Written by Jonathan Wojcik

NIGHTMARE MENAGERIE 2018, PART IX
Guest Art by Zane Khan!






THAT JERK UNDER THE SINK

Posted by Madhighlander:
"In the dream, I was living with a roommate who I remember only vaguely. I kept coming home to find that all our faucets (sink, bathtub, shower, everything that emitted water) had been left on. The roommate, however, insisted that he was not responsible. Determined to prove otherwise, I decided to stay awake through the night to catch the culprit, and I set up a chair in front of the sink, turned it off, and sat down to wait. I didn't need to wait long. Once it was completely dark outside, I heard a creaking noise. A drawer under the sink (about two feet wide) slowly slid open, and out of the drawer emerged a long, spindly arm and hand. It had long fingers, multiple elbows, and had it made a fist, that fist would have been slightly larger than my head. The hand came down on top of the counter, feeling around, dancing like a spider. It found the faucet handle and twisted it up to full blast. Then the hand slowly receded back into the drawer, to be replaced by a head and neck. The neck was long and stretched, but it wasn't skinny relative to the head; it just looked like a normal human neck (Proportionally, that is) that had been stretched out. The head, however, was about the size of a dog crate and looked like someone had wrapped a cat's face around a tyrannosaur skull. It had long, greasy black hair that came down to about the base of its head. Its skin was grey and hairless, but no more bony than an ordinary cat face. It rose about four feet out of the drawer, though I never saw its shoulders, if it had any; its neck simply disappeared into the drawer, which seemed from the outside to be no more than six inches deep - nowhere near large enough to hold it. It looked down at the running water, then turned around to face me. Its eyes were blank and white, and though the rest of its face looked just like a cat's, it had neither ears nor a nose. It smiled a cheshire cat grin, and then slowly sank back into the drawer, which closed of its own accord. I came to understand that it hated me more than anything else in existence, but at the same time didn't really mean me any harm; it just wanted to waste my water and drive my utility bills through the roof as a petty revenge for whatever slight it believed I had caused it."


This being raises so, so many questions, and while its intentions may seem anticlimactic, even funny, I feel like they're even worse than if it just wanted to kill you. It hates you the most out of everything in the universe and it obviously has the ability to do almost anything it wants...but all it's going to do is that single, incredibly obnoxious, incredibly inconvenient thing to make your life just a little bit worse. It's as if it just wants you to know how powerless you are, and wants you to know that it doesn't even feel the need to put forth any greater effort. What an absolute and complete rat bastard.



TIM AND DOGGY

Posted by Bluevest:
"I had this dream about a new monster fighting/collecting game for mobile phones. The two gimmicks were A) a bizzare horror game aesthetic and B) the "fighting" part of the game took place in real life, with monsters summoned through your phone. I had downloaded the demo version, which had 2 monsters available. The first monster was "Tim," who looked sort of like a kidney crossed with a fetus. He was about the size of an american football. To actually use him to attack, you had to pick him up and throw him hard at the ground, whereupon he exploded in a geyser of blood completely disproportionate to his apparent size. If you didn't throw him, he would just explode on you. I chose to throw him and thus completely ruined my hallway carpet, walls, and ceiling. As I was considering how much trouble I would be in with my parents, my phone dinged to let me know of the arrival of the other demo monster. This monster was called "Doggy" and was a tennis ball sized mosquito-looking critter with a horrifically bloated stomach. He was a sort of puke yellow-green and completely coated in a fine layer of fuzz. He could be "bopped" into place like a balloon, and once he touched the ground he slowly melted into a puddle of bile.

Once again, this puddle contained way more liquid than his size would suggest was possible. As I turned to try and shut the game off and hopefully prevent anymore damage to my house, my phone once again alterted me to the arrival of a monster from the game. However, this lad was more like a helpful NPC. His name was Mr. Sweep, and he showed up when you weren't looking to help clean up after a battle. The phone picture looked like a shriveled, dull green Lorax with a newsboy hat pulled over his eyes. I could faintly hear him working in the hallway. Once I couldn't hear him anymore, I turned to find that all the fluids on the hard floor had been soaked up with janitorial dust and swept into a neat pile. He had also piled up the ruined rugs into a nearby laundry basket, which was very kind of him as it was not really his job. As I pondered Mr. Sweep's unexpected kindness, another Doggy melted on the floor behind me, and my older brother walked in and began to scold me for downloading the game. I heard Mr. Sweep behind me, and them woke up. I still have no idea what I was supposed to be fighting in that dream. No enemies ever appeared."


