Saturday, August 5, 2017

Short Story | Night Terrors

Hey everyone!

I wrote a story a little while back for uni, and I realised that I never shared it with you. It is a bit long (around 2000 words), and I am quite proud of it (I got 78% for it, in case you were wondering).


It was a cold, rainy night in Roseby. Celeste Miller was driving home from work, and had picked up her mother from the train station on the way.

“How was your day, Mum?” she asked once her mother had sat down and dried herself off.

“Alright, not too many customers today. You?”

“Yeah, good. There was a lady who came in today with her Shih Tzu, who then peed all over the head nurse’s desk,” she said with a slight laugh. It was hard to laugh with this kind of weather. It had been raining heavily like this for at least three days, though it started drizzling about a week ago.

They kept chatting, Celeste keeping her eyes on the road, squinting to see where she was going. The road was slick and slippery with water, and as close to flooded at it could get. Celeste was driving as carefully as she could. Celeste’s mum had said that Roseby hadn’t flooded since 1984, when she was a little girl.

Out of nowhere, a car slid out in front of them. Bright headlights shone through the darkness. Celeste slammed her foot on the brake pedal. Their car careered into the path of the other car. Celeste watched the other car, almost in slow motion. It rammed into the passenger side of the car. The passenger door forced against her mother’s rib cage, puncturing her lungs. She heard every bone break. Every single one. Blood spilled out of her mother’s mouth. Her mother was dead. Dead. In between her quick pants for air, Celeste found herself screaming, punctuating the otherwise dreary, abysmal Roseby night.

*

She woke up in a cold sweat, her breaths still coming out in rapid, short gasps. Her heart was racing and she was losing control, clutching onto her bedsheets for even an ounce of support. The world was closing in around her. Her bedroom door slammed open. Someone was running over to her. She blacked out.

“Celeste,” her mother said calmly, gently shaking her awake, “Cece, wake up.”

“It happened again,” Celeste said once she had woken up, and pulled herself into a sitting position, still in her bed. Warm and safe. She took a sigh of relief and pulled her mum into a tight hug.

“I know,” her mother replied, pulling back from the hug, still rubbing her daughter’s shoulders, “I ran in just as you blacked out. I think you have got a therapy session next Tuesday, so you can talk to Dr. Osment about it then.”

She nodded, now considerably calmer since her panic attack. Her mum was still alive and well. 

Everything was fine. Her breathing and heartbeat had slowed back to normal. Looking out her window, toward the ocean, she saw some rain clouds on the horizon, threatening a slight downpour.

Mental note: take an umbrella today,” she thought to herself, before pulling herself out of bed to get ready for the day.
*

“How… to… meditate, and search,” Celeste mumbled as she typed the words into Google as soon as she got home. Dr. Osment had recommended her to meditate before bed to clear her mind so she didn’t get nightmares anymore. Hundreds upon hundreds of results came up for meditation classes, but after looking through a few of them, she found that they were all far too expensive to have daily sessions, and she would rather stay at home. Her anxiety and panic disorder also meant that she was never really a fan of doing things out of her comfort zone, which was mainly her house, Dr. Osment’s office, and her work. She ended up downloading a free mediation app onto her phone, and set it to notify her just before bed so she could go straight to sleep afterward.

“Celeste! Tea’s ready!” her mother called from the kitchen downstairs.

“Okay, coming Mum!”

They sat in the living room to drink their vanilla tea, on the plush pink couch, watching a pre-recorded episode of Masterchef.

“I downloaded a meditation app just now,” Celeste said between sips of tea.

“That’s good, dear. I hope it works!” she said, grinning at her, “Who do you think is going to win? Personally, I think Jake’s ganache was a bit better than the rest.”

After speculating with her mother about Masterchef, Celeste looked out the bay window towards the ocean, the waves being pummelled by the rain. The intense and dramatic music playing behind Masterchef seemed fitting. The full moon peeked through the dark clouds, watching over Roseby dutifully like a guardian angel.

“Celeste?” her mother said, tapping her on the shoulder.

“Yeah, Mum?” Celeste said, shifting her attention away from the window.

“Sorry, you weren’t responding. Would you like some more tea?” she asked, gesturing to the tea pot on the coffee table beside her.

“No, thanks,” she said, getting up from the couch, “I have work in the morning. I wanna give my new meditation app a try.”

She padded up the carpeted stairs to her room and sat down on her bed, laying against her well-cultivated pillow farm. After sticking her earbuds into her ears, she pressed play on the recording and followed its instructions.

“Breathe in through your nose, 2, 3, 4, and out through your mouth, 2, 3, 4,” a calm, soothing voice instructed for around ten minutes.

