A few hours after I had been holding my wife I was standing in the hallway again. It was just like my dream, but it felt unreal. It felt like I'd done it before.
I knew that as I walked down the hallway, the smell of blood would suffocate my senses. I knew that the smell would twist in my thoughts as I worked to come to an explanation for the smell and the marks of red that streaked down the hallway. I knew that those streaks would incite visions of my wife running from an unknown assailant, bleeding because of the stab wound that I knew I would find. As I passed the children's room I would note their small feet sticking out from under the bed; surrounded by a puddle of their blood. I knew that I would leap to the conclusion that it wasn't theirs. That some how they'd fought off the attacker and even though I knew it wasn't true, I would push that deep inside to get myself to make it to our bedroom.
I knew the blood on the doorknob would make it hard to open. I didn't need to turn when I heard noises behind me to know what it was. I did anyway, to watch several police officers heading toward me in a run. I didn't hear their shouts, but I knew they didn't want me to open the door. It was all ready too late, the door gave to my weight and I was in the room.
My wife's blood puddled in the corner around her lifeless body. As I went to run to her, I noticed the words on the wall. "It's not a dream."
When I saw that on the wall before, I'd thought it was Patrick mocking me. When I learned that it was written by her, I thought it was a final attempt to comfort me; to keep me sane. Now as I read those words on the wall, I found a different meaning.
I stood there staring at the words as the police moved around me to my wife. If the nightmare I'd had wasn't a dream, then what was this? Why did I have these memories and how is it that these words have a completely different meaning?
She wasn't comforting me. She was saving me in this moment, releasing me from whatever prison I was stuck in right now. Tears ran down my cheeks as I swore to myself that I would find a way to get rid of Patrick. It was his fault that I lived this moment twice. His fault that I learned the true meaning behind the message on the wall.
But how had she known?
The world around me faded away, replaced by reality; replaced by the museum and the creatures inside.
I could still feel the tears.
And the hate.