There was a time in my life where I dwelled in darkness and cohabited with fear. It all began so innocently,
I had gone to bed just past 9, when I heard a clatter downstairs. Promptly, I rose with my cricket bat, and inched my way down the creaking steps.
My heart leapt in my chest, banging against the bone prison with all its might. I would that I could discover my mind was playing tricks again. I beat back at my mutinous heart with a club of logic. But at the next crack of thunder I became a shade under translucent. It took me nearly two minutes on the stairs at a crawl, but it felt like two hours.
A loud grunt, a few snorts, and a rather insistent growl gave me pause as I stood in the hall by the kitchen.
Thunder crashed above, and the lightning that chased it illuminated the figure terrorizing my dark pantry. With a horse-like head and blooded antlers and razor sharp nails, it snarled at me. I shrank away from the creature as it began to advance upon me.
I swung at the beast with my bat and it splintered like a box of matches. My hands smarted at the bite of the wood, but my eyes watered from my certain impending death. My heart had escaped from my chest and was attempting to climb out of my eye brows. My vision dived threw the dark pantry. It stomped towards me like a lame Clydesdale, foaming at the mouth and nickering.
It backed me into a corner the first night. I swung my fists and encountered no resistance. But it seized my throat with one cloven hoof and paralyzed me with fear. My limbs twitched and my heart leaped to the floor. I could not even gain the strength to move my eyes from the Nightmare.
I entered into the darkness in sheer terror and upon waking I found myself wrapped in a silken cocoon of my house coat and blankets. I laid there for an indeterminate time before I shook myself and went on with the day. Bed time came around and I blew out the candle without a thought to the previous evening’s excursions.
But that evening, and nay, the next few nights were much the same. I encountered the demon horse in my kitchen or my living room. And lately, my bedroom. I could not close my eyes without seeing a vision of it. Each time it’s appearance grew more menacing. It was taller now, covered in matted blood and quills, it’s molars became sharp. Then it had eight legs, then two legs. My Nightmare became nightmares. I ceased to bring my bat with me, and I long had lost that revolver gifted to me by my late father.
In the mornings I would wake relieved, but for the sweat I was forced to bath daily now. I balked at my own horse. I shied away from the hansoms. Instead I would alight early to town for work. But I was weary. And I woke later and later. As the nightmare took hold of my evening, my body struggled against it in the morn.
I kept to the sidewalks, for every black or bay steed became a hellion and once or twice I was lit into by some passing cloven demon. It was following me! And soon the snow fell and I welcomed it and the reprieve from town, for a time at least.
I was left to my own devices, what little I had left. Alone, exhausted, I cried out for mercy. I would make one last stand. I could not stand my half alive state. Yet the nightmare was content with taking over my days.
They were great monstrous things, the beasts that lit upon my house the night of the Hunt. The nightmare had begun like so many before it: I with my bat and self loathing and the beast waiting in the pantry. My resolve waned as I seeped down the staircase like a spilled daydream.
Lightening and thunder dueled overhead. I found myself in the kitchen with the beast. I swung my bat blindly, scattering jaws and plates to the ground. Tinkling glass and porcelain shards bit my feet. The house shook and my nose indicated I may have soiled myself. Then I heard it: Shouts and hooves in the front lawn. With the barely injured monster behind me, I scrambled out of the kitchen.I sprang to the front door and flung it aside. There I encountered a dozen giants on horseback, and they wore the skulls of ibex and were cloaked in thick furs. Rather than dismount they rush back, and through me towards the beast, which began to howl. They dragged it from my house, it clutching at the doorway at they went.
No sooner had they passed than I found myself in my bed again, though I have no recollection of how I got there. Throwing off my furs I ran down to the scene of the crime, lantern in hand.
Everything was again in its place. I ran then to the door, dashing out into the storm. It was then I found my doorway marred: ten vertical slashes, five for each side, were clawed into the wood. I ran my hand over them, the splinters drawing a tiny river of blood.
Since that night the mare has not haunted me or my house and I rejoined society, triumphant over my fears.