Stranded in the woods in the winter is not an ideal situation. Neither is waking up in darkness.

My overall aim of Claustrophobia was to represent through the gothic and supernatural, the innate, repressed fears of the human mind. In the main character’s case, it is the fear of the unknown. This was my first attempt at writing a short story in the gothic genre and was done for university.


1. Claustrophobia

Unkind snow seeps into my shoes and my cloak does little to protect me from the biting chill of the barren winter. Around me, the trees stand bare of all life, spindly branches reaching heavenwards, imploring, silhouettes against the grey-washed skies from which tiny snowflakes cascade. Drifts of snow reach up to my knees and form a slushy barrier through which I must push.

A trail of bright red drops stain the virginal snow, dripping from the gash in my arm.

Still winter air is rent by the moans of the coachman as he writhes in pain, a hunched wreck by the ruins of his carriage. Fragments lie scattered about the snow, half –buried, being eaten slowly by the silent spread.

Saved but vulnerable. An arranged marriage lies in wait for me at the end of this journey to a man I have met twice. Just twice.  He is dark, brooding, and mysterious and trying to understand him is like looking into murky water and seeing only darkness. Now, I have no means of getting to his stronghold, his fortress.  Fate has handed me the opportunity to escape. I need to gather all my wits if I am to seize this opportunity.

I want to help the innocent coach man, but I need to help myself first. This cold is sucking out the warm blood in my veins and replacing it with liquid ice. Heat leaves me rapidly and I can almost see the curling tendrils that bear my body’s heat disperse into the polar landscape. Succumb to this cold, and I will become a frozen statue. Another victim will have been claimed by winter’s kiss.  My heart is under immense strain and my body is fighting to stay alive, clinging onto what little heat remains.

 Someone has to come soon. Soon. Please God.

My feet push through the unyielding snow with the little strength I have left. It cannot be more than ten minutes but already winter is tightening her arms around me, wrapping me in her embrace.

A sharp pain in my head makes me stumble, the whiteness around me becoming unbearably lucent. I shield my eyes but the light welds itself onto my eyeballs and attacks my head, so that I find myself lying in a tumble of fragile limbs.

There is no point in struggling to my feet. My numb body is shutting down, layers of muscle taking their final breath.

 Tears come pouring down my face, forming tiny crystalline pendants on my cheeks.

I curl up into a foetal position, waiting. Death lurks in the shadows of the trees, a glimpse of light shining off a lethal blade, a swathe of black.  Mother told me not to fear death but to welcome him.  So, I will him to visit. One swipe with that blade will bring me refuge and escape.

 Let him take me.

Oppressive darkness pushes down on my eyes and when I open them, I am suspended in an empty nothingness, trapped in a void devoid of light and air. Am I wrapped in death’s cloak as he bears me to hell?  I promised Mother not to be afraid but now, lack of knowing, as suspension in limbo panics me, bringing with it a glacial dread that makes the goose-bumps rise on my arms. Evil whispers in the air around me and I realise I’m not with death but with something much more nefarious.

 Weight bears down on me, crushing my tender body. Covers. For a moment, I breathe a sigh of relief that it is nothing more. But I am deceived as a body settles itself over me,

. Breath pours into my ear and I can feel the rhythmic thump of a heart partnering my own in a wild beat. Clammy skin presses against mine; a wet tongue runs over my lips. Screaming, I launch the body off me and hear the soft hiss as it collapses further down the bed.

My heart threatens to tear through the sinews, the muscle, and the bone that imprisons it. It cannot compete with my lungs which are frantically seeking air from the fetid, rancid tapestry of decay.

Get out of here. “Get out of here!”

The hard wooden floor replaces the bed as I tumble out. Crawling, I try to stand but my limbs have turned to slender flower stalks. Useless. Nothing will be light enough for them to bear. So I crawl, one hand tracing the outline of the walls. Seductive silk whispers underneath my fingertips and the slightest wisp of perfume escapes its opulent confines. Some woman has been here before me.

A solid block whacks my hand making me retract my hand, gasping. My ears straining, I listen for sound. Quietness remains. Slowly, my hands return to the unfamiliar object and I trace the panels, following them to a cold, long object. My hand closes around it and I pull.

Silver light streams into the room. I’m free. Whimpering, I rocket to my feet, hope and optimism lending me energy. Nothing else will induce me to move faster from that tormented hell hole.

 A mournful wind roars at me, yanking at my white dress, tugging on the ribbons through jagged, broken glass. Where glass once was, there is a vortex, pulling me towards a turbulent sea, writhing with a thousand living snakes. The sky above is hued with dismal shades; from lighter ash greys to malevolent clouds which trudge across the silvery sheen of a full moon.

I don’t want to look at this monstrous sight, so I turn my head to look down a corridor that stretches into the gloom. There’s no telling where it ends; it’s a tunnel leading to the unknown, a tunnel that leads to eternal wandering. Candle flames dance crazily, erotically, plunging the passage in to a flickering waltz of shadows.

Stern, unhappy faces shrink as the light hits gilded frames and glossy canvas. Eyes penetrate my skin and the lips seem to curve in cruel sardonic smiles. Shivers run over my skin at the unnaturalness of these portraits. They are repulsive but entrancing. I’m pulled towards one, not of my own choosing but because of a magnetic allure that seems to lasso me.

It’s me but I look a hundred years older. Grooves run across my forehead, in the corners of my eyes, around my lips. Raven hair which now falls over my shoulders has turned to grey wisps, coarse and brittle. The glow of youth has gone, and the vellum like, parchment skin of the painting revolts me.

Tears fall from my watering eyes and I feel the soft coolness as it journeys down my cheek. A dripping begins, rhythmic, hollow, and ominous. My eyes turn to the painting and I scream one loud, horrified sound. Like me, the painting is dripping but her tears are crimson and viscous. The delicate paintwork blossoms with red, like a flower opening until most of the face is covered by a great stain.

My hands shake, my fingers come to my lips and I gnaw at my nails, tearing them to bloody shreds. I cannot breath, I cannot stand steady. Everything is spinning and whirling, the painting moves in and out of focus. I’m rocking myself wildly, my hair encroaching into my mouth and nose and eyes, suffocating me. Manic screaming fills the air and pleadings babble from my mouth. Curses, prayers, they both pour out of me in a never ending waterfall of terror.  

Closing my eyes, all I can see is the painting’s eyes; growing larger, glinting with hate, repression, fear, revenge. The lips come into focus, opening and closing like a door, saying words which have no sound. Pitifully I bat the air, swiping through nothing.

I jerk upright, heart pounding, chest heaving.

I am in total darkness.















Join MovellasFind out what all the buzz is about. Join now to start sharing your creativity and passion
Loading ...