Alone in the Dark

A series I started on my blog, but the posts have become a little erratic to follow and find, so I wanted to put them together. Let me know what you think! Title is a work in progress :D

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4. Synthetic Condemnation

Darkness.

It's breaking up in your mind with a light that’s seeping into your vision. You don’t want to leave it. The darkness is warm and comfortable. But there’s a person calling you, calling you from the darkness of your unconscious mind. You don’t want to hear him. You don’t want to leave the nothingness your mind is currently offering. In the darkness, in the nothingness… you have no worries; you have no fears. Your child is… Your child is still alive, in the darkness of your mind.

Reality washes over you, bringing the tides of dread with it. Your sore eyes crack open, squinting quickly at the light above your head. No, not a light. A torch: a burning torch in a bracket.

 

Where was this?

 

You blink – once, twice; a third time in quick succession. There’s an old man standing a above you, where you lay. He has the look of worry on his face, his eyes pools of concern and damage. Your limbs are stiff, but you begin to test them, to see if you can move them – to see if you can dull the ringing in your ears – all whilst looking at the old man. His dry lips curled into a curious frown, his dishevelled beard wagging as his mouth moved. There’s a feeling in your mind, a buzzing emotion that you can’t fathom until he squats over you abruptly.

Fear.

All of a sudden, your limbs move in unison and you’re crawling back away from him. You think a scream breaks from your person, but you can’t be sure. You’re hyperventilating, you want to run, and scream and run. The old man holds up his hands, making no gesture to move any closer to you.

“Be still, child,” he says, “I mean you no harm.”

You shake your head. You have the sinking feeling that this is a liar and that you can’t trust him. You curl up into a ball, hugging your bare legs; trying to breathe, to fill your lungs to capacity – but it’s not working. You feel like your drowning, drowning in your panic. Your body begins to shake uncontrollably – your hands vibrating, moving from their places without you willing them too. Tears streak down your face and you don’t know how to make it stop. A rugged, animalistic cry bursts from within you – the sound of sadness and anger combined.

It jars you.

 

You can feel the old man holding you, covering you in a rag as a gesture of good will – and you didn’t even see him coming. There’s a thought in your head that tells you to run, to fight, but you ignore it. You want this. You want the comfort of this grubby, untrustworthy stranger. You don’t care what happens next. There’s a pain in your chest that to can’t change; that you will never be able to change.

It’s all you can feel, all you can think – all you can be.

He’s stroking your back and you’re whimpering on his shoulder. You know how pathetic you are, but you can’t stop. You don’t want to.

“Shhh…” the man whispers in your ear, “Shhh, child, don’t be so unruly. You’re in a place where no-one can hurt you.”

Liar. Liar, liar, liar. You push him away and bury your head into your knees. You hear him sigh. You hear the sharp sound of a door creak open somewhere. You slowly start to become aware of your surroundings. The cold stone floor beneath your naked buttocks; the concrete wall scratching your spine. Goosebumps begin to form on your limbs and your shiver in your naked coldness. Your breathing softens. Where are you? There’s a wooden door to your left, swung wide open and a young girl in a pink frock stands there. She has an annoyed look on her face, she’s glaring at you like you’ve wasted her time.

“Are you done?” she mutters, “The trial is still going on. That crazy old loon is muttering again about how innocent he is.”

The old man shakes his head, “Don’t be so insensitive,” he gestures to you, “Our guest has finally arisen.”

The girl scoffed, “Arisen to fall again,” she grumbles under her breath.

The old man sighs once more, “You should get some more rest. It’s been a long, hard journey for you,” he stands up slowly, arching his back to crack his bones back into position, “Or, you may come with us. If you feel strong.”

 

The old man turns and leaves with the girl without another word. You think you hear the girl mumble some more. You shiver in the light of the torch, knowing that rest wasn’t an option for you. To rest would be to die, and you didn’t know if you were ready for that. You get to your feet slowly, his legs quaking under the sudden pressure. You feel as though you’re a new-born horse, first learning to walk. You use the cold walls to prop you up, and to stop you from stumbling. You don’t care or take the time to question that you’re naked, save for the dirty rag the old man draped over your shoulders. You leave the empty room and enter a passage lit by more torches. A shiver runs down your spine. You can’t place where you are and yet you feel as if you belong here, in this strange place. There are voices echoing down the passage and you hobble your way towards them – beginning to hear more clearly as you get closer.

