A visit from Fear.


1. Fear

   She stared aimlessly out of her window. The gray skies were gathering in dark bulks, warning of the rumbles and flashes that were boiling behind them. The rain was already hitting steadily against the windowpane, and dripping from the holes in the gutter. As much as the scenario seemed chaotic to the average person, to her it was a relaxing sight. Finally, something that resembled the pandemonium that regularly played out behind her bloodshot eyes. A strong wind whined as it got stuck in the narrow gaps in the window, and she answered it with an equally helpless sigh; she knew exactly how it felt.

   The feeling of being trapped wasn't exactly new to her. As a matter of fact, she'd known it for so long it'd become like a dear friend to her. She refused to accept that, though. Despite the many months of voicing that she was ready to give up the struggle, she hadn't reached the edge just yet. She was too headstrong, too stubborn. Too dead set on winning her life back.

   She shuffled in her seat in the windowsill, trying to once again get comfortable. She'd been sitting there for so long, simply watching the outside, that her limbs had lost their sense of touch. Sometimes, it served as the only way for her to make it through the day. Although it was painful to watch a world she no longer felt like she was a part of, it brought back memories of happiness and freedom. Memories she enjoyed getting lost in, more than anything.

   Imprisonment had never been in her plans, especially not of this type. It was humiliating, really, that a person as open and clear as herself had gotten caught in the traps of her own mind. Like a fly in a spiderweb, the more she'd struggled the more stuck she'd gotten. The spider had been by to feed on her several times already, and had on occasion almost devoured her fully, however, she had survived. Despite her success at beating the dark entity, she was always proud or even happy about it. As a matter of fact, she was walking a tightrope. Whenever it flickered and she lost her balance, she had one of two sides to fall: the light and the dark. When landing on the light side, she'd immediately bounce back and continue her steps along the line. On the dark side, however, she only wished for the spider to return and eat her up, leaving no trace of the person that once were.

   On the dark side, being sucked dry and decaying to an empty shell, or simply fading away into endless sleep seemed merciful. Like a tight hug from Mother Nature, with the message that it was over now, and she was finally going to be alright. Safe. But as it happens, fate wouldn't have it like that.

   The first flash tore through the sky, and she pressed her forehead against the cool window. It was starting. The rumble came about thirty seconds later, rolling across the heavens with the power of a thousand horses.

   - Here we go, she mumbled to herself, already awaiting the next strike of lightening.

   As she was watching the havoc slowly close in, she was overwhelmed by another familiar feeling. It was a hollow, yet heavy, black hole that opened in her chest. The more she stared at the oncoming storm, the more she felt it: loneliness. Another silent killer that would sweep her off balance. She recalled enjoying her own company once. Back then, being alone was a rare treat she thoroughly looked forward to. Things sure had changed.

   Another bolt of lightening ruptured the clouds, and the raindrops gained rapidly in size.

   She was now stuck in a limbo between feeling severely uncomfortable in the company of others, and fearing abandonment. It was a twisted slope she hadn't yet figured out how to climb, and one of the few things that could really throw her out of orbit. In her mind, she would have an easier time making it, had she only been imprisoned. If she could just feel safe an sound in the arms of another, maybe being stuck in her own head wouldn't feel so unbearable. However, it was the hand she had been dealt, and there wasn't much she could do aside trying to push forwards.

   Another rumble.

   - Help me, she whispered. Please.

   It was to no use, she knew. She had lost count of the times she'd prayed and begged for salvation. Pleaded forgiveness for whatever she had done to have such internal torture thrust upon her. The times she'd cried hysterically to the skies, and confessed her sins in another attempt to have her chains broken. No God had helped her, and no salvation had come. No angel had reached out their hand to put her at ease. Instead she'd found herself kneeling on the floor, trembling as both the will and energy to go on slowly seeped out of her and disappeared. Eventually she'd gather the strength to move back to the warmth of her bed, exhausted and brokenhearted.

   A single tear left the corner of her eye, but barely had it started falling before she'd wiped it away. In a mix of anger and frustration, she kicked the wall in front of her and hissed. If she just knew exactly what would make her better. If there was a guarantee that a certain action or medication would pull her back to the real world, there was no doubt in her mind that she would do it. But life had no guarantees, which was another thing that could easily make the spider rear it's ugly head.

   - No one promised you tomorrow, her grandmother used to say.

   That quote had stuck with her. Despite it's original meaning – that she was supposed to live her life to the fullest every day – she often managed to twist it to hold its own, dark meaning. No one had promised her tomorrow, and if she could just die quietly in her sleep, a deep wish of hers would've already come true. Then again, she had other dreams she'd much rather live out. Dreams that were as simple as being able to go grocery shopping again. Daring to love again, and daring to be loved.

