Catherine walked alone on the beach. She walked slowly, surrounded by a thick fog that was very hot. The sand was burning against her bare feet, and small plumes of smoke puffed up around her with each step. Her eyes watered. The ocean was still, dead. There were no waves stirring its glassy surface. Small bubbles broke through, and Catherine realized that the water was boiling.
She continued along the beach and found large mounds in the sand. Without needing to look, she knew they were shallow graves. Hundreds of people had been buried there. She came to one pile of sand and saw a scorched hand sticking out. The fingers were burnt and dry and very long. She drew closer and the fingers began to clench and release, clench and release. Her legs continued, outside of her control, and she stood next to the burnt appendage. The black fingers slowly wrapped around her ankle, and bits of black flesh fell away from—
Catherine’s eyes opened. She blinked as she took in the darkness around her, and the strange dream retreated deep into her subconscious. The only retention was the feeling of that dead hand grabbing her leg. Next to her, her boyfriend began to stir. He rolled back and forth and let out small whimpers. As he shook the bed, the sleep fell away from Catherine.
“Abaddon,” Bob said. His voice was thick with sleep and sounded foreign, alien.
“What?” said Catherine.
Bob rolled again, this time toward her so that his face was only inches from hers. “Abaddon,” he said in a whisper.
Catherine waited. She knew Bob often talked in his sleep. It was almost always nonsense. But no matter how she tried to ignore it, she would always listen. It was impossible not to. Their room was black save for one square of dark blue that was the shaded window. Catherine wondered, with the amount of light coming through, if outside there was a full moon.
“He’s here,” Bob whispered.
Bob stirred once more, his face nearly buried into his pillow. His words were muffled, but in the silence of their room, Catherine heard them loud and clear.
“He’s in the room,” Bob groaned. “He’s right beside you.”
Catherine’s skin prickled. The idea of sleep was flung from her waking mind like a catapult. And then she saw the shadow.
A figure, just barely caught in the corner of her eye, moved by the window. It was silent and quick, but Catherine had no doubts that she saw it. Her eyes went wide and her body felt paralyzed. She tried to speak, to wake up Bob, but the air in her lungs was stolen. Gone. Her throat was locked with fear.
When she finally found the courage to move, she realized her leg, the one that had been grabbed by the burnt, dead hand, was exposed and hanging over the side of the bed.