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Victim of the Night Terrors

They kept coming. I couldn't move and they kept coming, the large red ants were crawling up my legs and onto my arms. I could see them- thousands- but I couldn’t move. My panic increased tenfold when they made their way to my face. I couldn't feel anything, but my vision slowly started to go dark as the ants started knawing away at my eyes. When they took my vision, I became paralyzed with fear; they executed the hit like perfect assassins, carrying out the torture faultlessly. And for the finishing touch of their performance, willingly sacrificed themselves, all to contribute to my destruction. The horde of ants filled my mouth.

I jumped up soaking in sweat, my hands were shaking, I looked around the room. I was at home; I was safe, it was all a dream. It was all a's not real. I took deep breaths and tried to forget the feeling of a thousand ants crawling all over my body. After an intense shower, I went downstairs following the delicious smell of bacon and eggs into the kitchen.

“Ah, you're finally up, good morning. I have ten minutes to spare before I have to leave for work." I stared at the man preparing a plate of eggs in my kitchen. The first thought that came to me was, “who are you?" He chuckled, “Ha, Ash, very funny. It's not THAT surprising for me to make you breakfast."

I stepped back feeling dazed and confused as I looked up at the smiling man. Almost as if I was hit by a truck the memories came crashing back, "Jonathon!" With love in his eyes, he kissed my forehead.

“I don’t want to go to work, I just want to stay and cuddle with you." He pouted and sighed miserably, "I'm telling you this case is going to be the death of me, if we still can't find the murder weapon the perp might just get a lower sentence instead of capital punishment." He banged the table in frustration the look of defeat in his brown eyes.

"I'm sure it's going to be fine. You are an amazing detective, a mere murderer can't stop the greatness that is Jonathon Franklin Graham!" I did a posh fake English accent and he laughed warmly.

" If it were only that simple. The perp is a serial killer that goes by the name Grizby and has been trafficking children for years. I need to find that weapon."

"And you will, I know it. Well would you look at that, now your late for work!" I held him close as he kissed me goodbye and took his leave. After having a quick breakfast, I made my way to work.


“Good morning children,"

"Good morning teacher!" I spent the day basking in the happiness of the children, their laughter drowning out any remnants of the nightmare that had terrorized me the night before. It was over before it began.

“Ok, goodbye children remember tomorrow is reading day, so bring your favorite book. Be good now."

"Ms. Ashley, Ms. Ashley!” I looked back to find small chubby hands pulling on my skirt.

I smiled, "Yes Mary, what is it?"

“Teacher, can you choose me for the best student trip. I've been good, I want to be chosen as well!"

I couldn't help but laugh at her pout.

"Mary, you have to do better on your next test, ok? Keep working hard." I ruffled her hair and she smiled.

"Ok, I will do my best!"

She grabbed her bag and ran outside. I spent an hour marking papers and tidying up before I was ready to leave. I locked up my classroom and headed to my car. After slamming the doors, I looked in the rear-view mirror and paused as I noticed a tall, bearded man across the street staring back at me. He had a homely scar across the left side of his face, and was wearing a long brown trench coat. I looked away and pulled out of the school parking lot.


“I think I should make a special dinner for Johnny." I thought to myself. "He’s been under a lot of stress since that case...hmm, maybe steak and roast potatoes with curry shrimp pasta."

After a quick stop at the grocery store, I made my way home. Oblivious to my surroundings, I opened the front door and was pushed inside from behind. Before realizing what was happening, I was gripped in a tight chokehold.

Behind me a gruff voice growled into my ear, “I've got you now..."

Filled with instant panic, I bit down hard on the intruder’s hand and he yelled in pain, involuntarily loosening his grip. I immediately bolted towards the kitchen. I headed towards the axe leaning against the kitchen door that led to the backyard, but I was tackled to the ground. I immediately identified the intruder as the man from across the school parking lot. Up close he looked scary; the scar across the left side of his face was deep and ugly, his left eye grey and lifeless.

