An edited and improved version of this story is now available for purchase as part of the ‘Prophecies of the Drowned Oracle’ collection.
Pig was Ana’s escape from her dreams. Flimsy and deflated, the stuffing compacted by years of squishes and hugs, pig was always there for her when she woke from those terrible nightmares. Where her dreams were filled with dread, flashes of pain, dizzying movements, pig was pure comfort. Always the same, reliable, in her control.
Her dreams weren’t always the same. Sometimes she would wake up with the memory of dry eyes pressed against rough fabric, other times it was the bruising grip of an inhumanly large hand around her torso or arm. But no matter what changed in the dreams, one thing stayed the same; She could never move. She couldn’t blink, she couldn’t talk, she couldn’t breathe. She could only feel.
Her most hated dreams where those of darkness. In the dark she was constricted by something she couldn’t quite place. The agony of the soft yet unforgiving substance squeezing her, flattening her, contorting her body in impossible angles. But worse was the knowledge she could do nothing to help herself, nothing to end it or at least relieve the pressure. All she could do was wait. In her dreams she had no hope of waking up. In her dreams she expected it all to go on forever.
Once she dreamt of the room spinning around her, water filling her head, no air to breathe and soap stinging in her eyes. When she woke up drenched in sweat, pig was there waiting for her on her pillow, clean and smelling fresh.
She dreamt of falling, of laying crumpled and broken at the bottom of a cliff, neck bent at an angle that made her nauseous to think about. Pig was there for her then as well. She swiped him up from the floor and sobbed into the soft worn fabric. Pig understood.
Even during the day she was haunted by the memories of being lifted into the air, forced to move her arms and legs by a hand the size of a chair, forced to speak words in a voice not her own. She had no voice of her own.
But with pig by her side, she felt better. Pig told her it was alright. Pig hugged her when she cried. As long as she had pig, she could forget.
This night was different. This night Ana woke up with dread pooling in her stomach, bile rising in her throat. She laid there in silence, for once not testing weather she could move, for once not opening her eyes to see if she could blink, for once not pulling pig into her arms. She shook, her breaths sounded more like sobs. The voice… She recognised that voice. Memory after memory flashed through her mind of her playing with pig. A violent twitch every time she heard that voice. The false deep tone she used when pretending to be pig. Not his voice, but hers.
Shakily she switched on the light. In the light her dreams weren’t real. In the light pig was her comfort. In the light she looked into her pig’s eyes and saw pain.