Are you afraid of it?
Or are you afraid of what you will become?
I wake up in a cold sweat. Those words, the same words I've heard in my dreams before. What does it all mean? For the past few months I've had a recurring pattern of dreams. In each dream I am in a large, often empty, house. It's the sort of house you see on those old haunted house movies. Always massive, the mansion-like house seems to go on forever. Each time I enter the house, everything seems more enormous than before. Feeling the urge to explore, sometimes I open doors or look in drawers. Some of the doors lead to bedrooms, some lead to other doors while others lead outside to a patch of dirt. In the drawers, I find seemingly random objects. Sometimes it will be something I've been looking for, sometimes just odds and ends. Just before the dreams end, I begin to fear something. Something deep within the house moans and I turn away to run. Then I hear the voice. It wasn't clear at first, but after many dreams I could understand it clearly. It is the voice of a woman. For whatever reason, the voice is soothing to me. It's a voice that sounds familiar, yet I know no one to whom it could possibly belong.
"I had the dream again." I told Susan, my friend of 20 years. She had been the only one I told about the dreams as she fancied herself a dream reader.
"Is that so? Anything different this time?" she said, always curious as to what happened next.
"Nothing much different this time. Everything was even more massive than the last time." I told her. The dreams always made me feel so small and helpless. I guess that's why I get afraid and run towards the end.
"What about the voice John? Did it say anything different this time?" she asked while writing it down. I told her it was about the same as last time and she seemed a little disappointed. She was having trouble reading this dream. She had been my best friend ever since 5th grade when she moved here. We had a mutual understanding of each other, but it never lead to dating. Dating just felt too weird. We agreed to always be good friends. We could talk about anything with each other.
The first time I told her about my dreams was when my life started coming apart. The company I worked for was loosing money and try as I might, no one was hiring. I worked for a small business doing technical support for the staff. I had a degree in computer science, but that didn't seem to matter. Most people want these 19 - 20 year olds, fresh out of college with degrees and certifications coming out of their ears. Here I am, 23, and my degree seems to count for absolutely nothing! I had often thought of moving to a bigger city, but this was my hometown, and I liked the small town feel. Besides, I don't have enough money to move. I can barely cover my current expenses. My company had to cut off my benefits and reduce my pay. Now I depend on the meager wages just to pay off bills! I eventually had to borrow money from my parents just to buy food! I've had to go light on the food, and lost a lot of weight. Everyone could see that I was miserable. I began to have panic attacks and frequent headaches. I couldn't go to the doctor since I had no money or insurance. I knew that everything was stress related. So, of course, Susan immediately said that the dreams were related to that. I guess maybe they are.
After an extremely long day at work, I came home and looked at the pathetic apartment that mirrored my life. Everything about it was poor and degraded. If the company eventually does go under, I'd have to move back home. I shuddered at the thought of that. My parents weren't exactly the best people do deal with growing up. I threw myself onto my bed and eventually fell asleep.
I was in the house again. It was once again even larger than last time. The floors were wood but had plush yellowish-brown carpet layered on top. This time, something was off. I came to a long hallway with windows on the right side. It was mid afternoon and the sun shown through them onto the golden brown carpet. Suddenly, I had a toy, from my youth, in my hand. It was a clear, colored plastic robot. As I had done in my childhood, I held the toy up to the light and let it shine through so I could see the pretty colors. I was almost hypnotized by the sunlight dancing trough the toy's frame as I moved it around. Then I sat down right in the middle of the floor with my legs crossed "indian style" and played with it and a number of other childhood toys for a while. I felt a peace that I had not felt in a long, long time. Suddenly I realized that something in the house was after me. I got up and ran as fast as I could when I once again heard that voice. Are you afraid of it? Or are you afraid of what you will become? I cried tears of fright as I turned to see if she was there. I woke up in a cold sweat, this time with tears in my eyes. I was crying in my sleep?! I hadn't cried since I was a small boy! My father had told me that big boys don't cry. I always tried not to disappoint him. Where did that come from?! What's happening to me?!
It was all I could think about while at work. Why am I dreaming this? Why was I playing with toys this time? Why did I feel so at peace? I couldn't concentrate on anything. I finally realized that I would do anything to feel that peace again. The bitter staff at work weren't any help. They never are. All I ever hear is "My computer is broke again! Fix it!" or "What do you mean I lost everything?! I have reports that have to be sent out today! We need someone that can actually FIX our problems!" As usual, I shrugged it all off. "You can't cry all your life Johnny. Be a man!" Yes sir, dad.
After work, I went in search of that toy, thinking that it would help unlock this mystery. Unfortunately, it was lost a long time ago. Even after going through my old things, I couldn't find it. I became obsessed with finding it. I even searched my parent's house. I had to go there to borrow more money from them again anyway. Once again lowing my head in shame as I had to be in the same room as my father. I couldn't stand his look of disappointment. I searched high and low, but couldn't find it.
"Why do you want an old toy anyway?" my father grumbled. "You're not a baby or anything. Be a man! Go get a job instead of moping about the house begging us for money!" Familiar words. Words that I could certainly do without. I decided that the next best thing would be to consult Susan. This new part of the dream might shed some light on things.
It was about dusk when I got to Susan's place. She had me lie on a couch in a dimly lit room this time like a psychiatrist. I don't like being treated this way, but if she says it'll help…
"How long did you play on the floor?" she quizzed me while I lie on the couch.
"I can't say exactly. It was a dream so it's all kinda fuzzy now. Maybe a few minutes, but I was in seventh heaven." She seemed very excited now.
"Well, things are beginning to take on a more definite shape now." she said positivly. "I think I know what your dreams are trying to tell you. In simple terms, you need to relax. The whole wondering around in a place that's too big for you and playing with toys points to regression. Regressing to the simplest things in childhood is a sign that you are under way too much stress." Somehow I knew she would say that. That wasn't good enough for me! I got up off the couch.
