Something is moving me forward, pushing me towards a crowd of noise. I don’t remember how I got there, but I’m suddenly trying to escape the old church building we used to attend.
Outside, from a conglomerate mix between the pastor’s back door exit and the youth room’s side door, there is abundant space packed full of people. I think they were high school kids, just like I was in that moment. I seemed to have torn clothing, my thigh exposed, and I had never gripped my sister’s hand so hard before. My sister? I see a chain of my two sisters and my mother, joining hands and squeezing the life out of each other in an attempt to stay together. At this moment, I had a faint moment of lucidity, like a beam of light filtering through a shaft in the terrain or brush. It did not last long, when I heard people screaming all around me. The entire crowd, their faces growing in terror, were howling in fear at something ahead of us. I had never felt so small before, until I looked across the nonexistent playground area, towards the empty parking lot and the boundless, now soulless, meadow.
My eyes stuttered at the immense vast clearing of the parking lot. Was it even a parking lot? I knew the area was the old church building, and this space was where the parking lot was to be. But it was not. It was almost melded in this half watery state of concrete and mush. Perhaps, I thought my brain conjured the area to carry the air of real familiarity, but maintain the natural habitat of what the following horrors were to reside in.
Yes, Shambling Mounds from DDO. Isn’t it weird how much one can dream of a video game? I generally forget my dreams within the next couple of days, but I can’t shake this off for an entire week. I suppose that would classify it as a nightmare.
There were three Shambling Mounds, two giant ones and one gigantic one. The largest was closest to my side of the crowd, and it was like this Attack on Titan scene where it would just swipe a vine wrapped paw and a mob of people would fly into the air. It was also much more gray, more soulless than any of others. There was supposedly blood, because I saw several people dying and mutilated. I don’t know what made this so scary, but I went into shock after my sight slowly and painstakingly revealed this abomination. I cannot begin to describe how terrifying it was being so small and seeing this giant. My heart fell into my stomach, and my neck froze, with sparks jolting down my back. I couldn’t move, and I felt like my hand was about to fall off. The two smaller ones proceeded to move towards the central crowd, which surprisingly, we had our own Shambling Mounds…!? They were actually humans disguised in costumes, and they were easily taken down after a couple tried to fend them off. They were no match, and their heads were taken, I think.
At this, I had a fight or flight response. I lost my family as I fled, and the largest one seem to take notice of me. I felt like I was going to cry from immense fear, when it started gaining towards me. If you know how a Shambling Mound moves after it charges up, it is freakishly fast. I couldn’t breathe and just kept running down that skinny sidewalk, and bolted inside the church front door.
I don’t know why I thought it was a great idea, but I first fled into the chapel. It was mostly empty, but a few people were in there. It was eerily calm, but I kept seeing images of the Shambling Mounds’ figures and shadows up against those beige, slightly tattered window blinds. I ran out of the chapel, and into what was to be the kids’ worship room. But, I did not see the colorful Christian murals against the walls. I did not see the messy table, with crayons and markers strewn about. I did not see that small tall window, with the old emerald stained glass and its rustic gray window handle, to let in that sweet spring breeze.
Instead, I found a tall, handsome man sitting in a chair with the long burnished oak table stretched out before him. To the right, there was a firm gray couch, and the room seemed almost his own. A bookshelf to the left wall, decorative rugs embracing the cool ground, and a long stretch horizontal window with a large tree covering almost half of the view outside in a crescent like form. He seemed to radiate safety, writing something on a piece of paper. It was probably a letter, but to who?
At this point, my hair was disheveled, my eyes wild with fear, and my tattered clothes exposing almost half of me. I would have felt embarrassed if I was not in such an alerted state. I begged him to let me hide under the table, since for some reason, I thought he would keep me safe from those Mounds.
But he gave me a look of knowing, something that I couldn’t quite explain. I want to say he nodded, although he didn’t really speak much. He let me crawl through the space, and he shielded me with his body when I heard the door bust open.
Two burglars? Two assassins? I couldn’t tell who they were, all I could hear were their gnarly voices. I knew it was two people, but for some reason, I was just as afraid as if they were the Mounds. My heart dropped when the man hiding me spoke. He was dealing with these people, and they knew I was hiding somewhere, but he was neither deliberately protecting nor giving me away. I thought I was gonna run out of breath at this because they started searching the area, everywhere but the desk.
There was not a lot of leg room in the depression of the desk, so I had to curl into a ball and press against the lateral face of the desk. I remember barely being able to breathe, almost passing out from the amount of fear I felt when I saw one of the men from the periphery around the corner, barely able to see me. I think he actually did.
This was when the other man slammed his hands and body over the top of the desk, and gave the tall, handsome man a test. Now, what I am about to say is going to make no sense, but I believe this was the gist:
If this square piece of paper that I dangle right over the edge of this desk is snatched by someone, then the person that we seek is not here. But if it remains dangling, then she is under this desk.
This sounds absolutely ridiculous. But this somehow made perfect sense. All I had to do is snatch the piece of paper without showing myself. But I also knew that this was the ultimate trap into revealing my oh-so-hidden location.
The man placed the tissue-like paper over the desk, and my heart pounded so hard I was sure he probably felt it through the desk. But the square piece dangled for another minute, and then he started counting down from 4. I panicked, 3, but in almost a film-like hesitation, 2, I placed my shaky hand up halfway, before retracting slightly, and then finally, softly placed the paper between my thumb and index.
At this, the man gripped my wrist so hard I flinched and sent the paper flying. But it was already too late, he had found me. Yet, they pretended not to notice, and I think they actually smirked, according to my omniscient sight. I noticed the man who was writing the letter was barely shielding me at this point.
The man who gripped my wrist suddenly moved back, called his companion, and decided to leave. I want to say he said a few words to the man writing the letter, but I’m not sure. It sounded like a blurb. It was so arbitrary and terrifying at the same time. I crawled out from underneath, and just like nothing had happened, the tall man in the chair continued to write. I splayed out against the firm but fuzzy leather gray couch. I still feared the Mounds would come for me, and I did see a shadow of the largest approach from the right side of the window. I held my breath, and suddenly, I was granted the courage to run out the front door: there was some sort of golf cart with my family driving it. As if that would outrun the Mounds, because it did.
We were driving in a… weird state. I was somehow in the front of the hood, yet also strapped safely, and I had to spread my feet out, so I could feel the plants and flowers softly brushing through me. It was much like the dream scene in Spirited Away when Chihiro is moving through the tall brush (by camera) before she meets her “pig” parents. We were driving into some flower garden that was near a Six Flags. I do not recognize this place unlike the first area. We drive, and I feel the soft blades of tall, tall grass; grass, flowers, and plants all taller than me and the weird vehicle! My youngest sister would tell me I smelled like something, something bad. But I rebutted with, “I don’t know what you are talking about, but I smell like flowers.” And all of a sudden, stalks of delphiniums overwhelm us, but the aroma is not overpowering. It’s strong, but mild — bold but with a natural subtlety. Petals fly into my face and it is almost peaceful. A calm mood descends upon me, finally free from these strange horrors.
I wake up seeing that same, large shadow on the ground before me, but I’m too afraid, or too late, to look up.