No Longer Alone [A terrifying short tale]
Timmy opened his eyes and waited, his terrified, myopic gaze slowly scanning the dark, dimly lit room. First, he felt it. That familiar weight, like two cloaked, phantasmal hands - pushing stubbornly down onto his brittle, juvenile rib cage - pressing down into him with all of their might. He couldn't breathe. Gaspingly, the young man tried to flail, but could not. It was as if his arms, too, had been restrained. Bound in place adamantly by some ephemeral string, laced carefully from finger to finger, and down all the way to his arms’ bony, protruding bows.
Timmy sighed, his body frozen, and his heart resigned to fight again in this familiar battle. To his left, the dull emanation of his closet light gradually peeked its head out from under the closed double doors that so nearly concealed it. From its delicate sheen, he could just make it out, lurking there silently - shrouded nigh completely in darkest shadow. His breath caught in his throat, just as it always did. It had arrived.
Timmy only stared. His young, wet eyes brimming with salt and terror, as he looked again upon the gruesome visage that had lately so oft presented itself before him. “There must be a way to win.” The thought raced through Timmy’s tender young mind so quickly he’d hardly had a chance to consider if it could possibly be true. But before the young man could even afford a spare moment to think, it was coming.
It moved slowly, but with such a staunch deliberation that it seemed to, at times, not even be alive. It was as if it were some pre-programmed illusion, marketed only towards those young boys whose imaginations were prone to get the best of them; when left to their own devices in that most tenebrous hour of the night. No. It was only once it got close, that you could see the truth. Once you could finally - from underneath that soot-blackened gossamer, those heavily draped silks - see them. Its' eyes - wicked and profound, buried to their roots in some ghastly, sinuous amalgamation of waking nightmare and dream.
As it took another step towards him, Timmy crunched his eyes shut with a deliberate snap - his young heart pulsating in its frenzied commitment, willing that dark creature to just go away. When he opened them, the creature had returned to source, back in the corner of the room - doused again in shadows.
It only took a moment for its horrid pilgrimage to commence once more. As if in perfect recreation, the nigh imperceptible shadow of a man began to come towards his young prey again. Hauntingly, the creature loomed above the child's four post bed, his elongated body seeming at times to stretch as high as the ceiling. At others he could appear close by, his eyes nearly visible from within that darkly matted, sinisterly umbrageous hood.
And so it had begun again - that old familiar game. The beast would approach him, and he would send it jolting back, dispelling its illusory gave and thwarting it’s advancement time and time again. There were times when Timmy had resolved to fight. To remain steadfast in the face of this terror. But he could not, for every time the creature grew close - that familiar acrid smell would rise high into the still night air, and the hairs would stand tall on the edges of his young, boyish skin - and he would panic. He would panic and surrender, flinging his eyelids over their globes and locking them tight - as if each of them was run on tiny, imperceptible hooks, controlled by minuscule, fear infested drapesmen hiding down in the subtle, tender asylum of the face below.
How long had it been? Timmy wondered as the creature again drew close to him. Since this had all began? Since this thing had begun to torment him. Trying to speak, and failing, Timmy redoubled his resignation to this wickedly laborious game of cat and mouse and screwed his eyes shut once more.
Once, they had taken him to see someone. His parents. They tried to help, even if they did not understand. The man had been a funny little fellow. An odd sort, to say the least. Every time Timmy walked into that silly little room full of plush animals and absurd puppets, he had greeted him with such an absurd fervor that Timmy had begun to think that the man himself, was in fact deranged. He always wore the same thing. Khakis, with a white shirt, tucked in. And a goofy red sweater vest, at least two sizes too small. He looked like a caricature of Mr. Rogers, only aloof, and infallible under his own set conditions.
That silly man, like his parents, had tried to help him. They had tried to tell him that it was all just in his head - that if he could only convince himself that the thing could not hurt him, that everything would be okay. He had shown him, snapping his fingers in the air, just how fast it would be. How quickly this thing would leave him if only he would summon the courage to confront it. But they were wrong. Timmy was sure of that much. They must be. How else could his terror wrought by this wretched thing feel so real?
Laying in his bed, that immense pressure still rode him. Still locked him down tight - as if we were molded as one into his billowing, suddenly capricious, and undoubtedly treacherous sheets. That thing was nearing him again, closer now than it had been before. Timmy watched it unflinchingly, as it drew closer and closer still.
Until he could take it no, more, and again, slammed his eyelids home. He squeezed his lids so tightly that is temples began to ache, and his jaw throbbed in painstaking protest. His face was in that moment transformed. Twisted gruesomely into some perverse transmogrification of innocence, wrought roughly over and again into something that closer might resemble the face of absolute, unadulterated fear.