“Why are you doing this to me? Who are you?" I yelled.

He sneered, “What? Don't tell me you forgot all about me so soon."

“Please, if it's money you want I can -” SLAP!

My jaw throbbed against the force of his grizzly hand.

“You dumb bitch! I don't want your filthy money. I want to see you pay for ruining my life!” SLAP “Stupid… worthless!” SLAP! “You make me sick, the world should be rid of filth like you! I’ll make you pay for what you took from me!”

My eyes were stinging, my vision was cloudy with tears, “Please. stop. I'm sorry...”

“Hey! Get off her!" Jonathon came bolting into the kitchen just in time to see the strange man assaulting me. He grabbed the man and hauled him off me as I struggled to get to my feet. The two men wrestled on the kitchen floor. Jonathon had the upper hand and handcuffed the intruder. I zoned out as he dragged him out of the house. He kept screaming at me saying, “I’ll be back I won’t stop haunting your dreams you’ll never get rid of me! I’ll be back...” Then everything went dark.

My head is pounding, goosebumps cover my arms as I feel something small tickle my neck. I open my eyes, but I am greeted by darkness. I try stretching and my heart speeds up as my hand knocks against an obstacle on both sides. I try extending my hands, but something is blocking me,. I try kicking but it’s no use; I'm trapped in a box. I suddenly feel the ticklish sensation again, but this time it’s everywhere- I can feel them crawling all over me. They were crawling into my clothes. My breathing grew erratic as I try to free myself from the confined space, but it was no use. I screamed until my voice became hoarse, no one came to my rescue. Was I underground? What was happening? I breathed hard and I couldn't see, trapped with so many creatures crawling all over me, biting away at my skin. I closed my eyes tightly hoping I would wake up from this nightmare. When I opened my eyes, I was surrounded by trees, the air was chilly and eerily quiet.

“I got you now.” Suddenly, a rope was pulled tight around my neck, I was strung up like a pinata struggling to breathe. As I dangled in the air I saw him, the intruder grinned up at me.

“Oh, God!" I was wheezing hard, covered in sweat; my arms remained covered in goosebumps. John was lying next to me in the bed. He looked up at me as I tried to catch my breath.

"What the hell Jonathon?! Why were you just lying there when I was obviously having a panic attack? Who does that?" I screamed at him until my voice cracked as I held back tears.

His eyes widened in surprise at my outburst, and he came closer to me. "Hey your right, your right I don't know. I guess I thought you would feel worse if I tried to wake you. I think I heard someone say you’re not supposed to wake someone who has night terrors."

"What, so I should just have a heart attack in my sleep?"

He shook his head, "No of course not. Ok, the superintendent is throwing a birthday party tomorrow night. Everyone from the station is going to be there. There's going to be lots of food and a chill atmosphere. Why don't you come with me? You need to take your mind off things. OK?" He took my trembling hands and kissed them.


I sighed. I really did need a break, and maybe it would be fun.

"OK." I said. He flashed a soft smile and kissed my forehead .

"Good. I'm going to get ready for work. See you later."

After Johnathen left, I got my computer and tried hunting down the man who attacked me. Why would he want to hurt me so badly? How did I ruin his life? No matter how hard I tried I couldn't remember if I had seen him before. I'm but only a Kindergarten teacher, how could I ever have offended him? I searched for answers for the remainder of the day but there was nothing. I couldn't understand, maybe it was all a misunderstanding. But deep down I knew there was no misunderstanding. It was something I saw in the look of pure, irrefutable hatred in his eyes when he looked at me.


The next day I observed the sky that was colourfully painted by the sunrise, the trees danced like puppets controlled by the cold winter breeze. I inhaled the fresh air and began my stretches having concluded my jog. I was determined to get my life back on track.

"Remember to get ready for 6:00 this evening." Jonathen said as I entered the kitchen. "We don't want to be late for the party."

