Authors: John Tigges
From the back cover
THE VOICE OF THE NIGHTMARE
All his life, Jon Ward has been plagued by a recurrent nightmare, one that plunges him again and again into a world of mindless terror and haunts his waking hours. Desperate to discover the source of his evil dreams, Jon seeks psychiatric treatment, to no avail. If anything, his fantasies become stronger, more horrific, until at last he becomes aware of the presence of another personality within him, speaking through his lips, demanding to be reborn and to complete the subjugation of mankind, thwarted so long ago, to his maniacal will…
Jon remained rooted in his position. Droplets of sweat drenched his face, his soaked shirt clinging to his body.
In the distance he could hear the cheering. Then the screams of adulation faded away and Ion could hear the pounding of his own running feet. Plunging headlong through the familiar dream forest, he could feel his wildly beating heart. His body and seared lungs ached.
Jon shrank back from the people grabbing at him with emaciated fingers, their sallow faces deformed with loathing. The fog parted and he saw the figure of the blond woman motioning for him to join her. Knowing the people pressing about him would not impede his course, he began approaching the indistinct form. The blond woman now lay at his feet. He tried vainly to repel the cajoling pantomime of the pressing crowd. He shook his head furiously but knew he could not resist.
He would obey.
Slowly he raised the dream gun to his temple, at the same time squeezing the trigger. Ion felt the burning headache begin …
Trina inserted the key in the lock of their apartment. She turned the knob as Jon screamed. Throwing the door open, she saw him fall from his chair. The sight of blood flowing from his eyes, nose, mouth and ears transfixed her in the entryway, unable to move….
Also by John Tigges:
UNTO THE ALTAR
THE GARDEN OF THE INCUBUS
THE LEGEND OF JEAN MARIE CARDINAL
KISS NOT THE CHILD
For my darling Kathy,
whose voice kept me going
when the going was difficult.
A LEISURE BOOK Published by
Dorchester Publishing Co., Inc. 6 East 39th Street New York, NY 10016
Copyright©1986 by John Tigges
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law.
Printed in the United States of America
February 3, 1946
April 20, 1979
Sleep quickly captured Jon Ward’s consciousness.
His eyes barely closed, the cheering began. It sounded like a soft whisper in the distance, as though separated from him by miles. Gradually, inevitably, the applause, the cries, grew louder and louder until he thought his eardrums would burst. Screams of adulation, fanatical cries of worship washed over him, sending his senses reeling with but one thought—one predominating idea—
A shouting rhythm flooded over the cacaphony, building to an intense tempo until thousands of voices cried out in unison:
Dee-Hah! Dee-Hah! Dee Hah!
For some inexplicable reason, he felt he should understand the call, but the words never were clear.
The dissonance stopped suddenly, the familiar deadly silence filling the void. Nothing. No sound of any type. Then he heard it. The
click, click, click
of running feet. His lungs throbbed. Breathless. Exhausted. Looking down, he saw only his own feet, clad in boots, running as fast as he could. One desire, one obsession hammered at the surface of his sleeping consciousness—escape! He must get away! Flee! But from what? Who or what was pursuing him? Why should he fly from this unknown terror? There were no answers. Intensifying his efforts, he ran all the harder.
Alone! He was alone. Alone against everyone and everything awful and deadly. He found himself in a black vacuum, totally cut off from all society, all creation, devoid of any color except the ever present blackness. No friends! No enemies! Nobody!
enemies. Of course there were. He could feel their hatred, their loathing, suddenly concentrated, suddenly focused at him until it became a tangible weight about to smother him, to force him to the ground.
As quickly as the clamor of voices had changed to the awful quiet, he found his surroundings alter, taking on the shape of the dark, foreboding woods where the light of day never penetrated. He hated this area, this forest, but had no choice except to hurry through the dense underbrush, to run soundlessly, his feet barely striking the soft earth. His lungs begged for oxygen as he dashed blindly through the undergrowth. The prickly sensation of his neck hair moving of its own accord, told him something was about to happen and he knew it could not be avoided. The sequence never changed.
It loomed in front of him, the large root of a tree, blocking his path. Gathering himself as he ran, he prepared to hurdle it. When he jumped, the root of the tree, leaping from the ground, tripped him. He fell heavily, rolling out of the way just as the tree’s branches swept down to strike him. Scrambling to his feet, he resumed his flight. His legs, barely moving, seemed to be made of lead. As he bolted forward, more branches waved, reaching out to grab him, to hold him. Trees shouldn’t do this!
