching out the story for everything he could juice from it, developing a character and a back story, until he could get to the meat of the story, the real plot, the nightmare.
"Cassidy's head jumped up from his pillow without any help from his own muscles, as if a puppeteer was controlling him, directing him to the dark figure, concealed by shadows standing against his door from across the room. Cassidy reached for his bed side gun, which he kept handy because after what he had gone through you learn paranoia is more of a blessing then anything. But it wasn't there, and no matter how much he patted down the spot where it was supposed to be, it wasn't there. He looked up to the figure again, who tilted his head, and grinned, bearing all of his sharp, blood stained teeth, then threw what he knew was the gun behind him. Then the figure fell, clutching the floor, and slithered like a serpent over his bed. Cassidy attempted to get up, but his body was shoved with force back into the bed, with that strange omnipresent power. He struggled to fight it, but it was like he was in bonds – he couldn't escape from the fate that was approaching him with snake-like agility."
Aubrey wrote with quick fingers, wanting to express everything he could in his words. He felt like a new man- this story… it gave him something that felt like power. The power of the writer, something he hadn't felt in a story for a long time. He wrote because he had ideas, not inspiration. And when you only have ideas, writing is drudgery. You only write because it would be a waste of an idea, but when that idea runs out, you are left with a half-written story. But with inspiration, anything can happen! You have the power; you have the ability to do whatever you want! It was an empowering sort of feeling, like nothing could top what you have put down, like your work is the best literary genius since Shakespeare! That is the power of inspiration.
He wrote until dawn, nearly one hundred pages based off this one nightmare, but he thought he lengthen it out a bit more by fattening the content. Maybe a little more description there… and little more character development here… and it all preceding what was going to be an extraordinary ending! He felt great; he simply didn't know what to do with this work… it was absolutely brilliant! Better then anything he had down before!
But he did know that he had work in three hours. He thought it would be in his best interest to prepare his coffee and get dressed, because today was going to be long. He had hardly any sleep- not that he was complaining, of course; a little coffee could solve that dilemma. He showered, enjoyed a hot cup of morning brew, and got dressed, then headed out in his little car off into town.
He worked as… well, he didn't know exactly. His title was the Head Technology Advisor or HTA for some oversized mindless company with dozens of other drones. He basically just sat at a desk all day, doing pretty much nothing. Occasionally he'd answer a call, solve a problem, or attend some ludicrous meeting that had barely anything to do with technology. Sometimes he played accountant for a little while. But he mostly just played Minesweeper on his computer, or wrote when he got the chance.
And that's what he did, that day. He was exhausted, but his eagerness for his new project kept him going. He waited for two hours to make sure any calls that he were going to get were taken care of, then usually the rest of the day was up to him. He had reached the hundred page mark, and still had the entire ending to finish. His only thought that he had to figure out now was that, now that it was past one hundred pages, he could hardly call it a short story, but yet it was still too small to call a novel. He'd figure it out.
"Hey, Kasey, what are 'ya doing?" Asked one of the managers as he passed Aubrey's cubicle. The managers did not like Aubrey, they always tried to find some way to rag on him or get him into trouble. Thankfully, the managers and the Head Technology Advisor were basically on par, so there wasn't much they could do on their own.
"Just… working on something," Aubrey replied without lifting his head from his writing. The manager walked in and up too his desk, and looked down at his work.
"Is it work related?" He asked. Aubrey looked up and stared at him. The manager was trying his damnedest not to let that smug smile spread from his lips. Aubrey gritted his teeth.
"Not necessarily." He said. The manager couldn't keep it off anymore, he just let that smile pour, pour pour…
"My apologies, then I must confiscate it."
Aubrey stood up, and looked at the manager in disbelief. "Give me a break. I've taken care of all my calls, all my work; I have no meetings scheduled today, what more do you except me to do, Craig?"
Craig lifted an eyebrow. "Are you smarting off to me?"
Aubrey had to refrain himself from saying anything. Despite their being on mostly the same rank on the office hierarchy, the managers were typically given more credibility then the technology advisors. Craig could bring up something and have it given more attention then if Aubrey did. He just sat back down in his chair, leaned back and crossed his arms. Craig snatched up the papers. "That's what I thought." And he began to walk out, but before he went out the door he stopped and spoke again. "And if I see you doing anything besides work again, I'll take you little minesweeper game and I'll revoke your internet privileges, too."
