You were my perfect victim. You were young, bright and energetic and I was so glad when I stumbled across you when you visited that fake medium. You were the only one who believed in him because you had just a hint of my presence as I followed you home, but you shook it off and eventually went to bed for your lovely, long healthy sleep.
It was glorious. Here was someone who slept eight hours every night. That is a gift to one of my kind. During the day I could creep into a corner or a shadow and remain an unobserved spirit. I would even hide under the bed. Then, when night fell and you slid between your covers and slept, I could creep into your dreams.
You had never remembered dreams before. When I first crept into your sleepscape I was shocked at how bright it was, filled with sunlight and good memories. But it was also full of your energy and you were worth the effort. It took weeks for me to make it my home. I eroded the sunlight, filled the golden fields with a nameless dread and sent strange shapes to hunt your dreamself. I nibbled at the corners, cutting off the good memories and making the perfect opportunities for every shameful moment of your life to echo. Every dark thought, every insidious fear, every tiny morsel was savoured as I nurtured your sleepscape like a master nurtures a perfect pupil.
You didn’t notice at first. I’ve been around for a very long time and I don’t make mistakes like that. Instead you noticed that you were a little tired, a little run down. You laughed with your friends about your strange dreams and tried changing your diet around. Once I became settled, I took a little more. You were finding sleep harder and harder and the nightmares were scaring you. You cut out all caffeine and went to a counsellor. I went with you, of course, and took notes during your discussions. You gave me wonderful tools to use for your torment.
Then you cut out sugar and went to the gym more. I basked in the dark thoughts that were brimming in your sleepscape and fed to satiation. I gave you sleep terrors and laughed as you woke screaming. I noticed that your boyfriend was a little too perceptive, so I made sure your nightmares featured him. I was relieved when you dumped him, as he was getting close to the truth.
I drained draught after draught from you as you slept, your torrid dreams feeding me to repletion. You, however, lost weight as you tried different diets and exercises. You went to the doctor and got sleeping pills and I celebrated. You had started to wake a little too often and now these wonderful pills kept you in my domain for so much longer.
You were finding it harder and harder and I gave some thought to moving on. The bright, bubbly victim I first met had gone. You were gaunt and pale, with dull eyes and slow speech. You dragged yourself from work to home to sleep to work and suffered. You were now insipid fare. I looked around for a suitable candidate, but you were now far too exhausted to speak to anyone and my choices were becoming very limited. I couldn’t survive long without a host, but you were so drained that you were barely adequate to keep me in existence.
Thank goodness I had my lucky break. You were far too tired to drive but at the same time you were far too tired to see sense. You lost concentration as you drove to your work and so you swerved to miss a fragment of dream and hit a tree. I was frantic, wondering if I would be able to transfer to one of the crowd who rushed around to help you, but they brought you into this place.
I have never been in a hospital before. It is truly a marvellous place. As you slip deeper into a coma and I perch unseen on the end of your hospital bed and plunder the last of your sleepscape, I have so many other potential hosts I can choose from. The patients are not worth considering, but there are plenty of visitors, along with technicians, secretaries, cleaners, maintenance, porters and all manner of healers. The chirpy blonde girl who chats to your unhearing form as she cleans the room is perfect. I wonder what her sleepscape looks like.