When Ferris woke, he was in a cage. He was not the only thing in a cage near him–rather, he seemed to be in some massive room, filled with cages, and the cages, in turn, were all filled with a countless number of beasts. He couldn’t recognize any of them, they weren’t anything like what he had seen in his entire life, they all seemed massive, and hairy, full of teeth, glaring eyes, and sharp claws, and he couldn’t stop himself from shaking in terror.
He…could remember now, something he’d long forgotten from his youth, a dream he’d had as a child, a dream he had had over and over again. He’d be walking down a street–an alley really–lost and separated from his parents, calling out to them, and then it would sound behind him. A deep growl, so low it was more felt than heard, and when he turned around, it was there, the beast. A dog perhaps, but he had never seen it as a dog–dogs were friendly. No, this was something else, something feral and vicious, something that had sensed him cut off from the people who could protect him, something that wanted only to devour him, and nothing more.
He would wake, screaming, and his parents would console him, but the beast would always return the next night. Eventually, it faded, as these dreams do, he supposed, but it hadn’t faded from everywhere. In every cage, he could recognize them now, every beast from those dreams, caged up in his own mind, or caged up in the dream world, kept for him, for some terrible reason.
The nightmare in the cage next to his lunged at the steel bars, making it rattle, and he screamed, the beasts around him howling and snarling louder, drowning out his own voice, making it impossible to hear himself at all–and the fear, he had never felt fear like this. It was mindless. There was no controlling it, no tempering it or taming it, no rationalizing with it. He found himself reduced to an animal himself, shaking his own cage, but there was no door, and it seemed to be getting smaller, or tighter. He kept screaming, but all he could hear were the howls of the beasts, almost like they were all pouring from his own mouth, and then wall of the cage broke apart and he tumbled out of it and onto the floor outside, the cages surrounding him on all sides, but the fear was there, the fear would never leave him again, and he could…he could feel it changing him, warping him, somehow. He wasn’t right, he couldn’t stand up, he couldn’t speak, or scream or anything.
He could see it now, the nightmare. It had been feeding off him, draining his sanity and his soul, sucking away his rationality and his humanity, and when Ferris looked down at himself, in the midst of the cages, but he was no longer human–but he also was not a beast, not like them. He was nothing like them at all. He was soft and vulnerable. Fleshy and slow. No claws or teeth, no way to defend himself, because he was prey, he realized. He had always been prey, this whole time, but this was the first time he truly realized it.
“Stupid animal, coming to our realm in the night,” the thing said. It wasn’t human speech, but Ferris could understand it, somehow. “Still, such delicious fear–you’ve made me so very strong tonight–do you have more to feed me, little pet?”
A collar appeared around his neck then, choking him, and the nightmare approached him…and violated him. Ferris, perhaps, might have called it rape, but it was unlike any sex he had ever experienced–the thing wasn’t ruining his body, but choking out his mind, dimming it, ruining it, draining it–if he did nothing, then Ferris was certain he was doomed. It ended, and he felt for the tether, the last bit of himself connecting himself to his reality, to the waking world–but it was so weak. The nightmare dragged him back into the cage and sealed him back inside, and looked at him, at the fleshy, soft pig-like animal Ferris had become. “Not much longer now–soon you’ll be all dried up, just like all you mortals who make the mistake of coming here.”
The voice was clearer now, in his mind. He could…understand all of this, somehow, even the meanings in the snarls of the beasts surrounding him. The dream was corrupting him–and likely his tether as well. If he didn’t act soon, he’d be trapped here–and either be dead, or perhaps worse, doomed to wander as a nightmare himself, in this wasteland.
What fate befalls Ferris in the dream world?
- He escapes the dream world, but the nightmare has warped reality around him.
- He becomes trapped in the dream realm, a roaming nightmare to terrorize others.
- He breaks free in the dream, and devours the dream spirit.
- He is turned over to the beasts, and he is trapped in his own nightmare forever as their bitch.
Voting ends on Friday