Not a scary dream, but some definitely weird and grotesque manifestations! It's hard to pick a favorite between the two battle monsters, whose effects so similar that they may very well be elaborate re-skins of one another, but their aesthetics are worlds apart. The fact that this app game makes monsters real but that they ultimately just make a godawful mess is pretty funny, and so is the fact that there's a little janitor guy who exists only to rectify that issue. Is he even an intentional feature of the app, or is he actually fighting back against it?



THE "RABBIT"

Posted by Phazon Ultra:
"Iíve had a creature from a dream that has been in my mind for the past few years. The dream was set in some neighborhood possibly at a yard sale where they were selling auto parts. Then the setting transitioned to my parents bedroom in my childhood home. Some animal stat atop the dresser. What Iím about to describe took clear inspiration from Frank from Donnie Darko, though the similarities end pretty quickly. First of all, Iím fairly certain this creature was female. It was rabbit-like creature that sat upright at about three or so feet tall, its humanoid front limbs tucked to its chest. It hunched over, its folded legs on either side of a large round abdomen, comically huge compared to its emaciated upper body. It was covered in stiff gray hair, save for the exposed grey skin of its head, hand/paws and stomach. Its muzzle was more elongate than a rabbitís, the eyes were forward facing and humanlike, perhaps even thoughtful looking. There were no irises, just featureless golden eyes that look like they reflected a cloudy sky. There was no real mouth or lower jaw, rather four yellow, tusk-like front teeth jutted from the creatures upper jaw in the general shape of a spade. The skin of the hands face and ears had this intricate, strangely beautiful weblike pattern of wrinkles or raised flesh. The creature made this gentle trilling or cooing noise that continually raised and lowered in pitch. If it wasnít for the one feature I have neglected to mention up to this point I might have found this creature rather lovely and elegant. However I was deeply unsettled by the fact that it had a second face, much larger than the main one, taking up the front of its abdomen. The face was more akin to a human skull and the skin here was more hideous, covered in sickly, engorged veins, stretched over the empty eye sockets. There was no indication this second face was hostile or even a distinct being. However I hesitated to go near. She may have had no ill intentions, but I felt the skull face could have come to life and try to bite if I got my hand close."


Everything about this being paints an extraordinarily ghoulish spectacle. Just seeing this sickly rabbit woman and her pestilent belly-skull sitting in a room doing nothing sounds hare-raising, but thankfully she's more chill than chilling. Maybe she was the stalking horror of someone else's nightmare, and this dreamer just happened to catch her on her break.



THE BATHROOM STALKER

Dream by Zane Khan
"I have for a long time been hounded by dreams of being lost in an undulating, abstracted version of a public restroom. I find myself alone in this shadowy, filthy environment, dark stains of unknown origin on white tile. I can see lockers in every direction, as well as barbed wire haphazardly strewn about. The tile floors end in some places, replaced with metal grating suspended over yawning blackness. Despite the quiet, I know that I have to get out immediately. I can see something in my periphery. Deep in the corners, in impossible recesses where I can never reach, something is pulsing, warping, growing, like some fungal growth, but itís far too fast, far too dark, far too red. It seeps down from the ceilings and I fumble frantically down sticky floors and moldy breathing walls as the place warms to an uncomfortable wetness.

The shifting halls deepen to obscure scarlet and shadow, limiting visibility and shifting my pace to a blind, mad panic. There are multiple rusted gates and steep staircases that take just too long to force open or clamor through, the thing shambling closely behind. He's too close, so close that I almost feel I should give up running, if not for the ambiguous threat of violation should he catch me. I can feel spaces opening in my ribs. Meaty pink tendrils grow from them like flower stamen that somehow "root" me into place. I turn around and see hands everywhere. I fall, and he stands over me."


This is a dream from the artist himself, and it's a viscerally unpleasant ride from start to finish. The never-ending, seemingly living bathroom maze, the entire design of the stalker, the implication of what its intentions may be and the body horror ending couldn't have been any more dreadful. As a certified Nightmare judge I'd have to give this a full ten out of ten frogs for taking such a classic nightmare formula to boldly hideous extremes. I'd say just about the only dream I've read this year any more uncomfortable is...the very next one here. Enjoy!



