• AKO

I Can’t Die in Dreams

Enjoy my short fiction horror story inspired by Frankenstein and all these scary movies I've been watching on Netflix.



And to him, they were everything he had. Anytime he took a look at his paintings or sketches, he grinned from ear to ear. I’m not completely alone.. Even through the big mansion he called home, the dark corners and faded walls weren’t solely his own. He lived with the monsters and tales from all ages and times in history. He lived with his deadliest and ugliest demons, framed above each winding step or nailed on top of his matured fireplace. And he’d grown used to seeing their bloody, cracked faces when he turned off the lights or their stiff broken fingers when he closed his eyes. He knew they were there but not really there. He was the creator to his own demise.


“Fredrick, sir it is time for your breakfast. I have prepared the table in the main room and will clear it in 30 minutes.”


“Thank you, Mrs. Walter,” said Fredrick.


Mrs. Walter walked, sighing with each step down the stairs in this lonely house. She knew better than to expect Fredrick to come and eat while he’s having one of his “moments.” His moments can last long hours of menacing thoughts. He sits in the wooden rocking chair in the corner of his room farthest away from sunlight. He wears only his black robe on as he rocks back and fourth, back and fourth. The floorboards creak noisily under him with every push of the chair, sounding as loud as fireworks to Mrs. Walter in the kitchen.


“Dear lord give me the strength to finish my work for this last year,” murmured Mrs. Walter to herself as she glanced at the ceiling.


Hours pass and the creaking doesn’t stop. Fredrick’s mind jumps from image to image then to absolutely nothing but blank darkness. I see it but I don’t see it. I just had that idea and it just disappeared.


Mrs. Walter knocks on his door and waits, knowing she wouldn’t dare come in without his permission, not during these moments.


“Mrs. Walter, you may come in.”


“Fredrick, sir, you have missed breakfast and lunch. Will you let me at least bring something for you to eat up here? You know the doctor has said multiple times with your age you need to be eating regularly and-“


“I don’t believe the doctor has all the answers, if he did could he tell me why I have these images so clear in my head then they vanish into darkness? All these faces to be drawn and bodies to be colored yet the minute I touch a pencil to paper or a brush to canvas they vanish. Tell me, does he know what to do then? If I eat I will only see the food and I will not be able to retrieve the faces that are being lost in my mind,” Fredrick talks on and on, not even noticing Mrs. Walter has left a small plate on the floor and closed the door.


They’re in my head, I can feel it. It’s like they’ve all hid behind a black wall yet the whole area is black and I’m lost. I don’t know which is real and which is fake, which wall I can finally remove to see their faces clear as day.


Mrs. Walter sighs as the clock hits nine and a whole day has passed with Fredrick in his moment. She takes the house phone and dials her family’s number. She stares into the lines covering her hands; how each knuckle gets more and more wrinkled as years go on and her veins cover her pale skin into jagged lines of purple and green.

“Grandma? Grandma are you there?” The phone starts speaking.


“Oh yes, hi honey it’s grandma calling. Just wanted to check in to see how you all are doing during this cold winter. I miss you all very much.”


“We’re trying to stay warm. Seth got a promotion so he’s bringing more money in and it helps so much since baby number four is on the way. Oh please tell me you’re taking care of yourself? You know there are care-taker positions here closer to us and we could use the help with the kids, I-“


“Julie, honey, you know grandma made an oath to herself that she will work one more year and then be able to officially retire. And Mr. Fredrick needs help around the house and you know I can’t abandon things here.”


“One year won’t make a huge difference just come here. Mr. Fredrick is a rich man he’ll find someone else to deal with his crazy swings. Please I’m worried about you,” Julie seemed to sniffle her nose and her voice went from a yell to a whisper.


“Julie, grandma loves you, but you know how I am. I have to go and prepare for bed. I love you honey.” She hung up before she could get more fight out of Julie.


Mrs. Walter laid on her bed staring at the ceiling which had dancing shadows hopping from corner to corner. The light coming from the moon tonight created an ominous energy that rippled through the woods and painted her bedroom ceiling and walls. Her eyes slowly shut like a revolving door dying down with the inertia gone.


