By Miriam Averna
Even before I open my eyes, I feel the dark, malignant presence. It stands motionless in the corner of my bedroom. The air is cold but thick with a putrid stench that hits me in waves. I can feel its eyes boring into me. My mind is alert but my limbs are paralysed, fear rendering them so.
What does it want from me?
From the gloom, I can make out movement as it lifts a cloaked arm and extends a bony hand towards the bed. It slowly unfurls a finger, the joints cracking in the process. I continue to sense its hateful and unrelenting glare. Panic rises within me but I can do nothing but lie there. I am unable to move, consumed by terror.
It begins its ritualistic infliction of pain on my wife. As it sucks her life force, I feel her shudder and sob by my side, never once awakening from her slumber. I am forced to endure this alone. The torture continues each night, persistent and with an increasing malevolence: I awake, it is there, pain is inflicted.
There is no explanation and no logical way to stop this.
My sleeping hours lessen as the nightly afflictions continue. In the daytime I feel its lingering omnipresence as my wife becomes weaker, paler, with each passing day. Our friends begin to worry for her, regarding me with accusatory eyes. I am not responsible for this, I tell them.
But how can anyone believe that a creature I myself haven’t observed in the clarity of day, is responsible for my wife’s worsening physical condition?
We struggle to interact as we once did. I am exhausted and her tears keep coming, a river of pain flowing before my very eyes. The connection we had before is long lost and continuing like this is futile.
I see no other option and only one way in which the pain will cease for us both.
The last night, before it has a chance to return, I wait for my wife to fall asleep and then kiss her goodbye. I take a deep breath. I grab my pillow and tightly place it over her beautiful face. Her body spasms for a minute and then finally it stills as she finds peace.
With her gone, it does not return. Neither does the guilt of my indiscretion.
I no longer fear falling asleep, this prison cell is my haven, too small for sinister creatures to hide in.
The increasing shadows on the ceiling perturb me however.
I wonder if I can smoke them out.