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Nightmare: A Story About Conquering Your Fears

“The only thing that will stop you from fulfilling your dreams is you.” --Tom Bradley

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” --Eleanor Roosevelt


I tried the first door in the hall. It was locked. I then tried the next one down. The knob turned easy in my hand, so I gave it a good push and entered. It was a large room, twice as large as my bedroom, filled with dusty furniture and a broken bed that lay in the center of the room. Cobwebs were everywhere. No telling what strange things lurked here. There were probably rats and spiders crawling around. But those things were nothing compared to the monster that wanted to kill me.

I hid in the closet behind some old clothes; my heart pounding in my chest.

“Please go away,” I cried, knowing it wouldn’t listen. It fed on my fear. All the pleading in the world wouldn’t make it stop. I could hear it coming up the stairs. Thump, thump, thump. Every step it made was a step closer to my doom.

It was, now, in the room. It knew I hid in the closet.

“Come out,” it demanded. “I know you’re in there.”

“No!” I cried. The monster ripped the door off the hinges. Tossed the clothes aside and grabbed me. “Let go of me,” I demanded, trying to get out of its grasp, but the monster was far too strong.

“I will have you now,” it said, lowering its teeth towards my neck. I screamed. But the monster didn’t hear me, for I was back in my own room.

I woke up all sweaty. I could feel my heart pounding away. It was just a bad dream. But it seemed so real. I was shaking. The monster was just about to kill me, but I woke up. I’ve heard that if a person dies in their dream, then that person never wakes up.

I think a cup of hot tea is what I need.

The next day I met up with my best friend, Melissa. She’s a musician. Her instrument is the violin. I know what you are about to ask. Can she play? You bet your life she can! The violin would come alive in her hands, meaning, you’d be affected emotionally. The first time I heard her play, I cried. Not because it made me sad or anything—it did—but more importantly, it was absolutely beautiful. It was out of this world. Who needs drugs when one can experience Melissa’s violin playing. It’s a gift from God.

We both work at Jim’s Greasy Pit, waitressing. That’s how we first met. And since I was the more talkative one, I introduced myself first, finding out that we both had a lot in common: I’m an artist, while she’s a musician; and we are both attending Silverwood Community College. I’m majoring in accounting. Don’t laugh. It was my parents’ doing. “You’re going to be an accountant whether you like it or not, young lady!” was a familiar tune in my head. It’s not fair. Melissa’s majoring in music. Her parents believe in her. Why don’t mine?

I rang the doorbell. Melissa’s roommate, Tommy, answered the door. He was a tall thin man in his early twenties, with long dark hair, a couple of earrings dangling from each ear, and a tattoo of a rose on his left arm. He looked tough but he was basically harmless, as Melissa informed me.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention that Tommy plays the drums in a heavy metal band. Melissa refers to it as noise. And I strongly agree with her. Every song sounds the same, I think.

“She’s in her room. Come in,” he said.


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“I said thanks,” I shouted, walking towards Melissa’s room. Too much loud heavy metal music, I guess. Knock, knock.

“Hey Sara, come in,” said Melissa. She was practicing a new musical piece that she had just written.

“Sounds great, Melissa!”

“Thanks. Did you finish that new Painting?”

“Um. Yeah. It’s right here,” I said, handing Melissa my latest work. She looked at it from one angle for a moment, then another, giving it a good look over.

“It looks really good, but it seems a bit different than your previous work.”

“You know. I thought the same thing too, when I finished it.”

I picked up a guitar that lay against the corner wall. I placed my left fingers on the fret board, while my right hand strummed down the strings. Boy, did it sound terrible! Like her roommate’s music.

“I wish I could play like you. I have no musical talent,” I said, handing Melissa the guitar. She strummed a couple of chords. The notes hung in the air, filling the room with beautiful musical vibrations. I could listen to her play for days.

