In The Darkness

What she would find that day would change the world she lived in. Ancient pages would show her things that no one would ever believe and lead her to a land beyond her home town of Lockley.
Louisa McCain discovers an old diary in her basement, that tells her of a fantasy land that she could only dream of. She slowly gets entranced by the idea of the beyond, the potential that it holds. She becomes obsessed with finding this place called Philia, frantically scrambling to put together the clues and find the portal.
If she does, will it all be what she imagined or will she be plunged into a world that she wishes she'd never found?

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8. Eight

It had been many nights that I had stayed here now. I had lost count long ago exactly how many, just lost in the feeling of the place and how right it felt to be here.

The gut feeling had subsided, becoming just an occasional squeeze which could easily be overcome by the presence of Zach and a good meal. The more time I spent there, the more I knew that it was just paranoia and my overactive imagination creating little seeds of doubt in my mind that I were highly unlikely to come to fruition.

My room was bathed in an all encompassing darkness, cradling me in its warm embrace and comfort.  I lay under the thick quilt, its top just tickling my chin and its base stretching way past my toes. It wasn’t that it was cold; it just felt right to be snuggled up underneath the covers, my head surrounded by the dozen pillows, in a state of utter bliss.

Voices came from Zach’s room, but that was perfectly normal, he usually had friends over from the nearby caves that he had shown me one day. I had never met any of his friends but I just didn’t have the energy these days to go and try and introduce myself.

I just felt so drained nowadays. My body felt near to collapsing most hours of the days. The feeling of being energized was a rare luxury these days that I desired to feel more permanently. I never used to be this worn out. It started a short time into my arrival to Philia, just days after meeting Zach.

I decided I would visit the bathroom before I finally drifted off into a state of complete unconsciousness. I reluctantly rose from the bed, slipping my feet into a pair of fluffy white slippers that had taken residence next to my mountain of a bed. I pushed my way through the door, my eyes blurry and dazed by the foreign light in the hallway.

I could hear the voices clearer out here. They were obviously joking about something in Zach’s room, somewhere I had never been yet. I struggled to hear what the joke was, curious as to what was making them laugh so hard.

“Oh, Zachariel, you have that girl wrapped around your little finger.” One of his friends chortled, bursting out into more laughter.

“It won’t be long until the release happens now. She seems to be well under the influence of the euthanacide and ready to go through the process.” Zach’s voice floated out of the room, now becoming a little more serious.

I knew they were talking about me, but had no ideas aside from that. What was this release that they talked about? And euthanacide? It sounded like some kind of drug that some of the kids would take back at school.

It seemed like forever since I had thought about school. I thought back to Saff and Aaron and how they had just got together. I wondered whether they were still dating or if they had split up, if they had realised my state of being missing, if they even missed me at all. I had been a pretty terrible friend to them the past month or so, staying cooped up in my room, constantly analysing the diary. I knew I had been obsessed, unhealthily so, but it had all paid off in the end. I had ended up with this life here in a fantasy world with my angel.

“How did you lure her into here again, Zachariel?” a voice asked from his room. My ears pricked up, wanting to know what they were talking about, wanting to know why I was such a hot topic and such a joke.

“I told her that I had been searching for her for millennia; that we were meant to be and eternally bound etcetera, etcetera.”

Laughter erupted from the room. Why was that such a joke? It was true, wasn’t it?

I felt that uneasy feeling return to my gut in full force, a tidal wave of apprehension crashing over my mind just as the seeds of doubt flowered all at once. This fantasy no longer felt real; it felt like a scam. I had been tricked, or at least I thought so.

I stood there, intently listening for the next line of conversation to come through the crack at the bottom of door, ready for the slash of pain it was sure to cause.

“She fell for that!” one of them exclaimed, “That’s the oldest trick in the book!”

She felt utterly stupid now for believing the lies that she had been spoon fed by Zach, her supposed angel. They were more like demons than angels in that moment.