"Well, I could have told me that!" I yelled, burning with misplaced anger. "So that's it? I need to relax? I know I need to relax, but I can't! I just can't! You know that!" I was getting upset, I was hoping for more of a meaning than that.
"Look, just calm down. You're getting all stressed out." The world seemed red to me.
"Calm down?! You're telling me to calm down?! How can I calm down when my life is falling apart?! How can I?! How...can...I...?" The last thing I remember was Susan saying, "John? John?! Are you okay?! Can you hear me?!" Then I blacked out, and became aware that I was in the house again.
I immediately looked to see if the toy was in my hands. My hands! They were so short and chubby! I looked up to see that I was standing in another hallway with doors on both sides. This time the doorknobs were much higher than I remember, but they wouldn't open anyway. I padded down the hallway and noticed a mirror. Usually if I saw a mirror in a dream, my image was distorted, but this time it was clear. What reflected back was me, only I looked more like my kindergarten photo! I was wearing a Mork and Mindy T-Shirt, blue jeans, and small, Velcro, tennis shoes. I immediately noticed how healthy I looked compared to what I was used to seeing in the mirror. I had a fatter tummy and rosy cheeks. "Someone is getting fed right." I thought to myself. This dream was more vivid than the others. Perhaps it was because my brain finally reached a breaking point. Suddenly a room opened. I turned to see who could have opened it, but no one was there. I slowly started walking toward the open door and looked at the light coming from inside to see if any shadows passed by. I stopped at the edge and leaned my head over side ways to see inside. It was a toy room! A grand toy room! All my favorite toys from childhood were there. My little face must have showed the broadest grin ever seen by anyone as I ran into that room. I squealed with delight at seeing all the toys around the room. All at arms length too! I sat in that room and played for what seemed like hours. I felt even more peace and serenity than the last time.
Then, the light flickered in the room. Everything seemed to be getting bigger. Something dark appeared at the opening of the room and slowly creeped in. It was as if it was sucking all the light out of the room. I heard the voice again. Are you afraid of it? Or are you afraid of what you will become? The darkness came closer and closer as I backed up against the wall of toys. It's dark void was enveloping the room. I kept wanting to wake up but couldn't. The tears in my eyes flowed effortlessly as I cowered in fright. There was no where to run. I could feel a spreading warmth in my jeans. I was peeing my pants! Just like a little baby!
"Big boys don't wet themselves Johnny! Big boys don't cry! Stop that crying you little baby!" I could hear my father's words echo into the room. Only the voice that spoke them was deep and monsterous. I began to scream when I suddenly woke up in a hospital bed screaming at the top of my lungs. In my mind the terror was still there. It took me a while to calm down enough to see that Susan had stayed by my side. My screaming brought the nurse in. I was still shaking when I felt something cold squish under me. I had wet the bed!
"We'll just get you some dry sheets" the nurse said calmly. The fact that I had wet the bed freaked me out even more. Susan tried to comfort me, but I just shook violently. The nurse came in to change the sheets and another came in to clean me up. After I was back in clean sheets, I calmed down enough to talk. The nurse wanted me to take some medication to help me sleep. I didn't want to go back to sleep. No, I insisted that I stay awake.
To be continued...
"Just leave him alone!" I could hear Susan say, "Can't you see that he doesn't want to sleep?!" She was still holding me gently while I shook. Her presence made me feel better. After convincing the nurse that I didn't need any drugs, Susan and I finally had some time to ourselves. "John? You passed out in my home. I called an ambulance and they rushed you here. They still don't know what caused it. You're safe now. You're safe, do you understand?"
I had to gather my thoughts a bit. "Y-yeah. I remember being in your house, on the couch. Then I remember getting upset. I yelled at you. I'm sorry."
"That's okay John. I'm just glad you're okay. Just relax now." There was something about her voice that I hadn't noticed until now. She ran her fingers through my hair and I finally stopped shaking. "There now. Feeling better? You gave me quite a scare."
"A hospital?! But I don't have any insurance! How am I going to pay for this?!" I asked, getting all tense again. Lousy company.
"Don't worry about that." she said calmly. "I'll take care of it. Just try to relax now. What happened after you passed out? Do you remember?" I settled down a bit.
"I had that dream again. Only this time, it was a lot more in depth." The first thing I wanted to do was tell her all about it. Somehow I knew that she already had some idea. "I was very little this time. I actually saw myself in a mirror. I looked to be no older than about 5."
"You actually saw yourself?" she asked, "Mirrors are important symbols in dreams. You say you were only about 5 years old? What happened that made you so scared?" I trembled a bit. "It's okay. You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to."
"No, I want to. It started out so nicely, so perfect. All of the doors were locked, but then one of them opened. I went inside to discover a large toy room. It was wonderful. It had shiny gold decorations all around, a plush, red carpet, and expansive shelves lined with all kinds of toys. All at arm's length. I sat down and played for a long time. The feeling was even better than last time." I shut my eyes. "Then something bad happened. A darkness appeared at the door way and slowly made it's way toward me. I was so afraid. It groaned and growled as it seemed to consume all the happiness that was in the room. I tried my hardest to wake up, but couldn't. I started to cry and then...I wet my pants." I looked down in shame. "I saw I had wet the bed too."
"Yeah, you wet it pretty good." she said jokingly. I just blushed. "Hey, it's alright. I bet it would have happened to anyone in the same circumstance."
"That's not what dad would have said. I'm glad he didn't see it." I never would have heard the end of it. "Everything seemed to be growing to an enormous size right before my eyes. Especially the darkness. Then I could swear I heard dad's old familiar words. 'Big boys don't wet themselves Johnny! Big boys don't cry! Stop that crying you little baby!' It made me even more terrified and I started to scream. It had just about gotten to me when I woke up here."
