I should never have gone there. I should never have prodded into the depths of unknowable things. That deep, dark realm of nightmares and horror, it was my doom. I will not condemn you if you decide to take my account as the result of a bizarre fantasy, for it is a difficult tale to accept. But I am writing this down in the hope that someone finds it amongst these ruins. My own consciousness constantly hopes that everything that has happened is just a dream and that I shall wake up soon.
At an early age I had come to the realization that there was something wrong. I always felt an intrusive, alien presence within my own self; part of me, but also distinct. I noticed abnormalities with how the flow of time was perceived, with how space and distance were judged, and how the world seemed incorrect to me. I lived with these thoughts every day, trying to push them from my mind so that I could go on with my life. However, these inclinations never truly disappeared. There would always be a tugging at my mind, forcing me to bring my realizations back into view. And with each passing year as I matured into young-adulthood, my noticing of these aberrations became more and more intense and debilitating. They would cause me great anxiety and paranoia. I would seldom leave my home, and would spend most days cooped up with my books.
As far back as I can recall I had a substantial interest in matters of the occult and of the mind. My family being not of great wealth, I could only study and learn from what paltry offerings my young and inexperienced self could get my hands on. Yet as I grew and circumstance changed, I was able to expand my knowledge, being able to afford to buy books, go to school, and procure other sources of information. I divided my time between studying psychology in school and occultism in private. But what I could not discover was the source of this…pulling at my mind. What was this accursed presence within me that was driving me slowly to madness? I obsessively studied my occult and psychological materials in search of an answer, but to no avail.
My mental condition grew worse with each passing year, although I managed to keep it hidden from my family and peers. My anxiety had become so overwhelming that I never stepped outside, with the exception of going to my classes.
But at the start of my third year of university, the dreams began.
In my dreams I would find myself in a dark city, not a city of metal and glass, but a city of ancient stone. A place with buildings constructed of massive obsidian blocks covered with hieroglyphs, obscured by countless years of overgrown moss and vines. There were immense pyramids crumbling to ruin, and colossal brooding obelisks scattered around, whose purpose had been lost to time. This was a city of great antiquity that sprawled out in all directions as far as I could see, and was bathed in the sinister moonlight emanating from a sky of eternal night. And although no living things were in sight, I had a creeping and inexplicable sense that this place contained a lurking horror which should not be disturbed. After initially taking in the surrounding view I decided to move deeper, but that is when I awakened in my bed.
From then on every night I dreamt and found myself in that lonely, decayed city of timeworn stone. And every night I would manage to explore more and more of the bizarre surroundings before waking. I walked among those dead and silent buildings for what seemed like hours every time I slept. My fear of rousing some hidden horror among these ruins was overcome by a sense of fascination and curiosity. The decrepit and alien city sparked such a grand wonder in me, perhaps due to my occult interests. But there was an utter loneliness and silence that disturbed me down to my core, for I had not encountered any living things. Surely I should have come across something by now. I would roam around the hulking buildings, gently caressing the cold stone with my fingers as I passed by. I wandered under uneven archways of oddly menacing angles and through large, empty city squares, admiring the unearthly architecture. Even though this place brought on a sense of terror and dread, it also inspired great awe.
I kept the knowledge of this world to myself, of course. What would be the point of telling any others? My educated classmates and my knowledgeable professors would most likely tell me these were just some fanciful dreams my subconscious mind had concocted. But were they? I had never had dreams of such vividness that at times I wondered whether my waking life was the dream, and if my dreams of the ancient city were my true waking reality. The crunch of gravel beneath my shoes, the gusts of wind through my hair, and even the smell of rotting vegetation that I experienced there had to be much more than simple constructs of the mind. Had my study of the occult, of the arcane, and of the forbidden, sparked something inside me? Had my fascination with dark things and my studies into the inner workings of the mind opened some sort of mental rift into a world unknown to man, only accessible through a higher state of consciousness attained in the dimension of dreams? I set out to discover the truth.
From the musty storerooms at the university, and through some shady dealings, I managed to acquire the ingredients for a drug that we had learned about in class that would send one into an extremely deep and long slumber. I hoped that consuming this would give me sufficient time in the dead city to find some sort of evidence that the dream was indeed an alternate world. Afterwards, I headed home to begin the second step of my preparations.
Years ago I had unofficially “borrowed” an ancient, leather-bound tome of supposed spells from the off-limits section of the university library for my own private studying of arcane knowledge. In it, I had discovered one incantation that seemed well-suited to my venture. Never having attempted to cast magic before, and not sure whether I actually believed in it and whether it was foolish to even try it, I studied the yellowed pages of the book for a good while before carefully performing the spell step by step. Swallowing the drug with a glass of water, I strapped my schoolbag around my shoulder, secured my pocketknife in my shirt pocket, gripped my flashlight, and made myself comfortable on my bed. The spell I had performed would supposedly allow objects of my choosing to travel with me into the alternate dimension. I felt the effects of the drug taking hold soon enough, and when my eyes became heavy with sleep I closed them without hesitation.
