This is a sequel to my story "The Statue in the Park" that can be found in the book "6 Plots: Leo & Other Grave Tales". Reading the first story is not required to understand this one, but it is recommended.
The Moon. Quite a spectacle if you ask me. It never ceases to enthrall my nocturnal, star-gazing eyes. I look at it each and every night with a very large sense of wonder, mixed with just a pinch of awestricken euphoria. It captivates and compels my curious nature, but as of late it has also deemed me uncontrollably and utterly paralyzed, with an ever-lingering sense of fear. You see, while the moon may greet me with a feeling of elation while I'm awake, it does quite the opposite when I rest. The moon is the main focus of a twisted narrative in my dreams. A nightmarish story is played out in my fear-ridden sleep for me to defenselessly watch almost every night. I say almost every night because sometimes I just can't find it in me to sleep at all, knowing what awaits me when I close my eyes. It wasn't always this way mind you; it has only been happening for the past few months. I don't know why or how, as I am not one who often has nightmares. I can barely recall my normal dreams. However, I can describe to you the dream in question in great detail. It will forever be embedded within the deep confines of my memory.
Have you ever had a dream in which you are not present? What I mean is, have you ever watched your dream play out in front of you like a movie as if you are part of the audience rather than a character? That is how my nightmare is. I have no control whatsoever. I cannot interact with a damn thing. I am only left to watch as the pandemonium ensues. This is not only frustrating, but terrifying as well. What's worse is that I do not realize that it is a dream until I wake up. Imagine my confusion, anxiety, and terror as I watch the plot unfold. Well, how can you? I've yet to explain the details of the nightmare itself. Maybe I'm just stalling. Well, in any case, I shall now divulge to you the inner workings of my recurring nightmare.
It always starts out in the woods. Forests themselves are unsettling, but what really gets me is that I've never been in one. It's not that I wouldn't venture out into the wilderness every now and again to go on a nature-filled walk or something, it's just that I don't live near the woods; never have. So why then would I dream of them? On top of that, why is everything in my self-made forest so detailed? These are the kinds of things that boggle my mind and freak me out when I wake up in a cold sweat, mid-scream. I'm sorry; it's just so aggravating and worrisome. It's difficult for me not to relive each moment and dwell on the details. Back to the dream.
I'm left just looking at trees and an empty night sky for quite some time. It adds to the uneasiness. After a while, I can hear something. It can't be made out right away, but as it gets louder I realize that it is howling. Must be a coyote I think to myself. It is at that point that my perspective changes. It is abrupt and worrying. I am now left looking up from the woods, at a no longer empty night sky. The howling continues and gets louder. Through the forest canopy I can see the moon. It is a vibrant yellow color and for whatever reason looks...off. I can't quite put into words what I mean by that. The howling does not let up. I can now hear several coyotes howling and getting closer, as their volume is increasing. My perspective changes once more. I am now viewing the moon from atop the forest, almost as if I am standing on the very top of one of the trees. It looks larger in size, but still for the most part normal. I hear the sound of coyotes howling peak in volume as I stare at the sky. My ears may have actually hurt had I been awake. As the obnoxious sound of coyotes continues, the moon becomes larger. I can now tell that it is coming closer to the earth with every passing second. My heart begins to race. Something that usually comforts me is now creating within me a sense of dread. After a few more moments of inner turmoil, the howling ceases. The moon is now dangerously close to the earth and I can hear it moving. After a few more moments, it almost fills the night sky. I catch one final glimpse before impact, seeing every single detail on its surface; each and every crater and formation. It is breathtaking, but not in a good way. The moon then picks up speed, much like the beating of my heart, and in an instant I wake up.
It might not seem like much, but I can honestly say I've never been more scared in my entire life. I have to experience this every single time I fall asleep. Upon waking I always jump out of bed and run to my window, my eyes scanning the night sky for signs of an abnormal moon. I always find the moon exactly where it should be, looking as normal as ever, and a wave of relief overcomes me. I just don't get it. Why has such an odd nightmare made its way into my sleeping brain? Why does it occur every time I dream? Why me? Why now?
