I walk down the hallway. It’s a peaceful place, filled with soothing colors and cool air.

I’m looking for something. Something important. I can’t recall exactly what it is, but I know it’s in here, somewhere.

Doors line both sides of the hallway. Maybe the thing I’m looking for is behind one of them?

I open a door on the left, The first room is empty. Not just empty. More than empty. It sucks the air from my lungs and the warmth from my body.

Nothing is here, and nothing could ever be here. I fall to my knees, overcome with a sense of absolute loneliness.

My lungs begin to burn, but I force myself to my feet. The door I had just walked through is miles away, and every step is against a great current.

“She needs you,” a woman’s voice echoes in my head. I force myself to take one more step, and I find myself at the door. An immense relief washes over me as I close the door on that horrible room.

I look around the hallway again. It’s sterile. There’s no warmth to the colors, no movement on the air. It’s almost as empty as the room I just escaped.

I reach for the next door, and realize my hand is trembling. I have to take several deep breaths before I can force myself to open the door.

I’m in the waiting room, pacing back and force. A clock ticks loudly and the word “complications” hangs in the air.

Something wet brushes against my shoe. Looking down, I see blood seeping from the door.

So much blood.

I try to a doctor, a nurse, anyone, but no one is around. I try the door, but it’s locked, and no one answers my frantic pounding.

I have to get in there! I have to save her! I can’t lose her again!

A baby cries, and I’m in that dreadful hallway once more, pounding on a nondescript door. The walls and carpet are stained, and the air smells rank.

I try one more door. It opens on pitch blackness. No light can penetrate the darkness of that room, but the cry of a young girl echoes from it. I run in without thinking. I’ve lost too much. I cannot afford to lose her.

I run until my legs ache. Until my lungs burn. But I’m no closer. She still sounds so far away. I keep running.

I become aware of things flitting through the darkness all around me. I cannot see them, but I feel them dart past me, and hear them laugh quietly at my desperation.

One zips next to me, and I lunge at it. My arms close around cold, empty air, and I fall to the ground.

The laughter isn’t quiet anymore. It’s a raucous chorus all around me.

“Give her back!” I scream. “Please, I’ll do anything! Just give her back!”

They laugh and laugh as I continue to beg.

Dreams give way to reality, and I find myself thrashing in my bed.

I know it’s stupid – that it was just a dream – but I make walk to Erin’s room. My lungs begin to work again, as I see her sleeping peacefully. The remnants of nightmarish fear evaporate.

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