Sweet Nightmares
Zizi Cole
Horror/Occult

Nightmares aren’t always figments of our imagination.Nightmares aren’t always figments of our imagination.

Alexandrea Cooper moves back to her hometown, Ravensville, after a ten-year absence. She starts adjusting to life back home again, when her parents are brutally murdered. There are no suspects and Alexandrea tries to cope with the grief of what has happened, when suddenly her sleep becomes plagued with nightmares of her parent’s killer. She quickly realizes that there’s more to her world than she originally believed. She’s reunited with her high school sweetheart, Jake, and the nightmares intensify. Attempts on Alexandrea’s life twist her life as she knows it. In a race against time, can they stop the killer before it’s too late?

Excerpt

I sat there stunned by Jake’s outburst.  In all the years I had known him, he had never raised his voice or gone off like that.  I was sorry for causing him the pain.  I hadn’t thought that it would hurt him that much.  Was I selfish?  Yeah, I guess I was.  I had never told him about the pregnancy because deep down, I knew what he would do.  Was I protecting his heart or was I selfishly keeping it to myself?  I shook my head.  Now was not the time to debate whether I was selfish or not.  He was sitting there glaring at me and Mia.  He was being impatient and I could tell he wasn’t going to stay quiet for long.

“I’ll start,” I said glancing at Mia again.  She wasn’t getting off the hook, but I figured I would bite the bullet and go first.

“You know that whoever has been in the house, hasn’t been here since you started staying.  At least, he hasn’t been inside.  I feel like I’m being watched though.”

He frowned at that.  “When did you start feeling like you were being watched?”

I shrugged.  “A couple days ago, I guess.  I thought someone was following me leaving the therapist’s office the other day, but I didn’t actually see anyone.  And occasionally, I feel like someone is looking in the windows.”

“Okay, from now on we’ll keep the blinds and windows down.  That’ll keep anyone from looking in the windows.  We need to make sure you aren’t alone anywhere either.  If you need to go somewhere, I will take you.  If I’m not around, then Mia can probably take you.  Or you can wait until I’m available to go,” he decided.  “Now, what did you need to tell me about your mom, darlin’?”

I wasn’t sure I wanted to tell him this part.  This was where he would think I was completely batshit crazy.  I glanced at Mia and she nodded at me encouragingly.  I looked around the room.  That’s when I noticed her.  I looked straight into my mother’s eyes.  She did one slight nod.  If she thought I should tell him, I should trust her.  She’d never steered me wrong when she was alive; why would she now? I acknowledged her with a slight nod.“This is really hard for me to tell you.  I should have said something when it first happened, but you have to understand, I thought I was crazy,” I rambled.  I took a deep breath.  “I can see momma’s ghost.”

Jake’s frown deepened.  “You what?”

“I can see momma’s ghost.  She’s standing behind you right now.” I told him as he turned quickly.  “Maybe I should tell you that I can also hear her.  She’s the one I was talking to that day in the kitchen when you caught the end of my conversation.”Understanding dawned in his eyes.  I could tell that he had wondered about that day since it happened.  He didn’t say anything at first.  I was waiting for the talk about being crazy.  He just sat there, thinking.  His finger started tapping on the table.  I looked over his shoulder at my mom and she grimaced.  She always hated when he did that.  I smiled.  Then I heard her voice whisper in my ear.

“Tell Jacob that he better stop that damn tapping before I hit his hand with a wooden spoon.”

“Uh, Jake, you might wanna stop tapping your finger before momma gets a wooden spoon and smacks your knuckles with it.”  I told him.

His fingers stopped tapping immediately.  He looked me in the eyes.  He believed me.  I couldn’t believe he actually believed me.  I felt relief wash through me.  If he believed me, then maybe things would be okay again eventually.  He looked over at Mia.  No, he definitely hadn’t forgotten that she had beans to spill as well.

“Your turn,” he said.

