Weird Dreams Vol 3- The Smoke and the Fear

The following is a horror story based on a dream I had when I was 12 or 13, mature content warning.

The sky was pitch black. A canopy of smoke reached towards the desolate heaven above, towering over a crimson pitch. The city was burning.

Alfie watched from his bedroom window, watching the smoke drift endlessly towards them. Something was happening in the centre, but he couldn’t see what. Embers gently flickered down like a golden rain. The smoke seemed to dance and sway in the distance, almost alive. From his window, he could see down where the street pointed towards the city centre, and as always, the spire of the town cathedral stood vigilant, a sentinel defying the obscuring and drifting smoke. The sky above the city was red and bloody, a fresh wound cauterising beneath an unfeeling abyss. Alfie watched as his breath steamed against the window, and wiped it off diligently. He could see faces adjacent to him, all peering through the windows. The family of five across the street peered through; the parents looked mournful, but the children seemed excited and jittery. The two old ladies next to them had reached the end of their front gardens to observe and chatter away. He could hear the screeching of traffic around him, coalescing like a hurricane of sound. In the distance, a thousand sirens penetrating the silence of their still house.

Finally he saw his Dads car screeching down the main road, and turning off onto their street. Alfie watched with a familiar feeling as his father got out of the car, but something was obviously amiss. The way he rushed out, fumbling his keys, and pulling himself into the house. He heard the door slam, and felt the house shudder. Alfie pushed himself away from the window sill. He could hear his mother and father talking, quickly, almost panicked. The house was dark, not a single light illuminated any of the rooms. He moved through the bedroom, and into the landing, pausing at the top of the stairs. He watched as his Dad hurriedly locked the front door, and moved back into the living room. His mother was asking a flurry of questions. Alfie lingered on the first step, slowly lowering himself, one foot after another, careful not to make any noise.

“What do you mean you don’t know?” Mum asked, her voice icy with fear. Alfie gripped the bannister.

“I didn’t see it, I just heard it.” His Dad said quickly, with an underlying edge of exhaustion. “It was some sort of explosion but…it was..it was so loud.” Alfie could hear him moving about, the distinctive clicks of the windows closing and locking. Alfie reached the bottom of the stairs, his foot hovering above the floor, before committing. He peered through the doorway, silently observing. Mum was standing in the middle of the living room, rigid and tense, her eyes locked onto Dad, tracking his erratic movements as he rushed through the room, locking windows in the living and dining rooms.

“Something exploded? Was it..is it a terrorist attack? Are we under attack?” Mum asked, almost pleading. Alfie could see her eyes were wet with fresh tears.

“I don’t know. I don’t know.” Dad said, rushing into the kitchen and locking the backdoor. “I was outside the office, when we all heard it. Then, there was all this smoke coming towards us.” He called out from the kitchen, then returning to the living room to close the curtains. The dark house grew almost black. “I just…I didn’t wait. Maybe I should have gone back, I dunno..I just got in my car and tried to get out of there, but there was, there was so much smoke. The whole city was in chaos, everyone runnin’, and buildings on fire…and this…this guy, he was just..” Dads voice began to break, suddenly heavy with emotion. “He just started running at me, he wouldn’t get out of the way, and he…I..” He reached for Mum, Alfie watching the two silhouettes grasp at each other.

“Jesus Christ..” Mum hissed. “Are you telling me you…hit someone?” She asked, her voice little more than a gasp. Dad was silent, but Alfie could tell he was searching for something to say, but nothing seemed to materialise. Slowly, Alfie stood forward.

“Dad?” He called out, quietly, and saw the heads of his parents whirl round in surprise.

Hey” Dad called out, trying to sound as light as possible, but his voice was weak with emotion. He slowly walked towards Alfie, wiping at his own face roughly, and crouching in front of Alfie, placing both hands on his shoulders. “Are you okay?” He asked, cradling his cheek with one hand. Alfie nodded, firing a quick glance at Mum, who stood, gnawing at the nails on shaking hands, silent and still.

“What’s going on Dad?” Alfie asked meekly, and saw his Dad force a smile through the darkness.

“Nothing. Just a fire in a city, but we’ll be fine here. Okay?” He asked, half to Alfie, half to himself. “Where’s Megan?”

“In her room.” Mum answered quietly.

