When The Line Starts To Blur

The girl was about five in age. She had long auburn hair. She wore a long white nightdress and small warm slippers. It wasn't a very dark night, the moon and stars saw to that. It wasn't a very cold night either. It had a comfortable warm feel to it and even though there was a wind in the tree boughs, she couldn't feel it. She was looking for something. She'd stop to check behind trees that felt familiar. She'd been here several times but never in the night. She'd never been afraid of the dark. Anyway this was near her aunt's house. Her aunt lived in the country and she had been invited for the weekend. Almost directly outside her aunts was a large area of woodland. She was there. She stopped and checked behind yet another tree. 'Floppy! You are here!' She picked up the small toy rabbit, the eyes were buttons and the mouth was made up of two simple thick stitches.

It stared blankly at her. 'I couldn't find you. I knew you must be hiding here!' She smiled, hugged the stuffed animal and started to walk back to the house. Suddenly she stopped, she would never know what made her turn back that time. It seemed like everything; even the trees were calling to her. She stopped. She turned. She saw it.

Right in the middle of the coppice area was her uncle Peter. She was about yell, run up to him, hug him and tell him all about Floppy until she saw what he was doing. He was crying and in his right arm was a large shovel. He was digging. Beside the hole was her aunt's body. stained with blood. There were words in between his incessant sobs 'I'm sorry! . I'm sorry, Alice. I never meant it. Nobody will know about any of this. I'm sorry. I never meant this to happen I just. I'm sorry! .. I'm so sorry.'

As she watched a tree branch swayed. A shiver ran though the air and seemed to whisper 'go now. go back, go back.go back...' Suddenly he heard a twig snap. He stood up with the shovel, 'Who is there?' he asked the dark and he cried in a mad fury 'WHO'S THERE!' . 'No.' He told himself 'you imagined it, just hide the body and.' he said this last part out loud 'Nobody will know anything of this.!'

She didn't hear these last words. She ran and ran. Her feet carried her though the thick foliage and carpet of mud. The darkness, it threatened to envelop her. She reached the house and ran into her room and burst into floods of tears about what she had just seen. She wasn't angry; She couldn't make sense of anything. The tears were of confusion. Why? Uncle Peter wasn't that kind of person and her aunt Alice was a kind and honest person. WHY? For a long while she couldn't think of anything else. She must have fallen asleep.

She had strange confused dreams and when she woke up she didn't think about or remember them. She packed her things for the trip home. Everybody was too anxious about her missing aunt to notice that she didn't speak a word all day. Her uncle was surprisingly quiet too. Her mother said it was because he was worried. A day later she was back home. That was the day that it started. That night when she drew the curtains to her room picked up Floppy and got into bed. It was then.

It was around midnight when she awoke and sat up. She could hear the clock ticking beside her bed. The ceaseless ticking would never stop.

She knew it was coming. It felt like her stomach was filling with a sort of empty fear. The footsteps. Sure enough, they came. They were Heavy. The footsteps of a man: desolate with something weighing him down. She moved into the gap between the bed and the wall. She knew it wouldn't help. She'd be found. After a few minutes, she crawled slowly out and back onto the bed. She was only half way out when she saw him. He had those eyes, sad eyes with an anger that burned like those of a madman. In his right arm was the shovel. It was rusty and old. He was above her waiting for her to come out. His eyes were almost speaking to her, telling her the same thing. 'I can't blame you for seeing what you did, but I can kill you'. A hollow laugh escaped his lips. He held the shovel like it was an axe that he was simply going to chop some wood. She didn't scream.no

I opened my eyes and blinked so that I could get used to the sunlight streaming in though one of my windows. That dream. I'd had the same dream every day of my life for the last twenty years. There was one completely terrifying thing about the man with the shovel. He moved. When I was five the man in my dream had always been across the far side of the room but now I dream that dream and the man is right beside me. Moving fractionally closer every night before I awake. I'm afraid that one night I just won't wake up.

My name is Alison Page. I'm 25. These dreams. They used to really disturb me when I was child and then I ignored them for years. However, fithteen years of pretending that they didn't happen didn't work. About five years ago I went to a professional about it. I was basically called crazy in a lot more words. I'm not crazy. I know this because people who are crazy begin to lose sight of what's real and what isn't. I see strange things and I don't think that they are real. They can't be. For me there is a very clear line between imagination and reality.

My uncle sold his house about a year after my visit. Aunt Alice was proclaimed legally missing once he sold the house. I lost contact with my uncle when I moved out to live on my own. It doesn't seem real, what happened. It feels like one of those dreams. Almost like it didn't happen but it did. I know that it did. The line between imagination and reality is still there as thick as it ever was. The only thing that I makes me believe it's real is a stuffed battered old toy rabbit. Its ear was ripped out in the wood that night. Why do I really still believe it? I feel that I am compelled to remember because if I forget nobody will ever know the truth.

'Why am I thinking about this again for? .' I suddenly think to myself 'It's Saturday! I have to get up and meet Sara'.

