But James held a secret. Every night he had the worst reoccurring nightmare.
It always started the same way with him pulling open the doors to an old castle in the middle of the night while the full moon cast eerie shadows all around him. The doors would creak and groan with each movement. James would look around the grand hall. The armoured statutes standing guard looked more menacing then they actually were.
He would take a few tentative steps inside and wait with baited breath as the door slammed shut. The iron castings on the walls held orange candles, their flames flickering, adding to the disconcerting feel of the whole castle.
James walked down the hall, his paranoia overwhelming him as his senses grew sharper. He knew from past dreams that there was something lurking in the shadows outside the castle, waiting for him, watching him with glowing amber eyes and a sinister smirk.
Reaching the grand staircase, James hesitated before deciding to ascend them. His hand gripped the mahogany wood railing, his knuckles turning white.
He reached the landing and turned left. He wasn't sure why, but his intuition always told him to turn left. And so he did, sticking to the shadows, keeping an eye open for anything that goes bump in the night.
A banging noises catches his attention and he turns. A single window is open, its shutter banging with the breeze. Blood red drapes, filled with moth-eaten holes, frame it, adding to the intensity that is the castle. Out the window James could see a single horse drawn carriage. The horse was as black as the night sky, its eyes redder then the fires of hell and damnation itself.
There was a man too. He was seated, his long dark figure hidden by a sudden wisp of mist. James squinted. He could see the man's eyes. Yellow like the sun, but there was no hint of warmth about him. James felt his breath quicken as he looked at the coach itself. Black wood, a classic choice for the era and a single green lantern lighting the way. Inside the coach, though partially hidden by the mist was a coffin.
James gulped, his eyes locked on the coffin. He closed his eyes, hoping that when he opened them, he would be back, safely tucked away in his bed in the middle of the twenty-first century.
He screamed as he opened them. The coachman was now hovering outside the window, his crooked and yellowing teeth showing as an eerie smile was etched on his face. He removed his black top hat, still grinning. James could feel the heat of his breath on his cheek as he turned away from the grotesque site.
"Room for one more," the coachman said with a maniacal laugh.
* * * * *
"That doesn't sound so scary," said James' mother when he told her about it.
"You weren't the one dreaming it over and over again so of course you don't find it scary," James mumbled. His mother didn't hear him and instead ushered him outside. "Go play with your little friends," she told him, slamming the door behind him.
James walked down the road to Kristian's house. Kristian was his best friend and knew exactly how to make him feel better. Sure enough, Kristian had a bright idea. "Let's go to Horror World," he suggested, holding up a set of car keys. "I'm driving!"
Horror World. All rides were designed to scare, but after another sleepless night, James wasn't too sure that he wanted to go. Kristian had talked him into it, even going so far as to promise to pay the parks entrance fee for him. Reluctantly, James agreed.
Once they had parked the car and had gotten through the gates, James seemed to loosen up. They had enjoyed the Freddy's Nightmares roller coaster, the Voorhees Launch, which was a giant machete that shot them straight up into the air at 60 miles per hour. They had even braved the Haddonfield Farm Ride which saw Michael Myers slaughter unsuspecting teens, then make a dash for the ride patrons.
After they had eaten, it was time to tackle the ultimate ride; The Puzzle Box. No one really knew what it was about, but The Puzzle Box was the ride that once you had been on it, your life would change forever. Of course the line was epic, but Kristian and James waited patiently.
James took in the sights around him. The park was well decorated with hanging corpses from trees, body parts lining the side walk and masses amounts of blood spewing forth from large pipes. It was a massacre.
James turned back. He and Kristian were at the front of the line. The ride attendant signalled to them both. James took a step when something stopped him cold. Out the corner of his eye he saw a carriage. It was surrounded by mist created from the many fog machines lined up around the park.
James felt his heart rate quicken. Beads of sweat formed on his forehead as his hands shook. He looked at Kristian before returning a glance at the carriage again. Inside the black wooden coach was a coffin.
The ride attendant was clearly getting impatient. "Come on, man, in or out? I don't have all day. There's room for one more."
James' blood ran cold like ice. "W-what did you say?" he asked, stammering, his hands clammy. The ride attendant heaved a sigh. "I said there's room for one more," he repeated, speaking slowly as though James was dumb.
Shaking his head, James backed away from the entrance to The Puzzle Box. Kristian called out to him but James turned on his heel and ran.
He hadn't gotten very far when there was a loud explosion, the screaming of passengers drowned out by the twisting of metal. Bright orange and red flames licked the sky that was blackened by smoke. Bodies flew in all directions, some whole, others in pieces. It was horrific.
Tears sprung to James' eyes as he saw the mangled body of his friend, Kristian, lying on the path, bloodied to the point of being unrecognisable.
He dropped to his knees, wailing, as in the distance, police sirens were heard.
* * * * *
James had his fifteen minutes of fame after that. He was affectionately known by the media as 'The man who wouldn't ride the doomed ride.' He had a press conference and his photo in the paper, but his heart wasn't in it. The upside was, the nightmares had ended.
Was it a premonition? If he hadn't have seen that carriage, would he have died too?
A month went by and pretty soon people forgot about the freakish accident that claimed the lives of 25 people. James' life returned to normal. He began college, even began dating a gorgeous young transfer student from Australia. Even the nightmares returned.
Not the same one, mind you. This one was worse. It started the same. James appeared in the castle, walked down the hall, up the stairs, but this time he went right. At the end of the landing was a door. James placed his shaking hand on the door knob and pulled it open.
The bodies of all those people who died on The Puzzle Box were walking towards him. Their bodies horribly mangled by the weight of the coaster collapsing on them. Kristian was there too. His jaw unhinged, hanging as his tongue was wagging. He walked with a limp and James was horrified to see that Kristian's leg had been severed below the knee and was hanging on by a single tendon.
"Why?" Kristian's corpse said, as it dragged itself towards James, its hands outstretched. James coward against the door, shaking his head back and forth. His breathing became ragged as Kristian got closer to him.
Kristian's bloody hand grabbed James' shirt, pulling him into the darkened room with the other victims of the crash. The foul stretch of death clung to the air and James found himself gagging as Kristian pulled him in closer, their faces just inches apart. "Why didn't you warn me?" Kristian said, his voice raspy, his throat slit. "Why didn't you save our lives?"
Across the campus, late a night, James' blood-curdling scream could be heard. The smell of death wofted down the dorm hallway but his body has never been found.