“Well, why don’t you go fetch her, Alfie? And stay away from the windows, just for now. We’ll all sit in the living room, just until this is over. Alright?” Dad tried to force hope through his voice, and for a second, Alfie could feel it. He nodded, and returned up the dark stairs. As he climbed each step, he could hear his parents resume their conversation.

“Well, if something’s happening, shouldn’t we try to get out? Just take the car and leave?” Mum asked.

“No, no. We’re safe here. We’ll just keep the lights off, stay here for now, not draw any attention to ourselves. Everything will be sorted out, I’m sure.” He tried to reassure her, but Alfie could tell it wasn’t working without even looking at them.

He found Megan curled up under her duvet and blankets, clutching at a number of stuffed animals. If they had been real, Alfie was sure she would have choked them to death. He cautiously called out to her, and slowly lifted the duvet up, staring with her deep, wide eyes. They were full of fear, and Alfie could only guess his were the same.

The family sat huddled in the living room. All curtains had been drawn, the windows locked in every room. They sat huddled in the darkness, Megan leaning across Mum who idlily played with her long black hair. No-one had said anything for close to half an hour. Dad sat on the edge of the sofa, head in one hand. Alfie sat at the other side, pulling rhythmically at a thread on the arm of the sofa.

“Mum?” Megan said softly, drawing all attention back into the world.

“Hm?” Mum said automatically, almost absently.

“I’m hungry. Can we have some dinner?” She asked. Mum was silent for a moment, and looked at Dad, who simply stared back.

“Not just yet, maybe in a bit. What would you like?” She asked, allowing warmth to return to her voice.

Before Megan could respond however, a sound of shattering glass from outside broke the still quiet. Alfie’s parents whirled round to the covered windows. The cacophony of noise from outside seemed to grow, louder and more intense. He followed their stare to the curtains, not a trace of the darkened sky seemed to bleed through now, but he could hear people, some were shouting, some appeared to be moving. There were a few screams.

Alfie instinctively got up, looking towards his parents, and then back to the windows. Cold fear bit at his limbs, and he hesistated.

“Stay away from the windows.” His Dad barked, stern and full of authority. Alfie stood there in place, and could feel the meek stares of his Mum and sister. The whirlwind of noise outside continued to grow. Another glass shattered, another scream, but there was something else, a low, feral growl. Alfie shuddered, his Mum stopped playing with Megan’s hair. He heard his Dad stand up and slowly walk to the window, and with a hand, gently pushed Alfie back behind him. His hand slowly, reluctantly reaching towards the curtain, parting it just enough to see through, before closing them again suddenly, backing away from the window.

Shit.” He hissed, turning to Mum and Megan.

“What?” She asked desperately. He was silent. “What?” She pleaded. Alfie studied his father. He watched his mouth open and close again.

“I don’t know.” He said weakly. For a second, the noise outside seemed to still. Suddenly the entire planet was condensed into their living room, as the seconds dripped by, not a word was said. Then something roared.

A growl, almost inhuman, almost a screech, animalistic and dripping with pain. Something was outside, and it was running, then it was at the door, limbs flailing and thrashing at the frosted glass. Megan screamed, piercing Alfie’s ears, Mum held her tightly. Dad moved forward, shielding Alfie from the door. Again, whatever was outside screeched, it’s arms smashing against the barricade. Alfie watched, frozen with horror. Whatever it was, it’s silhouette was almost human. Dad began pushing him back, further and further, until his feet banged against the sofa, he whirled round and jumped onto the sofa with Mum and Megan, gripping at them tightly. Dad spun around, and opened the cupboard door, pulling out one of his golf clubs. Mum screamed something at him, but Dad was focused on the door, as finally one of the flailing limbs hit true, smashing the glass.

Megan screamed once more, Alfie and Mum both wincing as the noise drilled into their heads. Dad gripped the club tightly with both hands, ready, but unable to move. An arm reached through the broken glass, bloodied and flailing, but very human. The sound of the growl intensified as the hand reached through, trying to grasp at something, anything, flailing like it had it’s own mind, the mind of a beast. Alfie watched through the broken and bloody shards, as the owner of the hand peered through.

It was a man, or had been a man, anyway. His light brown hair was scruffy, and his eyes were bloodshot, but further than that, they were dripping with blood. In fact, almost the entirety of the mans face was soaked in blood; protruding from his nose, his mouth. There was a wild fury within those bloodied eyes, and his mouth snarled, teeth were gnashing and grinding. His eyes peered through, erratic and feral, and they locked on to Alfie, and he felt a deep chill grasp at his spine. The mans mouth opened widely, and he let loose a wild roar, flecks of blood and saliva spilling into the hallway. That was when Dad moved.