"Old familiar words? I don't ever remember him yelling at you when I would visit."
"He put on a different face when we had visitors. Daddy always told me to suck it up, be a man. He would yell at me for always running to mommy instead of him. Mommy used to comfort me, but then she started to take his side. After daddy yelled at her. Told her to stop treating me like a baby. I'm not a baby! I'm a big boy!" I almost began to cry.
Susan had a puzzled look on her face. "Did you just hear yourself? You kept calling him daddy and her mommy. You sounded just like a little kid."
Now I was confused. "Did I? Really? What's happening to me Susan?! What does all this mean?!" I was getting upset again.
"Shhh... shhhh.... it's all right. We'll worry about it later. Right now, just try and relax. Why don't we talk about something else?" Something else? I thought she'd want to explore the dream some more. "Remember when we were kids? Remember Clyde and how he made me cry that day? You told him to leave me alone and he pushed you down. Then you got up, dusted yourself off, and got right up in his face and said 'LEAVE HER ALONE.'" We both laughed a little as she imitated me as a little kid trying to talk all big. "He never bothered me or you again. You were always standing up for me like that." We both remembered that day forever.
"I could never stand to see you hurt or sad." At least dad taught me to stand up for myself. Maybe a little too well.
"Nor I you. Do you remember that day in high school right after we agreed to be just good friends?" I had tried my best to block it out. "I was going out with Tom and you saw him pulling me towards him while I was resisting." The image flashed into my mind. "It was a short relationship. He was too controlling. He liked to dominate women. Then you came a long." She smiled.
"He was tryin' to grab you." I said in my best Forrest Gump voice. We both had a good laugh. Albeit nervously. Neither of us wanted to say what happened next. I went blind with rage that day. I took Tom by the front of his shirt and slammed him into the nearest locker, hard. It was hard enough to make his head bleed. Then I yelled at him, "If you touch her again so help me I'll kill you!". It really bothered me afterward. I had never been so angry. I didn't like it. Susan and I both knew how we felt about each other. I always seemed to be coming to her rescue. We continued to talk about times gone by on into the night. Eventually we both fell asleep.
I didn't want to fall asleep, but I couldn't help it. I found myself in the house again. The walls were a dull green and the wooden panel floor had a nice Italian rug on it. Things were even bigger which meant I was even smaller. There was only one door in front of me, but I couldn't reach the doorknob. I pushed on it and to my surprise it opened. The room was painted a calm shade of baby blue and had plush, blue green carpeting. In the corner there was a bed with rail bars on each side. It looked like a crib, but for an older baby. It was a nursery. The smell of baby oil, baby powder, and diapers was soothing for some reason. The oak dressers had painted vases from the 1800s on them and one had a mirror. I wanted to see what I looked like, so I toddled over to it. I had to climb up the chair and stand on the seat to get a good look. My face was so round and chubby! I had a small nose and, in comparison, large eyes. I was wearing a blue blanket footed sleeper with snaps in the legs. Horrified, I felt to see what I had on underneath. They weren't exactly diapers, but still thickly padded. Training pants! By the look of things, I couldn't have been more than 3 years old! I saw the shocked look on my face in the mirror. Then I laughed a little at the funny faces I was making. My laughter was as the chuckle of a happy toddler. Something caught my attention. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw more toys! Excited, I went to play with them, but my unsure legs caused me to lose my balance and I fell off the chair. I managed to land on my padded bottom, but it still hurt. Tears welled up in my eyes and I began to cry. It was more than just a cry of pain, it was a cry of frustration. Frustration that I couldn't get to the toys and that I had failed in walking. I knew daddy would be in any minute to punish me for crying. Right on cue.
"Where's that crying coming from?! It had better not be from Johnny! So help me, if it is!" I heard it coming, then I saw the darkness approach.
"No daddy! I'm not crying! Honest! I'm a good boy! I'm a good boy!" I had stopped crying, but only on the outside.
"I see someone's had a little accident. What are we going to do about that?" I looked down and noticed a dark spot on the front of my sleeper. I had wet myself again! This time, it wasn't even due to fright! I never even felt it! The darkness came closer and closer. I started shaking again as the room grew around me.
Then I heard the voice say, "Are you afraid of it? Or are you afraid of what you will become?" and I saw a light behind the darkness. The light was warm and comforting as it took on a shape. Just then, the darkness grew and shut out the light. It lurched towards me. I felt my legs give out as I fell on my wet bottom. All I could do was sit there in the warm puddle that collected underneath me.
I covered my eyes and heard the voice again. "Johnny? John? Are you alright?" I awoke to find Susan standing next to my hospital bed holding my hand. I was shaking uncontrollably again.
"John? John talk to me! Are you alright?" My door burst open as the doctor and nurse rushed in. All at once I screamed at the top of my lungs, fearing that the darkness had somehow manifested in my hospital room. "John calm down! They're not going to hurt you! No one is going to hurt you!" My eyes darted towards Susan as her words comforted me. I leaped out of bed and hugged her tight refusing to let go. I just stood there as we held each other and I sobbed into her shoulder. "He'll be alright." she said. That's when I noticed a cold, soggy feeling around my groin.
"Nurse, looks like you had better change his bed again." I had soaked the bed this time. My hospital gown was stained yellow from the waist down. I looked at Susan and noticed that I had gotten her a little wet by hugging her.
"Susan I'm so sorry! I didn't mean it! I just..." Just then, the front of my gown began dripping on the floor. I had started peeing right there in front of everyone while wide-awake! I didn't even feel the need to go! I just hung my head in defeat.
