“Just keep breathing,”
“You were having a nightmare. It’s all going to be okay. I am right here with you. It will be okay.”
I realised that I was struggling to breathe. I was hyperventilating. Every breath I was taking in was not bringing me any comfort. Rather it was just increasing my heartbeat. My heart was beating so hard that I could hear the loud thump. Zach’s words were not loud enough to be heard over my racing heart.
He was holding me tight. That was comforting. In fact, everything he was doing was comforting me. His hand on my back. His soothing voice. Everything was having a calming effect on me.
Slowly I could feel my heart rate go down back to normal. The thumping in my ears also subsided. That’s when I realised that I was drenched in sweat. Sweat was dripping from my forehead to my eyes via my eyebrows. My eyes started burning, and I had to blink away the tears that were now forming.
When I tried to speak, my voice was still shaky. He got me some water, and that helped with my dry throat and mouth. Carefully I attempted to speak again.
Well, I managed to say two whole words, but they were so obvious I don’t know why I chose to say them out loud. He already knew I had a nightmare. Maybe I was trying to convince myself that it was all just a bad dream and nothing was real.
But it had felt so real just moments ago. Everything was playing in my head over and over again. Do we always remember the dreams in such vivid details? I was not able to remember any other dream I had. I don’t know if any of my dreams had ever felt so real.
I could still smell the water all around me.
I sound ridiculous even in my own head. It was just a nightmare. I am safe. He is still here. So that just proves that I had a silly dream.
I gave him a reassuring smile as I still didn’t trust my ability to speak coherently yet.
Eventually, after what felt like a lifetime, my heart rate came down to normal, my breathing became steady and I was able to speak more than two words at a time.
He finally tucked me in the bed and lied down beside me like always. I couldn’t sleep long after he went back to sleep. I could not help but keep thinking about the ‘nightmare’. I saw monsters, but I got scared way before they made an appearance.
Next morning we both got up as nothing had happened. And in reality, nothing had happened. It was all a nightmare. I was not pregnant. Zach had not left me. And there were certainly no blue people trying to kill me.
I took the home pregnancy test just to reassure myself that it was all just a bad dream. But then I got a positive. It was certainly unexpected but not that unlikely. We were not trying to get pregnant but were not too strict about birth control anyway.
The positive pregnancy test was beginning to look like the beginning of my nightmare. I couldn’t go through it again and certainly not alone. Maybe what I did next was not one of my proudest moments. I went up to Zach and basically blurted out that I am pregnant and don’t you dare leave me. I have to give him credit that he handled the situation like a champ. He gave me the biggest bear hug and whispered that he is never going to leave me.
After a few days, I completely forgot the horror I felt from that nightmare. I was pregnant and happy and with the love of my life.
The dream was still haunting me in the back of my mind. One day while daydreaming, I found myself doodling one of the faces I saw in my nightmare. It looked human. Well, at least like a human with no hair anywhere and with indigo skin tone.
Zach saw the doodle and asked me about it. I told him how I saw these strange creatures in my nightmare. I decided not to mention that they were trying to kill me. He already looked way too worried.
We didn’t talk about that nightmare again but I found myself drawing similar sketches over and over again. There was one particular face I kept drawing. Out of all those scary creatures, I felt drawn towards one.
I didn’t get any more nightmares after that day but the daytime reality started to get weirder every day. Zach insisted on driving me everywhere. He dropped me off to work then picked me up again. Anywhere I had to go, he would tag along. I think it had something to do with the pregnancy. He was never so clingy before. But I loved his company, so I had nothing to complain about.
The weird part was that I kept getting a feeling that I was being followed. I would be alone at home and still get a creepy feeling that someone was watching me. Maybe it was just my pregnancy hormones driving me nuts.
Apart from that my pregnancy was proceeding very smoothly and very fast. The baby was going to be really big. By the third month itself, I looked like I was in the last trimester and already ready to give birth.
As the days went by, Zach started to get more and more protective. He wouldn’t let me do anything and started suggesting that I should start my maternity leaves early. I was feeling great and saw no reason to stop working so soon.
By fifth month I got so big that it was getting more and more difficult to go to work or even do the simplest of tasks on my own. I was worried that at this rate I won’t be able to stand up by ninth month. Zach was probably freaking out more than I was. He would literally not leave me alone for a single minute.