As if he had thawed from fear’s own frost, Dad let loose a roar of his own, and moved with fury to the intrude, swinging down with his heavy club. The man screamed, full of anger and pain. Dad swung down again, and the creature buckled, but the hand still tried to swing up. Dad quickly unlocked the door, pushing it forwards with all of his strength. The door smashed against the man’s face, and he screamed as he fell backwards onto the floor, his arm being pulled out of the glass, lacerated by the broken shards. The man fell hard onto the paved walkway, wailing and twisting in anger, and without missing a beat, Dad was upon him. He brought the club down, again and again, with each strike the man screamed louder, until finally he was silent. Alfie and his family watched, as Dad re-entered the room, still holding his club.

“Come on, we’re getting out of here.” He said, his voice no more than a growl now. Mum stammered, trying to think of any question that could rationalise what just happened, but nothing could. Dad reached down and grabbed her roughly by the arm, pulling her up. Alfie followed, standing up straight. Megan had begun to cry as Mum pulled her up.

“Shouldn’t we…shouldn’t we..?” Mum asked fruitlessly. Dad didn’t release her arm.

“C’mon, we’re going.” He quickly turned to Alfie, crouching slightly to look him in the eye. “Alright guys, we’re getting out of here. Hold your Mum’s hand, and close your eyes. Don’t open them until we’re in the car, okay?”

Alfie stared at Dad. The light from outside began to seep in, and he could see his father was caked in red. He stared, almost unable to speak.

“Okay.” He said, the ghost of a word, reaching for his mother’s hand, who gripped him like a vice, almost to a point where it hurt. He clamped his eyes shut, and surprised that the world didn’t grow that much darker. The stench of smoke and blood had begun to seep in now, burning at his nostrils. He could hear his Mum’s ragged breathing as she pulled him forwards, and Megan’s gentle sobbing. They pulled him forwards, and a blast of heat struck them, as the wandered blindly into the oven. He felt his shoe-less feet strike against something on the ground, and he fell hard, his hand slipping out of his Mums grip. His palm and both knees struck the pavement, the pain biting into him. He instantly felt tears welling up, and his eyes were forced open. The smell of smoke was intense, but there was a new smell, coppery and cloying. As he looked behind him, he saw the torn outstretched arm of the intruding man, and his eye was drawn to a clump of tenderised meat where the man’s face used to be. Alfie felt bile bubbling at the pit of his stomach, but before he could even scream, an arm was roughly pulled under him, lurching him into the air. The world spun, black and crimson, as his Dad pushed Alfie into the back seat the car. He landed on his side, next to his crying sister, his feet were pushed in as the door behind him was closed.

Alfie grabbed his sister tightly, and she clasped back. His Mum was in the passenger seat, muttering indistinctively under her breath, as Dad pushed himself into the driver’s seat, handing the bloodied golf club to his Mum, whose hands began to tremble so much, it seemed to take an age just for her to take it. The entire street was in chaos. More screaming, the sounds of breaking windows. Alfie gasped as he watched sprinting people; men and women, covered in blood, and screaming with monstrous voices like the man before. They sprinted at houses, hammering at windows and doors. There was blood on the road, on the pavements, splattered over the fences where the two elderly neighbours had been before. They watched as the bloodied figures pulled themselves through broken glass, reaching towards whoever was in. Alfie turned his head back, forcing his sister’s head into his chest, and he felt her tears stain his chest. The smoke had now enveloped the entire skyline, even the cathedral was obscured.

“Kids, shut your eyes!” Dad screamed, as he desperately tried to start the engine. Darkness overtook the world once again as Alfie closed his eyes, trying to focus on the breathing of his sister, and not the stinging pain in his knees and palm, or the blood curdling cries. The car spluttered to life, the engine gently vibrating through their seat, and Alfie felt a sense of safety envelope him. This would be over, shortly. The car moved forwards, slowly but smoothly, until his mother screamed.

