by Philip Stetson


Dreams are spectacular, aren't they? They can reveal so much about us. Our desires, our destiny, our subconscious calling to us from inside our bodies, begging us to acknowledge it. My dreams are not like that. My dreams are real, I know they are.

I felt as though I was floating. The space around me was empty and hollow. I was dreaming, I could tell. I willed my hand in front of my face and knew it was there, although I couldn't see it.

“Can someone turn on the lights?” I said, and the space turned a dull white. I could see my hand now, although the rest of my body wasn't there. I don't think I really care, though. I let myself drift.

I came upon a wall. It was endless, gray, and showed no exit or entry. I turned to travel along the wall when I saw him. He wasn't too far away, but he felt distant. His black grin stretched across the shallow nothingness. I reached out for him as if I knew him. I'm fairly certain he reached back. His arm stretched to reach me.

And I awoke.

My boyfriend was awake already, leaning up in bed concerned.

“Was I shouting again?” I asked.

“No, not this time, just mumbling and rolling back and forth. Everything okay?” He asked, laying back down into bed.

“Could be better, but I'm fine. Just having dreams still.”

I looked at the clock, the red L.E.D. Was blinking 3:41AM. I really needed to go back to sleep or I'd be dead tired at work.

So I rolled over and drifted back into the paleness. This time it was empty and I drifted aimlessly.


I started a blog today to write down my dreams. I'm not sure why, but I'm just curious. Maybe others will have similar dreams or maybe some insight.

I heard the front door of our apartment open.

“Hey, Ivan,” I shouted.

“Hey, Claire.” His bag thumped onto the couch. “What are you up to today?”

“Eh, not much,” I minimized my blog, “just browsing the internet. How was work?”

“Slow as usual. Closing is always slow.” He sighed and laid on our bed, “I think I'm just going to pass out here.”

“Yeah? In your clothes?” I chuckled.

I heard snoring. “Lucky...” I muttered.

I reopened my blog and started writing:


Dreams are spectacular, aren't they? They can reveal so much about us. Our desires, our destiny, our subconscious calling to us from inside our bodies, begging us to acknowledge it.

My dreams are not like that. My dreams are real, I know they are. They aren't a subconscious calling me to answer it. There is someone inside there with me who wants me to answer, but they are real.

I see him outside dreams too. I see him in my boyfriend, I see him at work, at Wal-Mart... everywhere. But I don't know what he wants.

I want to know what he wants, and that's what this blog is for.

Hell, I have no idea if anyone will read this, but I need to put my thoughts and experiences somewhere. If anyone out there stumbles across this, feel free to let me know if you have any insight. I'm listening.


It'd been a few days now, and a couple blog posts in and pretty mundane stuff, mostly. I really wasn't entirely sure what to write on it, really. I said I just needed to put my thoughts somewhere, so I was.

I talked about my boyfriend and how wonderful he is. He deals with me on a regular basis, even though I'm sure I couldn't deal with myself. I wake up regularly in the middle of the night, yelling, mumbling, or otherwise. I generally keep to myself and don't enjoy leaving our apartment. I'll willingly admit that I'm not too much fun to hang out with, but he deals with me.

I talked about my parents, the ones I never met, but still know of. I see them in my dreams and know who they are. They always seem distressed and upset, always on the other side of the wall. I've always wondered why they don't talk.

I talked about my wonderful foster parents. They are both are no longer alive, dying when I was a freshman in college. I try not to talk too much about that...

But at this point, all I really had to talk about was my dreams.

I got up from my desk, pushing back clothing as a rolled my chair backwards. I had to go shopping for groceries so Ivan and I don't starve. Cheez-its are not suitable food to live on for an extended period of time.

I walked out of our room into the hallway of our small apartment. It was a nice place and entirely suitable for just the two of us, but it felt confined at times. The blinds on all the windows were down, giving the whole area an eerie glow as the sunlight attempted to leak in.

I saw him in our living room, sitting on our couch. He wasn't facing me, but I could see his grin. I ignored him and put on my sandals and ventured outside.

He sat in the car with me. My car is small, and his grin extended outside the shell. I could see it cut through cars as they flew off the road but they the world blinked and they were back driving between the lines.