   Burned child dreads the fire. Another quote that fit her quite well. The loneliness she felt was not only caused by the lack of physical touch and contact, but by the fact that she had been abandoned. In her darkest hour, her family and friends, the people who'd always claimed to love her unconditionally, had given up and lived on without her. For a long time she'd excused their behavior, saying that they were busy, and that they'd come to her aid eventually. But they never did, and as time had gone on, she had built a shield between them and herself, blankly refusing to let them get close.

  Another roar from the sky made the house shake, and she had to grab on to the frame of the window to steady herself.

   - Jesus Christ, she mumbled, batting her eyes in surprise at the force. What the Hell?

   Lightening struck a tree outside and set it ablaze, the winds picked up, as did the rain. The thunder once again rolled across the now pitch black clouds, and the windows screeched in an attempt not to splinter.

Sliding off the sill, she took a step back and watched wide-eyed as what was left of the lazy afternoon light disappeared. Branches from the burning tree were flung through the air, carried by a continuously more ruthless wind. The house shook once more, this time enough to make her stumble and grasp on to the wooden frame of her bed to support herself.

   She looked around, frightened by the sudden direct charge of the storm. The most logical thing to do was bolt for the basement, however, she found herself stuck to the floor. Her feet simply refused to move.

It happened very fast. A flash blinded her, closely followed by another roar that almost sent her to her knees. The walls sprouted cracks, the windows blew out, and the ceiling groaned, threatening to cave in right above her. The wind caught the newly made vessels in the outer wall, and before she managed to blink again, it was ripped from the house.

   Bathed in broken glass and other debris, she screamed in horror and tightened her grasp on the bed-frame, well aware that it was of little help to her. Her hair whirled, pieces of the wall shot through the air, shattering everything in their path, a bolt of lightening struck the wooden floor, leaving her in the hue only fire could create. It all happened in the blink of an eye, and then, just as suddenly as it'd begun, it stopped.

Flames froze in their curls, glass remained floating in mid-air, and the wind seemed to have completely gone.

   - W-What? she questioned, wiping her cheeks of the worst shock as she looked around.

   Then she felt it. The tall, lanky shadow slithering up behind her. She new the feeling of him well enough that she didn't have to look.

   - No, no, no, no, she hissed tearfully. Go away!
   - You, he whispered, kneeling down to sit beside her. You.
   Turning her head, she did whatever was in her power to avoid his cold gaze. He'd been there several times before, lurking over her shoulder as a dark presence only the deepest depths of Hell could create.
   - Look at me, he said, making her shake her head and squeeze her eyes shut.
   She could feel him lean closer. His cold fingers combing through her hair, and his long nails softly scratching her scalp. It didn't really hurt, however, she winced and whimpered anyway.

   - Why not?
   - You're evil, she replied breathlessly. Go away.
   - I will, he said calmly, letting a black claw slide down her cheek. If you face me.
   She shook her head once more and felt her knees begin trembling.
   - Evil is a bit of a strong word, don't you think? he asked, sounding almost offended. You didn't think I was evil when I gave you speed to run when you were being chased. Or when I warned you not to go down the dark roads on your own. You didn't think I was evil, when I gave you the strength to swim back to shore, that time you almost drowned.
   - I know, she whispered. But you've ruined me.
   - I haven't done anything. I'm simply protecting you.
   - I don't want your protection.
   - Tough shit, he said, chuckling. Until you learn to face me, you need my protection. So why don't you turn your head back around, and look me in the eye?
She considered his question for a moment and shrugged her shoulders, sniffling as she spoke: - I don't know.
   - I would love to let you go, he sighed. But before I do, I have to make sure that you can handle yourself, and I don't think you're ready.
   - I just want my life back, she whispered.
   - Fine, he replied. Then face me.

   They sat there in silence for a moment. She didn't dare move a muscle, not in his presence, yet the only thing she wanted to do, was run. The seconds ticked by dangerously slow, until suddenly he stood up and sighed.

   - In due time, darling, he said. You will be ready one day.
   With that, his darkness swallowed the room before evaporating. Beneath the blackness, the room appeared untouched. The walls were sturdy and undamaged, the windows without a scratch. She looked around in awe, finding herself in the exact spot she'd been in when the storm had begun; the windowsill. The same hollow emptiness gnawed in her chest. She'd had the chance, and she had let it pass by. Just like she always did. She'd let it pass her by.

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