I Am Real

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I don't remember when the nightmares began. It feels like they've been plaguing me for so long, I've forgotten what it feels like to get a restful night's sleep. Every night, I relive the same horrible ordeals—it's gotten to the point that I dread going to sleep every night, but I just can't seem to stop myself. I just can't stay awake...

My name is Anna. I'm a pretty typical high school girl... scratch that, I'm completely typical. Normal house, normal neighborhood, normal family, normal friends, normal education. Nice and normal, just the way I like it. The only thing that's really abnormal about me is these dreams I've been having lately. When I first told my friends about them, they laughed and said I was worrying over nothing. Dreams can't hurt you—put your mind on some happier thoughts and eventually the nightmares will go away. Since then, I've tried to follow their advice. Really, I have. I've been nothing but cheerful at school, led my normal family home life... now that I think about it, nothing in my life has changed recently. Nothing in my life has really changed, ever. I've been living just the way I have for as long as I can remember. Why did I suddenly start getting these nightmares now? None of it makes any sense. There's no reason for me to be having dreams like these.

I still remember last night's. Luckily it was one of the tamer ones, comparatively speaking, but it still robbed me of a perfectly good night's sleep. I was chained up in a dark, stone room with no windows and one iron door. My dream self must have been kept there for days, because it smelled of my own... leavings. Eventually, a dark-skinned man came into the room and dropped a bowl of foul-smelling food in front of me. It was covered in mold, and consisted mainly of what looked like scraps of what his master must have thrown out... but my dream self didn't care. I ate the food eagerly on all fours, like I had done before. I didn't feel hungry—it was just a dream. I couldn't even taste the mold. Maybe my dream self was just desensitized to these sensations, or maybe I'm just overthinking things. I usually can't taste or feel acute bodily functions when I'm dreaming. My friends find it weird that I can smell things, though. I wonder if that's not normal. I hear most people don't even dream in color, so maybe there's something at least a little special about me after all.

It's been almost a week since I took their advice of having a positive outlook, and I've finally decided that it isn't working. I need to talk to someone about it—I mean really talk—and I don't really feel comfortable talking to my parents about the kinds of dreams I'm having. I haven't told my friends any details about what actually happens in the dreams yet, either, but today I'm going to talk to them about it. I just need someone to listen, to know what I'm going through.

——

I told my friends about the dreams, leaving out some of the messier details. They just started making fun of how weird and twisted I was inside, calling me a masochist and pervert, bondage queen... they were just joking, of course. I knew that, and they knew I knew it, but still. I wish they had listened to me more seriously. I guess part of having such normal friends is that they don't really know how to deal with abnormal things like what I'm going through. Maybe they're right, though. Maybe I am just a pervert, with some weird, suppressed desires or fetishes or something that I don't know about and are manifesting themselves in my dreams. But then I recall the awful, terrible things I've gone through some nights—there was no way that I wanted any part of that; not me and not any part of me, no matter how deep down it was. There was a word for these dreams, and that word was "nightmare." There was nothing glamorous about them. If the nightmares continue, I'll try talking to them one more time. Maybe this time they'll actually listen.

——

Last night I was in the same room again. This time, I was chained upright, hanging from the ceiling, with a ball gag in my mouth. Once again, I was naked, like an animal. My body felt weak... you know, like when you try to punch in a dream, and it feels like you're punching through water, and your muscles just don't react and move like they're supposed to? My whole body was like that, totally unable to kick or struggle or put up any kind of fight. Then, the dark-skinned man came in. This time he was accompanied by his master—a man in a white stage mask who I'd dreamt about once or twice before. Those were always the worst dreams, and when I saw him walk through that door, my heart sank, as I knew that this was not going to be a pleasant night. It was easy to tell what he wanted. As the dark-skinned man lowered me just so on my chains, the masked man began to violate me, just as he had in the past. I couldn't resist at all. I knew it was pointless to fight a nightmare. The affair must have lasted for several hours, in dream time, but fortunately, it felt to me only like minutes. I submit myself to the inevitable, and just like that, it was over, and again I lay, weak and naked on the cold, stone floor. The two men left the room with an amused banter, and in my weakened haze, I gradually woke up to reality.

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