I constantly needed to remind myself that this isn't a matter of being in my head. He is real and he wants something from me, but at this point I just need to ignore him. My life, my boyfriend, my job are just too important.

The drive to the Food Lion was much longer than usual. He made me drive in circles a few times.


Someone replied to me on my blog. I had no idea how they ran across my ramblings. There name was Eridanos and they wanted to help.

“I need you to contact me, tell me what you've seen,” they said, “I might know more about your situation.”

I doubted that, but it was worth a shot, at least a small one.

So I messaged them, asking for their help, any help at all.


Ivan knew there was something going on with me.

“You've been using the computer a lot lately,” he said, “you find a new game to play or something?”

He shifted in his chair towards me. I knew he was just concerned for me, but he didn't need to know. He was right behind Ivan and I've been afraid that if I tell anyone about him something will happen. I have no idea what, but I couldn't lose Ivan.

“I've just been researching for work, that's all,” I said. It was a lie, but I've always been good at those. And he bought it. We went home and Ivan went to sleep.

Eridanos had asked if we could meet and, honestly, I wanted to, but not yet. I needed to talk to them more first. They messaged me:

“Is he there with you?” they asked.

“Yeah, he's always here.” I looked to my right and the smile was outlined against the dark.

“Do you know what he wants?”

“I'm guessing he wants me. I'm not sure why, though.”

“Do you know his name?”

“No. He's never spoken to me. He just stands there grinning.”

“You need to name him.”

I stared at the screen. I need to name him, but what? I turned to look at him. His dark figure stood out against the light colored wall, even with the lights off.

“What do I call you?” I asked out loud, and he moved. His arm outstretched and pointed at Ivan.

“No, I can't call you that,” I said, shaking my head.

His fingers grew longer and lightly touched the sheets over Ivan's sleeping body.

I messaged Eridanos:

“I'm going to call him Thread.”

“Yes, that is his name.”

“How do you know?”

“He just told me.”

I closed the chat window.

Thread was right by me now, his dark grin floating beside my face. I was shaking.

I almost touched Thread right then, almost pushed him away. But I restrained myself. The chat window popped up again:

“We need to meet.”

“I don't want to yet. I don't even know you.”

“We need to meet, Claire.”

I sat for longer, trying to ignore Thread slowly getting closer to me.

“Where?” I asked.

“Leave your apartment and walk down the road. I'll meet you there.”


I don't think thread wanted me to leave. He stood in front of the door. He was still grinning, but somehow it seemed angry. I sidled around him and left the apartment. The stairs seemed longer than usual. Everything seemed longer than usual. The gate to the street seemed farther away. The gate itself seemed wider.

I knew I was heading somewhere far away from here, but it was okay. The sun was going down and I had all night before Ivan woke up to discover me missing. Plenty of time.

There wasn't a car on the road tonight. My small city was empty. The blinking red light strobbed over the sole intersection lighting the closed gas station in an intermittent red glow. Someone was standing near one of the pumps.

I crossed the intersection, my bare feet slapped on the ground alerting them of my presence.

“Hello?” I called.

I looked around before continuing and saw Thread between some trees to my left. Thread had never frightened me before. The first time I saw him, he almost seemed familiar and I almost welcomed him. But right now, he frightened me. His grin was identical to his grin as before but now I saw it as it has always been. The darkness dripped from it like small fangs. His eyes swirled around in the leaves like the world was falling through them.

My heart was racing and shivers ran down my spine. I tried to ignore him again but I heard the crunch of of leaves and Thread was speeding towards me.

“Little bird, come here,” I heard the figure say, “come to me.”

My feet moved me quickly to the figure who, as I got closer, revealed themselves to be an older woman. I stumbled up to her, panting.

“Now what?” I asked.

“Just stay here. He can't get close with me here,” she said calmly, matter-of-factly.

Thread was still sprinting towards me, leaving a black trail behind him. His grin was wide as ever, scraping through the light pole holding up the light. The light swayed slightly from the pressure. He was quickly getting closer, but then right at the curb to the gas station, he stopped.

His smile was dripping, leaving a puddle of dark in the gutter.

