Sleep was impossible. I turned off the lights, put my head on the pillow, and burrowed under my blankets. The images found me all the same, ripping back each layer until we were alone in the darkness and everything was naked.
First it was his hair, black with touches of grey at the temples and in streaks like veins of silver. Despite the darkness I saw it perfectly. From there his eyes lit up, brown dots in the void, followed soon by the rest of his face, which appeared thinner and more worn than I remembered.
I was trapped. Opening my own eyes was useless and I realized that, in the night, this room was unsafe. His gaze locked on and each direction I looked, there he was, waiting. There wasn't sadness in his face; it was more apprehension, like he was concerned more for my well-being. The idea turned my stomach, that, even in death, my brother was protecting me.
The longer I watched his face the thinner it grew until his eyes receded into his skull and his jaw hung slack. It tipped forward slightly, revealing the rest of his body, a scarecrow patchwork of leathery skin and bleached bones under a loose, threadbare black suit. I recoiled in bed, bunching myself into a fetal ball, shouting at the image to go, but it only grew worse as the broken lips like dried pieces of wood began to move. No sound came except for a weak clicking like two stones knocking together.
A wind blew and I heard the rustling movement of leaves as they appeared before my eyes, rolling in like a fog under his feet until it appeared that his body stood on a cloud. The pile was stained orange and blood red, dry and bundled densely. It was still for a moment, and then it began to flow upwards, climbing his legs, consuming him bit-by-bit until, devouring suit, hips, stomach, arms, elbows, chest, and neck, until only his head remained.
His mouth opened again and leaves poured out, running wet and sticky down his chin, joining the rest of the flow as it rose up his face, past his eye sockets and hair, until he was gone, nothing but another part of the pile. Then the leaves surged again, this time forward, somehow through space, toward me. I screamed but no words came and I looked down and realized my body was already covered in leaves that were slowly crawling up my legs. They were heavy and cold and made my skin tingle and burn.
I awoke in the start. My waking nightmare had folded into dreams. The sun rose red, like it was covered in bright fall leaves.