I quietly shut my door.
My aching lungs let out a shaky exhale. That click was the reassurance my nerves needed to know I had shelter. I had cover. I was safe.
Unlike, earlier I let my fragile body slide down the door. My jacket squealed as the pressure from my back caused it painful friction. I clasped my hands over my ears. That sound haunted me-it tortured me. It disturbed the hell out of me!
I dug my nails into the side of my skull to try and relieve the pin and needle sensation that stabbed my eardrums. It was an agonizing reminder of my hopeless screams that were never answered. That trapped, suffocating feeling that squeezed my gut on that sidewalk never left. Salty tears fell as the memories flooded my mind.
I was on the verge of bawling when again my phone distracted me. Through chocked sobs I tenderly checked my messages. There were about three texts from my concerned mother and one from dad. I wiped my swollen eyes and nose causing my sleeve to be drenched in water and snot. However, I didn't care.
I was beyond ill.
My guts were still grinding from the event. My throat was raw and all I wanted was that hug from my parents, from my mom. I wanted to be that little kid with the sandwich again, to have my gums sticky with peanut butter. And I wanted my cheeks to be filled with that childhood goodness. The ideas brought me back to muffled cries.
Homesickness, struck me hard.
"I-I want to go home. I wanna go home!" I repeated to myself as my sore fingers ran through my soaked hair. Like a frustrated child I began raking my scalp. My fist collected clumps of hair in aggravation. I was scared out of my wits. The blaring sirens from outside weren't helping matters.
"You're ok-you're ok. Calm down." My whispered cries tried to sooth me. After several minutes, I finally got enough control over myself to dial the phone.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
"Sweetie?" That familiar voice coated my shaking body like a warm blanket.
"Hey, mom." I cleared my burning throat and tried not to quiver, "Sorry I'm just no-now calling you back I-"
"Oh baby, I'm glad you finally picked up the phone! I was so worried!" I pulled the phone slightly back. Her usual boisterous voice was pounding into my brewing headache.
I scrapped some remaining spit from my mouth, "Yea-uh sorry I-I was-"
"I know-I know its annoying to have your mom call you. I realize you have been on your own for over a year now, but it's a parent's job to worry. Otherwise we would have nothing better to do!" I heard her typical chuckle.
I wanted to word vomit everything. The event was on the tip of my tongue. My mind kept itching for me to tell her, to tell them, all of it. That little conscience of mine wanted me to explode all the frantic details from start to finish. My heart scrapped at my chest to beg them to come get me.
I wanted to go home.
With a clear tired voice I cut her off, "No, seriously its fine. I'm-I'm glad you called. I was having trouble with my phone earlier. So, you did me a favor to make sure it was working properly." I ran a hand over my eyes. I had forgotten the smears of blood, and my eyelids became clouded from the stains.
"Oh that stupid phone, its always having problems. Glad you got it working again." My mother rambled on as I blindly made my way to my bathroom. I placed the phone of the pearly counter, turned the faucet, before cupping the cool water in my hands.
"Honestly, can you believe your sister? I had to practically drag her home by her ear from school! None of the professors wanted to let her go! Being top of her class and all-" I mentally rolled my eyes. How could we possibly have one conversation without having to hear about her…
"Yeah I bet mom-" were the few short words I was able to slip in.
I coughed a few times, as my sick lungs tried to relieve themselves of the congestion. I glanced in the mirror. I wanted to die, I looked more pathetic than a mangy stray dog. My damp hair and cloths stuck to me like a second layer of skin. My face was the color of alabaster makeup with my puffy blood shot eyes to compliment it. Little tinted droplets of crimson causally dripped down my cheeks. As if I had cried blood. My lips were shredded from all the biting.
"So-I'm sorry dear, that's why you will have to adjust to the Cottonelle this time instead of the usual Charmin brand. Well, I mean I could check the store by you-" My mother was still rambling.
I sighed, "Its fine mom. Charmin-Charmin is just fine." I practically sucked all the air from around me. My head kept throbbing. I was growing sicker by the minute.
"Well arighty hun, I got to go. Pinky Lee just vomited all over the rug. You know how he is. Poor fellow, nothing agrees with his tummy. Pukes up this and that every other day." My stomach went queasy. "I mean it's a mess every time I turn around. You know? Well the other day-"
I clenched my grumbling stomach, "Yeah got it mom. Hope the dog feels well soon. "
"Awe thanks sweetie. Well better go- love you! Hugs and kisses. Oh here's your father." I heard the passing of the phone. My head swelled and my pelvic area flared with pain.
"Hey, hun no worries we will get you a new phone when we see ya."
"Alright, thanks dad." I mumbled quickly in agony.
