Pinpricks. That's what she felt against her bare feet. Tiny flecks of pain that lasted only a moment before fading from her memory. But they were annoying. Samantha looked down, her eyes squinting in the lightless room, to see the small dark spots crawling on her skin.
A small cry escaped her mouth and she fell forward, batting away the small creatures. But with so many, and hundreds more crawling from the grate in the floor, her hands were also soon coated in the tiny bumps left behind from their bites.
Jumping back up, Samantha's gaze flew to reach something to combat them. But the smooth tiled walls left nothing to be taken. Her head spun around and around, looking for a door, a window, or anything to flee out of but each wall was identical to the last- again, offering nothing. Samantha, unable to comprehend what was happening, looked up. The ceiling, too high to reach, was completely covered in a mirror reflecting the small creatures and their direct journey to her.
Samantha's eyes flew open, her body immediately jerking up into a sitting position. Mind racing, she looked around, surprised only to see her bedroom. An illuminated clock flashed with the time. 2:43.
It was only a dream, she thought. But it had seemed so real. Even now, she could feel the growing itchiness on her hands and feet. Samantha grimaced at the idea of falling back asleep, but her eyes soon began to droop. School, she reminded herself. It wouldn't be a good idea to stay awake too long. What did her parents say when she was little? Once you wake up from a nightmare, your brain recognizes that it isn't real and gives you a more pleasant dream. She couldn't remember if that was true or not but it sounded reasonable. She tugged her blanket back up and slowly drifted off.
Sharp stabs of pain. The creatures were back- this time racing quicker up her legs and arms. Samantha cried out, swatting at them harder. When that didn't work, she pushed herself against the wall. Horrified, she realized that everytime she found a new wall to fall back against, the creatures sudden change of of direction almost seemed to grow faster. Not creatures, she noticed, Ants. But these ants came too quickly, with shiny black bodies, and terrifying numbers. The ants remaining on her became to climb onto the edges of her nightgown. The white fabric dotted with blue flowers began to look unrecognizable.
Hands desperately swiping the ants from her close, Samantha forced herself to find a solution to her problem. Where were the ants coming from? The grate! She had to plug it somehow, then squash the ants remaining. Thinking fast, she sat down on top the small slits in the ground and winced when the ants that managed to escape crawled up her back. The once harmless pich of their bites started to feel like a fire erupting all over her. In a panic, Samantha started crushing the ants converging towards her at all angles. Almost like that of a small toddler, she squashed them with balled-up fists and stiff feet. But there was just too many to stop the bites from reaching her exposed neck and crevices in her hair.
A gasp escaped Samantha's mouth and turned into a fit of coughing. She was back in her bed. But the pain was still there- dull and tingling. Reaching down, she scratched her leg and realized there was a series of small bumps coating her skin. The realization hit her like a bus, ad she flew from the covers. Ants, she thought, That's why I was having that nightmare. There were ants in my bed. But it was nearly three in the morning, and she was still exhausted, so there wasn't much she could do about it until morning. She grabbed her blanket wondering if she had fallen asleep next to the bowl of ice cream from the night before. Hadn't she taken care of it though?
In the living room, Samantha took shelter on the couch. It was cool having not been used for hours and felt heavenly against her skin. Even though she had figured out why the nightmares came back and found a temporary solution, she was anxious about closing her eyes. Would the dream return? Perhaps if it were to come back, she would find a way to escape. Yes, that seemed logical. Her eyes drooped and without another reason to keep them open, she finally surrendered to sleep.
Fire burning bright. The pain was like being dipped in lava, boiled over a spit, and stabbed with knives. The ants found their way into her ears, nos, and mouth. She could feel their pinchers boring into her eyes. Her hair twisted and flowed by the movement of thousands of ants crawling around each strand. Samantha tried to scream but instead felt the creatures build up in her throat. Her hands twitched at her sides, unable to pick a place to swat at. She dragged herself from the spot in the grate to a wall and pressed against it as hard as she could. Only one thought raced through her brain. The blanket. She had taken it from her bed with her. If only she could wake up, she would burn it. She would burn everything if it could make everything stop.
With what sight she had had left, Samantha looked up at herself in the mirror above. She was just a figure composed of writhing black dots. Clumps of them began to spill out. She didn't need to guess where they were heading. As she felt herself slipping away, the smallest of giggles escaped her lips. The blanket she had fallen asleep with had tiny images of smiling ants holding up hammers and nails. Their cheerful attitude seemed so cute when she'd gotten it. How ironic.