"It's okay John. I'll help get you cleaned up, then I'll take care of my dress." The nurse took my wet sheets away and Susan led me into the bathroom. It's strange, but she seemed a bit taller than before. I chalked it up to my imagination. "Turn around." With my back to her, she untied my gown and let it hit the floor. I felt a cold splash against my feet. "Man, you really wet em this time." She said, trying to get me to lighten up a bit. Susan soaped up a cloth and proceeded to wash me thoroughly. She scrubbed up and down my legs. "Now let me get the front." I blushed. I didn't want her to see me naked. I covered up as best I could with my hands but she brushed them aside as she gave me a gentle wash then dried me off. "Now then, feel better?" I sheepishly nodded my head. I was too mortified for words. She dressed me in a new gown and ushered me back out into my room. Susan got another dress out of her suitcase and went back into the bathroom to change. The nurse had just finished making my bed when she laid something on top of it.
"What is that?" I asked, fearing the answer.
"The doctor said you should wear these. Just in case." said the nurse. I went over, picked it up, and unfolded it.
"A diaper?! You expect me to wear a disposable diaper?!" I asked getting angrier with each passing moment.
"While you're in here you will. In case you have another 'accident.' It's hospital policy." said the nurse matter of factly. "If you need help putting it on-"
"No! I can do it by myself!" My face turned beet red as I slid the diaper up my legs and snapped it in place. "I feel like such a baby." I sulked.
Susan walked out of the bathroom, looked at me and said, "I think you look kind of cute in it.", much to my surprise.
"Susan! I thought you were on my side!" I glared at her.
"I am sweetheart, but you just look so darn cute!" Cute or not, I wanted to leave. After the nurse was convinced I'd stay in the diaper, she left us alone again. I told Susan about the latest dream and she told me how she watched as I twitched and moaned in bed. She even watched as I soaked the bed. After discussing this dream, Susan turned to me and said, "I want to try something with you. A technique that's been passed down in my family for generations. I want to see if I can help guide your dreams."
"Guide my dreams? Is that like some sort of Vulcan mind meld?" This is the type of thing you only see in sci fi movies. I had no idea her family had such a technique, but I was willing to try anything.
"Sort of. I can only do it with people whom I'm close to. I think it'll work with you. Do you trust me?"
"Of course I trust you. I'm just...a little scared that's all." After all, it meant actually dreaming again.
"Don't be. If I sense that it's too much, I can help you to wake up this time. I'll be your fail-safe. Okay?" What could I say?
"Alright, let's do it." I laid down on the bed and relaxed as she put her hand over my eyes.
To be continued....
I don't know how, but Susan was able to get me relaxed enough to actually fall asleep again. It was an odd experience. Each time I dreamed it seemed things got more vivid. The younger I was in the dream, the more detailed the house was. This time though, I was afraid of what I might see in the mirror. I found myself lying down this time. Not a good sign. I looked around to see that I was now trapped behind tall wooden bars. A crib. Underneath me was a very babyish, but very comfortable spread. It was the most comfortable "bed" I have ever felt. I found it harder to move this time, but after some trying, I manage to get to my feet. The room was a very large nursery. The walls were painted a light blue with cloud shapes painted around the top. There were also some animals, airplanes, and balloons expertly painted along the walls. The early morning sun shone through the windows and onto the floor where a brightly colored rug with various shapes, letters, and animals lay. Across from my crib was a changing table with a mirror. I saw that I was every inch an infant. I was wearing what I expected. A very bulky diaper under a warm, soft blanket sleeper. On my head was a fluffy bit of blonde hair. I looked at my hands. They were so tiny!
"You know, most of the time in dreams, if you look at your hands or feet you can take control and the dreams become lucid." said a voice I couldn't see. I knew who it was.
"S-Susan?" I said, somewhat surprised by my squeaky, infantile voice, but even more surprised that I could talk at all. "I-is that y-you?"
She laughed a bit, "Yes John, it's me. Aww... you look so cute!" A little earlier when she said that, I got upset. Now I didn't mind at all.
"Y-you can see me?!" I asked. Susan definatly had amazing abilities. I would never have guessed.
"Of course I can silly. How else did you expect me to help you." I couldn't see her, but I felt very comforted by the fact that she was there. Even if I was an infant. I seemed to be able to think a little clearer this time. Probably due to Susan's influence. "Let's start by exploring a bit. That's how your dreams usually go right?"
"Well yeah, but I can't get out of this crib. I'm... I'm too little." I said a little defeated. Even if I could somehow climb over the top of the rail, I would fall what was a very long way for someone my size.
"Nonsense, you can get out of there. Let me help you." The bars on the side of the crib suddenly unlocked and dropped down. I suddenly found myself to be a bit more agile and I climbed out onto the conveniently placed toy box.
"Susan, you're amazing." The bulk of the diaper made it even harder to walk. I went with the urge and dropped to my hands and knees. I found I could crawl faster than I could walk. I ventured onto the rug where the sun was shining and proceeded to play with the various toys laying about the room. Once again, I felt at peace. This just seemed so right. My thumb found it's way into my mouth and I began sucking it unconsciously.
"You're really enjoying this aren't you?" said Susan. She had been watching me the whole time. I couldn't see her, but I could tell she was smiling.
I took my thumb out just long enough to talk. "I'm a baby right? Why fight it? Besides, it feels like the thing to do." Back in the thumb goes. I continued to play with large sized plastic trucks and cars. I picked up a red, hollow, plastic ring and replaced my thumb with it. It felt good against my gums. Suddenly I had an odd feeling. I relaxed a bit and my diaper suddenly became very warm. This time, the feeling was pleasurable. I was beginning to enjoy it when one urge was replaced by another. "Why not?" I thought to myself, and I gave in. I had just pooped my diaper and didn't even care!
"I thought you'd get a kick out of that." Susan laughed.
"YOU made me do that?! Why?!" No doubt she had a great talent.
