In the days since, Amara had not slept during the night. This was illogical, she considered, because she knew that the shadows she feared were not linked to night-time on Earth. But still when she tried to relax at night she couldn't even make herself close her eyes, never mind actually sleeping.
She watched the sunrise every morning. It made her feel a little better. Seeing that every day event happen without fail, filling the sky with light, helped to reassure her that at least something in her life was stable. It was also how she recorded the passage of time. She wasn't allowed a watch in her room.
She peered around it now, sitting on the stripped bare bed with her knees drawn up to her chest, clad only in a thin hospital gown. The light was encased in a thick tough plastic. The window was glass, but unbreakable by human force. The walls and floor were featureless and blank - no pictures hung there, though the outline of where one had been was still on the wall, marked by a slightly darker square patch. The hook it was on had been removed, the hole filled badly with filler. There wasn't any furniture. It was too much of a risk.
A nurse appeared at the transparent door, waved, and then entered the room. Amara looked over at her vacantly. She had passed the stage of panic and pleading, crying for her freedom. It was tiring and although her mental stamina was excellent, it could only go on for so long.
Though the feelings were still there. The anxiety gripped her heart and wrenched it forwards, backwards, side ways and up her throat and into her mouth and onto the floor and-
"Are you okay Amara?" asked the nurse, pulling her out of her thoughts. Amara was grateful. Even though the building leaked hatred and trauma, the nurses were kind and meant well. It was like they couldn't feel the atmosphere that echoed round the walls of the unit. Perhaps it was because they weren't left to suffocate in it every day and every night. They got to go home. This was just work to them, not their life or their home.
Ha... home. Attaching a word like "home" to a place like this was just ridiculous thought Amara.
She nodded after a short delay, "Is it lunch time?"
"No, breakfast. Breakfast is before lunch," said the nurse.
"I know that," Amara snapped quickly. She wasn't stupid. Just insane said a voice in the back of her head. She chose to ignore it.
She got up off her bed and walked to the door, which the nurse held open for her. There were a couple of other patients coming for breakfast. The rest of them were considered too unstable to have breakfast with everyone else - they ate in their rooms instead, constantly supervised. Amara had spent the first couple of days like that, she recalled.
Not that she could blame them. She was ready to kill someone.
No, you were ready to kill yourself. And you would have done, if you had the chance.
She sat at the dining table. A bowl of cereal, pre-poured, had been placed in front of her. Rice Krispies, just like she used to have as a kid. She remembered putting about 10 spoonfuls of sugar on them back then when her mum wasn't looking. She ate a lot of sugar - every day after school she'd be off to the sweet shop getting a bag of pick and mix from the corner shop. Mr. Stanley knew her well and always had a bag set out ready with her favourites in. She never got fat though; instead she was a pretty scrawny kid because she spent so much time running around. Sitting down and playing with toys had never interested her - it was all about tig and skipping and roller blading.
Eating slowly, her thoughts turned to Rayan. He hadn't visited or contacted her because he couldn't - she still wasn't allowed visitors. She wondered what was going through his head and whether he was okay. Maybe they'd thought he was crazy too, after all very few people actually knew the shadow man was real. The doctors here had told her it was just a delusion.
But he existed. The fear she had felt that night when the power went out was raw and untainted. Although the events were murky and unclear in her mind, the way she had felt certainly wasn't. Despite wishing with all her heart that the shadow man was just some elaborate unpleasant nightmare, she knew that he was there - and that he was coming for her.
She wished she could die, because what the shadow man had in store for her was surely worse than death.