His eyes burst open, and Mum was pointing dead ahead. His parents jaws dropped, as they watched a neighbour running with her two children straight to the car. She was bleeding heavily from her forehead, and her daughters each had blood on their pyjamas, but they weren’t like the others, they were moving slower, less erratic, full of fear and desperation. She was shouting at Dad, pleading for them to open the door. Dad froze, hands tightening on the wheel. Mum watched him in astonishment, as the neighbours ran closer. Alfie watched, and behind them, they could see the figures who were chasing them. Covered in blood, one a tall man, thrashing his limbs about, the other, a young boy, no older than Alfie, blood pouring from every orifice on his face.

The family watched, and no-one moved, time was something that existed outside of the car, as the figures lurched towards them. Mum whispered something under her breath, but Dad didn’t move, his grip tightened and his knuckles grew whiter and whiter. His stare was fixated, concrete. Mum turned to him, staring with disbelief. She said something, just as quiet, but it never reached Dad. Alfie stared, watching the two, a disembodied presence observing a movie unfold without him. Whatever Dad was thinking, if he was thinking at all, his face did not betray it.

“We have to..” Mum began. Tears began to stream down her face. One of the children buckled under their own weight, still gripping their mother’s hand. She fell to the concrete, and the mother wailed, trying in earnest to drag her along, but it was all too late. The pursuers were upon them, grabbing at the child. The adult tackled the mother to the floor. Screams punctuated the air amidst the sirens and chaos. Mum screamed as the violence unfolded in front of the windscreen. It seemed to jolt Dad back to life, who hit the car in reverse, bringing the beast around them suddenly and violently to life. The children screamed. The car whirled out of the parking bay and backed up into the road. Alfie pressed his face to the window, desperate to watch the conclusion to the scene that had just unfolded, but all he saw was red.

“Hold on.” Dad said through gritted teeth. The car accelerated with such force, Alife and Megan were thrown back into their seats. The car spurred forwards, down the road, and turned at the crossing, up the hill, as far away from the city as they could get. All around them, the chaos was unfolding, people were killing people in the streets. Fists and flailing limbs, crawling through windows, smashing car windows, and the smoke was ever descending.

Alfie watched the passing houses. This was his commute to school, he knew the road well. He knew which door had the annoying dog that barked whenever anyone passed the gates, the grumpy old man who would watch the descending droves of children with suspicion from his front door. Now, he was looking at a completely different world, a waking nightmare. There was no way he could correlate the world he had lived in just yesterday to the plane of violence he was now witnessing, it was unrecognisable.

The shrill sound of his mother screaming brought him back into the car. No matter what was unfolding outside, he was here, now. He looked around, half in a daze. Mother was shouting something at Dad, tears were pouring from her face. Dad retaliated something through his stone etched face. The two began to gesticulate wildly. Megan was crying wildly, screaming at the top of her lungs. Instinct drew Alfie’s arms around her, pushing her head back into his chest. He tried to close his eyes. Maybe he might even wake up.

Mum screamed again, louder this time, perforating the artificial stillness Alfie had tried to conjure. Dad swore under his breath, and the car stopped. Alfie looked up, but still held Megan’s head down, even as she squirmed. An odd silence fell over the car. Then Alfie realised what it was they were staring at. They were at the crest of the hill, and it was adorned with bodies, lying in all angles, sprawled on the floor, but just ahead, were people, and they were running, very, very fast. Straight at them.

Mum began to shake, she urged Dad to go fast, but the words seemed to take minutes to connect with him. She screamed again, and Dad hit the car into reverse. The runners were nearly on them. Just as Dad began to back up, one of them reached Mums window, banging away with it’s fist, it’s eyes were a sea of coagulating crimson, and Alfie watched as it looked straight at him. He had never seen such hatred emanating from a person before. The car reversed, faster and faster down the hill from where they had came, and soon, even more figures broke out of their houses, joining the group of pursuers. Dad’s eyes were wide, his foot was clamped onto the pedal as the world roared past. There were dozens of them, and all Alfie could think about was how they wanted to hurt him, his parents, and his sister.

There was an impact from behind, and the world around them lurched. Glass shattered behind them. Alfie grabbed Megan again, shielding her from the shards that showered them. The lurch brought them forward, but they were held true by the seatbelts. Alfie felt a pain sear through the back of his neck as he whipped forwards and back, and he yelled out into the void of endless noise. For a moment, the car was still. Alfie looked up, his parents were both hunched over, as his Dad got up, he saw there was fresh blood pouring down his forehead. Mum remained still. The runners were getting closer and closer, and all around, the smoke was getting heavier.