Mia fidgeted in her chair.  She was obviously uncomfortable with what she needed to admit.  I was starting to get another feeling that she was going to say something that I didn’t like, as well.  The longer she sat there, the more uncomfortable I was becoming.  I couldn’t imagine what she was getting so antsy about.  “Okay,” she said slowly.  “I just want to throw this out there since y’all decided to clear the air with me here.  But I didn’t know about the miscarriage, either.  I mean, I knew that she wasn’t completely okay, but I didn’t know what was actually going on.  I knew because I had dreams that she was hurting.  I just didn’t know what they meant.  I have visions.  I’ve had visions for the majority of my life.  If you just take a second to think about it, that makes sense.  The thing that I haven’t really had a chance to develop or learn about is this ability that seems to be manifesting.  I have been doing research since Aunt Emma and Uncle Joseph died.  I think this ability is called astral projection.  I was there for the murders- “

“You mean you know who is behind this and haven’t said anything?!?” Jake exploded.

“No! I couldn’t see him.  But l did see what he did to them.  I also know that he watched Alexandrea sleep.  But I don’t know anything about him or how he pulled it off.  I also don’t know how he made Lex think that she committed her parents’ murders.  I’ve been trying to figure it out.  She was in her bed the whole time.  Yet she saw the murders happen.  She knows too many details not to have seen it.  I don’t know how he did it.  Maybe it was. . . I don’t know.  I am going to keep researching it.  I’m wondering if he didn’t just implant his memories of it into her head.  There were minor details that were wrong.  Like, the fact that she saw her mother die first.  Maybe it was a mirror image of his memory,” Mia explained.

She turned to me and grabbed my hand.  “I need to tell you something, Lex.  I’ve wanted to tell you this for years, but my mom told me that I absolutely couldn’t tell you under any circumstances.  But I feel like this changes everything.  I think you should have been made aware a long time ago.  Our mothers are magical.  They had magical abilities growing up.  Not the magic that you saw on TV, but real magic.  They’re able to do spells and stuff; they just chose not to, for our sake.  They thought we would be safe not knowing about the magic world.  Our dads both knew about it as well.  I don’t know if they had magic – they’ve never said.  The only reason I knew about it is because I started having visions and mom wanted me to understand what was going on.  She didn’t want me to be afraid of what I can do.  You’ve probably had some magic all this time as well, but it wasn’t triggered.  Or maybe you mom cast a spell to bind your magic or abilities, I’m not sure.  Please don’t hate me for not telling you.”

I looked back to where my mother was standing.  She was still there just watching the scene before her.  She looked sad.  I knew by the look on her face she didn’t want any of this to happen to us.  She was doing what she thought was best for me, for her family.  I looked back to Mia.  Her eyes were filled with tears and her hands were trembling in mine.  She was deeply afraid that I was going to hate her or turn on her.  But I couldn’t do that.  I understood.  I had so many questions about it though. “Oh Mia, I don’t hate you.  I’m not even mad at you.  I get it.  They did what was right at the time.”  I smiled at her.  “I have so many questions, I don’t know where to start.  What kind of magic is it?”

“I don’t know all the details.  Mom has kept her lips sealed about a lot of it.  She’s only told me what she feels is necessary for me to know.  She has told me that our family is a hybrid family.  We have a mix of Fae and witch blood.  Our family has the powers of both the Fae and witches without some of the vulnerability.”  Mia explained.

“I know it is a lot to digest and we still have a lot to learn.  We’ll find out more about our heritage together.  Now that you know, we can explore our family ancestry and find” I nodded.  “We’re basically fairy witches?  Wow. I would have never thought of that.  That’s amazing.”

She turned her head and looked at Jake.  “Don’t forget I know things.  I’ve seen your resources.  But you are right, for now it’s best if we just trust you know what you’re doing, Jacob.”

He gave her a slight nod.

He was sitting and letting everything that he learned absorb into his brain.  I knew that he would let everything stew and he would have a better understanding of what was going on than we did.  Maybe this would come to an end soon and life would be back to normal.