I took a few deep breaths and faced the woman. She was tall, broad, and handsome for a woman. Her hair and clothing looked unkept but mostly from lack of caring, not from anything like homelessness. The more I looked at her, the more I realized that she looked very similar to myself.

“Eridanos?” I asked.

“Are you hungry, little bird?” She asked.

I looked at her for a few seconds. “No, not really.”

“Why are you in your pajamas?” She asked.

“I just left when you told me to,” I said.

“Let's go get some food,” she said, walking away.

I stood staring at her, not sure what to do. I looked around and noticed that Thread was pushing closer, over the curb. I sprinted to Eridanos, edging close but not too close.

“So, where are we going?” I asked.

“There,” she pointed to the nearby diner. It wasn't a familiar place to me. The more I thought about it, I realized I had never seen the place before. I turned my head to look down the road towards my apartment complex. It was pitch black, not even a street light, except for Thread's oozing smile outlined in darkness.

“Where are we, Eridanos?” I asked.

“My home. A long way from your's,” she said.

We stepped into the diner and headed straight to a booth. I looked around continuously, perhaps in paranoia, or curiosity; people seemed to recognize Eridanos as she walked past, though no one acknowledged her. As if she were some hermit to be respected and avoided. I pressed on and sat in the booth with her.

She didn’t look around, or even move, but continued to say “We shouldn’t stay here long.”

As she spoke, a waitress came up and asked what we wanted. Eridanos responded – just coffee. There was a moment where everything seemed to lurch. The waitress came up and asked what we wanted. Eridanos responded, hardly phased – just coffee.

Still struggling to understand what Eridanos was saying, I barely even noticed the waitress’ first approach. However, as she leaned in a second time, asked the exact same question, I jumped. I’d seen it before, watched as a car spun away from mine and back into its proper lane, watched as the clock twitched backwards and forwards; Thread was always nearby. I clutched the silverware.

“Who were you talking to?” I demanded. “And don’t say the waitress.”

“Hmm?” She looked at me calmly, her face was emotionless, “You need to ask more relevant questions, little bird.”

I was floored by her seeming calm. I gestured at the waitress who had taken our coffee order twice, but only once. “How...” I hesitated, “How are you keeping thread away?”

Ever unmoving, Eridanos stared at the space just beyond where I sat across from her.

“With tools,” she said plainly, her voice ran quickly down my spine, “he can't approach us when we're together.”

Everything in my body seemed to lurch at once. I waited, fighting the urge to run. Leave this Eridanos behind.


“Oh yes, little bird, he followed me too. We were never meant to meet.” She left me more than confused. I wasn't even sure how to respond to her enigmatic answers. I decided to just keep asking questions.

I didn’t even know where to begin. I didn’t even know where to end. I felt my frustration rise at this woman.

Eridanos was silent. The waitress brought out our coffee, set the mugs on the table, and immediately took them away, empty.

“I think it’d be best if we left soon,” she said.

“Fine.” I shot up, jarring the table in my attempt to get free from the booth. The silverware pitched off the edge of the table, tumbled half way to the ground, and then sailed back up. It rested harmlessly on the table. “Now, please,” I was staring out the window, searching for that familiar figure-

“No, not yet. I said soon, not now.” I stood to leave. The first sign of emotion – anger – flashed over Eridanos’ face, leapt into her voice. “Sit DOWN.”

Anger-fear-frustration-anxiety-frantic desperation – I hovered between sitting and standing, staying and running. Get out, my mind yowled. Cut your losses and get the fuck out. I paused.

“Does it even matter where we are? Somehow I don’t believe this diner changes anything.”

“It’s not the diner. Just sit down, please. Just sit here. And wait. Do not talk. Just wait.”

Anger overcame, but I sat down, listened to Eridanos’ request. Something about her was so blank, yet so powerful.

“Okay little bird, look to your left for me. Look slowly.”

I took a deep breath, unclenched my subconscious fists. I very slowly looked left.

I felt myself fall slowly back into the chair. To the left was the kitchen. Thread stood inside, surrounded by cooks frozen in motion. Yet as things and people got further from him, the faster they started to move. A waitress behind the counter walked slightly faster as she moved from kitchen to the customers at the counter. The others eating their food so slowly. A single waitress walked between the tables towards our booth, progressively speeding up as she came closer. Like an old tape, chugging its way into fast forward. There was a slight shift in color, right around where he stood, which took on a reddish hue as it came closer towards him.