Dad did not hesitate this time, he pulled the car forward, and they felt the buckle as it disembarked from whatever it was they had hit. He turned to the right, now at the crossroads on the bottom of the hill. Alfie turned his aching neck back towards the broken rear window. Through the shards he saw a black car in the middle of the road, with a severe dent in the door. Alfie felt the blood drain from his face, as he noticed the driver seat window was stained red. He watched as the car grew smaller and smaller, as they sped away.

The car raced forwards, down the road. They were getting closer to the city, but Alfie was so sure Dad knew what to do. He always did. Dad said something to Mum, and gingerly tried shaking her shoulder. Alfie watched the panic grow, eroding away at his Dad’s armour. Alfie tried to speak, but his throat was so dry. He slowly released Megan, but she didn’t move, although he could feel her sobbing gently into his chest.

“Dad?” Alfie croaked.

Dad wheeled round, shock in his eyes, as if he had only noticed his children were in the car. He looked at Alfie with something close to disbelief.

Hey” He said breathlessly. “You okay buddy? You okay? Megan? You okay too, love? Huh? Yeah?” He pulled away from the road to watch them, and Alfie saw something break in him, but he was blurry. Tears swelled in Alfie’s eyes. He was tired, and very sore. He just wanted to wake up, and go to school tomorrow. He promised whatever God was watching him through his dreams, that he wouldn’t complain about it ever again. He promised. Dad turned back round to say something, but before he could, Alfie screamed.

Dad!

There was something in the road, and they hit it head on. The car buckled beneath them, the seats below Alfie and Megan seem to lift up from the ground for a second, and crash back down, jolting them forwards and backwards. The car wheeled around, tires screeching on the tarmac. Alfie was thrown to the window, hitting his head hard, then there was a large crashing sound, and darkness took over.

He awoke several years or perhaps several minutes later, slowly blinking back to life, hoping desperately to be back in his bed, but alas, he was still in the car. He heard his Dad moaning softly. The car had collided with a corner shop he had often visited before. His and his Dad’s side were pressed against the shattered window-walls of the shop. Megan rested her head against her own door, unmoving, but at least breathing. Everything that was Alfie seemed to hurt, and once more this evening, he smelt the distinct odour of fresh blood. Mum had begun to stir, finally.

“Honey…are you okay?” Dad asked weakly, leaning on the head-rest. She murmured something softly, as if she was in a deep and restful slumber, not wanting to be woken up. Alfie leaned on his palm, pushing himself slightly upwards. His neck burned and ached, his mouth tasted terrible. Like metal. He blinked slowly. The world was so quiet now. He could even hear the gentle tink of dissociated glass falling to the pavement. He looked back at Megan, envious of how peaceful she looked. The world outside was a blur, for a second, it didn’t exist. Except the blur was moving. It was moving really fast.

“Dad!” Alfie screamed again.

The horde was upon them. The figures, all caked in blood that cascaded from their eyes and mouths, broke upon the car, an unholy wave of destruction and hatred. Their fists slammed against the metal and the glass. Megan and Mum were suddenly awake and screaming, backing away from the windows. A fist punched through the window, and grabbed Megan’s hair, pulling tightly. Her screams were agony to Alfie’s ears, who unbuckled his seat belt, and pulled at her arms. She was being pulled, and he didn’t know what to do, he didn’t know how to help. Another fist punched through Mum’s window, and she kicked back at it, a fist broke through the sunroof, raining shards of broken glass on Alfie, lacerating at his face and shoulders. The hand reached down, and grabbed at him. He felt bloody, thick fingers groping at his chest, he watched as Megan bit at the wrist that tried to take her, but it didn’t even flinch. Suddenly the door behind her opened, and she fell into the crowd, her screams were slowly being eclipsed. Alfie watched, almost unwilling to fight anymore, almost wishing the hand grabbing him would just end this dream. Mum screamed louder and louder with pain, and she was dragged through the glass window. Dad held onto her arms, but she was slipping, and his hands were wet with blood. Dad watched as she was slowly pulled through the window, never once taking her eyes off of him, and never once stopping asking for help.