"You were getting all in the mindset of a baby. I'm just helping that along." she winked. She began to laugh and then I joined in with my unmistakably infantile laughter. With her help, I was finally able to feel completely at ease. However, I knew she couldn't keep IT away for much longer. Sure enough, I could feel it coming. It was radiating pure hate as it lurched down the halls. I became terrified.
"S-S-Susan? Y-you'll protect me...right? Susan?" I couldn't hear her anymore. The darkness burst into the room and came toward me. I began to panic. "SUSAN! Come back Susan! Don't leave me here! WAAAAA!!!!" My regressed emotions began to take hold as I could now do nothing more than wail loudly. Then I saw a golden light. Just like before. This time, the light spoke to me.
"Don't worry John. I'm here. I haven't left you. It's going to be alright." I stopped crying, but was still sniffling in confusion as to what had just happened. Somehow Susan had manifested herself in my dream. A big metal door suddenly appeared in the room. It opened and inside was nothing but darkness. "You're going to have to fight it. I can't stop it alone."
"But what can I do? I'm just a baby!" The light shown brightly and I was able to stand again. The darkness roared, but this time the light shone through. It began to retreat towards the metal door. The light would emit a burst of energy that seemed to knock the darkness back closer to the door. I followed closely behind.
"Now John! Now! Close the door!" I moved as fast as I could to the other side of the door and pushed with all the might I could muster. The darkness tried to reach around and grab my leg, but the light forced it to retreat. With one final shove, the door was shut and disappeared. Then there was quiet. I looked to the light, which now resembled Susan more than ever. "Now, let's get you home little one." She reached down and picked me up. I felt very warm and secure in her arms.
The dream ended in a flash. I was back in the hospital bed. Susan was standing over me, smiling. I smiled back as the nightmare seemed to be over. Just then we both noticed a fowl odor in the air. I looked down at the hospital diaper. "Yep, just as I thought. I'm messy, but I don't care. The nightmare is finally over, thanks to you." Susan leaned over the bed and gave me a big hug.
The nurse came in and helped Susan change me. They put me into another diaper "just in case" and later ran a few tests. After a day or two of rest with no bad dreams or accidents, I was allowed to wear regular underpants again. It was strange, they seemed a bit looser than I remembered. I guessed it was because I had worn those diapers for so long. Then a few days later, they could find nothing wrong with me, gave me a clean bill of health and let me go. It was a Friday and Susan insisted that I stay at her place for the weekend. Just to be sure. We talked for a long time about the dream and what it meant. We laughed about me as a baby on the floor. How she made me pee and poop my diaper. She felt that there still could be some residual emotional damage, but for the most part things should be okay. I felt very comfortable around her, and hated that I had to go back to work Monday. Back to my stressed out world. I went to my apartment first and discovered many bills waiting on me. Bills that I couldn't possibly pay right away. 'Please mail payment IN FULL today.' Heh, yeah you'll get that money. Lousy blood suckers. I was already loosing that calm feeling I had.
When I walked back into the office, everything seemed so large. The general atmosphere was one of woe. I could already feel it affecting me. I walked into my boss' office to try and explain what had happened. That's when things went wrong.
"You were in the hospital huh? How come you didn't tell us? You just up and disappeared for a few days without letting us know?!" I was in no mood to argue. I should have called in to let them know why I wasn't at work, but I just didn't think about it. Being scared out of your mind does that.
"Well, I wasn't exactly able to." I said in my defense. "I was in a hospital bed and unconscious for most of that time." I didn't want to tell him exactly what went on. Like he'd believe me if I did.
"The bottom line is, we had to replace you. Our systems got screwed up and we were left high and dry. Luckily my nephew just graduated and was happy to help us out. So I gave him your job. I'm sorry, but I have to let you go." It took a moment for all that to sink in. I was in shock and didn't know what to do or say. My life had just been shattered by some PUNK fresh out of school. I knew it! The world went red before my eyes.
"You WHAT?! You can't just replace me! I need the money! I can barely afford to live as it is!" I could feel some sort of darkness growing inside me.
"I know that son! It's just that I've already given the job to him. I can't just take it away from him. He's my nephew! I also can't afford to pay you both. Hell, I can barely afford to pay him!" That was a terrible excuse in my eyes. All I could see was hate. Something inside me snapped.
Are you afraid of it?
I grabbed my former boss by the shirt and pulled him upward. "You ruined my life!! I have nowhere to turn! Nowhere! I have nothing left now! I'll have to move back in with my parents! I'm ruined!! It's all your fault!!!" I slammed him down into his chair and glared into his eyes. I could see the fear building behind them. I felt in a position of power. His door was closed, but surely everyone could hear me yell. Good. I didn't care. I was no longer an employee and didn't have to play by their rules anymore. My heart was beating a mile a minute. "You know, I don't have much left to lose." I said in a deep, errily calm voice that seemed different, yet familiar.
Or are you afraid of what you will become?
"Please, don't do this." he begged.
"I'm afraid I have to. You see, I have to teach you a lesson. Otherwise, you won't learn!" I raised my fist and brought it down swiftly. I almost hit my boss when his nephew burst through the door and I realized what I was about to do.
"What's going on here?!" his nephew said looking at me with my fist raised. I looked at him confusingly, then quickly ran out of the building. I figured he would have called security, so I got to my car and sped away. I drove madly into the night. There was a storm raging now that seemed to match my mood. Those words were echoing in my head constantly.
"Are you afraid of it? Or are you afraid of what you will become?" I tried to shut it out, but there was no silencing it. Not knowing what else to do, I called Susan. Luckily she was home. I sped over to her house and told her what had happened. I began to sob into my hands as I felt myself break.
"I just couldn't help it Susan. I almost attacked my boss. I could have..." I didn't want to finish that sentance. The thought sickened me.