Trees couldn’t do this!
Leafy arms dashed past his face, trying to scratch him. Vines and creeping ground vegetation writhed, attempting to snare him, to stop him, but somehow, miraculously, he kept to his staggering run.
A thick mantle of fog slowly swirled about, drifting in to enfold the trees. He raced ahead hide within its opaque embrace. Once more, he ran blindly through a vacuum, only a gray one this time. He slowed his pace to avoid falling again. If he stopped, for any reason, the awful trees would catch him and then he would be lost. When he settled on a frenzied walk, the fog began thinning.
Instead of dissipating completely, the haze moved apart, creating a misty corridor. Rushing along, he stopped short when the vaporous wall scudded to either side, exposing the shadowy figure of a woman off in the distance. Trina? Could it be Trina? He tried to fix his eyes on the silhouette before him, only to have her slither out of focus. It had to be Trina! But Trina didn’t wear a leather coat or shoes like that—not low heeled oxfords. And the woman’s hair seemed all wrong as well. Trina had auburn hair, long and flowing—not shoulder length and blond. But it
to be her. Only she could help him! Maybe this time it might be Trina. He tried calling out. Instead of a cry, he gurgled, choking when his throat tightened. Moving hesitantly toward the form, he could see her face taking on shape and structure: a nose—eyes—a mouth. Gradually, the woman, familiar in a strange way, came into sharp definition. He sobbed. It was someone else! Not Trina!
While he stood gaping at the strange figure, the cloudlike walls receded into the distance, disappearing, and he found the strange trees on both sides of and behind him. With only the pathway in front unobstructed, he had to move forward in the direction of the woman. Did the trees want him to go this way? Could this strange woman be his sole way out? Could a woman whom he had never met be his only means of escape? There had to be another way. Still, he knew he could not turn back.
No turning back! No other way!
As always, he would go to her when she called.
A low moaning from behind him snapped him about. He found the trees slowly transforming into people. Men, women, children. Sad faced people. All dressed alike. He tried desperately to fix his eyes on their wearing apparel but could not tear his gaze from their tortured features 9s they surrounded him. Many wept, moaning, grieving, as they shuffled toward him, extending their bony hands, opening, closing, grasping at the air that separated them from him.
He tried to scream but nothing happened. Falling back two steps, he shook his head, wildly trying to dissuade the living skeletons from their murderous intent. Something struck his cheek and he turned to catch the full impact of two young women spitting at him. The spiteful venom running down his cheek seemed to burn his flesh. Countless lips moved, mouthing curses. Unable to hear the words being spoken, he nevertheless understood the expressions of hate and revulsion on their cadaverous faces. Cowering until he squatted on his heels, he trembled as though experiencing a severe chill. Would this never end? Could this be the last time he would have to suffer?
Then, like the clear peal of a singular trumpet note, a new sound penetrated the grieving wall around him. Looking in the direction from which the call came, he saw the yellow-haired woman beckoning him with slow movements of her arms, to hurry to her side. Why would she want him there? If it were Trina, he could understand. Trina would be able to help him. But who could she be if not Trina? He knew! He knew it could
be Trina! If it were his wife, instead of this stranger, he felt this endless misery would be over for all time.
The shadowy figure of the woman motioned for him to hurry. He stood on shaky legs, taking a furtive step toward her. The throng fell back, waving bony fists at him. They continued spitting, mouthing their silent condemnations, but did nothing to impede his progress.
He understood they would not stop him now, and he ran the hundred feet separating him from his saviour. As he neared her she called out to him again.
But what had she called him?
Had it been his name? It didn’t sound right. He tried to repeat the one word she had uttered for the second time.
What was it?
Something pulled at his right arm, something weighing heavily against his shoulder. Bringing his hand up, he discovered a strange looking pistol in his grasp. Studying it dumbly for several long seconds, he slowly leveled it at the woman as though this were the proper and correct thing to do. She lowered her head, waiting for the blast of the gun.
He squeezed the trigger but nothing happened. No sound issued. He pulled it again. Muffled footsteps from behind brought him around to face the mass of people, resolutely closing their ranks about him. He turned to face the woman, taking aim once more.
No bullet or blast or smoke erupted from the muzzle. Nevertheless, the woman clutched at her abdomen with one hand, raking her breasts with the other. Slothlike, she brought both hands to her throat, clawing at it, her tongue lolling to one side of her open mouth. Eyes bulging, she threw her head back in a silent scream. She staggered forward in slow motion to crumple at his feet, her face contorting in death.