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Better Than Nightmares-Fiction by Doug Hawley
Page One Four One-Fiction by A. F. Knott
The Devil You Know-Fiction by Gary Lovisi
Cabin Fever-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Ramona's House-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Visitation-Fiction by Henry Simpson
The Night Driver and the Injured Man-Fiction by Roy Dorman
They Both had Guns-Fiction by Jeremiah Minihan
The Earl of Redcrest-Fiction by Ashley Bailey
Black Cat-Fiction by Stephen Tillman
A Place for Grandpa-Fiction by Paul Smith
Away from Home-Fiction by Bruce Costello
Dolls-Fiction by R. Peralaz
Bright Eyes-Flash Fiction by Jon Park
Heart Attack-Flash Fiction by Rick McQuiston
A Turn for the Worse-Flash Fiction by Maria Espinosa
Rain-Flash Fiction by J. Brooke
Specter-Poem by Chad Haskins
Blue Ghost-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Unfathomable Rhapsody of Psychosis-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Late, Late-Poem by J. L. Hoy
One for the Road, I Guess-Poem by Jennifer Lemming
Edge of Nowhere-Poem by Robert Beveridge
Summit-Poem by Robert Beveridge
Three Tenses-Poem by Meg Baird
Caution-Poem by Meg Baird
Honeysuckle Breeze-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
Old Crow and I-Peom by ayaz daryl nielsen
Moments-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
Developing Land-Poem by Alan Catlin
Sideshow Freaks-Poem by Alan Catlin
Insomnia-Poem by Alan Catlin
Without-Poem by John Grey
Graveyard Stroll-Poem by John Grey
The Two of Us-Poem by John Grey
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
The Gazing Ball
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Art by L. A. Barlow 2018

Better Than Nightmares

Doug Hawley



Day 1

The nightmares started shortly after we inherited a fortune from my in-laws.  I would go to sleep and immediately go into a dream in which my late in-laws tortured me.  Before the first dreams, I had started to adjust to a life of leisure and luxury, but it didn’t last long.  These were not like normal nightmares, they were completely realistic.  I heard all of the words spoken by me and my tormenters.  I felt all of the pain inflicted on me.  To try to make sense of it, I wrote all of it down.

The first night I was just continuously insulted by my former father-in-law Grayson Jennings.  His remarks are imprinted in my brain:

“You miserable pig, what makes you think that you could possibly deserve my daughter.  If she hadn’t gone slumming with bad boys, she never would have gotten pregnant, and ended up married to you.  After that, you had her get an abortion which caused her to be infertile.  She’ll never have a chance to have a baby with a real man, now that you ruined her life.  What do you have going for you, a little muscle and a glib line?  Once she was stuck with you, you treated her like dirt.  Maybe you never left any marks, but you didn’t mind twisting her arm a little, maybe slapping her from time to time.  She was so ashamed, Mandy and I could not talk her into leaving you.”

 “Too bad old man.  She’s stuck with me, I’ve got your money and you are dead”, sleeping me said.

“There are worse things than being dead, as you will find out”, responded dream Grayson.

The first night could be chalked up to guilt or an upset stomach, but it seemed that dead Grayson knew things that he should not have known.  I wasn’t too upset; I thought it was a onetime thing.


Day 2

It started with my late mother-in-law, Mandy.

“It is so funny that your name is Duke.  You are about the furthest from royalty imaginable.  Were you even able to get our daughter Jessie pregnant, or was that one of your friends when she was drunk.  I know that all of the sluts that you hang out with wouldn’t get in bed with you if they weren’t drunk or high.  You don’t have manhood, you have boyhood.  Are you stupid enough to think that all of the quack doctors with their pills and surgery will do you any good?”

I had no response.


Day 3

In the morning, I started to be really worried, because I hadn’t actually called any doctors yet, but I had been looking at ads on the internet.  My jaw was really sore, and I didn’t know why.  I hadn’t been physically abused in my dream – yet.

Strangely, Jessie hadn’t noticed any disturbance during my sleep.

When I thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did.  At night my in-laws didn’t talk, they tag-teamed me.  I was unable to respond to their kicks, elbows, slaps.  All I could do was yell at them to stop, but they acted as if I had said nothing, they just kept hitting me.

After the beginning of the dream torture, Jessie noticed bruises and welts all over my body.  She thought I had hurt myself sleepwalking, and there was no way I would tell her the truth.


Days 4 - 10

Some nights I would wake up bleeding, sometimes I would have contusions, I never knew what would happen, but it was always bad.  I can tell you, take the verbal torture, words don’t hurt like fists do.  Pliers and knives are worse than fists.

They know my worst fears.  One night they are all friendly and we go for a walk.  It was a beautiful day.  We come to a cliff and I am slowly pushed to the edge and then thrown down.  I scream all the way to the bottom.  After a little time in extreme agony I wake up sore in every part of my body.

Another night started friendly, at a picnic.  We were having barbeque.  Just before we started eating, Grayson squirted me with lighter fluid and threw a match on me.  As I went up in flames, everyone laughed.

Day 11

I gave up and went to a doctor who guaranteed that he could stop my dreams.  He prescribed six different pills.  He wanted to tell me about the side effects, but all I could hear was “No more dreams.” 


Day 12

Dreamless sleep is great.  I’m back to my old life.  I’ve just got a minor tremor in my left arm, probably the side effect doc talked about.  I can live with that after what I’ve been through.


Day 13

I’ve got to fill out some forms and am having a little trouble remembering my social security number.  No biggie, I’ll just look it up.


Day 14

cant anymore pretend.  Stumbel, no reemebre.  Say doc med stuf.  Nitmare or zomby.  Take zomby.  Not last much.  Wish no burn Grayson house.

Appeared in Jitter Press

The author used to make numbers for a living and now he writes stories for fun https://sites.google.com/site/aberrantword/

Twit handle @dougiamm`

aberrantword - Doug Hawley

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2018