"But you didn't." Susan reassured me. "Remember that." Susan's words were comforting. I felt so helpless against my own feelings. She put my head in her lap and stroked my hair. Still sobbing heavily, I unconsciously put my thumb in my mouth. Susan saw, but didn't say anything. Lightning flashed through the windows and thunder soon followed. The sound of the rain gently falling was soothing. "Well, you can stay here for the night. I'll take you to your bed so you can get some rest. I'm really sorry all this happened to you. I'll help you out. Don't worry. Everything is going to be fine. You'll see." Susan stood me up, took me by the hand and led me into her guest room.
"Funny. I don't remember Susan being as tall as me." I thought to myself. She did seem taller now. If only by a little bit. I used to be a few inches taller than her, but now we were pretty much eye to eye. My head swirling with thoughts and emotions, I became dizzy and plopped onto the bed. Susan comforted me and covered me up with a thick blanket. Still sucking my thumb and clutching the blanket, I was soon fast asleep as the rain tapped on the window and the soft rumble of thunder could be heard in the distance. In my head, the voice still lingered.
Are you afraid of it? Or are you afraid of what you will become?
To be continued...
I tried to get to sleep, but I just kept thinking about what I had done, or almost done. I tossed and turned. My heart beat wildly and my head felt like it would burst as the raging storm outside seemed to mirror my feelings. I finally managed to sleep for a little while, then I awoke the next morning. Susan entered and calmly drew the shades open.
"Morning John. Did you sleep well last night?" She knew I hadn't, but asked anyway.
"Not at all. My head was spinning and everything just seemed so...dark." I sat up in bed, my head still a little swimmy.
"Don't go pushing yourself. Here, I made this for you. It'll help that swimmy headed feeling." She gave me a glass of clear liquid. I thought it was water at first, but upon tasting it, I found that it was a little syrupy and had a sweet and somewhat salty flavor. It wasn't the most pleasant tasting, but what medicine is? I drank it down to please her.
"So you know a little alchemy too?" I winked at her. "You're something else."
She laughed a little. "You'd be surprised at what I know." That would be the understatement of the year. My head did begin to feel better though. I managed to get out of bed. "You get dressed, I'll go fix some breakfast." Susan had some of my clothes on the back of a chair. At least I thought they were my clothes. They fit loosely. My T-shirt simply hung off me. The cuff of my jeans nearly covered my feet as they touched the floor even when I pulled them up as high as I could. I had to tighten my belt at the last available notch to keep them from sliding off. My shoes just barely fit when I laced them up as tight as they'd go.
"Susan?!" I yelled from across the hall. "Are you sure these are my things?!"
"They are some of the ones you left here last weekend. I had them cleaned and pressed. Why? Did they shrink or something?" She entered the room out of curiosity.
"Far from it. If anything is shrinking around here, it looks like it's me!" Susan came over to me to get a better look. I looked..up? I had to look up to her face! No longer were we even eye to eye! Until that time, I figured I must have dreamt the night before. Now I knew that something was definatly wrong. It was a big shock to my system.
"John?!" She tried to pull my pants up as if to make them fit better. Then she looked at my face and paused. "John. You're not just smaller..." She guided me over to a full-length mirror as I saw to my own horror that I was indeed shorter than her now as we stood together. Not only that, but my face was missing my usual morning hair. Instead there was just peach fuzz. I had what looked like a zit or two around my nose. I looked just like I did in my senior year! I was getting younger!
"Susan, what's happening to me?! This only happened in my dream!" I even went so far as to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't still dreaming. "This is crazy! I can't be getting younger! It's impossible!"
"I would never have thought it possible myself, but here you are. There's no mistaking it." She seemed to be rather calm about the whole thing. "You're a rare case John. A rare case indeed."
"A rare case? What do you mean?"
"I suppose I had better tell you now. I had hoped I wouldn't have to. I didn't want you to hate me or be afraid of me." She sounded like she was on trial or something.
"Afraid? Of you? What, are you some kind of witch or something?" I said. She didn't seem to like that comment, but it was a rather obvious statement.
"No, I'm not a witch, but let me explain. First off, you should know that I'm a mind reader. While I can't read everyone's mind, I can certainly read the minds of those close to me. I've known that you have been miserable for the past few years and I knew of your dreams before you told me about them. I just pretended not to know for obvious reasons." Things were beginning to make a creepy sort of sense. I just stood shocked and listened. "I not only knew of your dreams, but I had tried to help you with them before we had that session at the hospital. I can only do so much from long distances. I saw the monster you were facing and decided to help you with it."
"Help me? How exactly did you help me?" I finally managed to ask. It was all a little hard to swallow.
Susan looked me deep in the eyes and without saying a word, I heard that voice again. Are you afraid of it? Or are you afraid of what you will become?
I jumped back a bit and looked at her with frightened eyes. "You? That voice I kept hearing was you? Why didn't you tell me?!"
"Like I said, I was afraid. I figured that if I just played along and helped you secretly, you could overcome this problem. Of course, I had to step things up a bit at the hospital. For that to work, the subject has to be willing to let me into their mind."
"So then what do you mean by 'Are you afraid of it? Or are you afraid of what you will become?' Can you tell me that now?" I felt that knowing that would solve most of my problems.
"I'm sorry. It's something you'll have to figure out. If I told you, you'd never get better. All I can tell you is that you'll have to make a choice." Susan explained.
"A choice? What kind of choice?!" I was getting upset again.
"I can't tell you! The answers can't be found so easily. I put that suggestion into your head to help you figure it out. The whole meaning of your dream is something you'll have to discover."
"Okay then, explain to my why I'm shrinking. Can you at least tell me that, or do I have to figure that one out too?!" All these "answers" weren't answering anything.
