I have some very vivid, and very scary nightmares. Some of which are recurring, and some make no sense at all. This story, is one that I wrote a little while ago, in response to one of the dreams that I frequently have. It is based off of a specific character that appears in these dreams: The Shadow Man. I hope you enjoy!
Nicolas awoke in a jolt of energy. His lungs screamed for air, as he violently gasped for it. The sweat on his brow from the violent dream, slowly beaded down the length of his long, pale face. He sat himself up on his bet, turning his body so his feet could touch the cold stone floor. Leaning forward, his elbows met his knees, which allowed his hands enough support to hold his weary head. His heart continued to pump violently, as if he was still running for his life.
Still attempting to catch his breath, Nicolas tried turning his attention away from his dream, by scratching at the scars that covered his torso. This same dream that had visited him every night for as long as he could remember, that had haunted him every time his eyes closed, drove him mad. He would awake violently, night after night, and distract himself by scratching at his skin until he bled. But he never complained. It was only his routine. A routine that would never change.
The strawberry blonde woman approached the admissions window of the hospital, handing the man behind the glass her clipboard, now riddled with her personal information.
“Miss Drough?” The man spoke low in monotone, eyeing the woman closely.
“Please, it’s Taryn. Am I alright to go on through?” She said kindly, gesturing to the heavy metal door ahead of her. The man stopped for moment, looking over her handwritten list of medical qualifications.
“Yes ma’am. You’re good to go.” He spoke in a half smile, leaning towards the button that released the door.
With a loud siren of warning, and the release of the lock, Taryn pushed her way through the heavy metal door. As she passed through, she was immediately greeted by a large man, who presented her with a file full of patient information sheets.
“Doctor Taryn?” He asked in a grin, “James Traffs, head o' Security. I’ll be escortin' you on your rounds here today, t'give you the rundown of all your patients.”
Taryn took the file from the man with a grin, flipping through the pages, and examining names. Only 6 of them, but the conditions listed ranged from schizophrenia to extreme and even violent paranoia. The first on the list, was a man named Nicolas Praft.
James looked on as Taryn examined her first patient's information. The two started walking down the long, white hallway, before the man who dwarfed her cleared his throat.
“Praft. He suffers from repetitive dreams of a man who hunts him. Doctor Treyna diagnosed him with mild paranoia, obsessive compulsive disorder, and slight… violent streaks. He’s at room 006 just ahead.” He spoke clearly, attempting to aid her search for information.
Taryn nodded at James in understanding, as he led her through the bland halls. As she reached window that showed Nicolas’ room, she was greeted by the sight of the repetitive and crude drawings of a man, scattered all over his walls. The drawing's figure was normal, aside from his arms which were drawn down to his feet. At a second glance, she saw a slight emphasis on the drawings pointing out the man’s lack of eyes. Along with all the scribbled drawings, were crude words depicting fear or caution.
“What has been revealed in previous sessions?” Taryn asked her guide concisely, who's gaze never broke from Nicolas. Who was standing at the center of the room, directly underneath the single, dimly lit bulb above him. Nicolas' eyes never left Taryn’s face, it seemed, while a small smirk started to creep across his face.
“He never did this with Doctor Treyna. And t' answer your question, absolutely nothin'.” James finally spoke, turning to Taryn, who now stared at here eerily positioned patient. “Every time the doc tried to talk to him, he would through a fit. Screaming 'bout how she 'shouldn’t stare', or somethin' like that.”
Taryn nodded along as the James spoke, taking his words in, all without switching her gaze. She took a moment to look up at James, while she spoke, “Can he see us through the glass?”
“No. It’s one way glass. Heavily tinted on his side. There's no way, which only makes this whole thing a bit od-“ his voice trailed off, as his hand slapped the glass, “Step away from the glass Nick. Now.”
As Taryn looked back up, she was met by Nicolas’ face directly in front of hers. With only the glass separating her from this man, she let out a small gasp in surprise. Her eyes immediately jumped to his growing smile, followed by his withdrawal from the glass.
