Hypnopompic - of or related to the partially conscious state that precedes complete awakening from sleep hypnopompic illusions

Corey woke with a start, sitting bolt upright. His heart beat a frantic tattoo against his ribs. His breathing sounded hollow. Tears were stinging in his eyes.

Even though he knew that it had been a dream, his eyes searched the room frenetically. Every shadow looked like a man. A dark spot by the door even appeared to have eyes.

A hand brushed Corey's arm and he stifled a scream. A groggy Devon was sitting up. "Bad dream, babe?"

Corey couldn't answer. The shadow by the door really looked like a man. He couldn't tear his eyes away from it. It shimmered – like it was going to take a step toward him, like it was going to charge him.

"Corey?" Devon pressed his cheek against Corey's bare shoulder.

The contact made Corey jump. He looked at his lover – his mind finally registering exactly where he was. He was home. He was in bed with Devon. He was safe.

"Bad dream?" Devon asked again. His eyes were dark with worry – their normal clear blue dampened by his concern.

Corey smiled, trying to reassure him. He brushed an errant strand of dark hair out of his lover's face. "Yeah. I'm ok."

"Liar." Devon swung his leg over Corey, using his weight advantage to press him against the mattress.

Corey felt his heartbeat picking up pace. His lover's familiar, playful roughness sent shivers of fear down his spine. "Don't, Devon,"

Devon looked down at him, his worry becoming even more pronounced. "What's wrong?"

Corey shook his head. The memory of the dream was swarming over him – his skin crawled with unseen hands. His body shook and tears leaked from his eyes. "Please, don't," he begged. "Please."

Devon rolled over to his side of the bed. "Corey, you are not ok. What's going on?"

"I . . . I dreamed I was being . . ." Corey buried his face in his pillow. "I was . . . They were holding me down, Devon,"


"I don't know." Corey curled up against his lover, covering Devon's chest in tears. "I've never had a nightmare like that, Dev."

Corey looked up at the speckled ceiling plaster. What could have prompted a dream like that? He'd never been molested . . . never been hurt like that . . . He shuddered.

A shadow moved into his vision. A shadow that seemed to have eyes and a deep mouth lined with fangs. It reached toward him.

He buried his face in his lover's shoulder. It wasn't real; it couldn't be real.


"Make it go away, Devon,"

"Make what go away, Baby?"

"That thing," Corey gestured toward the ceiling, keeping his eyes closed. He felt like a little kid in a thunderstorm.

"Baby," Corey opened his eyes a crack. Devon's baby blues were fixed on him. "There's nothing there."

Corey felt a pang. Devon wasn't used to shouldering other people's emotional burdens, even though they had feelings for each other their relationship was really defined by sex. And now was forcing Devon to assume the one role he was uncomfortable with – rescuer. But that thing.

Maybe he'd imagined it though . . .

Corey glanced back at the ceiling and froze. The shadow, with its gaping, laughing mouth, was crouched above them. Its eyes blazed and a hissing filled Corey's mind. It reached out a clawed hand and brushed his cheek. The places where it touched him burned with intense cold.

"Look what they've done to you, my sweet,"

"Corey? Baby?"

"My sweet,"

The thing's gaze intensified and it suddenly leaned toward Corey, its black hole of a mouth filling his vision. "No!"

He buried his face again in Devon's chest and waited to feel the razor-sharp teeth of the shadow-beast on his skin.

It didn't come.

Corey looked up again.

"Baby? What's wrong?"

There was nothing there.

"I . . . thought I saw something."

Corey wanted to wipe the worry off of Devon's face so he tried to smile convincingly. "It was just a shadow. Sorry to worry you."

Devon didn't look like he believed him so Corey pressed a loose kiss to his lover's cheek. "I'm all right now; it was just a dream and some shadows."

A care-worn hand caressed his cheek tenderly. "Are you sure you're ok?"

Corey kissed Devon. "I will be . . ." He reached down and touched Devon's semi-erect cock teasingly. "If you'll just help me a little."

He could almost taste his lover's relief – finally something he understood and did well at.

Corey's body was still shaking, but Devon probably took it as a sign of pleasure.

He let himself rely on instinct to respond to Devon's touch.

His skin still felt dirty and he had to resist crying out with every movement. It was almost as if he had been raped – his body felt raw and Devon's caresses sent agony through it. But it was worth it if it got rid of that fearful look in his lover's eyes.

Corey watched the ceiling while Devon ravished his body. He clenched his finger, digging his nails into his lover's skin, bracing himself to see the shadow-creature above him again, but it didn't reappear.

By the time Devon rolled off the bed to get ready for work, Corey almost convinced himself to forget the dream and the apparition. After all, they were only a figment of his sleep-deprived mind.