Tuesday, April 5, 2022

MY FICTION: The Night Blogger- Innocent When You Dream



Al Bruno III


April 4th: The place?

A long unoccupied house near Kalamazoo University; a slouching stone shape with warning signs plastered on every boarded up window.

The time?

Not that long ago. Long enough for the building to have been constructed with good old fashioned American asbestos but not so long ago that people were still allowed to work there.

It was one of the workmen sent to clear out said building that found the composition book I’m holding in my hands right now. Good thing he’s a friend of mine and a fellow seeker of the unknown. He goes by the name of Nino Savant and the most notable things about him was his manly beard and his lifelong quest to prove the existence of the supernatural.

You see, that was why he took any and every kind of job that gave him access to the creepiest buildings Michigan has to offer.  I gotta give him credit, a decade in the game and he never once got arrested for trespassing.

Genius idea. Wish I’d thought of it.

From day one on the job Nino felt the hairs on the back of his neck prickle and he wasn’t the only one that sensed something was wrong with the place. Other members of the asbestos removal team complained of headaches and nausea. More than a few men quit outright insisting that it wasn’t safe to be there, that the whole structure was going to come crashing down on them. It didn’t lean right.

This are Nino’s words not mine. He went on to explain that every building as a bit of a lean to it. No matter how well built a structure is gravity and the elements are going to have their way with it. Roofs sag, foundations crack, floors bend and bubble. And if that building is neglected the decay sets in all the faster.

The poisoned brownstone in downtown Kalamazoo was no different, yet it was different. The floors might look as though they leaned to the right but the pull of gravity made you to lean the other way, and each room seemed to twist in its own direction. The walls and ceilings were no better. They left the workmen feeling as though they were lurching drunkenly through some carnival funhouse. Even the sunlight that crept in through the boarded up windows shone at all the wrong angles.

The day that Nino Savant discovered a scrapyard diary he had wandered off from his seven-man crew. He’d spent all morning telling his co-workers that he might have some kind of stomach bug. It was a total lie but it’s damn easy to lie when you’re wearing a hood, goggles and a respirator mask.  He wandered to an untouched wing of the house and pulled the ghost hunting geegaws he’d hidden inside of his flash-spun, high-density polyethylene coveralls. He slowly tracked his way from the study to the kitchen and back again. None of his tools picked up anything, not his EMP meter or his EVP recorder, even his spirit box was useless.

None of it made any sense, there were dozens of reports from passersby of sounds coming from within this building, strange vocalizations that haunted the dreams of anyone that heard them, especially those of children. It was on his third trip from the kitchen to the study that the floor gave away beneath him and he tumbled ass over teakettle down a hidden stairway to an equally hidden basement. He laid therefor a time, he neck bent at an uncomfortable angle, his legs splayed against the wooden door at the bottom of the stairs. The only good thing about his aching back and pounding skull was that it proved he wasn’t dead or paralyzed.

Once Nino got back to his feet he took a moment to examine where he had landed; there were thick, animal like claw marks along the doorknob and bottom of the doorframe. He expected it to be locked but the it swung open easily revealing a small room. There was a small bed against the corner with a nearby overturned chair. As he walked to the bed something crunched under his boot, he looked down to see he had stepped on a painful looking glass medical syringe.  You know the kind you only see in horror movies these days? The bits of glass were stained with a tar like substance. Nino bent down to touch it but at the last minute thought better of it. Instead he approached the corner of the room. The  bed was a hospital design at least 50 years out of date, the mattress had been torn open, springs and stuffing splayed everywhere.

He almost didn’t notice the small blue notebook shoved deep inside the mattress. It was the kind of thing you’d use to write your final exam essay. There wasn’t enough light to read by in the hidden room so he walked back to the top of the steps, sat down on his still sore behind and started to read…


When I was young I was prone to fevers and nightmares, something that my doctors and my parents alike put down to a weak constitution and an overactive imagination. Even I grew older and stronger nightmares continued to plague me, nightmares that no drug could keep at bay, nightmares that frequently had me lashing out violently as I awoke.

As you can imagine when it came time for me to attend the University I felt I had no choice but to live alone. The lack of companionship only aided my focus on all things academic, my grades were strong and my instructors began to take a special interest in my academic progress.

Unfortunately in my second year of studies I began to experience incidents of sleepwalking and nocturnal violence. On four separate occasions campus security had to apprehend me.

