And now that I’ve told my friend’s story, I’ll tell mine, which happened this year.

I’ve always had prophetic dreams, but I take them with a grain of salt because I know how confirmation bias works and how you can believe anything if you REALLY want to. But they’ve always been very vivid and come about when I’m in a time of emotional upheaval, or when there’s a death in the family. Earlier this year I was pretty pregnant (learned about Baby Joner in a dream and confirmed with First Response!) and my 2nd trimester dreams were INSANE. Mostly positive but just really...real.

That said, my dreams were MOSTLY positive, and this is one that definitely was not (tw: self harm).

I woke up at about 3 one morning this March feeling terrified. Everything was just wrong. I had just dreamed that I was 19 again and living in my mother’s house still. (That was a difficult year for both of us and we weren’t getting along well: my abusive stepfather had made good on his promise to poison everything and everyone on his path if he was ousted, my mom was recovering from the divorce and being shunned by friends and family for daring to get rid of the asshole, and I was still pretty angry about the fact that it took her 14 years to do it. We were both sad and angry and not dealing with it very well, but one thing we did every night without fail is that I would go up the steps to her bedroom on the top floor, stand in her doorway, and chat with her for a bit about where I was going to go that night, what had happened at work, the safe kind of small talk we were capable of having. I did that until I moved out and moved away a year later.)

In the dream, I was at the top of the stairs, chatting with my mom while she sat in bed. I felt something coming up out of the darkness behind me. I turned around and screamed, because a figure was slowly coming up the stairs, becoming more apparent the closer it came out of the dark. It was my mother, but she was emaciated, gray, wrong...almost like she was rotting. She was only wearing underwear, and her face looked so evil and angry, and I knew it wasn’t her, but some replication of her that was there to do harm. I backed away from the door and told my mother not to be afraid, but that there was an evil version of her coming up the stairs toward us.

My mother nodded and got very serious. “OK,” she said, “I need you to not look at it or listen to it. Can you do that?” She kept repeating her instructions as the creature got closer and closer to me. It smelled bad. It hated me, but it hated her more. I don’t know how to describe the overwhelming strength of how bad this thing was. It was just straight from Hell—like every bad thing ever had been combined to create it. It cornered me in the room and began to speak, and though its voice made no sound, I knew what it was saying. It repeated again and again to kill my mother, that she was worthless, that I hated her and so did everyone else, so “do her a favor and KILL HER.” It repeated itself so many times, backing me into the wall, its hands balled into fists like it was going to punch me. My mother kept calmly telling me not to look at it, don’t listen to it, don’t look.

I woke up from that dream shaking. I couldn’t go back to sleep. I heaved myself out of bed and went downstairs so I wouldn’t wake my husband, and I called my mom. It was maybe 3:20 by now and I told her I was really sorry for waking her up, but that I’d just had an awful dream. I cried while I described the whole thing to her. She was quiet for a bit, but then said “Okay. Wow. All right. I’m going to tell you something, but only if you’re okay.”

She was awake because she’d just had her own scary dream. In her dream, she was in her bedroom, searching around in the dark. There was a small lamp on somewhere in the room and she had to get to it, had to cover it with something or turn it off somehow, because something was coming up the stairs to get her, and she knew if she left the lamp on, it would be able to see her in the light. In the dream, she tried to stay calm but was more terrified than she’d ever been.

When she woke up, there was what she describes as “an attack” on her: something telling her over and over again to just get it over with and kill herself. That nobody cared for her, that she was worthless, just get it over with...over and over. She sat in the dark for a while, waiting for it to pass. She knew it was “something from outside, not anything from within me” speaking to her. To this day she says “That was an assailant” when we talk about this. She has never had thoughts of self-harm before and never since. When the feelings finally began to drift away from her, her phone rang and it was me.

My mom is OK, she saw her therapist immediately and discussed the scary thoughts. We both agree that something came for her that night and that by some kind of dream magic, it lit the Bat Signal in my brain so I could bear witness and help. It was the most terrifying thing that’s ever happened to me, but my mom only recently told me that the difficult year I described, the one in my dream, when was 19 and my stepfather finally moved out, she’d received a card in the mail. “Happy Birthday,” it said, though in handwriting she didn’t recognize, “do us all a favor and just kill yourself.” She hadn’t thought about it for years, since she handed it over to the police immediately.

Her birthday is in March, about a week after we had our tandem dream experience.