's 2015 Horror Write-off:

" Daymarish "

Submitted by The Album Atrium

“Doctor Neist will see you now.”

My heart sank at the nurse’s statement. Of all the medical professionals in this building, I was stuck seeing that crackpot. I mean, I knew this hospital was a little understaffed and underfunded, that’s why it was so cheap, and why I came here. Still, that man shouldn’t be allowed to act so unprofessional.

Neist was younger than some of the other doctors, and seemed to fancy himself as a sort of rebellious spirit. He’d dyed his blonde hair with streaks of green as if it made him look ‘cool and edgy’. When I went in to see him, he merely motioned me to an exam table and pulled out a clipboard to take notes.

“Hey there, Mr. Smith, what’s the matter this time?”

“Hello, doctor. I’ve been doing well, exercising regularly and eating right, but lately I’ve been having a lot of sleepless nights.”

“Insomnia, eh.” Neist yawned. “A lot on your mind?”

“No, nothing more than usual. I just can’t seem to get a good night’s sleep.”

“Huh. That’s boring. Why don’t you come in next time with a real problem? Either way, I’ll write you a prescription for some sleep aids and you’ll be good to go buddy.” He slapped my back and chuckled to himself as he said this, then went about scribbling out my prescription.

“Thanks.” The way he didn’t respect personal space always made me uncomfortable. I grabbed the slip of paper as soon as it was ready so I could leave.

“Hold on there, buddy! I’ve got your prescription right here, somewhere. One moment.” He rifled through a cabinet and produced several pill bottles which he stuffed into a brown paper bag and shoved into my hands. “There you go.”


The medicine Neist prescribed seemed to be about as cheap as the clinic he worked at. It came in little white bottles with what looked like small purple butterflies stamped on them. They read “Konamaral: Guaranteed to keep that pesky moth away!”. What kind of nut-basket would make this? Was this even what I needed? I searched the container for some sort of ingredients list or warning signs, but the only text on it was the label and the instructions on the childproof cap regarding how to open it.

Now, in any other situation I would have listened to all the little red flags and warnings, but it had been so long since I’d had a decent night’s sleep and I was desperate. I popped it open and downed a pair of little purple capsules along with a tall glass of water. It wasn’t bitter at all, it had more like a sickeningly sticky sort of candy flavor to it.

That night I slept quite peacefully and even dreamed.

I was attending my English class at the local college, sitting very bored while my professor droned on about Walt Whitman or something. As I sat there listening in and out of the lesson, my eyes wandered and I caught an unusual sight outside the window.

There stood a figure dressed in one of those old-fashioned kimonos of which I could only guess the country of origin. At this distance it was difficult to determine their gender because they had concealed their face with some kind of abstract kabuki mask. As the rest of my dream was so boring and mundane, I decided to focus on this more interesting development. The figure faced towards the window, yet not entirely concerned with those of us inside. Of course, without being able to see their eyes I couldn’t really tell what they might be doing.

Five minutes went by, no change in the figure.

Ten more minutes...still nothing. Disappointment began to set in, as what I'd initially taken for an interesting facet of my dream was turning into a neat piece of scenery. It was around then that my dream got fuzzy and ended without so much as a warning.


I tackled the next day with renewed energy, heading to my college for a full day of courses. I must have looked like an idiot sitting alone in that classroom for an hour. When my professor did arrive, he looked at me as if that was definitely the case.

“The hell are you doing here, it’s Wednesday.”

Naturally this came as a great shock to me. If this was true, the only possible explanation was that I had somehow slept through all of Tuesday. Rather, those pills must have made me sleep that long. Still a little flustered, I tried to explain this to my professor, but he only brushed me off.


“You’re confused, Mr. Smith. You were definitely here for class yesterday, don’t you remember my fascinating anecdotes about Whitman’s facial hair?”

I called the clinic where Neist worked almost immediately after leaving. I spent the better half of the next hour getting reassured that the medicine was totally fine and if anything it worked too well. Every time I’d try to interject or complain Neist would just talk louder like some kind of child losing an argument. He kept insisting that there might only be mild side effects like headache or impaired vision, and how it was totally tested and recommended and that load of garbage. After enough I just gave in and decided that he was at least right about the medicine letting me sleep and that I’d keep taking it for a little while to see if it could eventually cure whatever internal problem I was having.