Aubrey offered Craig an obscene hand gesture from behind his back, then kicked his feet up on his desk and waited for another call to roll in, feeling very sour about everything.
About one in the afternoon, it was Aubrey's lunch period. With a feeling of relief that it had finally come, he grabbed his bagged lunch from under his desk and walked down to the lunchroom.
"…Look at this smut," Came Craig's voice. Aubrey stopped where he stood and listened. He was in the absolute perfect spot for eavesdropping, the door to the lunchroom was about ten feet away and Aubrey clung to the fabric covered wall in order to remain unseen from anyone's eye. "This is absolute garbage. I knew that he was one of them 'fancy me a writer' guys, but he doesn't even have the talent of a fan fiction author. I mean, I could find better smut on the internet!"
Aubrey widened his eyes in disbelief, and hurt. He knew that Craig didn't like him, but ragging on his writing like that? It hurt, and just added to his low self esteem.
Maybe he was right though, Aubrey thought. He had so many manuscripts rejected; maybe he was just a bad writer. Maybe he didn't have the skill that he thought he had; maybe his 'gift' was nothing more than a hoax.
No…no. Craig was the one being the ass hole, he had talent. Craig just didn't want to admit that anyone could possibly be better then him. Aubrey stood up straight, tightened his tie and cleared his throat and walked in. Everyone stared at him, and Craig fumbled with the papers, trying to keep them from his view.
"Oh, hi, Aubrey…" Craig muttered.
"Give me the papers. Give them to me now."
Craig tilted his head, like the figure in his nightmare and grinned a white shiny grin. "What papers?" He asked, not concealing his guiltiness very well. "All I have is some garbage that needs to be thrown away," He dropped the handful of papers from his hands onto the table. His story was now crumbled and torn. Aubrey didn't want to look. "In fact, how about I go throw these away now." Craig grabbed the remaining pieces of Aubrey's story and walked over to the wastebasket. Aubrey scowled at him, and when he came near and reached out and grabbed his arm. Hard.
"Give me the damn story, Craig."
"You don't want this, Kasey. It's utter garbage. Absolute shit." The entire time he talked he kept that awful, big grin on his face. All of his friends laughed behind him.
"Hey…hey Kasey, you've been having some bad dreams lately? Need your mother?" One of them said, in a fake whimper and whine. Aubrey squeezed Craig's arm harder.
"I'll give you to the count of three. Then you see what happens."
"Let's just see."
"Give me a break."
"What are you going to do, what can you do? You do anything I don't like and I'll make sure your ass is fired."
Aubrey stood there for a moment after the last number, and watched Craig's smug face. "I knew you were too much of a pussy to do a single-"
Aubrey swung his free fist into Craig's nose with all the force his could muster. Craig yanked his arm out of his grasp, dropping the papers and grabbed at his face. He moaned like a little child, and that was music to Aubrey's ears. He picked up the papers, and shoved them in his lunch bag.
"You are so fuckin' fired, Kasey." Craig snarled. "You can pack up all your stuff, and leave this office you stupid piece of shit!"
Aubrey spat at Craig and threw his ID badge at him. "You can't fire me, I quit." And he turned to walk out. Craig didn't do a thing to defend himself, and neither did his so called friends. He just strode on out, grinning his own bright and shiny grin.
Aubrey decided that night, that either his writing would have to support him, or nothing would. He was done with relying on menial jobs with awful people working besides him. He didn't need it, he didn't deserve it.
He worked on The Devil's Playground for three hours that night, before bed, finally finishing it. It was one hundred and forty pages of pure inspiration. He was happy with the work, and thought the ending was the best he had wrote in years.
"Cassidy took a long look at himself in the mirror. He saw a man, laden with misery and depression. The doctor said the pills would help, but he didn't know anymore. He didn't want to not be him, and he was afraid that the pills would take over his mind, virtually turning him into a zombie. But… he didn't want to have the dreams anymore, oh lord those dreams. "
"The doctor told him that his chronic depression was the result of his nightmares, and he gave him some long speech about emotions and brain patterns. He didn't care. He just wanted the dreams to end. He held the pills in his hand, Amdextrin they were called. They were oblong, and blue. He was to take three. He sighed, gave a quick glance back to his reflection as if asking his own self what he was doing was really okay, and then popped them in his mouth. He grimaced at the taste of the pills against his tongue, and swallowed them with a gulp of water. It would take half an hour for them to kick in."