“Ok, I'm going to wear that red dress that you like...the one without the straps." He smirked and pulled me close.

"Maybe we should skip the party and you could just wear the dress for me here." I giggled.

"Go to work, you’re going to be late!" He checked his watch and kissed my forehead, “Five minutes is all I need."

I laughed pushing him away. “No! Now go!" He pouted as he grabbed his bag and rushed out the door. I chuckled to myself. I felt warm and fuzzy and loved. I felt reassured that what happened with the intruder was a horrible misunderstanding and obliged to forgive him for his mistake.


I found myself slipping on my heels at 6:00pm. I was excited to meet Jonathon's colleagues and even more excited to get my hands on the buffet table.

“Wow, simply gorgeous. I could just gobble you up." Jonathan grinned and showered me with kisses.

I laughed heartily, “don't be so clingy at the party, or else your colleagues might tease you."

The party was in full swing by the time we arrived. Jonathon's colleagues were wonderful, I ate and danced, all my worries were long gone. I was smiling the whole night until I saw him.

It felt like something out of a movie, it was like everything slowed down and I could only focus on the man staring back at me. My breathing started to get shaky as I realized that he was holding the hand of a little girl. The girl grinned and waved at me, "Hi teacher!"

It was Mary! Why was the intruder holding her hand? He smirked at me, lifted her into his arms, and disappeared into the crowd.

I screamed, “No! Wait, stop! Please, let's talk." I pushed through the crowd to catch up to him, but he was already gone. Panicking, I immediately went to find Jonathon to tell him what I had seen.

“It was him I swear!

His eyes widened for a split second before he flashed a smile.

“Babe, calm down. I'm telling you that's impossible. He's still locked up right now. He didn't get bail so there is no way he would be able to be here. Let’s just enjoy the party!"

“But I know what I saw!” I shouted in frustration. “I saw him, I heard Mary call out to me.” Jonathen sighed.

“Ok, I’ll call Mary's parents to find out if she's missing. Just relax."

A million thoughts were going through my mind. What if it was the work of that serial killer? No way the perp is locked up awaiting trial right now. The man could be a part of the trafficking ring, but even if he was, why was he stalking me?


"Hey." I turned with a jolt.

“Well, is she missing? Where is she?" I paused as I searched Jonathan's face. He was smiling but his eyes were emotionless.

“Mr. Edward says that Mary has been asleep since five because she has been sick with the flu. She's safe at home..."

“No, I saw her I heard her! You have to believe me!"

“Of course I believe you. Let's just get you home. This party is getting kind of boring anyway." He grinned.

When we got home, he cuddled with me until I calmed down.

"Here, take this so you can sleep properly. I’ll be right back." Jonathen handed me a Xanax and went downstairs. Not ready to fall asleep and become a victim to my night terrors, I clutched the pill within my palm as I recounted the events that took place at the party. I drifted off for a short while and when I awoke I found that Jonathen had not yet returned. I decided to get up and head downstairs to find him.

As I approached the kitchen, I heard humming. After peeking inside, I froze. Jonathon was at the kitchen counter. He appeared to be making a pie with a filling of live ants. He covered the top of the pie and put it in the oven, then waited 10 minutes before taking it out. He had his usual soft smile, but his eyes remained emotionless. He sliced up the pie and poured himself a glass of milk.

My heart racing, I ran upstairs as quietly as I could, and I got back in bed. I tried to control my breathing as I heard him make his way up the stairs. My fear increased with each creak of the floorboards and the hair on my skin rose at the sound of his humming. He sat on the bed, and I watched him through slitted eyes. He had the same look on his face, smiling lips and indifferent eyes. He stroked my face affectionately and sppon-fed me the pie that he had made. He then poured the milk in my mouth to wash it down as I tried not to gag, but it was too much to bear. I jumped up and puked over the side of the bed.

“What are you -?” Before I could finish, he pinned me down on the bed.