About a week and a half later I’d experienced a lot fewer strange dreams and unexplained time loss so I’d received a larger supply from Neist. He claimed it was because he was going on vacation soon and it would have to last me until he came back. Since starting these new pills I’ve had a few more instances of dreams that seem like reality, or perhaps reality that seems like a dream. Just the other day I was going for a jog and had to wait at a crosswalk with a few others. As we stood there, some large creature approached us from behind. It was only marginally shorter than the streetlamp we were under, but much wider by far. It reminded me of a person, just really fat and made out of translucent pink gelatin. It just stood near us, as if waiting to cross just as we were. I looked around at the others and no one else seemed to see it. I must be dreaming, then, I surmised, then pinched myself to test it.

“Ow”. Nope, I must be awake. So this great big thing must be a hallucination or something. Neist did say eye problems were a possible side effect. Maybe he meant this? It was a curious thing, this slime man, so I felt very tempted to poke it and see if it was really there.

“Poke…poke…poke…” I muttered to myself like an idiot. The thing’s leg wiggled and jiggled as I prodded it, leaving my finger all sticky. The giant jelly man glared down at me with its featureless face and wagged a sausage-like finger at me in a chastising manner. Then the light turned green and everyone went on their way, the Jolly Jell-O man patting my head as it lumbered off.

When I awoke on the couch I mused that I’d stop eating sweets before bed. Then I ran a hand through my hair and it came up thick and gooey.  

These things can’t be real, can they? They’re only shadows brought to life by drugs to torment me. I’d stopped taking the pills, I was fairly sure, but still I saw them. I must be taking them during my hallucinations, probably. They did what they promised, at least. I was always well-rested whenever I “awoke”. It’s just become a little difficult to tell when that is, if only slightly. Life’s taken a charming, dreamlike quality now. That’s why I’m so confused, yes, of course. These manifestations of ridiculous nature are fooling me into forgetfulness and tricking me into disbelief of reality? It didn’t matter anyway. If I can still get done what I need to do, who cares if I get the added bonus of such strange entertainment? I’ve still got a lot of things to do, like head to the library.


The thing perched atop the library was, to say…less cheerful than the hallucinations I’d grown accustomed to. It was an oversized barn owl larger than an oak tree. The legs on this thing were like a pair of stilts attached to filthy hands that clawed and raked the ground as it moved. Around the top of its head was some sort of wreath or halo made of fire evidenced by blacked and burned feathers atop its scalp. The creature would take a few steps in either direction and crane its neck to stare at the people coming into and out of the building.

The library itself was fairly big, and fairly old too, but it still seemed to be getting only a handful of visitors today. I blame that internet things kids are always going on about. Despite this, a man in a suit was rushing his way towards it, briefcase in one hand and cellular phone in the other.

“Yah, yah, it’s a great location, yah, yah…” He yammered on while the owl’s beady little eyes narrowed.

It spread its wings, two pairs conjoined directly above the other, and leapt down onto the pavement. The well-dressed man paid no attention to it, why would he? He simply kept jabbering on his phone and walking towards the library’s entrance. When he was about two feet from the creature it raised one of its disgustingly long legs and picked him up by the head. The hand clenched into a fist and crushed his skull into a black paste, then just dumped the body back onto the ground.

A woman screamed and ran up to it, shouting something incomprehensible like:

“He’s having a heart attack, someone help!”. A couple others rushed over to see what the commotion was while the lady performed CPR on the headless corpse. No one took notice of the owl, someone nearly ran into its leg before it moved out of the way.

I stood terrified at the things I was seeing, but I must have looked rather normal among a crowd of concerned citizens near a man who ‘seemed to have collapsed’. I’d seen enough, this was just hallucinations and nonsense, a side effect of that strange medication. So what if that thing and that man’s collapse seemed to correlate? It’s just nonsense.

Then the owl turned its attention to me. It meandered over the crowd and stared down at me, squinting like it had done before. I stood paralyzed, knowing it could easily catch me if I tried to run. After two unbearable minutes the bird made its way back to the top of the library but maintained eye contact. `

“Screw this,” I thought. It’s nothing. Nothing at all. I decided to head back home, run actually. The bank could wait another day…or longer.


It’s been getting worse lately. The owl was only the first of many awful things I’ve started seeing. Just last night some kind of beast of broken glass stalked me through my windows. It left such sharp marks on the panes as if trying to get in.