“You’re accused of the deaths,” said the voice of the girl, “It’s pretty clear it’s you. Why can’t you own up to it?”

There was a pathetic noise, the noise almost attuned to an animal in pain, “Innocent…” said a shivering voice, “I’m… innocent… The old king… he’s coming!”

“Crazy fucker,” the girl said, “There’s no old king!”

You come to the door where all the sounds emanate from and stand there. The door is slightly ajar, you don’t see the need to interrupt the atmosphere of the room within. You watch silently, front outside. The old man was sat in a rotting wooden chair, the girl by his side. A madman sat looking as if he was almost broken on the floor. There were torches lighted around them. You looked at the madman. You felt a strange, unwanted compassion for him.

“Enough,” the old man said to the girl, “I will not have you be vulgar.”

“Vulgar!” the girl shrieked, making a fist as if to punch the old man, “This freak is the reason why the other protectors are dead! You know how he freaks out – fitting and flailing and striking everywhere he goes. Only he could have killed that many people.”

The old man glared at her, “Don’t talk about him like that,” his anger was plain, “My son has never bitten anyone. And those people had flesh torn from their bones.”

“He was covered in blood!” the girl argued, “His face, his hands, his feet – all of it! He was covered in the blood of those people!”

 

You step in, without meaning to, holding the rag over your shoulders. The man and girl turn their heads to look at you – the girl less than pleased. The madman just stared at his hands.

“It can’t be him,” you tell them, “He’s not a murderer. Not a savage.”

“Well la-dee-dah!” shouts the girl, “And how do you know this?”

You shake your head and say nothing.

The girl grits her teeth, growling loudly, “I’m tired of everyone sympathising with him – he’s a lunatic!”

You swallow, feeling the tears prick your eyes. You don’t know what it is, but you have a feeling. A feeling that none of them, in that room, where all that far from lunacy. There was something kindred about these people around you. A greater sense of a shared experience. But you couldn’t quite put your finger on it.

“So!” the girl barked, “Can we cut him loose? Can we throw him to the dogs?”

There's silence from the old man. The madman mumbles, his lips quivering to his frantic chatter. The old man looks up at you, staring at you with eyes gleaming with plea and sorrow.

“Why?” he asks you, “Why do you say that my son is not a murderer?”

 

The words get caught in your throat. There’s a sound… behind you. The girl sees that you are distracted and shouts at you, but you don’t care for that. There’s the sounds of…dragging and… gargling. To turn slowly to the corridor behind you and you see it. Your jaw starts to tremble, your mind racing to comprehend what you’re seeing. A child… no, the size and build of a child, but distorted and disfigured – dragging its limp, soft, mottled legs on the ground; crying with each movement. Its head lolls back and forth, as if unable to keep it straight; its bulbous, bloated eyes flailing in its head to focus on you. It was dragging itself towards you, to stand at trail – pointed teeth bared and stained with gore that dribbled onto its mangled chest every time it gargled in pain.

You want to scream and run, but an urgency makes you stay. The girl and the old man are calling for you, but they aren’t beside you – seeing what you’re seeing. The creature knows you see it. The creature knows it disgusts you. The creature stops.

And then leaps at you with such force that it knocks you to the ground.

The wind is stolen from your lungs in and instant and all you can feel is the slimy claws of the creature grasping for your bare limbs. You can see its roving eyes, ecstatic to see your fear and the tilted into an evil grin – a grin with too many sharp teeth. You feel the claws sinking into your flesh, prepared to render it from your bones – and your body reacts. You smash the monster in the side of the head with your fist – its body soft and sickening to your brute force. You gag as it splats across the hallway and slowly pulls itself up like a rubber doll. You grabs one of the torches from the wall and run at the creature, pinning it into the ground with your knees and stabbing it repeatedly in the face with the burning torch. The creature screams, and the scream pierces your soul. Its cry was like the cry of a new-born baby – helpless and hungry. The tears well up in your eyes, blurring your vision as you continue to stab furiously with blunt fire – the creature tearing at your skin for mercy.

But you keep going.

 

Stabbing it again and again and again…

 

_______________________________________

The dreams continue here.

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