Any answers I thought could be found led me to disappointment instead. When discussing it with friends, they simply laughed or just found it downright peculiar. I asked my doctor about it and he simply said, "Maybe it was something you ate." I even contacted a therapist that I found online who specialized in the field of dreaming. After speaking with her on the phone, I determined that she was incapable of offering me any sort of insight on the matter. She told me that the moon represented my past catching up to me, and the coyotes were my inner child trying to communicate and get my attention. A load of crap, if you ask me. It seemed that answers were not within my reach. On one day, however, my luck changed.
The day started off normal, as most days do. I woke up in fear and looked out the window. Instead of finding the moon, I found the sun. I became relieved, and began my daily routine. Upon making breakfast, I turned the TV on to watch some news before heading off to work, as I usually did. Nothing really interested me until about halfway through the program when they featured a segment about tidal waves. The piece interested me because I live near a large beach and had recently thought about taking surfing lessons. Everything was normal until the segment was over and one of the anchors turned to the other and said "Monday night's super moon just might make those waves a little bit taller." What? Super moon? I had never heard of such a thing. Monday night? That was just three nights away. I immediately shut off my TV, stopped eating my breakfast, and ran to my computer to do some research. I didn't know if or how it could be connected to my dreams, but it was the only lead I had.
After doing some extensive research, I became aware that super moon is a term used to describe the moon when it is new/full as well as when it is closest to the earth during its elliptical orbit. This results in the moon looking larger than normal, hence the term. In just three days, a full moon is scheduled to occur, and it will also be a super moon. This one in particular will be very interesting as the moon will be closer to the earth than it ever has been before, during any of its orbits. It was going to be a "true spectacle" to behold. I was thinking just the opposite. My fears were now becoming a reality, and there was nothing I could do about it.
Nothing I read or researched could ease my anxiety. There was no way that this "super moon" was just an eerie coincidence. To me, my dream wasn't a dream, but instead was a premonition of things to come. In just three days the moon would collide with the earth and destroy the very fabric of humanity.
To break the monotony of self torture, I continued to educate myself on the moon. I sat in a defunct state endlessly reading and clicking on educational videos pertaining to that great ball of death that lived in the night sky. I don't know why I did this, as it just made the feeling of dread within me grow exponentially. Even so, I kept staring at my computer screen, reading and watching. I would occasionally glance over at my phone, noticing my countless missed calls. It must have been my boss trying to get a hold of me as I had failed to go to work that morning in light of the god-forsaken mess I had found myself in. There's no point in going to work when the world is ending, right?
After several hours of tedious learning, I finally grew weary. My eyelids were beginning to droop as the tiredness within me took hold. In an effort to not fall asleep, I kept researching. This backfired as it only made me more tired. Before I knew it, I had fallen asleep right there in front of my computer screen. What happened next was inevitable.
My nightmare began the way it usually did. I was in a forest, left looking at numerous trees and an empty night sky. I waited for my perspective to change. I waited to look up and see that which frightened me the most. After a few moments, nothing happened. This was about the time my dream's lackluster plot would kick in, so I was a little confused. Even so, I continued to wait. Nothing happened. I was still in the forest looking at trees and a moonless sky. What was happening? Why must this nightmare torture me so? I was now getting anxious. Just then, something did happen. Howling. I could hear howling. This perplexed me deeply. By this point I should most certainly be looking at the moon. Something was off; very off. I took a deep breath and gathered my thoughts. That is when it hit me. I just took a deep breath. I could feel my chest muscles expand as I did this. Never before did I even have this control in my sleep. I was actually there. I attempted to walk, and to my delight it actually worked. This was so strange. I was never a character in this dream before. I always watched the deadly events unfold.
With my newfound ability, I ran. I ran to my heart's content through my nightmare's forest. I had movement. I had freedom. I had control. Just then, the coyotes howled in unison off in the distance. I knew exactly what that meant. I thought of that last word again, "control". What exactly did I have control of? My body? What good would that do me if I still could not control my outcome? I turned around and looked up at the night sky. There it was. The moon in all of its wondrous and gruesome glory. I could see nothing but trees and moonlight in my field of vision. An ever-familiar feeling of shock found its way back into the pit of my stomach. I took that feeling and ran with all my might towards the moon. Towards the howling. It was all I could think to do. Quickly after I began sprinting, the howling ceased.
I screamed at the top of my lungs as I watched the moon connect with the earth. The thunderous clap it made jolted me awake.
