Note from Brian:
I said most everything that needs said about this one, I think, as the introduction to my post for “Silent Attic,” but I did have one more note specifically about “Danny Dreams” to share.
A version of this story appeared in my mini-collection Dreamlike States under the title “A Dreamlike State,” but I never felt that version worked very well. For this new version, I’ve stripped out even more of the material that only worked in context of the novel and wrote a new ending to try to tie everything together better. Still not sure I succeeded, but this is closer to the stand-alone piece it should be, I think.
As always, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d rather do that instead of commenting on this actual post. Thank you again for all of your support! — BJF
by Brian James Freeman
When Danny Walker was a child, in the weeks after he finally understood his sister Amy was never coming home again, nightmares consumed his nights — even the nights when he couldn’t sleep at all.
He would lie in bed with the covers pulled to his chin, his overactive imagination wildly analyzing the shifting shadows created by the light in the hallway outside his room.
His closet door would creak open and glowing eyes would stare at him from behind his shirts and pants.
Broken fingernails would tap on the hardwood floor under his bed, and he was certain he could hear something breathing down there.
When Danny did finally fall asleep, usually from sheer exhaustion, the nightmares were often as bad as the monsters he had imagined in the darkness of his bedroom.
Sometimes they were worse.
In one of the nightmares, he followed his sister to where she was preparing to commit suicide.
The actual location changed from dream to dream.
Sometimes it was the basement of the community school, in one of the hidden places among the pipes and boilers.
Sometimes it was out at Black Rock Lake, standing on the cold sand of the public beach as a snowstorm barreled toward them.
Sometimes it was in the kitchen of the Black Hills Diner where Frankie the cook should have been working but wasn’t for some reason and Amy had awful plans for the red-hot grill.
Danny would yell at Amy to stop, that she couldn’t kill herself, that he and Dad needed her so badly, and she would turn and stare at him with a confused look on her face.
“Kill myself? Silly Danny, I came here to kill you.”
And then she fell upon him, ripping at his face with fingernails as sharp as cat claws.