Tiger's Eye - Sneak Peak

 

Saturday night, after I had worked all day and was expecting to be going out that night as usual, things changed. I hadn't received any calls to go out, which was atypical to say the least.

At first, I thought that it meant that my friends would just show up, and it would be assumed that I would go out, seeing as how that was the common alternative to calling and making plans with me. Although as time passed and no one ever came, I started getting really nervous. Had something happened?

It took a moment, but I realized that the anxiousness I was feeling was my normal overexaggeration—my fear that I always had when I wasn't with my friends, the one that told me something terrible was going to happen to them. Once I realized this, I forced myself into a calm state and watched TV with my dad.

He apparently thought my inactive state was bizarre as well because when eight o'clock came around and I was still sitting next to him, he asked in a very confused and almost nervous voice, "No plans tonight?"

I didn't look at him as I answered, too afraid that the terrifying feelings I was desperately trying to keep at bay would crash down upon me at any moment and become evident on my face, "Nope."

"Why not?" He was pushing for some explanation; it sounded like he was expecting something from me. I felt his eyes searching my face, like they so often did. He was expecting something to happen, expecting me to do something. But what was he expecting?

"I don't know. All my friends are in relationships. They probably just had dates." I finally turned to look him in the face; I wanted to see if my assessment was correct. And sure enough his eyes were piercing, searching frantically for something he was sure he would find. Whenever he did this, the absolute comfort I always had with him completely evaporated. In the absence of his usual light, the anxiety I held off began breaking through my resolve and gnawing on my nerves. I still had no idea what he was looking for.

Did he think I was depressed? That I felt left out or something? If that was the case, then why did he look at me like this all the time? A moment of complete silence passed as we stared directly into each other's eyes. I watched as the suspicion painted on my father's face turned into a mixture of worry and fear. It petrified me. "Dad, are you okay?"

"Yeah." He turned away abruptly, like someone who had been caught staring at someone else from across a room and was embarrassed at being caught. "It just surprises me. You are always so busy."

Now I was suspicious of him. What the hell wasn't he telling me? But I couldn't focus on that right then; the anxiety had seeped back into my very being. I sat next to my dad in silence for another hour, staring blankly at the TV, too consumed with my worry to know what we were watching. Finally, I gave up. "I think I'm going to go to sleep, Pops." I turned to him as I got up from the couch. I needed something to do, but there was nothing to do, so sleep would have to suffice.

"Okay, honey." It was my sweet carefree loving father again, the one that made me relax a little. The tension eased at once but didn't completely go away. "Sleep well."

I ran up the stairs, changed into my pajamas, and brushed my hair and teeth. I was in bed in less than ten minutes. I turned on my stereo and tried to block everything out by focusing on my breathing and the music that played. The next thing I knew I was surrounded by complete, impenetrable darkness.

This darkness wasn't unfamiliar; it was the start of the horrifying dream that I had almost every night. In my dream everything was pitch-black, so dark that even the sun couldn't penetrate it. However, it wasn't the dark that frightened me. Nor was it the freezing cold that nearly locked my limbs in place. It was the sound of my friends' voices that truly terrified me.

As I stood in this inescapable darkness, I heard my friends, sometimes all of them and sometimes just one or two of them, screaming in agony. They would shout my name, pleading and crying for help. But no matter how long I searched for them, no matter how fast I ran toward their voices, I never found them. Fear for them, and the anxiety that I always had when they weren't in my presence, would creep into every facet of my being like smoke clawing its way under a closed door.

Gradually, this terror incapacitated me, slowly working toward paralysis of my muscles, including my heart. It would reach into my stomach and cause it to be uprooted in queasiness as if it had been flipped and rolled hundreds of times until it was starting to roll in upon itself. It clouded my mind and stole all my focus. My breathing became hard and even painful. And each breath that I took caused my stomach to roll once again. My heartbeat would start to slow, my breathing would come to a stop, and I could only imagine that this was what death felt like. This is normally where I awoke, screaming, petrified with the idea that I had failed to save my friends but always realizing that it was just a dream.

However, that night, I didn't wake up. I continued to dream, and as I felt myself slip away and become colder and colder, I knew that this had turned into more than just a dream. Suddenly I heard the scream of Amber rise above all else.

"Someone, please, help me!" And then there was nothing but the bloodcurdling screams of the agony that she was obviously in and the sound of something being ripped apart. I heard what sounded like the snapping of bones and the tearing of flesh, mixing with the wet sound of gallons of fluid hitting the floor. It sounded like a body was being shredded to pieces.

The screams were wretched, and it was evident what was wrong. Amber was dying, slowly and extremely painfully. Her suffering ripped through my body and caused me physical pain. I felt as if a vacuum was sucking at the core of my existence, slashing it to pieces. With every scream that emitted from Amber's lips, another lash of agony gripped my lifeless corpse of a body. Until her screams went dead, and I knew she was no longer alive.

The fear and the pain that now consumed me were pulling me further into the darkness, and I knew that I was dying too. I did not fight it, for I felt too dreadful for failing to save Amber.

It was at that very moment that I had given up, surrendering completely to the blackness that could only be death, when a blinding light shot across my vision. Warmth and comfort seeped into every one of my muscles, loosening the grip that death had upon me. My eyes locked on to a pair of bright blue, green eyes, the crystal clear color of the water at tropical beaches, for the smallest second. And then they were gone.

I woke with a start. Sweat was pouring down my face, my breathing coming fast and hard. My heart was pounding, when only moments ago it had been slowing to dangerous levels, threatening to stop beating all together.

It was just a dream, I thought to myself as I tried unsuccessfully to push away the fear that still gripped my body so completely that I was now trembling from head to foot. But no matter how much I said this to myself, I knew with every fiber of my being that this had not been just a dream. I knew that Amber was dead.

My heart started to slow down, although there still remained a gaping wound of shear anguish. But I was able to convince myself that I was just overly worried, and that she was still alive, that my dream had just been one of those freaky dreams, where they seem too real to be fake.

"Yes," I told myself, "that had to be the case because Amber couldn't be dead!" I looked outside my window, light was slowly coming over the treetops. I would be able to call in a few hours, just to make sure.