I quickly jumped up from my computer and looked out the window. The moon was visible, but it was normal sized. Normally this would grant me relief, but I don't think I was all that scared this time. My dreams were changing, and so was my outlook on the situation. I felt like I could stop this from happening - somehow.
I went back to my computer and continued my research, only this time I included the words "dream" and "premonition" along with the usual lunar terms. I continued to read, watch videos, and speak with others on forums. After an hour or so I was still empty handed in my hunt for a solution. I pressed on.
As my search continued, I found myself growing sleepy once more. I needed to stay awake and look for answers, but my brain wouldn't allow it. After all, I didn't get that much rest the first time I fell asleep. I was at a loss. I had no coffee or any other means of staying awake. The only thing I did have was the vague will to find a way out of this mess. That only lasted so long, and once again my eyes won in their battle to close themselves. I became unconscious.
My dream started yet again. I was immediately greeted with lucidity and took a look at my surroundings. I was in the same forest and I could see the moon behind me, looming overhead. I stared at it for a moment, almost begging it not to fall. In doing this, I quickly looked away. The moon and all of its features appeared to me as the personification of malice. This was more than likely due to my mind and the way it had constructed the setting, but it still kept me from staring at the moon any further. I needed to invest all of my energy into doing something productive anyhow. Once the howling began, I decided to pursue it once more.
I ran towards the sound of what I assumed were coyotes, knowing that I didn't have much time left. It had come to my attention the last time I dreamt that I had never actually seen them before; I had only heard their unsettling cries. They were the only characters present in this world other than myself. Maybe finding them would provide me with insight. It was a long shot, but anything was worth trying at this point.
I kept running towards the sound, noticing the moonlight getting brighter on the forest floor and trees. I still refused to look up at it and kept myself focused on the task at hand. I was slightly afraid; not only of the moon, but of what I might find when I did reach the coyotes. This was still less fear than I was usually accustomed to in this nightmare, so it in no way disrupted my concentration. What I saw next, however, did.
Before making it to my destination, I saw something out of the corner of my eye. I immediately stopped running and turned to look at it. It appeared to be the dark figure of a man. Even the now brighter moonlight could not reveal to me his features. After staring at him for a moment, he began to speak.
"You're wasting your time."
His voice sounded old and brash, but worldly at the same time. I was confused by his statement, not to mention his existence.
"What exactly do you mean?" I asked.
"This is only one possible outcome. You've yet to change anything. You need to wake up."
"Wake up? But -"
I was cut off mid-sentence by a familiar explosive sound - the sound of two planetary bodies colliding. The man remained still as the moonlight washed out my field of vision. I then woke up at my computer, just like before, only this time I didn't jump up to look out my window. I instead thought of the man and what he had said to me. The entire ordeal was bizarre and surreal, but for some reason I felt as if I had some sort of chance. Whoever this man was, he seemed to have a better grasp of the situation than I did. Perhaps finding him once more will ultimately bring me the answers I seek.
I noticed sunlight begin to cover the desk where I was sitting. I looked over at my window, but quickly regretted it as the sun was just coming up over the horizon and was an abrasive sight for my baggy eyes. The sun was indeed up and it was time to start my day. What that would entail, I could not be certain. It was not as if I would be going to work in my current predicament. I could always do more research, but that didn't really get me anywhere last time. The obvious solution would be to try and fall asleep again and find that man, but I no longer felt tired, and to be completely honest, I needed a break.
I sat there for a good long while before coming up with an idea. Meditation. I could attempt to meditate and see where that leads me. It may not help at all, but it was certainly worth a try.
Having never meditated before, I went online to look at various how-to guides on the subject. After learning the basics, I decided to give it a go. I was anxious, but I tried to remain calm as any worrisome emotions would prove to be counterproductive when attempting to meditate. I sat down on the floor, closed my eyes, took a few deep breaths, and away I went.
At first, clearing my mind was a challenge. All I could picture was the malicious sight of the moon coming towards me. It freaked me out at first, but I then used it to my advantage. Before the moon could reach me, I pictured it going in the opposite direction. I was able to loosen up when doing this, and I let myself focus on nothing but the moon as it grew smaller and smaller. It kept floating away until it was only a single point in the night sky. I continued to focus on it. Eventually I was breathing at a much slower rate. My body felt lighter. I almost felt as though I too were floating into the night sky. I preceded to actually drift upwards, towards the moon. It then grew larger as the distance between us became smaller. Within moments the moon reverted to its original abnormally large size and I felt myself descend to the ground below. The meditation must have worked.