Not long after my fifth month started I woke up with a strange noise in my house. Zach was not next to me. Perhaps he already went to check on the noise. Leaving the bed felt like too much effort at this point but the sounds were only getting louder by the minute. It sounded like many people were yelling in some foreign language.
I dragged myself out of the bed and went looking for the source of the sound. Zach was standing in the hallway, his back towards me. There were three more people in the shadows. They were arguing about something in a language I could not understand.
I could not see very clearly in the dark and decided that I wanted to know what was happening. I turned on the light and everyone suddenly got silent.
I am not sure but I think I screamed. The three people standing in front of Zach were not humans. They were the same blue people I saw in my nightmare. Was I dreaming again? I was contemplating that when Zach turned and I saw that he was the same blue man I kept drawing in my sketchbook. This can’t be real. This had to be another dream. I needed to wake up and then everything would back to normal.
I thought getting back in the bed would help me so I turned to leave the room. Suddenly, the three people and Zach started shouting again and as I turned, I saw them coming towards me. The three people were trying to grab me while Zach was trying to fight them off all at once.
I started running towards the main door to get out and call for help. As soon as I opened the door, I realised that I had to be dreaming again. There was water everywhere. Our home was submerged in water. There was nothing but water all around us. But somehow that water was not entering the house even with the door open.
I turned back as I couldn’t go out. Inside the fight was still continuing. Suddenly I saw a bright flash of light and two more blue people appeared in the middle of the room. Seeing them, Zach and the others stopped fighting.
The newcomers signalled me to come closer. They inspected me from head to toe. Then the taller one started talking in the strange language before the other one stopped him and spoke in English.
‘She has a right to know what’s happening here.’ Well, that was a strangely comforting thing to hear. I really wanted to know what was happening.
Zach stared at me for a while and then exhaled a deep breath before speaking to me.
‘I am so sorry for everything.’ I was not sure what he was sorry for and him starting his explanation with an apology was certainly not a good sign.
‘Do you remember the nightmare you had a few months back?’ He continued.
‘It was not a nightmare. It happened. You told me you were pregnant, and I freaked out and I lift. I didn’t leave because I didn’t love you but because I didn’t know what would happen to you or our baby. I never thought there was a chance for us to get pregnant.’ His voice was shaking, and he was giving explanations like his leaving was the most important thing in this story. I wanted to know about him and the blue people. We could talk about our relationship later.
‘After I left you, my parents sent Sheena to bring you to them.’ He pointed to Sheena who was giving me dirty looks even without her eyebrows and then he pointed to the last two blue people indicating that they were his parents. So this was the first time I met his family. Don’t know what to think of them. They seemed to hold power over others. They all stopped fighting as soon as they came. The shorter of the two (likely his mother) was at least nice enough to make everyone talk in English for my benefit.
‘Sheena, however, brought her friends, and they decided killing you would be better.’
‘I still say we should kill her and the monster that’s growing inside of her.’ Sheena screamed interrupting Zach.
Zach’s father just waved his hand and Sheena disappeared. I was getting intimidated by his mere presence in the room.
‘I stopped Sheena before she could hurt you.’ Zach continued.
‘But by then you had seen a lot and were really panicked. I wanted you to calm down, so I gave you a serum to forget the entire incident. It didn’t work perfectly. You still remembered snippets but thought it was all a nightmare.’ His explanation made perfect sense and yet it left me with more questions than I had before.
‘What happens now?’ That was the only thing I could think at this moment.
‘Now you are about to give birth and we have no idea if it will be human or like us.’ This time Zach’s father was taking the lead of the conversation. He continued.
‘We will decide about the next steps afterwards.’
‘Next steps. What next steps? Are you planning to kill me and my baby? What are you talking about? What’s going to happen next?’ I was starting to feel anxious.
There was silence. I kept looking at Zach, waiting for him to say something. Anything at all. But he just kept staring at his father. Then he just lowered his head and looked dejected. Like he had given up. His mother spoke next.
‘You drew really great pictures of us. Maybe you could write a story about it someday.’
That was a weird statement. And that was the last thing I remember before my eyes closed.