Story and Photos by Kloipy (Seth Dombach)
*note* This story is based on an actual dream I had years ago as a child. The dream itself was so vivid that it’s stuck with me for years. It’s my go-to dream to tell when people are discussing the topic and usually causes a bit of stir when I talk about it. Hope you enjoy it.
The boy opened the door into the blinding brilliance of the sun against the snow. It had fallen fresh and the world looked new. Not one footprint had sunk into its placid surface. The morning had just begun and the clouds were dipped in pink and orange. He took a deep breath into his lungs; the cool air sent a comfortable shiver through his body. He was almost overwhelmed by the excitement of what lay in front of him.
With quick and nimble steps, he raced to his room (desperately trying not to wake his sleeping family), and threw on his snow-pants and boots. The oversized wool jacket his grandmother had gotten for him for Christmas came off the rack for the first time, ready to be broken in. He wanted to get out before the sun had fully rose and started to melt this perfect landscape that was before him. Stuffing his hands into his gloves he tiptoed back to the door and with the precision of a thief in the night he let the latch of the door shut behind him.
He waited, but only for a moment, before trudging his way out into the yard. Feeling like a pioneer setting out upon an untouched land, he marked his progress with each careful step. It was all beautiful. He dropped into the snow which seemed to welcome him to it; a spot that conformed just to him. He stared up at the sky and watched as the clouds hung; literally stuck in place. They did not move at all. He stood up and brushed himself off as a small chunk of snow melted on his neck and quickly ran down his back. It was then that he noticed the quiet.
He knew previously of the still that surrounds snow. That quiet that almost is a sound in and of itself. But today it was different. There was no rustle of the wind in the trees. There was no sound of the birds of morning waking the world. Not a car passed by or a plane’s contrail in the sky. There was nothing but him, the snow, and the quiet. Instantly he felt unnerved. His solo journey interrupted. His parents were sleeping and he wanted them there. If they could just come outside with him, he knew that it would kick-start the world. Anxious to turn his back on this invisible malevolence, he thought of his tracks and made a break for the door.
Once inside, he felt foolish, he felt like a child. So silly to feel a fear of nothing. But he felt it just the same. He peered through the blinds on the window. Nothing was out of place. But the feeling returned. Something was off as if the world had shifted just an inch off its balance. He shook his boots off and started walking toward his parent’s room.
On his way up the stairs the feeling grew stronger. The house was as still and quiet as it was outside, as if this entity had slipped in through the cracks in the window and was now filling the home like a gas chamber. Once upstairs he slowly made his way to his parent’s room. Reluctant at first to open the door, he felt the urge to throw it open; knowing seeing them would dispel this awful thing.
He didn’t fling the door open but nudged it. He peered around the corner of their bed. First seeing the recognizable lump of his father laying still, but then noticing the covers pulled up over their heads. He held his breath and inched his way toward them. The sheets were not moving, again everything perfectly still. He started picturing what lay under these sheets, what monstrosity lay underneath where his parent’s normally slept. With every ounce of courage he closed his eyes and threw the covers back.
There was nothing there but pillows. There wasn’t even an indent as if they never existed. His breathing returned and it came with his heart pounding. He could feel it in his fingers. The dread he felt before was now consuming him. He wanted to scream and was afraid to open his eyes in case something would be waiting for him. Something with long, sharp teeth.
When he opened them there was nothing there. But he knew he had to get out. He had to find his parents. He knew staying in this house would be the end for him, as if it would implode and he would be stuck in this world forever. So he rushed down the stairs, pulled his boots on as quickly as he could, and slammed the door behind him. And then he walked.
He walked for hours without any sound; without anything at all. He felt like he was walking inside a painting. The quiet followed every step. It was right behind him, he could feel it’s long vaporous fingers reaching out for him. He didn’t stop once, he just kept walking. Even when his boot started to come off, he slammed his foot down and made it fit. The blisters forming on his feet only served to make him walk faster. Soon; he could see the steeple of the church of the small town he had grown up in. For the first time that morning since the quiet had shown it’s awful presence, he felt better. He knew the town would hold sanctuary. He only hoped it would.
He stood at the edge of the town, where the sidewalk started and buildings loomed before him. His heart was dashed when he noticed that the snow covered the road with not a track in site. The cars that lined the street were gone. Not one light on in a window. Nothing. Just the quiet. So he walked on.
He felt claustrophobic, with the buildings seeming to crowd around him. Being amongst a place of normal activity made the quiet and still all the worse. He stayed in the middle of the road; hoping if someone came they would see him and stop to help. But the feeling of hope was fading. The light of the day had started to turn grey like the look of a solar eclipse and it had started to snow again, not much but enough to accumulate in the wool of his coat. The chill was no longer comfort. It tasted acrid and dead.
At the center of town was an intersection. He stood in the center, looking in all directions into nothing. He wanted to choose a path but he also wanted to sit down in the road and wait for night. He was startled by a loud sound of the church bells ringing. The sound frightened him more than anything in his life had. It echoed through the street and sunk into his ears like death. The fear he had at the bell was immediately replaced by what happened next.
As soon as the first ring ended, swarms of people were spat out of the buildings. A mob of people flooded the streets. Each wearing black suits. And each had their heads hung down. They passed on the sidewalks, they walked through the road. They were endless. He was held in his spot in fear. They passed him so closely he could feel the wind from their movements on his face. They towered over him. The bell continued.
With all the strength he could pull from deep down he spoke.
‘Have you seen my parents? Excuse me.” They paid no attention to him and continued walking back and forth.
“Hello? Please! I need help. I can’t find them, I really need help!” he continued
And still, they paid no attention. Just walked, heads down.
Anger rose in him. He could not take it and needed an answer regardless of what it contained. He dodged through the crowd to one of them standing still beside a bench. He grabbed him by coat and screamed with all he had.
“Where are my parents!”
It was just a moment where he thought nothing would happen. Then this thing with the pressed black suit slowly raised it’s head.
The boy’s scream stuck in his throat as he looked upwards. The thing had no face. No lips, no mouth, no eyes, or ears. It was blank.
He turned around to run. The rest of them were now completely still. With the last hollow ring of the bell, and with the quiet returning, the rest of them raised their faceless heads.
If they could see, they were looking right at him.