I looked around and realized that I was in the forest; the same setting from my dream. I looked up at the moon and noticed that even though it was incredibly close to the earth, it was still. Come to think of it, everything seemed still, as if time had stopped. Granted there was nothing around me but trees, but it felt like I was residing within a single instant - one frame on the reel of my private nightmare. I say nightmare, but it no longer felt as such. Given that the moon was no longer moving, I now felt calm and relaxed. Hopefully this would provide me with a greater focus while I searched for either the man or the coyotes. Anything would suffice so long as it gave me even a slight answer.
I decided to walk along the same path I took in my previous dream. I no longer had the sound of coyotes to guide me, but I did have the moon. I remember it being in the center of the sky when heading towards the howls. As such, I positioned myself accordingly and headed off.
Now that I found myself walking rather than running, and now that I was void of the fear that had previously tormented me in this setting, I noticed the odd details of the pseudo-world around me. There was a strange symbol perfectly etched into each and every tree I passed. I did not recognize the marking. Not only this, but I now noticed an old wooden hatch on the ground that bared the same symbol. I attempted to open it, but the damned thing wouldn't budge. In any event, I continued my impromptu hike through the forest.
After a few more moments, I stopped dead in my tracks. Standing by one of the trees was none other than the man from my previous nightly adventure. I did not know whether to approach him or not. I couldn't tell if he was frozen like the rest of the forest. I simply stood there in a partial state of shock waiting for something to happen. Luckily the man was not frozen and he began to speak.
"Why are you here again?"
I wasn't sure what he meant.
"Why am I here again? Well, I’m here for answers."
He chuckled a bit when I said this.
"You don't need answers. You simply need to do what is necessary."
He noticed the confused look on my face and spoke again.
"Fine. If you want answers so badly, then follow me."
The man turned and started walking towards the moon; the very direction I had already been walking in. I subsequently followed, having little choice in the matter.
As we walked, I was considerably closer to the mysterious man than I had ever been previously. You would think that maybe I could finally make out at least some of his features, but this was not the case. He was still covered in a thin layer of darkness. It seemed to follow him wherever he went. I couldn't explain this, but then again this was just a dream. An odd premonitory dream at that, but still a dream nonetheless.
The man remained silent until we reached our destination.
"Here you have it; the answer to the dark and looming riddle overhead."
He looked at the moon when he said this. I was still confused to say the least, but I took a look around before demanding further explanation.
We were in a small clearing in the forest. In said clearing was a formation of not coyotes, but wolves. They were frozen still, as was to be expected. They were in a circular pattern around what looked to be a person; a person wearing some sort of red shroud. The man then spoke, noticing that I was still oblivious to what was going on.
"Take a closer look."
I did so without hesitation, curious as to what I would find upon closer inspection.
I walked right past the wolves and into the circle to take a look at the person in the red cloak. It was a woman. She had her arms outstretched towards the moon. In front of her sat a chalice of some sort, filled with a reddish liquid. I still had no clue what was taking place here. Luckily, the man noticed this.
"This is the last surviving member of the Clan of the Red Wolf."
"Clan of the Red Wolf?"
I had no idea what the Clan of the Red Wolf was, so I let the man explain further.
"The Clan has existed for many years. They worship a deity known as the Red Wolf, and their doctrine is simple. They intend to seek divinity in nature and protect the earth's wildlife to the best of their abilities."
I still didn't completely grasp why this meant the moon had to fall.
"You see, as of late, the Clan has misinterpreted the foundation of their teachings. Because of this, they now think they need to destroy all life on earth and allow it to begin anew. The woman you see before you is the daughter of one of the Clan's old members - one whom met with a terrible fate years ago."
I noticed him stop to collect his thoughts before he continued to speak.
"She too tried to "end the world" so to speak, but she was stopped. Her daughter, deemed too powerful at an early age, was hidden from the rest of the clan. In the wake of her mother's failure, she came out of hiding and vowed that she would continue her mother's work. She would find a way to put an end to this earth."