"Let's just say that your mind is a powerful one. Most people cannot even begin to understand the power of the human mind. In your dream, your regression was a way to escape or relax, or so you thought. The darkness also played a part in that. You remember that each time you faced the monster, things seemed to get larger and more threatening?" I nodded in agreement. "Well, that darkness was using your pleasant regression against you. You would regress in order to escape into a more pleasant environment each time you faced the darkness. When you began to see that even your dreams weren't safe, your mind actually began to regress you physically, here. So, in a way, it's your own mind. When I noticed that you had gotten smaller at the hospital, I realized that something had to be done to rid you of this darkness. It seems that by locking it away, it has tried forcing itself on you more in the waking world. As such, your mind is responding by regressing you to an earlier, more pleasant stage in life."
For some reason, I saw it a different way. "You caused all this didn't you? Didn't you?!" I was looking for someone to blame. "You amplified my mind's power and now it's causing me to grow younger!"
"No, John! I swear! I had no idea this would happen! You've got to believe me when I tell you I was only trying to help!" Susan said pleading.
"I wouldn't be like this if you hadn't messed with me!" I realized that I was talking, but it felt like something else had taken over. "You! This is all YOUR fault! Get away from me!" I grabbed my things and bolted out the door while Susan followed behind.
"John! You can't leave now! It's too dangerous!" She yelled from the front door. I was already in my car.
"It's dangerous for me to be staying here! Keep out of my mind and stay away from me!" I had to adjust the seat in order to reach the foot pedals. I realized that I might get pulled over by some cop thinking I was under age, but I didn't care. I sped out of Susan's driveway and headed to my apartment as fast as I could. I tripped over my own shoes as I ran up the stairs. I just picked them up, ran in, and slammed the door locking it behind me.
Did she really cause this, or did I? Would I keep getting younger or would I stop now that I'm away from her? I seemed to have gotten even younger on the way over. Something in my mind was telling me that it was due to her influence. I flung myself onto the bed and wept. Susan was my best friend, and now she was my worst enemy. I had felt so calm with her. So at peace. Now all that was shattered. I didn't know what to do. First off, I had to get some thing that fit better. I got a box of my old clothes from my closet. I had kept a few of my old school clothes when I first left home. They were a tight fit back then, but now they were loose. I looked in the mirror. Now I looked like I was about 14 years old! At least I seemed to stop shrinking.
My mind wondered. I wanted to go do something. My young body didn't want to hang around in some dingy apartment room, but I couldn't drive now. I'd get pulled over for sure now. I looked out my window and saw some kids playing basketball in the vacant lot. It looked like it would be a lot of fun, so I decided to join them. Besides, it would take my mind off things. The kids in the lot were younger than me, about 10 or 11 years old, but that was okay. Heh, I'd just school them a bit on the game of basketball. They didn't mind a bigger kid playing with them. In fact, both teams immediately wanted me on their side. I chose one and the game started. My mind was free as all I thought about was basketball. I nimbly weaved in and out around the opposing team and made several easy baskets. My team was cheering, but the other team was jealous.
"It's no fair!" said one kid, "He's bigger than we are! It's easier for him to make baskets!" I just ignored them and kept playing. Soon, my team started to complain that I wasn't giving them a fair turn with the ball. Angrily, I bounced the ball high into the air.
"Fine! Take it!" The ball landed on one of the kids and he began crying. It was an accident, but none of the kids saw it that way.
"You big bully! You made my brother cry!" said the kid's brother. Then he came over and pushed me a little. He was a lot smaller than me, but he had a lot of guts. I just felt that old familiar feeling coming back. I tried to fight it by walking away, but then I heard him say, "What's the matter? Chicken?!" That was it. I felt the darkness take over as I knocked the kid to the ground. I landed punch after punch into him.
"Nobody calls me a chicken! Nobody!" My body went numb as we continued to fight. We locked hands and I was rolled onto my back. I was about to turn the tables when I noticed that his weight seemed to be increasing on my chest. "Ugh! Get off me!" I yelled and noticed that my voice was cracking. He kept at it, getting heavier all the time and his punches began to be gaining power. "I said GET OFF!" I finally yelled in a childish voice as I managed to roll him off me. I stood up and saw that I was now eye to eye with my opponent. The kids just gasped and stared.
"Looks like you brought him down to our size!" one of them yelled. I was still fuming and attempted to go at it again, this time he was able to block all my blows and land many of his own. I tried to stand up only to realize that I was standing up. Even so, now I had to look up at my challenger. My clothes once again became very loose.
"He's shrinking!" The kids stood back in awe as they watched my body diminish. I had to hold my pants up as they surrounded me in a circle. I was becoming scared of the older kids.
"Not all that tough now are ya? Let's get him! Teach him to beat up on smaller kids!" came a voice from the crowd of, now giant, 10 year olds.
"No way man. I'm not fighting some little kid. I'll get in trouble." said my enemy showing more honor than I had. I felt ashamed and shrank even more.
"He looks like he's not even older than my 6 year old brother!" This statement grabbed my attention as I suddenly remembered my situation. I let my pants fall to the ground as my shirt now covered me up more than adequately. "HAHA! He's going to need diapers if he keeps gettin' smaller!" I gathered my clothing and ran back up the stairs followed by the laughter of the kids. I went up to my apartment. Not knowing what else to do, I called Susan. She couldn't be the cause of my regression. I had just figured it out!
"Th-uthan?" I had a lisp! "Th-uthan! I need hewp!" I couldn't believe my voice.
"Who is this...? John?" She could feel it was me. "Oh my god! I knew I should have followed you!"
"Hewp me pwease! I'm getting widdle!" I said in a panicked child's voice.
"Stay there! I'll be right over!" Susan hung up the phone and I just sat on the floor and wept heavily until she arrived. She was shocked to see how young I had gotten.
