“How are we doing today?”
Dev dropped himself heavily into the couch and stared at the ceiling for a bit. It was just about five, the shadows starting to form in the edges of the room. His thoughts were misty, difficult to shape into words and communicate to his Jeremy. The therapists chair was right behind the couch – a traditional setup, almost a cliche in a million movies and TV shows. Whatever it was, it suited Dev, he didn’t like looking at people when he talked to them. Especially about himself.
“I’ve been having dreams, Jeremy.”
Saying the words out loud made Dev realise how ridiculous that statement was in isolation. Silence from Jeremy, but that was typical. Jeremy never interjected during what Dev called the “confession” stage – where Dev was supposed to talk. Just talk. The “conversation” stage would come later. Dev hurried to fill the silence with a clarification.
“Yes, that’s a stupid thing to say, isn’t it? Everyone dreams. But I feel like my dreams are…I don’t know…coming true, maybe?”
The last part of the statement was almost a question, an appeal to be mocked, to be told to get his head out of his ass. Nothing. A soft rustle indicated Jeremy had changed his position.
“Look, I might as well start from the beginning. A week ago…no, about two weeks ago this girl walked into my rest…the restaurant where I work. Now I had the strangest feeling I had seen her before. I know, faces can seem familiar, but there was something very distinctive about this girl. And then I remembered that I had had this strange dream the night before. I was being carried lowered into this well by someone, and somehow, I was more bothered about the fact that I couldn’t see who was lowering me into the well rather than the fact that I was being dropped into this long, lightless void. And I remember, just before I woke up, a face popping into the opening of the well, and it was this girl.”
Dev paused because he was getting a little excited, and also to see whether Jeremy would break tradition and express any surprise. He didn’t.
“That wasn’t the first time, though. A few days later I dreamed I was walking through this world of colours and patterns. Everything was a bit…swishy” Dev paused as he racked his brains for a better word to describe the surreal nature of his dream, but gave up “I didn’t think much of it, you know, because it was too weird and dreams are supposed to be weird, aren’t they? Well, I walked into Donby’s for a pair of jeans later that day and they were having a sale on dresses…rack after rack of dresses and…they were the exact same patterns and colours. I freaked the fuck out.”
Dev stopped again, and waited, in case Jeremy would choose to speak. Surely he could see how agitated Dev was, that he needed to be told that he was wrong. Dev felt a familiar shortness of breath, a tightening around his throat that always accompanied his panic attacks. He barreled on, partly to get the words out quickly, partly to distract himself.
“Even I didn’t believe this was happening. After all, dreams are dreams, I know that. I know it’s easy to think you had a precognition after the thing happened. But not after this weekend. Jeremy, I remember waking up, having my breakfast, going to office, taking a detour because of the construction of Marcelle avenue, and saying good morning to a new security guy at work. And I remember waking up and thinking what an odd and specific dream it was. And that’s exactly how it happened Jeremy. That’s exactly how my morning went! The same breakfast, the same detour, the same new guy!”
Dev was practically sitting up now, well and truly into his panic attack. Practically screaming, he continued “That’s when it hit me. These were all ok, but what if I had a nightmare? What if I saw something horrible? I wasn’t been able to sleep for days. I have been keeping myself awake with coffee, with stims, I slammed a nail into my hand so I wouldn’t do anything more than doze. I’m scared! I don’t know what the fuck to do! And still, and still…” Shaking, drenched in sweat, breathing like a man in his death throes, Dev spit out the words “…I still fell asleep. Goddamit Jeremy, last night I still fell asleep!”
Spent and broken, Dev slumped back into the curved couch, limp as an old man’s arm. There was a sound behind him. Perhaps now, Jeremy would speak? Help him? Allay his fears and make him whole again, and snap him out of this nightmare he had been living in for a month?
Instead, Jeremy just placed a hand on his shoulder. It would be a gesture of support, of reassurance, if the hand didn’t feel oddly clammy, and cold. Dev closed his eyes and whimpered. He knew. He knew it was real He knew there was no way out. He knew what was behind him was no longer Jeremy.
He knew without having to turn around that the “thing” behind him was green, and ugly, and evil, whose filthy yellow teeth filed into razor sharp points were even now inching their way to his throat…