I was left speechless. This was most certainly a lot to process. How could this clan exist? How did they have this power? Why was I involved? I had so many questions now, and still no solution to my original problem. The man spoke once more as I continued to bathe in the confusion of what I had heard.
"You have been chosen to stop this. Otherwise you would not be having these dreams. As such, you must do just that. You cannot do it from here, however. This is an illusion. I am an illusion. The only way you can truly prevent this is to travel to this location when you awaken."
I still had so many questions. Who was he in the first place? Why exactly was I "chosen"? Before I could voice any of these questions, the man vanished. He disappeared before my very eyes and revealed something etched into the tree behind him. I looked at it more closely and realized that they were coordinates. My eyes widened. I was now afraid again. I would have to actually confront this red cloaked woman if I wanted to save everything. If this wasn’t bad enough, I heard a loud howling behind me. The dream was no longer on pause. Within an instant I saw the moon crash into me with a force greater than I had ever seen in one of my nightmares. The brightness, the sound - everything was magnified. It was because I was at the epicenter of the event. I can tell you honestly that that right there was the most frightening thing I have ever witnessed. Much like the times before, I then woke up.
I opened my eyes slowly and gathered my thoughts. I then quickly jumped up and grabbed a piece of paper. I wrote down the coordinates I had seen etched into the bark of the tree. I then caught a glimpse of the moon from out of the corner of my eye. I looked over at the window and to my surprise it was nighttime. How long had I been meditating? I looked at the clock on my bedside table and realized that it was 5am, Sunday morning. I had been meditating for almost a whole day. This was a bit shocking, but I didn't let it get to me. Besides, I had a task to complete.
I typed the coordinates into my computer to see exactly where they were. To my satisfaction it was within the country. Unfortunately however, it was many miles away. If I drove there, I wouldn't get to the outskirts of the woods until Monday afternoon, and then I would still have to hike. The super moon is on Monday night, so that would be cutting it close. The nearest airport to these coordinates was 237 miles away, meaning I would have to figure out another form of transportation once I got there. I weighed my options for a moment, but then decided to take a different approach. Maybe there was a train station nearby.
After several minutes of searching for multiple trains that would lead me to this forest, I had finally found my means of transportation. There just happened to be a train station just twelve miles from the coordinates I had typed in. Apparently the forest was an old-growth forest protected by the government and it garnered occasional tourism, hence the train stop. I determined that after taking multiple trains and buses to get there, I would arrive at 2:15pm on Monday. That would give me just enough time to reach the coordinates and potentially stop this catastrophe from occurring.
I took off in haste as not to give myself enough time to rethink my plan. I knew if I dwelled on what I was doing, I might change my mind and convince myself that I was crazy and everything I had experienced was nothing more than a strange dream. If I did stop now, I would drown in my own regret, and panic come Monday night. Even if I was crazy, at least I was putting the question to rest myself instead of waiting for an answer to come along.
After numerous modes of travel, I was finally on the final train; the one that would arrive near my coordinates. I managed to stay awake the entire time, running off of anxiety and the fear of experiencing my nightmare one more time. As the train departed, however, I felt more tired than I had the entire trip there. I could not stay awake for one more second. I willingly shut my eyes and fell asleep there in my seat, knowing what I would dream about when I did.
Once again, I found myself in the forest at nighttime with nothing but several trees to gaze at. That, and the gigantic moon behind me. I decided to run again, but this time in the opposite direction. I wanted to be as far away from the moon as possible, so as to possibly limit its terrifying properties.
With an ever-familiar feeling of dread, I ran as fast as my dream body would allow, into the depths of the woods. I had never headed in this direction before and was somewhat curious as to what I might find during my run. My curiosity vanished soon after as I saw nothing but more trees. Not a big surprise there, I suppose.
I kept running, without even glancing back once at the moon. After a while, I noticed that something wasn't right. The wolves should have howled by now. Nothing was frozen like the last dream; I could see the trees blowing in the wind. Maybe I was too far away to hear them, but even still something felt weird. I decided to look back at the moon. It was suspended in the night sky, as was to be expected, but it was not overly large like before. It was of a normal size and normal position near the stars. How peculiar.
