[Real Horror]

Real Nightmares: Up and Down, Round and Round

Escher Stairs

When asked about recurring nightmares I always have one big one that comes to mind. I don’t have it anymore but a few years back, over the course of roughly six months, I would have this nightmare half a dozen times. The sequence of events was always the same and always cripplingly terrifying.

The nightmare opens with me running up a random driveway to the back door of a tall, beachside house (don’t ask me why beachside, As of now I still find no significance in this). I quickly glance out at the water, where there is no one and then quickly run inside the house through the back door. This is where the nightmare begins. Though the house, from the outside, looks modern the moment I am inside I find myself trapped inside of a stone, spiral staircase.

The only comparison I can make to this staircase is a winding, all grey stone set of stairs in the tower of a medieval castle. Seemingly on some kind of a mission I bolt up the stairs looking for a specific room or doorway, the only problem is the moment I start to climb the steps everything else goes away. Before I know what’s going on anymore I am trapped inside of an endless spiral staircase. When I go up, down, or all around there is no escape from this stone prison.

I am only awoken by my own madness inside of the dream at the realization that I will never get out of that stairwell, it’s the end for me. I would wake up in a cold sweat, totally disoriented at what had happened. As with so many dreams, I would wake up convinced what had happened was real and that I was legitimately trapped in that staircase. Even after I would come to my senses and realize it was all just a nightmare I would still have trouble recouping and falling back asleep.

As someone who is quite claustrophobic and who does not enjoy the trivial trappings of everyday life, this is easily the most terrified I have ever been of my own mind. The fact I had it recurring over a six month period used to scare the hell out of me even more, what did it mean? why was my mind going here night after night? Let’s just say this is night time entertainment I do not wish to ever have again.


I am the farthest thing from a “dream interpreter” you could find and I actively avoid researching what my dreams mean as I don’t need the added stress of that in my life, but I couldn’t help but try and dig a little deeper with this one. The fact it was happening more than once, an experience I have had only with a few dreams and nightmares, and since it scared me so much I was curious as to why this was happening.

I didn’t go to Google to try and find a legitimate interpretation of it but instead just looked inside my own head to figure out what was going on. It was pretty simple to nail down, in the end, my life was in a pretty crazy spot at the time. I had just made the decision to leave college and a year or so before had lost a good childhood friend to cancer. I was lost, confused, and totally oblivious as to what I was going to do with my life (let’s be honest, I still am) and all of that had been boiling in my brain for some time when the dreams began to occur.

From what I gathered, the dreams were a manifestation of my own personal fear of moving forward with my life after a few giant hurdles were placed in my way while also having a crippling fear of getting stuck in the terrible rut I was in at the time. Some part of me wanted to move forward, another wanted to stay exactly where it was and it all came together to create a scenario of being completely trapped inside of my own head.

Thankfully I have pulled myself out of that bad space and have found some more direction in my life. I never wish for these nightmares to come back and I will continue to do whatever it takes in my life to keep them from becoming relevant again. I think we can all agree that our own personal “horror movies” are not something we wish to relive on a regular basis.

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