I was a light sleeper. I always had been. My anxiety made it worse. The story goes, every night, I would try to lie down for some sleep, battling my insomniac brain. When you suffer from insomnia it just means you were born to live in darkness. You were born to roam the desolate streets when everyone else is asleep. It’s great in theory but not so wonderful when living in a mediocre world where the majority of the population find their productivity during the daytime. Who even came up with those rules?
I would awake from anything. The slight creaking sound from a foot meeting the kitchen floor downstairs. The sound of leaves crunching under a shoe down the block. A cabinet shutting close in the bathroom or my parents starting the shower downstairs and water rustling through pipes inside the house.
I hadn’t got a good night’s sleep in a long time. I woke up about four times a night and sometimes I couldn’t fall back asleep for 45 minutes. I looked up some remedies for being born to live in darkness, remedies that could help with pretending mediocrity but I only found the Deep Sleep Earplugs. That would have to do plus they had a five star rating on Amazon so there’s always that.
The earplugs came in on a Friday and I couldn’t wait to test them out that evening. It was a normal Friday night for me. I curled up in bed and watched Nightmare on Elm Street, the first one. I took a sleep aid, a fitting thing to do given my current movie of choice. Deep down inside, I hoped that maybe I would meet this infamous Freddy. When I started to doze off, I grabbed my Deep Sleep Earplugs and shoved them as deep as they could go. All sounds muffled out. I don’t know when I fell asleep because I drifted away into such a deep sleep that I slept through the entire night without ever waking up.
I woke up and looked at the time. I slept in until 11, something I also hadn’t done in a long time. Usually my parents would have called me down for breakfast. That was strange. I stood up, took out my earplugs, and stretched. I held the earplugs in my hand and headed downstairs to show my parents my awesome new find on Amazon. I opened my bedroom door and stood at the top of the staircase. I stopped to listen. The house was silent. Had my parents left?
I walked down the stairs, still waking up from my long night’s rest. As I got to the bottom of the stairs, I couldn’t believe what I saw. The couch had been gutted and white cotton covered the floor. The flat screen had been pushed off the entertainment center and thrown onto the floor.
Was I dreaming?
I walked into the kitchen and it was worse than the living room. The white kitchen tiles were smeared with streaks of blood. Every tile was covered. Someone had gone out of their way to smother each square. Footprints ran across the blood. They were small, dainty, and bare of shoes. Our kitchen knives were laid out on the center island, lined up neatly like a buffet. In the line up, there was one spot, the fourth from the right, that had a knife but it was missing. Through the kitchen, my parents’ bedroom door was open and I could see the bright sun rays that shone through their window shooting across their doorway. Someone had opened the curtains to their room. I walked toward the doorway and could still only see the brightly lit entrance from the natural sunlight from that Saturday morning.
I peered inside and just like the couches, my parents had been gutted. Blood was everywhere. The bed sheets were so soaked it looked like someone dipped them in a swimming pool of blood and put them back in the room. My dad was laid out on the floor at the end of the bed and my mother was on the bed.
I stared down at my hand and opened my fist, my Deep Sleep Earplugs lay in my palm. I had slept through the brutal murder of my parents and all I could think was, damn these earplugs are great and at least I finally got a good night’s sleep.
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It all started one normal and dull day. It was hot outside, the kind of heat that makes you hate yourself and hate your life. The only thing you can do to feel better is sleep. I eventually did but before doing so I went downstairs to make my morning cup of Joe. My bare feet hit the kitchen floor tiles and the sticky residue of weeks gone unclean pressed into my skin. I grabbed a coffee mug, the type that is supposed to make you feel better about your shit life. Cursive typography to make you feel fuzzy inside. This one read: Dare to Dream.
I filled my cup with water and opened up the back of my Keurig. I was about to pour the water into the machine but stopped and noticed a tiny, almost microscopic, black object move along the surface of where the water enters. I leaned over to get a better look. It was an ant. I got a paper towel and wet it in the sink and then wiped up the ant, squishing it inside the paper towel, being sure to crush its dreams. I picked up the Keurig and about six ants scurried out from under it. There were no food crumbs nearby, nothing I could imagine they wanted. I wiped them up too.
