Welcome. You have three hours left on the the screen. Please read the plaque above your head.
It felt like she had been woken in a strange game. One where the clock would deem her fate unless she could decipher the words on the plaque. One of them, the strange man told her, was a wrong word. Her task was to find the wrong one. Usually it wouldn’t have been a problem but the words were of an old language she knew little of and on top of that she felt like she was in a dream within a dream or to be more precise, she was in a nightmare designed by malicious means.
Looking down at herself, she was naked and streaked with soil but when she paid more attention to her surroundings, there was no soil around her, only a bare wooden floor that was cold beneath her feet. The clock to her left said a little under three hours now and the man sat patiently quoting Shakespeare to the air.
She started to slowly wander around the room. Each corner bestowed a face she had loved and lost, each step filled her with dread and sorrow. Her fears were given characters and they danced happily around her in a room of neutral colours.
Be attentive of the clock my dear, he said in a calm manner.
What use were the words when she knew so little of them? She wandered round and round the room meandering between the meanings. Still no answer came to her. Some she recognised but many were beyond her knowledge.
The clock had soon lost an hour of time. There was only two hours left. Why was she given only three hours to complete such a task? Who was this man who addressed her with familiarity? Three struck her as symbolic but her mind was hazy and her perception muddled.
Visions of the dead claimed another hour.
Why allow such visions to haunt me when I have a task at hand?
The man, slim and gaunt, paid no attention to her question.
One hour left.
She studied the words for as long as her eyes were able to focus but all she could hear was the ticking of the seconds to her left, above her.
With only minutes to go, the man adorned his hat and stood with his hands held out. Panic raced through her veins, her body was beaded with anxious sweat. On the third second of her scream she woke to find she was in her usual environment.
A nightmare, that is all it was.
So why could she still see the dead huddled in the corner of her own room. Why could she still hear the ticking of a clock and smell the fragrance of fertile earth?
Her body was aflame and rigid.
Some nightmares simply disturb you but some come to claim you. Some embed themselves so deeply you are unaware of their power and some chill your bones so vehemently you are left at a crossroad.
It was just a nightmare, she whispered to herself, yet she felt the pressing of time envelop her sanity with poignant stealth.
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