Running Man (a story)
Every night he had the same dream.
He was running away from some monster and woke up screaming. His wife soothed him and he would go work in the den for awhile, till he could calm down.
When asked to describe the monster, all he could give was emotional cues, never an idea of what it looked like or what caste of fae or demon it was. He just felt threatened, terrified, horrorstruck… and had no way of getting away from it, or hiding. Some nameless, faceless monster. With no hope of things improving or changing.
His wife begged him to go get therapy, so he finally did. He talked about his feelings, his marriage, his childhood, his stressors… She gave him a prescription for anti-anxiety meds. They didn’t work though.
He went to the family doctor and had a work up, again at his wife’s request. Well, threats really. She was almost as sleep deprived as he was. So blood draw for organic issues, EEG, ECG. a neuro exam. A friendly chat about finding ways to calm down in his life. The whole “get a hobby” speech doctors give when they can’t explain what’s wrong.
Nothing in the Western med paradigm was helping, so his wife suggested a naturopath. Again, he attended under duress. They talked about his diet and exercise regimen. He said the place he got the most exercise was in his sleep. She asked if he was actually moving his legs when he slept? Were the bed covers messed up when he woke, like he had been running? Yes, they were.
She recommended a sleep study. He went to a clinic and was wired up for sound, and spent the night there. He had “the dream” and was left to “sleep” thru it. He was very active in the dream state. Which concerned them, because most people are paralysed during the REM state. They asked if he had ever sleep walked as a kid. He called his mom and she said yes he had, but grew out of it. They gave him a prescription for a sedative that helped his body to be more restive. And kept him there to see if the meds worked. They began to, so they sent him home.
He put up with them for a few days, but he hated the groggy and funky feeling they gave him, so he stopped taking them.
Several weeks of anti-anxiety meds, a few days of sedatives, years of sleep deprivation and a history of sleep walking as a child… Any guesses as to what happened?
Not long after, his wife woke up one morning, feeling better than she had for a long time. So refreshed! She ran her arm up beside her and realized her husband wasn’t in the bed beside her as he still should be. She double checked the time.
So she went looking for him. Not in the kitchen, not in the den, not on the back porch where he liked to have his morning coffee.
She called his office. He wasn’t there yet. So she called his dad’s house. He often stopped by there in the morning to see if his dad needed anything, before he went to work. No he hadn’t gone there this morning. She was getting worried.
So because of the recent history, she called the police. With a quick call to the doctor’s office, they put out a medical advisory BOLO on him.
Several hours later, two officers showed up at her door. As soon as she saw them, she started to cry.
Her husband had been running, as if some thing or someone had put the fear of God into him and run straight in front of a semi. He was scraped off the road and taken to the morgue. It took some time for the police to match the information about the guy in pajamas at the morgue and the BOLO they had.
Now she wished she had nagged more about staying on the meds. But her first thought was…at least she’d be able to sleep now. She shivered and chastised herself for the thought.
For the rest of her life, she’d have to wonder if he would have been better off with just the dream, or if he should have stayed on the meds.