“Shhhhhh…. Hey shhhhh… Don’t cry, I'm not going to hurt you, just relax babe."

“Please! No, Oh God stop! Why are you doing this?" I sobbed.

He stroked my throat, a look of longing in his eyes, and then he applied pressure. I thrashed around trying to escape his grip, but he was straddling me and too heavy for me to push off.

“Shhhhh just relax, easy does it." He said softly, all while crushing my throat with his bare hands.


“The prisoner seems to be reaching her limit. Should we turn off the device, Detective Graham?"

Detective Jonathon Graham smiled softly, he felt pleased, “Yes, shut it off for now. Will everything be ready for tomorrow? This will be the first trial for the program, and we can't have anything go wrong- many important people will be there."

“Yes…yes sir!” The scientist stuttered. He checked the prisoners’ eyes, they were lifeless, but she was still alive. He nervously ensured that she was properly tied down and prepared to transfer her back to her cell. He was just an assistant, and being so close to such a dangerous person made him feel uneasy.

“Detective Graham!" A short stubby man entered the lab in a hurry, his mouth covered in cookie crumbs and his hands filled with documents.

"I hope my assistant didn’t cause any trouble; did everything go well? I know how important it is for this program to succeed."

Graham sighed. He was tired; he had been working nonstop to ensure the success of the new Prisoner rehabilitation program. It was his dream to cut out capital punishment for good and with this program, he was a step closer to his goal. There was a lot of criticism surrounding the program. Some persons claiming it was torture- that it is barbaric to submit prisoners- as guilty as they might be – to such a traumatic experience as forcing them to experience their fears to the brink of their death. Detective Graham wasn't naive; he knew the concept was bordering insanity, but he couldn't resist thinking about the impact that it might have if it succeeded. They could be looking at a serious crime reduction.

"I'm surprised you chose this prisoner as the first candidate. What was her name again? Ashley something?"

Detective Graham frowned as he observed the unconscious girl tied down to the table. "Ashley Grizbey locked up for murder at the highest degree and child trafficking. She was an “innocent” Kindergarten teacher who turned out to be running a trafficking ring on the weekends. Turns out a father became suspicious when his daughter mentioned that some students take a special trip if they get good grades."

“Was that how she got caught? Did the father report it?"

“No, she kidnapped his daughter, and he started stalking her. They found him hanging in the woods behind his house shortly thereafter. She had attempted to make it look like a suicide, but there were signs of a struggle. Investigators recorded that he had a deep cut across his face and his left eye was bleeding." The stubby scientist whistled and looked at the woman in amazement.

"Wow, I guess she was a mastermind."

The Detective shook his head, "Ashley Grizbey was a worthless human being and a conniving bitch. Took me 5 years to catch her, and I tend to make her suffer in the most traumatic way possible to atone for the lives that she destroyed. Now let's get her out of here. She has a long day of justified, barbaric torture to look forward to tomorrow."


The darkness substitutes for day and night as my mind goes adrift into a world void of light. Unable to awake from this deep slumber, the darkness continues to take over. Suddenly, the trance is broken by a terrifying pressure, and I feel as if I am being forced under water. The pressure intensifies and it feels like my throat is being crushed- the only silver lining is the sliver of light that pierces the darkness. I reach out towards the light, desperate to survive, just a little closer!

I gasp for air, my breathing heavy and I’m covered in sweat. The room was brightly lit by the sunshine pouring in through the window, the birds were chirping heartily, and cars drove through the streets, all proving that the world was awake and going about the day. My heart pounding in my chest. I climbed out of bed and shakily trudge towards the mirror. With trembling hands, I traced the red marks on my neck that confirmed my suspicions; it wasn’t a dream, someone really tried to choke me to death. I heard a voice call from outside.

