I've always had a very active imagination. If I don't get the chance to use it during the day I find that it becomes far more active when I'm sleeping. My dreams were always vivid and full color. Often they would consist of me flying at a certain level through the air, gliding like a bird. Other times I would be trying to escape some persuer in a shopping mall by taking off in a bubble that had an engine like a rocket. Once or twice they were terrible dreams about the death of a family member that would frighten me to no end. Those dreams were the reason I started to sleep under my brothers bed at night - but I'll save that for another day.
I remember a reoccurring nightmare I had while we lived in Maryland though. When I was about five, I would wake up in my bed sweating and chilled to the bone from this dream.
In this dream I would be ready to go to bed, dressed in a nightgown, and have the sheets on my bed pulled back. I would look over at my window and see a red sky.
The color of the sky intrigued me, so I wandered over to the window to look out at it.
The house was calm; so quiet. Everyone in my family had gone to bed; so one little peak out the window wasn’t going to do any harm. The red nights sky stretched over the houses on the other side of the grassy lawn. It went on as far as I could see, never ending, never blue.
As I watched the crimson horizon, I began to feel dread creeping up inside my soul. Fear gripped at my heart. My chest hurt from holding my breath. The green grassy lawn under this terrifying nights sky was moving. I could see people emerging from the ground, flesh rotting off their bones, their hair falling from their scalps in massive putrid chunks.
The earth ripped open at random, more and more bodies clawing their way out from the depths of the black soil. Holes spanned the once beautiful lawn; bodies of the walking dead were everywhere. These zombies of once dead men and women began pacing about, restless. They headed straight for the many closed doors of everyone’s homes, including the one where I lived.
I grabbed the hem of my nightgown and raced down the hall to my mother and fathers bedroom. I burst into the door, flying at the bed. My father was there, but Mom wasn’t.
“Daddy,” I cried out, “please, you have to come with me!” Reluctantly my father climbed out of bed following my lead.
“Your mothers in the bathroom. Do you want me to get her?” he asked, puzzled by my actions.
“Yes! Bring Mommy.” I was frantic at this point. My mother was not visible. As far as I knew the Zombies already had her. My father opened the bathroom door and my worst thoughts were realized. There laid my mom on the bathroom floor, surrounded by zombies, her eyes held open wide, staring into nothing. Blood trickled down her forehead onto the tile floor. She was dead.
My father screamed as only a man in true pain ever would. The zombies turned to look at us, and he knew at that moment, there was nothing he could do to protect his family except to hide us. He picked me up in his arms and ran down the hall with me toward my brother’s room while his tears streamed down his face splattering me in the chest.
My brother was still lying in his bed, a puddle of blood forming on his floor, dripping down from his outstretched arm. The blood flowed freely from his lacerated, mangled neck. We were too late. The zombies had beaten us to him.
They started coming after us from my brother’s room, and the ones that had attacked my mother were coming slowly up behind us. The staircase was full of these monsters, all heading in our direction. Dad ran down the hall to my room, knowing it would be empty. He thrust me under my bed and followed with only a little grunting. Dad then grabbed the beanbag chair in the corner and pulled it close.
The stench was horrendous. The zombies crowded around the bed, moaning incoherently to one another. Their feet were so close I could see the once white flesh ground full of dirt from years under the earth. Bone was distinguishable under the decaying pieces of festering human tissue. Limp rags of clothing hung loosely from their bony bodies, frayed at the ends from disintegration. Slowly, the zombies turned and shuffled out of my bedroom. One pair of feet lingered, though... small feet. Fresh, clean feet. And yet they were dead and pale white, the toenails already blue. They turned and started to walk back toward the foot of the bed. Dad and I lay there in the silence, fear gripping us and telling us both to scream, and we fought the urge.
Dad put his arm around me, his hand coming to rest over my mouth. Our eyes were wide.
One of the small feet shuffled lifelessly back, and we could tell that this one was fresh enough to have the strength to kneel. Ever so slowly, the body of a young boy lowered itself to the floor. Fresh blood stains were visible on the body's outstreatched arm. The chin came into view - then the lips... then the nose that looked as though it had been bitten clean off by something jagged and sharp... and then the eyes. The horrible eyes. They were hollow and hazy, like an old blind man... the cloudy blue surface piercing straight through us both. The scowl softened a bit as my now dead brother recognized his only sister and father cowering away from him under the bed. As much as a zombie could smile, he turned up the corners of his blood encrusted lips. He stood up with a moan, and followed the others out the door of my room.
That nightmare haunted me every night for months, and occasionally I still have it. I am not sure what it means exactly, but to this day the red sky still unnerves me a bit. Occasionally the dream haunts me again, and I will wake up with cold sweats. Every time I have that dream, I am 5 years old again, and my father and I are the only ones in the family to survive the massacre.