I suppose it was inevitable that I should end up here. If you’re going to die and I was, then it’s best it should happen somewhere of your own choosing. This place had been a favourite haunt of mine in my youth. I’d spent many a day walking these moors, planning the great life I had ahead of me. Good job I didn’t know then what I know now.I reckoned I had a couple of hours, three if my luck held out. I looked at the battered sign, long past being any use to weary travellers but it was all I needed to remind me I was heading in the right direction. If my memory served me well, the old inn should be no more than a mile away. At least I would spend my final hours somewhere sheltered.
The inn had long been deserted. Over the years the weather and passing travellers had picked away at the old building. Windows had been smashed, doors ripped off their hinges, roof tiles missing, many of them laying smashed on the ground around me. The local vegetation had taken the opportunity to invade every spare crevice. Over time the moors will have reclaimed this bit of land. Despite all of this, it was a welcome haven to me, a chance to get out from this driving rain and cold and prepare myself.
In normal times I wouldn’t have dreamt of lighting a fire but these weren’t normal times. Trying to hide was futile, they already knew where I was and it wouldn’t be long before they joined me. At least I’d be dry and warm when they arrived. I emptied my rucksack on the floor. A chunk of stale bread, a tin of beans and a bottle of not so fresh water fell out, the last of my food. Not what I would have chosen as my final meal but better than nothing.
It was hard to imagine that these creatures had arrived less than a month ago. Despite their overwhelming numbers we’d fought back well and in those early days had even thought we might be winning but every time we killed one two more seemed to take their place. Nobody is sure just how they got here but the general feeling is that we let them in ourselves. They’d always been there, the fearful creatures that made up our dreams and nightmares but, until now, they had been confined inside our heads, visible only to each one of us. Horrors we kept locked away in the daytime, afraid to share with others.
The experiment to investigate our dreams had been funded by a number of large and wealthy institutions, all keen to find a way to manipulate our thinking, day and night. In the interest of science the researchers had been pushed to take more and more risks. What had been heralded as the final breakthrough turned out to be mans downfall. By opening the door to our dreams we, inadvertently, let our nightmares out. Once free they worked tirelessly to release others.
Most of mankind has perished, destroyed by the very creatures they had stored away inside their heads. I’m not sure how many of us, if any, are still alive. I’ve been running from them for days now, hoping I might bump into other survivors but to no avail. I think I might be the last one left.
They’re getting closer. I can hear their combined screams and cries echoing on the wind. The smell of fear precedes them. Any thought of fighting them is futile, best I just give in, let them take what they want, we were never going to beat them. They’re here. There is movement all around me, flashes of light coming at me from all directions. The noise is deafening, then there is silence. The light ceases, everything is still. Out of the gloom comes a creature, hideous looking, someone’s nightmare, not mine. He stops in front of me and stretches out his grotesque arm, touching me gently on the head. I do nothing to stop him, there is nothing I can do. He slowly unlocks my mind and my worst nightmare steps out into the room. I know what he wants and death, when it comes, will be a release.