Alfie felt the world disappear beneath him. All that ever existed now was the hand grabbing tightly at his shirt, and the growls of the bloody men. One of them pushed through into the open passenger door, his hateful eyes staring at deeply at him. He felt another arm grabbing him at the chest, but from behind, forcing him backwards, out through the door behind him he didn’t even know was open, and slowly the hand clutching at him relinquished. The bloody man on the passenger seats crawled towards him, but Dad slammed the door heavily in the man’s face, and hoisted Alfie up to his chest, turning to the shop and running. Alfie screamed, his hands extended towards the car, as the world grew dimmer and dimmer.

The shop was dark, and shelves were knocked over and tipped to the floor. There was a stain of blood by the counter. Alfie could hear the roaring and growling grow louder, even as Dad rounded the corner, into an office and shut the door hard. He fumbled with the keys embedded into the lock, hands still slick with blood. The door thumped, as bodies crashed against it, and Alfie jolted, backing up as far as he could get in the darkness, until the back of his legs struck against something. He fell to the floor. He heard his Dad cursing, until something clicked, and the door was locked. Alfie looked around, and once more had tripped over the sprawled out limbs of a cadaver. He looked up at the body, recognising the face he had bought ice cream from more times than he could count in the summer. The face was dull, leaning up against the wall, his shirt was bloody, and the flesh at the base of his neck was tattered and torn. His eyes stared upwards, his mouth agape. Alfie stared back, almost afraid the man would start to move, when suddenly Dad was by him, crouching, grabbing him by the shoulders.

“Hey, you okay? You okay?” He asked desperately. Alfie nodded weakly, watching the tears in his Dad’s eyes. He had never seen Dad cry before. Something about it was so, so….Human. Dad embraced him, holding him tightly, and Alfie felt him sobbing softly against his shoulder. He finally let go, and the two stared at each other in silence, still listening to the rhythmic beating of fists against the door.

“Alright.” Dad said, wiping at his face. “We have to get out of here Al, come on.” He started to his feet, but Alfie remained where he was.

“But Mum…and….” He started. Dad stared back at him, his body twitching, as if he was struck by some invisible force. Silently, he stood up straight. The fists still banged at the door. Alfie watched as he wiped at his face again, he looked like he was about to speak, to say something heroic and justifiable, but he didn’t. He didn’t say a word. He pulled at Alfie, and Alfie too, stood up.

They followed the dark office round, until they found the back door, opening it into a short yard. Immediately, the smoke descended upon them. It was thicker here than anywhere else they had seen so far. They hacked and coughed, pulling at their shirts to cover their mouths. The sky was a dark haze. Alfie felt the world spin around him, as he followed his Dad blindly, through the yard, and out a wooden door. They were led into a car park, that lay now mostly empty. They crept quietly and carefully on the gravel laid floor. The sounds of chaos continued to emanate from further in the city. Distant screams of horror, and of rage. Then, without warning, there was a new noise. A deep and terrible roar, unlike anything Alfie had ever heard before, a thunderous explosion emitting from the very heavens themselves. Alfie held his hands over his ears, and the burning smoke seeped into his nostrils and mouth. He crouched down, body spasming with pain. The roar seemed to last a thousand lifetimes, before ending as suddenly as it began.

He and Dad looked around for the source, but the fog was too thick. Whatever had made that sound, it was close. Very close. Alfie pulled the shirt back up to his face. His head was spinning. He felt something wet between his fingers, and noticed his shirt was stained with blood. He reached at his nostril, and saw it had begun to bleed. Dad noticed and looked towards him with concern, but his mind was elsewhere. The car park they were in was half exposed to the road, and the council estates opposite swarmed with movement. Behind them was a long layer of hedge-row. Beyond that, was the city.

Dad began hurriedly checking cars through the window, looking for any that might be open or even still have the keys in. Alfie stared ahead, instinctively on look out, but the smoke was swirling, moving. Like it was alive. He knew there was something out there, but he didn’t know what, and he had no real desire to find out. He heard his dad desperately trying to open a door, grunting and groaning. There was another noise beyond, the sound of breaking wood and splintering shards, and the two of them froze. The others had made it through.

