The other day I had a terrible dream. I decided to write about it because I wanted others to hear it, and when I was looking at old stories, I saw one called “Monkey Dream” that sounded awfully similar to my dream. When I read it, I was shocked, and I hesitated over whether to post my own story or not. But it’s not a copy of that one, so please hear me out.
I was at school. My junior high. I graduated from there quite a while ago. But I realised it was a dream when I noticed how quiet the building was, and more than that, I had no reason to be there in the first place. It was a little weird, but as I walked down the creaking green hallway to the classroom, I was filled with nostalgia. I looked around for a while, and then my eyes were drawn to the toilet down the end of the hall.
“Ha, that takes me back.”
I had a lot of stomach troubles in junior high school, so I spent a lot of time in the toilet during class. It might sound strange, but the toilet and I were like close friends. The door squeaked as I opened it and I stepped inside. It was dirty, as usual. I stepped into one of the stalls. It was like I was being unconsciously swept inside. I plopped onto the seat.
“Why am I doing this?”
For the first time, I noticed how strange I was acting. That’s right. Why on earth was I going to the toilet in my dream? Seeds of doubt and fear began to grow.
“What the hell… why am I in the toilet?”
Panic started to creep in, and I looked around. I heard a sound from my jacket pocket and reached in to pull whatever it was out. It was a scrunched up piece of paper. I opened it and saw my own letters staring back at me.
Crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch.
It made no sense. I had messy writing, but the letters before me were awful, like they were written in panicked haste. I tilted my head, confused. Then I heard a sound from the end stall.
I swallowed nervously. I thought I was the only person there. The sound continued intermittently. I leaned in closer…
“Crunch crunch… crunch crunch… crunch…”
I thought my heart was going to claw its way out of my throat. Crunch crunch… that was what was written on the piece of paper. But I had no idea what was making the sound. All I could tell was that it sounded heavy, not light.
I wanted to run, but I decided to climb up and peep over the top of the stalls to see what it was. Of course, I did my best not to make a single sound.
I saw it. I couldn’t see perfectly from where I was, but the source of the sound was human. It was a girl with black hair in a bob cut. That’s right, she was the spitting image of Hanako-san from the toilet.
I couldn’t see past her hair to see what she was doing, but her head was moving up and down and I could hear that “crunch crunch” sound from before.
Surprising even myself, I leaned forward to get closer.
She looked up and saw me.
The girl was chewing on a freshly severed human head… I screamed! I had to get out of there! She was going to kill me! I kicked the toilet door open and flew out. My feet got tangled up and I crashed into the urinals, but there was no time to stop. I turned around and saw the door to the end stall slowly opening.
“Shit shit shit shit shit shit!”
I sprinted as fast as my feet would take me towards the stairs. I knew exactly where I was. I was on the third floor. I ran down the stairs three and four steps at a time, and I soon hit the first floor. Then I saw something even more strange.
There was a boy standing by the shoe boxes with no leg. Next to him was a girl in Japanese-style clothing. But they weren’t alone. There were other yokai-like creatures there as well. Evil looking things. But they looked at me curiously. They didn’t attack, and made no sign of animosity towards me. But I had no time to be relieved and jumped towards the door that would lead me to the safety of outside. It was locked and wouldn’t open. I tried the second door, and the third door, but they were also locked. The fourth door was no different, but this one was locked from the inside. All I had to do was turn it and I would be free. I opened it, kicked the door wide open, and threw myself outside.
“I did it! I’m safe!”
I’m safe…? It felt strange to say the words myself. Why did I feel the need to declare that I was safe just by stepping outside? Then I remembered.
“… I’ve had this dream before…”
That’s right. I’d had this same dream once before. I wrote that “crunch crunch” message to myself last time in the dream as well.
Just to the right of the door was a fence with a section cut out like a door. Last time I had the dream, I woke up once I exited that door. I knew my goal was close, so that was why I was able to say I was safe. Even if the Cruncher came running after me, I was confident I could reach the door before she could reach me. I looked over at it and fell speechless.
When I was at school, the door was always left open. But now it was closed, and not only was it closed, but it was padlocked as well!
“Y-you’re kidding me! It can’t be! Quit screwing around!”
I had entirely forgotten. Schools these days were getting more dangerous, and after school hours all the gates and doors were closed. The last time I had the dream such rules weren’t in effect, and that was why it was open.
I didn’t know what to do. I looked up at the sky, and I saw someone looking down at me from the toilet window.
I locked eyes with the Cruncher.
I broke out in goosebumps. It was like every hair on my body stood on end. A chill ran down my spine and the temperature around me suddenly dropped.
“I gotta get outta here!”
I ran. I just wanted to get away from that thing. Then I remembered. There was a gate for the lunch truck to enter. It wasn’t very big, so I should be able to jump over it.
I ran as fast as I could towards it. I couldn’t turn around to check, but I somehow knew that the Cruncher wasn’t too far behind me. She was faster than me. She was so fast that she’d easily catch up to me in less than 50 metres. I lost all sensation. I just ran. I saw the gate in front of me and threw myself upon it. I rolled over and hit the ground on the other side.
“I’m safe. This time, I’m safe.”
There was no reason for me to think so, but that’s what I thought. I was filled with relief.
I looked back at the school. I wanted to see just how close the Cruncher was. The moment I looked back, my blood froze. She was right there. Right in front of my nose. She reached out with both hands, like she was about to grab my head. Then she spoke.
“Huh. I thought I’d get you this time.”
Then I woke up. I was dizzy and drenched in sweat. I wanted to write down everything that happened in the dream so I wouldn’t forget it. It was so terrifying that I wanted to tell someone, anyone about it later. But I rarely used my notebook, so I had trouble finding it. I eventually found my old notebook hidden deep in the back of my bookcase, and when I opened it I was at a loss for words.
“Crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch.”
The word was written all over the last page. I was so scared I couldn’t move. I had almost no memory of the first time I had that dream, but it felt like I escaped easily. The second time was just like I explained. But the third time… the next time… just thinking about it sent shivers down my spine. Honestly, I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to escape the next time.
If you come across an article in the newspaper one day that says “man died in his sleep” then there’s a good chance that article will be talking about me… Although I sure hope not…