No sooner had I pressed the 'end' button did I race to the toilet to vomit all my guts up. Each watery mouthful felt as if an organ was passing through. My stomach stirred as the mixing bowel of emotions was emptied into the toilet.
Flush after flush the puke drained down the city pipeline. I must have been in there for what seemed like hours. I didn't want to leave. It felt decent enough to just lay over the lid. Eventually, however the smell burned into my nose causing me to grow ill once more.
Stoically, I staggered to my knees. A chilling sweat slicked my clammy skin. The nausea feeling still hadn't left but I couldn't remain in these clothes.
The bra alone was killing my ribcage. After several moments of cursing I achieved putting on my nightclothes. A grey long sleeve sweater covered my cold limbs and black sweat pants did my legs justice. I returned to the bathroom. I disinfected the stinging cuts on my face, particularly my chin when I hit the pavement, and my fingers. I remembered that slimy tongue on my neck and frantically rubbed my skin clean. I patched up my wounds and headed out.
I didn't eat.
My stomach was still twisted. My nerves still pinched me under my skin. I found myself curled under a blanket on the couch in my cramped living space. I buried myself under its warmth, its protection, before I flicked the TV on. A nightly comedy was playing; its volume competed with the clapping noise of thunder outside.
I gripped my phone like a teddy bear before the aches of the day took over. And my eyes drifted off to sleep.
I gasped for air as my heavy eyes ripped open. Sweat pooled from my brow line. My chest heaved from stress. It took me a second to register that I had awoken from a nightmare. The memories from earlier had damned my dreams as well.
"Shit-Shit." I repeated to myself.
I mentally tried to calm myself. I had to or else I was going to die from a heart attack. I placed a wet hand on my face as I retrieved my phone from the covers. Its screen lit up like a cheerful smile and read me the time of 2:05 am.
I sighed a long dreary moan.
I was feeling worse than shit.
My blurry eyes caught sight of the flashing television screen. I pinched my brows together as I read the header, its red blaring banner alerting its viewers.
:Breaking News! More mauled victims have been discovered. Attacks on local college students continues. 3 bodies have been identified as…:
I didn't read the remaining alert for my blood went cold.
That wasn't thunder. Again the noises continued. I was terrified to move. I swallowed some courage before I was able to even twist my torso around to see behind me. I shook the entire time. The adrenaline beating through my veins only made the anxiety grow inside me more.
Nothing was there. I nodded to convince myself I was all right. The sounds continued, fear gripped me however; I pushed myself to at least twist the switch to the table lamp. I flinched as an orange light flooded the corner of the room. It allowed me some comfort.
I wanted to duck and hide from the creeping shadows though. They peered around every corner and piece of furniture in the room. Everything was a monster.
The sounds were disturbing and the curiosity was killing me. Stifling any hiccupping fears I rose to my feet with a hand slightly clamped over my mouth. I ventured down the narrow hall to where I had originally came from the bathroom. I peered in there. Empty.
The noise grew. My feet slowly carried me forward. My steps eked as they bared my weight on the floor. Though it sounded more like gunshots than just carpet talk. Finally, I came to my bedroom.
I flicked the light on. Waited, then hesitantly glanced around. Again nothing. It took me several minutes to gather the strength to head toward the remaining room. The second bedroom, where guest would stay, that was the only one left down the hall. That rackety noise banged louder as I crept forward.
My bandaged fingers clung to my phone and my shield around my shoulders. The blanket dragged behind me as I neared to the doorway opening. I couldn't wait this time. In a jerky motion I flipped the switch on and looked in.
"Oh god." Tears pricked my eyes once more.
The window to my apartment was fully open. A goose bump chill blew at my face. I was mortified and struck again with the sensation of wanting to vomit. The shutters from outside clacked and thudded from the windy storm. Rain had begun seeping from the window seal and onto the bed's comforter.
"That window has been open awhile." I robotically whispered to myself. My thoughts became vocal.
"Cleaver." A demonic voice hushed in my ear.
My parched throat nearly screamed before a firm hand muffled it. I squirmed and kicked. I was ready. I was going to fight.
My limbs flared and my head violently thrashed. I felt an arm grip my waist. My attacker strapped me closer to him. His hold tightened only harder the more I tried to worm my way free. My cries were pathetically silenced.
He didn't say a word as he dragged me back to the main room. My feet developed rug burn quickly. With his weight he sat us both back on the couch. I was basically seated in his lap. But I never stopped struggling.
"Shhh. Hush. Calm down. Shhh." My capture softly said as he held me.
I attempted to bite his palm but only ended up numbing my teeth. His skin was unbearably hard. It was as if I chewed into metal.
"Mefuff-ugh a mugo!" I whined with suffocating jumbled words. His arm around my stomach constricted more. I had to squeeze my eyes shut to forget the pain.
