She ran….not knowing why…not knowing where she was headed, it was really perplexing that she couldn’t come to place the reason why she was running. But she couldn’t even stop, for some strange reason. As darkness shrouded her in its many layers, she could sense an eerie sense of impending disaster in her surroundings. The darkness seemed to be creeping up to her, touch her with its invisible sinister fingers as if clawing at her life and send chills running down her spine. However much she wanted to stop herself, some weird force was compelling her to flee…like there was a message in the darkness, which was telling her to find safety. She wanted to scream, she tried with all her might, but it seemed as if the darkness was absorbing all her screams and her confusion, it seemed to be feeding on her fears.

She was sure she had been with her loved ones just a few moments ago…when they were all camping out…her mom, with her sharp, cheerful laughter, daddy with his comforting presence and little Jimmy, with his irritating yet enchanting banter, sitting by a warm, comfortable fire. But now, they were all gone, disappeared, all of a sudden, and all the warmth had been replaced by this cold, damp darkness. As she ran, she strained hard to remember…to go back and trace time from where she seemed to have lost track…but it was all so frustrating!!! She couldn’t remember…she didn’t know what had happened or why she ran, all she knew was that something inside her was telling her not to stop. It really was as if she was running for her life. But she still couldn’t understand why it was so dark. Not a soul around, not even objects she occasionally bumped against!! She felt like she was running in an ocean of blackness, with no objects, no life, just an incredibly overpowering feeling that she must keep running or she would lose something really precious to her. And she ran, not knowing what she was protecting, not knowing where she was headed, hoping and praying that it would all end soon and she would be back where she belonged, with the people she loved, where she had nothing to fear and nothing to lose.

Then suddenly, it seemed as if the darkness had come to life, it seemed to press against her, as if a really huge black curtain had given way and she was underneath it, overpowered and helpless. The darkness pressed closer, seemed to surround her and form tunnels….a maze…a maze she had no idea how she would get out of!!!! The feeling of loss now seemed to be replaced by a stronger feeling of fear….fear of not knowing where she was, of not being able to control what was happening to her. It was a fear of the unknown, something which she knew was lurking in the darkness, but she knew she was never intended to discover what it was…her aim was just to escape this strange place…this place which only seemed to depress her, to instill in her unprecedented feelings of grave loss and irrational fear.

For the first time in her life, she was scared of the darkness that she had earlier loved more dearly than light. Darkness had been her escape, her pathway to a journey through the world of her dreams, where she could be what she wanted, do what she wished and the world would work in accordance with her wishes. But this was different, she didn’t want to be here, something about this darkness was so sinister, so evil that she just wanted to run away, to go back to her family, to the warm campfire, where the darkness couldn’t follow her.

Then suddenly she heard a faint sound, it was Mom. It was as if she was calling out to her from a world so far away that she couldn’t be able to reach out and lift her out of this strange place. She was scared that the only sound she could hear in this suffocating darkness would disappear too. So she started running faster, blindly, till the voice became clearer with every step she took, she wanted to reach out, to grab on to the fragments of the voice. Her fear was gradually replaced by hope, that of seeing her mom again. She ran till she saw a clearing in the darkness…a small slit of light, as if a curtain was slowly beginning to part. As she ran, she could feel the heavy weight of darkness shift from her shoulders and relax her further…but she still ran…with all her might…she was still scared that she would lose that last ray of hope, the curtain of darkness would cloud her vision again…

And then it all ended. All of a sudden, light overflowed her world, its perception blinded her senses, and she even couldn’t hear the comforting voice of her mother, who was sitting right by her side, stroking her hair as she spoke softly to her. Then as she slowly regained her senses, she could feel that she was back in her own dear world, right by the campfire. It was all a dream, her mom told her. She had fallen asleep in Daddy’s arms by the campfire. Mom had seen her squirm in her sleep, and reach out to desperately catch hold of something; she seemed to be so troubled that mom thought it best to wake her up.

But Alice was just glad to be back where she belonged, in the comforting presence of her dear family. This dream, unlike many others, was a dream she would remember forever.

Lakshika Pant