I’ve decided to stop taking the pills, to stop seeing these things, but I can’t find them anymore. It seems I’ve not only been taking them in my sleep, I’ve been hiding them too. I didn’t want me to stop being I while asleep, me would suppose. Nonsense, words, that. I’m still me, not someone else. I’m just less in control than I used to be. My only hope now was that I’d eventually run out of pills to take. There can’t be all that many left in the bottles anyway. Soon enough I’ll gladly be able to trade sleepless nights for both sanity and peace of mind. That’s what I tell myself as I head off to sleep.


I found myself in a room made of what seemed to be bricks of ice. It was cold, of course, but it also held the sweet scent of cinnamon and sugar. That was the only pleasant part of it, though. Bright light streamed through square windows that were little more than holes carved in the ice. It burned my eyes terribly before they adjusted a bit.

I was seated at a desk made of some sort of dark wood, mahogany maybe. More furnishings made of the same material were present in some kind of familiar arrangement. Ugh…my head ached from those stupid pills…what’s the name for it? Gah…a courtroom, yes, I was in one of those. A courtroom with the most arguably bizarre things I could possibly hallucinate.

I was in the defendant’s seat, right next to a ball of cotton the size of my head that buzzed enthusiastically towards me.

“Don’t worry!” It hummed. “It’s not the fat man or the kangaroo this time!”

How wonderful.

After rubbing my head some more, I dared to turn around and see what strange spectators might be crowded in the gallery. The painfully bright lights from the windows apparently didn’t reach them, as all I could see was a mass of many silhouettes. It was too dark even to see the back wall or exit, assuming there was one. The mob of shifting, jittery shadows emitting a lot of whispering and a variety of other noises like the occasional snarling growls and urgent bleats of some otherworldly creatures. 


Returning my gaze to the front of the room, I decided to shift my focus over to the stenographer’s desk. Arranged next to an over-sized typewriter was a piano, tapping away with the human fingers it had instead of musical keys. Aside from this unsettling feature, it came across as just an ordinary instrument, so I decided to take a gander at the jury box.

There actually was a gander in the jury box, I think, alongside an assortment of other unnatural animals and insects. There was absolutely no rhyme or reason to these creatures. I saw a sheep in a frilly dress and a bumblebee in a top hat. The only similarities between the jurors seemed to be the way they were all about as large as a human and all dressed in Victorian era clothing. Coats, dresses, petticoats, monocles, a wolf was drinking out of a teacup while a centipede held the teapot in its pincers. These nonsensical beasts in human clothes seemed to mock me with their merriment and delight. Based on their guffaws and chortles I could only imagine the gallery was filled with more of these awful things.

Considering my most recent hallucination about the terrible owl, I was less than willing to see what sort of nightmarish judge was seated at the bench. The bench was taller than it probably should have been, divided into three sections. The rightmost portion was empty and shorter than the middle one, clearly the witness stand. Expecting the worst, it was only natural that I was not only wrong but hilariously so.

It was only a little girl dressed like god-damn Santa Claus. There was no way she was any older than ten, maybe even a little younger than that. She preoccupied herself petting some black cat, and was otherwise the least interesting thing I’d hallucinated in this room. Having a good laugh at the ridiculousness so far, I was in high spirits when I caught sight of the entity seated in the leftmost portion of the bench.

At first it looked like a headless body dressed in thick metal rings and holding a small gavel. Yet, as I paid it more attention the rest of it came into view like an atrocious fog. The entity was both small and enormous at the same time. The much smaller body was connected to gross scaly necks springing out in all directions and writhing most terribly. The heads were angular and thin things, earless horrors with slits for noses. Wait, no, that’s not right…I know this…what is it? Snakes, yes, that’s the phrase. The thing had a great mass of enlarged snakes coming from it. No two of these snakes were identical, each a different species or color. Of all these heads one of the largest and most calm was that of a cobra. It swayed to and fro in melodic fashion, and the creature’s comparatively tiny hands banged their gavel. A light brown rattlesnake rasped some words:

“Thisss court isss called to sssesssion. Let the unpresssedented cassse of Mr. Sssmith v. Kinbury begin.”

Kinbury? Is that a name or place? A place I’d never heard of before, at least. Probably and plausibly where I was now. The cotton floated upwards and approached the bench, evidently my representative.

