Author: Tyler Hawkins

Bernard gasped awake suddenly, and his eyes frantically darted around the darkened room looking for threats. Greeted only by the slow, rhythmic breathing from his wife laying next to him in bed, he focused on remembering the harrowing dream he just had. Bits and pieces stubbornly bubbled up, along with other dreams from earlier in the night. Setting aside the (admittedly nice) dream he had about his old high-school sweetheart, he focused on the hazy memories of his most recent dream.

He remembered a light outside his window, and his wall glowing softly—then laying on his back on a comfortable, heated metallic table. His very next memory is inside of a tank full of a thick, viscous gel. He can see himself in a mirror, but somehow in the mirror, his eyes are closed—then suddenly he’s back in his room, just in time to see a glimpse of a child-sized shadow stepping through his rapidly darkening wall.

Bernard sat in silence while his heart rate returned to normal, and looked over at his wife who was still sound asleep beside him. As the memory of the now quickly fading dream floats off, Bernard decides to lay off the late-night TV from now on and gets up and steps with practiced routine into the bathroom to relieve himself.

He absentmindedly scratches the annoying mole on his neck, only to sluggishly realize his life-long ridealong is now missing in action. He flicks on the light and notices the constellation of freckles across his face and neck are unfamiliar in a way that’s hard to place. Intrigued, he takes off his shirt and notices the scar on his arm he earned mountain biking as a kid is missing too, along with other moved or missing moles and freckles. It’s only when his eyes settle on the spot where a belly button should be that he starts screaming.