“…and I know your dreams,
the ones that keep you up all night.
All night, yeah, all night…”
The upbeat lines of my chartbuster reached every undulating body inevery corner of the open auditorium at the Otok izSnova Music Fest. I breathed in the mania, the naked lust that dripped through their eyes, devouring me from afar. I felt peace that only this deafening, cheering crowd of fans can offer.
The performance ended on a low, husky note that was lapped up hungrily by the front row of my admirers. A flimsy scrap of red lace almost hit me on my face. I fondled it, smirking and scanning the crowd for its owner. A bevy of women scrambled to grab my attention. My recent status of a grieving, brooding widower worked well as a chic-magnet. Waving nonchalantly in the general direction of their swooning, piercing screams of adulation, I bowed out from the stage.
“Logan! Over here.”
Mick, my manager and closest friend, waved me over through the throng of people, enjoying their share of hobnobbing and bootlicking at the private pool party. There were no eyes and ears to witness the level of depravity of the elites. Oh, don’t get me wrong! I have had my share of drug-induced orgies and enjoyed every bit of it. But not anymore.
My gaze wandered fleetingly over the assemblage before being caught by a psychedelic array of colors.
Woww! Such a beauty! And one seemingly unattached and unaffected by the thumping, gyrating crowd around her.
She leaned over the bar, her long legs entwined around the barstool, that moved under her swinging hips. A silver, sequinned sheath dress clung to her body like a second skin, reflecting colors of the strobe light above. Her lustrous raven, hair cascaded over her toned shoulder like a gossamer curtain. She lifted her cerulean eyes from the Zmajska she cradled to look… straight into my eyes.
I stood rooted to my spot as if frozen in time as her gaze hovered over my body, slowly melting me into a pool of lust. I could feel heat travel up my nape as my heart galloped hard. She smiled decadently and unentangling her lithe body, she languorously walked towards me.
“Bok, čekaosamte!” Her voice had a musical lilt that made my breath hitch.
“Sorry, I don’t understand,” I admitted sheepishly, running a hand through my tousled hair.
Her eyes followed my every movement as she chuckled, “No Croatian?”. She spoke with an adorable accent. “I’m Adrijana,” she pointed a long, scarlet nail at herself.
“I’m Logan!” I blubbered excitedly.
“Znam. I…know,” she slithered up to me and ran those scarlet nails down my jacket, around my hip. She pulled something out of my pocket and I caught a flash of red lace as it disappeared in her clutch. She raised a brow suggestively and turned towards the exit.
I curled my toes inside my Guccis to avoid sprinting after her like a dog in heat.
‘Bad Idea Logan!’ I muttered to myself thinking of the scandal and frenzy the media would whip up if they caught a whiff of this one-night stand. My comeback tour after the year in rehab and Tiffany’s death would take a massive hit.
“Logan?” Her tinkling voice and pouty lips hit the last nail in my proverbial coffin.
I was going to regret it, but it would be oh-so-worth-it!
The sheets rustled as Adriana turned her bare body towards me. I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open. Sleep beckoned as my eyelids fluttered close. The last thing I saw was Adriana hovering over me with a glint in her eyes.
Her smile widened as she lithely flung a leg over my chest.
Oomph! My chest caved in as I felt a crushing weight like a ton of iron slammed straight down on me, making me immobile. I gasped for breath as I looked up at her. Dark eyes, smoldered with anger while her smile remained etched maniacally across her gaunt face. Tendrils of smoke slithered around her head, slowly inching close. A dank, putrid smell hit me, making me gag and struggle to unmount her.
“Adrijana? How…. Please, I can’t breathe!” Words wheezed out my mouth. Dark spots covered my sight as she leaned closer with her gnarled hands pushing down on my chest further.
“Pl-please…” my voice came out all wrong. Like a kid.
“Please help me, Logan!!!” A faintly familiar voice emerged from my mouth.
What was happening? My mind twisted in knots. I felt a wave rise up my throat, as water gushed out of my mouth in gallons.
She held my face, pushing it down under the water.
“No Logan! I’m sorry! Please!” My voice turned hoarse.
But it wasn’t my voice. Was it? It was Robbie, my childhood friend who had died in a drowning accident at the age of twelve.
He just couldn’t keep quiet. He had to ruin our friendship by… loving me!
Uggh!! I was so angry that day, at his puppy eyes, his stifled smile, his confession of love. My mates would have ridiculed me – the most popular guy in the class; called me a faggot.
He just couldn’t keep his mouth shut! Tried to kiss me as we swam in the lake.
I sputtered as bubbles escaped my mouth, gasping to draw a breath. My eyes bulged as I tried to dislodge her vice-like grip on my face. But my limbs lie crushed under her.
Darkness loomed and the last thing I saw was me, all of twelve, pushing his head under the water.
“Shut Up Robbie!!”
I jerked awake, my body shivering and spasming violently. I felt for my face, my chest, and the rest of my naked self.
Nothing.. no marks, no injuries, no sign of any struggle.
I panted like a foaming horse and looked at her lying beside me, snoring faintly, deep in slumber.
Was it a dream? But it felt so real. My body felt tired and heavy.
I looked for my clothes and dressed hastily and left her hotel room in a state of dishabille.
