In the winner of our spooky horror fiction contest, at a family get-together, the line between Maya’s recurring nightmare and reality blurs.Hira H. Arif
Maya was sweating in her sleep. Her recurring nightmare had gotten more vivid. She was trapped somewhere dark, crouched in a corner in the dream, breathing fast but quietly. It smelled moldy and old. She was trying to see, but it was like she was blind — her eyes searching for light in the pitch-black room.
She sat, not knowing what else to do. Should she scream? Her mouth felt dry. No matter how hard she tried, the words would not come out. No one knew she was here. No one was coming to help.
Something moved across the room. Maya held her breath, realizing she wasn't alone. Suddenly, there was a sound, soft at first but getting louder. It was growling.
Maya awoke to gasp for air. She was back in her apartment. She took a few deep breaths, sat up, and reached for her cell phone. Her dark room filled with screen light. It was 3:05 a.m. She plopped her head back on her pillow and closed her eyes. "It was just a dream," she whispered to herself, falling asleep moments later, quietly praying that the dream wouldn't follow her.
A loud vibrating noise awoke Maya with a panic. Her alarm reminded her that it was Saturday, and she needed to get ready for a big family get-together. All her mothers' side would be piling into some uncle's house to celebrate some cousin having yet another baby.
Maya did not want to go. She would rather watch Netflix and eat snacks, but she wasn't about to risk her mother's wrath. Not today. She quickly changed, grabbed her bag, and got in her car. She picked up her mom and siblings and begrudgingly plugged in the address in the maps app on her phone.
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