“I know!” Zach cried, “I thought she wouldn’t fall for it at first, but then I began the energy transfer and she fell like Lucifer did from heaven, hard and fast.”

Another round of raucous laughter exploded from the room, stabbing me in the heart with every deafening chortle. I ran into the bathroom, the cool air slapping my burning cheeks that were spattered with the tears that now flowed freely from my eyes.

I looked in the mirror at the stranger before me. Her hair was a dull brown, bedraggled and knotted, pointing in thousands of directions. Her brown eyes glistened with tears, puffy and red with bruised bags weighing down on her cheek bones. Lips that were probably once full and pink were now chapped and violent red from the abuse they had been undergoing for the past few weeks.

I knew that stranger was me, but refused to admit that the weak girl that stared at me in the mirror was me. I turned away from the horrific image, not wanting to have to look at it any more. I clutched a lump of toilet paper in my bony hands, the knuckles popping out a stark white as I clenched my hands into a tight fist, my nails creating crescent moons in my palms.

That would be my only escape from this nightmare now, the upcoming new moon. The only issue was I had no idea of the day or how close the next new moon was. I had been enclosed in this cavernous home, drifting about in a state of bliss, too under a spell to notice anything like that.

This place no longer felt like home. Cold chills now replaced the embrace of warmth that had stayed with me for so long. The mystical cave’s charm had dulled, making it feel like a dungeon where I was trapped with no chance of escape.

I staggered out of the bathroom, heading towards the room where I had been staying, ready to find a way out of this blissful hell. I ran straight into a body with an “oomph”, my cheeks still flaming red and streaked with the bitter tracks of shed tears.

 “Hey, my Louisa, what is wrong?” Zach crooned, enclosing me in his arms, making me feel like I was being trapped by steel prison bars.

I took a second to evaluate the situation. I had two basic options, two tactics to play in this game that had arisen. Number one, I could scream at him and tell him I knew everything, try and obviously escape. Number two, I could act as if I had heard nothing and create another excuse for my tears.

I chose number two, feeling I would have more chance of survival if I kept Zach in the dark, just like he had with me. I would have more chance of escape if I just blamed my tears on something hollow, like missing my mum or something.

“Oh it is nothing.” I mumbled, trying to keep my face to the floor.

“I’m sure it is something my love. Tell me.” He took my chin in his fingers, branding me with their new chill. I was forced to stare into the pools of mercury, poisonous and heavy. I no longer got lost in the labyrinth of his gaze. I now knew the way out of that platinum maze.

Six of his friends stood waiting at the other end of the hall, one clearly restraining himself as he tried hard not to laugh.

“I can’t tell you now. I just need some rest, I think. Goodnight Zach.” I whipped around and dashed into my room, telling myself he was never going to be worth heartbreak. 

Damn he was a good actor. Well, compared to his mates in anyways. One of them was tearing up a little they wanted to laugh so badly.

Why couldn’t my life be simpler? And I know I’m sounding all woe is me at the moment but it is necessary. I need to have this low to regain my high and create a plan to trick Zach and get the hell out of this bat cave.

I face planted the mound of pillows, that now seemed over stuffed; hard and unwelcoming. It seemed this perfect life was a mere fantasy, which was now falling apart at the seams, stitch by stitch until it eventually breaks.

“Louisa” his voice called from the door, his knuckles rapping softly on the wooden door. I deigned him with no response, just wanting to be left alone.

He opened the door a crack in anyway, one silver eye peering around the wood. When he saw me look up, he fully entered the room, closing the door behind him with a soft click.

“Louisa, love, what’s wrong?” he asked, coming to sit next to me on the bed. He began stroking my hair, brushing some strands out of my eyes. I tried my hardest not to flinch as his touch sent feelings through my body, except this time, they were not good. Shockwaves of ice crept up my spine with every touch, replacing the warm that used to slither down my spine like honey.

