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The hazing, wintry night swirls around me, the mist making it harder for me to breathe. Maybe the mist has nothing whatsoever to do with that. Maybe it's the fear churning in the pit of my stomach, irrational, instinctive.
Yeah, that may have a little something to do with it.
I can't even look up and around; my sense of preservation has my gaze returning to my feet every time I make an attempt to try and figure out what is making me so jittery that jittery isn't even the word. The chilling, still air is swirling in my hair and tickling my neck; I jerk my hair from my neck irritably, and find something foreign on my skin.
I pull my hand back as if it's been burned; instead, what I'd felt reminded me of cold bubblegum that had gone hard. I want to check again, my curiosity overwhelming me, my sense of preservation beating it back. My heart beating erratically, I force myself to put my hand exactly where I'd thought I'd felt the foreign substance.
It was gone.
I exhale, but relief doesn't flood into my system. Instead, the vanishing act of the strange cold thing has tapped into the paranoia sleeping somewhere at the back of my head, so that the silence is like a buzz, warning me. The foreboding that creeps up my spine is so complex, yet devastatingly simple: telling me that there's nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Something I've never felt before.
And all this while I 've been rooted to the spot.
A slimy chill runs up my hand, making me shiver. I wonder if I'm just imagining this. I clamp my other hand onto the cold one, and am not surprised to find nothing between my palms.
But then the smily chill runs along my neck again...
I go rigid, completely unable to move, while my mind, crazily, flickers to a vision of a rabbit lying still pretending to be dead as a bear sniffs around for prey. Completely unrelated, yet so similar.
But this can't work. The slimy hand has a voice like whispering electricity to go with it: Don't move. I can make this not hurt so much if you don't move.
A flash of excruciating pain:
I sit up wildly in bed, sweat running down my face and making my covers damp. I get up and get out.
Further this time, I say to myself. My mind is working feverishly, though I just woke up. The sweat is running down the back of my neck, as I try to make sense of how many steps ahead I'd gotten this time in this recurring nightmare.
I really should stop reading those books, I think, trying to calm myself, as I spare a glance to my heap of fantasy novels. I stumble to the window and throw it open. Inhaling, I notice something rather odd. The night.
The night is the same. Cold, wintry, still as death.
What do you expect? It's December, I tell myself. But something about the stillness, the silence has me looking at my feet again. That's when I realise.
My mouth falls open in pure horror as I see two glistening drk drops on the floor. As I stare, a third bead runs down my back and joins the two. And then a shadow falls over it all.
I look up, and see.
Stupidly enough, all I can think of to say is: Please.
My whispered plea does nothing to him. Not a doubt. No hesitation. Not even an irritated twitch. Just the hungry look that can't be moved and the focus that can't be replaced.
I close my eyes.