It's at this point in my story that I don't know what to do next.
The 'true' part of the story kind of ends here, because the power was restored to the area and across the highway was a rest stop and I ran like hell, found a payphone, called my wife, who called a tow truck and I made it home.
But the truth of this story, up to the point of being paralyzed with fear, has stuck with me and has invaded my dreams many times.
Because in dreams, as you all know, monsters are real. And sometimes, in our waking lives, those monsters reveal themselves.
In one version of the dream, I see eyes. Like cats' eyes, glowing in the dark, only large, and red. And growling, deep and low, circling....
In another, it's whispers, indistinct, but low and everywhere.
But in the most haunting dream, the one that sticks with me, often for days after I wake, goes something like this.
Something brushes past my leg. I'm paralyzed with fear, caught in midstep. The rain stops suddenly, and silence falls again.
I can hear my breathing, fast and hard from fear. And the beating of my heart, loud, throbbing, in my ears, and in spite of the cold wetness from the rain, I feel hot.
I wait for something to happen. To see that it was just a cat, lost in the storm. But all there is, is darkness. Complete absolute darkness.
I become disoriented, suddenly not knowing which way is up. I kneel to put my hand on the ground, as if to assure myself it's still there. The urge to cling to it is strong, as if I'd suddenly float off the ground.
I can't tell if my eyes are open or closed. There is no wind, not even a breeze. The thunder and lightning have stilled.
Alone, dark, silence.
Fear so complete, so overwhelming, that I can't breathe as if the air is heavy and I can't move it through my lungs. My heart beats harder, as if it's going to jump from my chest.
I don't know how long I knelt like that, clinging to the wet blacktop as my only connection to the world, but I had to move.
Slowly, shuffling, as if taking my feet off the ground would cause me to drift away, I began to move forward. I drug myself along the shoulder of the highway, on foot on the asphalt, the other in the mud off the edge.
And then falling..... falling.... falling....
In the dream this is where I wake, cold sweat, a scream in my throat.
But as a story, as something on paper, in my mind there's more.
But what to make of this? Where do I go from here? Is this simply a horror tale? Or is there something else here?
I have an inkling, an itching in my brain, of something to tell here, but I'm not sure how to proceed. There's a metaphor of something here....
Maybe you, dear reader, can help me go from here?