portrait of Erin smiling in yellow top with trees in the background

Erin Brown

Speculative Fiction Author

8 – Conversations with a Night Terror: Episode 1

I’m frozen in the starless dim, watching from the edges of my vision as random shadows hovering over me begin to coalesce into a swarming mass of smoke and whip-thin tentacles, each with claws at the tips. The whips wind around my body, pinning me to the mattress, and a section of the shadow darkens and forms into a squirming cloud of black smoke that lowers gently towards my face, angles left over to me ear, and whispers in a sticky, unctuous hiss: “You will fail.”

Me: My Runes class?  Yeah, I know.  But I can retake it over summer.

It: No, not… you will fail here.  In Chippintrau.  They require a true witch to handle the awesome responsibility of bringing peace to the forces that seethe beneath the soil.

Me: Those are ghouls.  They’re okay.  When they get too seethy, I’ll just order them spring rolls, and they settle.

It sighs, and the whips squeeze my defenseless body, tickling the inside of my ear with what I hope is a claw tip.

It: You jest, but you cannot put me off.  I can taste your mind, your fears.  I can pluck the tenderest strings that bind you to your sanity…

Me:  You found my sanity?  Where?  Because I haven’t seen it since I started studying Runes.  Have you ever studied Runes?  It’s the absolute worst.  Worse than even you, buddy.  But I appreciate the effort.  That’s a nice, spooky form you’ve taken. Very classic-eldritch. What’s your name, by the way? I don’t usually get into bed with beings if I don’t know their names.

It:  You will not put me off!  I am the congealing tar of your mortal and immortal fears-

Me: Taco.  I’ll call you Taco. I love tacos.

I awake, and shoot forward in bed, gasping as if I had not taken a breath in a few minutes. Nothing lingers in the dark, unfamiliar room but the scent of miffed malevolence and a craving for quesadillas.

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