"Relax first. Then I'll explain. Breathe." His voice was monotone. With no pitch of excitement or anger, it was as if he was here to deliver a message for job. Nothing more and nothing less it seemed. My throbbing fingers wrapped around his snake like arm. "I said relax."
I swallowed before hesitantly allowing my straining muscles to ease. As mine did, so did my familiar attacker's.
"Good-" His thumb lightly stroked my cheek. As if I was being rewarded like a pet, I was horrified, "now I need you to remain quiet for a bit." The hand that cupped over my mouth was becoming a steam mask. The heat from my breathe was circulating around his palm and trapping the humidly. My heart raced as my phobia set in. The panic was rapidly overtaking my chest and mind. I was going to vomit.
I removed my hands from the arm around my torso. With my injured figures I clawed at the barrier around my face. I needed air. I needed air!
The fear of suffocation was setting in, again. My body twitched and jumped in any attempt to allow my lungs fresh oxygen. I felt like a fish out of water, my frame flopped around gasping for any relief.
"Easy-easy. Just be quiet. That's all I'm asking." His calmness wasn't helping. Finally, in a last attempt, I used my mind and gently tapped his hand. My cue caught his attention. "I can't-sorry. Sorry, just-just be still. Be quiet." I shook my head and asked again. I couldn't sit here like this. My vision was becoming spotted.
I heard him sigh.
"Alright." I felt his grip loosen, "Don't make me regret this."
Finally, I gasped all the fresh clean air in my lungs. I coughed as the oxygen flooded too swiftly down my throat. It felt good, oh so good. My head lay on his chest as my pulse started to come back down to normal.
"It's a good thing my arm isn't like human flesh anymore." Shockingly, I heard him chuckle, "Otherwise your grip would have dug into the bone." I blinked in confusion. Then my eyes snapped to my hold on the limb that had covered my mouth.
"Oh!" I was somewhat stunned by my reaction. "I-"
The sirens from outside boomed along with the echo of pops from gunshots. A lone finger was planted on my lips. The notorious signal-
"Quiet." He said, his voice barely audible over the noise outside.
We remained in that position for several minutes. I never got comfortable. My skin crawled with fear. Then again, it could have been from the cold. I no longer had my shield, my blanket, and the chills were setting in.
"Is this what the media has been saying about us?" My attacker asked. I didn't bother to face the news channel. I didn't want to see the dead victims. I didn't want to see their names flash on the screen or their parent's sobbing.
I didn't want to see my fate.
Another round of fire erupted.
"Common." I felt myself unexpectedly shoved to my feet. I ended up slightly gripping my intruder for support. My weakness had not left my system. He half carried me down the hall. Along the way the Ghoul stopped and snatched up my phone. I mentally slapped myself. How could I have forgotten my utensil for survival?
Had my head still been stuck in the toilet?
What was I doing?
I'm going to die. My organs were going to be ripped from my flesh and snacked on like a well prepared caesural. He's going to fucking eat you, N/F! I internally screamed at myself. Shivers and sickness flooded my fragile self.
"No! No! No-please no! Stop-Stop it!" I dug my heels into the ground. I wasn't going. I wasn't going to be chewed on. My bones were not going to be the toothpick to clean his teeth. I heaved all my weight backwards against his toned chest.
I didn't have a chance. My body was scooped up into the bridle position. I threw my tantrum; I yelled, cursed, threatened, squirmed, and even hit. Ghoul simply brushed it off like the pathetic mortal I was. He knew he had already caught his prey. Tears spilled as I was tossed onto the bed.
"Calm down. You're going to make yourself sick. "
I didn't look at him. Heck, I barely heard him. All I saw was my ticket to freedom. That window was still open, still calling my name. Its shutters acted like hands beckoning to come-to run!
And that's exactly what I did. With a burst of energy I spirited to that opening. I felt empowered. One hand then another- then my head leaned out. The breeze greeted me. It froze my dry tears to my face. It was refreshing, it kept me going forward. Freedom it was there. Life…
"Whoa, there." I felt a sickening grip fasten around my torso, "That's a little dangerous don't you think?" My body was pulled back through the window. My escape shoot was soon sealed up behind me. The shutter's encouragement locked away. Again, I was planted on the bed. It was just he and myself. Me against him.
The two of us alone in the guest room.
Nothing really happened after my attempted escape, except my usual emotional cycle. I cried, whined, and sulked. Basically I had a meltdown and my attacker remained reserved and only would casually repeat the phrase, you're going to make yourself sick.
