“Racing the Recurring Night” By Chad Robert Parker

I used to have a recurring nightmare. A childhood monster chased me through my dreams. It would start out normal, a nonsensical but pleasant imagination, and then would enter the demon. I thought the only way to end the dream was to outrace the beast. Each time I would get a little farther into the dream racing from setting to setting. Why was I having these dreams?

If I were to interpret the dreams, it probably does reflect a couple of identifiers at the time as the fastest kid around (maybe a sort of Flash complex) and my need to win.

The last time I faced the monster I realized that comparing my best to an unbeatable foe would not win me this battle.

“Run, Chad, run,” my oldest brother yelled out (like a Forest Gump moment). My opponent rose out of nowhere and gave chase. I ran as fast as ever, but he kept pace. Finally, I could actually run at full-speed, not the half-speed version that often woke me from my unaware slumber. As far as I could tell the race was for real.

I ran across the yard, along the street, through the park, and onto the beach. The sand slowed me. I started to become aware something was out of place. We lived in California, but not so close to the beach. A hand as big as the Hulk swiped at me. I ducked it back into the moment. I crossed a bridge. It gave way piece by piece (similar to Indiana Jones), but the monster now flew. Farther than ever before I knew more about this tormentor and pressed on. All land fell out from under me. I fell right through several levels of lands, screaming. Finally I fell into a football stadium and crashed into the ground. Players piled on and in one helmet I saw the scariest face of a monster you can imagine.

As a twelve year old I literally bolted out of my dream, free of my bed, and up the stairs to my parents, ahead of any fear behind me.