It had to be real. Had to be. Those awful visions and dreams could never have come from my own imagination. Only a mangled and twisted psychopath could create something so terrible. Yet, there I was, awoken in a sheen of terrified sweat. Alone yet surrounded in my own bedroom. What am I saying? There are no such things as monsters hiding under your bed, I'd been taught that since I was a child. Why was I thinking like a toddler, scared of the boogeyman coming and taking me away? I heard it again. That scratching on the walls, the floor, the ceiling, everywhere. Yes, it was real, I had no doubt. No one believed me. I tried to tell my parents, but they just shook their heads like they always did. No help there. These dreams had haunted me for months, filled with scenes of fire, gore, and torture. Sometimes me and sometimes others, unnamed sinners whose screams were heard only by me and their tormentors. When it was me, the pain was real, unimaginable and maddening. But sometimes, watching others was worse. Every night, unable to move or help as I watched strangers and occasionally loved ones scream and beg for mercy.

My own front row seat to Hell.

"Go back to sleep, Lexi. It's time to playyy," A raspy voice whispers in my head. "We just want to playyy."

I started to scream.

The next morning I stumbled into the kitchen, my eyes red from lack of sleep.

"Hi, honey." Mom says hesitantly. "Did you have another attack last night?"

Panic attacks. That's what the doctors had blamed my constant midnight screaming on. They'd said it was best if my parents left me alone whenever they heard me, so I could "learn how to deal with them myself." Personally, I'd never heard of a panic attack that caused violent screams and nightmares that come to life, but I guess I'm not the one with the PhD.

"Yeah, it was definitely an attack, but not the kind you chose to believe." I replied with a cold look.

"Lexi, that's enough. We understand that you have a unique condition but you have to stop blaming it on these... apparitions, or whatever. It's childish. You have to try and understand it, like we do, instead of making up silly stories." My dad intervened before Mom could explode. Without a word I grabbed two Monsters from the fridge and started walking to school. Energy drinks had become my best friends, since my real ones had abandoned me the day I fell asleep in class and woke up screaming. I guess seeing your teacher having her tongue ripped out with a pair of pliers does that to you. Besides, the only way to avoid the horror was to avoid sleep, but a person can only do that for so long without going crazy. And, despite what you may think, I was anything but crazy. I wished nothing more than to prove that to everyone. My parents had even went as far as to lock me in my room at night, so I wouldn't run away in one of my "attacks". They thought I didn't know but how could I not, when I tried and failed to escape night after night? My home was as much my captor as the visions were.

I saw my old best friend, Amber, walking with a group of other girls. We made eye contact and I waved, but she just got a sad look on her face and turned away. Oh well, who needs her?

That day in Health, we started a new project. Each student had to take home a bag of flour, and take care of it like it was a baby. Whoever thinks of these things seriously needs to get a life. But, walking home, I had an idea. I remembered watching one of the endless Paranormal Activity movies where the main characters had put flour on the floor to see the demon's footsteps. If I put this flour on my bedroom floor and showed my parents the footsteps of whatever was coming into my room at night, they'd have to believe me!

I tossed my Monster into the nearest trash bin. I'd have to sleep and endure the visions one more time for my plan to work. For the first time in months, I looked forward to going home and attempting to rest.

As soon as I closed my eyes it started. I couldn't see anything but I could feel the heat of the flames all over my body, and the cold breath at the back of my neck told me I was not alone. I tried to run but it was like everything was in slow motion except for this thing pursuing me. I looked back only once and saw the glowing yellow, feline-like eyes staring into my soul as its claws raked my back. l felt like there were weights dragging down every muscle in my body as I ran. I could feel my muscles and entire body shutting down from exhaustion. Suddenly, a light appeared far in front of me and I sprinted for it, filled with renewed energy and a hope for escape. I could see the fire now, orange and red and even purple eating away at my clothes until they were gone but I kept moving for whatever form of relief or torture rested at the end of this madness. I couldn't tell if the thing was chasing me anymore, nor did I care. I had to get away from the flames. Anything would be better than the flames.

Walls started closing in on me from the left and right, threatening to crush me if I didn't hurry. The light was getting closer and closer but the pain slowed me down. I could smell the flesh burning off of my bones, and when I saw the ashes that had once been my hair covering my shoulders and seeping into the exposed tissue, I screamed but I kept moving. The walls touched both my shoulders now and I could barely squeeze through. Rough like sandpaper, they aided the flames in pulling the skin off of me. I was only a few feet from the light, so close, so close to escape from all the pain, please let it end, please...

The light was an arms length away when without warning, the ground opened up underneath me and I toppled down into a pit of tar, or cement, or something; whatever it was, it burned almost as bad as the flames. I thrashed around but was unable to fight as it pulled me under, deeper and deeper into the blackness. As my head was pulled under and the substance filled my lungs, I felt my feet dangling over nothing. Would I fall out of the pit and land back home, safe and sound, underneath the covers? I could only pray it was true. My legs continued to fall, then my stomach, until only my arms and head remained in the disgusting goo. When I was finally released, I fell for what felt like an eternity, coughing and choking until I cleared my throat enough to take a precious gasp of air. I hit the ground hard, but kept my eyes closed and hoped the fall had killed me. Death would be a sweet release from the madness around me. I realized I was once again sinking, and was forced to opened my eyes and face whatever was going to come next. When I saw what I had fallen in I wanted to scream, but found I couldn't.

I was in a pool.

A pool filled with maggots.

Wriggling, disgusting maggots.

