Then, I heard the chains. My breathing quickened, I could see it leaving in clouds that formed before me as though they were life itself while the sound of my own heart banged loudly in my ears as I looked around but saw nothing. Darkness was all consuming. Even so, I could feel it; a growing sense of panic coming up from somewhere within until it seemed to fill me up making one thing abundantly clear: I had to get out of there. I turned around and began to run, running as fast as I possibly could but I felt heavy, the muddy ground sticking unto me as I tried desperately to hurry. It was as though the ground itself conspired against me, with each step trying to hold me in place but I would not allow it, there was nothing that could stop me from getting away from that thing. Still I heard the chains, loud and incessant as though they were right behind me. I jumped and dashed through the trees but the moonless night made each step a mystery and I found myself running aimlessly until I tripped and fell, hitting my knee on the way down. The pain was enough to take over my leg but the fear was so much worse that it didn’t stop me; I just noticed that my leg had gotten caught on a vine and it seemed to have wrapped itself pretty tight as I struggled to free myself. I began to panic, especially as the sound of the chains grew louder and louder, the rhythm almost mocking me as the ground shook more and more in unison. I could hear it, so close now that I could almost feel its icy breath taking on hold of the lightless night and I struggled harder, trashing my hands around pulling and tearing until I felt my foot give and I broke free.
I laughed for a second as I gained some distance before emerging at the edge of the woods, looking around for any sign of help but I could see nothing. I didn’t even know where I was or how I’d gotten there, but far off in the distance I could make up some lights and I sighed in relief before rushing off. I tried my best to run fast, but the pain on my leg was still there and it was only then that I noticed that I was bleeding, but I didn’t care. I didn’t have time to care, because the sound of the chains followed me around no matter how fast and far I ran, each moment the sound growing impossibly louder as I tried to cross that open field. I wanted to look behind me to see it but I couldn’t, I wanted some relief, some hope that I was leaving that thing behind but it was as if my own fear kept my eyes forward in an effort to forget what was happening to me and concentrating on nothing but my own survival. Running was all I could think of, running and getting to that place.
I was so concentrated that the swing took me by surprise. All I knew was that one second I was running and the next I was high above the ground, floating helplessly before crashing into a tree, pain surging straight through me and making me dizzy. I tried to focus, to see the creature coming but I was in so much pain that I couldn’t help but vomit, the acid taste feeling sharp in my mouth. I tried to stand up, placing a knee on the ground as I tried to grab hold of the tree trunk and gain some balance but I failed as I felt the world spinning and I fell flat on my back. The pain had taken over, it was too much for me to carry on and I couldn’t help but close my eyes and give in, wishing it all to stop. I could hear the chains getting louder now, and the ground shaking more and more until I could feel myself getting slightly bounced off the ground. Even so, the thing that scared me the most was the laughter. It was almost inaudible but it was there, hidden beneath the chains.
I could hear it, deep and grotesque as if coming from some ancient and forgotten place. A sound that sent shivers down my spine as if I somehow knew it from some long forgotten time, a fear as ancient as creation itself. I was terrified. So much so that I almost gave in then, gave up what life I had left if only it would all stop, but I remembered Lilly, beautiful Lilly in her sun-kissed dress and I knew that I couldn’t give up. I opened my eyes then and used whatever remaining strength I had left to dash unto the light, I couldn’t see the place but the brightness was enough for me to know the general direction so I ran as best I could. The distance wasn’t great, but the fear and pain I felt were so that each step was a trial in and of itself. I knew that the creature could get me at any moment, I knew that it was toying with me, but still I had hope, I hoped that I would see her again. I was almost there, just a little bit more. Then the second hit connected, sending me flying straight into the door of what appeared to be an abandoned farm house. I guess the monster was trying to help.
I screamed. I screamed harder and louder than I’d ever screamed before as I looked at my left arm and saw that it was bent in a way that it’d never been bent before, the bone sticking out profusely as I began to bleed. Behind me I could see that my back was leaning on the wooden door to the house, old and crooked as if it’d been abandoned long ago and I began to lose hope. “Help!” I screamed, banging on the door with what little strength I had left but there was no response. With each moment I could feel the strength leave me, each pound on the door significantly weaker than the one before until I lost all hope of any help coming. Then the door gave in. It opened suddenly and my body stumbled in, falling flat on my side and the pain of it bringing me back from the brink.
I was on the floor, looking into the home but it was too dark for me to see anything. Still, all I could think of was safety. I raised my right arm and grabbed hold unto the floor, dragging myself little by little into the home but I was too slow, for all I knew I was there for a lifetime. Behind me I could hear the chains, but even worse than that I could hear the laughter. It mocked me, this thing. It mocked my struggle. It mocked my life. But I would not let it, I would not give it the satisfaction to take me away from Lilly without a fight so when I finally dragged my body all the way into the home I kicked the door close for protection, no matter how little good it’d do.
It was worse inside the home. It smelled moldy and rotten, every single possession inside that place crashed and fell with each of the creatures steps. “Stop!” I yelled pleadingly, but the creature grew ever closer. Tears fell down my face as I tried to get up, grabbing hold of a counter that stood beside me for support. As I did I noticed something shiny on top of it and my hand dashed towards it, it was a knife! As soon as I grabbed it everything stopped, the pans and dishes that had clinked in unison with the creature now lay motionless and I heard nothing. Nothing but the sound of my ragged breathing, and the laughter.
It began as a whisper almost, but the fear I felt towards it had grown beyond my control. I began to walk slowly through the dark house, holding the knife in front of me trying to protect myself from the sound that seemed to have taken hold of my life but I felt powerless. With each step I took the laughter grew louder, so loud now that I could no longer think as I stepped into the dark room, the laughter deafening. I saw the figure in front of me then, standing mockingly amid the room as I tried to cover my ears with my one good hand but it was too much and I couldn’t take it anymore as I screamed “STOP!”
The creature lunged towards me then, the figure rushing to take my life but I would not let it, so I took the knife and with what little strength I had I plunged it straight into its chest. I would never forget the disgusting feeling of metal ripping flesh. It was there, standing on the dark room when the lighting flashed, that I realized it. The laughter was inside me. It was so loud that there was nothing of me left, and I laughed. I laughed louder than I ever had before as I took the knife off her sun-kissed dress, her small frame falling unto the floor with a slight thud. It was the only thing that I could hear besides the laughter, and I would remember it for the rest of my existence. I fell on my knees then, the pain no longer important as I laughed, turning my tear stricken face towards her small form before placing the blade on my heart, pushing it as deep as I could. The pain was only momentary as my body fell alongside hers. I could feel my strength leave me, what little I had, as the darkness surrounded me yet nothing mattered, nothing but grabbing hold of her small hand one last time. I tried to tell her I loved her but I didn’t even have the strength to do that, all I could do was hold on for one second longer so I could see her face. But I was gone.
I awoke then, startled, my breathing coming fast as I returned from that vivid nightmare. I could feel sweat dripping from my brow and I brushed a hand against it in an effort to cool myself and calm my nerves. I tried to remember my dream but now it all seemed fuzzy. Long gone, increasingly unimportant with each passing breath until, finally, I no longer remembered what was so scary about it. Sitting down I found myself enjoying the cool night air, closing my eyes and letting my hands dive deep into the earth as I did. I don’t know why but the damp ground felt somehow comfortably familiar to me. Then, I heard the chains.