THE FACE SUCKER

Posted by Lukas Reimer:
"So the earliest point I can remember in the dream was me just walking through a rather crowded mall, getting some Christmas-er, "Halloween 2" shopping done. My surroundings seemed...blurry, somehow, like there was water in my eyes or I was really tired. It wasn't too eventful, just me shopping for gifts, but occasionally I would notice, in the corner of my eye, a mall Santa standing in the crowds, staring directly at me. He always appeared in my peripherals, and was slightly blurred, but he was always staring at me and facing my way, just standing motionlessly. The mall Santa was never close to me, always at least ten or so feet away, but he was clearly intentionally following and observing me. His eyes were big and veiny, looking almost like they would pop out of his skull and fly out like rubber balls, and his nose and mouth were both completely concealed by his fake beard. He showed up several times, and nobody else seemed to notice his presence except for me. I thought it was weird, but didn't think much of it, so I finished my shopping and left the mall.

The dream cut to me a few hours later, just relaxing in a chair by my window and reading a book. Out of the corner of my eye, I detect motion outside the window, and when I look I see the stalker mall Santa is standing on the other side of the road next to my house, watching me. He must have known that I saw him, as he quickly hid in the bushes nearby. Unnerved, I took a baseball bat with me to bed that night, just in case.

I woke up in the middle of the night (in the dream) with an intense feeling of dread. The room was mostly pitch black, illuminated only by the light from the window in the front of the room, and I checked my digital clock for the time. Instead of any time however, it simply said "HO HO HO" repeatedly. Then I jumped as I heard a loud "THUMP" of something landing in the fireplace through the chimney, which startled me especially because the fireplace was right in front of the foot of the bed I was in for some reason. The source of the noise appeared at first to be a pile of cloth, however, as it stood and morphed into its true form, I immediately froze in fear as a familiar entity loomed over me. It was none other than the mall Santa.

I was too afraid at this point to grab my bat, and so I could only watch as it shed its robes, shrugging off its costume to reveal a truly horrifying being.

What I noticed first was its bizarre, grotesque face. Its eyes were bulging as wild as ever, looking as if they would explode any second, and its nose was nonexistent, simply a pair of slit-like nostrils on a wrinkled face. Its mouth was what most disturbed me, however. It didn't really have any recognizable mouthparts to speak of, but rather, a puckered hole as if the Nightmare Santa's entire face had exploded inwards. The best description I can give is that it was basically a greatly swollen, puckered human sphincter with rough, wrinkled skin and covered in warty, red excrescences like herpes-induced cold sores. Its cheeks were also swollen, as if it was about to vomit, and ridden with even more pustules. Chillingly, its ears were normal, if a bit small in comparison to the rest of its facial features, and the top of its head appeared shrunken and squared off, as if it had been squeezed at the tip. Its forehead was wrinkled and furrowed, and it had a goofy-looking old man combover with wispy, sparse blackish-grey hair.

All this was horrifying enough, but its body was even worse, if that's possible. The neck was normal, but everything below it was most definitely not. Its shoulders were extremely slanted, and one arm appeared atrophied and short, with "fingers" closer to a fleshy crab's claw, while the other was abnormally long and had normal-looking digits (if a bit hairy.) It may have also had a smaller second set of twisted, branch-like limbs below them, though I'm not 100% sure on that. Its frame was mostly thin, but fattened out a bit around the belly. I didn't get a look at its legs with the foot of the bed blocking them off from my vantage point, but they seemed to be rather short from its stance. The Nightmare Santa loomed over me, easily 6'10" to 7'5" tall.

I was already terrified enough, but then I saw the faces. The Nightmare Santa's entire torso and arms were covered in eyeless human faces, frozen in a screaming, horrified expression. I somehow instinctively knew that the Nightmare Santa was a "Facesucker;" as in, it would use its grotesque sphincter mouth to suck my face off of my skull like a horrible, horrible kiss, after which my face would appear on its skin, in the same horrified expression I bore in my last moments.

And as I was too frozen in terror to move, the Nightmare Santa did just that, leaning over me and pressing its butthole-mouth over my face, smothering me.

I blacked out when that happened, but before I woke up, I could hear wet, quiet licking noises and a thin, worm-like tongue squirming around inside my brain."


HAAAAAPPY HOLIDAAAAYS!!!!!!!!!


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