And it was in that moment, it was as if he were seeing himself from above. Watching that horrific expression take hold of him. Witnessing the fear that encapsulated him so perfectly, feeling the sensation of it filling him up so completely and full - that he broke. In that moment, that finally he knew what had to be done. Enough was enough. It was time for this game to come to an end.
The young boy’s eyes flew open, a determined rage suddenly burning ferociously within them. Each of those hitherto placid, civilian globes suddenly alight with righteous, unchecked ardor. And so he stared, deep out towards the darkness, and into the depths of that purest blackness that moved relentlessly, unerringly, again towards him. It was as if his eyelids had suddenly been glued tight, locked wide open, the adhesive solution born of the boys' righteous indignation holding steadfast against the taught and pulling hook-strings of those minuscule fearmongers down below him.
And so he gazed on, determined, wanting nothing more than for this war to end finally at last. But with every moment that he stared, his fear mounted. Just as that thing was closing in upon him, so too were his most horrific imaginings. Those little shreds of dark consciousness best left to be born, and to die, in the height of darkest night, were all that kept the young boy company now. For what would truly become of him, were this thing to reach its’ goal? Terror wracked at his body and filled his imagination with darkness, and insects, and vicious bubbling mud.
It was near to him now. For the first time in months, Timmy could see them. The worms and beetles that crawled in and out of that black gossamer and silk, the running torrents of blood, and mud, and shit that flowed across that things wicked visage. Shards of broken glass and bone seemed to protrude helter-skelter from this hunk of languid, wretched flesh to that - all swirling somehow into one another, creating a sort of perverted Rorschach Test, an amalgam of purest terror and pain. A sight surely meant only to see it’s viewer slip silently off into the realm of the insane.
But still, Timmy stared into his ghastly visage, determined in his resolve to meet this final fate at the last. And finally, it stood before him.
Looking down at the child, it’s wretched countenance swirling and assimilating again and again in upon itself, the thing for the moment only stared, as if in deepest wonder. Timmy stared back, adamant in his conviction, and in his desire for this to all finally end at last. Slowly, from the darkness, Timmy could make out one, rangy, emaciated black hand - gradually rising out of the penumbra that encased its tenements corporeal form.
Within Timmy, the terror was mounting. And as he stared up into the beasts rank and dilapidated flesh, his courage began to grow thin. Desperate warmth flooded his entire being, and suddenly, he needed his eyes to shut. But it was too late. He was frozen, that adhesive courage having been lifted from his gaze, and yet, his eyes would not close, no matter how he screwed them.
And so he merely was forced to watch. To watch, as that ghastly, skeletal point came languidly towards him, it’s crooked, black nail aching to taste his young, supple flesh - homing in as it came to that spot just above the center of his halcyon, innocent eyes. As it moved to press itself into him, Timmy’s panic redoubled, his vision suddenly filling with a deep film of crimson red. All that he could think of, was no. The word chased itself over and over in the murky depths of his skull, binding his thoughts, disallowing the encumbrance of anything else to enter. It was mere centimeters now before that abominable thing would touch him. He tried in vain, just one last time, to scream. And then it touched him.
And it was over. Timmy slowly winced his aching, waterless eyes, and closed them. And when they had opened again? There was nothing there. The young boy breathed one desperate, bewildered sigh of relief, and raised himself slightly on his elbows as to get a better view of what he could see around. Could it be true? Had he really defeated it? Timmy let forth one, bellowing shout of a laugh, and smiled. So it turned out that weird little man was right after all. Timmy thought, rolling over as he did onto his left side. He could still hardly believe it, but it must have really been his imagination the whole time. Smiling to himself, and at how absurd the whole thing truly was, Timmy began to delicately drift off, again, to sleep.
He was sitting alone in a darkly lit room. His room? Yes, there was his desk, just as he had left it. But there was something different, it seemed. A smell perhaps? Or maybe some detail that he was missing. Without much thought, Timmy reached out towards the small standing lamp that had sat upon his desk for years now - a gift to his parents from a long deceased friend. He clicked the small knob on its base and waited for the light to fill the small, sombrous room. The light was blinding. As he covered his eyes to it and clicked at the switch again, immediately darkness fell. But something was different. Yes - Timmy was sure, something had changed.
Somehow, he knew, that he was no longer alone
Image found on Pixabay.com
The story you just read was written by me, Matthew Munsey @matthewmunseyart
This is the second edition of both of these pieces, hopefully finally error free for your reading pleasure!