Mary over at Mary McDonald Has the Write Stuff is hosting the Terror Tuesday Blogfest today. Click here to go read the other wonderful entries. My entry is part of a short story I wrote a while ago. Another section of that story will be posted next month for Tessa’s Blogfest of Death. You still have plenty of time to sign up for that one. Go ahead. You know you want to.
When he wakes, he opens his eyes to nothing. It’s cold and dark. The pitch black gives way to a dull, gun-metal grey at the edges of his peripheral vision.
He curls in tighter to himself; pulls the filthy, threadbare blanket closer and listens to the harsh exhale of his breath. There’s a weight against his back, heavy, pressing close.
Brain still slow with sleep, scrambled from the remains of the dream, he throws back an elbow, rolls, and shoves hard against the stiff, formless shape. His hand falls, palm down, onto a sharp-boned, unmoving chest.
He rolls out of the blanket, rolls to his knees. Bright, dead eyes lock him in their line of sight.
He quits breathing; listens hard in the silence and the dark. There’s nothing beyond the sound of his own pulse pounding in his ears.
Fingers thick with cold and clumsy in the dark search blindly for a sign of heartbeat or breath.
There’s nothing. The body is cold and hard and silent.
He shifts on his knees, grabs the bottom of the thin, torn shirt, wrestles it up and off its unresisting owner and over his head.
Ignoring the stench that makes his stomach roll, he drives his arms quickly through the sleeves, pulls it down.
He slides down the body, yanks off worn boots; shoves bare feet into the rotting leather and freezes.
Still as stone, he flicks his eyes around the dark.
He moves again; pulls rancid pants two sizes too big off the corpse, rolls them up in the blanket.
He buries the rank bundle in the bag that’s filled with everything else in his life; crawls into the corner.
He huddles there, wrapped up in himself, listening for the sound of boot steps. As the stillness and dark congeal over him, he slips into faded memory from a long ago sometime that floats like ash on a cold wind.
He dreams in grey.
When he was small and hurt she would hold him. Soft, cool hands, satin-smooth and small, would cradle and caress him, and she would sing to him.
His eyes snap open, his head snaps up.
He can remember everything about her; the feel of her hands, the scent of her hair, the sound of her voice. Everything except her face.
Shrouded in the blanket and the rags he still feels the cold coming up off the stone, sees two burning eyes staring at him in the dark. A leaden cold that has nothing to do with hunger claws at the hollow in his gut.
It’s been a long time since she’s come to him.
He can’t remember how long.
He’d thought he’d stopped dreaming.
He should remember.
He pulls his bag and the blanket closer, his knees up to his chest, wonders if he’ll see her again.
He tries to pull breath deep into his lungs; can’t find any to spare.
The corpse watches him from the shadows. Once he took pity on the dead; now he wishes they would take pity on him.
He wraps his arms around his knees and waits.