“I want to meet my new physician, Mr. Traffs. I’d like to tell her about my dreams.” He spoke calmly, now sitting on his bed, his smile now the biggest it could get.
“Sorry ‘bout that. He’s just a creepy fella. S’up to you, what ya do. If you want to have a quick session with him, go right ahead,” James spoke to her, placing a gentle hand on her shoulder.
Taryn took a moment. She stared at Nicolas, who’s expression and gaze had not changed. She glanced back down at her notes, completely blank in the “Session’s Yield” field under his name. The previous doctor had not gotten anywhere with him, and now he was offering to talk to her.
“This seems a bit convenient. You sure this isn’t a trick or something?” She asked the man, partially worried, and partially intrigued. She was greeted by a full-hearted shrug from the security guard, who was clearly more perplexed about the situation than she had been.
“He’s not the type to play games, miss. At least not in my experience. And he definitely isn’t the type to talk to somebody so willingly. So, it’s your call.” He spoke again, changing his attention to the man behind the glass. Taryn followed suit, still trying to make up her mind about the situation.
Before she could think, she started to dig out her notebook, pen, and glasses from her purse. James met her decision with the combined expression of worry and uneasiness. He begrudgingly unlocked the heavy metal door, and swung it open for Taryn to enter.
“I’ll be out here if anythin' happens, and if you get nervous, just stand up and I will let you out,” the guard spoke to her carefully. Taryn hardly listened his words, as she was more focused on Nicolas’s busy walls. Due to her being so distracted, she took a few steps into the room before she even looked at Nicolas. Who’s initial eerie expression was long gone, and was now replaced with a firm stare.
“Nick, this is Doctor Taryn, your new physician. She'll be taking the place of Doctor Treyna.” Taryn sat in the metal chair that was placed deliberately across from the patient, and turned to James, who stood in the doorway.
Taryn nodded at James, an action which he returned, followed closely by his exit. Taryn waited for the sound of the door being locked before she looked up to Nick. “Hello Nicolas. I’m Taryn.” She spoke calmly in greeting. She studied Nicolas’ face carefully as she said it, which slightly twitched, seemingly taking in the greeting, but not shifting from the cold, firm stare that he was giving her.
She waited a couple moments in silence, awaiting some sort of response, but was greeted with nothing. His face unchanged, and body frozen still, sitting upright with his hands in his lap. Taryn cleared her throat, then glanced around the room once again.
“Nicolas, you told Mr. Traffs that you wanted to talk to me? Tell me about the dreams that you’ve been having?” She questioned, scanning his body. He was left unchanged, minus the slight grin that started to creep across his face when she asked him about the dreams. “Do you want to tell me what they are about Nicolas?” She spoke again, undeterred by his ever-growing expression.
Nicolas’s grin turned into a full smile as the question reached his ears. And slowly, his arm lifted from his lap into a loose point. Taryn followed his arm, down to his finger which was directing her attention to the corner of the room. “They’re always about the same thing, doctor.” He spoke, body now frozen into the point. “They’re always about Him.”
Taryn expected the dark corner to match the other walls of the room, however, what she saw was nothing of the sort. The corner that Nicolas had directed her attention to, was on the same wall of the viewing window and the door. Making it impossible to see unless you were inside of the cell. It was scrubbed, from floor to ceiling, so much so that even the visible plaster underneath the scattered drawings seemed to be darker. The only exception to this cleanliness, was the large depiction of the man. The same man that was sketched all over the rest of the walls. However, this drawing stood roughly six feet tall, and was shrouded in the shadow that the light at the center of the room seemed to cast. This shadow seemed to make the violent sketch look life-like, as if the man was actually there.
Taryn slowly turned her attention back to Nicolas, who was now smiling gleefully at her, arms back in his lap and back straight. His gaze, however, did not match his expression. It was like he could see right into her head, and it made Taryn uneasy.
“What else Nicolas?” She asked, this time with a bit more hesitation under her breath. Her body shook, startled by Nicolas’ body leaning towards her own, elbows on his knees.
“You’re in them doctor,” he spoke calmly once again.