“It is nothing.” I repeated.

“Well it is got to be something.” He was way too analytical, picking up that there was something by the tiniest slip of the tongue I had made.

“I just...I miss my friends.” That was kind of the truth really. Ever since I had thought of Saff and Aaron earlier, my heart kept on squeezing painfully with every thought that slipped towards them.

“I know you do sweetie but they don’t matter anymore. As long as we have each other, everything will be fine.” He embraced me again, locking me in his stronghold.

How dare he say Saff and Aaron didn’t matter! I was extremely close to exploding and full on yelling at him about what I had overheard earlier but the self restraint I had built up over the years had became a virtue in that moment as it allowed me to stick to my strict plan for escape.

“I know, Louisa. Tomorrow, you can go on a visit into the village. We need some more food in anyways so it would be a great opportunity to take your mind off things.” 

“Sounds like a great idea. Will you be coming with me?” I half wanted him with me as, frankly; I was rather scared of the unknown outside of the cave. Yet, on the other hand, maybe I would be able to concoct some ideas for escape if I went out on my own. Possibly even make some alliances in the village with some people who would be willing to help me get out of here.

“I will show you around the village briefly but then I’m afraid I have to leave you, as I have important business to attend to, love.” He planted a kiss on my forehead, piercing the point like a needle, numbing the spot with its coldness.

“Ok. That’s fine.” I tried to sound a little disappointed, but mostly attempted nonchalance. Indifference would be my best weapon at the moment and becoming emotionless would certainly help too.

“I will wake you at dawn and we will set off soon after. Goodnight my Louisa. Have many sweet dreams.” His lips brushed mine, the blue smoke reappearing for just an instant, then disappearing as soon as it had come.

“Goodnight Zach.” I said back, keeping my voice level so as not to cause him reason to pick up on my new findings. He finally left the room, leaving me to contemplate what had happened.

This reality that had seemed such a dream had now twisted into the best nightmare. I had that niggling feeling in my gut again, except this time, it had spread to my heart and head as well. I should have listened to that voice of reason in the first place and run whilst I still had the chance.

Running is for cowards though my conscience told me, injecting me with a strength that I never knew I had before. I had to do more than just run away from this place. I had to try and shut it down so that no one ever went through this same situation again. I would have to somehow figure out the science behind the portal and shut it down. Severing the connection between the two worlds permanently would be the only way to block the angels from harming more of us.

I didn’t know if there was any good at all in this fantasy land. The saying never judge a book by its cover definitely applied here. It was as if the landscape had been designed to lure people in, to make them feel at home and ecstatic, whilst draining their very essence and slowly leading them into a trap. Philia had bated me, giving me everything I thought I ever wanted, yet now realised I never needed in the first place. I had had everything I needed back on Earth in the small town of Lockley.

My mum may not have always been there for me, but she deserved more credit than I gave her for raising a teen whilst her husband was lost to a war in a foreign country. And my friends, what could I say? They were always there for me when life was too much. Ready to help me face the next day with a smile and a laugh, Saff, with her sarcasm, and Aaron with his own dazzling smiles. I just wanted it all back.

I used to wish for something different; to feel properly loved. It turned out that it had all been right under my nose in the first place. I had just been too ignorant to notice it and to appreciate what I already had, always wanting something better.

Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. I had certainly got what I wished for, at least a twisted fantasy version of it in anyway. I no longer wished for what I didn’t have, I wished for what I had and what I should have cherished instead of taking for granted.  

I stared into the darkness, moving pictures playing in my head, reminding me of what I needed to get back to, motivating me even more to replace this pain with something more.

I shut my eyes, wanting to get plenty of rest in preparation for tomorrow. It would be the day that everything fell into place and my plan could be formulated. I would escape Philia if it was the last thing I did. If I didn’t, I had a feeling I wouldn’t last much longer and I would join my father in the life beyond this one.

 

 

 

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