THE UNWANTED WISH • by Moana Brantwood

It started with guitar music that sang outside my window. The seduction began some weeks ago, on a wild, squally night. An evanescent melody, with a mood so deeply haunting; the sounds filled every corner, invoking magic of a menacing kind.

Since the music started, things haven’t been the same.

I had gone to bed as usual. The night routine was unchanged. I lay there gazing at the moon, beseeching, begging the return of a love. And in my reckless pining, a wish was made upon the wrong kind of star. I drifted into a dreamless sleep. Until the crawling began.

The bedsprings squeaked as it crept and it slithered stealthily toward me. I was asleep, aware of being asleep, when the nightmare took me in its grip. I felt its hands, its skilful tongue, restrained from the nature of their carnality, smoothing, savouring my every curve. Its desirous moans perfumed the shadows, sweetly filling the room. Its lips were sensual, ravenous. Lips I was certain I’d once tasted.

With all my might, I tried to resist. I struggled and twisted and turned. I sensed its amusement at my futile attempts and was laden with hopeless vulnerability; defenceless in the lag of a dream. Lightning came from the cloudless sky, and I glimpsed its muscular form. I tried to scream, wanted desperately to scream, but I couldn’t achieve a whimper. A profound feeling of paralysis besieged me, induced by the purest of fear. Then spent from an effort that seemed without end, I immersed myself in the nightmare.

I referred to ‘it’ as a nightmare, because eventually I would wake. Because the melody would disappear just as suddenly as it came, then return from the abyss of my subconscious. Chronic as a favourite recording, forever etched on my mind.

The nightmare continued to come in waves, untamed and wildly erotic. More wild than the wind that first night. Its scent presaged its imminent arrival, and lingered long after it left. Its manly shape hovered inches from my body, then its weight, its warmth would gush through me; essence released from its being. My visitant of the night roused responses I’d never known.

Through lucid dreams and restlessness, I could feel him. Really feel him. And with magnetism so disarming, and the art of his persuasion, I became slave to my sordid desires. I longed to draw him into my arms, make the sounds of a contented kitten. My nightmare became my obsession. I would never let him go.

Days went by and fatigue set in. Blood tests revealed nothing out of the ordinary. But my health was deteriorating with each passing day. I feared if it worsened, I would never wake again. My existence would be a sheer fog of immorality. I’d be lost in the arms of my nightmare, where he would possess my soul.

But I couldn’t allow logic to mess with the dark, hinder our delicious nightly trysts. Sickened by the truth of it, I had come to enjoy the arrangement, perhaps a little too much; indeed more than the flash backs that followed.

I walked the streets, torn, seeking a resolution. Self-consciousness and shame overwhelmed me. These surreal pleasure trips were unnatural, inappropriate. I knew nurturing the fixation could only be detrimental. People watched as I passed them by. Glimpsing my reflection in a storefront window, I realised their concerns. I was breathless, unhinged by my ailing appearance; my face, ashen, my body, gaunt. The muted light of the afternoon carved out the hollows of my eyes. Torment spread naked across my face My image was no longer my own.

Panic hit me suddenly, so painfully that I shut down. I plunged to the sidewalk, assumed a foetal mould. Someone kindly placed a hand on my shoulder, but I couldn’t accept compassion. Nobody knew what went on inside. The inner battle I was fighting. How wayward one can become when loneliness takes hold. They’d never know how much I’d craved another’s touch, the depth of isolation I’d once felt. My reasons for succumbing to the nightmare.

I prayed and I pleaded for the nightmare to go away. I couldn’t allow it to continue. How would I rationalise such wildly depraved attacks? How was I to confront the thing, unseen and paranormal; a faceless thing, so passionate, I had come to depend upon his touch?

I was last in the library that rainy afternoon, research mounding around me. I was seeking a way to return to my life; lonesome though it was, but carefree. The lights dimmed unexpectedly with the discordant strum of a string. And his sonorous voice lifted. The stone walls echoed with the rhythm of his chant, summoning, in some foreign tongue.

Too frail to unyoke our debauched attachment, I was coerced to a corner shelf. The books were aged, louse-ridden and moulding. One book dislodged and fell to the floor. I picked it up warily, against my will, compelled by the authority that governed me. Its jacket felt wooden, splintered and cold. The cover snapped open in my trembling hands and it flipped independently through its gossamer pages. It came to rest upon a verse that matched the one bloating my ears. Then controlled and persistent, we recited texts in chorus, until something thin and dark appeared between the shelves. It was the shadow that had taken me during my slumber; his face, with no eyes, no mouth, and yet a voice. Come, Eldora. Breathe new life into me.

I was still when I heard him — a moment so electrifying, exhaling may have dulled it. He was there, released from the bounds of his realm. The emotion, its intensity, too primal to refute. No one had ever loved me in that way. Conceding, I relinquished, forfeiting my existence. And I watched him draw near, watched as he enveloped and took refuge in my body.

I sat by a window one wild, stormy night, my guitar softly singing, waiting to enter someone’s dream.

Moana Brantwood is mum to three gorgeous kids, currently ‘career breaking’ — hoping to strike ink in lieu of oil! Torn between the beach and the Blue Mountains, she frequents both in order to absorb their inspiration. She reads voraciously and writes like a woman possessed. Her passions lie with speculative fiction, horror, and dark fantasy.

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