If you’re a coffee addict than you know any amount of seconds or minutes that get in the way of making your coffee add to your increased irritation from not having fresh coffee magically at your bedside every morning upon waking up. I poured the water into the Keurig and as I poured I saw one of those little marching assholes get swooped up by my water wave and pulled down into the ocean of water that would become my fresh coffee.
Dare to Dream. Fucking A. I put a Keurig cup into the machine and pressed brew. I hoped that maybe, just maybe, the little marching crapper would be sizzled by the heat inside and maybe it would vanish into a crisp. I was wrong. My coffee came out in a single straight stream. Steam danced around the top of my cup and the smell entered through all openings, my eyes, my nostrils, and my mouth, hitting that nerve that waited every morning for that coffee goodness.
I looked at my coffee and there it was. The dead little shit was spinning around in the center of my fresh brew. I used my index finger and thumb to quickly pinch it out. I missed the first two times then got it. My coffee definitely tasted different but as a coffee addict I didn’t care. My mind kept thinking about those ants scurrying out from under the coffee machine, all in different directions as fast as their tiny legs could carry them.
I went upstairs and it was already too hot. You might be thinking, why not iced coffee? There is a difference between coffee addicts and those who drink iced coffee, similar to die hard Tool fans and those who listen to A Perfect Circle, if you get my drift. Coffee addicts are also notorious for being able to sleep, any time of day, even after drinking coffee.
I laid down on my bed and looked at my black nightstand. I saw a movement. I lifted my upper body with my hands. There was a single line of ants. I looked across the nightstand, no food, no crumbs, nothing but my coffee cup. Why? What could they want? There’s nothing here.
I grabbed my coffee and stood up, moving it onto my desk across the room. I marched downstairs to get the Raid. I didn’t care if I sprayed it right next to my bed. I didn’t care if I sprayed those chemicals onto my pillow. I just wanted the ants to go away. I pointed and sprayed the nightstand. The sweet, candy like smell of the Raid hit my nose. Strong but sweet. I laid back down. I was sweating from the movement and frustration of dealing with these turds all morning. I laid back down and before I knew it I was out.
I awoke to a strange sensation. It felt like someone tickling my entire body with their long silky hair. My eyes stayed closed while I itched my left arm then my right thigh. The feather like sensation on my face wasn’t going away. I opened my eyes but could not see clearly. There was something crawling into the bottom part of my eye lid. I could feel it moving quickly inside my lid and against my eyeball, tickling it and causing my vision to blur. Was I dreaming? Daring to dream?
My eyes widened. In my peripheral I could see black dots covering my arms and moving around aimlessly. Ants. Ants were all over my body and crawling into my eyes, ears, and mouth. I sat up and spit from my mouth over and over again. I tried to use my hands to wipe the ants off my arms but they were everywhere. They roamed in every crevice of my bed sheets and resided in every crease in my body. There were too many. I looked over at my bedside and could see the black and blue bottle of Raid. I reached over to try and grab it. Ants rushed over the surface of my skin. They crawled into my ears and brushed against the thin hair inside. I stuck my finger inside my ear and wiggled it, piles of ants crushed against my earwax.
I reached for the Raid again. Without thinking, I stood up and sprayed myself all over. The Raid hit my face, soaking it and dripped down my cheeks, the smell burned my eyes. It tasted sour. The black spots instantly stopped moving and just hung onto my skin. Ants covered my bed. I pointed the Raid and held the nozzle down, not letting it up. I stopped and saw a movement on the nightstand. A trail was coming from behind the nightstand and I was hesitant to move it and look behind it.
I pulled the nightstand away from the wall and peered down. More ants hit my feet. I jumped up and stomped around. I peered back at the wall and it wasn’t just one trail. There was a pile of ants stacked on top of each other. A large black hill of tiny, massive nonstop movement. I grabbed the Raid and sprayed my feet and the ant hill. There were so many that only the top layer lay dead from the spray and the ants on the bottom moved underneath the ant corpses on top. I looked around and spotted a lighter on my desk. I grabbed it and went back to the ant hill. I lit that bitch on fire. I stood and watched with bright eyes as we all went up in flames and took one last drink of my coffee.
Do you like stories about cult leaders? Check out the beta chapters of my novel, Freedom House.
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I am Sterp. I write horror fiction and have a very unhealthy obsession with disturbing narratives. As long as they make me lose sleep then I'm happy. Fun fact: I am also a Buddhist.