Be sure to check out the links to the other BlogHop stories included below!
Alby rose from a restless nights sleep, nightmares had plagued him for the first time since he was young. Dark shadows hung under his eyes and his hair was a snarled mess. He tried to run his hand through it to straighten it, but his fingers caught in the knots. Carefully he combed them out and headed out the door.
The next night was the same, the nightmares plagued him nearly from the moment his head hit the pillow. Even more terrifying than the images in his mind were the moments when he was sure he had woken up but found himself unable to move.
After a day that stretched on too long he was caught by a coworker on his way out.
“You look terrible Alby, have you been sleeping?” Nando asked, concerned.
Alby just shook his head and if he hadn’t known Nando for so long he would never have said anything, “Nightmares, the last three nights. I just can’t shake them.”
Nando nodded, then a knowing gleam came to his eye as he examined his friend, “A Mara has found you.” he began but Alby stopped him before he went off on one of his tangents.
“Here we go again with your fantasies!” he laughed. It took effort, but laughing felt good.
Nando wouldn’t have it though and didn’t let the dismissal stop him, “She’s a witch, she sneaks in while you’re asleep and holds you down forcing nightmares into your head.” Alby raised an eyebrow, having heard the stories Nando’s grandmother has told him before, but Nando isn’t finished, “has your hair been all tangled in the morning?”
The seemingly random piece of information finally made Alby stop and he considered his friend, unconsciously he ran a hand through his hair.
Nando didn’t need a verbal response. “really?”
Alby shook his head again, “that’s just a fairy tale meant to scare little kids.” But he hid his uncertainty until they parted ways at the corner.
A dark shapeless form glided down the hallway, shifting and turning, it rose up and passed through the keyhole, on the other side of the door Alby was sleeping. At the foot of the bed the shape of a lanky woman appeared, climbed silently up the bed and pinned Alby to the bed by sitting on his chest. He was still for now, sleeping soundly. As she leaned over his head he became restless, his lips quivered. She seemed to disappear but his distress did not.
Again Alby found his hair matted after a fitful night, the dark circles under his eyes were so pronounced he looked ill. Nando’s words lingered at the back of his mind. At a loss, and unable to go on this way, he went to the library. He searched the stacks for old books on superstition eventually he pulled a large volume off the shelf. The old book offered a myriad of ideas to rid him of a Mara, and none of them seemed too difficult. That night he was prepared.
As he settled in for the night he pointed his shoes towards the door, got into his bed backwards and tried to find a comfortable way to sleep with his arms and legs crossed. He felt stupid, but he had to try something, so he tried everything. Still he had a sense that it wasn’t working, so he waited. Lying still as though he were asleep he almost laughed at himself for believing the story. He just about jumped off his bed when he felt the dip of pressure by his feet. But before he could react the weight had moved to cover his legs, crawling up his body and pressing him into the mattress. He felt the familiar sensation that had half-woken him earlier in the week. Just when he felt that he couldn’t take it any longer he opened his eyes and looked up into a dark face with ragged features that he could barely make out.
Fear threatened to steal his voice but he bit out the line the book had given him; “Leave now and tomorrow I will give you whatever you want,” for a moment nothing happened, the dark form settled on his chest as if considering, then slowly she retracted the way she had come, slithering back down the bed and disappearing into the shadows.
That night he slept so well, everything that had happened over the last few days felt like a dream. After work he smiled up into the sun, it was a beautiful day and nothing could be wrong.
At the corner a woman he had never seen before approached him, staring at him expectantly. He was confused and just stared back at her. Then she became angry, getting too close to him.
“You have something for me?” she hissed.
Alby couldn’t move, he did know her; or at least what she is. It was never a dream. He found it even harder to find his voice than it had been last night. He had no mantra for this. Finally he rasped out; “what do you want?”
All he got in return was a devious smile.
Be sure to check out all the StoryTime BlogHop Participants:
Pick Up Lines by Bill Bush
The Scorpius Gate by Sandra Fikes
V is for Vortex by Elizabeth McCleary
Deep Dive by Juneta Key
Bugs by Gina Fabio
Secret by J. Q. Rose
Journal of Anah by J Lenni Dorner
The Vineyard at Mar Mozambique by Karen Lynn
Stealing Space by Barbara Lund
The Day I was Clever by Katharina Gerlach
Never kid a kidder by Angela Wooldridge
The Color Of… by Chris Makowski