Dad shouted something at Alfie, but the sound was drowned out by the legion’s roar. They burst through the yard, slamming away at the back-gate from which they had exited from, some began to try desperately to try to climb the fence, and their weight proved too much for the wooded fence. It fell, and the bloody figures poured out. Suddenly, Alfie heard growling encompassing him, the sounds were everywhere, inescapable, now coursing from the road adjacent too. Alfie shouted at Dad, but he didn’t look back. Dad picked up the largest rock he could find, pelting it fruitlessly at the pouring crowd. Alfie turned, fear completely controlling his every move. He knew where to run, there was an escape route here, a gap in the hedge he and his friends used to travel through. It had always felt like such an adventure before, like he was passing through worlds, and now eh knew, it was his only hope. He looked back, calling out to Dad, but the crowd was already upon him. He watched as they tackled him to the ground, swallowed by the noise. Alfie felt something gripping at his throat, but there was no hand there. Not yet. Only if he didn’t move.

He pushed himself through the gap in the hedge, it was a tight fit. He hadn’t been through here in a while, evidently. The sounds of stomping feet grew louder and louder, and he pushed himself through to the other side, as hands threw themselves through the gap after him, desperately flailing and searching. He pulled himself up, and ran further through the smoke, his lungs and eyes were burning, and he was walking headfirst into the inferno.

Further into the city, he found a stillness had fallen around him. He was alone, in a sarcophagus of smog that danced around him. He willed his legs further, but they were so slow. He was so tired, he only wanted to drop to the floor and let the smoke take him. He knew the road he walked on, even if he couldn’t see it. He was on the bridge now, but the river below was obscured by the toxic fog. He looked up, but his eyes stung. They were wet, and they began to burn. He rubbed at them with his fingers, and saw they were stained with red. That’s all there was; red. He made himself walk further, until something seemed to stand out throughout the smoke. A tall, imposing spire. The cathedral.

He felt something electric in his chest. A sense of longing and familiarity. He wasn’t in some alien world, he was still home, in the city where he had spent all of his life. Whatever was happening, it was happening here at home. He walked towards it, a steady moth to a flickering flame. When the sky exploded again. That terrible roar, threatening to split his head wide open once more. Yet when he looked up, he saw that the sky above seemed to shimmer and shake as the noise emitted itself. There was something in the fog, something was making that noise, and it was big. It was bigger than the cathedral.

Alfie willed himself up further down the round, and to the junction, where the cathedral sat towards his left. He watched it, fixated on whatever was here. The road ahead was blocked with smoke, but this was different. It was a crimson hue, and it pulsed. Alfie looked from the floor and towards the sky, and noticed that something here was alive. It was not a wall of smoke, but a living thing, the body of a gigantic snake, that resonated and bounced. Alfie looked at the colossal creature, it reached across the road, up the street, and rested itself on a pile of rubble where the old pizza shop used to be, it’s tail flickering lightly, it seemed to tower over the surviving houses, but that wasn’t all. On the other side, there was no gigantic head, no, it was connected to something. Something even bigger.

The creature was sitting roughly by the cathedral, reaching high into the sky. The cathedral, the sentinel of his city, the shining beacon that could be seen from anywhere in the city limits, was completely dwarfed by a colossal mass of crimson flesh, that seemed to breath and fluxuate in the smoke obscured sky. There were more snakes, all attached to the massive mass, spread out and draped over buildings and trees. The central mass was a gigantic, spherical blob. Alfie saw with horror he had never felt before, that the creature had two gigantic eyes, a deep gold, with slit shaped pupils, that stared onwards towards infinity. It didn’t seem to see him, in fact it didn’t look concerned with anything that was unfolding around it. The creature almost seemed to completely obscure the sky, what little there was of it left, but Alfie let his gaze drift further and further up, and saw a gaping wound embedded into the sky. An onyx black tear, with swirls of an ethereal green and a cold cyan that seemed to swirl and dance like chemicals caught in a current. Alfie felt his jaw drop, and the creature roared a third time.

The pain this time was far more excruciating than before, and he dropped to his knees, pain searing through his body. His eyes began to well again, burning agony searing his entire head. He gritted his teeth this time. He didn’t feel scared, or even tired. Now he felt rage, pure and wild, a fire ripping through his body. The world began to turn red as he stared with hatred at the monster, he saw that there were two tubes that were attached to the creature near the eyes, and now they seemed to be pouring out the corrosive smoke into the atmosphere.

The roar died down, but the fire within the boy did not. The smoke took a crimson tone. He could hear screaming and growling from all around. There were figures within, and they were running towards him, but this time he would not run. He stared them down, crimson silhouettes against a blackened wall. He hated them, he hated the creature that was above him, and most of all, he hated the smoke and the fear.

Read the other entries to ‘Weird Dreams’ here!

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