The knocking startles me awake, unaware of what time it is or how long I have truly been trapped in this prison that I used to call my home. Rising from bed I grab the remnants of a candle from my night stand, light is a luxury in this place. Glancing towards the window I see darkness, but what did I expect? Distinguishing day from night has become a fruitless effort since the sun abandoned us.
Making my way to the bathroom I momentarily light the candle, only to quickly glance at myself in the mirror. The darkness has a way of making time stand still, without light the days have a way of melding into one another. I started tracking time through my ever thinning body however this has proved unnecessary since it began making daily visits – I guess old habits die hard.
Continuing down stairs, I ready myself for the conversation to come. To be honest I think I would have given up a long time ago had it not been for the way it mocks me, I cannot let such insult defeat me. Playing its different roles thinking one day I’ll say yes; dressing as old friends, family members, and of course my wife. It loves playing my wife most of all. I have become particularly adept at seeing through its deception. I see it for what it is, a string of lies. And I will not invite it in.
The knocking continues and will not cease until I answer.
Opening the door I see my wife, wearing the same dress she had on when the darkness consumed everything, a counterfeit smile painted on her face.
“Hi dearest, may I come in?”
“No,” I say, head down not wanting to look at her.
“Please, it’s very cold out here – I just want to warm up.”
LIE - I am not inviting it in, I doubt that that thing can even feel cold.
“Everyone is worried. I love you so much honey, please just let me help you.”
LIE - These are the usual tricks, it loves to play on my emotions.
“I’ll get you whatever help you need baby, just let me in.”
LIE - That “thing” has no intention of helping me.
“Are we done?” I say, growing tired of this game, having played it countless times before.
Usually around this time she would leave, continuing the harassment at a later date. This time however, it was different. At first I noticed her smile, it shifted to more of a smirk as if a mischievous joke was being played on me. I went to grab the door, planning to slam it shut in my usual fashion. It would not budge. That’s when the giggling began. She stood there just giggling - locking onto my gaze.
“You’re going to die in there.” the giggling continued.
“Wh-wh-what is, what are you?” I managed to stumble out.
“I am what is going to save you from the misery that you deal with; don’t you miss your friends, your family, your loving wife?”
She continued staring straight into my eyes, “you are going to slowly starve to death, are you ready for that?”
“What other options do I have? Please, just leave.” I reached for the door again, this time it stopped me; but with a proposition.
“I’ll make you an offer, let me in and I’ll make it quick. Normally I make them suffer, and I love to make them suffer. But you, you have bested me and outlasted me longer than any other. Don’t let pride cloud your judgement, this is a gift that I don’t give out often and I won’t again.”
Let go of pride? Pride is the only thing that has kept me alive, my sanity intact. Without it I would have surely passed long ago, in hindsight probably a better fate than simply existing to resist death another day.
I used to play these kinds of games as a kid. My friends and I would always ask each other a series of disturbing hypotheticals. They would often be something like, weighing the pros and cons of chopping of a finger versus spending the night with some unsavory woman, probably with some form of illness. Not being able to think clearly in my current state, I called back to an earlier version of myself and inevitably arrived at the decision that I imagine my childhood self would have made.
“Okay. Come in.”
As it moved forward over the threshold, skin began to melt, fingers turned to claws, and teeth to fangs. I closed my eyes. At least my suffering would finally be over. At least it would be quick.