She was in the house yet floating above the ground. The furniture, walls, carpets, all drained from color and broken. She floated seeing the only things that looked alive were his paintings. The paintings all radiating with color and energy but not the energy one wanted, an energy of vengeance. The paintings with their disgusting faces began to move. The horrid painting of a demon eating the flesh of a younger woman became animated. The demon, no longer stuck in the same gruesome stance above the woman with her heart in his hands, moved. He now ate more and more of his victim, the blood from her limp body spraying the staircase above which it hung.


It’s just a dream. I can’t die in dreams. I can’t even feel pain in dreams…but she found herself stuck, floating in the air with the monsters of the night crawling out their frames and closing in on her.


What felt like a shock from two paddles reviving her, jostled her out of this nightmare. Except the shock wasn’t from paddles but from the sound of Fredrick calling her name.

“Mr. Fredrick, sir, it’s three in the morning,” she said while tying her robe right outside his door.


She heard a “come in please,” mixed with the tearing of paper and sharpening of pencils. She tripped and caught herself, looking down at the sandwich she brought early that day, untouched.


“Yes, you see it seems I have figured out which wall was blocking the faces and I can now see it, clear as day. Oh yes, clear as day. It’s calling to me extremely louder than all the ones before. It wants to be made, needs to be made. I need you to please fetch my large canvas I stored in the living room.”


She knew better than to argue with him and trudged silently down the hallway and down the winding steps to the living room. She stopped and stared at the painting of the demon that came to life in her dream. Was she imagining it or did the picture seem slightly tilted? She shook the thought from her head and continued to get the canvas.


“Oh Jesus,” she said while catching the statue she bumped into. Fredrick prided with this statue, the first “face” that came to life in 3D form for him. It consisted of a creature with an uncomfortably long thin face covered in red gashes. If she didn’t know it was fake, she could have sworn the cuts looked like they were freshly bleeding. The eyes, too painfully human to be on such an inhumane face.


Fredrick was already mumbling and talking in incoherent sentences when she placed the large canvas on his floor.


“I know, I know you want this done different but I don’t see it that way.”


He stood up, grabbing his head with both his hands and staring at the corner of the room where his rocking chair is.


“NO, no, you don’t get to make the rules, I’m the creator. I will make you how I see and-“ his feet stomped on the floor as he was face to face with nothing in front of the rocking chair.


“I will make you the bloodiest goddamn monster anyone has ever seen. You will be the lowest of lows in this society and when I pass your face each living day, I will smile at the sickening face frowning back, stuck on this canvas. And you can remember it's where I put you,” he pointed at the canvas laid on the floor.

Mrs. Walter woke up in the dark, no light shining through the grey stack of clouds hiding away the Earth below. Rain seemed to drop consistently in a weird rhythm. It seemed to match her heartbeat.


She cooked breakfast and went to call Fredrick when his door was crept slightly open. His face and hair covered in paint and pencil marks as he sprawled on the floor above the canvas. His lines were intricate and precise, yet his hands shook with each brush stroke.


“Mr. Fredrick, how about you come eat? I’ve prepared a special breakfast and you’re shaking. You need to eat, please.”


“Oh no Mrs. Walter, thank you. I seem to be shaking not from lack of nutrition but from the anger flowing in my blood. I keep trying to draw a line here or there and this face is not allowing it. It seems to think it’s better than the rest when it’s the most nauseating one of all. Run along now, but do bring me dinner tonight,” he said, wiping the smile he had off his face the minute he looked back down at the canvas.


The day went on with the continuous hymn of her heartbeat and the rain falling. Mrs. Walter walked up the stairs to bring Fredrick his dinner when she dropped the plate and screamed.


Hanging outside his door was the most disfigured, deformed, and grotesque being staring back at her. Its mouth broken open in an uninterrupted frown from cheek to cheek. Its jaw seemed to unhinge and hang with the rest of its limbs. Its face ruined with scars bursting at their seems, raw wounds that looked like a painful pattern. Its eyes a fountain of blood in which the whole area behind it flooded with. The being floated above the destruction of the town in the painting, drowning it the more it cried.