“You just had too many snorts, Logan!” Mick tried to reason with me while sampling the pasteta and burek off my breakfast table.
“No, no. I didn’t touch the stuff yesterday. Do you think she slipped me something as we made out? It was straight out scary. I was dreaming but it felt so real. I almost died as she sat atop my chest.” I traced my steps as I packed my stuff, ready to get the hell out of dodge.
The old housekeeper halted mid-step to stare back at me in horror.
“On your chest, you say?” she sputtered at me. “Dreams that felt real?”
I had no patience for her chatter but nodded my head distractedly.
“What did you do??” she hissed at me. “You invoked…a…MORA.”
What was she rambling about?
She crossed herself thrice and muttered a few prayers under her breath.
“Mora are dark spirits that feed off your darkest sins. They visit you in your nightmares, sit on your chest and suck your soul until you are raving mad or…dead.” She whispered the last word ominously.
“Oh well, that settles it. It was a dream, after all.” I conveniently brushed off her ‘dark-soul-sucking’ mumbo-jumbo. I had a nightmare, that’s it.
“Never mind. I’m off to catch the next flight out of here.” I pulled my backpack close and ordered Mick to get the rest of my luggage and meet me at the airport.
Hailing a cab, I sat back as we traveled the scenic route from Otok izSnova to Zagreb International Airport. Taking in the country roads that rushed past in a blur, I felt at peace, drowsy even. A niggling feeling settled in the pit of my stomach, but I shrugged it off, turned up the music in my headphones and closed my eyes.
I asked him to stop the car. We were at the edge of a trail near Klek.
Why did I do that? I felt helpless as something tugged at me to alight. Dropping a bundle of Kunas in his hands, I made my way deeper into the forest. It felt different this time. I dragged my feet, or they dragged me, I don’t know. They led me through deep bushes and craggy rocks, onwards towards a ramshackle cabin.
She was here! Adrijana.
I could smell her luscious body even from a distance. Like a siren, she beckoned,and I crossed the threshold straight into her arms. She ravaged my body, my senses, my mind. Lost to her ministrations, I held onto the delirious cloud of lust that encased us. How could I leave her? What was I thinking?
She pushed me back on the floor and slowly worked her way upwards. I knew I should stop her. Something was wrong. And I knew what it was a moment too late as she rode atop my chest.
Noooooo! The same suffocating feeling as being trampled under a hundred stampeding elephants.
“Adrijana, please! I can’t do this again.” I begged, my breath turning shallow.
“Oh, you must,” she pouted her gray lips. “You have the most delectable dreams. The night knows, what the day hides. There is so much more to taste.” She cackled aloud, her grating laugh echoing off the empty room. “Sinfully tasty, there is so much for all of us to share.” She licked her lips with a forked tongue.
A hissing sound emerged from the walls as more shadows appeared, casting eerie silhouettes over the walls. I turned my head, as the shadows sprouted twisted limbs and disfigured faces, converging around my prone form.
It’s a dream! I whispered to myself, calming my erratic mind.
“Oh yes, it is a dream.” Adrijana cooed. “But who said dreams cannot be real? And this my darling, is your worst nightmare.” Saying thus she crushed her mouth over mine. Innumerable nails scratched over my body as tiny rivulets spurted blood on the floor beneath me.
I could hear a scream, not mine. Tiffany’s – my dead wife. She battled depression but lost her life to it when she jumped off our 30th floor penthouse.
Her scream rang in my ears as I battered her body with my punches. Her alabaster skin covered in purple bruises, blood oozing from where her skin broke under my nails. We were so happy, why did she have to ruin it all by being an upright wife? She made me look guilty of my wayward affairs, cocaine and prescriptions, that I needed… really needed to take on the world that I lived in. She couldn’t handle the fame and vices that it brought in our lives. I had to choose one. She should have just left after I sent her the divorce notice. But no! She had to get knocked up! Like I care, who I knock up or knock out. Finally, a shove was all that was needed. Bribing my way out and hooking up a convenient alibi was a cakewalk. Her depression set me free.
“Yeah baby, you make me crave more.” Adrijana’s voice and her face covered my hazy sight.
Crunch! I screamed as something crushed my shin, breaking it in half.
Chomp! I heard a tear as a chunk of my midriff was pulled away as if bitten off by a rabid beast. The shadows hummed appreciatively as Adrijana’s hypnotic gaze sifted each memory from my dark, buried past– the abuse, the murders.
No voice emerged from my throat as Adrijana’s jaw clamped on it and pulled it off clean. I kept praying for the pressure to release, for one last breath of relief, for the nightmare to end.
But I won’t wake up from this one, will I?
*Breaking News* – American rockstar found mauled to death on an uncharted trail offKlek.
Otok IzSnova – Island of Dreams (Fictional place)
Zmajska– A brand of beer (Zagreb’s Zmajska)
Bok, čekaosamte! – Hi, I was waiting for you.
Znam – I know
pasteta and burek – Croatian breakfast items
Klek – a place in Croatia
Kuna – Croatian currency
Mora – In Croatian, mora refers to a ‘nightmare’. Mora or Mara is one of the spirits from ancient Slav mythology, a dark one who becomes a beautiful woman to visit men in their dreams, torturing them with desire before killing them