Anna ran through the blurred corridors, struggling to see through the darkness and struggling to keep her control. The hallway extended in its length, almost outpacing Anna’s panicked speed. Reaching the nearest doorway she could find, she dashed into the room without even caring where she ended up. It was a bedroom.
She ducked under the bed and begged under her breath: “Wake up, wake up, wake up!”. She squeezed her eyes shut, and hoped that it’d be over when she opened them again. All was quiet.
Anna opened her eyes. She was lying awake in bed, but the man was standing over her. Anna’s heart stopped from fear, and didn’t start again.
Prior to this, Anna had begged the nurse not to sedate her.
“Please, not tonight, not tonight!” Anna cried, struggling against the nurse’s surprisingly strong grip. “I can’t let him get to me tonight! I’ll be quiet, I promise, nobody’ll know you didn’t do it.”
The nurse spoke as calmly as she could “You say this every night, Anna, but you’ve always survived. Besides, you need your sleep.”
“No, this is different.” Anna said, “He’s done with me, he doesn’t want me anymore. He’s finished playing with me, and there’s no way I could escape him.”
The nurse didn’t flinch. “I’m sorry, but you need to sleep. I can guarantee you’ll wake up alive and well tomorrow.” She jammed the syringe into Anna’s arm before she could react, and Anna slept.
“Anna, you don’t really think you can hide from me, do you?” The man had said a day before that first agonizing dream. Anna stayed in the wardrobe, not responding at all. She knew she wouldn’t wake up, but she tried to regardless. As usual, the dream would not let her leave. “You think I don’t know where you are? I know exactly where you’re hiding.” There was a knock on the wardrobe door, and Anna stifled a scream. “That’s it. Come out, we can have so much fun together. I’m not that bad, am I? I’m definitely better than Richard was.”
Anna stopped, adrenaline still pumping through her, not completely in fear, but rage. “Yes,” the man said, his voice both mocking and triumphant, “I did you a favor, Anna. I don’t care that you loved him, he was an idiot and a pig nonetheless. He. Deserved. It.”
Anna couldn’t take it anymore. She threw herself out of the wardrobe, yelling and ready to tear the man apart. She pummeled right into the man’s arm and fell to the ground. Anna may not have seen the man’s face, if he had one, that is, but she felt as though the man was fantastically unimpressed.
“Is that seriously the best you can do?” The man asked, grabbing Anna by the back of her head and lifting her into the air effortlessly. “I can show you a true attack.” He slammed Anna’s face into the wall. It wasn’t, however, the wall of whatever building the dream had conjured, it was the wall of her room. Anna stood there, hands against the wall, and her nose completely broken, staring at the spot of blood. The orderly in charge of her shouted for medical help and tried to calm her down, but Anna wasn’t panicked. What had happened took a few minutes to register in her mind. After her nose was bandaged and she went back to sleep, she was surprisingly peaceful the rest of the night.
The next morning, she was prescribed muscle relaxants. They couldn’t leave her free to sleep walk anymore.
Three months before then, Anna was strapped to a table. Her skin, or what was left of it, was raw and charred. Her bones were smashed in every way that she could imagine, her muscles sliced in ribbons, and her mind was overwhelmed with despair. The man had finally gotten her, she couldn’t have evaded him forever. She was resigned to her fate. She only saw the brim of the man’s pork-pie hat from her viewpoint, but she was convinced that the torture would resume soon.
The man began to speak “Anna, I can only imagine your pain, knowing what happened to Richard.” The voice was higher, and the pain dulled. Anna opened her eyes and found herself in the hospital bed, the man’s voice now the voice of Mary. “I hope you can recover soon.” Mary seemed to realize that Anna was awake at that moment. “Anna! How do you feel?”
Anna smiled, in spite of herself. “Like a knife’s being jammed through my skull.” They somewhat laughed.
The reunion was short-lived, though. A doctor nearby had to ask Mary to step out for a bit. She reluctantly agreed.
“Annabeth, you aren’t mentally sound.”
Anna sighed, “You’re committing me, aren’t you?”
The doctor nodded solemnly, “You’re a danger to yourself and others. You’ll be sent once your concussion is manageable.”
Anna just nodded. Maybe the nurses could actually make the man go away.
A week prior, Anna sat, motionless and tired in her chair. She was fighting with all of her might to stay awake. The plan hadn’t worked, but Anna didn’t dare let the man back in. She heard the knock at her door. She jumped, barely stifling a yelp, and darted to her bedroom. She knew that the man was out there, she could hear it calling to her.
