A very short story about the nature of nightmares.

Nightmare (nahyt-mair)

- a terrifying dream

- a terrifying condition, thought or experience

- a monster or evil spirit believed to oppress people during sleep

All children have nightmares. All parents tell their children that it is just a nightmare, it is not real. They are wrong.

The monster sniffed the air, it's ears pricked and it turned it's head. The monster had no shape or mass. It only existed in a potential way at the moment, but it was hunting and it was the prey that gave it form.

The monster swept through the city; a curved blue wall covered in shiny disks, a modest church defending itself from a modern onslaught, a glass bridge and for some reason a bronze bull staring angrily at the night.

The monster continued; it found a street of width but it's occupants did not notice it so it continued on, away from the centre and towards the places where the real people lived.

A small window, left open to any breeze that may be tempted to enter, caught the attention the monster would soon have and it entered.

Tiny child, sleeping soundly in a big-girl bed, stirred gently, sighed softly and did not wake up.

The monster leapt...

... and changed. It grew taller, discovered limbs, mouth and eyes, It could smell, see, touch...

A pale hand reached out and stroked a flushed cheek, the child frowned and shrugged it away. Beneath a painted smile the monster grinned and reached forwards again.

Big brother slept next door, dreaming contently of nothing until the scream filled his head with bloodly knives in the instant it took him to wake up, jump out of bed and run next door.

Tiny child, face drained and wet stared up at him, echoes of horror scarring the tiny face. Big brother is more grown up than the tiny child but he is not a parent, he knows that nightmares are real so he does not lie.

Big brother dries tiny child's face and tucks her in, showing affection siblings only ever show in circumstances where parents just don't understand. Left behind to be hugged close is the bear, glass eyes worn white and stitches loose.

The monster sniffs, it can not enter here.

All parents tell their children that nightmares are not real and they are wrong.

Children know that nightmares are real, what they need is not assurance that this is not true, but assurance that there is something equally real that a nightmare is afraid of.