This is how I came to the attention of Dr. Palatine, the University’s leading expert on the subject of sleep disorders. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to say I was placed under her care and supervision. She was a handsome woman with iron gray hair that was streaked with red, she wore thick glasses and spoke with an Eastern European accent. Dr. Palatine explained to me that she had just returned from a long sabbatical where she had been conducting what she called 'the purest research’.

Dr. Palatine shared with me her theories about the nature of REM sleep and the source of dream imagery in the collective unconscious. She requested I keep a journal and a tape recorder at my bedside but I must admit that the nature of my waking terrors left me with little clear or consistent information to impart.

This lack of hard data to work from led her to invite me to live with her. I felt I had no choice but to accept. Dr. Palatine lived in a crumbling brownstone several miles from the college campus. She made a room for me in her basement so that my night terrors could be controlled and monitored with the greatest care.

My first night and last night of observation began that ordeal that consumed my life. Dr. Palatine gave me a mild sedative and had me lie down on the cot she had prepared for me. She sat beside me in an uncomfortable looking, rust-colored chair, pen and notepad in hand.

Soon I was asleep and soon I found myself in the most lucid dream I had ever known. In the dream I found myself alone in the basement staring up at the single bare lightbulb that was the only illumination. Dr. Palatine and the rust colored chair were gone. A strange feeling of dislocation washed over me as I stood and walked up the basement stairs.

I found the cellar door had been locked from the outside but I felt no panic at this realization. What better way to curtail my nightly meanderings than a locked door? I rapped on the door and called for Dr. Palatine, when there was no answer I began to knock louder and louder. I called her name over and over but there was no answer.

The feeling of dislocation grew stronger and in my mind’s eye I saw myself beating at the door in ever-growing panic. I looked so small, like a forgotten child.

Without warning the basement door rattled on its hinges as though something had been thrown against it. Fingers scrabbled and grabbed through inch wide gap between the bottom of the doorframe and the floor; they were thin and covered with thick tufts of red hair. They scratched and scraped.

Even now you might assume that this was all some sophomoric prank but my every sense told me this was not the case. Whatever was on the other side of that door was bestial and twisted. The grasping of the fingers became more frantic as though it were searching for something precious that was just out of reach.

It was as though my every childhood nightmare was coming true. Hadn’t the fear of seeing this very personal incubus driven me to night terrors and fugues?

I screamed at it. The claw-like hand retreated, there was a moment when I thought it was about to retreat but then it began to sing. I cannot describe that voice, I do not know if that voice can be described. All I can say it that the sound that reached my ears was a loathsome crooning.

An image arose unbidden to my mind; that of the creature burbling nonsense, trying to lull the pink quivering shape at its breast to sleep.

Desperate to escape that sound I backed away only to lose my footing. I tumbled down the stairs striking my head and plunging my mind into merciful mindless darkness.

How long was it until I awoke again? I cannot say, but I do know that I blinked my eyes to see the basement door wide open. It took me some time to find the courage to mount the stairs but when I did I found myself in a barren house.

Of Dr. Palatine there was no trace, not only had she disappeared from her home she had also vanished from all University records. All my professors insisted there was no Dr. Palatine, that there had never been a Dr. Palatine.

The more I told my story the more I became a subject of derision and unease. I left the University in the middle of the semester never to return.

I found gainful employment far away from the University but I had lost the capacity to dream and with it I had lost all sense of certainty in the world around me. I began to fear that I no longer dreamed because I was still asleep in Dr. Palatine’s basement, that I had never awoken at all.


… I should note that I said Nino STARTED to read the blue notebook but when he got to the bottom of page two the door at the bottom of the stairs slammed shut.

Then something behind the door began to howl and warble. The sound was a wordless invitation. It settled into his gut and pulled, it warmed him like a fever.  It promised bliss. Nino almost gave in to it but the same instinct of self-preservation that made him step away from the broken hypodermic told him to run, to run and never come back.

Item: The old brownstone in Kalamazoo was eventually cleaned up and put on the market. It had plenty of buyers but not a one of them ever stayed more than a year.  It was demolished in 2012, and a parking lot was put in its place.

Item: My research shows that the Kalamazoo University of Science and Medicine employed a Dr. Emily Palatine from October 30th of 1992  to December 29th if 2001. It turns out that she was implicated in the ‘Rollason Seven’ scandal. She wasn’t one of the actual seven but there is no doubt she was a part of their bizarre experiments.

Item: Shortly after his long sought encounter with the supernatural Nino Savant sold his ghost hunting equipment, shaved off his beard and went into the family dry cleaning business.

Well not everyone has the starch for this lifestyle…

What? I’m allowed to make a joke once in a while!

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