**

I was running through the house, covered in blood.  I was trying to get away from the shadow that was chasing after me.  I ran out the front door towards the wooded area to the left of the property.  I slowed down as I entered the tree line.  I didn’t want to fall and break my neck, but I had to keep moving.  I couldn’t let the shadow catch up to me.  He would cut my heart out.   I made my way through the woods on a path that had grown over from years of neglect.  I stopped and looked around.  I had never been in the woods before.  That was one of the main rules my momma had when I was growing up.  She had said to stay out of the woods.  I heard a branch snap.  I started following the path again.  I picked my way through carefully so I wouldn’t trip or get snagged on something.   The path opened to a wide clearing.  The clearing was in the shape of a circle.  Inside the circle was all kinds of strange symbols that I had never seen before.  In the middle of the circle was a large weathered stone.  The stone had a smooth top on it.  On the stone there was a black object.  I carefully stepped closer to the object.  As I got closer to it, I was able to see that it was moving slowly.   I stood next to the rock and looked down.  I was staring at a still beating heart.  There was blood leaking out of the heart.  I looked around trying to find the body that it came from.  I wasn’t seeing a body.  I heard a creaking noise coming from the trees across from where I was standing.  I followed the noise.  When I walked into the tree line, I felt something drip onto my shoulder.  I turned my head slightly to look at my shoulder.  There was something wet on it.  In the dark it looked almost black.  By the scent, I could tell it was blood.  I looked up and there was a body hanging in the tree.  I stifled a scream and stepped back a step so I could see the body more clearly.  The body was hanging by its ankles and it has been gutted like a buck during deer season.  I looked at the face and my heart stopped.  I was looking into what was left of Jake’s beautiful face.  His eyes were open wide, unseeing. I covered my mouth as a sob escaped me.  I lost the one man I had ever truly loved.  I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked.  It was my mother.  She glanced around urgently.

“You need to get out of here.  He’s still coming.  You don’t have time to fall apart, sweetie.  You need to keep moving.  Remember, don’t let him touch you.” I heard the distinct sound of footsteps heading towards the circle.  I examined my surroundings.  I needed to go, but I couldn’t leave him.  He was my heart.  Without Jake I was nothing. When I took a step forward, I stepped on something that sent a sharp pain through my foot.  I bent down and picked it up.  It was a diamond ring.  Inside the ring it read ‘Forever and Always.’  I looked at my mom.  She looked over her shoulder.

“You don’t have time for this, Alexandrea.  You need to haul ass and get out of here.”  Momma looked around again.  “Please, hurry.”

I turned to run, and there he was standing right behind me. He had a knife in his hand.  There was blood dripping off the knife.  As he reached out to touch my shoulder, I jerked backwards and fell onto the ground.  I crab-walked backwards until I bumped into the tree that Jake was hanging from and my hand landed in something warm and wet.  I looked at my hand and it was covered in blood.  I had put my hand in Jake’s entrails.

I screamed.

“Alexandrea! Wake up.” Jake shouted in my face.  He was shaking my shoulders.  I shot up and wrapped my arms around his neck.  Jake wrapped his strong arms around my waist in a tight embrace. “Oh my god! You’re okay.  You’re here.”

My whole body was shaking.  He was alive and it was just a dream.   I could feel his heart beating against my chest.  It had been so realistic.

“It was just a dream, darlin’,” Jake whispered.  “You’re safe.  We’re all safe.”

“It was so real,” I whispered. I held onto Jake as the dream faded.

Before it completely faded, I thought I saw the man from my dream standing at the end of the bed. He had the knife in his hand.

As he disappeared, he whispered, “Soon.”


Uncaged Review:

I started reading this one, without even looking at the blurb for it – so I went into this book “blind” as to what it was really about. When I started reading, I actually thought it was a about a killer who murdered a girl’s parents and then she was living through the nightmares over and over again. It is that, but it’s so much more.
When Alexandra loses her parents and her nightmares are taking over her life, her ex-boyfriend Jake comes to visit, bringing Alexandra feelings she thought long buried. But the nightmares are getting worse and worse.

This is a paranormal story, but the horror is interwoven into the story, you’ll be flipping pages faster to either get away from something, or to find out what’s going to happen. I think I did both at times. Alexandra, her friends and Jake need to find out what is happening, especially when Alexandra gets hurt in her nightmare, and wakes up with the injuries. The author does a great job, with a couple of twists I didn’t really expect, and I’ll look forward to book two. Reviewed by Cyrene

5 Stars