The sounds carried through the air; a chorus of tiny voices high pitched and fervent. She searched around her, the shattered silence disorientating her. She had been walking with only her own angst ridden breaths as comfort for too long, yet the sounds that now surrounded her were unwelcome. The anonymity of each voice distressed her; the tone of angelic innocence scratching at a memory she had long suppressed. She closed her eyes, scrunching them tight and bringing her fists to her ears. But her vain attempts were too late. They were here and they weren’t going to let go.
She had fought hard against the waves, but to no avail. Her body floated atop the sea; bone weary, battered and bruised. Her night dress clung to her beaten form, the cotton transparent as the sea swallowed its fibres. Her heart ached in the solitude of her surroundings as the water drowned out her cries. Her tears dissolving in their watery grave, lost forever, sinking with her heart. Her body was now a lifeless form, weightless and forgotten. She called for her, whispered her name over and over, closer than she had ever been, an eternity still between.
She sat at the piano, her heart weighing heavy in her chest. Its dark wood was unkempt; littered with tea stains, rubbed bare where hands had come to rest. The ivory keys were stained and chipped, the black keys dull and begging to be brought back to life. She could hear the piano calling out her name, louder and louder, a crescendo filling the room. She flexed her fingers, resting them upon the keys that had once been so familiar. Taking a deep breath, she straightened her back and began to play, imagining her mother beside her once more.
The thudding noise of Clarice’s dreams had entered the real world. It was no longer a sign that he was coming, but a sign that he was already here. His dark shadow now loomed in the corner of the room, growing with each snatched glance she dare take it eclipsed the real world. His shape became indefinable as it swallowed her safe place, forever tainting it with his suffocating presence. Clarice remained frozen as he loomed over her, feeling a chill like an icy burn as he weighted her down. He was here and he wasn’t leaving without her.
Time stretched out, an eternity to be endured. The harshest winter held them in its grip, having crept upon them without warning. It was an insufferable shock when it set in; a deep chill that could not be shaken, taking a hold in a way only nightmares do. Yet they knew from this they could not wake. They trembled in their own skin, unable to escape the torment as the icy cold embrace settled in their very bones. Hearts began to freeze, an anchor pulling them under into an inescapable existence; an eternal wintertime enslaving them.
The beast howled at the door, a wooden barricade no match for the frenzy it threw from its parted lips. They shrank to the farthest corner, huddling from the nightmare into the arms of each other. The night drew on, seemingly unending under the torment of the thing outside. As a shriek broke from the house, just as they could take no more, silence fell. But the beast remained. A monster lurking in the darkness of the shadows, disguised by the unlit space. Only its breathing betrayed it. Sharp shallow intakes, a staccato song; a lullaby of nightmares.