“And I have no artistic talent. So, we’re even!” Melissa added, sticking her tongue at me. I stuck mine back at her. And for the next few minutes we both had a good laugh.

“Hey, let’s get some ice cream,” I suggested.

“And a movie, too,” responded Melissa.

After the movie we both went back to our own apartments. We were pooped. It was a long day. And, plus, tomorrow I have school. Oh, what a busy life I lead! But it will be worth it someday.

I climbed into bed and drifted to sleep.

I couldn’t believe it. I was back in my nightmare again and I could hear the monster looking for me. It was making such a racket that I’m sure the whole neighborhood could hear. And why didn’t they help?

I hid in the bathroom behind the shower curtain. I was shaking. The monster will find me soon. It was going to finish what it didn’t last night.

“Come out,” yelled the monster.

“No!” I screamed. It tore the shower curtain down and pulled me out. “Let go of me, please,” I pleaded. The monster laughed.

It stared at me with hatred in its eyes.

Those claws wanted to rip my flesh apart.

It lowered its hungry jaws. “You’re mine,” it said.

I was back in my own bedroom, my heart pounding a mile a minute. This is getting ridiculous, I thought. I’m calling Melissa. I picked up the phone and began dialing. No. I hung up the phone. I can’t go crying to Melissa. She’s my friend, but…

I cried myself to sleep instead.

“No Ted. I’m busy,” I said.

“How ‘bout Saturday, then? Ted asked.


“Some other time, then.”

“I gotta go, Ted. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Bye Sara.”

“Bye.” Ted waved and headed towards his next class.

“Weren’t you a little rough on him?” stated Melissa. “He’s a nice guy, Sara. I think you should give him a chance.”

“I don’t know,” I replied, looking down at the floor.

“You’re still thinking about John.” As Melissa mentioned this, I began to cry. I couldn’t stop the tears.

“What if he leaves me, like John did? Melissa hugged me, giving me a shoulder to cry on.

“I know it’s hard, Sara,” said Melissa, patting me on the back. “But you have to give people a chance.”

Later that day, Melissa and I found ourselves at the local art gallery, checking out some beautiful art on display there. I could stare at them for hours and never tire; especially this piece that I’m currently looking at. The piece featured an amazing scenery shot of lake, with an elderly man looking out over it. The painting had so much life. I could envision myself in the painting. You could tell that the artist really poured his heart into this masterpiece. I had goose bumps all over. This only happens when I feel connected to something, such as when I listen to Melissa play her violin.

I pointed at the painting. “What do you think, Melissa?”

“I think it’s beautiful. It almost seems alive.”

“Doesn’t it?”

“It makes me feel like your paintings.” I blushed. “I’m no artist Sara, but I think your work deserves just as much attention.”

“It’s not that good.”

“Yes it is.

“Well, that’s just your opinion. What if they don’t like it? What if they laugh?”

“You have to take risks.”

Why does it have to be so hard? I thought. I wish I could be more like Melissa. She wasn’t afraid. She could play to large audiences; yet I was afraid of being humiliated.

It was late afternoon when I decided to take a walk. A nice walk seemed to do wonders for the mind; and it’s also good for the body too. I should do this more often. What I mean, is walking for pleasure, not walking toward a destination. That’s different. I stopped walking. There were some street kids messing with a homeless man. They kicked over his wine bottle, knocking it into the gutter.

“Hey! That’s mine,” cried the homeless man.

“It ain’t no more old man,” replied one of the street kids. The homeless man went after the bottle, but the tall street kid with an orange Mohawk punched the homeless man in the stomach, knocking him onto the ground. Another kid kicked him in the head. The old man was moaning. The side of his face was bloody. I made a decision to help the poor man, before the street kids put him in the hospital.

“Hey! You punks get away from him, or I’ll call the cops,” I yelled. The street kids took off running. The old man had tears in his eyes. I propped him against the wall.

“Are you alright,” I asked.

