Her skin stretched along her thigh, so loose off the bone now. With her knees tucked under her chin to stop the quaking, she hugged herself. The curvaceous mounds of fir logs rolled along the ridges of her spine. They multiplied the disarray of purples and scarlets born out of blood vessels rupturing below the barely held-in surface. Her gaze fell upon the jagged moon scar, lightening the dark tones of her skin from thumb to pinky. Was it infected again? In the dimmed light, she was none the wiser.
An elongated outline twisted its labyrinthine body in and out of her sight. She took a breath, sucking it into her soul and ignoring the hitch of her emptying lungs. It exited in little puffs, short intervals becoming shorter. Her head began to float, wandering away from her feeble restraints of life, she wasn’t getting enough air. Dully, her transparent hand hovered over her chest. Somewhere far away she sensed an ache, a twinge every time she went to fill her lungs. With a nonchalant stare, the ghoul watched Kiara’s body slump to the ground, spasming and drooling. It convulsed and contracted, curling and unfurling upon itself, legs twitching. A spluttering echoed around the room, lips scrunching as they commanded the muscles of respiration to obtain the pockets of atmosphere it so desperately needed.
It finally got what it sought, and Kiara was sent whirlpooling back down into her confinements, back within her body. Her side was chilled from the gaps in the gnarly floorboard, icicles stabbing into her nerves and spreading up through every vein to deepen the cold in her heart. She sat up and moved her joints until they clacked back into position. Her stomach drooped low over her hips as she sat like a toddler. Her nightie was a light lavender and dipped low at the neckline. It would be flattering… On a wearer like the slim mannequins she had seen it on. The sleeves were short and she was getting cold. How had she even gotten out of bed? She had no recollection of the pitfalls of each footstep that could have brought her to this barren floorboard in the dining room of the family house.
She struck a match, watching the flames eat up the stick as she touched it to the wick of a candle. A pool of light befell her, rendering the floorboards in a rosy shade. She lit another candle, each strike of the match providing a spark in the darkness. Her pupils diminished slightly but the tension in her shoulders increased. The fine hairs began to rise up on the nape of her neck. “Just the cold” she murmured. But speaking aloud felt wrong. She was going to panic again, breathing in, out, in, out, her vision swimming with black and white zentangles. Apprehension flooded her mind and she felt her brain drown in the dread, gurgling its logical spiel until its final breath. She lit candle after candle, needing more light, more of the shadows to be gone.
She swirled and dived and ducked and weaved.
Standing back up to her full height she embraced herself, amid a fairy circle of flame. It cast an ethereal luminosity, the negative space becoming hollower as the light altered Kiara’s sight. She could no longer see the wall opposite her.
Melted wax invaded her nostrils and entrenched their harmless tendrils, allowing a moment’s release. Something for her mind to fix on, to ground herself.
She took a step backwards, heel exiting the circle.
She jittered away, letting out a screech. Every horror story had come crawling back, lodged within every thought and move she made. Every reasonable piece of her history reminded her she was safe and secure in this place that her family had called home and that she was alone. Completely. Alone. Right?
Kiara wasn't your cliche white girl who survived through the full 2 hours of adventure to return to their white and rich boyfriend. She was the one any director would kill at the beginning.
The door shuddered on its hinges, squealing its dismay. A strong gust of wind was all it was. Kiara knew this, she fought to let her frontal lobe take control, to stop letting her romanticisation of life scare her into the undying conclusion that sentient beings lay in wait, predating on her. She wanted to feel the soft cotton of her sheets cover her up. The creaky bed frame the purest melody to behold. Until a hand seizes your ankle from under the bed, moments before you can move it. The monster that runs after you in the pitch black and you just make it to your room as the taloned fingers clutch at your back, missing by a hair’s breadth—
Such an active imagination.
Kiara sighed and let her shoulders slump back in defeat as she remained paralysed in her circumference of candlelight. It was now she realised just how tired she was. How her eyelids become the North and South pole of magnets, attracting each other so strongly… so strong it was hardly a fair battle to keep them apart. Vaguely she remembered sitting down in her circle, laying down like the innocent lamb on a stone altar. Her fingers were absentmindedly rubbing over the scar on her hand. She had tried to save him, had reached her hand through the coil of barbed wire so violently. She remembered the blood, oh the blood as it spilt down her palm in crimson rivulets that dripped from the tips of her fingers. She had stared. Fixated. He had been beyond saving as his footing was lost, a cruel angel snatching him up in the claws of death. So she stared. At the oozing liquid drying against her bare skin. It was a relief when she had passed out, her head snapping back. Waking back up had been the curse.
Kiara’s eyes fluttered open now, the roiling seas had eased and she was breathing easy now. The silky fabric brushed over her figure and she laughed at her own fear. Laughing with renewed comfort, she blew out all candles except one which she took with her into the bedroom and onto the window sill. Kiara slipped between the covers, feeling them warm to the touch from her body heat. A sigh escaped her lips and this time she allowed her vision to wane. She leant over to blow out the candle, sheets rustling around her bodice. With air in her lungs that had seemed impossible half an hour ago, she blew out the candle.
In the last second of light, the mutilated face of her brother appeared at the window, bashed and bloodied. She was not alone.
Then; darkness fell.