Flash Fiction: Nightmare Man

She does not remember a time when he didn’t strangle her dreams and turn them into nightmares. When his eyes, black as pitch, bottomless, didn’t stare down at her through a snow white mask, a mask she knew was meant to disguise hideous scars, flesh opened up to world, exposing rotten muscle and bone. When his hands, gloved in leather that had no sheen, no scuff, no texture nina black swanat all, reached for her through the murky darkness. She does not remember a time when, through closed eyes, dreams masqueraded like harmless strips of film, when dancers danced in clouds of tulle and silk, when dream-people were kind and warm and had real faces, real eyes, lips soft pink and parted in smiles. She does not remember these dreams because they are crushed, lifeless, in the palm of his gloved hands. They were drowned in the black waters in his eyes, and buried deep in the festering wounds hidden beneath his mask.

She tries desperately not to sleep, eyes forced open and bloodshot, every light she can find switched on, blinding her retinas. But sooner or later, her eyes close, choking the light and welcoming a suffocating sleep. Sooner or later, he strolls through the darkness and finds her, gloved hands outstretched, snow white mask trapping whatever disfigurements she knows are there. Whatever dreams are there that have died. Tulle and silk now torn, in faded ruins across the bodies of skeletal dancers, who keep dancing, keep moving, though their feet are bruised and bleeding.

And when she wakes up she feels as if she is rising from a bath of ice, fingers blue from the frigid water of sleep, feet numb and useless. And sometimes when she opens her eyes, he is still there, still beckoning her, and she cannot unsee him, cannot extinguish him with light. She turns on each and every lamp, lights each and every candle, and will leave them on until each bulb and every bulb breaks, each flame is smothered, and she has no choice but to greet him.

2 Responses to “Flash Fiction: Nightmare Man”
  1. Dave says:

    Love this piece, Hannah. The tone, the imagery, the beautifully descriptive phrases. Your word choices and sentences read so smoothly, and evoke a picture of a woman desperate withering away in a dark, dark place.

    You’ve alway written so well, but this one seems to have stepped things up for you. Well done.

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