“I think so,” said the homeless man.

I pulled a handkerchief out of my pocket and applied it to the side of his head. “This will stop the bleeding,” I said.

The old man smiled. “Thank you.”

“I saw those punks messing with you; I had to help.” Then, I noticed a violin case on the ground. “Violin, huh?” I said, pointing to his case.

Yes it is. It was given to me when I was a young boy.”

“My best friend plays the violin, too. It’s a beautiful instrument!”

“That it is. I use to write beautiful music with it: Solo pieces, orchestral pieces, you name it.”

“Why’d you stop? if you don’t mind my asking?”

“Fear. I let fear steal my dream away. I was always worried about what the other person was thinking. I had the talent; I just didn’t believe in myself.”

“You can always—"

“No. I’m too old. But it’s not too late for you.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You have fear. I see it in your eyes.”

“You do?”

“Yes. Don’t worry what the other person thinks. If they don’t believe in you, then that’s their loss. In order for you to follow your dream, you’ve got to believe in yourself. That’s the key!”

“But what about my parents, they—"

“Your happiness is more important. You have to remember, you can’t please everyone. If you try, you’ll end up only hurting yourself.”

“I get it. Thank you. You’ve helped me see things more clearly.”

“You’re welcome. Remember.”

“I will. Goodbye.”

I went to bed that night a better person. I could see things much clearer, as if I’ve been painting with black and white all along, and now finally noticed the world of color. I will display my artwork. I think it’s time for the world to know Sara Simms. And tomorrow I will give Ted a call and apologize.

I grabbed one of my favorite Charles de Lint books off the shelf and climbed into bed. Sleep washed over me after only reading a couple of pages.

I was back in my dream world, but this time I had a secret weapon: Confidence. I was tired of running. Tired of hiding for fear of disappointment. I am who I am. If they do not like it…tough. Nothing is going to get in the way of my dream.

“I’m not afraid of you, anymore,” I announced.

“I know,” the monster replied.

“I made you. My fears gave you life.”


“But I have no more use for you now.” The monster faded away.

Good bye fear.

About a month later, I was back at the art gallery, but this time with my new boyfriend. Ted was everything I thought he was, and more. And now he’s with me. I’m glad I came to my senses! Thank you, wise old man, for your beautiful words. And thank you, Melissa. You are truly the best. I love you guys. You guys will always be in my heart.

Ted grabbed my arm and led me over to my art display that forever longed to be noticed. Now, people could experience it. Feel my heart in it. I felt proud.

“Now that’s what I call artwork,” he said, pointing at my painting.

I smiled. I want to know who said an artist’s life is dull. I grabbed Ted’s tie, pulling his head toward me.

“Kiss me you fool,” I said.

I did not care about the people that were watching us. We were creating living art. Maybe you could write about that. If you don’t, I will. I will see you at the next art show.



P.S. I recommend reading Little Light's hub. It is beautiful and touching story about pursuing your dreams. You can click on the link below. Thanks for stopping by. See you around.


Terry Fatland (author) from Virginia on January 25, 2014:

Thanks Marie! You're right. I'm sure many can relate to Sara's fears. It takes courage to follow your dreams and not be discouraged when others do not support them.

VioletSun from Oregon/ Name: Marie on January 24, 2014:

Terry, Wow! This is a timeless story because for as long as there are humans there will be fear. I can relate to the feeling of fear and the the of freedom when Sara decided to have courage and follow her dreams. Enjoyed reading this story!

Terry Fatland (author) from Virginia on December 17, 2011:

You're welcome, htodd. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Thanks for stopping by.

htodd from United States on December 16, 2011:

Great and interesting post..Thanks

Terry Fatland (author) from Virginia on December 16, 2011:

Thank's barbergirl. I appreciate your words of encouragement. You are right. I have let fear stop me from finishing my writing of more short stories. I also have a few books that I want to write. I will make it happen.

