He wasn’t sure if his screaming woke him, or the pain in his lower back. He wasn’t sure if he really had been screaming. He thought he was, he thought he’d cried out. His mind was still too foggy, still trapped somewhere between awake and asleep. It couldn’t connect what he’d been experiencing seconds before with a clear thought; his mind was unable to explain it in a way he’d understand. All it could do was drift back, slip from that straddling of consciousness and oblivion.
But he slipped too fast, he gave in too soon. His mind hadn’t yet cleared that place and when he closed his eyes and felt his body go slack against the mattress again, he realized he was right back where he’d escaped from.
It was still his bed, still in his room but the room was black and the bed held him tight against it, too tight to move. His arms were useless, outstretched to either side of his head. His body pressed against the mattress his back exposed as it had been before.
And as it had before that creature was there. He wasn’t sure how to describe it, wasn’t sure how he even knew what it looked like, but he did. Somehow, he knew its every feature. Its long, boney arms and legs, too long for it compact body, it belly swollen and disgusting and its chest almost sunken and muscleless. Its head was round, punctuated by pointy ears and yellow, vibrant vengeful eyes. Its mouth was half its face, a gaping crescent mood of descending blackness and glowing ivory knives.
Its mouth would have to be huge, would have to be lined with such fangs. It would have to be for what it did.
As before the creature was perched over him. As before it dug its hands into his sides. This pain wasn’t as great as what would come, it was pain he knew. This pain was one that had plagued him for years, one for which the doctors had found no cause. He knew the cause now, he saw it squatting above him and stabbing its shard-like claws through his flesh and squeeze and tear at the things inside.
He gritted his teeth and moaned at the deep throbbing that accompanied the vicious flesh-rending massage, and as through the layers of sleep and haze it built around him he could just barely hear his own moaning, a steady humming from so far away.
He could see the creature again, without being able to turn his head and look back at it, he could see the creature as it straightened up. It waited a moment, just long enough to know it was seen.
It smiled. It smiled a wide, gaping smile that encompassed even more of its face. He could even hear it laughing, clearer then his own moans.
The creature cavernous jaws shot forward, its teeth sank into his lower back, tearing through skin, burning through muscle, stopping only briefly as they wrapped around his spine. It adjusted its fangs around the bone and locked down.
He could hear the bone snap, hear his spine crunch under the unimagieable pressure of the creature’s jaws.
His moaning became clearer to him, a moaning filled with the beginning of tears, of futile desperation realized. He wanted to cry out but his mouth wouldn’t move, his voice wouldn’t answer. He wanted to cry but he knew even this pain was less then what was to come. He had woken from it before, it had been so much to bear. Even when not his own, his body couldn’t allow him to experience such pain. The creature’s punishment was too much to exist in only one world.
It tore open his spine and paused again to cackle, to wait for him to see. It leaned forward, greedily, hungrily, leaned forward slowly to savor the moment to come, the feast that waited.
It bent low, tightening its grip inside, bent until its miniature pointed, upturned nose grazed the jagged bone of his fractured vertebrae. Its tongue flicked out for an instant, and then its lipless mouth met the broken bone and the creature began to suck.
This was the pain he knew was coming, the pain he had saved his strength to fight. This was the source of the screaming that had woken him before, that would wake him again, that would wake him another time after that. Always three times this creature would drink. It could be days between feedings or months, he was never sure when it would return, and perhaps that was the design of this creature, to leave him always waiting, always fearing to sleep, to relax, to let go.
His strength failed him and he screamed, at first through gritted teeth and clenched jaw, and then abandoning the last of his control his mouth roared open and he cried out into the darkness beyond his bed.
Soon. Soon he knew he would wake. Soon it would be too much to be contained in this world, it would spill over and his screams would wake him, and his back would throb as his mind struggled to clear and remind him of what had been, of the creature that had returned.
Soon, his mind tried to repeat to him, even as his screams drowned out that desperate consolation.
And the creature bent forward, its forehead pushing against the torn flesh around where it fed, and it sucked gluttonously at his broken spine as though through a straw, drawing with each hungry guzzle all that it could of his soul.