I do just that; I get up, get dressed, decide I haven't got time to eat a late breakfast and head off. I stop at a shop, pick up a warm current bun and carry on. Normal routine. Sara and I had been friends since university and we don't have much in common with a small exception. This being that we are both mortally afraid of the dark. We always hang around together.

I choose not to use the bus and I walk to our meeting place instead. I finally get to the fountain outside the town library, that's the place where we agreed to meet. We walk and talk for a bit about nothing special. We then argue for a bit about where to eat lunch. About half an hour later we make a decision. We eat and decide to walk home together until she has to turn off. Sara says that she knows a short cut if we cut though the park. It's not particularly cold day, actually the weather is quite comfortable. We cut through the park.

About half way though the wood we both come to a stand still. On the ground in front of me is a hole. Beside it is an old and rusted shovel. A cold shiver fills the air.

Suddenly Sara points to a thicket of trees and says that she saw a man running through and laughing to himself. I start to get an empty fear rising in my stomach. The same fear that I've had every night for the last twenty years. Sara sees the look of fright on my face. 'Alison? Are you ok? What's wrong?'

I try to explain but all that comes out is stuttering 'I.the hole.' Sara pauses to think for a moment 'Hmmm well. This most definitely wasn't here yesterday. I think this shovel was just left by the council gardener. He comes by every Saturday. He must have been by this morning and left it'. I laugh it off nervously. We walk on and eventually get to Half Crescent Drive. It's here that Sara has to change direction to go home.

Before she goes she turns to me and in a concerned voice asks. 'Alison, are you going to be ok?' 'Of course' I start to walk off. She intercepts me. 'Really?' she asks. 'At that hole-' 'Really, It wasn't anything.don't worry and go on home' I insist Sara looks uneasy 'Well, if you say so'. She turns and leaves.

I'm about to carry on when I hear something. It's high-pitched laughter. It's him. It's my uncle's voice. I turn around swiftly. I can see a man running into the wood. I suddenly get a strange feeling but it's not fear. It's something else. I feel an unexplainable urge to chase after him. It's his fault that I have all these dreams. Everything is entirely his fault. All his! I have to know, whether this is real! Before my mind acknowledges it I've already taken off. I'm running after him. I'm running though the wood, nothing else matters. Maybe if I catch him he will stop. Maybe If I catch him it will all be over. He's just in view now. I don't know how long I've been running. I think it's been a long time. He's getting harder to see. My eyes begin to blur with tears. I'm running out of breath. I've got no intention in stopping. I'm far behind him. Just running. I'm not gaining or losing speed now. We are at a constant distance apart. In the blink of an eye, he's gone. I fall to my knees. I'm completely out of breath. I just catch my breath.

Then I notice what's in front of me. I can see it. A few feet in front of me is the hole with the rusty shovel beside it. Part of me is asking 'what am I doing here?' but the other part can't answer. I look up for an instant. There is a wind in the tree boughs. I can't feel it. I'm looking at something. The hole. I feel myself stand up. 'This feels like a dream' I think to myself. Blood. Right beside the hole I can see blood. I look again at the hole. I hadn't realized just how deep it was. 'It's deep enough to hide a body' I whisper out loud. I take a single step forward. 'What's inside?' I take another step. 'Is it a body?'. I'm about to take another step. A shiver seems to run though the air and seems to whisper 'go now. go back, go back.go back...' Suddenly I hear a twig snap. I make that third step. 'No, I will not run away. Not after this. I have to know.' I take a fourth step. One more step and I will see inside.

I hear the sound of heavy footsteps in the forest. I didn't see the cause. I'm running again. I'm frightened, I'm angry and I'm confused! It's not really running this time. It's more like I'm stumbling. Stumbling through the undergrowth. I end up running into a low branch but I can't feel the pain. I'm out of the park now. I can hear voices around me. I can see a man walking his dog. I can see the place I was at for lunch. I can see people. I suddenly fall. I trip over something. A can? I don't know what it was. I fall flat on my face. I stand up very slowly. I feel dizzy and alone. I can hear more talking. Did my fall bring that much attention? I don't look.

I go into a cafe to calm myself down. I order a cup of tea in relatively few words and sit down. I can see the hole in my mind so vividly. Gradually I begin to feel foolish. That shovel belonged to the gardener and he dug the hole too. The blood was a fight by two wild animals. They might have been there together but it was a coincidence. I smile to myself. I can feel the shock wearing off and I laugh it off genuinely. I think to myself 'I shouldn't be edgy. I have no reason be paranoid.' I look around. 'All the people are casually talking about everyday things. I'm just like them!' I think to myself and smile. It's only now that I begin to feel how tired the running in the park made me. I can see a couple of middle aged women on the table next to mine just chatting between themselves. One is taller and one has shorter hair. I stir sugar into my steaming cup. I can hear them.

'Did you know, today.I bumped into Mike . Hmm, He's been off sick all week . Yes, the council gardener' .