When I opened my eyes again I found myself staring at that familiar decayed city of eternal darkness and night. I looked down to see my flashlight in my hand and felt the pull of the bag on my shoulder and the weight of the knife in my pocket. Either the spell had proved successful, or my subconscious mind had projected the ideas of these objects into my dream. Not caring just exactly how my items were with me, I set about to explore the deepest levels of the desolate metropolis, smirking at my own cleverness. I had made much progress though the winding streets and structures since the dreams first began, but this night I would cover much more ground. I walked along the deserted streets, weaving my way through the enormous buildings, pyramids, and obelisks. I went through the city going farther than I ever had before. Even after so many trips to my dream world, I still found the eerie architecture dread-inducing yet beautiful.
It was after several hours of intensive exploration that I came upon what seemed to be a sort of cemetery. There were broken markers scattered about that resembled gravestones, mounds of odorous black dirt, and large oblong boxes made of smooth rock and covered in bizarre markings. With my interest in dark and occult things I was instantly fascinated. I crept among the alien-looking graves and sarcophagi and finally came upon what appeared to be a grand mausoleum of finely-cut black stone and rusted dark metal. I stood there taking in the sight as the baleful moonlight shone down across its front archway revealing indecipherable characters of an unknown language. And below that lay the open gateway of the tomb, like a gigantic yawning mouth leading straight to the darkest recesses of the Pit itself.
The opening in the mausoleum filled me with unease, for shining my light into that black abyss could not even penetrate its darkness. I studied that grim tomb until I noticed the rank, fetid smell of rot in the air which seemed to be emanating from the dread doorway. I let the flashlight fall from my grasp as I quickly moved my hands to cover my nose and mouth as the stench grew thicker. And along with it came the sound of something moving inside the crypt, the first living thing I had heard in all my time here. Such a wretched and nauseating odor mixed with a sound so disturbing was terrible, but my feet were transfixed to the spot as a man-shaped shadow drew itself from out of that mausoleum.
I rapidly drew out my pocketknife but the thing suddenly spoke to me. It did not direct its words to me through vocalized communication, but I perceived the words right inside my head. It told me, in a malicious manner, that it had dwelled in this hell for quite some time and that I was to help it escape. I was to finally be its freedom from this dead place. I was to be its key to unlocking the gate and that I was going to help it whether I wanted to or not.
Wanting to look upon this shadowy being I gathered up the nerve to quickly pick up my flashlight, and I shone the light at its face. Horror gripped my heart as I beheld my own face staring back at me; my own features and likeness, except with a certain malevolence and malignity in its eyes. What manner of delusion was this? This could not be real. This must be some terrible nightmare after all, a construct of my own mind.
The being began to lessen the distance between us as I stood there awe-struck. While my brain tried to rationalize the situation, my body made its own decision and I turned to flee. I ran in a frenzied panic through the streets of that decayed and massive city. But how would I escape? My means of leaving this place previously had been by waking up, but I had taken that accursed sleeping drug. My only hope was to hide from this doppelgänger until the medication wore off and I could awaken. But no matter how far or how fast I ran, I could hear him behind me, although the sound was not the sound of footsteps, but of something large pulling itself across the ground.
I shouldn’t have looked back; it was my downfall. As I ran I had begun to feel a rousing and stirring somewhere out of my current body which I interpreted as my real body waking from its slumber. How grateful I was to feel that sensation. I would soon be free of this nightmare. My morbidly curious mind, although terrified, wished for one last glance at my pursuer. As I turned my head to look behind me, my feet stumbled and I fell. I screamed in utter terror at the thing pursuing me, a creature so horrid and blasphemous, it was almost beyond the description which human minds can fathom. Its body had changed completely. The wretched things was so terrifying, my mind could not retain the image of its full form. All I can recall is a pale, bloated body, and a mass of eyes, mouths, and limbs that bent at grotesque angles. A truly hideous monstrosity from the darkest depths of insanity had been chasing me. I cowered there on the ground and feebly raised my pocketknife as the thing grabbed me and all went black.
I finally awoke, not in my own bed, but still in that ancient city of my nightmares. I do not know how long I’ve been here now; time has lost all meaning as the sunless days have all blurred together. Sometimes I can hear faint voices around me, voices that sound familiar but I cannot remember who they belong to. And sometimes I can hear my own voice and see flashes of scenes as if I were back in my own waking world. I do not know what has happened to the body that used to be mine in my own reality or what shall happen to me in this place. But that nameless horror that attacked me is gone and I am still here, with my mind half-broken, in this dead and decayed city of eternal darkness.