Eridanos was talking, I hardly heard her. It was like watching some surreal dream unfold, the vision of him in the diner, in the kitchens, the sight of customers frozen in mid motion, pieces of omelets dangling off hovering forks. He came closer. I could hardly shake the transfixion.

And it's not as if I hadn't seen this before. Thread had sat next to me while I ate at restaurants. He stood over my bed while my boyfriend turned to pull the light switch.

But never had I seen this.

“Claire,” Eridanos said, “Little bird, we must leave now. This place is erasing.”

She stood to leave, and I fell to the dirt ground. My head slammed on the ground and the moon overhead shook. I lifted myself up and looked around. The tree tops swayed in the wind.

“It's gone,” I said, “the diner is gone.”

Eridanos was standing a few feet away looking towards the road.

“Yes, little bird, it is gone. He took it in an attempt to get rid of me.” She lifted her hand towards Thread, slowly pushing him away, “He failed, obviously.”

“But-” I was startled and baffled at what just happened, “what about the people?”

“What people, little bird? There aren't people anymore.”

I stared at the back of her head.
“Alright, bird, let's go.”

We turned off on a dirt road, the path still dimly lit by the moon overhead. A short ways down the road was a house: nondescript, model colonial style, lit by a single porch light. Eridanos stepped up onto the porch, but paused as she reached for the door. I heard a single, heavy breath.

“That waitress was my sister.” Another exhalation. “She didn’t even recognize me.”

The weight in my stomach grew heavier and harder. The endless dial tone, mixed with the cool voice of an operator informing me the line to my own home was disconnected, buzzed in my mind. She spoke again.

“Let’s go inside.”

She swung open the door, and between her body and the frame I could see the outlines of a hall and stairs to the second floor. Vague impressions of doors to the left and right. Slowly walking up the stairs, I battled my nerves. I could trust her, maybe. I could get some answers out of her. I just need patience. His face reared in my mind. These were high stakes. I stopped at the door.

“I don’t know who you are.”

Eridanos turned slightly. “Do you need to?”

“No.” I entered the house. There were so few options left.

Next to the door was a pile of shoes, and from the upstairs a faint murmur of voices drifted down. I never considered that she might live with other people, though admittedly, there was very little that I had considered when I left my house barefoot. Desperation renders the mind a void.

She led me off to the left. “Let’s go into the kitchen. I can answer a few more questions. But then…” She trailed off, walking towards the kitchen table.

“I can assure you, He’s not upset with you, Little Bird.”

The thought nearly made me laugh. “Not yet. But you know that, don’t you?”

Standing beside the table, she motioned for me to join her and sit.

“You do what He asks, I don’t. I never did.”

“I've never done anything for him. He is just always there, watching.” I knew what I said was true, but I couldn't help but feel guilty for saying it.

Eridanos did not sit down, but stared at me for a moment. There was this awful, ripping moment, more powerful than any I’d experienced before, even in the diner. My entire body shook, and Eridanos was suddenly on her knees in front of me. Time lurched and her face was suddenly disheveled and dirty, she was looking straight at me, whimpering.

“Help me… please…” Thread stood behind her, dark and motionless. A low ringing. The ringing ripped into a short, sharp shriek, and time spun back to where it was before, leaving Eridanos, clean and calm, moving to sit down at the table next to me. We were the only living things in the kitchen. I resisted the urge to close my eyes, clutch at my head. The entire moment had the atmosphere and inversion of a dream, where time is fickle and everything is unnaturally real. For a moment everything blurred. She sat down, unphased by what had occurred.

“There’re ways to kill him, you know,” she said. A beat. “Way, I should say. A way to kill Him.”

I gazed at her, studying her face.

“Why would I want to kill him? I just want him to go away.” My voice rose in desperation.

Unlike the Eridanos from the moment of fractured time, this Eridanos did not meet my gaze. She settled her hands on her legs and stared slightly beyond my shoulder.

“Little bird, wake up.”

