Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


The woman stares at me with terrified eyes. Even through her fear, I can tell she still loves him…and this stupidity is going to make her give away our location. She’s going to get us killed.

The place is a mess of tools and other junk, so it isn’t hard to find a weapon. When the woman calls out-like I knew she would-I give the guy a solid whack on the head with a heavy iron tool. For good measure, I cut his arm with a long silver blade that was also on the ground. It slices through to the bone. Both the man and woman scream, and I run.

I run through darkness where packs of growling dogs lunge at me. When necessary, I wound them, too. I crawl through other people’s barns and yards, dirty, disheveled, and bleeding, desperately trying to save my own life.

Needless to say, I haven’t been getting much sleep lately.

The above is a partial description of the nightmare I had last night. It was so real that I was afraid to go downstairs when I woke up, and I even checked the address of the safe place I was trying to get to in my dream.

I’ve been having these night terrors ever since I received the email on Sunday night that I made it into the fight camp. Somehow, I’m thinking the two are related.

Whenever I have a nightmare, it’s a fight-or-flight scenario similar to the one above. Someone is always after me, or someone I love, with the intent to kill. Thankfully, I always seem to get away, but I’m usually still running when I wake up.

Nightmares were easier to handle when I was a kid. I would stumble through the dark hallway into my parents’ room, make myself a little bed on the floor near my mother’s side, and fall asleep. I never had a single nightmare as long as I could hear my mother breathing. As an adult, they’re not so easy to shake.

Anyone who says, “it’s just a nightmare,” has never had one. Apparently, the resulting stress and sleep deprivation can lead to heart attacks and other nasty stuff. I haven’t slept well in two days now.

Do you ever suffer from nightmares? What’s your cure of choice?

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  1. Lisa

    I, too, had a nightmare Monday night. I was out in the bush for a job I was doing and spotted two bears on the road. For some reason I decided to head to the middle of a field and curl into a ball hoping that they wouldn’t notice me. One wandered into the field and I could sense it getting closer and then I could feel and hear it’s breath on my neck. I was certain that I was going to be mauled, if not killed by that bear. When I woke in a panic I could hear my husband breathing loudly beside me (thus the realistic bear breath)…I could NOT get back to sleep that night/morning and ended up going through my day in a haze.

    I have these only occasionally, so I tend to chalk them up to some random brain processing.

    I try to keep my bedtime the same time every night if possible. NO caffeine after 6:00 the night before. I don’t know if it helps or not. But that’s all I got..;0)

  2. Story Teller

    Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for commenting, and sharing your dream. Did you tell your husband that he had a special part to play in your nightmare? 🙂

    I’m bad for having caffeine too late at night, I know. That could have been a partial culprit, but I do think at least some of it was stress and anxiety.

    Hope you’ve been having a great summer! I’ve missed you on here.

  3. Claudine

    I have recurring nightmares about stairs – I start climbing a staircase and it begins to crumble underneath my feet, or it’s one of those open, industrial-style staircases (the kind that scare me in real life) and I’m frozen in place, afraid to take another step. The symbolism of these dreams is pretty obvious, and the dream usually comes when I need to keep climbing to get to the top – whatever that is for what I’m trying to accomplish.

    My favourite dreams, however, are when I’m in a familiar home (usually my own or a relative’s) and I discover rooms I never knew existed before. I think these are the undiscovered gifts within ourselves or others – but sometimes I just wake up and wish I had another bathroom 🙂

    My nightmare cure is to watch something dull on TV – not hard in the middle of the night – or to read a not-so-engaging book, anything to keep from running over the details of the dream again and again.

  4. Story Teller

    That’s really creepy and interesting, Claudine. I like your cure, too. I also find that I need to get up and read or something…otherwise, the nightmare runs on a seemingly endless cycle.

    Thanks for commenting! I hope you had a great summer.


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