A Knife in the Dark

[EDIT] I’ve changed parts of this after some very helpful criticism! 

Hope you like the new version.


I dream that I am sitting at my kitchen table at night. In the dream, I know that there is someone behind me. I need to turn around and look, to know who it is, but I can’t move. My hands are clamped down on the arms of my chair. My body disobeys me. Footsteps come closer, echoing in my eardrums. I need to turn around.

Fear begins to grip my intestines like an invisible hand. I feel an urge to vomit, to shriek, to stand up; but I am not in control of my body. The sound of a sword being drawn sets my heart fluttering in my chest. I can only sit here, bound to this chair in terror, as heavy footsteps come closer. In the dim gloom, I can see moonlight gleaming off an impossibly long blade. My heart is thrashing in my chest, a small red bird caught in a cage of white rib bones. The blade sweeps towards me, and in that instant I know: I will die.

I wake with a strangled gasp and a knife at my throat.

Immediately I stiffen like a dead body, pushing myself down, into my pillows; as far away from that knife as possible. But, like a horrific imitation of a clinging child, the knife stays firmly glued to my throat. I suddenly find that I need to swallow; my mouth is full of saliva. But I can’t. If I swallow, the razor-sharp blaze will shred my skin to ribbons. My heart is trembling in terror, as though the bird inside me knows its death is near…

A man’s voice sneers in my ear, “Hello again, milady. Remember me?” He’s so close to my face that I feel the heat of his breath sweep across my skin, smell the odour of rotten teeth. My eyes adjust enough to see his pale face, a lumpy moon in a starless sky. His eyes seem to bulge with madness in the moonlight coming through my curtains.

Remember you? How could I forget? You’re the only person who introduces themself by breaking into your house then waking you up with a knife at your throat! I’m so angry. I’ve never wanted to hurt someone more in my life. But I’m totally helpless, as useless as a baby. I couldn’t save myself if I tried. The knife is freezing cold at my throat. Hatred wells up in me. I glare up at him with furious eyes.

“What do you want with me?” I demand with anger. “I did what you wanted. Now let me go!” He opens his mouth and sniggers. His teeth are disgusting – he only has about five, and most are the yellowy colour of puke. The ones that aren’t yellow are black and rotten, like pea-sized stones sinking into his pink gums.

“You did do what I wanted. But I came here to remind you of our agreement.” His voice is suddenly deadly serious. Fear creeps up my spine like a cold chill, but try to assume an expression of haughty fury. I swear the knife is getting colder… as cold as death. He bends down and hisses into my ear, “If you tell anyone – anyone – about this, you won’t wake up with a knife at your neck.” His eyes gleam in the darkness. “And do you know why? Because you won’t wake up at all.

I gasp, fear blocking my throat. I want to scream at him, to stab him, to make him as afraid as he has made me. But he’s gone so suddenly that I blink, still seeing an image of his face looming above me. I have to touch my neck to reassure myself that the blade is no longer there. I sink down into my bed, trying to erase all memories of that despicable man. But his face is seared into my memories. I stay lying down until I hear the roar of a motorbike, which revs loudly before fading into the distance. He’s gone. I’m free, thank god.

I sit up slowly, peering through the dim moonlight. The door to my room is wide open, the blackness of the corridor spilling in, making me uneasy. I never used to be afraid of the dark. And even though I know he’s gone, I want to put as many barriers between him and me as possible. I throw off my bed covers, stride over to the door and slam it shut.

With my back firmly against the strong wood, I feel better. But my mind is still uneasy. He can get to me so easily. After the first visit, I had put up extra defences. A lock on my bedroom door. An ultra-modern burglar system. Motion sensors in every corner of every room. And he still managed to break into my house and sneak into my room. Maybe what he said was true. Maybe one night I would go to sleep and wake up with a slit throat.

Anger seeps through me and I yank open the door, burst out into the hallway. In the gloom I can see the small white box, sitting like a spider in the corner where the walls meet. How did he get past that? Then I notice that the little green light on the motion sensor isn’t on. Neither is the red one. He disabled it. Smart little beggar. And the burglar system too, I bet. And as for a locked door… that’s nothing, not to a man like him.

I walk back into my bedroom. Even though I know it’s pointless, I close and lock the door. My head aches. A mixture of stress, panic and adrenaline races through my blood. I’m exhausted, but even before I curl up in my bed, I know I won’t be able to sleep.  So I lie there in the dark for hours, my mind whirling like a tornado. I close my eyes and will myself sleep, but all I can see are his eyes, bulging with madness. His sniggers. His disgusting teeth and the foul smell of his breath.

So I lie in the dark with my eyes wide open.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rosikifish
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 19:55:40

    That is like a suspense coma! “My heart is thrashing in my chest, a small red bird caught in a cage of white rib bones.” I adore that so much! I love the fear portrayed in it too…


  2. HelenShroom
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 20:25:35

    Do you make the italics bigger?


  3. Dad
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 21:12:15

    It’s good… but I prefered your earlier posts (Encounter, Little Stone Girl, Lily Preserved).
    “Knife pushed harder into my throat”… is it made of rubber? It doesn’t appear to be very sharp!
    Brake/break into my house?


  4. Anne Schilde
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 00:55:47

    Ugh! I hate dreams with bad smells you can’t escape. The rotten teeth and the breath were horrible. I liked the red bird a lot. I’m left curious as to what your agreement was and if you’re alone in your fate or if there is someone you can turn to. Good job!


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