“I presume you have met the most foul creature I’ve ever made. Please, don’t bother bringing me another plate. I want to enjoy my food at the dinner table tonight,” Fredrick said while stepping over the pile of broken glass and food on his way down to the kitchen. He smiled at the paintings on the walls, running his fingers along the sandpaper canvases and kissing the statue at the bottom.


“What a mad man,” Mrs. Walter fell to the floor, tears in her eyes. She cleaned up the mess, blinking away her sadness and fear that ran down her cheeks in salty droplets.

“Julie, honey it’s grandma,” whispered Mrs. Walter into the phone. Her heart and the rain seemed to have a game of which could be louder.


“Grandma? Are you okay, is everything okay?”


“I think it’s time for me to come home. I’m going to pack my things this weekend and head up to you all, if that’s still okay?”


“More than okay grandma. I love you, see you soon.”


Mrs. Walter placed the phone back on the hook and sighed. Her thoughts loud in her mind as she got ready for bed. My last five years here, I’ve been nothing more than a devoted caretaker. I’ve done everything but there’s no shying away from the madness. It grows more and more each week…


She awoke with the sound of a drip echoing in the halls. A drip louder than the rain and louder than her heart combined. It rang in her ears like a defect. Then the sound of melted flesh peeling from one’s body, almost like tape peeling off a roll replaced the dripping sound. She hurried to the door when the screams of Fredrick made her shudder.


“You, this- this is not possible,” Fredrick said.


Mrs. Walter looked up to see the canvas Fredrick just painted, blood flowing from the canvas yet the beast he painted was not on there. Finally looking into the room, she screamed the most gut-wrenching sound, even louder than Fredrick who was face to face with this beast. A pool of blood trailed behind the mutilated creature hovering over Fredrick. A continuous flow of blood gushed out its eyes.


The creature quickly turned its head and stared at her, its mouth in that forever saddened but menacing smile.


“I was never meant to be this way,” the creature spoke with a slur of anger, “but you, you did this to me,” it pointed long boney fingers towards Fredrick, all the fingernails torn right off.


“I begged you, begged you to not make me into this wretchedness,” the creature stopped and looked down at itself, “but you’re evil. You ruined me,” it said.


“I merely created what I saw. You were ruined from the moment your face came into my mind,” Fredrick said.


The creature screeched so loud it hurt Mrs. Walter.


“Wait,” Mrs. Walter slapped her hand and felt the sting, “this, this can’t be real.”


She felt a breath of hot air behind her ear and the words it is encircled her. She jumped forward and realized behind her the demon from the painting on the stairs was waiting.

Just like that an army of devils and monstrosities piled into Fredrick’s room, each grabbing a part of him and dragging him to the stairs.


“No, please, no, I can change this. I can repaint all of you into whatever you what,” he pleaded while his arms frantically tried to hold on to anything he could.


His body experienced things Mrs. Walter never thought possible. One beast took his tongue and ripped it clean off, eating it after like a child would eat a lollipop. Another prodded his eyes, plucking one out as another bent his fingers back one by one. He fought, trying to kick and scream but each movement compelled his creatures to do more.

They scratched his face until his skin pilled under each of their nails. His body twisted on the steps as another broke his femur, the bone breaking through the flesh and sticking up towards the ceiling. Some other demon laughed in stripping the skin from around his nails up towards his shoulder. His beloved statue put one hand inside the top of Fredrick's mouth and one on the bottom and pulled. The jaw breaking sound left Fredrick's face just as long as the monsters. His screams eventually faded over the sound of chewing and laughter, all harmoniously coming together like the rain.


Mrs. Walter didn’t move an inch for what seemed like an eternity. She tried to scream but like she was dreaming, the sound didn’t reach far. The demon from the staircase painting glared at her, crawling up until its gaze met hers. Mrs. Walter’s heart became the only sound in the house.


It stopped and smiled at her, “you’re just as bad as him, standing by his acts, passing by us every day. You look away like we didn’t cry for your help. You turn away as if you are blind to our pain,” before it stuck its hand through her chest and grabbed her heart.

Love, AKO


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