"What does it matter?" I snorted. Fluid gurgled in my lungs. The Ghoul simply listened, "I mean-your going to eat me anyways. The hell does it matter if I'm sick?" Slight anger brewed inside me. I looked at that black oil stained mask of his. That haunting smile just poked fun at me. It laughed at my venerable human state.
"Wh-what does it matter-" I drifted my gaze to his cold eye. He starred for a moment. His back leaned against the closed door, the other sealed exit. His arms were casually crossed over his mid-section. He was at ease while I sat in terror.
"It doesn't- really." He paused. I drew my knees to my chest.
"Get some rest."
"What?"- My patients were dwindling, my irritation was rising.
"You need your sleep."
I gripped my legs, frustration was coursing threw my veins. I half listened to the police cars and ambulances outside. They seemed so far away from where I was. After chewing on my lip I decided to press further.
"What game is this?" I narrowed my skeptical eyes at him.
"Game?" He cocked his head. You have to be joking, right?
"Yes-Game! What game is this? What are you playing? What's the next move? You've banged me up, put a lock on that damn door."
I yelled at him as I violently pointed at the exit where he stood. But I wasn't done, " And now you won't even tell me what you plan to do? How much crueler can you be?" I screamed my worries out of my lungs. And even when it was over, I didn't feel done. I choked on my cries as my week hands gripped the bed sheets.
I looked at him. I was disheartened to see to see he wasn't fazed. Not in the slightest. He was staring off. The siren's wails from the town were more important.
"Fuck you." I sneered.
"What was that?"
Oh shit. That did not just come out of my mouth.
"I-I well-I didn't-that's not what I said- I" My words spilled out like scrambled eggs.
Even behind his mask I could no longer see a relaxed expression. The muscles around his eye were tense and budging. The air around him thickened. It was as if all the energy in the room was full of static. His hooked arms fell to his sides as he boldly strolled to the end of the bed. I leaned back into the pillows, hoping to sink down and hide.
"Alright, have it your way." I tensed as he continued to speak,
"I'll tell you why I'm here. The reason is you got away with murder earlier today. Yes-you. I'm a busy person, with multiple tasks. I have an oath- a sealed agreement to uphold but you-you stopped it. You were only supposed to be a meal. I had smelled your flesh before you had even noticed me. I had targeted you as a quick energy source. That's why I didn't wear my protection. That's why I didn't wear my mask-"
What the heck is he talking about?
"You weren't supposed to live." He shook his head, "But now-now you've seen my face. You have etched in your mind my identity. As a friend once told me-you're a threat to my existence, to my survival as a Ghoul."
My mind was spilling. Saw his face? Know him? I barley caught a glimpse of his eye let alone anything else!
With a face of panic I immediately defended myself, "No-no your wrong! I don't know you! I didn't see anything. In fact I blacked out. I hardly recall anything!" I sat up frantically.
"You're a liar." He grimly said.
"Huh?" I played dumb.
"A few moments ago you were ranting about me causing you those wounds." He gestured to my injured self. "Don't screw with me. I know you saw me. And I know you remember me."
"I swear I won't tell anyone. Honest. If-If this is your concern then please believe me I won't tell a soul. " I confessed shakily.
"You're life isn't honestly worth this hassle." He practically growled, "But you just had to mention that message. That stupid talk about your mom." For once I was the one speechless.
His shoulders eased before he strolled over to his original spot and picked a familiar blanket. In a quick motion he was in front of me and placed the warm fibers around my shoulders. I was stunned with concern written all over me. Was this going to help soak up all the blood?
Before I had the chance to say anything I felt a different weight behind me. No longer were the pillows supporting me. My heart nearly exploded from the sickness that was taking over. I could feel the rise and fall of my attacker's chest. The remaining dresser light had been clicked off. Darkness over took the room.
"Now go to sleep." He whispered in my ear. His arms again wrapped around me. My eyes somewhat caught a glimpse of his char colored nails that encased my wrists.
"Uh-what are you-?" I asked with a raw throat.
"Just making sure you're not going anywhere." He pulled me closer to him. Closter phobia was setting in. I tried to adjust my back and struggled to get to the best position to get plenty of air. This was beyond torture. But the idea of being devoured, the thought of him biting into my flesh, the pain I would feel kept flooding into my head over and over. The combination was toxic.
The Ghoul interrupted my thoughts, "You're fingers aren't that sore- are they?" I felt his touch gently rub my aching hands. But I ignored his question.
"What-what are you planning? What's going to happen-"
"I'm still deciding." His thumb made tiny circles on my skin.
"I'm still deciding whether or not I'm going to let you live."
I nearly gagged.
"Shhh. Get some sleep. You're going to make yourself sick."
The sirens still cried, the shots till popped, and the sad clouds continued to fill the bucket to the rim.
He's kinda twisted, isn't he? ;)