Nightmare #366: Hunting

(Male, Massachusetts) In the dream, I’m on a hunting trip with three friends: Roy, Liam, and Paul. In waking life, I’ve never actually been hunting, unless plinking a squirrel’s hindquarters with my slingshot as a kid counts. But in the dream, it feels vaguely familiar..?

Roy has brought us to a decommissioned quarry deep in the woods. We’re staying in an old cabin that seems to have served as an office for the mining company that was based here. Out of the way.

Maybe the second morning of the trip, Liam and Paul head out early. Roy and I are gearing up to head out in a different direction when Paul comes running back, out of breath and screaming that something came up out of the quarry and grabbed Liam. Something big, he says.

Roy insists that Paul take us to where he last saw Liam, but Paul flat-out refuses. “I’m not going back! We have to leave!”

Just then, we hear a cracking noise, like rocks smashing. Paul looks over his shoulder, then at us, and says something that rhymes with “no fit.”

It comes up the side of the quarry, and freezes when it sees us. It’s insectile in a way that makes me think of scorpions, spiders, and maybe crabs…with the key difference being that this thing is at least 10 feet high and half as long as a city bus. It reminds me of some creature-double-feature horror movie monster I saw as a kid – something warped by radiation or a toxic spill.

Roy stands his ground and fires while Paul and I start backpedaling. Roy’s hunting rifle is no use, though – bullets ricochet off the thing’s armor with the kind of twang I’ve previously only heard in movies. He might as well be shooting at solid rock. When it starts moving toward us, and we all turn and run.

Paul and I make it to the cabin only to realize we lost Roy: he’s gone for the Jeep instead. He’s already inside and backing down the overgrown path. Paul and I are cursing him for leaving us…but then the creature lands on the Jeep and starts peeling the sheet metal apart with giant lobster-like claws. It tears the roof off with roughly the effort it would take to open a can of Pringles. Once you pop, you just can’t—

Never mind.

The creature can’t pull wedged Roy out. So it pulls out parts of him instead. He screams and screams, and it eats him in mincing, tidy bites.

Paul and I hunker down and fortify the cabin as best we can. We take stock of our supplies. We push furniture against the windows and doors when the roof groans. The creature is finally done with Roy and has moved on for us. We keep as quiet as possible, hoping it will leave. The creaking and groaning noises eventually stop, but we’re convinced it’s still up there, waiting.

We pass a restless night, whispering escape plans back and forth. None of our ideas are very good. For every idea either of us has, the other quickly points out how it’ll get us killed. We quickly remember it was Roy who brought us here, and Roy who got the Jeep destroyed. Having someone else to blame settles us down.

Stupid, selfish, eaten Roy.

Early the next morning, I feel Paul shaking me. It’s gone, he’s saying. It has to be. It hasn’t made a noise in hours.

He wants to make a run for it. He thinks if we can make it down the trail as far as the tree-line, the creature won’t be able to follow. I think this is a stupid idea, but Paul doesn’t listen. As I’m still disentangling myself from my sleeping bag, he cracks the door, and I realize he’s not waiting around. He turns one last time, urges “Come on!”, and then he’s gone.

I expect the thing on the roof to leap down and grab him, but nothing moves up there, and I realize Paul was right. It’s gone. I’m on the threshold, about to follow, when the creature appears out of the quarry. Paul never gets to test his theory about the tree-line. He doesn’t get nearly that far.

As I slam the door, the roof groans and there is a rumble as something enormous leaps down from it: the first creature never left.

I’m numbed by the realization that there are two of these things. I understand that I’m never going to make it out of here alive. I start searching the cabin frantically, upending furniture, prying at floorboards, convinced there has to be some sort of hidden access point, an underground tunnel leading to safety. Unrealistic, but I keep looking anyway, and I’m still looking when the alarm pulls me out of that cabin.

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