Drip ... drip ... drip ...

Her eyelids felt heavy as the sound woke her from a dreamless slumber. Groggy, she forced herself to open her eyes and take a look around. She immediately realized she was tied to a mostly vertical platform, and a dirty cloth rag had been stuffed into her now dry mouth. Doing her best to remain calm, she tried to recall the events which led up to this point.

She and her girlfriends had gone to the local pub for a Girl's Night Out, dressed to the nines. She had been getting a little flirty the more shots she downed. She vaguely remembered going to leave, then taking a moment to run to the restroom before they left. Nothing else after that.

Someone must have taken me ...

She observed her surroundings with hyper-vigilance, the bindings on her wrists cutting off her circulation. There were no windows, and the only door was at the top of some sturdy wooden stairs. She could assume, then, she was in someone's basement, and that door was the only route to freedom. It was a dirt floor basement, and it was obvious rodents used the area as their personal toilet, making her cringe slightly. That's when she noticed the cage in the far corner. There were three other women inside, all of them looking malnourished and near death.

"Sshh!" The oldest-looking one whispered. "He will hear, and he will hurt you." She gestured at blood-stained gurney, covered in all sorts of crusted tools and torture devices.

She felt her heartbeat race as the muscle leapt into her throat, and sweat rained down her skin as she started to panic. The door at the top of the stairs opened and ...

Marie Grow woke with a start, her head covered in a cold sweat. She tried to move, but found she had moved around so much in her sleep she had tangled herself up in her bed sheets. As she untangled herself, she realized her whole body had sweated all over the bed. That dream had really gotten her worked up. It had seemed so real, like she was right in the middle of the horror shows to end all horror shows. Tortured near to death, given an hour or two in the dark to wonder when he would come back and what his choice of pain would be with the next 'session' as he referred to it.

She gathered her sheets up in a bunch and threw them in the washing machine. Once she had that going through the cycle, she snuck quietly into her young daughter's bedroom to check her. Pink and purple seemed to flow as smooth as milk through to room, from the pink-with-purple-flower wallpaper to the pink sheets and purple comforter on the child's toddler bed. Marie silently sat down next to her daughter's bed and watched her sleep.

Little Kelly Jean Grow laid on her stomach, her face peaceful as she dreamt. A small smile crossed her face and Marie could only imagine what her daughter was experiencing in her dream. Her guess was something much better than her nightmare. She shuddered, then brushed a lock of blond hair out of her 2-year-old daughter's face. She placed a soft kiss on Kelly's forehead, then ventured into the bathroom for a hot relaxing shower. She left the door open a crack in case Kelly woke up, then turned on the water.

Marie peeled off her clothes and tossed them in the hamper before stepping into the nice hot water. She closed her eyes for a short while, letting the water dampen her light red hair and cover her body. After a few minutes, Marie started washing her hair, massaging the lavender shampoo into her scalp as she tried to wash away the images of her dream. She had no idea why she would dream something so horrible. Usually, dreams were supposed to be thoughts and feelings, sometimes associated with things a person experienced during their lives. By that definition, Marie should have watched a movie that made her dream like that ... but she didn't remember anything like that at all.

Marie rinsed herself off before turning off the water. She stepped out of the shower, grabbed a towel, and started drying off her body before wrapping a smaller towel around her wet hair. As the small towel soaked up some of the water, Marie tip-toed into her bedroom and started getting dressed. Today, her needlework group - mostly consisting of old friends and her older sister, Amanda - were meeting at her house to discuss working together to create a business of their own, and she needed to get everything ready. She pulled on her sweatpants and a loose t-shirt before toweling her hair, trying to get it as dry as possible.

"Mama."

Marie turned to her door, where Kelly stood in her little purple nightgown, holding onto her stuffed pony. "Hey there, sweet pea. What are you doing up so early?"

Kelly smiled. "Mama up. I up."

"Oh, really?" Marie picked up her daughter and held her close as she twirled once around. "You don't need to be up this early, little girl." She softly tickled her daughter's neck, making her giggle and clutch her pony tighter. She double-checked her clock, which read 4:35 am. "I'm going to tuck you back into bed for a couple hours, then you and I can have breakfast together." Kelly stuck out her bottom lip and pretended to pout, but it was cut short as she rubbed her eyes and yawned. "Okay, here we go back to bed." Marie cradled her daughter all the way back to her bed, nearly putting the girl to sleep on the way.

As she laid Kelly down and covered her back up, Kelly looked up at her with her half-shut hazel eyes. "Sing, Mama."

Marie smiled as she brushed the hair out of her daughter's face. "Go to sleep, my baby dear. Rest your eyes, because Mama's here. Go to sleep, Mama's with you. I will keep you safe as you do. Go off to that perfect dreamland and listen to that Dreamland band. Meet the mayor right at the gate, but don't go in without your mate. Let mama go with you, she wants to have fun, too." Such a silly sweet lullaby, but it was a song passed down for generations. It worked, too. Kelly's eyes were closed and she snored quietly in her own little Dreamland.

Marie kissed her cheek, then tip-toed out of the bedroom. Once the door was closed, she let out a small yawn. Maybe she should try taking a small nap, too. She returned to her bedroom and set the alarm for eight o' clock. Maybe if she was lucky, she could enjoy a dream rather than that horrendous nightmare. She put a new bed sheet on the bed, then laid down to sleep, humming the lullaby to herself until she fell soundly asleep.