This story is by Emily Manley and was part of our 2016 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the Winter Writing Contest stories here.
“No please. Don’t go!” My throat was raw and dry as the screams stranged their way out of my chest. I didn’t know the man walking away from me. I had just met him about a half hour ago, the half hour that had been my never ending eternity. I didn’t even know his name, in fact all I knew was that he was the one who dragged me to this hell that surrounded me. However, another thing I knew was that I had devouring need for him to stay.
He was a person, he was a face. A face I could cling to in my cold lonely surroundings. The fear was ripping me apart, starting in my ribs, and it expanded as he began his journey back the way we had just come. He was a stranger, but he was still a familiar face in this unfamiliar place.
It is the same thing everyday. I get up, go to school, come home, slump around bitter, went to bed; and started all over again. Today had been a particularly exhausting day. I’m not even sure why, maybe because my mom was too cheerful this morning, or because of the annoying kid on my bus, or maybe even because of the boy who so nauseatingly tried to flirt with me, regardless I hated life more than usual today.
Once home, I slumped on the ground of my perfectly organized room. The only reason it stayed this way was because I didn’t touch anything in it. In fact, I don’t even remember the last time I slept in my bed. Usually I just pass out in the same far corner of my room, which is where I was currently sitting. I began my daily routine of angerly sitting here for hours.
Eventually my thoughts drifted to the conversation I had endured with Mikey today. Mikey was the closest thing I had to an actual friend. By now everyone in my small school had learned that I wasn’t particularly fond of people, and they decided to just stay away, except Mikey. Mikey couldn’t get it through his thick head; which by the way was covered in a soft mop of golden blond hair, that I didn’t need friends.
I put up with him anyways. He was definitely not anything like me, in fact he was the opposite, but for some reason the moron had sat with me everyday during lunch everyday for the last three years. Anyway, the conversation today consisted of what it does everyday. Which is him attempting to make me less gloomy.
“You know, just because your mind is a dark place, doesn’t mean you need to be too.” He smiled encouragingly. Yeah, okay, whatever you say Mikey.
Suddenly my thoughts are interrupted by a determined, lone knock on my door.
“Go away dad.” I got no response. Finally I sighed and opened the door. It was not my dad, instead a gloomy young man was standing there. Fear rippled down my body.
“There’s some people who would finally like meet you.” He mumbled. Suddenly we are not in my room anymore. Everything goes black.
I still don’t know why I choose to follow the gloomy man through this weird place that I had woken up in. It wasn’t an earthly place, and he didn’t seem like an earthly man. Both the place and the man were unfamiliar, however he was comfortable, his presence that is. I still can’t explain what I mean by that. This place however, was not comfortable, not even in the slightest.
Where we walked was no larger than a wide hallway. The side walls were a dark granite stone with black vines that crawled up the. If I stepped too close to the wall the vines leapt and reached for me with a desire so fierce it still has the ability to petrify me. The place had an ashy look to it and the walls seemed to drizzle with a dark liquid. A ceiling was non-existent, instead when I looked up there was nothing but an eternal blackness that seemed to suck the life out of me.
After what seemed like miles walking, we stop, but my surroundings haven’t seemed to change at all from where we started. Everything seems never ending.
In a twisted turn of events, we get back to where my story began. The man just simply turned and started to walk away from me. I tried to run after him, but somehow no matter how fast I ran after the slow paced walking man, the distance between us never lessened.
Eventually I hit the ground gasping for air, and when I looked up again the man was gone. And I was alone. But only for a moment, because that’s when the voices started.
They whispered my name over and over. Some said very dark things; bitter, hateful things. It took me some times to realize that these whispers were similar to things that I think and say. This realization sent chills up my spine.
Then they appeared. The owners of the voices who hadn’t been there suddenly were. They were pale and chilling, both male and female. They didn’t stop whispering. Even though these beings made me cry and scream, they never got any closer, they never reached out to touch me, but their words were just as tormenting.
Even though they still haunt my nightmares there was something calming about them that I now have come to accept. They were familiar, even though they didn’t resemble anyone that I had ever seen before. They reminded me of me, and even though that conclusion scared me, I held onto it for dear life.
My heart skipped a beat when I realized that every single one of the people in front of me; if you can even call them people, had my eyes. The same vibrant green as mine stared back at me from every single face.
This observation sent me sprawling on the ground, crying and hiding my face. How could these horrifying things have any connection to me. They continued to whisper for what seemed like hours, until suddenly they stopped.
When I slowly uncovered my eyes, the man was there extending his hand. I grabbed it and pulled myself up.
“What was that!” I screamed at him.
“If you aren’t careful, this is where you’ll be stuck for all eternity.” And with that, everything went dark, and I felt the cold bumps of my bedroom wall.
My mind raced as I tried to figure out what the man meant. He had to have been referring to hell. He must have been implying that I need to start living better and confess my sins of some sort.
But that place was so unfamiliarly familiar. Those beings had my green eyes. They whispered my thoughts. The realization hit me with the force of a freight train and I felt sick.
That place had been my mind.
The next morning I told my mother that I loved her. I bought the annoying kid on my bus a candy bar. I even flirted back with the surprisingly cute boy who had been hitting on me.
At lunch, once Mikey had put his tray down, but before he could actually sit down, I hugged him. I hadn’t planned on doing it and he seemed just as utterly shocked as I was.
“What has gotten into you?” he gasped.
“You were right. Sometimes the only thing to fear is your mind.” He didn’t understand, but he smiled anyway.
Things were different after that. But the man still visits me.