Two beats. I stumbled, “W-what?”

“Think about before you left to see me. Who was there.”

I sat, trying to think. I started shaking as I spoke.

“There's a wall. In my dream. I've had a lot of dreams about this wall.”

“It wasn’t a dream.”

“I... I know it wasn't. He's spoken to me in those dreams. Told me to do things. Thread... he hated my life. He told me they are the real dreams. He said I should...” I shuddered. “I should get rid of my dream.”

My world seemed to condense, until the only thing I could see was her.

“You did, little bird. You did exactly what he asked. Claire, think back to before you left.” My name sounded metallic in her voice. “He’s very close to me. Very, very close to me. But not close enough. When you’re done here, go to the wall. He will leave you alone for a while, how long I cannot say. No one will know you were here. No one knows I was here either.”

Eridanos’ eyes widened, but I barely noticed. Fear and rage crept out of my heart, pumped into my blood stream. I knew what I needed to do – was supposed to do.

“What do you mean think back? What do you mean I got rid of my dream? What do you mean-” I stood quickly, remembering the nightmares. My dreams of Ivan and living a life with him. How Thread told me to get rid of my dream. And I did.

I did.

“Little bird? Do you see your face in your own dreams?”

“I know because- because I, I had to – him – ” I clutched my hands.

“Make your tool quickly, little bird. You’ll need it if you want to kill him. But he knows now. He knows…”

Time twisted forcefully, angrily, and Eridanos was again on her knees, the Thread behind her.

“Do it… do it Claire. Please.”

Another raging lurch. Eridanos, sitting at the table, stared; Twisting, I saw the outline of grin, darker than the shadows, standing in the doorway behind us. A flicker, and he was looming over a begging Eridanos, slowly arching over her as the very air began to warp and writhe like angry snakes.

I felt the knife in my hand. I did it. I lunged forward. Eridanos collapsed. There was a moment of dull silence as I glimpsed her prostrate frame. The air around him roared – or perhaps he roared, screamed – as I reached out to strike him. A second of black, a flash of red, I was wild and angry and lashed out and connected, the thing in my hand ripping a seam into His unmarred face. The place where I struck twisted, the cut curling and stretching like a dying worm. But I’d overreached – He’d been just too far – and I toppled forward, losing my grip. I stared up at him, watching the air condense into dark solid shapes that began to reach towards me. Eridanos shuddered beneath me, then was gone. Everything fell silent and still.

Without getting up, I turned to peer out the kitchen’s window. He was there, waiting, over forty feet from the house. From me. I could still feel his rage – or maybe mine – but it was muffled, like distant sound coming through a stopped up door. Couldn’t reach me. Standing, I walked through the house. No sounds trickled down from upstairs. No shoes at the door. Practically no evidence that anyone had ever lived there. Just a fully furnished house, a few feet from a diner that doesn’t exist anymore.

I opened the door and found myself at the wall in my dreams. I was fully dressed, no longer in my pajamas. I was pretty sure I was never in my pajamas.

Floating In the dim light, I saw the blinking red stop light in the distance.

I walk towards the wall and saw my parents and Ivan on the other side. Thread was here as well. I could feel him, his dull rage pulsing through me.

Ivan's face was a swirl of colors calling me to the other side. He spoke to me.

“Claire, you are now being read,” he said.

I felt eyes on me.

“Your senses are extraordinary and beyond our scope of being. The world around you is too bright, being used to the dark you hide.”

I touched the wall and felt my hand cross over.

“Why?” He asked, “Why?”

My hand was now completely trough the wall and I pushed through to the other side.

“Please come to me, Claire. Come to me and I will erase you.”

And so I did, and I was gone.


Ivan awoke in the morning and rolled over to see the computer running. He had stayed up really late last night reading a blog he found online. He wasn't sure what it was about it, besides the fact that the boyfriend in the stories was named Ivan as well, but it sucked him in immediately. Maybe it was the fact that he felt like he could insert himself into the stories and connect with the girl.

He felt a feeling of longing reading it. A feeling of loss.

The world felt like it was falling down on him. He sat up to see if she posted last night.

She had and all it said was:

“Hi, Ivan. I missed you.”