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Now I say I had the planet to myself, and that was mostly true.  Far from Martian habitation, there are not many of the nightmares; but they are out there, so there is still some danger.

And danger it was really… determination notwithstanding, I was still at an age vulnerable to their influence.

I still remember very clearly the first time one was on me.  I was only about twelve feet tall at the time, still very young but already too large to fit into the shelter.

I couldn’t move—I just lay across the ground, my head full of darkness, unable to see anything but the gruesome images the nightmare poured into my brain.

They say the nightmares don’t go for the most cherished images—love and home are usually stronger than its corrupting influence.  Instead it goes for the subtle, the day-to-day things that are always all around you but that you barely notice—the ground you walk on, the air you breathe, the clothes on your back, converted into loathsome, fetid, pustulent, ichorous…

I lost consciousness before they got me underground; they said I was lucky to wake again at all.