Stay in the Light

I posted a challenge on Facebook, asking all of my Friends to create an opening sentence to a short story. The opening sentence to THIS story is the one that I picked from those selections (obviously). The sentence was provided by Kendra Perry-who just so happens to be my World History teacher.

This story started out being mere entertainment but, like most things I write, ended up being an allegory. An allegory for what, you may ask? Well, that's for you to decide.

     The beeping wouldn’t stop.

     I blinked into consciousness and jerked up in my bed. A dark, gloomy mist seemed to shroud the bedroom. The door at the far side of the room was closed and secure. Dilapidated curtains blew in the wind—wind coming from the open window.

     Open window?

     An open window would not have been such a strange thing, had I not vividly recalled closing it the night before. I had been very intentional about doing so, as it was Winter. Cold nights and Winter went together like beer and bread—neither was preferable on their own, but together they gave a certain comfort.

     My feet found the floor and carried me to the window. I looked out for a moment and listened. The beeping was still loud and shrill and just as clear—the sound was not coming from outside. I quickly closed the window.

     The beeping was consistent and rapid, urgent. When I had first awoken, I had suspected it to be my phone, but the more I listened the more sure I became that it was something far more sinister. My night was about to be ruined, and I could feel it. Evil omens seemed to shout ghastly at me wherever I turned. My heart beat relentlessly, and I could feel my palms beginning to soak in sweat. I ran my hand through my hair and breathed deeply.

     Somewhere, in earshot, a woman cried. I tried to force a swallow, but my throat didn’t cooperate. I moved to the window, pushed the curtains aside, and stared deeply into the streets. Darkness had enveloped it; so much so, in fact, that it was impossible to see much more than a few street-lamps—swinging in the breeze. My eyes lowered to see a shadow—a figure—standing beneath the streetlight. It was nothing more than a silhouette—a faceless ghoul of the night—but the sight still made my skin crawl. It seemed to be facing me, staring at me. I stared back. It wasn’t moving, but I could see it breathing. The shoulders of the shadow rose and fell consistently. Whatever it was, it was certainly alive. Slowly, the shadow receded. It stepped back and out of the light and disappeared into the darkness—retreated into the night. I licked my lips.

     A crashing sound from behind me sent cold spikes screaming up my spine. I swung around and fell back against the window, my leg extended. “Who’s there?!” I cried, my voice hoarse and desperate. When there was no reply, I sank to the floor. 

     Beep . . .

     Beep . . .

     Beep . . .

     My head throbbed. I covered my ears in an attempt to drown out the blaring noise, and tried to calm my shaking body with deep breathing and quiet, peaceful thoughts. My thoughts were anything but peaceful, however. I was very worried and shaken by the sounds and darkness that surrounded me. I could see the light-switch on the wall by the door, but I feared the darkness too much to stand. Another deep breath, another quiet thought. My heart beat eased.

     Fear . . . fear . . .

     I composed myself as much as I could, gripping my hand—squeezing the adrenaline away. Another deep breath, another quiet thought. My heart beat eased once more.

     Fear . . . fear does not exist.

     I inhaled sharply, filling my lungs and throat.

     Fear is a choice. Fear is an illusion. Fear does not exist.

     I reached up, gripped the windowsill, and pulled myself to my feet.

     I am not afraid.

     I exhaled.

     I was standing. I looked around the room, ensuring I was alone. I held my breath.

     There were many sounds. The clock ticked, the window shook, the wind blew—and, still, a loud and shrill beeping . . .

     I moved to the door. I hit the switch and gave one last glance behind me before forcing the door open. Light enveloped everything behind me as I moved from my room and into the hallway. The hallway had no electric lights—only candles aligning the walls.

     Immediately, I entered the bathroom. There was a matchbox by the sink. I grabbed it and turned the bathroom lights on. As the bathroom was bathed with light, I reentered the hallway. I struck a match and began to systematically light all of the candles aligned on the right side of the hall. I then returned to light the ones on the left. 

     Now, that cursed beeping.

     I descended the staircase quickly but calmly, careful not to allow myself to slip into fear.

     Fear does not exist.

     I lit another match and carried it with me as I searched the dark for the downstairs light-switch. The small flame offered little light, but just enough that I could walk without worrying about running into walls. I entered the kitchen and hit a switch. White lights flickered on, just as a terrible tearing sound erupted from behind me.

     I paused, but didn’t turn.

     Footsteps echoed off the kitchen walls as someone—or something—approached me from behind. It was then that I realized that I had hardly taken any time to try and stay in the light, as I had been too busy trying to quench the darkness. I looked down at the ground and thought deeply, just as a cold, bony hand enveloped my neck.

     Maybe that was my problem all along . . .

     Beep . . .

     Beep . . .

     Beep . . .

The End

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