“Shadows of Fear” short story

The night breathed through the apartment like a dark animal. Never before had I  seen such darkness. It was opaque and iridescent all at the same time.  One minute it was a thick, impenetrable  wall then next a swirling luminous curtain that wafted close to my face, allowing me to see nothing unless pushed aside.  I was standing on the doorstep of a pale yellow house with enormous red doors that seems too large for its small structure.The light that struck the house was as incomprehensible as the darkness I had just left behind, its brightness was blinding and direct like a beam from a spotlight. It shone directly at the house and cast no shadows, making the darkness around it almost palpable. Fear clutched at the center of my chest, crushing  my heart against my lungs making breathing impossible. The huge red doors opened with the flourish  one would expect on being ushered into a formal function but what it revealed tore a blood curdling scream from the center of my being. A monstrous wooden door stood before me from which hung a large padlock, its color tainted by the congealed blood that came from the crooked, grotesque letters above it that spelt my name. I awoke with a start and sat bolt upright as my bedroom door crashed open and my mother rushed in with concern and puzzlement written all over her face.

 

“ Another  dream?” she asked, which sounded more like a statement than a question.

 

“Yeah” I said, trying to find my matter-of-fact voice as I pulled my soaking wet sleepshirt over my head. She sat on the bed and held my chin to gain access to my eyes

 

“ You know dreams are normal, right? Even if they come couple days in a row, happens a lot to normal people, don’t take it too seriously ok?”

 

“Sure, I know mom it’s ok, it was nothing” My matter-of-fact voice was now spot on.

 

“ Tell me about it when you’re ready” she said as she exited the room.

 

I swung my clammy legs off the bed and went into the bathroom and headed straight for the shower. I leaned my head back to let the water beat directly against my face in

an effort to wipe away the memory of the horrible nightmare. “And yes mom, it was a nightmare not a dream” I said aloud. This was the second night and the second nightmare, the first one as indelible as the one I just awoke from. I remember it was the same darkness, the same rough pavement under my feet and the same house. I was standing on its doorstep only this time it had no door. The image of my face was barely visible in the steam covered mirror which seems to evaporate in tandem with the clarity of vision in my head. My nightmares were not random, they were connected and each one took me further into a story I was not willing to read.

 

I need to talk to Jessica” I thought feverishly, as I hurriedly towelled dry my hair and stepped into my jeans. “Its Saturday” my brain double checked, I knew exactly where to find her.

 

Jessica was my best friend from as far back as I can remember and we have gone to the same school and lived in the same neighborhood up until two weeks ago. Her family downsized because of a divorce and now she lived in a small house with her mom just a few miles out of the city. I have not visited her house yet because of our crazy schedule but we have been meeting at

the public library for everything else other than to read books. As I leapt up the Library stairs doubletime my need to confide in Jessica about my nightmares became unbearable.  

 

“Jessica, gue…” only to have the words frozen mid air, for the table was empty, The few occupants who were there shot me disdainful glances for my above- the-decibel voice.

 

She was late and that was not Jessica, that was me, i’m always the late one.  I made the decision, i’d go find Jessica. She would be at her new house and If I can recall, Jessica said it was one bus from the station straight to her gate.

 

As I slowly stepped off the bus and looked at Jessica’s house a deep hysteria that enveloped me and the surreality of the moment was only belied by the loud roar of a lawn mower somewhere to my right. The house that stood before me was pale yellow with large white columns that flanked a large red door. My legs felt heavy and as  I glanced down at them part of my brain registered that they were still attached  while the other noted the rough concrete slabs that lead the pavement up to the door. I was in the midst of a deep panic attack before I knew what was happening. What If I opened the door only to find that ugly door behind it? Whose name would be written on it? Jessicas or mine? Whose blood was on the door and where is she?  In the muddled mess of my mind I know one thing to be true, I must stop dreaming.“I have to save Jessica, or myself’ I said aloud as my vision slowly blurred and I felt myself sink to the ground.

 

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