I dreamt of jellyfish.
I floated peacefully in the clear blue of the ocean, naked, and watched the beautiful alien creatures drift with me. I was unafraid. I did not hold my breath, I knew I didn’t need to.
I felt completely at peace as I slowly drifted with them. They were all around me, their translucent amoeba-like forms slowly undulating, slowly pulsing and pushing them through the warm salty water. They were so beautiful; so beautiful and so alien. I felt a oneness with them around me and their impossibly long tendrils, which snaked down from their mushroom bodies like running droplets of fleshy red ink.
The current rose and suddenly I was afraid. The water was pushing me toward the jellyfish and I could feel their thinking; their thoughts were alien, cluttered, buzzing, but I could tell they meant to hurt me. I tried to turn and swim away but found I couldn’t. Slowly, ever so slowly, they flapped their translucent bodies and floated closer toward me. The terror rose in my chest as their stinging tendrils crept ever closer to me, helpless and floundering.
The first tentacle dragged along the skin of my leg and it stung like acid. Then they were slowly closing in, still pulsing, and surrounding me. Oh god. Oh god, no. The burning. They flapped and flapped, now faster as their tendrils stung me over and over and they swarmed. My skin was searing, my heart pumping fast, my body twisting, flailing; I was tangled in them now, and in a panic. I thrashed my arms but they were wrapped in the malicious searing tendrils. The burning, oh the burning. I was tangled. I tried to swim, up, anywhere, shake them off me – and then, one, coming toward my face – oh god it hurts oh god don’t let me die oh god….
I awoke in terror and a cold sweat. The tentacles of my imaginary aquatic aggressors tangled around me were the sheets of my bed. I panted and my heart raced. Slowly, my breathing subsided and reality faded in. I was alive. I wasn’t drowning. I wasn’t dying. There were no jellyfish.
Where was Chelsea? She had being lying next to me, come to sleep against me because she’d been scared of the monsters.
I looked over to see Chelsea’s body, her face blue as the ocean in my dream, the sheets tangled and wrapped around her tiny neck like a tentacle. She had choked to death in the night. She’d suffocated in her sleep right next to me while I was wrapped in the sheets and my horrid nightmare.
I shook her lifeless body, screaming her name, hoping that somehow my anguished cried words would bring my daughter back. I cried, hot tears of rageful sadness and not understanding.
I wept and my tears were the salt of an ocean – a dead, uncaring ocean without mercy, one full only of the beautiful pulsating forms of the heartless jellyfish.
(for Ready, Set, Done 3 at The Daily Prompt)