"It's getting worse! You can't be anymore than 5 years old now!" I just sat there crying. "It's going to be okay John. I have an idea." Susan took me by the hand and led me out to her car. I couldn't believe how big she was. I was buckled up in the back seat and was taken to a store where she bought something that would fit me while I waited in the car. She also bought a few other things that she wouldn't let me see. Then she stopped by her house and dressed me in Osh Kosh overalls and blue T-shirt. I felt so small and helpless. She told me to go wait in the car after she was done. I felt better after the change but Susan had more in store for me. I was shuttled away in the car for a long distance. I eventually fell asleep sobbing. When I awoke, we were driving into an unfamiliar town.
I rubbed my eyes. "Where are we Th-uthan? What ith dis pwace?" Susan just smiled.
"It's my old hometown. Before I moved, I used to live in this house." We pulled up to an old, large house.
"Why are we hewe?" I asked confused.
"You'll see." She helped me out of the car and up the steps of the house. Susan unlocked the front door and said, "Now it's your turn. You have to open it and walk through." I complied and cautiously opened the door. What I saw astounded me. It was the house from my dream! The wood floors, the plush carpets, the long hallways, this was it! I knew what Susan was trying to do.
"Dis ith home!" I said as I ran inside happily. Everything was so clean. Just like someone had always lived there.
"Yes John, I used this house to help guide your dream. I projected this house because it was the one place I felt completely safe. As you can see, it's been kept up. My folks never did sell it. It too has been in our family for generations. We have our ways of keeping it in this condition." Susan led me around to different rooms. There was the hallway where I happily played in the sunshine. There was the room with all the toys in it. I could tell that I was getting smaller with each room we visited. It felt so relaxing. Then we came to the nursery. Where we locked the darkness away. I could no longer tell if I was dreaming or not as things seemed to blur. "You have to open that door. You have to face it." I didn't want to. I was scared. I couldn't have been but about 3 years old. My clothing had started to head south again.
"B-b-but, da monsta in dere!" I said nervously.
"I know. Just remember what I said. You'll have to make a choice. I need you to be a brave boy for me. Can you be mommy's brave little boy?" Susan tried talking in that condescending way that mothers use to get their kids to do things they don't really want to.
"Yeth! I big boy!" I was still very scared as I turned to face the door. I walked toward it as it opened. I could feel my loose clothes getting warm and heavy as my bladder cut loose. Suddenly, the darkness roared out from behind the door and I screamed. "Mommy! Mommy! Hewp me pwease!" Then the darkness got closer and began to take on a shape. The shape was becoming more and more familiar until it became the dark figure of a man. The figure leaned over at me and I could see its face. It was me!
"Hi there Johnny! I see you brought that WITCH with you!" my dark reflection said in a deep monstrous voice that sounded like a mix of myself and my dad. "She's the cause of your problems you know? She's the one who cost you your job, your sanity, and your very adulthood! Now, what are we going to do about that? Hmmm?" I turned to Susan who was now enveloped in a glowing light. "Don't be fooled Johnny! She's trying to trick you! Trust me. You know that you're going to end up like me. It's fate!"
"Are you afraid of it? Or are you afraid of what you will become?" said Susan. Those words, much clearer now, made more sense. I would have to choose between the two. If I went with Susan, I'd be rid of the darkness, but I'd still be a little baby. If I went with the darkness, I could become my adult self again, but I would always be full of anger and hate. I would still have my apartment, all my bills, and my hate filled life to deal with. I would probably have to move in with my parents now that I had no job. I could work things out though, couldn't I?
The darkness began to laugh. "So you've made your decision then? Good. Choose!" I stood for a brief moment between the darkness and the light.
"I choose..." I leapt over to Susan, jumping out of my shoes and overalls in the process, "my one TRUE friend!" I said in my own voice. The darkness growled and lurched toward us. Susan picked me up and together we glowed brilliantly. I looked one final time at the darkness and waved. "Bye bye monsta!" The light around us focused into a beam and struck the darkness causing it to disintegrate like a shadow in the sun. The nightmare was finally over. I looked up at Susan and was now not even 2 years old. I just grinned.
"I knew you would make the right choice John. Don't worry, I can take care of your adult woes. I can make it all disappear. For all those times when you stood up for me, took care of me, I'm returning the favor. Now it's my turn. I'll take care of you and let you grow up in a loving household. You'll be my little baby boy. How does that sound?"
It sounded like bliss to me. I giggled and finally said, "I wov u Usan!" She held me up and spun me around while we both laughed with delight. She took me over to the changing table and removed my wet things. She revealed to me the secret items she had got at the store. They were baby items! Baby powder, baby oil, diapers, wipes, sleepers, bottles, you name it! She handed me a toy that she had bought. "Here you go John. I guess now you're young enough to play with it." she laughed. I laid on my back and played with the toy as she gently cleaned my bottom and groin with a wipe. I put the toy in my mouth and explored it with my toungue. She then rubbed in some baby oil, sprinkled a bit of powder on me, and slid a diaper underneath. I was as happy as could possibly be. She folded the diaper up and pinned it in place. Then I was picked up and held lovingly. Susan fed me a bottle of chocolate milk and burped me. I was a bit embarrassed by the sudden loud burp I made, but it made her happy. She began rocking me to sleep as I felt a warmth growing in the front of my diaper. Susan just smiled and hummed a lullaby.
John was finally at peace. This is what he had wanted all along. He knew Susan would take good care of him. He had always felt very comfortable around her. John never again had a bad dream or felt the darkness. She used her family's influence to cloud the minds of everyone who knew him. As far as they knew, he had simply disappeared. His stress filled adult memories faded away with time and he became Susan's loving baby. He would sit on the floor in the large house as she watched, and play with toys in the warmth of the sun's light, peacefully.