As the session came to an end, Celeste did feel a lot calmer than before. Her mind wasn’t whirring as much as it normally did. She woke up the next morning refreshed and relaxed, despite her 6 o’clock alarm.

Rolling out of bed, she lumbered down to the kitchen for a breakfast of cereal and a tea. Dr. Osment had instructed her to stay away from anything with caffeine, so tea it was. While having breakfast, she noticed that it was still rainy, even after a solid week of rain.

The drive to work that day was normal; a bit of rain was no harm. She dropped her mother off at the train station and continued driving to the veterinary surgery just a bit further away. As she was only new, she could only help with the basic nursing jobs. She wished she could partake in the actual surgeries, but it was just general check-ups for now.

“Hey, Tammy, how’re things?” Celeste said, as she opened the door to the locker room to put her bag and umbrella away.

“Hi, Cece. Good! We have a few check-ups booked in today, so you can help me out with those.”

“Okay, dogs? Cats? Birds? Fish?” she inquired with a laugh.

Eight o’clock rolled around and it was time to open up for the day. First in was a dad with a cat who had a swollen paw. Then there was a dog who peed all over Tammy’s desk.

Just like in my nightmares,” she thought, “No, just a coincidence.”

During her lunch break, she noticed that the rain had gotten significantly heavier than it was this morning. Tammy had asked her to stay back a little later than usual; Reynold couldn’t make it in today since he was sick.

By the time of closing up the vet, Celeste had severely weirded herself out about the whole raining and dog peeing on Tammy’s desk conundrum.

“You’ll be fine, Celeste. Everything is going to be okay. You’re going home. You’ll be warm, dry, and your mum will be alive.”

Right after her little internal pep talk, her phone buzzed. The caller ID said Mum, with a little purple heart next to it. She picked it up immediately.

“Hello?”

“Hi sweetie. Could you pick me up from the station today? Since you stayed back at work and I don’t fancy walking in the rain,” her mum said, sounds of the train in the background.

“And it will be nice to talk to someone on the way home, too. What time will your train arrive?”

“I’ve just passed Morello Hills, so I’ll be there in about twenty minutes.”

They ended their conversation and Celeste ran to her car with her hands over her head. It was too short of a distance to bother putting up an umbrella, but by the time she reached her car she wished she had.

The drive to the train station was short, so Celeste had another fifteen minutes to wait before her mum arrived. The whole time, she couldn’t stop thinking about her recurring nightmares of her mother dying horribly in a car crash, on a rainy night, in which that day a dog had peed on a desk. 

That minute detail is what scared her the most. Why did Reynold have to be sick? Why did the dog have to pee on the table today? Why not another day? Why, oh why, did it have to be raining?

She had worked herself up into such a state that she had to use the breathing techniques she learned last night to cope.

“Breathe in, 2, 3, 4, breathe out, 2, 3, 4,” she repeated, breathing in time, until her breathing slowed back to a normal pace.

She watched as her mother’s train pulled in to the station, and waved to her mum as she got off. She felt her heart rate picking up as her mum walked closer to the car. The closer she got, the higher her heart rate went, until she thought she was going to explode. She tried to use her breathing techniques and they worked for a bit, but not enough to completely calm her down. She knew that car was going to jut out when she least expected it. She knew exactly the words her mother would say the entire way. She knew her mother was going to die tonight. And it was going to be her fault.

She tentatively reached over the passenger seat to unlock the door for her mother, who was now waiting to cross the road. She almost had the urge to drive away then and there, and save her mother from a fate only Celeste knew of. But she didn’t, because she had promised her mother she would pick her up from the train station after work, and it was the right thing to do.

She watched as her mother quickly crossed the road, reaching for the door handle as she got closer. 

She pulled the door open hurriedly and closed her umbrella, sitting down in the passenger seat and closing the door behind her.

“Thanks for waiting for me, sweetie. I’m sorry that the train was a bit late.”

“That’s okay, mum. I don’t mind.”

“Jeez,” her mum began, “we haven’t had this kind of rain since 1984, I must have been about ten when our house was flooded.”

“No.”

“Wow, that’s a long time ago,” Celeste said cheekily, earning a playful jab in the ribs from her 
mother, “Anyway, how was your day at work today, Mum?”

“Alright, not too many customers today. You?”

“No.”

They kept chatting. The road was glossy with water, eerily similar to her nightmare.

“No.”

She drove as carefully as she could, squinting through the torrential rain.

“No.”

Suddenly she saw two bright headlights slide into her vision.

“No.”

She slammed on the brakes and squeezed her eyes shut.

“No, no, no, no, no, no!”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So, did you like it? I hope you did, I worked very hard on it!

Love, Nicky x

PS: It’s my birthday on Monday and I am really really really excited!


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