“Howdy neighbour! It’s a beautiful day, don’t you think?” Mr. Rogers laughed heartily, clutching his belly in amusement as though the sunny day was an amazing joke that only he understood. His laugh soon turned into a fit of coughs, but he still couldn’t stop laughing. For a moment, I didn't know how I knew Mr. Rogers, nor who he was. I had experienced a severe mental lag. Yet, the memories of him soon came flooding back. I tried to swiftly walk in the opposite direction when someone else approached me. Reality had become incongruent.

“Hello there, neighbour. Hello, Mr. Rogers. Tell me, what is so humorous today?” I instantly recognized the newcomer as Mrs. Smith, the friendly elderly lady across the street. Mrs. Smith giggled at Mr. Rogers’ happy demeanor. His whole body shaking in a fit of laughter, he slapped his knee and replied, “It’s such a beautiful day…” Mrs. Smith chuckled, then howled with otherworldly laughter. The two fell to the ground, amused by something no one else could understand. I slowly backed away.

I disoriently stumbled back into my house and collected a few belongings to leave. An unrightness hung in the air. I couldn’t explain what was happening- the strange behavior, the nightterrors, the choking, the man with the scar. I must of been experiencing temporary amnesia, and grew weary of the traumatizing memory that it might of been suppressing.

I fixed my scarf properly around my neck and without a clear destination in mind, hurriedly walked away. I felt as though I was slowly losing my sanity. Who should I turn to? Do I have any family members? Should I go to the police? I had no idea. I was at a metaphorical crossroad. I closed my eyes and tried to remember something, anything.


A soft voice startled me, and I spun around, already in defence mode. My muscles relaxed as I saw it was just a little girl looking up at me. She held her hand out to me and I felt compelled to take it and let her lead me. She silently clasped my hand as we walked down the street and she led me down a dirt road. At the end stood an old, secluded warehouse. The girl let go of my hand as she walked towards the building and stopped. In that moment I felt fear that I had never felt before.

“Little girl,” I whispered, “What are we doing here? Let’s go, it doesn't look safe.” I slowly approached her, and without acknowledgement she turned her head and slipped inside the heavy doors.

“Wait!” I called out in desperation. Against my better judgement, I followed her inside and stopped cold. In the corner, there were over 20 children tied up in their own filth. I panicked. Had these children been kidnapped? Did I walk into a crime? My first thought was to call the police, but as I reached for my pocket the little girl spun around and looked at me.

She frowned, “Open your eyes. You have to wake up.” Her eyes were void of emotion, but her presence felt so overwhelming.

“I don’t understand,” I whimpered. “What are you trying to say?”

“Open your eyes!” she snarled. “Set us free. Remember who you are and release us.” I dropped to the ground shaking in horror as the little girl’s words ripped open the tightly sealed memories of who the real monster was. I started hyperventilating the more I started to remember. The little girl started to chuckle, growing hysterical with laughter.

“It’s a beautiful day to kill someone isn’t it?” She continued to laugh as I struggled to get my breathing under control. The last thing I remember was her indifferent eyes before I lost consciousness.


“Ok, gentlemen! We have come to the end of the presentation. As you can see the subject ended up having to face her victims, she was subjected to the same emotional torture that she would use on her victims. From the lack of empathy to the phrase used before committing the crimes, ‘It is a beautiful day to kill someone isn’t it?’ This experience is meant to trigger rehabilitation and lessen the chance of the offender repeating similar crimes in the future.”

Detective Graham watched as the potential sponsors whispered amongst themselves. He felt pleased- everything had gone according to plan. It was now up to the group of men seated around the conference table to see the potential in his project and rush to their checkbooks.

“I have a question.” Detective Graham perked up as the most influential sponsor spoke. “What happens to this girl now? What we just observed seemed to be more than traumatic. Is she really in a rehabilitated stage?”

Detective Graham smiled, “I understand your concern Mr. Richards, but I can assure you, Ashley Grizby is no longer a threat. Given that this programme takes off, I think her life will only turn out for the better.”

Ashley Grizby listened quietly to what was taking place, physically paralyzed, but consciously, however, she was plotting a war.

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