“Ladies, Gentleman, and esoteric beings, this man is but a victim of circumstance. As you can tell, he has no currency. This man has no cents. Thusly, he is “in no cents”.”

“Overruled both stupendously and phenomenally!” The cobra hissed quite fluently.

“The court now ssshall be sssubject to the prosssecution’sss case” The other head chimed.

At this point the black cat leapt down onto the floor and began pacing back and forth. It disgusted me immediately. It had three separate mouths on it, one where it should be and one where each of its eyes were supposed to go. When it spoke all three mouths moved at once, flashes of sharp teeth and deep red.

“Your honor,” it began. “This putrid monkey-beast is definitely a threat to Kinbury. Look at all those fingers it has, how many points might it be able to make with those flesh stumps? Sharp points could prickle and pop those of us too full of hot air! It’s only sensible such a frilly popinjay of a thing was attracted to it. I say we waste no thaumaturgy on this fleshy clump and relieve it of its frail coil before that scaly rapscallion returns to pick up where it left off.”

The snake judge’s heads swayed a bit and hissed in approval, while the giggling, braying masses of dapper devils carried on behind me with their guffaws and chortles. The prosecutor nodded contently and scurried back to where they’d been seated.

“I find this explanation of what the man katydid quite upsetting. Why, we are almost lucifurious at such an ostentatious display! The defense may have but one last argument, before the hammer of justice swings down onto this soul.” Claimed the cobra.

The ball of cotton buzzed furiously around the many heads, one of which tried to eat it. Then the rattler spoke again.

“The defendant ssshall be allowed to take the ssstand, under the groundsss that they return it posssthassste.”

Fantastic. I stood now, more annoyed than anything else and made my way over. From there I stood and started chewing those sons of bitches out. I let them know they were nothing to me, just figments of my imagination that I was no longer going to tolerate. Screw these miserable inklings of mine! Your menace on my mind won’t be to any avail, I say! So do what you will, I’ve no care for it. I strolled back to defendant’s table, smugly thinking I had done something noteworthy.

“Witness? Heh, more like witless!” a python snickered. The whole heap of snakes produced hisses of laughter at their own poor joke, with the nonsense animals joining in as well. Afterwards the snake heads began to squirm and writhe even more than before, as though arguing amongst themselves. Words like ‘guilty’, ‘innocent’, and ‘pancake’ kept being repeated over and over. A garter snake kept shouting the word ‘innocent’ and ‘harmless’ and was immediately set upon by the rattlesnake and cobra. The cobra wrapped itself around the much smaller garter’s neck, while the rattle sunk its fangs into the garter’s head. The snake tried to thrash a little and the cobra bit hard into the base of its neck. Then the two larger snakes tugged violently at it, tearing it from the body and discarding it onto the floor. The creature’s remains vomited up a small portion of blood before it died. The bleeding stump it left at the base of the neck quickly grew into two newer snakes each chanting ‘guilty’. Now content, the main heads all turned towards the rest of the court.

“Mr. Smith is found unquestionably guilty of one charge of mortality and several counts of awareness. It is now up to the resident…resident to determine his fate.” The serpents faltered a little and turned towards the small girl as though seeking approval. She didn’t even look at it. She was staring directly at me, frowning slightly. My vision began to blur, and I awoke in my room absolutely freezing. All across the bedspread were those pill bottles I’d thrown away. Had I…dug through the trash for them?


That was the last of the pills, anyway. Niest wasn’t returning my calls and I didn’t seem to be getting any more of the stuff. It didn’t matter, though. I had begun hallucinating all the time, awake or asleep, medicated or sober. Whenever they traipsed into my gaze I would shut my eyes until the tightness felt as needles piercing my retinas. After enough of it society had enough of me. They packaged me up like a slab of meat and threw me into a padded cell. They were unaware of the things they couldn’t see, even when they were so close. They were ignorant and careless things. Locking me up won’t change anything, locking me up doesn’t affect them at all, either of them. I…couldn’t take it. I would just scream. I screamed until I passed out, or possibly awoke.


This time I was in a hospital bed. The nurse seemed shocked to see me, but gladly informed me I had just come out of a coma. My sleepless nights caught up with me and I’d fallen asleep at the wheel. Relief washed over me for the first time in months. Of course it was all nonsense, even nonsense seems plausible in a dream. Everything was going to be alright. Then I laughed hysterically, incredulously.

The doctor’s face was a mass of tentacles.