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Crows. That’s how the nightmares all began. Now they’re chronic. That’s how the nightmares have become – chronic. I say that because I believe the nightmares are an illness. Not an illness in me. An illness in the world. Or, even more accurate, an illness between the worlds. At first the nightmares were brief flashes no more than glimpses. Always of blackbirds. They were either fluttering, cawing, or worst of all, just looking at me. Those little ebony eyes were volumes of secrets of what was to come.

Then they grew longer in duration. That’s when I began to take notice of the land. Dark, desolate, and heavy with an ominous weight of oppression. It was always a path leading through sickly trees. No leaves. Just jagged, angulated limbs and branches writhing in the wind. A path, the trees and those damn crows.

The path led up a hill. Each time I arrived here it was a struggle in my soul. I knew there was something terrible lying over that hill. Something dangerous. Something horrible. Something monstrous. But I also knew that my only chance of overcoming this illness was through whatever was over there.

Each step was like wading through eternity. With each, sluggish step the crows grew more agitated. More anxious. And the tension ratcheted up in a crescendo of discordant shrills.

And then, one night, I made the summit. The crows flapped. They cawed. They tore at each other in chaotic anticipation. I strained. I screamed with my eyes squeezed shut as long as I possibly could with all my will. Then I felt his hands on my face prying my lids open. And I heard his voice through his mask whisper into my ear, “Behold.”

And I cried as I looked upon the Land of Nod.

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