It seems like a hundred years since I released my debut short story collection Urban Chiller, when it was only 2015. My writing style has evolved and grown to something different now, but I’ll always have a soft spot for some of the tales in it. Below is a piece of flash fiction from Urban Chiller.
She comes to me in the night as I lie awake in the thick darkness of the room, the changing neon display of my bedside alarm clock the only true sign I have that time has not completely stopped.
I hear the curtains by the window rustle and the now familiar padding of her feet across the carpet. She slips under the sheets effortlessly like she is summer breeze. Her touch is light as she cuddles up to me and I slip my arm under her head and hold her shoulder gently. She feels like porcelain in my fingers. She’s my very own porcelain doll.
The first time she came I was terrified. I yelled out and shrieked as I saw the curtain move. Her shadow appeared inexplicably and seemingly from nowhere from behind the curtain of a window that was locked tight. I fought against her the first time in panic, thinking I was lost somewhere between consciousness and a nightmare, that nether land of confusion and false images, tricks of a broken mind.
That first time she told me in whispers that she meant me no harm; but that she was cold and had been walking a long time. She asked to lay with me in bed and when I began to calm down, I let her in. Although I only ever see her silhouette, she reminds me of Sarah, my Sarah. I cannot see her features in the dark of the room, but her skin feels just like hers and the scent of her hair is the same, before the cancer that ravaged her body took her away from me. Forever.
When I first held her close, I asked her if she is Sarah, but she doesn’t answer. She never answers. She just says she is cold and tired. After a while, I stopped asking. She doesn’t talk much but sometimes she whispers of others, others just like her. Shadows that move around close by, they just choose not to show themselves. I ask her who they are. She pauses and says she doesn’t know. She just calls them the bright ones and says they are looking for her and that they offer her light and shelter if only she’ll go with them.
She also says there are…others. Ones who do not shine; ones with dark in their hearts and they look for her, too. They promise her things, great things. They promise her anything and everything if only she’ll take their hand and follow. She seems afraid when she talks about them, I can hear her fear. It’s hidden in her whispers.
The house is dark, even in daylight, and each night I go to bed to wait for her, whoever she may be. When I hear that now familiar rustle of the curtains and that padding of her feet across the carpet in the dead of the night, I feel my heart skip over a beat as she slides in between the sheets, and into my arms again. But she is always cold. So very cold.
One day she will stop coming and I’ll know that she’s chosen her path. I’ll be left alone again, in the dead of the night, without her. When the silence is too great and the darkness too dark, maybe I too will choose a path.
A path away from the dead of the night.