I was seven years old when I first awoke, terrified by a dream.
Sergio and Guerro (okay, that was his nickname - and I think it was Chris) were half brothers that lived next door to us from when I was about six years old to when we left three years later. Sergio was about five years older that Guerro or myself, but we all played together every chance we got. Whether it was capturing horny toads (bearded dragons) for home made aquariums made from aluminum trashcans, filled one-third with sand, or pretending we were on a secret rebel mission in a galaxy far, far away, or just riding our bikes around our neighborhood, near 35th Ave and Cactus, in Phoenix, there was no adventure too large or too small for us.
Sergio and Guerro also had a maternal grandmother, of the Dine', who spoiled them with monthly gifts of food, toys, clothes and whatever else could be thought of to bring. A woman of few words, big smiles, and a welcoming grace. One year she brought them an Atari 2600! Mind Blown!
This was the coolest gaming rig. 8 bit MOS, 128 bytes of memory and Pac-Man. The tree of us, along with everything else we did, spent countless hours in front of this glorious, fo-wood panel hi-tech piece of electronics.
November of 1983 was strange and terrifying. Sergio and Guerro's mom invited me out to the movies with them on a Friday night. She had spoken with my mom and mentioned that we were gonna see "A Christmas Story." I had no idea what that movie was about, because what she told us was that we were gonna see a double feature of a spooky movie and a ninja movie. At that time, the spooky movie wasn't very appealing, but what sold me was the ninja movie. What were those epic films?
First up, was "The Being."
This movie terrified eight year old me. This alien blob that traveled through water and sewage pipe to engulf you and dissolve you completely. At one point, I couldn't take it and walked out of the auditorium, and talked with one of the theater employees about movies and what I was into, which always came to Star Wars and Star Trek, and also James Bond. James Bond was always cool. Eventually, Guerro came out and got me for the second film: "Revenge of the Ninja."
Now this was awesome. Flames, ninja moves, throwing stars and high kicks. Damn did I love this movie, and was the first time I saw a woman naked. Shockingly, I was disinterested. But this was a great night. We had gotten home late, and I was rushed to bed right away. It was then that horror visited me every night, for seven nights, and it was always the same.
I knew I wasn't in Phoenix in the dream. It was some strange, small, or better yet, partially filled city, like a half abandoned ghost town. My mom, sisters, and people I didn't recognize though I called them friends, we were held up in a modest, two story house, we all looked scared, haggard, and filthy, and this house wasn't any of ours. I knew we'd had broken into this house for temporary safety. Not one light was on in the house. The full moon's light was all we were allowed, lest not we fell prey to it.
My mom cautiously checked out all the windows for any sign of it. She found none.
"John," my mom whispered, "get everyone together."
I did so and once we were together, she said:
"Alright. I don't see it and it's been a couple hours, so we're going to try for the Church of the Fountain, but it's a mile away, so we're going to have to do this fast, okay?"
Everyone nodded their heads in terrified ascent.
"Good, let's go."
We all exited the house as quietly as we could, for a group of ten scared kids and one terrified adult, who hoped against all hope that she and her children would survive the night. Light burned it. Light made it weak. Light forced it to shrink.
Light was our only weapon, but it had to be the Sun's light.
After leaving the two-story house without so much as a crackling of a twig underfoot, mom led us through deserted streets where some of the street lamps overhead worked, where cars still smoldered, and other burned, from the chaos it caused, and the lone barking of dogs, silenced after a desperate whimper, heightened the terror and hopelessness in us all. My mom was convinced that holy ground was truly sacred, and it couldn't get to us there.
Impossibly, all eleven of us made it to the parking lot of the Church of the Fountain, but one of my friends tripped over his own feet, and when he struck the ground with his face, he let out a child's wail of agony. We all froze. A metallic, acrid smell filled the air. That was its only tell-tale sign of immanent death by dissolution. My mom sprinted for the front doors, and crashed into them, and forced them open.
"Get in! Now," she commanded, and as we did so, she ran back for my friend who lay wounded on the asphalt. She picked him up and ran as fast as she could, because from a nearby drainage ditch, it, the size of car, but a translucent green, gelatinous blob rolled up and out towards them. I saw bones, and partially dissolved clothes trapped within its mass, and I shivered.
"Hurry, Mom! Hurry!"
I hadn't realized it was my voice that called out to her until the second or third time I pleaded, but it was no good. The last time I screamed her name, I watched in petrified horror as the blob engulfed her and my friend. As the screams of terror and disbelief were drowned out, tears stung my eyes as I bore witness to my mother's seemingly eternal death as skin melted and pealed away. Her eyes popped as her arms flailed about in slow motion. Flesh gave way to muscle. Muscle gave way to organs, which finally gave way to bone.
I woke screaming my mom's name each and every seven nights.
I never went to the movies with Sergio and Guerro again.