A wave of fear washed over her body as he spoke, and she looked back to the corner again. However, her fear was not as severe as her curiosity about this patient, so she urged herself onward.
“And what happens to us Nicolas? And who is He?” She asked, looking at the pane of glass for a moment, nodding once again, hoping to reassure herself, and James.
Nicolas’ eerie expression and frozen posture quickly melted away. He hunched his back, and turned to the dark corner, gritting his teeth while he did so. “He is always there. He follows us. Never leaves. He never leaves us.” He spoke, this time in a voice that Taryn had not expected. His body started to violently shake, as tears rolled down his cheeks.
“He always follows. ALWAYS! A-and… H-he-he has no eyes, you know.” He shivered, now raising his voice, “They’re holes. Just HOLES! He has no eyes! They’re just black. Just dark. Like the rest of him!”
Taryn leaned in towards him, reaching out her arm to try and calm him down. “Nicolas, what happens in the dream? What happens to us?” She asked him once again, this time hoping to get a better answer out of him.
“NO! He wants me. H-he wants ME!” He screamed, smacking her hand away, and falling into his bed. “I-Doctor, I only looked at him. I-I only looked at him! Now he wants me! He wants to get me! A-nd now he’s always there!” He started to mumble and yell, sitting with his legs wrapped up in his arms.
Taryn scooted back in her chair, taken back by his outburst, but still glued to her seat out of her overwhelming curiosity about the man he was describing.
“B-but you’re there. B-but. You’re there too! But he wants ME! HE WANTS ME! Why? Why does he want you?!” He continued yelling. Then he rose from his bed, standing in front of Taryn pointing at her firmly, “DON’T LOOK!! DON’T LOOK!! DON’T LOOK AT HIM!”
Taryn stood up, backing away from his screaming. He hadn’t stopped yelling the same thing over and over again, almost like a warning, “DON’T LOOK AT HIM!” Before she could contemplate what Nicolas could have meant by this, the door swung open, letting in two guards who started to restrain the panicked man.
“That’s enough for today. He’s had his fill,” James spoke firmly guiding her out of the room. As she walked, she watched Nicolas squirm and scream underneath the force of the 2 guards, but was urged on by the man behind her.
“Yes. I suppose that is significant progress for one day,” She spoke, trying to shake away her fear and inquisitive thoughts on the outburst. James nodded with a smile, handing back her purse and file.
“Let’s move on shall we?” James spoke, in a sigh, “your next patient is just ahead.”
As Taryn marched up the steps of her apartment building, she started to reflect on the day she had just had. She had never been so exhausted or surprised by anything like that before. Even with the other 5 sessions she had that day, Nicolas’ never left her thoughts. She had never seen a reaction like that before, and had never been witness to such traumatizing fear. Taryn couldn’t help but obsess over the severity of his case throughout the day, and was even surprised that she was still thinking about it now.
She reached the door to her apartment at the far end of her floor, and shook the keys until she was able to push through it’s threshold. She set her jacket, and other miscellaneous items on her kitchen counter, and flipped on the lights. It took her a few moments to look up from her feet, trying to stretch her neck. When she did, she was shocked at the site of her walls. They were covered in the same crude and violent sketches that were in Nicolas' cell.
Her heart raced. She flipped on more lights, and could find no place where the drawings were absent. That was until she turned to her front door, which was completely clean, aside from the six foot tall drawing, the same drawing that had been in the corner of Nicolas’ cell. She could feel her body shake, and sweat drip down her face. She was frozen with fear. She shut her eyes instinctively, remembering her patient's repetitive screaming.
The silence was calming, an escape to the extreme fear that she had just been feeling. This didn’t last very long however, as the silence was interrupted by the lock of her door releasing. She cringed as she heard the door slowly swing open, and shut. The sound of heavy breathing now muted out everything else, including the pounding of her fearful heart.
She waited a moment, waited for something to happen, but was greeted with nothing. She thought for a moment, torn on whether or not to see who her intruder was. Though her instincts screamed not to, something compelled her to slowly open her eyes. She was greeted by total darkness, and the heavy breathing she could hear directly in front of her stopped.
“He told you not to look.”