Declining Destiny

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Horror to be a Hassle

I wake up in a flurry of confusion and grey air. There’s tower in front of me. One that reaches so far beyond the sky; it’s as indistinguishable as the edge of the atmosphere. Its sides are a blockade that stretch so far in the distance that there’s no suggestion of anything else in existence. No matter how far I move back, the image stays the same.

I turn tail with more energy in my legs than a deer fleeing from the blood lust of a coyote. But just like the deer my legs can’t bring me to freedom; even if I run until my muscles snap. Just like the deer… I’m trapped.

A tsunami rages inside my stomach and my limbs tremble in the ceasing of my attempted escape. I have to stop, there’s no use in running when it won’t move me an inch. With hesitance, I allow my senses to take in the setting around me.

I spin around to inspect the walls and notice their likeness to be less of stone and more of blocks of dense ash. The deep menacing cracks that are slit down over every other slab seem to ooze a murky green gas. I lift my nose to inhale and a stench of a grave yard’s worth of rotten flesh seeps into my lungs. I grab at my nose to relive me of the devastating smell but it’s already stuck to my chest. It forms an indescribable taste of decay in the back of my throat that starts to play with my gag reflex; until my disgust is ripped away by something that I find far more horrifying.

A whirling tornado of greys and blacks hangs over head, with an ominous threat to inhale anything below it. But that fear is too stripped away when the maniacal laugh begins to echo tauntingly from within the cyclone. Before I get a chance to react, the swirling greys and blacks start to descend. I try another fruitless attempt at escape while the clouds separate to close in on me. I tear into my ever faster sprint until everything that surrounds me is immersed in a thick fog; the sinister laugh now so loud it knocks the movement from my feet. I shudder and snap my head in all directions but I can’t decipher where the sound is coming from.

A deep whisper intertwines with the mist and the threats that hiss from every direction break me down to the floor. With my hair in my fists, my knees sink into the mud and I stare down at the empty ground with tears blurring my vision. The black hole that consumes the ground below me becomes clearer as the fog starts to rescind towards something in front of me.

The beast of pure fear corrupts my body with uncertainty pacing every breath. My hands lock my head in a vice-like grip, as close as they can hold it towards the bottomless black chasm beneath me. I could fall for eternity and never reach the end of the void, but any sight is better than to reveal what is in front of me… What screams at me to release my grip and allow my head to look upward.

Without command, almost as if I’m no longer in control of my body, my hands fall to my side. In the absence of my anchor my head is drawn up towards the sentient gathering of the smoky mist. What stands before me turns my skin to stone; with a power over my body that only Medusa could posses.

The mouldy green hood emerges from the mist and the shadowed face beneath it erupts a trembling shudder from within me. If I could muster a single sound I would beg for Medusa and her head full of snakes to appear instead. Though without any feeling in my lungs, I use my last drop of hope on a silent prayer.

But the picture doesn’t change. It’s still him.

It’s still the hooded man.

He stands tall, with fists clenched at his sides and eyes I can’t see that bore into me with a dominating rage. Every muscle in his body is stiff. He’s an immovable hulk with shoulders stretching as wide as my arm span and the only part of him that even flinches is his chest. It pumps up and down as each dragged out breath imitates the bellow of a bull.

His deep growl and immense torso start to fade beneath the cloud, as the mist creeps past him to get to me. It slowly circles… Taunting while it begins to gradually encloses around me. Its gaseous fists wrap around me with omnipotent force and clench tighter around me every second. My lungs become more and more constricted and every fibre of freedom I had left is obstructed. I wail, without a sound escaping my lips while its grip on me increases further and further, until I am condensed to nothing but my mind, and sealed inside a coffin of my worst nightmares.

***

“Elena, what is wrong with you?! You’ve been shouting about all sorts!” I awake, being ripped from my dreams, to my foster mother’s scowl hovering above me. “Maurice and I have work tomorrow you know, we don’t have time to deal with your little pleas for attention at 3 in the morning.” I pinch my eyes shut to deter any tears that wish to appear, but the angry wrinkles on her forehead scrunch tighter.

“Fine. Don’t apologise. Just keep looking at me like I’m the one that disturbed your sleep,” she scoffs before she marches towards the doorway like a drill sergeant that had just finished a good scalding. “If I have to get up again, you won’t leave this room for a week,” she emphasises with a final say chop of the air.

The door slams shut and my head falls onto my shoulder as the tears silently flow from my eyes. They know about my nightmares… They even know about the hooded man. But nobody cares about that anymore. The media sensation died down and now it’s all old news.

No one cares that I’m a wreck and they don’t care that he’s still out there, that he got away. He gets to live his life like nothing happened while I’m ruined forever.

I dig my nails deeply into my knuckles until they turn purple and let every tear held inside fall onto my pillow. The cotton beneath my head dampens as I cling onto my duvet like it’s the edge of a cliff and pant with a silent force.

After a while my flow of tears runs dry and my bloodshot eyes sting with every blink. My eyelids come together slower and slower until they can’t open anymore and I start to drift back into my nightmares with a sniffle.

*

“Elena babe, you’re gonna be late for school.” Esther gently nudges my shoulder with her delicate hand and I fling my head around to face her.

“How’d you get in my room?” I mutter through blocked sinuses.

“The foster parasites left for work and I broke in through the window,” she shrugs nonchalantly and flicks her thick caramel hair out of her pale face to get a clearer look at me. “You’re kidding me? You still get those nightmares?” she falters, dropping to the floor with sympathy filling her eyes and concern that twitches her slender nose. I nod, my mouth filled with my cotton sleeve and she sighs condolingly. “Come on, get in the shower and get dressed. At least school’s a distraction,” she commands me as I roll my eyes and drag myself from my bed to get ready.

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