I took only a moment to assess my surroundings. It looked like the pool I had visited so many times at the community center, complete with the high dive board and plastic chairs surrounding it. I saw the ladder at the opposite end and started moving towards it. The maggots were beginning to eat away at my raw, exposed wounds and I had to get away before I became their next meal. I could feel the slimy creatures squishing under my feet and between my toes as I walked but at this point I didn't care. After squirming through for why felt like hours, I reached the ladder and was able to climb out. Looking around, I realized there were actual people in the pool chairs and thought for a moment I was saved. Then the smell hit me. All around me were my family and old friends, rotting away, covered in the same maggots I'd just swam through. Everyone I knew, Mom, Dad, Amber, even my old cat was a curled up ball of matted, bloody fur. I actually chuckled a bit when I saw that they were all dressed in beachwear and sunglasses. I guess my tormentor had a little sense of humor.

All at once their mouths opened, and I saw bits of rotted tongue and fat, ugly maggots fall out onto their laps. Their lips moved in unison and I heard the same raspy whisper from the previous night repeating the phrase:

"We just wanna play, Lexi. We just wanna playyyy. Stay with us, Lexi. We'll have so much fun. All we wanna do is play with youu."

I woke up to a pillow soaked with tears and sweat, as usual. For a few minutes I lay there shivering, until I remembered the trap I had set. I'd covered my entire bedroom with flour (the least of my worries was an F in Health). Finally, I could prove to my parents that I wasn't just making up stories. I'd convinced myself that once they believed me, they could make it all end. How, I did not know, but it couldn't just go on like this. It had to end.

Switching on my lamp I saw perhaps the most terrifying thing I'd seen all night.

Footprints circled my bed, none human. Most looked like hooves, but there were many others I didn't even recognize. To my horror, I realized some if the marks were still moving, keeping a tight circle around my bed. "Mom, Dad, get in here you have to see this! Hurry!" I screamed at the top of my lungs until I heard them leave their room. The door opened slowly and I saw my parents. "Look!" I pointed at the ground. "Do you believe me now? You have to believe me! How could I have faked that?"

Dad started walking forward and I breathed a sigh of relief. But, as he crept closer out of the shadows of the hallway, I realized something was very wrong. Every bone in his hands and arms was snapped in half. I could even see the white tips of bone sticking out if his skin in places. Where his jaw and throat should have been, all I could see was his bloody tongue dangling down to his belly button, twitching back and forth as he walked. Mom looked just as bad, only instead of her jaw missing it was the rest of her head. She clung to the back of Dad's nightshirt so she wouldn't run into anything. They both walked forward to the edge of my bed, and all I could do was scoot back until my shoulders hit the headboard. They knelt down, covered their hands in flour, an began to write a message on my sheets.

"Soon... You... Will... Play... Forever... Just... Like... Us."

I blacked out.

"Okay, Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson, why don't you tell me what happened with Lexi last night?"

"Well, Doctor," Mrs. Stevenson spoke first, "We thought she was having an attack, just like any other night. We tried to let it go like you said, but then she started yelling for us to come and look at something. We decided to go and check on her to make sure nothing out of the ordinary was wrong. When we got into her room, she kept pointing at the ground and yelling for us to look at something. She had covered her entire floor in flour from a school project. After we started walking in the room, she started... Mumbling. Absolute nonsense about footprints, or something. I thought for a moment she meant someone was in her room, but after kneeling down and looking we saw that the only footprints there were hers, in a perfect circle around the bed. As soon as we stood back up, she-" Mrs. Stevenson couldn't continue, she was sobbing too hard.

"She attacked us." Mr. Stevenson finally said, after an eternity of silence. "She screamed 'Get away from me' and jumped on me. As you can see, she bit a chunk clean out of my arm. I got her off of me and locked her back in her room, but we were forced to call the police to subdue her until we could talk with you. She was jumping on and biting everyone in sight, and it wasn't long before they had to sedate her. She's in police custody now, until we decide what to do. They're telling us she hasn't gotten much better- As soon as they let her out of the cell to use the restroom she bit her escort."

"What's the matter with her, Doctor?" Mrs. Stevenson said through her tears.

"I'm... Not fully sure." He responded, shaking his head. "She seems to have a mental illness that I have never seen before. Possibly a new severe form of schizophrenia. Or, its possible one of the vital components of her sanity has just snapped. We may never know. Whatever it is, I'm fairly sure that what she is seeing is not what is really there. If you will allow us, we'd like to observe her for awhile, and determine how to treat her illness. It will be expensive but I guarantee our facility is the best on this side of the country."

The Stevensons had no other choice. How could they care for a daughter that attacked everyone in sight? With heavy hearts, they signed the papers, giving up their daughter and all hope of piecing together the broken fragments of their family. "Someday, when she's better, she'll thank us." Mr. Stevenson assured his wife. "Besides, these people will take good care of her."

It couldn't be real. It couldn't be. I'd woken up in a small, damp room, with no visible door. The only source if light was a small window, way too far over my head for me to reach. Regardless, I attempted to reach up only to realize I couldn't move my arms. As my eyes adjusted to the dim light, I was able to see that I was bound in a straight jacket. I squinted my eyes and was barely able to read "Property of Maryland Psychiatric Institution" on the arm. "Hi Lexi," the now familiar voice whispered from all around me. "Now we can finally play forever."

The dreams had become reality.

AN: So hey guys :) I figured, if I can manage morbid poetry, why not try a story? So here ya go. I've been grounded for eternity, and I will stay grounded for eternity (don't ask why.) Anyway, I actually had to write this on my IPod, email it to myself, and post it at school. That's why there were so many weird formatting issues and typos. I believe I have fixed most of them, but if you see anymore please tell me in a review because typos are my biggest pet peeve, especially in my own writing. I don't think I'll continue this one, because I really liked how it ended and I don't see how I could without dragging it on too long (my second biggest pet peeve). Either way, I promise I'll have something new posted as soon as I can, whether it be a new story, a poem, or an update on this one. Bye my lovelies :)