Goodnight Kiss

Boy in bed

A young child waits alone in the dark
His duvet pulled up to his chin
He waits for his goodnight kiss
But his mother forgot about him.

He can hear her voice, drifting upstairs
She giggles, gossips, drinks tea
And while her son waits alone in the dark
She laughs, obliviously

While upstairs her son is alone in the dark
Thinking, “She doesn’t love me.”

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Tunnels

Which tunnel?

They both look exactly the same

Two dark eyes, glaring at me

The walls press in on me

A whisper in the darkness,

I’m coming for you.

I don’t have much time

The air is burning my throat

Which tunnel?!

One leads out of this labyrinth

The walls are closing in on me

A thousand tonnes of rock above my head

Are squashing the air from my lungs

There’s no time left

I’m suffocating in the dark

The two dark eyes glare at me

I stagger forwards, and

Before I change my mind,

Stumble down the right tunnel.

Dark Lands and Evil Plans

Bloody feet, aching muscles, frozen bones, burning throat, pounding heart. Running through the night, the darkness, the wild woods; barefoot. Running away – away! – a vision of red, a flash of colour in the dark. Gasping, choking, trying desperately to breath. Running through the midnight hours.

A wild thought, racing through my head: Have I escaped? I am safe now?

Then, wearily but with utmost calm; I can’t run another step.

Bending down, panting, black spots swimming through my vision.

In my arms, the warm ball of fur meows, stretching. I bury my face in his soft fur. I hear Chief’s solemn voice: Protect him. His stomach rises and falls slowly, lazily, and I try to calm my breathing to the same pace as his.

I can’t. I can’t stop gasping. I feel like I’m drowning, breathing in water when I’m dying for oxygen. The blackness consumes my sight and for a second I sway.

What’s wrong with me?!

I lean against a tree trunk, my arms still curled around my warm ball of fur. I feel faint, light-headed, dizzy. I need to sit down. I need to rest. I need sleep. I close my eyes, my breath wracking through me, trying to relax.

Voices, calling. Shouting. Men’s voices, angry, hunting. They don’t even try to be quiet. My eyes fly open in shock. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t…

Tucking pussy in the crook of one arm, I push away from the tree, grab for another. My feet are raw, bloody, and each step is painful. Got to keep going. I stumble from tree to tree, grabbing hold of them like a drowning man clings to a raft. My only lifeline. The voices are everywhere, deafening loud, gruff and angry. I’m surrounded. Hopelessly surrounded.

I can’t keep going. I can’t escape.

I stop, grab hold of the rough bark. Somehow, knowing that I’m doomed gives me strength. I pull myself up, straighten my back, push back my shoulders. I let go of the tree and stand unaided, gently holding my beautiful cat in my arms. Protect him, Chief says again. I nod in the darkness. Sadly, I tell him: I tried.

Out of the darkness come ghosts, pale figures in the dark, that solidify to become men. They look feral, half wild, but I stand bravely, rooted to the forest floor. I’m aching. My feet are screaming in pain. My breathing is quick and shallow and black dots still swim in and out of sight. But at least I tried.

Image: Brooke Shaden

Little Red Riding Hood

The trees press in on me, their dark depths clawing at the folds of my scarlet dress. One foot in front of the other. Walk, and keep walking. A grip of iron on a basket on cookies. Don’t look behind, don’t look into the dark. One foot forwards. Eyes straight ahead. Don’t blink.

I can hear their breath rasping in the woods. I can feel the damp, hot breath on my bare legs. I keep walking, my numb fingers clutching the straw basket. Cookies. I’m about to die and all I can think of are the stupid cookies. One foot in front of the other. I’m stiff with fear, walking like a robot. My cheeks flush with terror, hot blood pooling beneath my fragile skin, just waiting to be ripped open…

Suddenly I can’t stand it. My foot halts in mid air. I slam it down, spin around and face the pack of wild wolves. They stop, shocked into stillness. I throw the cookie basket as hard and as far as I can. They shatter against a tree, scattering among the tall grasses. Adrenaline sweeps away my fear, my hesitation, my boundaries.

“This forest does not belong to only you! I do not want to spend my entire life terrified! Why can’t you just… leave me alone!”

Their ears pin back against their heads, and as one body, a growl rises. Their dark fur – as dark as the wood – rises in sharp spikes. I just stand there in my blood-red dress, fists clenched by my sides. Around my bare feet are cookie crumbs, scattered and broken. One girl, alone, against a pack of wild wolves of the woods. My cheeks flush red with rage. Hot blood, pooling, waiting to be ripped open…

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.

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