By: Emilie V Sovis
I – The Parchment
The silence drives me to desperation. I am here in the dark, with little left of life but a desire to end the madness. Here is my final hope, my last call into the darkness that crawls ever closer to me. This is my recollection and record of the nightmare that has beset us all, and left us, far from one another, alone and quaking.
My skin has taken upon it a pallor like that of the grave. My eyes, peeled wide from staring into darkness have gathered beneath them bags of tired blood and weakened plasma, the children of my rampant insomnia. My hair is filthy; my skin is made-up with the dust of these long dead passages. My fingers are cut and callused and my nails are but brittle, receding refugees of cracked cartilage. I have not the beauty I once did. I have become a rotten ghost, a pitiful creature, and a terror to the eyes, but nothing compared to what moves in the darkness around me.
I have little with which to see myself but a small pool of water that has collected in the center of this chamber. One torch only burns in this room. I have replaced it many times, but soon I shall burn the last fuel I have in my possession, save for the very paper upon which I now write. Soon the darkness shall come and I will know whatever torment awaits me therein.
As I gaze at myself in a slowly dwindling pool, I realize that each time I sip from it, I suck away one more draught of the only manner by which I can know myself. Perhaps it is for the best, for my reflection haunts me.
I have taken the torch, and have explored the darkness. I have seen slither and scurry away from my light horrors which have made me scream in silence, paralyzed in fear. I have found bones like pearls, polished clean, and mad scrawlings in ancient, ruddy blots of that same ink which flows from my own veins.
There are white streaks on my face, where my tears, in the darkness, have washed away the dirt of this place. My belly has knotted and unknotted, knotted and unknotted, and I have kept my days by flow of blood. Two months. It has been long since that marker though, and no new blood comes to me.
I have no more food.
In the last few drops of water left in my little puddle, I see a skeleton staring back at me. My eyes are dark; my face, a frame of bone. Everything is stripped from me.
My last light burns low. I can feel the cold seeping into me. I have fashioned a weapon from pieces of flint and old torch-sticks. I can feel the darkness scratching at my flesh already, itching to get inside. My own heartbeat rattles me.
If I do not go, they will come to me. They will climb inside and they will eat me from the inside out.
II – The Wall
This place is playing with me. After stumbling blind for so very long my eyes burn by the brightness of a new room. I can’t see where the light is coming from. It seems to come from every direction and no direction at all. It is sickening. It is pale and cold.
There are strange piles of bones set neatly around this room. Their stares bore into my skin. Their faces are disfigured, bones overgrown and twisted. Could they be what I felt staring at me as I wandered in the dark? Or was there more?
I remember reaching forward and finding warm skin and slick hair. A flurry of motion and a horrible scream, something like a human mingled with a beast. I ran so quickly that my heart roared against my dying bones. I ran until I fell, until exhaustion took me. My mind blended sleep with waking. I do not know what else was real or nightmare until I saw the very light I lay in now.
I now have slept and I regret it. I feel like I am distorting. Like my skin and bones are stretching and swelling and warping. The walls are laughing at me. When I look at them I can see a reflection in their polished sheen. But it is not mine. The bones are wrong. The eyes are wrong.
I must return to the dark. I have scratched this message with the last dwindling charcoal of my long-dead torch and my fingers are raw. This light is false. The dark was surely a better place to scream.
III – The Skin
There is a man in my life now who knows the ways of ink and needle. This will be his handiwork, but my words. I record for the last time now upon my own body.
I left the chamber of false light and I plunged into the dark once more. For unknown days I wandered and was tormented. In time, I no longer saw with my eyes, but with my mind alone. I saw creatures made of eyes and made of ears and made of mouths. I saw writhing worms unfathomably large, tangled and choking amidst their own slimy loops. They bore into me, they ruined me. They bit me and chewed me. They spoke in tongues that grated my ears endlessly. My soul screamed in harrowing. I was lost for an eternity.
At last and by chance, I tumbled into water. When my mind made sense of the water, I breathed deeply of it. I dreamt of an end. There came a darkness of the mind from which I did not awaken for a very long time. When I breathed out, it was forceful and intrusive. I coughed and vomited. Yet there was warmth at last upon my face.
The sun shone down on a monster. There was a cluster of blurry faces surrounding me. I could barely understand their words, but the fear in their tones was clear to me. Only one came forward to touch me. A kindred soul.
I no longer look at water and I no longer sleep at night. No matter how far I travel from that place I know it is trying to drag me back. I am resting here for now, just long enough for my story to be carved into my twisted skin. Then I shall leave. I will flee this place and never return.
Emilie Sovis is a fiction writer born and raised in the rural woods of the Northeastern United States. She published her first book “To the West” in 2016, having published short stories for years previously. Her stories detail the mark of tribulation on the human soul, the change that life can catalyze within, and the heroism to be found in acts of courage both small and great.
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