She's not always been this way. Up until a few months ago, she'd slept like a baby most nights. The nightmares began gradually; at first she put it down to stress. Then they became more and more frequent. Christie would wake every night drenched in sweat, her chest tight with terror. Specific details evaded her - what little memory she had was of a pair of eyes always watching her. Hazel eyes that should have been beautiful, but weren't.
This last week, it's got worse. Christie has woken sobbing. Angry red marks on her arms and legs show that she has been scratching herself in her sleep. No amount of makeup can counter her deathly pallor or the shadowy bags under her eyes.
She dreads coming home each day. The house itself has become a part of the disease; her unmade bed is like an albatross in the back of her mind, waiting for her to lie down and close her eyes each night so it can torment her until sunrise. And always, they are there - the eyes that should be beautiful, but aren't.
Tonight, Christie takes more sleeping pills than the bottle advises. Not enough to harm herself, she's no idiot, but hopefully enough to take her down deep enough, below the night terrors. Darkness and silence, for just a few hours, are all Christie wants. Sick of all the herbal teas that have failed to work, she washes the pills down with a glass of whiskey. There. A deep, restful sleep should be no problem now.
When she collapses onto the bed, still in her clothes, the mattress feels more comfortable than it has in months. The sheets are softer, more inviting, than ever before. Christie allows herself a smile as the ceiling fades above her. Her eyes drift closed. The beams and floorboards which occasionally creak in this old house are silent tonight. Christie exhales quietly, feeling weeks of tension and anxiety leave her body.
She feels something cold against her cheek. Her eyes snap open. Another woman kneels over her on the bed, leant so far forward that her face is level with Christie's. When she sees Christie's eyes open, she claps her hands silently.
Black hair. Hazel eyes. Thin lips, so pale they are almost white. What Christie had felt on her cheek were long, slick-looking fingernails, painted black. Christie thinks of the scratches on her arms and legs. This creature, this woman - she was responsible. They were never dreams.
She is unable to cry for help; the breath freezes in her throat. All she can whisper is: "Who are you?"
"Mab," the woman says, stretching her thin white lips into a smile. It is the unkindest thing Christie has ever seen. "I'm your faery godmother."
"I don't believe in faeries," Christie rasps.
"Oh, you beautiful thing," the faery laughs quietly. "You beautiful, wretched thing. What difference does that make?"
Christie tries to move, but it is as if she is paralysed. Sitting atop her, Mab weighs nothing at all; but beneath her she is powerless.
"I'm scared," she says.
"I know," answers the faery. "They always are. But I'm going to make your wish come true."
Terrified before, now Christie is puzzled.
"Darkness and silence," Mab whispers in her ear. Her ice cold breath makes Christie shiver. Then; "Wish granted." She smiles, and kisses Christie's cheek as gently, as lightly, as if she were made of gossamer. "I'll take you down, sweetie. Deep, deep down."
Christie opens her mouth to scream, but Mab's white lips are on hers. The room around her vanishes into blackness. The bed seems to drop from beneath her until she is falling, or floating, no shapes or sounds around her - just the cold impression left by Mab's kiss.