I’m on an island. It’s tropical. Palm trees. Clean, sandy beach. I’ve never seen a more beautiful sight than the ocean from where I’m standing right now. I’m not alone. I know these people, but I don’t. We’ve been here a while, but I can’t remember how long.
All of the sudden, I’m on a ship. There’s another, about the same size heading towards the island. It’s going to pick up the other people. We were stranded or marooned or something, I guess. The ship I’m on… I don’t know what we’re doing, where we’re going. Something about getting help?
There’s something wrong on the other ship. The fuel’s out or they’ve lost control? I can’t tell. I’m standing on their bridge, but at the same time, I haven’t the vessel. None of the crew can see me. They’re going to run aground on the island. There’s a radio nearby. I can hear the distress call.
Our ship’s out in the open sea now. A storm’s come in and the rest of the rescue fleet was caught in it. Huge waves crashed over them. All of them. It’s impossible anyone survived.
Except that when we reach their position, the other boats and their crews are suspended in midair. The boats pouring water back into the ocean, the men frozen, arms posed as if struggling for the surface, faces contorted, desperate for air.
I can’t even process what I’m witnessing before the men and ships begin… rewinding would be the best way to describe it. I squint and I can see salt water spewing from their mouths, forced from their lungs. The ships right themselves and when those are steady and secure, the crew returned to them.
I should be happy. These people came to rescue us. To help us. They don’t deserve to die. But I’m terrified.
Because of him.
In a flash, I’m home. I’ve stepped out of the shower and I’m toweling off. My hair is still wet and hanging in my face so I push it back, catching my reflection in the mirror.
But it’s not my face that I see staring back.
The face is older, maybe twenty years older, angry and bald. I scramble to dress and then I run. I bolt out the door, looking back, knowing I shouldn’t.
I can’t see anyone behind me and I pause for a moment.
Through a window, I catch him moving. I don’t know how he got there, but I know I have to run.
I vault over the fence, sprinting through the neighbor’s yard and over the next fence.
It doesn’t matter.
He’s right behind me.
I can feel him.
And he’s taunting me. His voice is in my head.
I can’t fight him.
He’s going to catch me.
His fingers aren’t even an inch from my throat…
…I wake with a start, gasping for breath and afraid of my reflection for a few moments.