“Anna, hello? Let me in. Anna, I’ve been worried about you.”
That voice was the voice of the man. He wasn’t even pretending.
Anna ducked into her closet, ignoring the voice.
“Anna, it’s Mary, come on, open the door. Open the door!”
Anna slammed the closet door and stuffed herself into the corner. She concentrated on making the man go away. It wasn’t Mary, it wasn’t Mary. If it had been Mary, she’d have known where Anna kept the spare key. She’d be able to open the door with no trouble at all.
The door to the house creaked open. Anna went quiet, but in her mind, she berated herself for allowing this. How could she give the man access to that thought? She heard the man’s heavy footsteps draw closer, that same voice call out to her.
“Anna, I know you’re here. Where are you?”
The footsteps approached the closet, and Anna tensed. She decided that she would not let the man take her without a fight. The door opened, and Anna lunged at the man. The man seemed too shocked to fight back at first. After a few seconds, the man overpowered Anna easily, but when Anna looked up, the face she saw was Mary. Mary punched her, and everything went black.
Anna sipped her tasteless coffee as she looked at the morning news. No murders had happened for a while. Anna should’ve been happy it was working, but was the man finished? No, there was no way. He was biding his time. It had been three days, and the man hadn’t showed his face (if it could be called that). Anna didn’t feel right about
Anna reached over, and picked up a photo in a frame. There were her parents, Mary, herself, and Richard. Richard had just been a toddler when the photo had been taken. His 21st birthday was supposed to be tomorrow. Anna couldn’t keep herself from crying. The tears weren’t only of grief, but anger. How could the man do this? Why her? Why Richard?
Anna jumped. Were those footsteps? She forced herself off of the couch and staggered into the hallway. For a moment, she saw that same hat-clad head, looking straight at her, before it backed casually, almost lazily, into the room beyond. Anna ran back into the living room and grabbed her lamp, ready to attack the man, should he come through. He didn’t. He was gone for the moment.
Three days earlier, Anna had simply sat at the reception, acknowledging condolences and staring into space as she ate the food on her plate. Lost in thought, she contemplated what to do next. The man had come for her brother, just like it seemed he had come for the others. She’d dreamed of the murder, just like all the others. Was the man simply showing her the murders for his own amusement. That didn’t feel right.
Suddenly, a thought struck Anna. What if the man needed her dreams? What if the man was gaining power from the dreams. Beginnings of a plan began to form in Anna’s mind. She mulled it over through the entire reception. She came home, she walked into her bedroom, and stood, debating the decision. Finally, she turned and walked from the room. She’d made up her mind. The man needed her to sleep, so she wouldn’t
The day before, Anna replayed that last voicemail from Richard, over and over again.
“Hey, sis, on my way over now! Thanks for inviting me. Come with me next weekend if you want! You can teach me how to get properly drunk. Call me back when you’re ready for me!” It wasn’t anything special in itself, but it had been the last time she’d heard Richard’s voice. At least, the last time she’d heard his voice when he was happy.
She began to bawl. Why had the man come for Richard? She remembered how scared she’d been when she learned about the man’s connection to those other murders, but she’d been intrigued as well. There had been something morbidly, maybe even pleasantly, fascinating about this mysterious killer who murdered people and made Anna watch. That was all gone. Nothing pleasant remained of the man. He was more than an ominous curiosity. He was something dreadful that had wormed into her life.
She didn’t even notice that she’d fallen asleep until she heard the footsteps. The hunt was on for the night.
The night before then, Anna had a dream. She was standing outside of some cheap motel. It took Anna a second to recognize it, but her blood ran cold when it hit her. Richard was staying here. In the small lights coming from the lobby windows, Anna saw the man. He mounted the stairs and started walking, and Anna realized what he was going to do. She ran towards the man. She dashed towards the man. She tried to scream for help, to do something to stop him, but her throat made no sound, and felt like she was swimming through treacle.
She could only follow the man as he knocked on Richard’s door. She could only watch as an Richard (still in pyjamas) opened the door, as the man tackled Richard to the ground and closed his hands around Richard’s throat, as Richard tried and failed to scream, and then went still.
She woke up, screaming. It was less than an hour later that she heard that Richard was dead, and it didn’t surprise her at all.
Richard lay in bed at the motel, watching TV with slight interest. There was a knock on the door. Richard got up, looked through the peephole, and opened the door. He was tackled to the ground. Richard tried to fight, but the shock wouldn’t let him think straight. As the world slowly faded to blackness, the last thing he saw was the blank, vacant face and glassy, dull eyes of Anna.