"Cassidy lay back down in his bed, which felt obscenely good at that point, and waited for the pills to slowly drift him into the world of rest, and precious, darling sleep. He needed it; it had been a long time since he had gotten a decent bit of sleep. He sank into the pillow as if it was quicksand, and in about fifteen minutes he started to doze, and finally fell into the abyss of his mind, into dreams, and into sleep."
"That night's nightmare was the worse of them all. He was in his bed once more, except that everything around him was in shadows of pure black. His eyes couldn't penetrate the slightest bit through the darkness; they couldn't even make out the outlines of the furniture. Cassidy didn't know what to think. He tried getting up to go find a light, but he was once again in the bonds of that dark force, the puppeteer.
Then the walls, they began to bleed. And his sheets, they twisted and curled up like the snake like form of the hooded figure, and wrapped around him. Suddenly, they were covered in blood. He was covered in blood. He didn't know where it came from-"
"Then he was running through his house. The walls, they all bled and they were an insidious hissing sound in his ear, and he was going around in circles, and he was going mad! Then he came across the figures of his loved ones, his parents and his old girlfriend, the one who died the day after they broke up-
They were all dead. How could they be here, now? He tried talking to them, shouting for help. The dark man, the hooded figure, he was coming for him and he didn't know where to go… they were all grinning. Grinning terrible, evil grins and he didn't know why. "
"'Come on guys, we have to get out of here,' Cassidy told them, looking over his shoulder to see if anything was there. Then he looked back, and he wished that he never did. They all had their heads limp, hanging to one side bobbing slight with their eyes closed and small moans escaping from their lips. Then they all collapsed, blood flowing out over their bodies, soaking through their clothes and creating a large puddle on the floor. The world suddenly spun, and Cassidy was in the middle, and he didn't know where he was, what to do… madness was flowing through his veins like an unwelcome drug. "
"Then he stood in front of him. The Dark Man. He had haunted his dreams for months now, it had lost him his job, the love of his life, and he was close to losing his sanity to him. He didn't speak; he just stood there in his shadowy form, grinning his signature grin and closing in on him. Cassidy knew he didn't have a chance in the world, so he merely closed his eyes listened to that damn hissing and waited for the cool reach of death to take him in. But the Dark Man walked right by him, over to the bodies of Cassidy's loved ones. He pulled hooks, one by one, out of a pocket and shoved it down their throats, hanging them up by the ceiling.
The door- it fluttered open! He could get to it, if he was quick enough- he jumped, turned and tried running but that puppeteer like force forced him onto a bed of air, making him watch the process the Dark Man took with his victims. He hooked each one with precision and steady hands, as if it were a craft. When he had finished, he turned to Cassidy, reached in his pocket and pulled out another hook.
"' This one's for you!' he rasped. Then all of the sudden Cassidy's head jerked up from his pillow, and he was sitting up in bed. The back of his head was wet with the small puddle of sweat that collected in the head print of his pillow, and his flesh was burning. He wiped off his forehead, and smacked his lips to try and regain moisture to his lips. When that didn't work, he reached for the small glass of water he kept by his bed, and took a sip of it's warm wet goodness. He kicked off the covers, and stepped on the floor.
'What the…?' He stepped in something warm and sticky. His lifted his foot and a metallic odor assaulted his nostrils, blood. 'Oh, no…" He moaned. He was thrown back onto his bed, arms and legs spread as far as they would go, sweat trickling down his head again. The Dark Man walked through his open door, and tiptoed over to his bed, and got up against his face. His breath smelled like death. He slipped his long fingers through Cassidy's long hair, and pulled.
'Aren't you happy to see me, Cass?' The Dark Man asked. 'Aren't you?!'"
