The Night Freddy (Almost) Died

Idle chatter fills the air. The atmosphere is light, giddy, a perfect party atmosphere. Friends and family mingle amongst each other, casually waving plastic cups like batons conducting their conversations. Everyone is so carefree and happy. It's like a scene by Norman Rockwell.

He's here. I know it. He's in this room, and he's after me. He's disguised as one of the guests and he wants to kill me.

But he won't dare make a move until we're alone. Even though all of the people here are figments, even though he and I are the only ones in the room with our own separate consciousnesses, he wouldn't dare attack me now. This is still my dream, and I still have the home field advantage. No, much more likely that he'd himself as one of the guests, as someone I know, then wait for the crowd to disperse before he makes his move. And somehow, I know that's exactly what he's done.

But no, he isn't real, I remind myself. He can't be. No more real than anyone at this party, than those movies themselves. He's gotta be as much a part of this dream as the walls of this room. I tell my dreams what happens in them, they don't control me. If I believe that I'll kill him, that's what's going to happen. Because that's how dreams work.

But what if I'm wrong? What if he is real? How do I know it's not possible? What hope do I have? Well, I think to myself, if he is real, I control my dreams like no one else in his movies. I'll still make him regret ever touching my dreams.

Still, I could delay it if I wanted to. I could just hang out here, chat mindlessly with my mental reconstructions of the people I love, hope that he isn't real and that I wake up before the party's over. Then I'd avoid him completely, and it would all be okay.

But really, where's the fun in that?

"Okay, everybody! Party's over! It's time to go home. Everybody out!" The crowd files through the French doors, perfectly obedient to my command. I know that one guest will stay. No telling which one's the one, but one will stay.

The room is empty, drained of all its guests - all but one. Sitting the opposite side of the room, in a simple black party dress: my English teacher, Ms. Wickerman, hands folded innocently in her lap, grinning like a little blonde schoolgirl. Just grinning and staring at me! Animal emotion wells up within me. Not panic, but pure bloodlust!

"E-he-hexcellent!" I growl/laugh. A savage grin cracks my face and I crouch low, a lioness ready to pounce, arms spread out, fingers hooked like claws. I want to kill!

She stands up, her form rippling like an image on water, blurring into a vague mass of color before settling back into a new shape. Standing where she was, in clear focus, is a tall, slender "man" sporting faded, baggy black jeans; a dingy, red-black striped turtleneck; and a battered black cowboy hat. His face, so hideous with its crooked nose and raw flesh poking through the third degree burns that completely cover his skin, twists into a vicious sneer. The fingers on his right hand twitch, causing light to glint off the four steel blades on his leather glove, each one attached to a finger.

This is it.I'm going to kill him. I'm going to make him scream, make him beg me to wake up, but I won't wake up. I won't let him leave my dream until I've disemboweled him with his own claw! I know it. I have to know it; if I even think about the possibility of losing, if I feel even the slightest taste of fear, then the battle's already lost. Because that's how dreams work. The only way to not let him scare me is to be even scarier. And right now, I'm much more scared of myself then I am of him. And I love it!

He plants his feet apart. His right hand rears back like the paw of a giant grizzly. I scream, a vengeful, enraged banshee scream, refined hatred filling and fueling my thoughts. The hatred builds and explodes inside of me and I pounce and he leaps and I swing my arm slash at his face and my claws

catch

bed sheets.

My energy leaves all at once. The room is dark. I'm lying down. I'm lying down on a bed - my bed - awake. A nervous laugh escapes my chest. It worked! It really was all just a dream! That, or you just scared him off, I tease myself.

Unless it's just a ploy.

At this thought, a numbness spread down my spine from the base of my neck. My chest feels cold and my breathing gets shallow. Fear. I'm back in the real world. No, there is no Freddy, but my control over reality is gone, and my courage too. I'm Carlos the coward again, afraid to go to sleep because of the goblins that wait for me. I check the time on my phone. 4:00 AM. Crap. Tomorrow's school, and I need sleep. But can I really go to sleep after a dream like that?

Ugh. Get a grip, kid, I scold myself. Nothing's going to happen, and it's stupid to let this keep me from sleep. I pull the covers back up, lay back down, and close my eyes.

"If I see you again, I'll kill you," I whisper as menacingly as I can into my pillow.

As my mind begins its descent into unconsciousness, I hear an unnaturally low, gravelly voice reply, "In your dreams, kid!"