I shrugged off the oddities in my dream and kept running in the direction I was headed. I would have become more anxious had I stayed still, and I was still hoping to find something out there - maybe one last bit of help in the form of something - anything, before I came face to face with the red cloaked woman.
I ran and ran for what seemed like a very long time. All the while there were nothing but trees and discomfort to keep me company. I was beginning to grow tired within my own dream, if that was even possible. Eventually, I came upon something other than a tree. I stopped running when I saw it. It was a railroad, running right through the forest. I examined the tracks for a moment, and then stood on them, looking either way for a train. Nothing. I continued to stand there, at odds with the damned thing. That is, until the very loud sound of a train directly behind me immediately triggered my adrenaline and fear. I turned to look and saw the train right as it struck my body. I jolted awake at impact.
The train had come to a stop. I was at the forest. I pulled myself together and stumbled off in a clumsy fashion, still trying to fully awaken and process my dream's meaning at the same time. The train then took off at high speed and left me to take a look at my surroundings in isolation. So this is what it looks like during the day, huh? The forest looked identical to the one in my dreams, but then again, how could it not? It was just a simple assortment of old trees. The only difference now was that I was awake, and I had sunlight to guide my trek as opposed to moonlight. I just wasn't sure how long that sunlight would last, especially in the depths of the forest.
I set off in haste, making sure to maximize my energy. I didn't run and instead power-walked, keeping a steady pace as I went. Twelve miles wouldn't be all that bad had it been on a paved road, but this was an old woodland. I could not guarantee when I would arrive at the location, nor could I guarantee what the terrain would be like in some parts of the forest. I had a compass and map to guide me, knowing that my phone/GPS probably wouldn't get a reliable signal out here, but a map will only reveal so much about where you're going. I could only hope that I would make it there in time to make a difference. I could only hope that I would even make it there in one piece.
Lucky for me, half of my hike was relatively easy. I was able to remain quick and agile most of the way, but after an hour or so, the ground became steeper and I found myself almost climbing rather than walking. I stupidly attempted to keep the same pace uphill as I did on the flat ground. This was a mistake. I ended up tripping over the root of a tree that was jutting out of the ground. I fell face first onto the dirt, and a nearby rock dug into my skin, leaving a large gash along the side of one of my legs. The sharp pain that followed was unbearable. I released a blood-curdling scream from the deepest recesses of my lungs and hurt even my ears. It didn't appear as though I would be saving anything. My fate was now in the hands of the forest.
Unable to move, I simply laid there, waiting for nightfall to come; waiting for the moon to loom overhead and laugh in my dirt-covered face. It had won. My leg was injured, as well as my will to press on. Even if I could move, I didn't want to anymore. The whole ordeal was mentally and physically taxing. I just wanted it all to end.
As I watched the sky change while the sun was setting, something else came into view. It was a man's face. I couldn't make out any features, but as he spoke, I recognized the voice.
"You have to keep going. It is almost time."
It was the man from my dream. How was this possible? Then again, how was any of this possible? I decided not to question it. I had given up, after all. What was the point in trying to understand that which was beyond my comprehension? The world would be ending soon anyhow.
"No. I'm done. I cannot move, nor do I want to."
He remained silent for a few moments, causing me to wonder if I was actually seeing things or not. He then offered a response.
"Are you really so selfish? You will let this entire planet suffer because you 'don't want to'?"
I thought about what he was implying, but before I could respond he spoke again.
"How dare you. How dare you hold the fate of this world in your hands and cast it aside with such arrogance, just like that. A broken leg is nothing compared to what is really at stake here. Neither is your insatiable need for answers. You need not know what is happening, only what you must do. You should stop at nothing to complete your task."
I was surprised by the ferocity with which the man spoke. He was genuinely disappointed in me. Not only that, but what he said was true. I was being selfish. How could I let the moon crash into the earth after I had come so far? What in the world was I thinking?
With newfound motivation, I found it within me to stand upright again. I didn't require the man's help, nor did I ask for it. I don't think he would have given it to me anyways. I still wasn't even sure if he was really there. For all I knew he could have been a figment of my imagination. Figment or not, he was right. I had to keep going and see this through. I had no other choice in the matter.
As I limped through the woods, the man followed. He kept his distance, but I knew he was there. I would glance over every now and again and he would give me a perturbed look, one that begged me to stop staring and hurry up already. Somehow I felt as though his presence helped. It reassured me that I might actually be able to do this; whatever "this" might be. Either way, I was at ease for the time being.