And after all his work, it was over. The inspiration had run its course, and Aubrey milked it for all he could. He was immensely proud of his work; he just didn't know what to do with it. He smiled, put it in a stack in the corner of his desk then yawned and decided that it was time for sleep. He deserved it. He had worked hard. He crawled into bed sluggishly, and just sank into he matched up, fitting into all the little crevices of the bed. Then he closed his eyes… thought of Caroline… and fell asleep.
The Devil's Playground was turned from a simple short story, to one hundred and forty pages of inspiration, to three hundred and sixty pages of genius. It was finished exactly one week from the first nightmare, and every other night since then he'd have another, just as much if not much terrifying then the last. But once he got up, got over the initial shock, and realized that he was handed yet burst of inspiration from the Lord. And thank him, too, because Aubrey needed it. Not all the nightmares were able to make the cut, of course; only the ones that really made him shudder. You had the backbone of the story, the backstory, the part that kept it standing, and then you had the real meat, which were the nightmare sequences. Aubrey had five of them all together, a couple were made up and that was were the story sort of flat lined for a little bit, but the next day after a good sleep he had another good few chapters.
He sent it, Tuesday October fifth, to Hornsby's Publishing Company. With crossed fingers he slid it into the mailbox, and slowly walked back into his house prepared to wait the few weeks that it would take for them to analyze his writing and get back to him. He didn't have high hopes, and that was the first time in many years that he was prepared and ready for failure. He didn't expect it to go through; he had a couple of publishers lined up. Although he could hope for the best, he still knew that his chances were unlikely, and he was actually fine with that. He thought he had written a good story, and for another first, he was just simply proud to have written it.
He didn't want to pick up another menial job. It wasn't worth it to him to just simply lose his sanity in another office, to die in some cubicle amongst dozens of others. He wanted to be one of a thousand, he didn't want to be another office drone, and sadly that was where his qualifications stood. But he had money saved up, which was originally going to his retirement from that hell hole, but since he was looking forward to living on his own terms now, and doing something he loved for the rest of his life, he didn't mind spending it.
In the meantime while waiting for the letter, he didn't write. He didn't want to spoil, or overlook The Devil's Playground with some other project that wouldn't even have the same sort of inspiration and power that the Devil's Playground had. It would be based on ideas purely, and Aubrey was done with ideas. But, it didn't stop him from having the nightmares, although he stopped taking them seriously. There was a sudden fright when he first woke up from it, but after that it was easy to go back to a dreamless, comfortable sleep. He did write though, in a dream journal. He began keeping one so it was easier to organize his ideas, and keep them in one place.
He went out on a Thursday to the mailbox, feeling optimistic and in a good place with the world. Mr. Slacks was just walking to his mailbox as he stepped over to the edge of the street, and the exchanged quick pleasantries before the Mr. Slacks handed him his mail.
"Goodbye, sir!" Aubrey said, waving goodbye to the mailman, who tipped his hat to Aubrey before walking off. Aubrey strode back into his house, and shut the door behind him gently, and he flipped through the letters.
"Bill… bill… advertisement… ah-ha!" He pulled out a letter from Hornsby's Publishing, and gazed upon it with uncertain eyes. Was it worth the possible pain? Or had he really gotten over it all? Maybe it was just in remission… maybe his recent optimism and joy was just side effects. Perhaps the depression was going to come back soon, and a letter of rejection was just the spark to ignite the flame. He didn't care. He had to know, was his story really as genius as he thought?
Slowly, he pried apart the seal from the sticky adhesive, and pulled the letter out, ever so gently.
"Mr. Kasey, we are pleased to inform you that your manuscript of your story, The Devil's Playground has been accepted…"
His eyes widened. His mouth dropped, the corners of his mouth curling upward in a large smile. He brought a hand to his lips to try and refrain himself from screaming with delight, but it was hardly possible. He let out a loud bout of laughter and shouts of glee. He had made it! He really made it! He was really going to publish his work… he was a real author. Oh lord, he felt good. He felt great. He didn't know what to do with himself. He actually did it, what he thought was the impossible, merely a good dream, had after so many years of tragedy actually had come true. He was elated.
He sent to sleep that night with a certain joy in his heart that really couldn't be matched. He was beyond delighted, but he couldn't have been more ready for sleep, and when he hit the pillow he quickly achieved sleep.
And that night, he had dreams. Nightmares even.