This got shuffled so far to the bottom of my drafts folder that I quite forgot it. I imagine everyone who has read it forgot “From Sleep,” too. It’s short, so I stuck a link below in case anyone wants to see them as a pair.
As I was writing “From Sleep,” it came to me that while it would be wonderful to take your dreams with you into reality, not all dreams are sweet. What if your nightmares could cross over, too?
* * * *
Sam woke, his heart racing, and clutched the covers to him while he anxiously searched the shadows of his room. Was something stirring by his laundry hamper? Wishing he wasn’t too old for a nightlight, Sam squinted, holding his breath.
He saw movement, something low to the ground oozing through the darkness, sliding between the crumpled piles of shirts and jeans that had almost made it into the hamper. Carefully keeping an eye on the dark shape, Sam drew himself to his knees and reached behind him, fingers blindly combing the wall for his curtain. He caught the edge of the rocket-ship-printed fabric, and pushed, scooting backward on his knees. His bed, set against the corner, the window running along the side, was the safest place to be.
Nothing could sneak up on him, as long as he was careful, and the dim light filtering from the streetlight on the corner helped almost as much as a nightlight would. Almost.
Revealed, the ooze of shadow scrambled up his dresser, and hurled itself over it, hitting the wall with a moist thump. It had tentacles like an octopus, jumbled among suckered lizard feet and frills like a sea-slug. Black, with spots of blue scattered over each appendage and its body, it huddled, unlovely in the dim light.
And then it surged forward, tentacles and gecko-feet gripping and releasing the wall, leaving behind a shining smear of slime that Momma would scold him for in the morning. Sam picked up the baseball bat he kept tucked between his mattress and the frame.
As the nightmare drew closer, he stood, feet wide to give his swing power, and waited for the right moment.