We all have nightmares during our lives. For most, they’re simple boogeyman type scripts beginning in our childhood and most often ending in mid-teens. Some of us are more unfortunate, we may have a recurring nightmare for most of our lives – I did.
My nightmare began in my pre-teens and consisted of a dark, unknown entity pursuing me through a misty gray forest. Regardless of how fast I ran or how hard I tried to hide it kept coming for me. At times I could feel the heat of its dark eyes on my back and moist breath on my neck. It’s breathing even and controlled while mine was tortured and drained. Yet not once did I think to stop and face my tormentor. My eyes sought only refuge, a sanctuary where malevolent creatures of the misty forest were forbidden entrance.
In each nightmare, we run for hours neither one winning, nor losing ground. And in each I am tired and alone, my body drained, my spirit shattered and bled of the will to go on. I long to lie down on the moist gray moss and await the end then suddenly I wake and there is no end.
Then one night, when in my early sixties the nightmare changed –
A cry breaks my sleep – mournful voice adrift on the air. What lurks beyond my door in the early morning dim? Is it the wind or a spirit transfixed to this realm by daggers of ice?
Do I shiver from cold or dread; an unknown for both beset my body. I draw my robes close as a sense of foreboding arises within me clutching at my throat with skeletal fingers. My mouth dries yet I must find words of welcome to greet my unknown visitor.
“Hau kola friend and be welcome in my poor home. Enter for I will build the morning fire to warm us this solstice dawn.” I call out to the unknown but only the rustle of a night bird replies.
With mind a raging river of thought and wonder I light the morning fire. Is he still there, do I hear his breath or does my mind play me? Alone in my hovel I must know if man or spirit awaits beyond. Do I throw wide the doorway to reveal my tormentor or wait approaching light of day?
As if in answer to silent prayer, through my smoke stained window I see rays of the sun making small progress against the gray veil of night, forcing it slowly towards the western darkness.
I call out to the emptiness, “Show yourself friend, that we may know one another. The fire warms and soon I will offer warm drink to chase the cold from you.” If silence has voice will I hear it calling me?
A sound of rhythmic pounding draws near while beads of cold sweat drown my vision. I demand answers from the door but my voice falters – “Who are you!? What do you want of me?”
Drawn to my small window, I see the sun crowning the horizon sending warm arrows of light through the ice covered forest. Trees come alive with the glitter of billions of tiny fires bringing new hope and beauty to me.
I hear you beyond my door, I know you await but I no longer fear you. The drum of my heart has slowed, the strength of my mind returns, I will no longer cower in foolish fear of the unknown.
I throw open my door and you are there. Your eyes glisten as you slowly advance toward me throwing off the snow that concealed your spotted white coat. Your ears up, lips drawn back and fangs dripping like melting ice yet I feel no fear.
A sudden lunge, arching your sleek body towards me in graceful flight you strike knocking me into the snow. Atop me, great paws bear down on my shoulders and vile breath assails my face. I feel your eyes penetrate my very being as I await the death I know will come.
A voice, powerful and resonant invades my mind.
“I am with your spirit old man, know that you are loved!”
I have not had a nightmare since.
The end finally arrived.