I limped for a very long time, using only the moon as my guide. It was very large, but not quite as large as I remembered it being in my dreams. Even so, my surroundings now had a familiar aura about them. I must have been getting close. The man surprised me and spoke, confirming my suspicions.
"Just a little further."
For the first time on our hike, the man walked in front of me and began to lead the way. As he did this, I noticed a clearing up ahead. This was it. My showdown with the red cloaked woman was about to begin and I was not ready in the slightest. Despite this, I followed the man and walked into the clearing.
Upon entering, I saw just what I expected to see. There in the center of the clearing was a circular formation of wolves containing the red cloaked woman. Even though I knew it would be there, I was still shocked. This was no longer a dream. Whatever happened now would have actual repercussions.
I stared at the woman, but she didn't look as though she was conscious. She just stood there with her head down, as still as ever. The man turned over to me with a smile and spoke.
"Humans are so easily fooled."
He then transformed, for lack of a better word, into a black wolf and ran over to the woman. He passed right through her and vanished. She then awoke instantaneously and looked over at me with that same smile. I was stunned.
"Nice of you to join us. We've been waiting for such a long time."
The wolves howled in unison, as if they only acted upon her command. I remained silent.
"What's the matter? Are you scared? Are you confused? Or are you just plain ignorant?"
I was offended by just the tone of her voice. I don't know what possessed me to do so, but I took a step forward. The wolves began to growl when I did this.
"Why the rush? Don't you want those answers you came here for in the first place? Don't you want to know why all of this is happening? I know you do."
An alluring yet sinister smile crept across her face. I nodded. I did want to know why. I wanted to know everything.
"Very well. As you know, I am the last surviving member of the Clan of the Red Wolf. My mother attempted to destroy this world years ago, but failed. She was stopped by a savior. She was stopped by the one the Red Wolf spoke of in his teachings. The one that was to save our world. You could say that the savior succeeded, in a way. I see it differently, much like my mother did. In order to save nature itself, the world must begin anew. The savior failed."
I understood what she was telling me, but I knew there was more to it than that. She continued to speak.
"The savior’s blood was needed to complete the ritual of destruction that my mother had performed. That same blood is needed now to complete my ritual. You, my friend, are the offspring of the savior."
What? How could this be? One of my parents was this savior she spoke of? Why didn't I know of this? Questions filled my mind that no amount of answers could solve, but one glaring truth bubbled to the surface. I needed to get out of there.
I attempted to run, but the woman reached her arm out towards me, and I found myself paralyzed. I could not move at all. She was in complete control.
"I sent a specter into your dreams to bring you here. It was so much easier than I had originally anticipated. Foolishness is a trait I find to be quite common among humans. I will never understand it."
The man was just a spirit. It was her all along, guiding me here so she could complete her ritual. I spent all my effort in trying to get here to prevent the earth's destruction when I was in fact the key to its demise the whole time. I should never have come here.
She clenched her fingers together and I felt my body move on its own. I closed the gap between me and her within seconds.
"You may now witness that which has tormented you in your dreams for so long. Then you may finally rest."
She said this as if it was some sort of consolation. I watched as she reached into her cloak and pulled out a dagger. Etched into the blade was the same symbol I had seen on the trees. It must have been the symbol of the Clan. She then grabbed the chalice from behind her and sliced my arm open, allowing my blood to fill the cup. I wanted to scream, but could not, as she had complete control over my body's actions. I could not think of a more terrible situation to be in.
With a flick of her wrist she tossed my body aside, having already received what she needed. She then turned towards the moon and reached out towards it, much like I had seen in my nightmare. Between my injured leg and the cut on my arm, I could not move to stop her. I looked up at the moon as it came closer to the earth and waited for the inevitable collision. I heard the wolves howl loudly, but their howls were soon drowned out by the sound of the moon picking up speed. The moonlight that covered the forest was brilliant, and it allowed me the most vivid depiction of the destruction of the earth. After a few more moments, the moon broke through the atmosphere and filled the night sky. I closed my eyes and tried to sleep one last time. My dream could no longer haunt me. It was over. Everything was over.
Written by Christopher Maxim