In regards to this short story, I'm glad you enjoyed it. This one was inspired by the writing of Charles de Lint. I have been inspired by so many people that I feel driven to inspire others.

I see you finishing your book. You are a great writer. Just focus on writing one page at at time, and before you know it, you will have written a complete book.

Stacy Harris from Hemet, Ca on December 16, 2011:

Terry - I believe the fear has stopped you from writing more short stories ;) But you do it so well and I would love to see more stuff out there just like this. Definitely a big hit and it not only flows well but has a deeper meaning that can be easily grasped.

I was actually talking about this to one of my friends just yesterday. Well, I was talking about a book that I had started years ago. Fear of finishing it has allowed me to throw out excuses not to go back. I think I am done being scared though. I am going to go back to it and start again. This and a few other things have inspired me that I need to finish my story! :)

Terry Fatland (author) from Virginia on December 15, 2011:

Thank you DzyMsLizzy. Cool name by the way. I greatly appreciate your nice comment.

It is true that we often let fear stop us dead in our tracks. We are bombarded by fear from the mainstream media. 80% of the media is owned by big corporations that do not have our best interest at hand. The negative elite want us to live in fear. It is a way of controlling people. People should not be afraid of their government, but they are. Most are aware that something is amiss, but instead of doing research, they run to their "escapisms." In order to fix the problem, you have to first admit that there is a problem. The next step would be finding the solutions.

Thank you DzyMsLizzy for speaking your truth. Running and hiding is no longer an option.

Terry Fatland (author) from Virginia on December 15, 2011:

Thank you moonlake for your lovely comment. Great point. We shouldn't let fear spoil our fun. Life is not meant to be lived in constant fear. That is not living. That is dying.

Thanks for voting it up.

I almost forgot to mention that I like your user name. We have Cresentmoon and moonlake. Two moons. Very cool.

Terry Fatland (author) from Virginia on December 15, 2011:

Hi Cresentmoon. Thanks for stopping by. We have all experienced our share of fears. The sad thing is that we have the tools to conquer our fears, but we often leave these tools in the shed, letting them get covered in dust.

Thanks for voting the hub up.

Terry Fatland (author) from Virginia on December 15, 2011:

Thanks Barbergirl. I'm glad you liked the story. I wrote this around '93/'94. I'm very surprised how well the story held up. I made some minor changes and added some stuff. The "story" is a powerful way of conveying important messages.

Fear is a common theme in most people's lives. We let it control our lives, never living to our full potential. I have let it stop me many times.

It's funny. I have only written two short stories. I stopped, because I did not think they would go anywhere. I did not think people would like them. I was wrong. I have received a lot of positive feedback. This means a lot to me. I'm looking forward to writing more.

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on December 15, 2011:

Very well done. And it makes perfect sense--fear is paralytic--fearful people do nothing. And the politicians love it that way, so they create a climate of FEAR, endlessly promoting ever more ways to deprive us of our rights, as we nod our heads and agree it's for our own good and collective "safety," as they teach us, in schools, to live as victims, and fear every shadow, so we can all become puppets of the power-brokers called the government...It's happened before...

Your piece is a very powerful illustration of the power of fear and how it sucker-punches us into spinelessness.

Voted up, beautiful, awesome and interesting.

moonlake from America on December 15, 2011:

Beautiful loved it. Fear can take over our lives and make living not so fun. Voted up

Cresentmoon2007 from Caledonia, MI on December 15, 2011:

Wonderful. I have plenty of fears so the title caught my attention. Voted up.

Stacy Harris from Hemet, Ca on December 15, 2011:

Wow... that's all I can say... wow!

That was absolutely beautiful. At first, I saw the fear in me that has haunted my dreams. But the way you wove this story has made it very relateable. It is time we all found a way to break out of our fear and pursue what makes us happy. Only then can we truly confront our demons!

Again ... absolutely beautiful! :)

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